Henry Wood.

The symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations online

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crimination takes place, the force of contrast i
urges one forward. Negatives and penalties '
continue their fearful prodding from behind,
until self- formed ideals of good are erected
in front and beckon an advance. As the '
prevailing sense of self is material, man
counts things that physically threaten, not
only as evil, but as morally evil. An inde-
finable feeling of guilt makes a demand for
an available " scape-goat " in the shape of
something outside, which shall either bear
the blame or atone for it. Although re-
flected as in a mirror, man does not rec-
ognize his own thought-likeness. One
tumbles and falls, and then blames the be-
neficent law of gravitation.

Let not some shallow critic claim that
this philosophy is an apology for evil or sin,
or that it logically sanctions any kind of
iniquity. When understood it does exactly
the reverse. There is no " dodging.'* The
only salvation is that which comes through
character. All sin, even that of ignorance,'
plants the seeds of its own punishment, and
no interpolated " scheme " can or should!


The Symphony of Life.

prevent it. The penalty is its corrective
and educational counterpart. Pain and
punishment are therefore the beneficent
friction that turns men back from what
would otherwise be self-destruction. They
are like a thick hedge of thorns which guard
the edge of a precipice. Punishment is self-
imposed. If fire burned one*s body pain-
lessly, the careless would soon be without
hands. Our course through life is laid by a
compass of constant choosing, and the wis-
dom of our choices should increase by ex-
perience. There is no escape from penalty
except by a putting away of its cause.
Transgression and punishment are differing
aspects of the same thing. A true philos-
ophy of the economy of evil, although it
limits it to the subjective realm, discourages
sin vastly more than any system which
promises a "scape-goat.'* If one wittingly
violates law, he only adds compound inter-
est to his own discomfiture. Optimism and
idealism, therefore, far from glossing over
sin, give it no soil or moisture for growth.
Every law of one's own being invites, nay,
urges, compliance and harmony. It pleads
with him to be " saved." Man should
therefore study himself All the forces of
the universe are inherently beneficent, and


The Meaning of Evil.

punishment forms a negative though impor-
tant part of such beneficence. If the moral
order in itself needs no revision it honors its
author. If it be susceptible to improvement,
it indicates a Deity who is changeable, if not
unreliable. Man must conform to God,
and not God to man.

When, as indicated in the allegory of
Adam and Eve, the God voice of intuition,
reason, and moral responsibility began to
make itself audible in the garden of the
human soul, a great evolutionary boundary
was crossed. It was from the ignorance
and instinct of animalism into the domain of
an educational experience of " good and
evil." Positive good can be known only in
the light of some degree of its contrasted
negative. Man had arrived at the capability
of becoming Godlike. This was not merely
one great historic racial transaction, but the
general order of development for the indi-
vidual consciousness. When pre-Adamic
man becomes Man, a divine restlessness
takes possession of him. A paradise on a
higher plane than the former one is now
demanded. Here is the genesis of evil.
Some " missing of the mark " was abso-
lutely essential before man could ever rise
through the increasing wisdom of voluntary

The Symphony of Life.

choices. Thus, evil is the name of the
"growing pains '* of good. It is the acrid
and unripe fruit, which, through seasonable
warmth, moisture, and even tempest, ap-
pears later in delicious golden clusters.

It is at once evident that evolutionary
processes are not completed on this hu-
man plane of existence or present embodi-
ment. If this were the only proof of
man*s future continuance, it would be con-
clusive in itself. Perhaps it is not so very
important whether the particular method be
spiritual advancement on the next plane or
" reincarnation," but progress must con-
tinue. Nothing in the whole moral order is
abruptly broken oif. Everything guaran-
tees mental and moral sequence. Conser-
vation and continuity have no accidents.
Cause and effect, and supply and demand, are
unitary in combination, and completeness
is assured by the very nature of things.
Progress is therefore eternal, and a certain
negative relativity of so-called evil ever
pushes from behind as a fulcrum over
which there is a never-ceasing moral lever-
; age. Says Carlyle : " Spiritual music can
I only spring from discords set in unison.'*
Evolutionary development is now beyond
the realm of mere physical forms, its activity


The Meaning of Evil.

being more marked among the unseen lives
and souls which mold and uprear them.
The climax of size and crude muscular
strength in organisms seems to have been
passed. The present trend of science, also,
is from the physical and seen toward the
psychical and unseen. As the view-point of [
the Real is approached, evil retreats and dis-
solves. All that is vital in religion, positive
in philosophy, true in morality, veritable in
science, inspiring in nature, and beautiful in
art are but varying and fragmentary aspects
of the great unit of Truth. Evil is what
appears upon turning the eyes backward and
downward. When at length everything is |
polished by the friction of unwise experi- |
ment, each factor will find its fitting niche and
specific interrelation. Men often criticise ^
the moral order, pointing out its short-com- !
ings and possible improvements.* Ingersoll
would have made health contagious instead
of disease. Under such an economy doubt- j
less it would be regarded as of little value.
The logic of the situation as already noted
brings us not only to what philosophy de-
nominates monism, but to spiritual monism.
Not that matter is bad or unreal, but rather
a name for the cruder aspect of things.
This is not pantheism, but ideal and spirit-


The Symphony of Life.

ual realism. If the cosmic order be the mul-
tiform though unitary manifestation of one
all-prevailing Deity, we are in the midst of
a glorious Theodicy. We have an all-wise
and beneficent Heavenly Father who is
"without variableness or shadow of turning."

'Unity, perfection, and potentiality are guar-
anteed without a hair's breadth of deviation.
Life is one, even though in multiform dem-
onstration and individuation. It makes
visible its own slower vibrations and erects
them into forms which we measure by our
sensuous discrimination. In the drama of
the Whole each principle and force plays its

'; normal role, and perfectly fills the character.
The universe is a never-ending panorama
rolling noiselessly in the atmosphere of di-

; vine optimism. As Robert Browning puts

Ut :

" There shall never be one lost good ! What was shall
live as before ;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound ;
What was good shall be good, with for evil so much
good more ;
On the earth the broken arcs ; in the heaven a perfect

I Pessimistic superficiality is synonymous
! with spiritual blindness, while optimism be-
- holds unity in variety and " good in every-
thing." Organization requires and includes


The Meaning of Evil.

diversity of function, so that even a negative, ]
like evil, has its legitimate office. Contrasts
counterbalance each other, and thus the ;
rounded sphere of the whole divine order I
has polish, symmetry and completeness. j


The Symphony of Life.



NY study of the correspondence or
relativity between mind and body
must include factors which are sub-
tle and complex, if not elusive.
Like other many-sided problems, it should
be approached impartially and without that
bias which colors any effort to make facts
bend to some preconceived theory or sys-
tem. Never before the present time was
the value of truth, for its own sake, so highly
appreciated. The v/orld is hungry, not
merely for facts, but for their true interpre-
tation. Phenomena are mainly significant
as being the index and expression of orderly
law which is back of them. To modern
inquiry, it is no longer a finality to reply
that they are strange, unaccountable or even
supernatural. The latter has come to be
regarded as only the higher zone of the


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

natural. The philosophical mind at once
feels impelled to follow back, link by link,
the chain of causation through superficial
occasions and secondary origination, toward
primary and foundation sources. The study
of natural law, now so generally admitted to
be universal, is not only interesting, but it
also lends itself to practical utilization. If
we are consciously or unconsciously mak-
ing architectural drawings of that which is
to be built in outward form, we should try to
improve ourselves in such an art. The age
demands that truth shall be applied truth,
and no other test will be accepted.

Psychology and physiology are terms
which designate two related and most inti-
mate sides of the human unit. Employed
apart, one cognizes man as mind, and the
other as body. If both are supplementary
factors, any study of either by itself or out
of relation must be, in degree, misleading.

There are two general, though not always
sharply defined schools of thought concern-
ing the essential nature of man. One ad-
heres to a philosophy which is primarily
materialistic, while the fundamental basis of
the other is psychical, idealistic and spiritual.
The first defines man, essentially as a physi-
cal being, though highest in the scale of or-


The Symphony of Life.

ganization. The material organism is taken
to be the basic source of his mind or soul.
Conventional biology which considers orga-
nization, structure, development and func-
tion, deals with animate matter, and not with
psychology. As regarded by institutional
philosophy, man, as a term, means the seen
form which of course possesses a subtle com-
plex property called mind. Mental activity
is rated as brain activity. Intellection is
virtually regarded as the result or manifesta-
tion of concordant material organization.
Expressed concretely and personally it would
be, " I am body, but have a soul." The
latter is taken to be the dependent, for that
which is a property cannot be otherwise.

The basic principles of the other philos-
ophy may be outlined briefly as follows : —
Man is essentially a psychical and spiritual
being. Expressed individually it would be :
" I am soul and have a body." The visible
form is man's outward correspondence and
expression, but in reality it forms no part of
his real being. His mind, soul or life
forces have grasped suitable material and
molded and erected the body as a sensuous
response to physical environment. A figure
on the blackboard is not the cause, but the
index or articulation of the reality of number.


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

The body is composed of material which has
previously served other orders of life, and
will continue this subsidiary office in the
future. He who has the present grasp of it
is one of a long series. An individuated
dynamic entity has taken it into his service.
It is now a stringed instrument to be played
upon by its proprietor. Normally, he is to
make it useful, and rule and fashion it as
the potter does tite clay.

The two different philosophies noted,
bestow a widely different emphasis upon the
inner and the outer, the unseen and the
seen, idealism and realism, regulation and
authority from within, or without, and there-
fore never have been mutually reconcilable.
There is a more or less distinct line of
cleavage between them which runs through
all religious, philosophical, social and edu-
cational systems. Occupying as they do
diverse view-points, their varying interpre-
tations, when applied to life, purpose, health,
conduct and destiny have profound signifi-
cance. In the light of these generalizations
we may now proceed more specifically.

The vital physiological processes in the
human organism are divided into two gen-
eral classes. One embraces those activities
which are conscious, or under the direct


The Symphony of Life.

supervision of the will. These include eating
drinking, walking, talking, hearing and the
ordinary exercises of the senses. But the
other class, which takes in all the uncon-
scious, or more properly the subconscious
processes, is far more numerous and complex.
Among them are the digestion, assimilation,
circulation of the blood and all the multi-
form activities of the sympathetic nervous
system with their innumerable delicate rela-
tions. These form a wonderful interdepen-
dent manufacturing plant, which in an
orderly way converts food and drink into
blood, bone, brain, muscle, fat and all the
various secretions of the body. All these
marvelously subtle processes go on, hidden
from observation, from those most vital and
important, down to the minutest sweat-
gland, and molecule of the whole economy.
It is impossible for us to imagine any
mechanism so intricate, finely adjusted and
altogether wonderful. Could we look in
upon it appreciatively we would be astounded.
If the conscious mind be put at rest by
sleep, or an anesthetic, these complex activi-
ties continue. What dynamic intelligence
directs them ? Orderly mind or soul, but all
goes on below the surface of consciousness.
Normally, no mistakes are made. Every


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

element which is taken in, through an amaz-
ing power of selection, goes to its fitting
place and fulfills its proper function, and
this not only specifically, but with perfect
synchronism and unitary cooperation. All
these innumerable concurrent movements
we ordinarily include under the simple term,
" life." But how much it means !

Although the subconscious operations go
on seemingly without observation, a closer
study reveals that they shade into the con-
scious counterpart, and that both are neces-
sary to unitary completeness. Let us note
some of their joint phenomena. From some
cause, intense fear startles the conscious
mind. What are the results ? The heart-
beat is quickened to a flutter, every muscle
trembles, tears start unbidden, the sweat-
glands pour out a cold perspiration, the
blood leaves the surface, kidney-action is
intensified, the extremities lose their warmth
and the saliva dries up. Do these cause the
fear, or vice versa ? Be the emotion well
founded or purely imaginary, the delicate
mechanism is thrown into the utmost con-
fusion. Not unlike a heavy blow, its
effects are often lasting. We name it after
its material result and call it a " nervous
shock." It is really a psychical perturba-


The Symphony of Life.

tion, though it causes a nervous shock.
Even a recurrence of its mental picture from
memory, long after, will often send a re-
sponsive shudder through the whole phys-
ical organism.

The facts noted are perfectly familiar, but
the underlying law with its logical tenden-
cies and deductions is largely unrecognized.
If a great, though brief fear will produce
such phenomena, all lesser fears will act to
some extent in the same direction. If in a
moderate degree anxiety and worry become
continued and habitual, they may have even
more harmful and permanent sequences.
Careful observation and experience also show
that anger, jealousy, grief, guilt, hatred, sus-
picion and every other inharmonious pas-
sion or emotion, by a positive law act in the
same direction. They are like sand thrown
into the bearings of delicate machinery,
when oil is needed. Friction and derange-
ment follow. Intense anger is sometimes
fatal in a moment. Pessimism and even
selfishness belong to the same unwholesome
category, though their action may be so
complex and slow as to be distinctively un-
traceable. Psychical agitations send a tumult
through the ganglionic nerve-centers which
transmit the disturbance outward to the


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

extreme limits of the organism. Now if
the average human consciousness be the
highway for an unending procession of
inharmonies, as all signs indicate, where
can perfect health be expected ?

We here are brought to a parting of ways
between the two philosophies first outlined.
The psychical, while admitting that occasions
and secondary causes may be from without,
holds that the realm of primary causation
is in mind. The materialistic school finds
it to be in the physical part, per se. The
modern germ-theory for the origin of dis-
ease is an obvious product of the latter
philosophy. There is however at least a
respectable minority of the medical profes-
sion who incline to the view that germs are
a concomitant, or even a result, rather than
the primary cause of disorder. If states of
mind are back of physical pathological con-
ditions, the minute organisms are clearly
secondary. Many of them are admittedly
beneficent as scavengers, but those which
are specifically harmful only come where
the soil and conditions invite them.

A few years ago it was stated that an emi-
nent scientist in Vienna swallowed a con-
siderable amount of cholera-germs and that
they proved innocuous. His positive and


The Symphony of Life.

conscious fearlessness furnished no physical
susceptibility. But in ordinary cases there
may be subconscious fear which would leave
the door open to contagion, even if they
were taken in unconsciously. Therefore a
negative condition may prove to be a stand-
ing invitation to current neighboring ills,
even where no specific fear or expectation
exists. Not everyone who is exposed to a
contagion responds, for to an organism of
positive and wholesome vigor, it is but
a negative. Specific germs do not arbitra-
rily find a lodgement where conditions do
not invite, and this shows them to be secon-
dary. But it is provisionally important
that they be destroyed, for the reason that
congenial soil does exist on every side. It
follows that the highest ideal is to close
the door of primary susceptibility. As fast
as that is done, the harmful germ will perish
from lack of subsistence.

Having noted some psychical destroyers
of physical harmony, let us inquire concern-
ing its kindly preservers. If one class will
pull down, or always tend in that direction,
logic and experience should show that the
opposite will build up. Both professional
and lay opinion is substantially unanimous
concerning the potency of what is termed


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

" faith " in this direction. Fear and faith
are respectively the negative and positive
poles of mind. The unnumbered cures re-
sulting from a strong, even though super-
stitious belief of a divine or miraculous
efficacy residing in some shrine, holy bone,
consecrated relic, king's touch or mystical
ceremony, will hardly be questioned. The
potency of bread-pills and water hypoder-
mics, under favorable conditions, has also
been abundantly demonstrated. The law
under which the imagination becomes so
potent, remains without systematic interpre-
tation and utilization, and conventional
interest in its working does not usually
penetrate below the mere surface of events
which are soon forg'^tten. The imaging
faculty has been regarded commonly as
elusive, capricious and hardly worthy of
serious study. But if it have a creative
power which may be greatly harmful or
helpful its possibilities should be investi-
gated. When a positive ideal, or mental
picture can be formed which, for the time
being at least, takes possession of the con-
sciousness, we find that it rules out or dis-
places its opposites and negatives. This
determinate ideal, faith, fear or whatever it
be, tends to outward articulation. " The


The Symphony of Life.

word is made flesh/' and " as is the inner
so is the outer." It is simply a natural
physiological sequence without an iota of
magic or miracle.

In a scientific sense, faith may be defined
as psychical energy, and this under favoring
conditions may be set in motion by pure
superstition. The momentum of a stone
which is roUing down hill is the same
whether it were started by accident or design.
But besides that peculiar emotion termed
faith, it is found that other wholesome
and positive emotions and ideals take
hold of the subconscious physiological
processes. Among them are love, courage,
optimism, purity, harmony, altruism, but
above all, a cultivated sense of a normal
divine immanence, as Omnipresent Good.
This should be regarded, not merely as
moral and religious truth, but as having a
scientific and evolutionary basis in the nature
of things. Exhaustive chemical and me-
chanical tests in the laboratory have de-
tected in minute detail, the invigorative
effects of these positive states of conscious-
ness. The submerged bodily activities re-
spond to psychical suggestion with an
exactitude which can only be interpreted as
a law.


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

It is true, however, that, specifically, these
unseen dynamics are elusive and difficult to
trace and measure on the phenomenal plane.
For instance, no one can dogmatically affirm
what proportion of that immunity from small-
pox which comes from vaccination is due to
the operation per se, or how much is resident
in the permanent feeling of ensured protec-
tion. This positive consciousness — which
amounts to a virtual and abiding auto-sug-
gestion of the fact — is also reenforced by
general surrounding belief in the specific
immunity. There are helpful as well as
harmful psychical contagions. In conven-
tional therapeutics the subtle mental factors
are always present. Were it possible en-
tirely to eliminate from the patient his con-
fidence, or faith, in physician, remedy, nurse
and friends, then, and only then could the
inherent potency of the specific that is em-
ployed be estimated. It is well understood
among the profession that the practitioner in
whom the patient has no confidence is heavily
handicapped. The limited period of useful-
ness which many widely heralded remedies
seem to possess is also significant. As the
novelty of their advertised power wears away,
their efficacy appears to suffer a corresponding
deterioration, and they join the great proces-


The Symphony of Life.

sion which has already gone to obhvion. But
something new replaces them.

The more exhaustive the investigation, the
more positive the conclusion appears that the
reign of psychological forces is imperious.
The body is like a musical instrument of un-
told delicacy, whose strings may be stirred by
vibrations of sweetness and harmony, or
swept by discord and jangling.

But one more phase of the subject can
here be considered, and that involves the
degree of the practical application of these
principles to every-day life and experience.
The great need of the world is applied truth.
In this age of rapid progress in so many
directions, therapeutics will not long lag be-
hind. The marked increase of insanity, the
manifest prevalence of neurasthenia and its
numerous pathological relatives, the general
exacting tension of modern life, with a too
prevalent pessimism and materialism — all
these present grave problems. The medi-
cal profession includes many noble and
conscientious men who doubtless will not
hesitate to supplement conventional systems
with their reasonable psychic interrelations
as rapidly as their validity can be demon-
strated. Intelligent and broad-minded in-
vestigation is all that is needed. The hints


Intelligent Physiological Designing.

which follow regarding practical utilization,
are submitted as sound and logical deduc-
tions from the well-founded philosophy
already presented. In addition, the writer
offers them as the mature result of a long,
careful and conservative study of concrete
personal experiences, the data of which have
been carefully collected.

The old adage that " an ounce of preven- |
tion is worth a pound of cure," is well \
founded. It follows that the ideal to be
sought is such a degree of physical, mental
and spiritual poise as shall render disorderly
conditions more infrequent and exceptional. ;
Rational, physical hygiene is important, but ■
it is far from all. What the average man
needs is not so much some strange curative

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Online LibraryHenry WoodThe symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations → online text (page 7 of 15)