Henry Wood.

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

. (page 9 of 15)
Online LibraryHenry WoodThe symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations → online text (page 9 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


often accomplished. If "war is hell," it can
never be desirable until, in a dire emergency,
hell is needed as a medicament.

During the prevalence of war the whole

170



War from the Evolution View-Point.

psychical atmosphere is surcharged with ideas
of destruction. Weapons, armaments, mur-
derous inventions, sieges, charges and con-
quests are the staple mental pabulum.
Every mind is filled with pictures of strife
and carnage, and everything not pertaining
to war is at a discount. Unless of the war-
like variety, literature is flat, fiction dull, art
insipid, history lifeless and science tame.
The enginery of war is all important. There
is no glory but military glory, and no hero-
ism but that of the sword. The glamor
of the pomp and pageantry of war alone is
brilliant. The white-winged fleets of com-
merce are transmuted into gigantic vehicles
of death and destruction. The peaceful
uprearing of decades is leveled in a day, and
the slowly accumulated savings of a nation
are squandered with a prodigal rapidity.
Human life in all its phases is overshadowed
by the dark cloud of wholesale slaughter.
The gospel doctrine of non-resistance is
unrecognized and dependence is still cen-
tered upon carnal weapons.

The future political ideal among nations
is federation, but this can come only through
a previous federation of heart and soul.
We are members one of another, whether in
smaller or larger combination. The world

171



The Symphony of Life.

is materially tied together in many ways
unknown in the past, but good-will is the
strongest and only normal bond. The weal
of each is more and more the weal of all.
Profoundly viewed, there are no " diverse
interests." Universal good-will would usher
in a veritable millennium — a kingdom of
heaven upon earth.

Having outlined a few of the psychical
aspects of war, it may be in order to enu-
merate and trace out a few of the roots
which subtly nourish the spirit of militarism.
We may note :

First, through Fiction. Its glory and
glitter, its pomp and pageantry are delin-
eated in the action and plot of novels, where
the spirit of antagonism often runs through
the whole warp and woof. Military grand-
eur and heroism are made the vital centre
around which all circumstance and interest
revolve.

Second, through the Drama. War struts
upon the stage, and is deftly interwoven
with charming scenery, environment, inci-
dent, love-making, rescue, sentiment, free-
dom and even peace itself. Its cruelty and
demoralization are hidden and its intrinsic
character outwardly painted and gilded.

Third, through Art. The ideal mission

172



War from the Evolution View-Point.

of the artist is to cultivate, through the eye,
the spirit of beauty, harmony, symmetry
and spirituaHty ; but his talent is often de-
graded to the representation of battle-scenes,
impossible charges, the clash of arms,
savagery and mortal combat. No matter
how technically correct such creations may
be, for the more perfectly done the more
harmful, they intoxicate the mind with a
mock grandeur and photograph mental
pictures which are lastingly demoralizing.

Fourth, through Poetry. Even poets,
whose privilege it is to be the prophets and
inspirers of mankind, often forget their grand
mission, and glorify the scenes of human
strife, through the charm of rhythm, versi-
fication and literary art.

Fifth, through History. Historians un-
wittingly lend their aid to dignify the insatiate
Moloch. A very large and unnecessary pro-
portion of the records of the past is especi-
ally devoted to human conflict, intrigue,
ambition and conquest ; and thus the student
of history lives and breathes the atmosphere
of destruction, which not only surrounds
but permeates him.

Sixth, through Tradition. Folk-lore and
legend paint highly-colored incidents, and
present surface details of the monster with

173



The Symphony of Life.

his great mass of terrible realism forgotten
or hidden.

Seventh, through Music. The divine
art of music is invoked to divert the atten-
tion of men from the inner spirit of enmity.
It confers a sentimental charm upon the
deadly intent. What would an army be
without the roll of the drum, the shriek
of the fife, and the inspiring melody of
the march ? The Marseillaise has hypno-
pized its countless thousands. Without the
impelling power of martial music, the poetic
mask of the wholesale destruction of life
and limb would be stripped off and its true
nature laid bare. Its inspiring strains upon
the battle-field yield a collective mental in-
toxication, so that carnage and cruelty are
forgotten.

Eighth, through caparisonment and dec-
oration. Why should men adorn them-
selves with feathers when they are bent upon
mutual destruction ? To make them forget,
so far as possible, the nature of the business
in which they are engaged.

Ninth, through the m.agnitude of military
operations. The colossal scale of imposing
evolutions and the rhythm of marches, cause
men to lose their individuality and become
simply part of a vast destructive machine.

174



War from the Evolution View-Point.

An army is a despotic unit. A single will is
imperious, so that the authority of a czar is
freedom itself in comparison.

Tenth, through early education. Ferocity
in the child is stimulated and cultivated by
stories, precepts, playthings, and especially
by military drills. The " boys' brigades "
of the present day undoubtedly have a harm-
ful tendency. In passing let us express the
hope that they may soon be replaced by
something like the " George junior re-
publics," where discipline, industry, judg-
ment and self-control are stimulated, without
any admixture of the belligerent sentiment.

May we also add a kindly hint regard-
ing the subtle influence of military and
even patriotic associations ? While rightfully
glorifying the heroic virtues of our honored
ancestors, there is an insidious possibility of
apotheosizing this same deceitful passion.
The light of the opening decade of the
20th century is far brighter than that which
shone upon our worthy forefathers.

The reformation of educational histories
may also be noted as of vital importance in
the dethronement of the tyrant of mutual
destruction! A sentimental hatred towards
other nations is imbibed by millions of child-
ish minds, and innumerable impressions of

175



The Symphony of Life.

antagonism are made which hardly can be
effaced. The determining influence which
comes from such seed-sowing in the fertile
soil of youthful mentality is beyond com-
putation.

How can each one of us, as individuals, nj
lend a hand in the advancement of this great j;'
reform which already has received some u \
impetus ? **

Let every pulpit which is occupied by an
ambassador of the Prince of Peace proclaim
anew the very foundation principle of
Christianity.

Let the hundreds of thousands of noble
women who belong to the great temperance,
charitable, humanitarian and other reforma-
tory and benevolent organizations agitate for
the removal of this colossal relic of barbar-
ism ! In no other way can they so effec-
tively relieve the woes of humanity which
they are trying to heal. Let those numerous
societies which have been formed to per-
petuate patriotic sentiments, and to keep in
mind the heroic achievements of noble an-
cestors, have a care that in their well-meant
enthusiasm they do not unwittingly stimulate
the subtle spirit of militarism.

Let every philanthropist and economist
who is conscientiously striving to stop one

176



War from the Evolution View-Point.

or two small leaks in the ship of state, give
some heed to the great reefs in its course
upon which it may be dashed.

Let every wife and mother who has a
husband or son, who, in the course of events,
may become food for the insatiate monster,
add her voice to the swelling chorus which
shall demand its abolition.

Let every scientist and evolutionist, who
is anxiously waiting far the time when the
animalism in man shall be overcome, urge
a higher moral and spiritual unfoldment ; for
only this can still a selfish antagonism.

Let the daily press, now so largely devoted

to the details of a degrading sensationaHsm,

rise to the occasion in an educational work

important beyond all precedent.

ft Let teachers, who are shaping and guiding

1 1 plastic minds, show the beauty of peace ; let

llthem teach the power of higher ideals, and

i'how to win real victories; let them exhibit

moral heroism as manly and honorable when

compared with brute force ; let them remind

their pupils that " he that ruleth his own

spirit is greater than he that taketh a city."

Let fathers seek to guide that youthful
exuberance in their sons, which finds expres-
sion in militarism, into higher channels and
toward more worthy ideals.

177



The Symphony of Life.

Let the sovereign people, in the elections

of members of congress and senators, choose

such men as will not misrepresent them, and

longer sustain the reign of brute force in the

place of law, reason and right.

\f Let the great truth go out to the world

ijthat so soon as men overcome the animalism

||within them they virtually conquer enemies

t- without. Let them put away suspicion, envy

and revenge, and rise to a manhood which

shall be characterized by justice, mercy, love

and peace.

It now remains to sum up the subject in
the light of the broadest evolutionary and
metaphysical philosophy. If in the absolute
and ultimate the foregoing pages seem to in-
volve any degree of pessimism, we shall
endeavor to set at rest such an impression.
So far war has been considered relatively and
specifically, and such a view brings out its
ugly features. But in the broader study of
human progress in the whole divine econ-
omy, it is only incidental and educational.
Evolutionary advancement is not uniformly
steady. It often takes a bound forward or
seemingly backward, which, in a way, is
rd^yolutionary. The smaller revolution is
inclosed in the larger evolution. Even an
apparent retrograde through educational in-

178



War from the Evolution View-Point.

fluence may store up added momentum for
an accelerated progress toward the ideal of
universal love and peace. If, as before
quoted, " war is hell/' some taste of hell
may reveal its quality as no amount of pre-
cept could do. Contrast may render a most
important aid as a true interpreter. " Evil '*
finally blossoms into good because within it
are contained purifying fires which in due
season reduce falsity to ashes and bring into
fiiU view the great normal reality of eternal ^
Good.

The unending march of human develop-
ment is never by measured step, for vibration
is universal. Every rounded action contains
an element of reaction, and there is some
natural recoil to every forward impulse. As
the surplus steam in a boiler finds vent
through the safety valve, so the residuum of
brutehood in man will seek occasional outlet
until it finally disappears. Such outbursts
are both indexes and object lessons. War,
therefore, while ideally bad, is provisionally
good. So long as it exists it has a utilitarian
mission. Its black background helps to give
strength and tone to the high light and color
of the great panorama of human ascent. It
aids man to interpret himself. By its rough
measuring-rod he computes distances and

179



The Symphony of Life.

maps out ascents. If we stood upon the
metaphysical vantage ground, war would be
absurd and meaningless ; but it is the neces-
sary accompaniment of the material plane
and outlook.

The incident of war does not in the
least invalidate the unbounded beneficence
of law, nor the absoluteness of the All
Good. It is one of the great " growing
pains " of the transition from the Adamic
to the Christly consciousness. Among it;p
passing lessons are vicariousness, human in-
terdependence and racial solidarity. In the
eternal climb towards the Kingdom of the;
Real, the road is thorny only so long as
thorns have a use. War, though hellish as'
an ideal, may be a means and furnish an im-
petus toward a more refined realism. It will
survive only so long as materialism needs a
testing ground.



i8o



A Christmas-Tide Musing




XIII.

A CHRISTMAS-TIDE MUSING.

HE ringing of Christmas chimes
ushers in another joyful season,
during which reciprocal love finds
its most copious overflow. Every
living principle has a rhythmical movement,
for the law of action and reaction is univer-
sal. As we slowly wind up the spiral of
human ascent it is, therefore, normal to find
recurring pulsations of unusual strength.
Like the floods of spring time, these accen-
tuated hours represent the great periodic
rise of human interest and affection, the
mingled currents of which refresh and en-
rich human life and experience. There are
brought to the front those diviner faculties
in man, which in the ordinary stress of daily
routine are latent, or at least comparatively
inactive. The exuberant spirit of such a
season is a temporary object lesson of a
coming steady and continual state of con-

i8i



The Symphony of Life.

sciousness toward which, through moral and
spiritual evolution, the world is tending.

Outside of and beyond the inspired his-
toric associations connected with this anni-
versary, it is especially profitable to observe
it on account of the exercise it gives to a
soul-force of the highest and divinest
quality. The principle which dwells back
of the innumerable Christmas activities,
many of which may seem trivial and un-
worthy, is that which alone will finally
assure the salvation of the world.

This dynamic force, with the exercise of
a wholesome optimism will logically help
forward a coming age, when selfishness,
wrong and materialism will have become
outgrown, because of the transformation of
the spirit which is back of them. As is the
average individual, so is the mass, and all
institutions are secondary and resultant. To
turn the hearts of a people, will in due
season mold legislation, government and
ethical and even political standards into
complete correspondence. To hold the
best ideals for men, and see their best side,
is the most efficient means to bring these
into actualized manifestation. Here at the
/ opening of the twentieth century, amnd the
/ intensest moral questioning and spiritual
^ 182



A Christmas-Tide Musing.

hunp-er the world has ever known, there is
an unbounded field for every well directed
eitort for character upliftment. Aggression,
animalism and the settlement of inter-
national differences by brute force, cannot
be overcome by pessimism, nor by descend-
ing to fight them upon their own plane, but
only through the force of moral ideals.

The spirit of love must everywhere be
mingled in the complex life of mankind,
for it is the only conserving element. Its
absence is uniformly disintegrative. Noth-
ing less than its sweetening potency will
transform the negative and undeveloped
powers of unspiritualized man. Without a
liberal seasoning of this divine principle in
society, the lower elements which evolution
has brought over sink the soul into an ar-
rested development. Its absence of mani-
festation makes barren all the relations and
activities of human existence. The lack of
its warm cohesive force furnishes the essence ,
and motive of all wars, contentions and dis -
orders. It is common to attribute all these
vestiges of brutehood to the lack of intel-
lectual development, but the repressed and\
frozen outflow of the basic element in
man's constitution is the true reason for
their prevalence.

183



The Symphony of Life,

As before noted every normal and
beneficent faculty should have its vibra-
tions of special activity, thereby lifting
the general level and finding at least oc-
casional fruition. " Times and seasons "
are all needed as diverse parts of a larger
unitary activity. In the broader view,
reaction, or inactivity, is a period for the
gathering of new potency for a stronger
onrush than before. As just now the
climax of darkness and lengthened nights
is past, and the light and warmth of the
sun's rays steadily wax, so in the larger year
of man's unfolding, his higher forces and
godlike powers are massing in unprecedented
volume and their momentum of love will be
irrestible.

The historic and local incarnation had a
world-wide significance because it was an
ideal and object lesson of developed hu-
manity. It was the first ripened fruit of a
great coming harvest. Man was filled with
divinity, and nothing less than this in any
age can normally round out his complex
being. But if the historic manifestation
were entirely unique and unapproachable, or
were an experience in matter of any quality
of soul extra-human, it would have little
significance for man. Being infinitely beyond

184



A Christmas-Tide Musing.

his reach, it could neither be an ideal nor an
inspiration. But how natural and compell-
ing as a supreme specimen of moral and
spiritual attainment! How thoroughly prac-
tical and important as a goal for which to
strive ! It exhibits man in full stature, per-
meated and controlled by love. If" God is
Love," Love must be the substantial princi-
ple of the universal economy. It means
fullness of life. It is the rich exuberance
of the Deific overflow. Its growing sub-
jective dominance in man, is the prophecy
of a general incarnation.

The Christmas spirit which finds con-
crete expression in giving and loving, is
a fore-gleam of a universal state of con-
sciousness. In this brief hint is wrapped
up the promise and potency of an assured
coming condition. It is not only a reli-
gious, but a scientific necessity, that from
the law of its nature Divinity seeks expres-
sive instruments. Jesus recognized the in-
trinsic oneness, but through the ages such
an inspiration or supreme consciousness has
been veiled and mystical. But under the
searchlight of recent thought, which may be
defined as idealism made practical, there is a
veritable renaissance.

From his very constitution, man must

i8S



The Symphony of Life.

^^ be restless until he finds God. But a
search through intellectual logic is cer-
tain to be unsuccessful, and may bear fruit
in agnosticism. *"Man can know God only 1/
through the development of the divine I
sample — love — in his own soul. This f
principle is theologically set forth in the
Gospel according to Saint John. ^

The restless longing which men inhe-
rently feel to bring their souls into con-
tact with the Great Reality is generally
uninterpreted, even to their own conscious-
ness. Something is lacking ; they know not
what. Each, according to his individual bias,
allies himself with that church, institution,
creed, or theology wherein to him there
seems to be most of the Divine. With " lo
here," or " lo there " sounding in his ears,
he turns to all these objective things instead
of looking directly within himself. The
only glimpse of spiritual verity must be
found in the divine image within. -» The
fullness of love is latent in his own soul,
but as he is all unaware of it his restlessness
continues. It is yet to be unfolded through
recognition and exercise.

•*- The rising tide of the larger Christmas
is the brightening dawn of the higher self-
hood ; the uncovering of the likeness of God.

i86



(■



A Christmas-Tide Musing.

The education of the love faculty is the way ;
leading to that plane of consciousness which j
constitutes the '^ Father's House.'* The
smaller objective and formal Christmas
is not enough. Above the music of visible
chimes, the spirit of the sweet hymn of the
old German poet comes floating in :

*' Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be I

born,
If he's not born in thee thy soul is all forlorn."

While beautiful glimpses of the loftier
aspects of love, in varying degree, have
caught the eye of poets and prophets,
its general exercise in the concrete has been
looked upon by the world as an ideal that
was very far distant. It was something for
saints in the clouds, but not for mortals who
stood with both feet upon the ground. It
might form some part of the furniture of a
heaven beyond the grave, but, except in •
sentimental attenuation or low quality, it
had little mundane practicality. To enlarge
and clarify our views, we must therefore
study the cosmical side as well as that aspect
which is distinctly religious. How much
larger and nearer is this great entity of
spiritual attraction than we have ever im-
agined ! While as physical beings we live

187



I'he Symphony of Life.

in an atmospheric sea which envelops the
earth, in the reality of our being, which is
I spiritual, we are embosomed in the Omni-
J present Love. What a real though unseen
environment ! Is it personal, does some one
inquire? It is both personal and more than
personal, as we choose to view it. It is not
easy to divest that term of all concepts of
limitation and locality. "In him we live,
and move, and have our being."

Cosmical love is a larger and thoroughly
normal and scientific idea of what is theo-
logically denominated the " Holy Spirit."
Philosophically, it must have as its logical
basis a recognized beneficence of natural law.
The inherent friendliness of the universal
order has not yet come into general recog-
nition, but it is clear to the more highly
developed insight of an important minority.
Nature, when spiritually interpreted, is
friendly and only friendly. The theologi-
cal " Holy Spirit " is spoken of as being
"sent" or "poured out." How can it be
sent when it is always here.'' If God is
Omnipresent Love and Life, where can he
be absent ? What is the meaning of omni-
presence ? It is obvious that the sending'''
and receiving of that which is always present
can be only a seeming. But while we are

i88



A Christmas-Tide Musing.

living in and permeated with the divine
atmosphere of love and life, to us it is ab- \
sent if our consciousness be closed.

Nature is seemingly adverse only when
we trample upon her methods, and even
then her penalties, though often apparently
severe are educational, and when rightly un-
derstood benignant. What a mighty Friend
when we co-operate with her ! Blinded by
our crass materialism and lack of spiritual
discernment, we are deaf to her harmonious
voices and unwittingly believe that she is
unmoral if not immoral. Let us, therefore,
enlarge the theological idea of a limited and
capricious " Holy Spirit," sent only at rare
I intervals by a distant and extra-cosmic
;| Deity, until it becomes identical with that
I Omnipresent Reality which fills the uni-
51 verse with unseen harmony. What are those
all-inclusive attractions which men have
called the blind properties of matter, nam-
ing them for convenience gravitation and
cohesion ? May they not be a lower plane
of manifestation of the magnetism of love ?
The sun sends out his wooing rays and
every flower and living thing reflect his
warm gladness, lifting their heads and
springing forth in joyful responsiveness.
Even the stars of heaven flash out their

189



The Symphony of Life.

beatific sparkle to each other, and every
atom of the universe is held in the raptured
embrace of a universal enchantment.

Wherever a sense of indwelling love is
graphic and genuine, there, and only there,
is the real Christmas. When this state of
consciousness becomes collective the morn-
ing of a veritable holy day will have dawned.

We are accustomicd to think of the Ser-
mon on the Mount and the golden rule as
moral ideals ; but they are far more. They
are scientific. They exactly fit the consti-
tution of man upon all its planes. The
intelligent and perfect adjustment of means *
to ends, in any department, psychical and
spiritual, as well as miaterial, properly be-
longs to the domain of exact science. The
scope of relativity and of demonstrable con-
tinuity can no longer be restricted. The
normality and sanity • of nations, as well as
individuals, is graded by the quantity of
the love element which has been incorpo-
rated within them.

The idea of a general incarnation in no
sense renders the historic ideal less impres-
sive or beautiful, while it potentially lifts all^
mankind toward the same level. The Prince,'
of Peace is yet to set up a nativity in the;
common heart and hfe of the human family. ; 4

190



Thinking as a Fine Art.




XIV.
THINKING AS A FINE ART.

|RT is the systematic application of
knowledge or skill in effecting a
desired result. In a broad sense,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryHenry WoodThe symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations → online text (page 9 of 15)