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首页 » 英文宗教小说 » The Varieties of Religious Experience 宗教经验种种 » Lecture XX CONCLUSIONS
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The material of our study of human nature is now spread before us; and in this parting hour, setfree from the duty of description, we can draw our theoretical and practical conclusions. In my firstlecture, defending the empirical method, I foretold that whatever conclusions we might come tocould be reached by spiritual judgments only, appreciations of the significance for life of religion,taken "on the whole." Our conclusions cannot be as sharp as dogmatic conclusions would be, but Iwill formulate them, when the time comes, as sharply as I can.

Summing up in the broadest possible way the characteristics of the religious life, as we havefound them, it includes the following beliefs:-1. That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it draws its chiefsignificance;2. That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our true end;3. That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof--be that spirit "God" or "law"--is aprocess wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects,psychological or material, within the phenomenal world.

Religion includes also the following psychological characteristics:-4. A new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the form either of lyrical enchantmentor of appeal to earnestness and heroism.

5. An assurance of safety and a temper of peace, and, in relation to others, a preponderance ofloving affections.

In illustrating these characteristics by documents, we have been literally bathed in sentiment. Inre-reading my manuscript, I am almost appalled at the amount of emotionality which I find in it.

After so much of this, we can afford to be dryer and less sympathetic in the rest of the work thatlies before us.

The sentimentality of many of my documents is a consequence of the fact that I sought themamong the extravagances of the subject. If any of you are enemies of what our ancestors used tobrand as enthusiasm, and are, nevertheless, still listening to me now, you have probably felt myselection to have been sometimes almost perverse, and have wished I might have stuck to sobererexamples. I reply that I took these extremer examples as yielding the profounder information. Tolearn the secrets of any science, we go to expert specialists, even though they may be eccentricpersons, and not to commonplace pupils. We combine what they tell us with the rest of ourwisdom, and form our final judgment independently. Even so with religion. We who have pursuedsuch radical expressions of it may now be sure that we know its secrets as authentically as anyonecan know them who learns them from another; and we have next to answer, each of us for himself,the practical question: what are the dangers in this element of life? and in what proportion may itneed to be restrained by other elements, to give the proper balance?

But this question suggests another one which I will answer immediately and get it out of the way,for it has more than once already vexed us.[330] Ought it to be assumed that in all men the mixtureof religion with other elements should be identical? Ought it, indeed, to be assumed that the livesof all men should show identical religious elements? In other words, is the existence of so manyreligious types and sects and creeds regrettable?

[330] For example, on pages 135, 160, 326 above.

To these questions I answer "No" emphatically. And my reason is that I do not see how it ispossible that creatures in such different positions and with such different powers as humanindividuals are, should have exactly the same functions and the same duties. No two of us haveidentical difficulties, nor should we be expected to work out identical solutions. Each, from hispeculiar angle of observation, takes in a certain sphere of fact and trouble, which each must dealwith in a unique manner. One of us must soften himself, another must harden himself; one mustyield a point, another must stand firm--in order the better to defend the position assigned him. If anEmerson were forced to be a Wesley, or a Moody forced to be a Whitman, the total humanconsciousness of the divine would suffer. The divine can mean no single quality, it must mean agroup of qualities, by being champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthymissions. Each attitude being a syllable in human nature's total message, it takes the whole of us tospell the meaning out completely. So a "god of battles" must be allowed to be the god for one kindof person, a god of peace and heaven and home, the god for another. We must frankly recognizethe fact that we live in partial systems, and that parts are not interchangeable in the spiritual life. Ifwe are peevish and jealous, destruction of the self must be an element of our religion; why need itbe one if we are good and sympathetic from the outset? If we are sick souls, we require a religionof deliverance; but why think so much of deliverance, if we are healthy-minded?[331]

Unquestionably, some men have the completer experience and the higher vocation, here just as inthe social world; but for each man to stay in his own experience, whate'er it be, and for others totolerate him there, is surely best.

[331] From this point of view, the contrasts between the healthy and the morbid mind, andbetween the once-born and the twice-born types, of which I spoke in earlier lectures (see pp. 159164),cease to be the radical antagonisms which many think them. The twice-born look down uponthe rectilinear consciousness of life of the once-born as being "mere morality," and not properlyreligion. "Dr. Channing," an orthodox minister is reported to have said, "is excluded from thehighest form of religious life by the extraordinary rectitude of his character." It is indeed true thatthe outlook upon life of the twice-born--holding as it does more of the element of evil in solution-isthe wider and completer. The "heroic" or "solemn" way in which life comes to them is a "highersynthesis" into which healthy-mindedness and morbidness both enter and combine. Evil is notevaded, but sublated in the higher religious cheer of these persons (see pp. 47-52, 354-357). Butthe final consciousness which each type reaches of union with the divine has the same practicalsignificance for the individual; and individuals may well be allowed to get to it by the channelswhich lie most open to their several temperaments. In the cases which were quoted in Lecture IV,of the mind-cure form of healthy-mindedness, we found abundant examples of regenerativeprocess. The severity of the crisis in this process is a matter of degree. How long one shallcontinue to drink the consciousness of evil, and when one shall begin to short-circuit and get rid ofit, are also matters of amount and degree, so that in many instances it is quite arbitrary whether weclass the individual as a once-born or a twice-born subject.

But, you may now ask, would not this one-sidedness be cured if we should all espouse thescience of religions as our own religion? In answering this question I must open again the generalrelations of the theoretic to the active life.

Knowledge about a thing is not the thing itself. You remember what Al-Ghazzali told us in theLecture on Mysticism--that to understand the causes of drunkenness, as a physician understandsthem, is not to be drunk. A science might come to understand everything about the causes andelements of religion, and might even decide which elements were qualified, by their generalharmony with other branches of knowledge, to be considered true; and yet the best man at thisscience might be the man who found it hardest to be personally devout. Tout savoir c'est toutpardonner. The name of Renan would doubtless occur to many persons as an example of the wayin which breadth of knowledge may make one only a dilettante in possibilities, and blunt theacuteness of one's living faith.[332] If religion be a function by which either God's cause or man'scause is to be really advanced, then he who lives the life of it, however narrowly, is a better servantthan he who merely knows about it, however much. Knowledge about life is one thing; effectiveoccupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.

[332] Compare, e.g., the quotation from Renan on p. 37, above.

For this reason, the science of religions may not be an equivalent for living religion; and if weturn to the inner difficulties of such a science, we see that a point comes when she must drop thepurely theoretic attitude, and either let her knots remain uncut, or have them cut by active faith. Tosee this, suppose that we have our science of religions constituted as a matter of fact. Suppose thatshe has assimilated all the necessary historical material and distilled out of it as its essence thesame conclusions which I myself a few moments ago pronounced. Suppose that she agrees thatreligion, wherever it is an active thing, involves a belief in ideal presences, and a belief that in ourprayerful communion with them,[333] work is done, and something real comes to pass. She hasnow to exert her critical activity, and to decide how far, in the light of other sciences and in that ofgeneral philosophy, such beliefs can be considered TRUE.

[333] "Prayerful" taken in the broader sense explained above on pp. 453 ff.

Dogmatically to decide this is an impossible task. Not only are the other sciences and thephilosophy still far from being completed, but in their present state we find them full of conflicts.

The sciences of nature know nothing of spiritual presences, and on the whole hold no practicalcommerce whatever with the idealistic conceptions towards which general philosophy inclines.

The scientist, so-called, is, during his scientific hours at least, so materialistic that one may wellsay that on the whole the influence of science goes against the notion that religion should berecognized at all. And this antipathy to religion finds an echo within the very science of religionsitself. The cultivator of this science has to become acquainted with so many groveling and horriblesuperstitions that a presumption easily arises in his mind that any belief that is religious probably isfalse. In the "prayerful communion" of savages with such mumbo-jumbos of deities as theyacknowledge, it is hard for us to see what genuine spiritual work--even though it were workrelative only to their dark savage obligations-- can possibly be done.

The consequence is that the conclusions of the science of religions are as likely to be adverse asthey are to be favorable to the claim that the essence of religion is true. There is a notion in the airabout us that religion is probably only an anachronism, a case of "survival," an atavistic relapseinto a mode of thought which humanity in its more enlightened examples has outgrown; and thisnotion our religious anthropologists at present do little to counteract.

This view is so widespread at the present day that I must consider it with some explicitnessbefore I pass to my own conclusions. Let me call it the "Survival theory," for brevity's sake.

The pivot round which the religious life, as we have traced it, revolves, is the interest of theindividual in his private personal destiny. Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the historyof human egotism. The gods believed in--whether by crude savages or by men disciplinedintellectually--agree with each other in recognizing personal calls. Religious thought is carried onin terms of personality, this being, in the world of religion, the one fundamental fact. To-day, quiteas much as at any previous age, the religious individual tells you that the divine meets him on thebasis of his personal concerns.

Science, on the other hand, has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view. Shecatalogues her elements and records her laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth bythem, and constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human anxieties and fates.

Though the scientist may individually nourish a religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours,the days are over when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the glory ofGod and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Our solar system, with its harmonies, is seen nowas but one passing case of a certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a localaccident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist. In a span of time which as acosmic interval will count but as an hour, it will have ceased to be. The Darwinian notion ofchance production, and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest as well asto the smallest facts. It is impossible, in the present temper of the scientific imagination, to find inthe driftings of the cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular scale,anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing, achieving no proper history, andleaving no result. Nature has no one distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible tofeel a sympathy. In the vast rhythm of her processes, as the scientific mind now follows them, sheappears to cancel herself. The books of natural theology which satisfied the intellects of ourgrandfathers seem to us quite grotesque,[334] representing, as they did, a God who conformed thelargest things of nature to the paltriest of our private wants. The God whom science recognizesmust be a God of universal laws exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business. Hecannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals. The bubbles on the foamwhich coats a stormy sea are floating episodes, made and unmade by the forces of the wind andwater. Our private selves are like those bubbles--epiphenomena, as Clifford, I believe, ingeniouslycalled them; their destinies weigh nothing and determine nothing in the world's irremediablecurrents of events.

[334] How was it ever conceivable, we ask, that a man like Christian Wolff, in whose dry-asdusthead all the learning of the early eighteenth century was concentrated, should have preservedsuch a baby-like faith in the personal and human character of Nature as to expound her operationsas he did in his work on the uses of natural things? This, for example, is the account he gives of thesun and its utility:-"We see that God has created the sun to keep the changeable conditions on the earth in such anorder that living creatures, men and beasts, may inhabit its surface. Since men are the mostreasonable of creatures, and able to infer God's invisible being from the contemplation of theworld, the sun in so far forth contributes to the primary purpose of creation: without it the race ofman could not be preserved or continued. . . . The sun makes daylight, not only on our earth, butalso on the other planets; and daylight is of the utmost utility to us, for by its means we cancommodiously carry on those occupations which in the night-time would either be quiteimpossible. Or at any rate impossible without our going to the expense of artificial light. Thebeasts of the field can find food by day which they would not be able to find at night. Moreover weowe it to the sunlight that we are able to see everything that is on the earth's surface, not only nearby, but also at a distance, and to recognize both near and far things according to their species,which again is of manifold use to us not only in the business necessary to human life, and when weare traveling, but also for the scientific knowledge of Nature, which knowledge for the most partdepends on observations made with the help of sight, and without the sunshine, would have beenimpossible. If any one would rightly impress on his mind the great advantages which he derivesfrom the sun, let him imagine himself living through only one month, and see how it would bewith all his undertakings, if it were not day but night. He would then be sufficiently convinced outof his own experience, especially if he had much work to carry on in the street or in the fields. . . .

From the sun we learn to recognize when it is midday, and by knowing this point of time exactly,we can set our clocks right, on which account astronomy owes much to the sun. . . . By help of thesun one can find the meridian. . . . But the meridian is the basis of our sun-dials, and generallyspeaking, should have sun-dials if had no sun." Vernunftige Gedanken von denAbsichter der (we) naturlichen Dinge(no) , 1782. pp.74-84.(we)Or read the account of God's beneficence in the institution of "the great variety throughout theworld of men's faces, voices, and hand-writing," given in Derham's Physico-theology, a book thathad much vogue in the eighteenth century. "Had Man's body," says Dr. Derham, "been madeaccording to any of the Atheistical Schemes, or any other Method than that of the infinite Lord ofthe World, this wise Variety would never have been: but Men's Faces would have been cast in thesame, or not a very different Mould, their Organs of Speech would have sounded the same or notso great a Variety of Notes, and the same Structure of Muscles and Nerves would have given theHand the same Direction in Writing. And in this Case what Confusion, what Disturbance, whatMischiefs would the world eternally have lain under! No Security could have been to our persons;no Certainty, no Enjoyment of our Possessions; no Justice between Man and Man, no Distinctionbetween Good and Bad, between Friends and Foes, between Father and Child, Husband and Wife,Male or Female; but all would have been turned topsy-turvy, by being exposed to the Malice of theEnvious and ill-Natured, to the Fraud and Violence of Knaves and Robbers, to the Forgeries of thecrafty Cheat, to the Lusts of the Effeminate and Debauched, and what not! Our Courts of Justicecan abundantly testify the dire Effects of Mistaking Men's Faces, of counterfeiting their Hands,and forging Writings.

But now as the infinitely wise Creator and Ruler hath ordered the Matter, every man's Face candistinguish him in the Light, and his Voice in the Dark, his Hand-writing can speak for him thoughabsent, and be his Witness, and secure his Contracts in future Generations. A manifest as well asadmirable Indication of the divine Superintendence and Management."A God so careful as to make provision even for the unmistakable signing of bank checks anddeeds was a deity truly after the heart of eighteenth century Anglicanism.

I subjoin, omitting the capitals, Derham's "Vindication of God by the Institution of Hills andValleys," and Wolff's altogether culinary account of the institution of Water:-"The uses," says Wolff, "which water serves in human life are plain to see and need not bedescribed at length. Water is a universal drink of man and beasts. Even though men have madethemselves drinks that are artificial, they could not do this without water. Beer is brewed of waterand malt, and it is the water in it which quenches thirst. Wine is prepared from grapes, which couldnever have grown without the help of water; and the same is true of those drinks which in Englandand other places they produce from fruit. . . . Therefore since God so planned the world that menand beasts should live upon it and find there everything required for their necessity andconvenience, he also made water as one means whereby to make the earth into so excellent adwelling. And this is all the more manifest when we consider the advantages which we obtain fromthis same water for the cleaning of our household utensils, of our clothing, and of othermatters. . . . When one goes into a grinding-mill one sees that the grindstone must always be keptwet and then one will get a still greater idea of the use of water."Of the hills and valleys, Derham, after praising their beauty, discourses as follows: "Someconstitutions are indeed of so happy a strength, and so confirmed an health, as to be indifferent toalmost any place or temperature of the air. But then others are so weakly and feeble, as not to beable to bear one, but can live comfortably in another place. With some the more subtle and finer airof the hills doth best agree, who are languishing and dying in the feculent and grosser air of greattowns, or even the warmer and vaporous air of the valleys and waters. But contrariwise, otherslanguish on the hills, and grow lusty and strong in the warmer air of the valleys.

"So that this opportunity of shifting our abode from the hills to the vales, is an admirableeasement, refreshment, and great benefit to the valetudinarian, feeble part of mankind; affordingthose an easy and comfortable life, who would otherwise live miserably, languish, and pine away.

"To this salutary conformation of the earth we may add another great convenience of the hills,and that is affording commodious places for habitation, serving (as an eminent author wordeth it)as screens to keep off the cold and nipping blasts of the northern and easterly winds, and reflectingthe benign and cherishing sunbeams and so rendering our habitations both more comfortable andmore cheerly in winter.

"Lastly, it is to the hills that the fountains owe their rise and the rivers their conveyance, andconsequently those vast masses and lofty piles are not, as they are charged such rude and uselessexcrescences of our ill-formed globe; but the admirable tools of nature, contrived and ordered bythe infinite Creator, to do one of its most useful works. For, was the surface of the earth even andlevel, and the middle parts of its islands and continents not mountainous and high as now it is, it ismost certain there could be no descent for the rivers, no conveyance for the waters; but, instead ofgliding along those gentle declivities which the higher lands now afford them quite down to thesea, they would stagnate and perhaps stink, and also drown large tracts of land.

"[Thus] the hills and vales, though to a peevish and weary traveler they may seem incommodiousand troublesome, yet are a noble work of the great Creator, and wisely appointed by him for thegood of our sublunary world."You see how natural it is, from this point of view, to treat religion as a mere survival, for religiondoes in fact perpetuate the traditions of the most primeval thought. To coerce the spiritual powers,or to square them and get them on our side, was, during enormous tracts of time, the one greatobject in our dealings with the natural world. For our ancestors, dreams, hallucinations,revelations, and cock-and-bull stories were inextricably mixed with facts. Up to a comparativelyrecent date such distinctions as those between what has been verified and what is only conjectured,between the impersonal and the personal aspects of existence, were hardly suspected or conceived.

Whatever you imagined in a lively manner, whatever you thought fit to be true, you affirmedconfidently; and whatever you affirmed, your comrades believed. Truth was what had not yet beencontradicted, most things were taken into the mind from the point of view of their humansuggestiveness, and the attention confined itself exclusively to the aesthetic and dramatic aspectsof events.[335]

[335] Until the seventeenth century this mode of thought prevailed. One need only recall thedramatic treatment even of mechanical questions by Aristotle, as, for example, his explanation ofthe power of the lever to make a small weight raise a larger one. This is due, according toAristotle, to the generally miraculous character of the circle and of all circular movement. Thecircle is both convex and concave; it is made by a fixed point and a moving line, which contradicteach other; and whatever moves in a circle moves in opposite directions. Nevertheless, movementin a circle is the most "natural" movement; and the long arm of the lever, moving, as it does, in thelarger circle, has the greater amount of this natural motion, and consequently requires the lesserforce. Or recall the explanation by Herodotus of the position of the sun in winter: It moves to thesouth because of the cold which drives it into the warm parts of the heavens over Libya. Or listento Saint Augustine's speculations: "Who gave to chaff such power to freeze that it preserves snowburied under it, and such power to warm that it ripens green fruit? Who can explain the strangeproperties of fire itself, which blackens all that it burns, though itself bright, and which, though ofthe most beautiful colors, discolors almost all that it touches and feeds upon, and turns blazing fuelinto grimy cinders? . . . Then what wonderful properties do we find in charcoal, which is so brittlethat a light tap breaks it, and a slight pressure pulverizes it, and yet is so strong that no moisturerots it, nor any time causes it to decay." City of God, book xxi, ch. iv.

Such aspects of things as these, their naturalness and unnaturalness the sympathies andantipathies of their superficial qualities, their eccentricities, their brightness and strength anddestructiveness, were inevitably the ways in which they originally fastened our attention.

If you open early medical books, you will find sympathetic magic invoked on every page. Take,for example, the famous vulnerary ointment attributed to Paracelsus. For this there were a varietyof receipts, including usually human fat, the fat of either a bull, a wild boar, or a bear, powderedearthworms, the usnia, or mossy growth on the weathered skull of a hanged criminal, and othermaterials equally unpleasant--the whole prepared under the planet Venus if possible, but neverunder Mars or Saturn. Then, if a splinter of wood, dipped in the patient's blood, or the bloodstainedweapon that wounded him, be immersed in this ointment, the wound itself being tightly bound up,the latter infallibly gets well--I quote now Van Helmont's account--for the blood on the weapon orsplinter, containing in it the spirit of the wounded man, is roused to active excitement by thecontact of the ointment, whence there results to it a full commission or power to cure its cousingermanthe blood in the patient's body. This it does by sucking out the dolorous and exoticimpression from the wounded part. But to do this it has to implore the aid of the bull's fat, andother portions of the unguent. The reason why bull's fat is so powerful is that the bull at the time ofslaughter is full of secret reluctancy and vindictive murmurs, and therefore dies with a higherflame of revenge about him than any other animal. And thus we have made it out, says this author,that the admirable efficacy of the ointment ought to be imputed, not to any auxiliary concurrenceof Satan, but simply to the energy of the posthumous character of Revenge remaining firmlyimpressed upon the blood and concreted fat in the unguent. J. B. Van Helmont: A Ternary ofParadoxes, translated by Walter Charleton, London, 1650.--I much abridge the original in mycitations.

The author goes on to prove by the analogy of many other natural facts that this sympatheticaction between things at a distance is the true rationale of the case. "If," he says, "the heart of ahorse slain by a witch, taken out of the yet reeking carcase, be impaled upon an arrow and roasted,immediately the whole witch becomes tormented with the insufferable pains and cruelty of the fire,which could by no means happen unless there preceded a conjunction of the spirit of the witchwith the spirit of the horse. In the reeking and yet panting heart, the spirit of the witch is keptcaptive, and the retreat of it prevented by the arrow transfixed. Similarly hath not many a murderedcarcase at the coroner's inquest suffered a fresh haemorrhage or cruentation at the presence of theassassin?--the blood being, as in a furious fit of anger, enraged and agitated by the impress ofrevenge conceived against the murderer, at the instant of the soul's compulsive exile from thebody. So, if you have dropsy, gout, or jaundice, by including some of your warm blood in the shelland white of an egg, which, exposed to a gentle heat, and mixed with a bait of flesh, you shall giveto a hungry dog or hog, the disease shall instantly pass from you into the animal, and leave youentirely. And similarly again, if you burn some of the milk either of a cow or of a woman, thegland from which it issued will dry up. A gentleman at Brussels had his nose mowed off in acombat, but the celebrated surgeon Tagliacozzus digged a new nose for him out of the skin of thearm of a porter at Bologna. About thirteen months after his return to his own country, the engraftednose grew cold, putrefied, and in a few days dropped off, and it was then discovered that the porterhad expired, near about the same punctilio of time. There are still at Brussels eye-witnesses of thisoccurrence," says Van Helmont; and adds, "I pray what is there in this of superstition or of exaltedimagination?"Modern mind-cure literature--the works of Prentice Mulford, for example--is full of sympatheticmagic.

How indeed could it be otherwise? The extraordinary value, for explanation and prevision, ofthose mathematical and mechanical modes of conception which science uses, was a result thatcould not possibly have been expected in advance. Weight, movement, velocity, direction,position, what thin, pallid, uninteresting ideas! How could the richer animistic aspects of Nature,the peculiarities and oddities that make phenomena picturesquely striking or expressive, fail tohave been first singled out and followed by philosophy as the more promising avenue to theknowledge of Nature's life? Well, it is still in these richer animistic and dramatic aspects thatreligion delights to dwell. It is the terror and beauty of phenomena, the "promise" of the dawn andof the rainbow, the "voice" of the thunder, the "gentleness" of the summer rain, the "sublimity" ofthe stars, and not the physical laws which these things follow, by which the religious mind stillcontinues to be most impressed; and just as of yore, the devout man tells you that in the solitude ofhis room or of the fields he still feels the divine presence, that inflowings of help come in reply tohis prayers, and that sacrifices to this unseen reality fill him with security and peace.

Pure anachronism! says the survival-theory;--anachronism for which deanthropomorphization ofthe imagination is the remedy required. The less we mix the private with the cosmic, the more wedwell in universal and impersonal terms, the truer heirs of Science we become.

In spite of the appeal which this impersonality of the scientific attitude makes to a certainmagnanimity of temper, I believe it to be shallow, and I can now state my reason in comparativelyfew words. That reason is that, so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal onlywith the symbols of reality, but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such,we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term. I think I can easily make clear what Imean by these words.

The world of our experience consists at all times of two parts, an objective and a subjective part,of which the former may be incalculably more extensive than the latter, and yet the latter can neverbe omitted or suppressed. The objective part is the sum total of whatsoever at any given time wemay be thinking of, the subjective part is the inner "state" in which the thinking comes to pass.

What we think of may be enormous--the cosmic times and spaces, for example-- whereas the innerstate may be the most fugitive and paltry activity of mind. Yet the cosmic objects, so far as theexperience yields them, are but ideal pictures of something whose existence we do not inwardlypossess but only point at outwardly, while the inner state is our very experience itself; its realityand that of our experience are one. A conscious field PLUS its object as felt or thought of PLUS anattitude towards the object PLUS the sense of a self to whom the attitude belongs--such a concretebit of personal experience may be a small bit, but it is a solid bit as long as it lasts; not hollow, nota mere abstract element of experience, such as the "object" is when taken all alone. It is a FULLfact, even though it be an insignificant fact; it is of the KIND to which all realities whatsoevermust belong; the motor currents of the world run through the like of it; it is on the line connectingreal events with real events. That unsharable feeling which each one of us has of the pinch of hisindividual destiny as he privately feels it rolling out on fortune's wheel may be disparaged for itsegotism, may be sneered at as unscientific, but it is the one thing that fills up the measure of ourconcrete actuality, and any would-be existent that should lack such a feeling, or its analogue,would be a piece of reality only half made up.[336]

[336] Compare Lotze's doctrine that the only meaning we can attach to the notion of a thing as itis "in itself" is by conceiving it as it is FOR itself, i.e., as a piece of full experience with a privatesense of "pinch" or inner activity of some sort going with it.

If this be true, it is absurd for science to say that the egotistic elements of experience should besuppressed. The axis of reality runs solely through the egotistic places--they are strung upon it likeso many beads. To describe the world with all the various feelings of the individual pinch ofdestiny, all the various spiritual attitudes, left out from the description--they being as describableas anything else --would be something like offering a printed bill of fare as the equivalent for asolid meal. Religion makes no such blunder. The individual's religion may be egotistic, and thoseprivate realities which it keeps in touch with may be narrow enough; but at any rate it alwaysremains infinitely less hollow and abstract, as far as it goes, than a science which prides itself ontaking no account of anything private at all.

A bill of fare with one real raisin on it instead of the word "raisin," with one real egg instead ofthe word "egg," might be an inadequate meal, but it would at least be a commencement of reality.

The contention of the survival-theory that we ought to stick to non-personal elements exclusivelyseems like saying that we ought to be satisfied forever with reading the naked bill of fare. I think,therefore, that however particular questions connected with our individual destinies may beanswered, it is only by acknowledging them as genuine questions, and living in the sphere ofthought which they open up, that we become profound. But to live thus is to be religious; so Iunhesitatingly repudiate the survival-theory of religion, as being founded on an egregious mistake.

It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with theirreligion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all.[337] By being religious weestablish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us toguard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.

[337] Even the errors of fact may possibly turn out not to be as wholesale as the scientistassumes. We saw in Lecture IV how the religious conception of the universe seems to many mind-curers "verified" from day to day by their experience of fact. "Experience of fact" is a field with somany things in it that the sectarian scientist methodically declining, as he does, to recognize such"facts" as mind-curers and others like them experience, otherwise than by such rude heads ofclassification as "bosh," "rot," "folly," certainly leaves out a mass of raw fact which, save for theindustrious interest of the religious in the more personal aspects of reality, would never havesucceeded in getting itself recorded at all. We know this to be true already in certain cases; it may,therefore, be true in others as well. Miraculous healings have always been part of thesupernaturalist stock in trade, and have always been dismissed by the scientist as figments of theimagination. But the scientist's tardy education in the facts of hypnotism has recently given him anapperceiving mass for phenomena of this order, and he consequently now allows that the healingsmay exist, provided you expressly call them effects of "suggestion." Even the stigmata of the crosson Saint Francis's hands and feet may on these terms not be a fable. Similarly, the time-honoredphenomenon of diabolical possession is on the point of being admitted by the scientist as a fact,now that he has the name of "hystero-demonopathy" by which to apperceive it. No one can foreseejust how far this legitimation of occultist phenomena under newly found scientist titles mayproceed--even "prophecy," even "levitation," might creep into the pale.

Thus the divorce between scientist facts and religious facts may not necessarily be as eternal as itat first sight seems, nor the personalism and romanticism of the world, as they appeared toprimitive thinking, be matters so irrevocably outgrown. The final human opinion may, in short, insome manner now impossible to foresee, revert to the more personal style, just as any path ofprogress may follow a spiral rather than a straight line. If this were so, the rigorously impersonalview of science might one day appear as having been a temporarily useful eccentricity rather thanthe definitively triumphant position which the sectarian scientist at present so confidentlyannounces it to be.

You see now why I have been so individualistic throughout these lectures, and why I haveseemed so bent on rehabilitating the element of feeling in religion and subordinating its intellectualpart. Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata ofcharacter, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and directlyperceive how events happen, and how work is actually done.[338] Compared with this world ofliving individualized feelings, the world of generalized objects which the intellect contemplates iswithout solidity or life. As in stereoscopic or kinetoscopic pictures seen outside the instrument, thethird dimension, the movement, the vital element, are not there. We get a beautiful picture of anexpress train supposed to be moving, but where in the picture, as I have heard a friend say, is theenergy or the fifty miles an hour?[339]

[338] Hume's criticism has banished causation from the world of physical objects, and "Science"is absolutely satisfied to define cause in terms of concomitant change-read Mach, Pearson,Ostwald. The "original" of the notion of causation is in our inner personal experience, and onlythere can causes in the old-fashioned sense be directly observed and described.

[339] When I read in a religious paper words like these: "Perhaps the best thing we can say ofGod is that he is THE INEVITABLE INFERENCE," I recognize the tendency to let religionevaporate in intellectual terms. Would martyrs have sung in the flames for a mere inference,however inevitable it might be? Original religious men, like Saint Francis, Luther, Behmen, haveusually been enemies of the intellect's pretension to meddle with religious things. Yet the intellect,everywhere invasive, shows everywhere its shallowing effect. See how the ancient spirit ofMethodism evaporates under those wonderfully able rationalistic booklets (which every one shouldread) of a philosopher like Professor Bowne (The Christian Revelation, The Christian Life TheAtonement: Cincinnati and New York, 1898, 1899, 1900). See the positively expulsive purpose ofphilosophy properly so called:-"Religion," writes M. Vacherot (La Religion, Paris, 1869, pp. 313, 436, et passim), "answers to atransient state or condition, not to a permanent determination of human nature, being merely anexpression of that stage of the human mind which is dominated by the imagination. . . .

Christianity has but a single possible final heir to its estate, and that is scientific philosophy."In a still more radical vein, Professor Ribot (Psychologie des Sentiments, p. 310) describes theevaporation of religion. He sums it up in a single formula--the ever-growing predominance of therational intellectual element, with the gradual fading out of the emotional element, this lattertending to enter into the group of purely intellectual sentiments. "Of religious sentiment properlyso called, nothing survives at last save a vague respect for the unknowable x which is a last relic ofthe fear, and a certain attraction towards the ideal, which is a relic of the love, that characterizedthe earlier periods of religious growth.

To state this more simply, religion tends to turn into religious philosophy.--These arepsychologically entirely different things, the one being a theoretic construction of ratiocination,whereas the other is the living work of a group of persons, or of a great inspired leader, calling intoplay the entire thinking and feeling organism of man."I find the same failure to recognize that the stronghold of religion lies in individuality in attemptslike those of Professor Baldwin (Mental Development, Social and Ethical Interpretations, ch. x)and Mr. H. R. Marshall (Instinct and Reason, chaps. viii. to xii.) to make it a purely "conservativesocial force."Let us agree, then, that Religion, occupying herself with personal destinies and keeping thus incontact with the only absolute realities which we know, must necessarily play an eternal part inhuman history. The next thing to decide is what she reveals about those destinies, or whetherindeed she reveals anything distinct enough to be considered a general message to mankind. Wehave done as you see, with our preliminaries, and our final summing up can now begin.

I am well aware that after all the palpitating documents which I have quoted, and all theperspectives of emotion-inspiring institution and belief that my previous lectures have opened, thedry analysis to which I now advance may appear to many of you like an anti-climax, a tapering-offand flattening out of the subject, instead of a crescendo of interest and result. I said awhile ago thatthe religious attitude of Protestants appears poverty-stricken to the Catholic imagination. Still morepoverty-stricken, I fear, may my final summing up of the subject appear at first to some of you. Onwhich account I pray you now to bear this point in mind, that in the present part of it I amexpressly trying to reduce religion to its lowest admissible terms, to that minimum, free fromindividualistic excrescences, which all religions contain as their nucleus, and on which it may behoped that all religious persons may agree. That established, we should have a result which mightbe small, but would at least be solid; and on it and round it the ruddier additional beliefs on whichthe different individuals make their venture might be grafted, and flourish as richly as you please. Ishall add my own over-belief (which will be, I confess, of a somewhat pallid kind, as befits acritical philosopher), and you will, I hope, also add your over-beliefs, and we shall soon be in thevaried world of concrete religious constructions once more. For the moment, let me dryly pursuethe analytic part of the task.

Both thought and feeling are determinants of conduct, and the same conduct may be determinedeither by feeling or by thought. When we survey the whole field of religion, we find a great varietyin the thoughts that have prevailed there; but the feelings on the one hand and the conduct on theother are almost always the same, for Stoic, Christian, and Buddhist saints are practicallyindistinguishable in their lives. The theories which Religion generates, being thus variable, aresecondary; and if you wish to grasp her essence, you must look to the feelings and the conduct asbeing the more constant elements. It is between these two elements that the short circuit exists onwhich she carries on her principal business, while the ideas and symbols and other institutionsform loop-lines which may be perfections and improvements, and may even some day all be unitedinto one harmonious system, but which are not to be regarded as organs with an indispensablefunction, necessary at all times for religious life to go on. This seems to me the first conclusionwhich we are entitled to draw from the phenomena we have passed in review.

The next step is to characterize the feelings. To what psychological order do they belong?

The resultant outcome of them is in any case what Kant calls a "sthenic" affection, an excitementof the cheerful, expansive, "dynamogenic" order which, like any tonic, freshens our vital powers.

In almost every lecture, but especially in the lectures on Conversion and on Saintliness, we haveseen how this emotion overcomes temperamental melancholy and imparts endurance to theSubject, or a zest, or a meaning, or an enchantment and glory to the common objects of life.[340]

The name of "faith-state," by which Professor Leuba designates it, is a good one.[341] It is abiological as well as a psychological condition, and Tolstoy is absolutely accurate in classing faithamong the forces BY WHICH MEN LIVE.[342] The total absence of it, anhedonia,[343] meanscollapse.

[340] Compare, for instance, pages 200, 215, 219, 222, 244-250, 270-273.

[341] American Journal of Psychology, vii. 345.

[342] Above, p. 181.

[343] Above, p. 143.

The faith-state may hold a very minimum of intellectual content. We saw examples of this inthose sudden raptures of the divine presence, or in such mystical seizures as Dr. Bucke described.

[344] It may be a mere vague enthusiasm, half spiritual, half vital, a courage, and a feeling thatgreat and wondrous things are in the air.[345]

[344] Above, p. 391.

[345] Example: Henri Perreyve writes to Gratry: "I do not know how to deal with the happinesswhich you aroused in me this morning. It overwhelms me; I want to DO something, yet I can donothing and am fit for nothing. . . . I would fain do GREAT THINGS." Again, after an inspiring interview, he writes: "I went homewards, intoxicated with joy, hope, and strength. I wanted to feedupon my happiness in solitude far from all men. It was late; but, unheeding that, I took a mountainpath and went on like a madman, looking at the heavens, regardless of earth. Suddenly an instinctmade me draw hastily back --I was on the very edge of a precipice, one step more and I must havefallen. I took fright and gave up my nocturnal promenade." A. Gratry: Henri Perreyve, London,1872, pp. 92, 89.

This primacy, in the faith-state, of vague expansive impulse over direction is well expressed inWalt Whitman's lines (Leaves of Grass, 1872, p. 190):-"O to confront night, storms, hunger,ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do. . . .

Dear Camerado! I confess I have urged you onward with me, and still urge you, without the leastidea what is our destination Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell'd and defeated."This readiness for great things, and this sense that the world by its importance, wonderfulness,etc., is apt for their production, would seem to be the undifferentiated germ of all the higher faiths.

Trust in our own dreams of ambition, or in our country's expansive destinies, and faith in theprovidence of God, all have their source in that onrush of our sanguine impulses, and in that senseof the exceedingness of the possible over the real.

When, however, a positive intellectual content is associated with a faith-state, it gets invinciblystamped in upon belief,[346] and this explains the passionate loyalty of religious personseverywhere to the minutest details of their so widely differing creeds. Taking creeds and faith-statetogether, as forming "religions," and treating these as purely subjective phenomena, without regardto the question of their "truth," we are obliged, on account of their extraordinary influence uponaction and endurance, to class them amongst the most important biological functions of mankind.

Their stimulant and anaesthetic effect is so great that Professor Leuba, in a recent article,[347]

goes so far as to say that so long as men can USE their God, they care very little who he is, or evenwhether he is at all. "The truth of the matter can be put," says Leuba, "in this way: GOD IS NOTKNOWN, HE IS NOT UNDERSTOOD; HE IS USED--sometimes as meat-purveyor, sometimesas moral support, sometimes as friend, sometimes as an object of love. If he proves himself useful,the religious consciousness asks for no more than that. Does God really exist? How does he exist?

What is he? are so many irrelevant questions. Not God, but life, more life, a larger, richer, moresatisfying life, is, in the last analysis, the end of religion. The love of life, at any and every level ofdevelopment, is the religious impulse."[348]

[346] Compare Leuba: Loc. cit., pp. 346-349.

[347] The Contents of Religious Consciousness, in The Monist, xi. 536, July 1901.

[348] Loc. cit., pp. 571, 572, abridged. See, also, this writer's extraordinarily true criticism of thenotion that religion primarily seeks to solve the intellectual mystery of the world. Compare whatW. Bender says (in his Wesen der Religion, Bonn, 1888, pp. 85, 38): "Not the question about God,and not the inquiry into the origin and purpose of the world is religion, but the question about Man.

All religious views of life are anthropocentric." "Religion is that activity of the human impulsetowards self-preservation by means of which Man seeks to carry his essential vital purposesthrough against the adverse pressure of the world by raising himself freely towards the world'sordering and governing powers when the limits of his own strength are reached." The whole bookis little more than a development of these words.

At this purely subjective rating, therefore, Religion must be considered vindicated in a certainway from the attacks of her critics. It would seem that she cannot be a mere anachronism andsurvival, but must exert a permanent function, whether she be with or without intellectual content,and whether, if she have any, it be true or false.

We must next pass beyond the point of view of merely subjective utility, and make inquiry intothe intellectual content itself.

First, is there, under all the discrepancies of the creeds, a common nucleus to which they beartheir testimony unanimously?

And second, ought we to consider the testimony true?

I will take up the first question first, and answer it immediately in the affirmative. The warringgods and formulas of the various religions do indeed cancel each other, but there is a certainuniform deliverance in which religions all appear to meet. It consists of two parts:-1. An uneasiness; and2. Its solution.

1. The uneasiness, reduced to its simplest terms, is a sense that there is SOMETHING WRONGABOUT US as we naturally stand.

2. The solution is a sense that WE ARE SAVED FROM THE WRONGNESS by making properconnection with the higher powers.

In those more developed minds which alone we are studying, the wrongness takes a moralcharacter, and the salvation takes a mystical tinge. I think we shall keep well within the limits ofwhat is common to all such minds if we formulate the essence of their religious experience interms like these:-The individual, so far as he suffers from his wrongness and criticises it, is to that extentconsciously beyond it, and in at least possible touch with something higher, if anything higherexist. Along with the wrong part there is thus a better part of him, even though it may be but amost helpless germ. With which part he should identify his real being is by no means obvious atthis stage; but when stage 2 (the stage of solution or salvation) arrives,[349] the man identifies hisreal being with the germinal higher part of himself; and does so in the following way. He becomesconscious that this higher part is conterminous and continuous with a MORE of the same quality,which is operative in the universe outside of him, and which he can keep in working touch with,and in a fashion get on board of and save himself when all his lower being has gone to pieces inthe wreck.

[349] Remember that for some men it arrives suddenly, for others gradually, whilst others againpractically enjoy it all their life.

It seems to me that all the phenomena are accurately describable in these very simple generalterms.[350] They allow for the divided self and the struggle; they involve the change of personalcentre and the surrender of the lower self; they express the appearance of exteriority of the helpingpower and yet account for our sense of union with it;[351] and they fully justify our feelings ofsecurity and joy. There is probably no autobiographic document, among all those which I havequoted, to which the description will not well apply. One need only add such specific details aswill adapt it to various theologies and various personal temperaments, and one will then have thevarious experiences reconstructed in their individual forms.

[350] The practical difficulties are: 1, to "realize the reality" of one's higher part; 2, to identifyone's self with it exclusively; and 3, to identify it with all the rest of ideal being.

[351] "When mystical activity is at its height, we find consciousness possessed by the sense of abeing at once EXCESSIVE and IDENTICAL with the self: great enough to be God; interiorenough to be ME. The "objectivity" of it ought in that case to be called EXCESSIVITY, rather, orexceedingness." ReCeJac: Essai sur les fondements de la conscience mystique, 1897, p. 46.

So far, however, as this analysis goes, the experiences are only psychological phenomena. Theypossess, it is true, enormous biological worth. Spiritual strength really increases in the subjectwhen he has them, a new life opens for him, and they seem to him a place of conflux where theforces of two universes meet; and yet this may be nothing but his subjective way of feeling things,a mood of his own fancy, in spite of the effects produced. I now turn to my second question: Whatis the objective "truth" of their content?[352]

[352] The word "truth" is here taken to mean something additional to bare value for life,although the natural propensity of man is to believe that whatever has great value for life is therebycertified as true.

The part of the content concerning which the question of truth most pertinently arises is that"MORE of the same quality" with which our own higher self appears in the experience to comeinto harmonious working relation. Is such a "more" merely our own notion, or does it really exist?

If so, in what shape does it exist? Does it act, as well as exist? And in what form should weconceive of that "union" with it of which religious geniuses are so convinced?

It is in answering these questions that the various theologies perform their theoretic work, andthat their divergencies most come to light. They all agree that the "more" really exists; thoughsome of them hold it to exist in the shape of a personal god or gods, while others are satisfied toconceive it as a stream of ideal tendency embedded in the eternal structure of the world. They allagree, moreover, that it acts as well as exists, and that something really is effected for the betterwhen you throw your life into its hands. It is when they treat of the experience of "union" with itthat their speculative differences appear most clearly. Over this point pantheism and theism, natureand second birth, works and grace and karma, immortality and reincarnation, rationalism andmysticism, carry on inveterate disputes.

At the end of my lecture on Philosophy[353] I held out the notion that an impartial science ofreligions might sift out from the midst of their discrepancies a common body of doctrine which shemight also formulate in terms to which <501> physical science need not object. This, I said, shemight adopt as her own reconciling hypothesis, and recommend it for general belief. I also saidthat in my last lecture I should have to try my own hand at framing such an hypothesis.

[353] Above, p. 445.

The time has now come for this attempt. Who says "hypothesis" renounces the ambition to becoercive in his arguments. The most I can do is, accordingly, to offer something that may fit thefacts so easily that your scientific logic will find no plausible pretext for vetoing your impulse towelcome it as true.

The "more," as we called it, and the meaning of our "union" with it, form the nucleus of ourinquiry. Into what definite description can these words be translated, and for what definite facts dothey stand? It would never do for us to place ourselves offhand at the position of a particulartheology, the Christian theology, for example, and proceed immediately to define the "more" asJehovah, and the "union" as his imputation to us of the righteousness of Christ. That would beunfair to other religions, and, from our present standpoint at least, would be an over-belief.

We must begin by using less particularized terms; and, since one of the duties of the science ofreligions is to keep religion in connection with the rest of science, we shall do well to seek first ofall way of describing the "more," which psychologists may also recognize as real. Thesubco(a) nscious self is nowadays a well-accredited psychological entity; and I believe that in it wehave exactly the mediating term required. Apart from all religious considerations, there is actuallyand literally more life in our total soul than we are at any time aware of. The exploration of thetransmarginal field has hardly yet been seriously undertaken, but what Mr. Myers said in 1892 inhis essay on the Subliminal Consciousness[354] is as true as when it was first written: "Each of usis in reality an abiding psychical entity far more extensive than he knows--an individuality whichcan never express itself completely through any corporeal manifestation. The Self manifeststhrough the organism; but there is always some part of the Self unmanifested; and always, as itseems, some power of organic expression in abeyance or reserve."[355] Much of the content ofthis larger background against which our conscious being stands out in relief is insignificant.

Imperfect memories, silly jingles, inhibitive timidities, "dissolutive" phenomena of various sorts,as Myers calls them, enters into it for a large part. But in it many of the performances of geniusseem also to have their origin; and in our study of conversion, of mystical experiences, and ofprayer, we have seen how striking a part invasions from this region play in the religious life.

[354] Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. vii. p. 305. For a full statement ofMr. Myers's views, I may refer to his posthumous work, "Human Personality in the Light ofRecent Research," which is already announced by Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co. as being inpress. Mr. Myers for the first time proposed as a general psychological problem the exploration ofthe subliminal region of consciousness throughout its whole extent, and made the first methodicalsteps in its topography by treating as a natural series a mass of subliminal facts hitherto consideredonly as curious isolated facts and subjecting them to a systematized nomenclature. How importantthis exploration will prove, future work upon the path which Myers has opened can alone show.

compare my paper: "Frederic Myers's services to Psychology," in the said Proceedings, part xlii.,May, 1901.

[355] Compare the inventory given above on pp. 472-4, and also what is said of the subconsciousself on pp. 228-231, 235-236.

Let me then propose, as an hypothesis, that whatever it may be on its FARTHER side, the"more" with which in religious experience we feel ourselves connected is on its HITHER side thesubconscious continuation of our conscious life. Starting thus with a recognized psychological factas our basis, we seem to preserve a contact with "science" which the ordinary theologian lacks. Atthe same time the theologian's contention that the religious man is moved by an external power isvindicated, for it is one of the peculiarities of invasions from the subconscious region to take onobjective appearances, and to suggest to the Subject an external control. In the religious life thecontrol is felt as "higher"; but since on our hypothesis it is primarily the higher faculties of ourown hidden mind which are controlling, the sense of union with the power beyond us is a sense ofsomething, not merely apparently, but literally true.

This doorway into the subject seems to me the best one for a science of religions, for it mediatesbetween a number of different points of view. Yet it is only a doorway, and difficulties presentthemselves as soon as we step through it, and ask how far our transmarginal consciousness carriesus if we follow it on its remoter side. Here the over-beliefs begin: here mysticism and theconversion-rapture and Vedantism and transcendental idealism bring in their monisticinterpretations[356] and tell us that the finite self rejoins the absolute self, for it was always onewith God and identical with the soul of the world.[357] Here the prophets of all the differentreligions come with their visions, voices, raptures, and other openings, supposed by each toauthenticate his own peculiar faith.

[356] Compare above, pp. 410 ff.

[357] One more expression of this belief, to increase the reader's familiarity with the notion ofit:-"If this room is full of darkness for thousands of years, and you come in and begin to weep andwail, 'Oh, the darkness,' will the darkness vanish? Bring the light in, strike a match, and lightcomes in a moment. So what good will it do you to think all your lives, 'Oh, I have done evil, Ihave made many mistakes'? It requires no ghost to tell us that. Bring in the light, and the evil goesin a moment. Strengthen the real nature, build up yourselves, the effulgent, the resplendent, theever pure, call that up in every one whom you see. I wish that every one of us had come to such astate that even when we see the vilest of human beings we can see the God within, and instead ofcondemning, say, 'Rise, thou effulgent One, rise thou who art always pure, rise thou birthless anddeathless, rise almighty, and manifest your nature.' . . . This is the highest prayer that the Advaitateaches. This is the one prayer: remembering our nature.". . . "Why does man go out to look for aGod? . . . It is your own heart beating, and you did not know, you were mistaking it for somethingexternal. He, nearest of the near, my own self, the reality of my own life, my body and my soul.--Iam Thee and Thou art Me. That is your own nature. Assert it, manifest it. Not to become pure, youare pure already. You are not to be perfect, you are that already. Every good thought which youthink or act upon is simply tearing the veil, as it were, and the purity, the Infinity, the God behind,manifests itself--the eternal Subject of everything, the eternal Witness in this universe, your ownSelf. Knowledge is, as it were, a lower step, a degradation. We are It already; how to know It?"Swami Viverananda: Addresses, No. XII., Practical Vedanta, part iv. pp. 172, 174, London, 1897;and Lectures, The Real and the Apparent Man, p. 24, abridged.

Those of us who are not personally favored with such specific revelations must stand outside ofthem altogether and, for the present at least, decide that, since they corroborate incompatibletheological doctrines, they neutralize one another and leave no fixed results. If we follow any oneof them, or if we follow philosophical theory and embrace monistic pantheism on non-mysticalgrounds, we do so in the exercise of our individual freedom, and build out our religion in the waymost congruous with our personal susceptibilities. Among these susceptibilities intellectual onesplay a decisive part. Although the religious question is primarily a question of life, of living or notliving in the higher union which opens itself to us as a gift, yet the spiritual excitement in whichthe gift appears a real one will often fail to be aroused in an individual until certain particularintellectual beliefs or ideas which, as we say, come home to him, are touched.[358] These ideaswill thus be essential to that individual's religion;--which is as much as to say that over-beliefs invarious directions are absolutely indispensable, and that we should treat them with tenderness andtolerance so long as they are not intolerant themselves. As I have elsewhere written, the mostinteresting and valuable things about a man are usually his over-beliefs.

[358] For instance, here is a case where a person exposed from her birth to Christian ideas had towait till they came to her clad in spiritistic formulas before the saving experience set in:-"For myself I can say that spiritualism has saved me. It was revealed to me at a critical momentof my life, and without it I don't know what I should have done. It has taught me to detach myselffrom worldly things and to place my hope in things to come. Through it I have learned to see in allmen, even in those most criminal, even in those from whom I have most suffered, undevelopedbrothers to whom I owed assistance, love, and forgiveness. I have learned that I must lose mytemper over nothing despise no one, and pray for all. Most of all I have learned to pray! Andalthough I have still much to learn in this domain, prayer ever brings me more strength,consolation, and comfort. I feel more than ever that I have only made a few steps on the long roadof progress; but I look at its length without dismay, for I have confidence that the day will comewhen all my efforts shall be rewarded. So Spiritualism has a great place in my life, indeed it holdsthe first place there." Flournoy Collection.

Disregarding the over beliefs, and confining ourselves to what is common and generic, we havein the fact that the conscious person is continuous with a wider self through which savingexperiences come,[359] a positive content of religious experience which, it seems to me, is literallyand objectively true as far as it goes.

If I now proceed to state my own hypothesis about the farther limits of this extension of ourpersonality, I shall be offering my own over-belief--though I know it will appear a sorry under-belief to some of you--for which I can only bespeak the same indulgence which in a converse caseI should accord to yours.

[359] "The influence of the Holy Spirit, exquisitely called the Comforter, is a matter of actualexperience, as solid a reality as that of electro magnetism." W. C. Brownell, Scribner's Magazine,vol. xxx. p. 112.

<506> The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an altogether other dimensionof existence from the sensible and merely "understandable" world. Name it the mystical region, orthe supernatural region, whichever you choose. So far as our ideal impulses originate in this region(and most of them do originate in it, for we find them possessing us in a way for which we cannotarticulately account), we belong to it in a more intimate sense than that in which we belong to thevisible world, for we belong in the most intimate sense wherever our ideals belong. Yet the unseenregion in question is not merely ideal, for it produces effects in this world. When we communewith it, work is actually done upon our finite personality, for we are turned into new men, andconsequences in the way of conduct follow in the natural world upon our regenerative change.

[360] But that which produces effects within another reality must be termed a reality itself, so Ifeel as if we had no philosophic excuse for calling the unseen or mystical world unreal.

[360] That the transaction of opening ourselves, otherwise called prayer, is a perfectly definiteone for certain persons, appears abundantly in the preceding lectures. I append another concreteexample to rein force the impression on the reader's mind:-"Man can learn to transcend these limitations [of finite thought] and draw power and wisdom atwill. . . . The divine presence is known through experience. The turning to a higher plane is adistinct act of consciousness. It is not a vague, twilight or semi-conscious experience. It is not anecstasy, it is not a trance. It is not super-consciousness in the Vedantic sense. It is not due to selfhypnotization.

It is a perfectly calm, sane, sound, rational, common-sense shifting of consciousnessfrom the phenomena of sense-perception to the phenomena of seership, from the thought of self toa distinctively higher realm. . . . For example, if the lower self be nervous, anxious, tense, one canin a few moments compel it to be calm. This is not done by a word simply. Again I say, it is nothypnotism. It is by the exercise of power. One feels the spirit of peace as definitely as heat isperceived on a hot summer day. The power can be as surely used as the sun s rays can be focusedand made to do work, to set fire to wood." The Higher Law, vol. iv. pp. 4, 6, Boston, August,1901.

God is the natural appellation, for us Christians at least, for the supreme reality, so I will call thishigher part of the universe by the name of God.[361] We and God have business with each other;and in opening ourselves to his influence our deepest destiny is fulfilled. The universe, at thoseparts of it which our personal being constitutes, takes a turn genuinely for the worse or for thebetter in proportion as each one of us fulfills or evades God's demands. As far as this goes Iprobably have you with me, for I only translate into schematic language what I may call theinstinctive belief of mankind: God is real since he produces real effects.

[361] Transcendentalists are fond of the term "Over-soul," but as a rule they use it in anintellectualist sense, as meaning only a medium of communion. "God" is a causal agent as well asa medium of communion, and that is the aspect which I wish to emphasize.

The real effects in question, so far as I have as yet admitted them, are exerted on the personalcentres of energy of the various subjects, but the spontaneous faith of most of the subjects is thatthey embrace a wider sphere than this. Most religious men believe (or "know," if they be mystical)that not only they themselves, but the whole universe of beings to whom the God is present, aresecure in his parental hands. There is a sense, a dimension, they are sure, in which we are ALLsaved, in spite of the gates of hell and all adverse terrestrial appearances. God's existence is theguarantee of an ideal order that shall be permanently preserved. This world may indeed, as scienceassures us, some day burn up or freeze; but if it is part of his order, the old ideals are sure to bebrought elsewhere to fruition, so that where God is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, andshipwreck and dissolution are not the absolutely final things. Only when this farther step of faithconcerning God is taken, and remote objective consequences are predicted, does religion, as itseems to me, get wholly free from the first immediate subjective experience, and bring a REALHYPOTHESIS into play. A good hypothesis in science must have other properties than those ofthe phenomenon it is immediately invoked to explain, otherwise it is not prolific enough. God,meaning only what enters into the religious man's experience of union, falls short of being anhypothesis of this more useful order. He needs to enter into wider cosmic relations in order tojustify the subject's absolute confidence and peace.

That the God with whom, starting from the hither side of our own extra-marginal self, we comeat its remoter margin into commerce should be the absolute world-ruler, is of course a veryconsiderable over-belief. Over-belief as it is, though, it is an article of almost every one's religion.

Most of us pretend in some way to prop it upon our philosophy, but the philosophy itself is reallypropped upon this faith. What is this but to say that Religion, in her fullest exercise of function, isnot a mere illumination of facts already elsewhere given, not a mere passion, like love, whichviews things in a rosier light. It is indeed that, as we have seen abundantly. But it is somethingmore, namely, a postulator of new FACTS as well. The world interpreted religiously is not thematerialistic world over again, with an altered expression; it must have, over and above the alteredexpression, a natural constitution different at some point from that which a materialistic worldwould have. It must be such that different events can be expected in it, different conduct must berequired.

This thoroughly "pragmatic" view of religion has usually been taken as a matter of course bycommon men. They have interpolated divine miracles into the field of nature, they have built aheaven out beyond the grave. It is only transcendentalist metaphysicians who think that, withoutadding any concrete details to Nature, or subtracting any, but by simply calling it the expression ofabsolute spirit, you make it more divine just as it stands. I believe the pragmatic way of takingreligion to be the deeper way. It gives it body as well as soul, it makes it claim, as everything realmust claim, some characteristic realm of fact as its very own. What the more characteristicallydivine facts are, apart from the actual inflow of energy in the faith-state and the prayer-state, Iknow not. But the over-belief on which I am ready to make my personal venture is that they exist.

The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousnessis only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds mustcontain experiences which have a meaning for our life also; and that although in the main theirexperiences and those of this world keep discrete, yet the two become continuous at certain points,and higher energies filter in. By being faithful in my poor measure to this over-belief, I seem tomyself to keep more sane and true. I CAN, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist'sattitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and of scientific laws and objects may beall. But whenever I do this, I hear that inward monitor of which W. K. Clifford once wrote,whispering the word "bosh!" Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and thetotal expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond thenarrow "scientific" bounds. Assuredly, the real world is of a different temperament--moreintricately built than physical science allows.

So my objective and my subjective conscience both hold me to the over-belief which I express.

Who knows whether the faithfulness of individuals here below to their own poor over-beliefs maynot actually help God in turn to be more effectively faithful to his own greater tasks?


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