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stick, so that the quality of its consciousness will be determined by the
ideas which it projects; but to be conscious at all it must project ideas
of some sort.

Now of one thing we may be quite sure, that the Spirit of Life must _feel
alive_. Then to feel alive it must be conscious, and to be conscious it
must have something to be conscious of; therefore the contemplation of
itself as standing related to something which is not its own originating
self _in propria persona_ is a necessity of the case; and consequently the
Self-contemplation of Spirit can only proceed by its viewing itself as
related to something standing out from itself, just as we must stand at a
proper distance to see a picture - in fact the very word "existence" means
"standing out." Thus things are called into existence or "outstandingness"
by a power which itself does not stand out, and whose presence is therefore
indicated by the word "subsistence."

The next thing is that since in the beginning there is nothing except
Spirit, its primary feeling of aliveness must be that of being alive _all
over_; and to establish such a consciousness of its own universal
livingness there must be the recognition of a corresponding _relation_
equally extensive in character; and the only possible correspondence to
fulfil this condition is therefore that of a universally distributed and
plastic medium whose particles are all in perfect equilibrium, which is
exactly the description of the Primary Substance or ether. We are thus
philosophically led to the conclusion that Universal Substance must be
projected by Universal Spirit as a necessary consequence of Spirit's own
inherent feeling of Aliveness; and in this way we find that the great
Primary Polarity of Being becomes established.

From this point onward we shall find the principle of Polarity in universal
activity. It is that relation between opposites without which no external
Motion would be possible, because there would be nowhere to move from, and
nowhere to move to; and without which external Form would be impossible
because there would be nothing to limit the diffusion of substance and
bring it into shape. Polarity, or the interaction of Active and Passive, is
therefore the basis of all _Evolution_.

This is a great fundamental truth when we get it in its right order; but
all through the ages it has been a prolific source of error by getting it
in its wrong order. And the wrong order consists in making Polarity the
originating point of the Creative Process. What this misconception leads to
we shall see later on; but since it is very widely accepted under various
guises even at the present day it is well to be on our guard against it.
Therefore I wish the student to see clearly that there is something which
comes before that Polarity which gives rise to Evolution, and that this
something is the original movement of Spirit _within itself_, of which we
can best get an idea by calling it Self-contemplation.

Now this may seem an extremely abstract conception and one with which we
have no practical concern. I fancy I can hear the reader saying "The Lord
only knows how the world started, and it is His business and not mine,"
which would be perfectly true if this originating faculty were confined to
the Cosmic Mind. But it is not, and the same action takes place in our own
minds also, only with the difference that it is ultimately subject to that
principle of Cosmic Unity of which I have already spoken. But, subject to
that unifying principle, this same power of origination is in ourselves
also, and our personal advance in evolution depends on our right use of it;
and our use of it depends on our recognition that we ourselves give rise to
the particular polarities which express themselves in our whole world of
consciousness, whether within or without. For these reasons it is very
important to realize that Evolution is not the same as Creation. It is the
unfolding of potentialities involved in things already created, but not the
calling into existence of what does not yet exist - _that_ is Creation.

The order, therefore, which I wish the student to observe is, first the
Self-contemplation of Spirit producing Polarity, and next Polarity
producing Manifestation in Form - and also to realize that it is in this
order his own mind operates as a subordinate center of creative energy.
When the true place of Polarity is thus recognized, we shall find in it the
explanation of all those relations of things which give rise to the whole
world of phenomena; from which we may draw the practical inference that if
we want to change the manifestation we must change the polarity, and to
change the polarity we must get back to the Self-contemplation of Spirit.
But in its proper place as the root-principle of all _secondary_ causation,
Polarity is one of those fundamental facts of which we must never lose
sight. The term "Polarity" is adopted from electrical science. In the
electric battery it is the connecting together of the opposite poles of
zinc and copper that causes a current to flow from one to the other and so
provides the energy that rings the bell. If the connection is broken there
is no action. When you press the button you make the connection. The same
process is repeated in respect of every sort of polarity throughout the
universe. Circulation depends on polarity, and circulation is the
_manifestation_ of Life, which we may therefore say depends on the
principle of polarity. In relation to ourselves we are concerned with two
great polarities, the polarity of Soul and Body and the polarity of Soul
and Spirit; and it is in order that he may more clearly realize their
working that I want the student to have some preliminary idea of Polarity
as a general principle.

The conception of the Creative Order may therefore be generalized as
follows. The Spirit wants to enjoy the reality of its own Life - not merely
to vegetate, but to enjoy giving - and therefore by Self-contemplation it
projects a polar opposite, or complementary, calculated to give rise to the
particular sort of _relation_ out of which the enjoyment of a certain mode
of self-consciousness will necessarily spring. Let this sentence be well
pondered over until the full extent of its significance is grasped, for it
is the key to the whole matter Very well, then: Spirit wants to Enjoy Life,
and so, by thinking of itself as _having_ the enjoyment which it wishes, it
produces the conditions which, by their re-action upon itself, give rise to
the reality of the sort of enjoyment contemplated. In more scientific
language an opposite polarity is induced, giving rise to a current which
stimulates a particular mode of sensation, which sensation in turn becomes
a fresh starting-point for still further action; and in this way each
successive stage becomes the stepping-stone to a still higher degree of
sensation - that is, to a Fuller Enjoyment of Life.

Such a conception as this presents us with a Progressive Series to which it
is impossible to assign any limit. That the progression must be limitless
is clear from the fact that there is never any change in the method. At
each successive stage the Creating Power is the Self-consciousness of the
Spirit, as realized at that stage, still reaching forward for yet further
Enjoyment of Life, and so always keeping on repeating the _one_ Creative
Process at an ever-rising level; and since these are the sole working
conditions, the progress is one which logically admits of no finality. And
this is where the importance of realizing the Singleness of the Originating
Power comes in, for with a Duality each member would limit the other; in
fact, Duality as the Originating Power is inconceivable, for, once more to
quote "Paddy's Philosophy," "finality would be reached before anything was
begun."

This Creative Process, therefore, can only be conceived of as limitless,
while at the same time strictly progressive, that is, proceeding stage by
stage, each stage being necessary as a preparation for the one that is to
follow. Let us then briefly sketch the stages by which things in our world
have got as far as they have. The interest of the enquiry lies in the fact
that if we can once get at the principle which is producing these results,
we may discover some way of giving it personal application.

On the hypothesis of the Self-contemplation of Spirit being the originating
power, we have found that a primary ether, or universal substance, is the
necessary correspondence to Spirit's simple awareness of its own being. But
though awareness of being is the necessary foundation for any further
possibilities it is, so to say, not much to talk about. The foundation
fact, of course, is to know that I Am; but immediately on this
consciousness there follows the desire for Activity - I want to enjoy my I
Am-ness by doing something with it. Translating these words into a state of
consciousness in the Cosmic Mind they become a Law of Tendency leading to
_localised_ activity, and, looking only at our own world, this would mean
the condensation of the universal etheric substance into the primary nebula
which later on becomes our solar system, this being the correspondence to
the Self-contemplation of Spirit as passing into specific activity instead
of remaining absorbed in simple awareness of Being. Then this
self-recognition would lead to the conception of still more specific
activity having its appropriate polar opposite, or material correspondence,
in the condensation of the nebula into a solar system.

Now at this stage Spirit's conception of itself is that of Activity, and
consequently the material correspondence is Motion, as distinguished from
the simple diffused ether which is the correspondence of mere awareness of
Being, But what sort of motion? Is the material movement evolved at this
stage bound to take any particular form? A little consideration will show
us that it is. At this initial stage, the first awakening, so to say, of
Spirit into activity, its consciousness can only be that of activity
_absolute_; that is, not as related to any other mode of activity because
as yet there is none, but only as related to an all-embracing Being; so
that the only possible conception of Activity at this stage is that of
_Self-sustained_ activity, not depending on any preceding mode of activity
because there is none. The law of reciprocity therefore demands a similar
self-sustained motion in the material correspondence, and mathematical
considerations show that the only sort of motion which can sustain a
self-supporting body moving _in vacuo_ is a rotary motion bringing the body
itself into a spherical form. Now this is exactly what we find at both
extremes of the material world. At the big end the spheres of the planets
rotating on their axes and revolving round the sun; and at the little end
the spheres of the atoms consisting of particles which, modern science
tells us, in like manner rotate round a common center at distances which
are astronomical as compared with their own mass. Thus the two ultimate
units of physical manifestation, the atom and the planet, both follow the
same law of self-sustained motion which we have found that, on _a priori_
grounds, they ought in order to express the primary activity of Spirit. And
we may note in passing that this rotary, or _absolute_, motion is the
combination of the only two possible _relative_ modes of motion, namely,
motion from a point and motion to it, that is to say centrifugal and
centripetal motion; so that in rotary, or absolute, motion we find that
both the polarities of motion are included, thus repeating on the purely
mechanical side the primordial principle of the Unity including the Duality
in itself.

But the Spirit wants something more than mechanical motion, something more
alive than the preliminary Rota, and so the first step toward
individualized consciousness meets us in plant life. Then on the principle
that each successive stage affords the platform for a further outlook,
plant life is followed by animal life, and this by the Human order in which
the liberty of selecting its own conditions is immensely extended. In this
way the Spirit's expression of itself has now reached the point where its
polar complementary, or Reciprocal, manifests as Intellectual Man - thus
constituting the Fourth great stage of Spirit's Self-recognition. But the
Creative Process cannot stop here, for, as we have seen, its root in the
Self-contemplation of Spirit renders it of necessity an Infinite
Progression. So it is no use asking what is its ultimate, for it has no
ultimate - its word is "Excelsior" - ever Life and "Life more Abundant."
Therefore the question is not as to finality where there is none, but as to
the next step in the progression. Four kingdoms we know: what is to be the
Fifth? All along the line the progress has been in one direction, namely,
toward the development of more perfect Individuality, and therefore on the
principle of continuity we may reasonably infer that the next stage will
take us still further in the same direction. We want something more perfect
than we have yet reached, but our ideas as to what it should be are very
various, not to say discordant, for one person's idea of better is another
person's idea of worse. Therefore what we want to get at is some broad
generalization of principle which will be in advance of our past
experiences. This means that we must look for this principle in something
that we have not yet experienced, and the only place where we can possibly
find principles which have not yet manifested themselves is _in gremio
Dei_ - that is, in the innermost of the Originating Spirit, or as St. John
calls it, "in the bosom of the Father." So we are logically brought to
personal participation in the Divine Ideal as the only principle by which
the advance into the next stage can possibly be made. Therefore we arrive
at the question, What is the Divine Ideal like?


CHAPTER III

THE DIVINE IDEAL


What is the Divine Ideal? At first it might appear hopeless to attempt to
answer such a question, but by adhering to a definite principle we shall
find that it will open out, and lead us on, and show us things which we
could not otherwise have seen - this is the nature of principle, and is what
distinguishes it from mere rules which are only the application of
principle under some particular set of conditions. We found two principles
as essential in our conception of the Originating Spirit, namely its power
of Selection and its power of Initiative; and we found a third principle as
its only possible Motive, namely the Desire of the LIVING for ever
increasing Enjoyment of Life. Now with these three principles as the very
essence of the All-originating Spirit to guide us, we shall, I think, be
able to form some conception of that Divine Ideal which gives rise to the
Fifth Stage of Manifestation of Spirit, upon which we should now be
preparing to enter.

We have seen that the Spirit's Enjoyment of Life is necessarily a
_reciprocal_ - it must have a corresponding fact in manifestation to answer
to it; otherwise by the inherent law of mind no consciousness, and
consequently no enjoyment, could accrue; and therefore by the law of
continuous progression the required Reciprocal should manifest as a being
awakening to the consciousness of the principle by which he himself comes
into existence.

Such an awakening cannot proceed from a comparison of one set of existing
conditions with another, but only from the recognition of a Power which is
independent of all conditions, that is to say, the absolute Self-dependence
of the Spirit. A being thus awakened would be the proper correspondence of
the Spirit's Enjoyment of Life at a stage not only above mechanical motion
or physical vitality, but even above intellectual perception of existing
phenomena, that is to say at the stage where the Spirit's Enjoyment
consists in recognizing itself as the Source of all things. The position in
the Absolute would be, so to speak, the awakening of Spirit to the
recognition of its own Artistic Ability. I use the word "Artistic" as more
nearly expressing an almost unstatable idea than any other I can think of,
for the work of the artist approaches more closely to creation _ex nihilo_
than any other form of human activity. The work of the artist is the
expression of the self that the artist is, while that of the scientist is
the comparison of facts which exist independently of his own personality.
It is true that the realm of Art is not without its methods of analysis,
but the analysis is that of the artist's own feeling and of the causes
which give rise to it. These are found to contain in themselves certain
principles which are fundamental to all Art, but these principles are the
laws of the creative action of mind rather than those of the limitations of
matter. Now if we may transfer this familiar analogy to our conception of
the working of the All-Originating Mind we may picture it as the Great
Artist giving visible expression to His feeling by a process which, though
subject to no restriction from antecedent conditions, yet works by a Law
which is inseparable from the Feeling itself - in fact the Law _is_ the
Feeling, and the Feeling _is_ the Law, the Law of Perfect Creativeness.

Some such Self-contemplation as this is the only way in which we can
conceive the next, or Fifth, stage of Spirit's Self-recognition as taking
place. Having got as far as it has in the four previous stages, that is to
the production of intellectual man as its correspondence, the next step in
advance must be on the lines I have indicated - unless, indeed, there were a
sudden and arbitrary breaking of the Law of Continuity, a supposition which
the whole Creative Process up to now forbids us to entertain. Therefore we
may picture the Fifth stage of the Self-contemplation of Spirit as its
awakening to the recognition of its own Artistic Ability, its own absolute
freedom of action and creative power - just as in studio parlance we say
that an artist becomes "free of his palette." But by the always present Law
of Reciprocity, through which alone self-consciousness can be attained,
this Self-recognition of Spirit in the Absolute implies a corresponding
objective fact in the world of the Relative; that is to say, the coming
into manifestation of a being capable of realizing the Free Creative
Artistry of the Spirit, and of recognizing the same principle in himself,
while at the same time realizing also the _relation_ between the Universal
Manifesting Principle and its Individual Manifestation.

Such, it appears to me, must be the conception of the Divine Ideal embodied
in the Fifth Stage of the progress of manifestation. But I would draw
particular attention to the concluding words of the last paragraph, for if
we miss the _relation_ between the Universal Manifesting Principle and its
Individual Manifestation, we have failed to realize the Principle
altogether, whether in the Universal or in the Individual - it is just their
interaction that makes each become what it does become - and in this further
becoming consists the progression. This relation proceeds from the
principle I pointed out in the opening chapter which makes it necessary for
the Universal Spirit to be always harmonious with itself; and if this Unity
is not recognized by the individual he cannot hold that position of
Reciprocity to the Originating Spirit which will enable it to recognize
itself as in the Enjoyment of Life at the higher level we are now
contemplating - rather the feeling conveyed would be that of something
antagonistic, producing the reverse of enjoyment, thus philosophically
bringing out the point of the Scriptural injunction, "Grieve not the
Spirit." Also the re-action upon the individual must necessarily give rise
to a corresponding state of inharmony, though he may not be able to define
his feeling of unrest or to account for it. But on the other hand if the
grand harmony of the Originating Spirit within itself is duly regarded,
then the individual mind affords a fresh center from which the Spirit
contemplates itself in what I have ventured to call its Artistic
Originality - a boundless potential of Creativeness, yet always regulated by
its own inherent Law of Unity.

And this Law of the Spirit's Original Unity is a very simple one. It is the
Spirit's necessary and basic conception of itself. A lie is a statement
that something is, which is not. Then, since the Spirit's statement or
conception of anything necessarily makes that thing exist, it is logically
impossible for it to conceive a lie. Therefore the Spirit is Truth.
Similarly disease and death are the negative of Life, and therefore the
Spirit, as the Principle of Life, cannot embody disease or death in its
Self-contemplation. In like manner also, since it is free to produce what
it will, the Spirit cannot desire the presence of repugnant forms, and so
one of its inherent Laws must be Beauty. In this threefold Law of Truth,
Life, and Beauty, we find the whole underlying nature of the Spirit, and no
action on the part of the individual can be at variance with the
Originating Unity which does not contravert these fundamental principles.

This it will be seen leaves the individual absolutely unfettered except in
the direction of breaking up the fundamental harmony on which he himself,
as included in the general creation, is dependent. This certainly cannot be
called limitation, and we are all free to follow the lines of our own
individuality in every other direction; so that, although the recognition
of our relation to the Originating Spirit safeguards us from injuring
ourselves or others, it in no way restricts our liberty of action or
narrows our field of development. Am I, then, trying to base my action upon
a fundamental desire for the opening out of Truth, for the increasing of
Livingness, and for the creating of Beauty? Have I got this as an ever
present Law of Tendency at the back of my thought? If so, then this law
will occupy precisely the same place in My Microcosm, or personal world,
that it does in the Macrocosm, or great world, as a power which is in
itself formless, but which by reason of its presence necessarily impresses
its character upon all that the creative energy forms. On this basis the
creative energy of the Universal Mind may be safely trusted to work through
the specializing influence of our own thought[1] and we may adopt the maxim
"trust your desires" because we know that they are the movement of the
Universal in ourselves, and that being based upon our fundamental
recognition of the Life, Love, and Beauty which the Spirit is, their
unfoldments must carry these initial qualities with them all down the line,
and thus, in however small a degree, becomes a portion of the working of
the Spirit in its inherent creativeness.

This perpetual Creativeness of the Spirit is what we must never lose sight
of, and that is why I want the student to grasp clearly the idea of the
Spirit's Self-contemplation as the only possible root of the Creative
Process. Not only at the first creation of the world, but at all times the
plane of the innermost is that of Pure Spirit,[2] and therefore at this,
the originating point, there is nothing else for Spirit to contemplate
excepting itself; then this Self-contemplation produces corresponding
manifestation, and since Self-contemplation or recognition of its own
existence must necessarily go on continually, the corresponding
creativeness must always be at work. If this fundamental idea be clearly
grasped we shall see that incessant and progressive creativeness is the
very essence and being of Spirit. This is what is meant by the
Affirmativeness of the Spirit. It cannot _per se_ act negatively, that is
to say uncreatively, for by the very nature of its Self-recognition such a
negative action would be impossible. Of course if _we_ act negatively then,
since the Spirit is always acting affirmatively, we are moving in the
opposite direction to it; and consequently so long as we regard our own
negative action as being affirmative, the Spirit's action must appear to us
negative, and thus it is that all the negative conditions of the world have
their root in negative or inverted thought: but the more we bring our
thought into harmony with the Life, Love, and Beauty which the Spirit is,
the less these inverted conditions will obtain, until at last they will be
eliminated altogether. To accomplish this is our great object; for though
the progress may be slow it will be steady if we proceed on a definite
principle; and to lay hold of the true principle is the purpose of our


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Online LibraryThomas TrowardThe Creative Process in the Individual → online text (page 2 of 9)