小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文宗教小说 » The Varieties of Religious Experience 宗教经验种种 » Lecture VIII THE DIVIDED SELF, AND THE PROCESS OF ITS UNIFICATION
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Lecture VIII THE DIVIDED SELF, AND THE PROCESS OF ITS UNIFICATION
The last lecture was a painful one, dealing as it did with evil as a pervasive element of the worldwe live in. At the close of it we were brought into full view of the contrast between the two waysof looking at life which are characteristic respectively of what we called the healthy-minded, whoneed to be born only once, and of the sick souls, who must be twice-born in order to be happy. Theresult is two different conceptions of the universe of our experience. In the religion of the once-born the world is a sort of rectilinear or one-storied affair, whose accounts are kept in onedenomination, whose parts have just the values which naturally they appear to have, and of whicha simple algebraic sum of pluses and minuses will give the total worth. Happiness and religiouspeace consist in living on the plus side of the account. In the religion of the twice-born, on theother hand, the world is a double-storied mystery. Peace cannot be reached by the simple additionof pluses and elimination of minuses from life. Natural good is not simply insufficient in amountand transient, there lurks a falsity in its very being. Cancelled as it all is by death if not by earlierenemies, it gives no final balance, and can never be the thing intended for our lasting worship. Itkeeps us from our real good, rather; and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in thedirection of the truth. There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the onebefore we can participate in the other. In their extreme forms, of pure naturalism and puresalvationism, the two types are violently contrasted; though here as in most other currentclassifications, the radical extremes are somewhat ideal abstractions, and the concrete humanbeings whom we oftenest meet are intermediate varieties and mixtures. Practically, however, youall recognize the difference: you understand, for example, the disdain of the methodist convert forthe mere sky-blue healthy-minded moralist; and you likewise enter into the aversion of the latter towhat seems to him the diseased subjectivism of the Methodist, dying to live, as he calls it, andmaking of paradox and the inversion of natural appearances the essence of God's truth.[86]

[86] E.g., "Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin, origin ofevil, predestination, and the like. These never presented a practical difficulty to any man--neverdarkened across any man's road, who did not go out of his way to seek them. These are the soul'smumps, and measles, and whooping-coughs, etc. Emerson: Spiritual Laws.

The psychological basis of the twice-born character seems to be a certain discordancy orheterogeneity in the native temperament of the subject, an incompletely unified moral andintellectual constitution.

"Homo duplex, homo duplex!" writes Alphonse Daudet. "The first time that I perceived that Iwas two was at the death of my brother Henri, when my father cried out so dramatically, 'He isdead, he is dead!' While my first self wept, my second self thought, 'How truly given was that cry,how fine it would be at the theatre.' I was then fourteen years old.

"This horrible duality has often given me matter for reflection. Oh, this terrible second me,always seated whilst the other is on foot, acting, living, suffering, bestirring itself. This second methat I have never been able to intoxicate, to make shed tears, or put to sleep. And how it sees intothings, and how it mocks!"[87]

[87] Notes sur la Vie, p. 1.

Recent works on the psychology of character have had much to say upon this point.[88] Somepersons are born with an inner constitution which is harmonious and well balanced from the outset.

Their impulses are consistent with one another, their will follows without trouble the guidance oftheir intellect, their passions are not excessive, and their lives are little haunted by regrets. Othersare oppositely constituted; and are so in degrees which may vary from something so slight as toresult in a merely odd or whimsical inconsistency, to a discordancy of which the consequencesmay be inconvenient in the extreme. Of the more innocent kinds of heterogeneity I find a goodexample in Mrs. Annie Besant's autobiography.

[88] See, for example, F. Paulhan, in his book Les Caracteres, 1894, who contrasts lesEquilibres, les Unifies, with les Inquiets, les Contrariants, les Incoherents, les Emiettes, as so manydiverse psychic types.

"I have ever been the queerest mixture of weakness and strength, and have paid heavily for theweakness. As a child I used to suffer tortures of shyness, and if my shoe-lace was untied wouldfeel shamefacedly that every eye was fixed on the unlucky string; as a girl I would shrink awayfrom strangers and think myself unwanted and unliked, so that I was full of eager gratitude to anyone who noticed me kindly, as the young mistress of a house I was afraid of my servants, andwould let careless work pass rather than bear the pain of reproving the ill-doer; when I have beenlecturing and debating with no lack of spirit on the platform, I have preferred to go without what Iwanted at the hotel rather than to ring and make the waiter fetch it. Combative on the platform indefense of any cause I cared for, I shrink from quarrel or disapproval in the house, and am acoward at heart in private while a good fighter in public. How often have I passed unhappyquarters of an hour screwing up my courage to find fault with some subordinate whom my dutycompelled me to reprove, and how often have I jeered myself for a fraud as the doughty platformcombatant, when shrinking from blaming some lad or lass for doing their work badly. An unkindlook or word has availed to make me shrink into myself as a snail into its shell, while, on theplatform, opposition makes me speak my best."[89]

[89] Annie Besant: an Autobiography, p. 82.

This amount of inconsistency will only count as amiable weakness; but a stronger degree ofheterogeneity may make havoc of the subject's life. There are persons whose existence is littlemore than a series of zig-zags, as now one tendency and now another gets the upper hand. Theirspirit wars with their flesh, they wish for incompatibles, wayward impulses interrupt their mostdeliberate plans, and their lives are one long drama of repentance and of effort to repairmisdemeanors and mistakes.

Heterogeneous personality has been explained as the result of inheritance--the traits of characterof incompatible and antagonistic ancestors are supposed to be preserved alongside of each other.

[90] This explanation may pass for what it is worth--it certainly needs corroboration. But whateverthe cause of heterogeneous personality may be, we find the extreme examples of it in thepsychopathic temperament, of which I spoke in my first lecture. All writers about thattemperament make the inner heterogeneity prominent in their descriptions. Frequently, indeed, it isonly this trait that leads us to ascribe that temperament to a man at all. A "degenere superieur" is simply a man of sensibility in many directions, who finds more difficulty than is common inkeeping <167> his spiritual house in order and running his furrow straight, because his feelingsand impulses are too keen and too discrepant mutually. In the haunting and insistent ideas, in theirrational impulses, the morbid scruples, dreads, and inhibitions which beset the psychopathictemperament when it is thoroughly pronounced, we have exquisite examples of heterogeneouspersonality. Bunyan had an obsession of the words, "Sell Christ for this, sell him for that, sell him,sell him!" which would run through his mind a hundred times together, until one day out of breathwith retorting, "I will not, I will not," he impulsively said, "Let him go if he will," and this loss ofthe battle kept him in despair for over a year. The lives of the saints are full of such blasphemousobsessions, ascribed invariably to the direct agency of Satan. The phenomenon connects itself withthe life of the subconscious self, so-called, of which we must erelong speak more directly.

[90] Smith Baker, in Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, September, 1893.

Now in all of us, however constituted, but to a degree the greater in proportion as we are intenseand sensitive and subject to diversified temptations, and to the greatest possible degree if we aredecidedly psychopathic, does the normal evolution of character chiefly consist in the straighteningout and unifying of the inner self. The higher and the lower feelings, the useful and the erringimpulses, begin by being a comparative chaos within us--they must end by forming a stable systemof functions in right subordination. Unhappiness is apt to characterize the period of order-makingand struggle. If the individual be of tender conscience and religiously quickened, the unhappinesswill take the form of moral remorse and compunction, of feeling inwardly vile and wrong, and ofstanding in false relations to the author of one's being and appointer of one's spiritual fate. This isthe religious melancholy and "conviction of sin" that have played so large a part in the history ofProtestant Christianity. The man's interior is a battle-ground for what he feels to be two deadlyhostile selves, one actual, the other ideal. As Victor Hugo makes his Mahomet say:-"Je suis le champ vil des sublimes combats: Tantot l'homme d'en haut, et tantot l'homme d'enbas; Et le mal dans ma bouche avec le bien alterne, Comme dans le desert le sable et la citerne."Wrong living, impotent aspirations; "What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I," asSaint Paul says; self-loathing, self-despair; an unintelligible and intolerable burden to which one ismysteriously the heir.

Let me quote from some typical cases of discordant personality, with melancholy in the form ofself-condemnation and sense of sin. Saint Augustine's case is a classic example. You all rememberhis half-pagan, half-Christian bringing up at Carthage, his emigration to Rome and Milan, hisadoption of Manicheism and subsequent skepticism, and his restless search for truth and purity oflife; and finally how, distracted by the struggle between the two souls in his breast and ashamed ofhis own weakness of will, when so many others whom he knew and knew of had thrown off theshackles of sensuality and dedicated themselves to chastity and the higher life, he heard a voice inthe garden say, "Sume, lege" (take and read), and opening the Bible at random, saw the text, "notin chambering and wantonness," etc., which seemed directly sent to his address, and laid the innerstorm to rest forever.[91] Augustine's psychological genius has given an account of the trouble ofhaving a divided self which has never been surpassed.

[91] Louis Gourdon (Essai sur la Conversion de Saint Augustine, Paris, Fischbacher, 1900) hasshown by an analysis of Augustine's writings immediately after the date of his conversion (A. D.

386) that the account he gives in the Confessions is premature. The crisis in the garden marked adefinitive conversion from his former life, but it was to the neo-platonic spiritualism and only ahalfway stage toward Christianity. The latter he appears not fully and radically to have embraceduntil four years more had passed.

"The new will which I began to have was not yet strong enough to overcome that other will,strengthened by long indulgence. So these two wills, one old, one new, one carnal, the otherspiritual, contended with each other and disturbed my soul. I understood by my own experiencewhat I had read, 'flesh lusteth against spirit, and spirit against flesh.' It was myself indeed in boththe wills, yet more myself in that which I approved in myself than in that which I disapproved inmyself. Yet it was through myself that habit had attained so fierce a mastery over me, because Ihad willingly come whither I willed not. Still bound to earth, I refused, O God, to fight on thy side,as much afraid to be freed from all bonds, as I ought to have feared being trammeled by them.

"Thus the thoughts by which I meditated upon thee were like the efforts of one who wouldawake, but being overpowered with sleepiness is soon asleep again. Often does a man when heavysleepiness is on his limbs defer to shake it off, and though not approving it, encourage it; even so Iwas sure it was better to surrender to thy love than to yield to my own lusts, yet though the formercourse convinced me, the latter pleased and held me bound. There was naught in me to answer thycall 'Awake, thou sleeper,' but only drawling, drowsy words, 'Presently; yes, presently; wait a littlewhile.' But the 'presently' had no 'present,' and the 'little while' grew long. . . . For I was afraid thouwouldst hear me too soon, and heal me at once of my disease of lust, which I wished to satiaterather than to see extinguished. With what lashes of words did I not scourge my own soul. Yet itshrank back; it refused, though it had no excuse to offer. . . . I said within myself: 'Come, let it bedone now,' and as I said it, I was on the point of the resolve. I all but did it, yet I did not do it. AndI made another effort, and almost succeeded, yet I did not reach it, and did not grasp it, hesitatingto die to death, and live to life, and the evil to which I was so wonted held me more than the betterlife I had not tried."[92]

[92] Confessions, Book VIII., Chaps. v., vii., xi., abridged.

There could be no more perfect description of the divided will, when the higher wishes lack justthat last acuteness, that touch of explosive intensity, of dynamogenic quality (to use the slang ofthe psychologists), that enables them to burst their shell, and make irruption efficaciously into lifeand quell the lower tendencies forever. In a later lecture we shall have much to say about thishigher excitability.

I find another good description of the divided will in the autobiography of Henry Alline, theNova Scotian evangelist, of whose melancholy I read a brief account in my last lecture. The pooryouth's sins were, as you will see, of the most harmless order, yet they interfered with what provedto be his truest vocation, so they gave him great distress.

"I was now very moral in my life, but found no rest of conscience. I now began to be esteemed inyoung company, who knew nothing of my mind all this while, and their esteem began to be a snareto my soul, for I soon began to be fond of carnal mirth, though I still flattered myself that if I didnot get drunk, nor curse, nor swear, there would be no sin in frolicking and carnal mirth, and Ithought God would indulge young people with some (what I called simple or civil) recreation. Istill kept a round of duties, and would not suffer myself to run into any open vices, and so gotalong very well in time of health and prosperity, but when I was distressed or threatened bysickness, death, or heavy storms of thunder, my religion would not do, and I found there wassomething wanting, and would begin to repent my going so much to frolics, but when the distresswas over, the devil and my own wicked heart, with the solicitations of my associates, and myfondness for young company, were such strong allurements, I would again give way, and thus I gotto be very wild and rude, at the same time kept up my rounds of secret prayer and reading; butGod, not willing I should destroy myself, still followed me with his calls, and moved with suchpower upon my conscience, that I could not satisfy myself with my diversions, and in the midst ofmy mirth sometimes would have such a sense of my lost and undone condition, that I would wishmyself from the company, and after it was over, when I went home, would make many promisesthat I would attend no more on these frolics, and would beg forgiveness for hours and hours; butwhen I came to have the temptation again, I would give way: no sooner would I hear the music anddrink a glass of wine, but I would find my mind elevated and soon proceed to any sort ofmerriment or diversion, that I thought was not debauched or openly vicious; but when I returnedfrom my carnal mirth I felt as guilty as ever, and could sometimes not close my eyes for somehours after I had gone to my bed. I was one of the most unhappy creatures on earth.

"Sometimes I would leave the company (often speaking to the fiddler to cease from playing, as ifI was tired), and go out and walk about crying and praying, as if my very heart would break, andbeseeching God that he would not cut me off, nor give me up to hardness of heart. Oh, whatunhappy hours and nights I thus wore away! When I met sometimes with merry companions, andmy heart was ready to sink, I would labor to put on as cheerful a countenance as possible, that theymight not distrust anything, and sometimes would begin some discourse with young men or youngwomen on purpose, or propose a merry song, lest the distress of my soul would be discovered, ormistrusted, when at the same time I would then rather have been in a wilderness in exile, than withthem or any of their pleasures or enjoyments. Thus for many months when I was in company? Iwould act the hypocrite and feign a merry heart but at the same time would endeavor as much as Icould to shun their company, oh wretched and unhappy mortal that I was! Everything I did, andwherever I went, I was still in a storm and yet I continued to be the chief contriver and ringleaderof the frolics for many months after; though it was a toil and torment to attend them; but the deviland my own wicked heart drove me about like a slave, telling me that I must do this and do that,and bear this and bear that, and turn here and turn there, to keep my credit up, and retain theesteem of my associates: and all this while I continued as strict as possible in my duties, and left nostone unturned to pacify my conscience, watching even against my thoughts, and prayingcontinually wherever I went: for I did not think there was any sin in my conduct, when I wasamong carnal company, because I did not take any satisfaction there, but only followed it, Ithought, for sufficient reasons.

"But still, all that I did or could do, conscience would roar night and day."Saint Augustine and Alline both emerged into the smooth waters of inner unity and peace, and Ishall next ask you to consider more closely some of the peculiarities of the process of unification,when it occurs. It may come gradually, or it may occur abruptly; it may come through alteredfeelings, or through altered powers of action; or it may come through new intellectual insights, orthrough experiences which we shall later have to designate as 'mystical.' However it come, itbrings a characteristic sort of relief; and never such extreme relief as when it is cast into thereligious mould. Happiness! happiness! religion is only one of the ways in which men gain thatgift. Easily, permanently, and successfully, it often transforms the most intolerable misery into theprofoundest and most enduring happiness.

But to find religion is only one out of many ways of reaching unity; and the process ofremedying inner incompleteness and reducing inner discord is a general psychological process,which may take place with any sort of mental material, and need not necessarily assume thereligious form. In judging of the religious types of regeneration which we are about to study, it isimportant to recognize that they are only one species of a genus that contains other types as well.

For example, the new birth may be away from religion into incredulity; or it may be from moralscrupulosity into freedom and license; or it may be produced by the irruption into the individual'slife of some new stimulus or passion, such as love, ambition, cupidity, revenge, or patrioticdevotion. In all these instances we have precisely the same psychological form of event,--afirmness, stability, and equilibrium <173> succeeding a period of storm and stress andinconsistency. In these non-religious cases the new man may also be born either gradually orsuddenly.

The French philosopher Jouffroy has left an eloquent memorial of his own "counter-conversion,"as the transition from orthodoxy to infidelity has been well styled by Mr. Starbuck. Jouffroy'sdoubts had long harassed him; but he dates his final crisis from a certain night when his disbeliefgrew fixed and stable, and where the immediate result was sadness at the illusions he had lost.

"I shall never forget that night of December," writes Jouffroy, "in which the veil that concealedfrom me my own incredulity was torn. I hear again my steps in that narrow naked chamber wherelong after the hour of sleep had come I had the habit of walking up and down. I see again thatmoon, half-veiled by clouds, which now and again illuminated the frigid window-panes. The hoursof the night flowed on and I did not note their passage. Anxiously I followed my thoughts, as fromlayer to layer they descended towards the foundation of my consciousness, and, scattering one byone all the illusions which until then had screened its windings from my view, made them everymoment more clearly visible.

"Vainly I clung to these last beliefs as a shipwrecked sailor clings to the fragments of his vessel;vainly, frightened at the unknown void in which I was about to float, I turned with them towardsmy childhood, my family, my country, all that was dear and sacred to me: the inflexible current ofmy thought was too strong--parents, family, memory, beliefs, it forced me to let go of everything.

The investigation went on more obstinate and more severe as it drew near its term, and did not stopuntil the end was reached. I knew then that in the depth of my mind nothing was left that stooderect.

"This moment was a frightful one; and when towards morning I threw myself exhausted on mybed, I seemed to feel my earlier life, so smiling and so full, go out like a fire, and before meanother life opened, sombre and unpeopled, where in future I must live alone, alone with my fatalthought which had exiled me thither, and which I was tempted to curse. The days which followedthis discovery were the saddest of my life."[93]

[93] Th. Jouffroy: Nouveaux Melanges philosophiques, 2me edition, p. 83. I add two other casesof counter-conversion dating from a certain moment. The first is from Professor Starbuck'smanuscript collection, and the narrator is a woman.

"Away down in the bottom of my heart, I believe I was always more or less skeptical about'God;' skepticism grew as an undercurrent, all through my early youth, but it was controlled andcovered by the emotional elements in my religious growth. When I was sixteen I joined the churchand was asked if I loved God. I replied 'Yes,' as was customary and expected. But instantly with aflash something spoke within me, 'No, you do not.' I was haunted for a long time with shame andremorse for my falsehood and for my wickedness in not loving God, mingled with fear that theremight be an avenging God who would punish me in some terrible way. . . . At nineteen, I had anattack of tonsilitis. Before I had quite recovered, I heard told a story of a brute who had kicked hiswife down-stairs, and then continued the operation until she became insensible. I felt the horror ofthe thing keenly. Instantly this thought flashed through my mind: 'I have no use for a God whopermits such things.' This experience was followed by months of stoical indifference to the God ofmy previous life, mingled with feelings of positive dislike and a somewhat proud defiance of him.

I still thought there might be a God. If so he would probably damn me, but I should have to standit. I felt very little fear and no desire to propitiate him. I have never had any personal relations withhim since this painful experience."The second case exemplifies how small an additional stimulus will overthrow the mind into anew state of equilibrium when the process of preparation and incubation has proceeded far enough.

It is like the proverbial last straw added to the camel's burden, or that touch of a needle whichmakes the salt in a supersaturated fluid suddenly begin to crystallize out.

Tolstoy writes: "S., a frank and intelligent man, told me as follows how he ceased to believe:-"He was twenty-six years old when one day on a hunting expedition, the time for sleep havingcome, he set himself to pray according to the custom he had held from childhood.

"His brother, who was hunting with him, lay upon the hay and looked at him. When S. hadfinished his prayer and was turning to sleep, the brother said, 'Do you still keep up that thing?'

Nothing more was said. But since that day, now more than thirty years ago, S. has never prayedagain; he never takes communion, and does not go to church. All this, not because he becameacquainted with convictions of his brother which he then and there adopted; not because he madeany new resolution in his soul, but merely because the words spoken by his brother were like thelight push of a finger against a leaning wall already about to tumble by its own weight. Thesewords but showed him that the place wherein he supposed religion dwelt in him had long beenempty, and that the sentences he uttered, the crosses and bows which he made during his prayer,were actions with no inner sense. Having once seized their absurdity, he could no longer keepthem up." Ma Confession, p. 8.

I subjoin an additional document which has come into my possession, and which represents in avivid way what is probably a very frequent sort of conversion, if the opposite of 'falling in love,'

falling out of love, may be so termed. Falling in love also conforms frequently to this type, a latentprocess of unconscious preparation often preceding a sudden awakening to the fact that themischief is irretrievably done. The free and easy tone in this narrative gives it a sincerity thatspeaks for itself.

"For two years of this time I went through a very bad experience, which almost drove me mad. Ihad fallen violently in love with a girl who, young as she was, had a spirit of coquetry like a cat.

As I look back on her now, I hate her, and wonder how I could ever have fallen so low as to beworked upon to such an extent by her attractions. Nevertheless, I fell into a regular fever, couldthink of nothing else; whenever I was alone, I pictured her attractions, and spent most of the timewhen I should have been working, in recalling our previous interviews, and imagining futureconversations. She was very pretty, good humored, and jolly to the last degree, and intenselypleased with my admiration. Would give me no decided answer yes or no and the queer thingabout it was that whilst pursuing her for her hand, I secretly knew all along that she was unfit to bea wife for me, and that she never would say yes. Although for a year we took our meals at the sameboarding-house, so that I saw her continually and familiarly, our closer relations had to be largelyon the sly, and this fact, together with my jealousy of another one of her male admirers and myown conscience despising me for my uncontrollable weakness, made me so nervous and sleeplessthat I really thought I should become insane. I understand well those young men murdering theirsweethearts, which appear so often in the papers. Nevertheless I did love her passionately, and insome ways she did deserve it.

"The queer thing was the sudden and unexpected way in which it all stopped. I was going to mywork after breakfast one morning, thinking as usual of her and of my misery, when, just as if someoutside power laid hold of me, I found myself turning round and almost running to my room,where I immediately got out all the relics of her which I possessed, including some hair, all hernotes and letters and ambrotypes on glass. The former I made a fire of, the latter I actually crushedbeneath my heel, in a sort of fierce joy of revenge and punishment. I now loathed and despised heraltogether, and as for myself I felt as if a load of disease had suddenly been removed from me.

That was the end. I never spoke to her or wrote to her again in all the subsequent years, and I havenever had a single moment of loving thought towards one for so many months entirely filled myheart. In fact, I have always rather hated her memory, though now I can see that I had goneunnecessarily far in that direction. At any rate, from that happy morning onward I regainedpossession of my own proper soul, and have never since fallen into any similar trap."This seems to me an unusually clear example of two different levels of personality, inconsistentin their dictates, yet so well balanced against each other as for a long time to fill the life withdiscord and dissatisfaction. At last, not gradually, but in a sudden crisis, the unstable equilibrium isresolved, and this happens so unexpectedly that it is as if, to use the writer's words, "some outsidepower laid hold."Professor Starbuck gives an analogous case, and a converse case of hatred suddenly turning intolove, in his Psychology of Religion, p. 141. Compare the other highly curious instances which hegives on pp. 137-144, of sudden non-religious alterations of habit or character. He seems right in conceiving all such sudden changes as results of special cerebral functions unconsciouslydeveloping until they are ready to play a controlling part when they make irruption into theconscious life. When we treat of sudden 'conversion,' I shall make as much use as I can of thishypothesis of subconscious incubation.

<175> In John Foster's Essay on Decision of Character, there is an account of a case of suddenconversion to avarice, which is illustrative enough to quote:-Ayoung man, it appears, "wasted, in two or three years, a large patrimony in profligate revelswith a number of worthless associates who called themselves his friends, and who, when his lastmeans were exhausted, treated him of course with neglect or contempt. Reduced to absolute want,he one day went out of the house with an intention to put an end to his life, but wandering awhilealmost unconsciously, he came to the brow of an eminence which overlooked what were lately hisestates. Here he sat down, and remained fixed in thought a number of hours, at the end of which hesprang from the ground with a vehement, exulting emotion. He had formed his resolution, whichwas, that all these estates should be his again; he had formed his plan, too, which he instantlybegan to execute. He walked hastily forward, determined to seize the first opportunity, of howeverhumble a kind, to gain any money, though it were ever so despicable a trifle, and resolvedabsolutely not to spend, if he could help it, a farthing of whatever he might obtain. The first thingthat drew his attention was a heap of coals shot out of carts on the pavement before a house. Heoffered himself to shovel or wheel them into the place where they were to be laid, and wasemployed.

He received a few pence for the labor; and then, in pursuance of the saving part of his planrequested some small gratuity of meat and drink, which was given <176> him. He then looked outfor the next thing that might chance; and went, with indefatigable industry, through a succession ofservile employments in different places, of longer and shorter duration, still scrupulous inavoiding, as far as possible, the expense of a penny. He promptly seized every opportunity whichcould advance his design, without regarding the meanness of occupation or appearance. By thismethod he had gained, after a considerable time, money enough to purchase in order to sell again afew cattle, of which he had taken pains to understand the value. He speedily but cautiously turnedhis first gains into second advantages; retained without a single deviation his extreme parsimony;and thus advanced by degrees into larger transactions and incipient wealth. I did not hear, or haveforgotten, the continued course of his life, but the final result was, that he more than recovered hislost possessions, and died an inveterate miser, worth L60,000."[94]

[94] Op. cit., Letter III., abridged.

Let me turn now to the kind of case, the religious case, namely, that immediately concerns us.

Here is one of the simplest possible type, an account of the conversion to the systematic religion ofhealthy-mindedness of a man who must already have been naturally of the healthy-minded type. Itshows how, when the fruit is ripe, a touch will make it fall.

Mr. Horace Fletcher, in his little book called Menticulture, relates that a friend with whom hewas talking of the self-control attained by the Japanese through their practice of the Buddhistdiscipline said:-"'You must first get rid of anger and worry.' 'But,' said I, 'is that possible?' 'Yes,' replied he; 'it ispossible to the Japanese, and ought to be possible to us.'

"On my way back I could think of nothing else but the words get rid, get rid'; and the idea musthave continued to possess me during my sleeping hours, for the first consciousness in the morningbrought back the same thought, with the revelation of a discovery, which framed itself into thereasoning, 'If it is possible to get rid of anger and worry, why is it necessary to have them at all?' Ifelt the strength of the argument, and at once accepted the reasoning. The baby had discovered thatit could walk. It would scorn to creep any longer.

"From the instant I realized that these cancer spots of worry and anger were removable, they leftme. With the discovery of their weakness they were exorcised. From that time life has had anentirely different aspect.

"Although from that moment the possibility and desirability of freedom from the depressingpassions has been a reality to me, it took me some months to feel absolute security in my newposition; but, as the usual occasions for worry and anger have presented themselves over and overagain, and I have been unable to feel them in the slightest degree, I no longer dread or guardagainst them, and I am amazed at my increased energy and vigor of mind, at my strength to meetsituations of all kinds and at my disposition to love and appreciate everything.

"I have had occasion to travel more than ten thousand miles by rail since that morning. The samePullman porter, conductor, hotel-waiter, peddler, book-agent, cabman, and others who wereformerly a source of annoyance and irritation have been met, but I am not conscious of a singleincivility. All at once the whole world has turned good to me. I have become, as it were, sensitiveonly to the rays of good.

"I could recount many experiences which prove a brand-new condition of mind, but one will besufficient. Without the slightest feeling of annoyance or impatience, I have seen a train that I hadplanned to take with a good deal of interested and pleasurable anticipation move out of the stationwithout me, because my baggage did not arrive. The porter from the hotel came running andpanting into the station just as the train pulled out of sight. When he saw me, he looked as if hefeared a scolding. and began to tell of being blocked in a crowded street and unable to get out.

When he had finished, I said to him: 'It doesn't matter at all, you couldn't help it, so we will tryagain to-morrow. Here is your fee, I am sorry you had all this trouble in earning it.' The look ofsurprise that came over his face was so filled with pleasure that I was repaid on the spot for thedelay in my departure. Next day he would not accept a cent for the service, and he and I are friendsfor life.

"During the first weeks of my experience I was on guard only against worry and anger; but, inthe mean time, having noticed the absence of the other depressing and dwarfing passions, I beganto trace a relationship, until I was convinced that they are all growths from the two roots I havespecified. I have felt the freedom now for so long a time that I am sure of my relation toward it; and I could no more harbor any of the thieving and depressing influences that once I nursed as aheritage of humanity than a fop would voluntarily wallow in a filthy gutter.

"There is no doubt in my mind that pure Christianity and pure Buddhism, and the MentalSciences and all Religions fundamentally teach what has been a discovery to me; but none of themhave presented it in the light of a simple and easy process of elimination. At one time I wonderedif the elimination would not yield to indifference and sloth. In my experience, the contrary is theresult. I feel such an increased desire to do something useful that it seems as if I were a boy againand the energy for play had returned. I could fight as readily as (and better than) ever, if there wereoccasion for it. It does not make one a coward. It can't, since fear is one of the things eliminated. Inotice the absence of timidity in the presence of any audience. When a boy, I was standing under atree which was struck by lightning, and received a shock from the effects of which I never knewexemption until I had dissolved partnership with worry. Since then, lightning and thunder havebeen encountered under conditions which would formerly have caused great depression anddiscomfort, without [my] experiencing a trace of either. Surprise is also greatly modified, and oneis less liable to become startled by unexpected sights or noises.

"As far as I am individually concerned, I am not bothering myself at present as to what theresults of this emancipated condition may be. I have no doubt that the perfect health aimed at byChristian Science may be one of the possibilities, for I note a marked improvement in the way mystomach does its duty in assimilating the food I give it to handle, and I am sure it works better tothe sound of a song than under the friction of a frown. Neither am I wasting any of this precioustime formulating an idea of a future existence or a future Heaven. The Heaven that I have withinmyself is as attractive as any that has been promised or that I can imagine; and I am willing to letthe growth lead where it will, as long as the anger and their brood have no part in misguidingit."[95]

[95] H. Fletcher: Menticulture, or the A-B-C of True Living, New York and Chicago, 1899, pp.

26, 36, abridged.

The older medicine used to speak of two ways, lysis and crisis, one gradual, the other abrupt, inwhich one might recover from a bodily disease. In the spiritual realm there are also two ways, onegradual, the other sudden, in which inner unification may occur. Tolstoy and Bunyan may againserve us as examples, examples, as it happens, of the gradual way, though it must be confessed atthe outset that it is hard to follow these windings of the hearts of others, and one feels that theirwords do not reveal their total secret.

Howe'er this be, Tolstoy, pursuing his unending questioning, <181> seemed to come to oneinsight after another. First he perceived that his conviction that life was meaningless took only thisfinite life into account. He was looking for the value of one finite term in that of another, and thewhole result could only be one of those indeterminate equations in mathematics which end withinfinity. Yet this is as far as the reasoning intellect by itself can go, unless irrational sentiment orfaith brings in the infinite. Believe in the infinite as common people do, and life grows possibleagain.

"Since mankind has existed, wherever life has been, there also has been the faith that gave thepossibility of living. Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroyhimself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live. If Man did not believe that hemust live for something, he would not live at all. The idea of an infinite God, of the divinity of thesoul, of the union of men's actions with God--these are ideas elaborated in the infinite secret depthsof human thought. They are ideas without which there would be no life, without which I myself,"said Tolstoy, "would not exist. I began to see that I had no right to rely on my individual reasoningand neglect these answers given by faith, for they are the only answers to the question."Yet how believe as the common people believe, steeped as they are in grossest superstition? It isimpossible--but yet their life! their life! It is normal. It is happy! It is an answer to the question!

Little by little, Tolstoy came to the settled conviction--he says it took him two years to arrivethere--that his trouble had not been with life in general, not with the common life of common men,but with the life of the upper, intellectual, artistic classes, the life which he had personally alwaysled, the cerebral life, the life of conventionality, artificiality, and personal ambition. He had beenliving wrongly and must change. To work for animal needs, to abjure lies and vanities, to relievecommon wants, to be simple, to believe in God, therein lay happiness again.

"I remember," he says, "one day in early spring, I was alone in the forest, lending my ear to itsmysterious noises. I listened, and my thought went back to what for these three years it always wasbusy with--the quest of God. But the idea of him, I said, how did I ever come by the idea?

"And again there arose in me, with this thought, glad aspirations towards life. Everything in meawoke and received a meaning. . . .Why do I look farther? a voice within me asked. He is there:

he, without whom one cannot live. To acknowledge God and to live are one and the same thing.

God is what life is. Well, then! live, seek God, and there will be no life without him. . . .

"After this, things cleared up within me and about me better than ever, and the light has neverwholly died away. I was saved from suicide. Just how or when the change took place I cannot tell.

But as insensibly and gradually as the force of life had been annulled within me, and I had reachedmy moral death-bed, just as gradually and imperceptibly did the energy of life come back. Andwhat was strange was that this energy that came back was nothing new. It was my ancient juvenileforce of faith, the belief that the sole purpose of my life was to be BETTER. I gave up the life ofthe conventional world, recognizing it to be no life, but a parody on life, which its superfluitiessimply keep us from comprehending,"--and Tolstoy thereupon embraced the life of the peasants,and has felt right and happy, or at least relatively so, ever since.[96]

[96] I have considerably abridged Tolstoy's words in my translation.

As I interpret his melancholy, then, it was not merely an accidental vitiation of his humors,though it was doubtless also that. It was logically called for by the clash between his innercharacter and his outer activities and aims. Although a literary artist, Tolstoy was one of thoseprimitive oaks of men to whom the superfluities and insincerities, the cupidities, complications,and cruelties of our polite civilization are profoundly unsatisfying, and for whom the eternalveracities lie with more natural and animal things. His crisis was the getting of his soul in order,the discovery of its genuine habitat and vocation, the escape from falsehoods into what for him were ways of truth. It was a case of heterogeneous personality tardily and slowly finding its unityand level. And though not many of us can imitate Tolstoy, not having enough, perhaps, of theaboriginal human marrow in our bones, most of us may at least feel as if it might be better for us ifwe could.

Bunyan's recovery seems to have been even slower. For years together he was alternatelyhaunted with texts of Scripture, now up and now down, but at last with an ever growing relief inhis salvation through the blood of Christ.

"My peace would be in and out twenty times a day; comfort now and trouble presently; peacenow and before I could go a furlong as full of guilt and fear as ever heart could hold." When agood text comes home to him, "This," he writes, "gave me good encouragement for the space oftwo or three hours"; or "This was a good day to me, I hope I shall not forget it", or "The glory ofthese words was then so weighty on me that I was ready to swoon as I sat; yet, not with grief andtrouble, but with solid joy and peace"; or "This made a strange seizure on my spirit; it brought lightwith it, and commanded a silence in my heart of all those tumultuous thoughts that before did use,like masterless hell-hounds, to roar and bellow and make a hideous noise within me. It showed methat Jesus Christ had not quite forsaken and cast off my Soul."Such periods accumulate until he can write: "And now remained only the hinder part of thetempest, for the thunder was gone beyond me, only some drops would still remain, that now andthen would fall upon me";--and at last: "Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was loosedfrom my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time, thosedreadful Scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace andlove of God. . . . Now could I see myself in Heaven and Earth at once; in Heaven by my Christ, bymy Head, by my Righteousness and Life, though on Earth by my body or person. . . . Christ was aprecious Christ to my soul that night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy and peace and triumphthrough Christ."Bunyan became a minister of the gospel, and in spite of his neurotic constitution, and of thetwelve years he lay in prison for his non-conformity, his life was turned to active use. He was apeacemaker and doer of good, and the immortal Allegory which he wrote has brought the veryspirit of religious patience home to English hearts.

But neither Bunyan nor Tolstoy could become what we have called healthy-minded. They haddrunk too deeply of the cup of bitterness ever to forget its taste, and their redemption is into auniverse two stories deep. Each of them realized a good which broke the effective edge of hissadness; yet the sadness was preserved as a minor ingredient in the heart of the faith by which itwas overcome. The fact of interest for us is that as a matter of fact they could and did findSOMETHING welling up in the inner reaches of their consciousness, by which such extremesadness could be overcome. Tolstoy does well to talk of it as THAT BY WHICH MEN LIVE; forthat is exactly what it is, a stimulus, an excitement, a faith, a force that re-infuses the positivewillingness to live, even in full presence of the evil perceptions that erewhile made life seemunbearable. For Tolstoy's perceptions of evil appear within their sphere to have remainedunmodified. His later works show him implacable to the whole system of official values: theignobility of fashionable life; the infamies of empire; the spuriousness of the church, the vainconceit of the professions; the meannesses and cruelties that go with great success; and every other pompous crime and lying institution of this world. To all patience with such things his experiencehas been for him a perroanent ministry of death.

Bunyan also leaves this world to the enemy.

"I must first pass a sentence of death," he says, "upon everything that can properly be called athing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments, and all,as dead to me, and myself as dead to them; to trust in God through Christ, as touching the world tocome, and as touching this world, to count the grave my house, to make my bed in darkness, and tosay to corruption, Thou art my father and to the worm, Thou art my mother and sister. . . . Theparting with my wife and my poor children hath often been to me as the pulling of my flesh frommy bones, especially my poor blind child who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides. Poorchild, thought I, what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must bebeaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot nowendure that the wind should blow upon thee. But yet I must venture you all with God, though itgoeth to the quick to leave you."[97]

[97] In my quotations from Bunyan I have omitted certain intervening portions of the text.

The "hue of resolution" is there, but the full flood of ecstatic liberation seems never to havepoured over poor John Bunyan's soul.

These examples may suffice to acquaint us in a general way with the phenomenon technicallycalled "Conversion." In the next lecture I shall invite you to study its peculiarities andconcomitants in some detail.


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533