The Hidden Power &
Other Papers on Mental Science
by Thomas Troward
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1925. Partial Contents: Perversion of Truth; The I AM; Affirmative Power; Submission; Completeness; Principle of Guidance; Desires the Motive Power; Yourself; Religious Opinions; Spirit of Opulence; Beauty; Separation and Unity; Externalization; Entering into the Spirit; Bible and the New Thought; Jachin and Boaz; What is Higher Thought.
The Hidden Power1.
TO REALISE FULLY how much of our present daily life consists in symbols is to find the answer to the old, old question, What is Truth? and in the degree in which we begin to recognise this we begin to approach Truth. The realisation of Truth consists in the ability to translate symbols, whether natural or conventional, into their equivalents; and the root of all the errors of mankind consists in the inability to do this, and in maintaining that the symbol has nothing behind it. The great duty incumbent on all who have attained to this knowledge is to impress upon their fellow men that there is an inner side to things, and that until this inner side is known, the things themselves are not known.
There is an inner and an outer side to everything; and the quality of the superficial mind which causes it to fail in the attainment of Truth is its willingness to rest content with the outside only. So long as this is the case it is impossible for a man to grasp the import of his own relation to the universal, and it is this relation which constitutes all that is signified by the word "Truth." So long as a man fixes his attention only on the superficial it is impossible for him to make any progress in knowledge. He is denying that principle of "Growth" which is the root of all life, whether spiritual, intellectual, or material, for he does not stop to reflect that all which he sees as the outer side of things can result only from some germinal principle hidden deep in the centre of their being.
Expansion from the centre by growth according to a necessary order of sequence, this is the Law of Life of which the whole universe is the outcome, alike in the one great solidarity of cosmic being, as in the separate individualities of its minutest organisms. This great principle is the key to the whole riddle of Life, upon whatever plane we contemplate it; and without this key the door from the outer to the inner side of things can never be opened. It is therefore the duty of all to whom this door has, at least in some measure, been opened, to endeavour to acquaint others with the fact that there is an inner side to things, and that life becomes truer and fuller in proportion as we penetrate to it and make our estimates of all things according to what becomes visible from this interior point of view.
In the widest sense everything is a symbol of that which constitutes its inner being, and all Nature is a gallery of arcana revealing great truths to those who can decipher them. But there is a more precise sense in which our current life is based upon symbols in regard to the most important subjects that can occupy our thoughts: the symbols by which we strive to represent the nature and being of God, and the manner in which the life of man is related to the Divine Life. The whole character of a man's life results from what he really believes on this subject: not his formal statement of belief in a particular creed, but what he realises as the stage which his mind has actually attained in regard to it.
Has a man's mind only reached the point at which he thinks it is impossible to know anything about God, or to make any use of the knowledge if he had it? Then his whole interior world is in the condition of confusion, which must necessarily exist where no spirit of order has yet begun to move upon the chaos, in which are, indeed, the elements of being, but all disordered and neutralising one another. Has he advanced a step further, and realised that there is a ruling and an ordering power, but beyond this is ignorant of its nature? Then the unknown stands to him for the terrific, and, amid a tumult of fears and distresses that deprive him of all strength to advance, he spends his life in the endeavour to propitiate this power as something naturally adverse to him, instead of knowing that it is the very centre of his own life and being.
And so on through every degree, from the lowest depths of ignorance to the greatest heights of intelligence, a man's life must always be the exact reflection of that particular stage which he has reached in the perception of the Divine Nature and of his own relation to it; and as we approach the full perception of Truth, so the life-principle within us expands, the old bonds and limitations which had no existence in reality fall off from us, and we enter into regions of light, liberty, and power, of which we had previously no conception. It is impossible, therefore, to overestimate the importance of being able to realise the symbol for a symbol, and being able to penetrate to the inner substance which it represents. Life itself is to be realised only by the conscious experience of its livingness in ourselves, and it is the endeavour to translate these experiences into terms which shall suggest a corresponding idea to others that gives rise to all symbolism.
The nearer those we address have approached to the actual experience, the more transparent the symbol becomes; and the further they are from such experience the thicker is the veil; and our whole progress consists in the fuller and fuller translation of the symbols into clearer and clearer statements of that for which they stand. But the first step, without which all succeeding ones must remain impossible, is to convince people that symbols are symbols, and not the very Truth itself. And the difficulty consists in this, that if the symbolism is in any degree adequate, it must, in some measure, represent the form of Truth, just as the modelling of a drapery suggests the form of the figure beneath. They have a certain consciousness that somehow they are in the presence of Truth; and this leads people to resent any removal of those folds of drapery which have hitherto conveyed this idea to their minds.
There is sufficient indication of the inner Truth in the outward form to afford an excuse for the timorous, and those who have not sufficient mental energy to think for themselves, to cry out that finality has already been attained, and that any further search into the matter must end in the destruction of Truth. But in raising such an outcry they betray their ignorance of the very nature of Truth, which is that it can never be destroyed: the very fact that Truth is Truth makes this impossible. And again they exhibit their ignorance of the first principle of Life—namely, the Law of Growth, which throughout the universe perpetually pushes forward into more and more vivid forms of expression, having expansion everywhere and finality nowhere.
Such ignorant objections need not, therefore, alarm us; and we should endeavour to show those who make them that what they fear is the only natural order of the Divine Life, which is "over all, and through all, and in all." But we must do this gently, and not by forcibly thrusting upon them the object of their terror, and so repelling them from all study of the subject. We should endeavour gradually to lead them to see that there is something interior to what they have hitherto held to be ultimate Truth, and to realise that the sensation of emptiness and dissatisfaction, which from time to time will persist in making itself felt in their hearts, is nothing else than the pressing forward of the spirit within to declare that inner side of things which alone can satisfactorily account for what we observe on the exterior, and without the knowledge of which we can never perceive the true nature of our inheritance in the Universal Life which is the Life Everlasting.
* * * * * *2.
WHAT, THEN, is this central principle which is at the root of all things? It is Life. But not life as we recognise it in particular forms of manifestation; it is something more interior and concentrated than that. It is that "unity of the spirit" which is unity, simply because it has not yet passed into diversity. Perhaps this is not an easy idea to grasp, but it is the root of all scientific conception of spirit; for without it there is no common principle to which we can refer the innumerable forms of manifestation that spirit assumes.
It is the conception of Life as the sum-total of all its undistributed powers, being as yet none of these in particular, but all of them in potentiality. This is, no doubt, a highly abstract idea, but it is essentially that of the centre from which growth takes place by expansion in every direction. This is that last residuum which defies all our powers of analysis. This is truly "the unknowable," not in the sense of the unthinkable but of the unanalysable. It is the subject of perception, not of knowledge, if by knowledge we mean that faculty which estimates the relations between things, because here we have passed beyond any questions of relations, and are face to face with the absolute.
This innermost of all is absolute Spirit. It is Life as yet not differentiated into any specific mode; it is the universal Life which pervades all things and is at the heart of all appearances.
To come into the knowledge of this is to come into the secret of power, and to enter into the secret place of Living Spirit. Is it illogical first to call this the unknowable, and then to speak of corning into the knowledge of it? Perhaps so; but no less a writer than St. Paul has set the example; for does he not speak of the final result of all searchings into the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the inner side of things as being, to attain the knowledge of that Love which passeth knowledge? If he is thus boldly illogical in phrase, though not in fact, may we not also speak of knowing "the unknowable"? We may, for this knowledge is the root of all other knowledge.
The presence of this undifferentiated universal life-power is the final axiomatic fact to which all our analysis must ultimately conduct us. On whatever plane we make our analysis it must always abut upon pure essence, pure energy, pure being; that which knows itself and recognises itself, but which cannot dissect itself because it is not built up of parts, but is ultimately integral: it is pure Unity. But analysis which does not lead to synthesis is merely destructive: it is the child wantonly pulling the flower to pieces and throwing away the fragments; not the botanist, also pulling the flower to pieces, but building up in his mind from those carefully studied fragments a vast synthesis of the constructive power of Nature, embracing the laws of the formation of all flower-forms. The value of analysis is to lead us to the original starting-point of that which we analyse, and so to teach us the laws by which its final form springs from this centre.
Knowing the law of its construction, we turn our analysis into a synthesis, and we thus gain a power of building up which must always be beyond the reach of those who regard "the unknowable" as one with "not-being."
This idea of the unknowable is the root of all materialism; and yet no scientific man, however materialistic his proclivities, treats the unanalysable residuum thus when he meets it in the experiments of his laboratory. On the contrary, he makes this final unanalysable fact the basis of his synthesis. He finds that in the last resort it is energy of some kind, whether as heat or as motion; but he does not throw up his scientific pursuits because he cannot analyse it further. He adopts the precisely opposite course, and realises that the conservation of energy, its indestructibility, and the impossibility of adding to or detracting from the sum-total of energy in the world, is the one solid and unchanging fact on which alone the edifice of physical science can be built up. He bases all his knowledge upon his knowledge of "the unknowable." And rightly so, for if he could analyse this energy into yet further factors, then the same problem of "the unknowable" would meet him still. All our progress consists in continually pushing the unknowable, in the sense of the unanalysable residuum, a step further back; but that there should be no ultimate unanalysable residuum anywhere is an inconceivable idea.
In thus realising the undifferentiated unity of Living Spirit as the central fact of any system, whether the system of the entire universe or of a single organism, we are therefore following a strictly scientific method. We pursue our analysis until it necessarily leads us to this final fact, and then we accept this fact as the basis of our synthesis. The Science of Spirit is thus not one whit less scientific than the Science of Matter; and, moreover, it starts from the same initial fact, the fact of a living energy which defies definition or explanation, wherever we find it; but it differs from the Science of Matter in that it contemplates this energy under an aspect of responsive intelligence which does not fall within the scope of physical science, as such. The Science of Spirit and the Science of Matter are not opposed. They are complementaries, and neither is fully comprehensible without some knowledge of the other; and, being really but two portions of one whole, they insensibly shade off into each other in a border-land where no arbitrary line can be drawn between them. Science studied in a truly scientific spirit, following out its own deductions unflinchingly to their legitimate conclusions, will always reveal the twofold aspect of things, the inner and outer; and it is only a truncated and maimed science that refuses to recognise both.
The study of the material world is not Materialism, if it be allowed to progress to its legitimate issue. Materialism is that limited view of the universe which will not admit the existence of anything but mechanical effects of mechanical causes, and a system which recognises no higher power than the physical forces of nature must logically result in having no higher ultimate appeal than to physical force or to fraud as its alternative. I speak, of course, of the tendency of the system, not of the morality of individuals, who are often very far in advance of the systems they profess. But as we would avoid the propagation of a mode of thought whose effects history shows only too plainly, whether in the Italy of the Borgias, or the France of the First Revolution, or the Commune of the Franco-Prussian War, we should set ourselves to study that inner and spiritual aspect of things which is the basis of a system whose logical results are truth and love instead of perfidy and violence.
Some of us, doubtless, have often wondered why the Heavenly Jerusalem is described in the Book of Revelations as a cube; "the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." This is because the cube is the figure of perfect stability, and thus represents Truth, which can never be overthrown. Turn it on what side you will, it still remains the perfect cube, always standing upright; you cannot upset it. This figure, then, represents the manifestation in concrete solidity of that central life-giving energy, which is not itself any one plane but generates all planes, the planes of the above and of the below and of all four sides. But it is at the same time a city, a place of habitation; and this is because that which is "the within" is Living Spirit, which has its dwelling there.
As one plane of the cube implies all the other planes and also "the within," so any plane of manifestation implies the others and also that "within" which generates them all. Now, if we would make any progress in the spiritual side of science—and every department of science has its spiritual side—we must always keep our minds fixed upon this "innermost within" which contains the potential of all outward manifestation, the "fourth dimension" which generates the cube; and our common forms of speech show how intuitively we do this. We speak of the spirit in which an act is done, of entering into the spirit of a game, of the spirit of the time, and so on. Everywhere our intuition points out the spirit as the true essence of things; and it is only when we commence arguing about them from without, instead of from within, that our true perception of their nature is lost.
The scientific study of spirit consists in following up intelligently and according to definite method the same principle that now only flashes upon us at intervals fitfully and vaguely. When we once realise that this universal and unlimited power of spirit is at the root of all things and of ourselves also, then we have obtained the key to the whole position; and, however far we may carry our studies in spiritual science, we shall nowhere find anything else but particular developments of this one universal principle. "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."
* * * * * *
I HAVE LAID STRESS on the fact that the "innermost within" of all things is Living Spirit, and that the Science of Spirit is distinguished from the Science of Matter in that it contemplates Energy under an aspect of responsive intelligence which does not fall within the scope of physical science, as such. These are the two great points to lay hold of if we would retain a clear idea of spiritual science, and not be misled by arguments drawn from the physical side of Science only—the livingness of the originating principle which is at the heart of all things, and its intelligent and responsive nature. Its livingness is patent to our observation, at any rate from the point where we recognise it in the vegetable kingdom; but its intelligence and responsiveness are not, perhaps, at once so obvious. Nevertheless, a little thought will soon lead us to recognise this also.
No one can deny that there is an intelligent order throughout all nature, for it requires the highest intelligence of our most highly-trained minds to follow the steps of this universal intelligence which is always in advance of them. The more deeply we investigate the world we live in, the more clear it must become to us that all our science is the translation into words or numerical symbols of that order which already exists. If the clear statement of this existing order is the highest that the human intellect can reach, this surely argues a corresponding intelligence in the power which gives rise to this great sequence of order and interrelation, so as to constitute one harmonious whole. Now, unless we fall back on the idea of a workman working upon material external to himself—in which case we have to explain the phenomenon of the workman—the only conception we can form of this power is that it is the Living Spirit inherent in the heart of every atom, giving it outward form and definition, and becoming in it those intrinsic polarities which constitute its characteristic nature.
There is no random work here. Every attraction and repulsion acts with its proper force collecting the atoms into molecules, the molecules into tissues, the tissues into organs, and the organs into individuals. At each stage of the progress we get the sum of the intelligent forces which operate in the constituent parts, plus a higher degree of intelligence which we may regard as the collective intelligence superior to that of the mere sum-total of the parts, something which belongs to the individual as a whole, and not to the parts as such. These are facts which can be amply proved from physical science; and they also supply a great law in spiritual science, which is that in any collective body the intelligence of the whole is superior to that of the sum of the parts.
Spirit is at the root of all things, and thoughtful observation shows that its operation is guided by unfailing intelligence which adapts means to ends, and harmonises the entire universe of manifested being in those wonderful ways which physical science renders clearer every day; and this intelligence must be in the generating spirit itself, because there is no other source from which it could proceed. On these grounds, therefore, we may distinctly affirm that Spirit is intelligent, and that whatever it does is done by the intelligent adaptation of means to ends.
But Spirit is also responsive. And here we have to fall back upon the law above stated, that the mere sum of the intelligence of Spirit in lower degrees of manifestation is not equal to the intelligence of the complex whole, as a whole. This is a radical law which we cannot impress upon our minds too deeply. The degree of spiritual intelligence is marked by the wholeness of the organism through which it finds expression; and therefore the more highly organised being has a degree of spirit which is superior to, and consequently capable to exercising control over, all lower or less fully-integrated degrees of spirit; and this being so, we can now begin to see why the spirit that is the "innermost within" of all things is responsive as well as intelligent.
Being intelligent, it knows, and spirit being ultimately all there is, that which it knows is itself. Hence it is that power which recognises itself; and accordingly the lower powers of it recognise its higher powers, and by the law of attraction they are bound to respond to the higher degrees of themselves. On this general principle, therefore, spirit, under whatever exterior revealed, is necessarily intelligent and responsive. But intelligence and responsiveness imply personality; and we may therefore now advance a step further and argue that all spirit contains the elements of personality, even though, in any particular instance, it may not yet be expressed as that individual personality which we find in ourselves.
In short, spirit is always personal in its nature, even when it has not yet attained to that degree of synthesis which is sufficient to render it personal in manifestation. In ourselves the synthesis has proceeded far enough to reach that degree, and therefore we recognise ourselves as the manifestation of personality. The human kingdom is the kingdom of the manifestation of that personality, which is of the essence of spiritual substance on every plane. Or, to put the whole argument in a simpler form, we may say that our own personality must necessarily have had its origin in that which is personal, on the principle that you cannot get more out of a bag than it contains.
In ourselves, therefore, we find that more perfect synthesis of the spirit into manifested personality which is wanting in the lower kingdoms of nature, and, accordingly, since spirit is necessarily that which knows itself and must, therefore, recognise its own degrees in its various modes, the spirit in all degrees below that of human personality is bound to respond to itself in that superior degree which constitutes human individuality; and this is the basis of the power of human thought to externalise itself in infinite forms of its own ordering.
But if the subordination of the lower degrees of spirit to the higher is one of the fundamental laws which lie at the bottom of the creative power of thought, there is another equally fundamental law which places a salutary restraint upon the abuse of that power. It is the law that we can command the powers of the universal for our own purposes only in proportion as we first realise and obey their generic character. We can employ water for any purpose which does not require it to run up-hill, and we can utilise electricity for any purpose that does not require it to pass from a lower to a higher potential.
So with that universal power which we call the Spirit. It has an inherent generic character with which we must comply if we would employ it for our specific purposes, and this character is summed up in the one word "goodness." The Spirit is Life, hence its generic tendency must always be lifeward or to the increase of the livingness of every individual. And since it is universal it can have no particular interests to serve, and therefore its action must always be equally for the benefit of all. This is the generic character of Spirit; and just as water, or electricity, or any other of the physical forces of the universe, will not work contrary to their generic character, so Spirit will not work contrary to its generic character.
The inference is obvious. If we would use Spirit we must follow the law of the Spirit which is "Goodness." This is the only limitation. If our originating intention is good, we may employ the spiritual power for what purpose we will. And how is "goodness" to be defined? Simply by the child's definition that what is bad is not good, and that what is good is not bad; we all know the difference between bad and good instinctively. If we will conform to this principle of obedience to the generic law of the Spirit, all that remains is for us to study the law of the proportion which exists between the more and less fully integrated modes of Spirit, and then bring our knowledge to bear with determination.
* * * * * *4.
THE LAW OF SPIRIT, to which our investigation has now led us, is of the very widest scope. We have followed it up from the conception of the intelligence of spirit, subsisting in the initial atoms, to the aggregation of this intelligence as the conscious identity of the individual. But there is no reason why this law should cease to operate at this point, or at any point short of the whole. The test of the soundness of any principle is that it can operate as effectively on a large scale as on a small one, that though the nature of its field is determined by the nature of the principle itself, the extent of its field is unlimited. If, therefore, we continue to follow up the law we have been considering, it leads us to the conception of a unit of intelligence as far superior to that of the individual man as the unity of his individual intelligence is superior to that of the intelligence of any single atom of his body; and thus we may conceive of a collective individuality representing the spiritual character of any aggregate of men, the inhabitants of a city, a district, a country, or of the entire world.
Nor need the process stop here. On the same principle there would be a superior collective individuality for the humanity of the entire solar system, and finally we reach the conception of a supreme intelligence bringing together in itself the collective individualities of all the systems in the universe. This is by no means a merely fanciful notion. We find it as the law by which our own conscious individuality is constituted; and we find the analogous principle working universally on the physical plane. It is known to physical science as the "law of inverse squares," by which the forces of reciprocal attraction or repulsion, as the case may be, are not merely equivalent to the sum of the forces emitted by the two bodies concerned, but are equivalent to these two forces multiplied together and divided by the square of the distance between them, so that the resultant power continually rises in a rapidly-increasing ratio as the two reciprocally exciting bodies approach one another.
Since this law is so universal throughout physical nature, the doctrine of continuity affords every ground for supposing that its analogue holds good in respect of spiritual nature. We must never lose sight of the old-world saying that "a truth on one plane is a truth on all." If a principle exists at all it exists universally. We must not allow ourselves to be misled by appearances; we must remember that the perceptible results of the working of any principle consist of two factors—the principle itself or the active factor, and the subject-matter on which it acts or the passive factor; and that while the former is invariable, the latter is variable, and that the operation of the same invariable upon different variables must necessarily produce a variety of results. This at once becomes evident if we state it mathematically; for example, a, b or c, multiplied by x, give respectively the results ax, bx, cx, which differ materially from one another, though the factor x always remains the same.
This law of the generation of power by attraction applies on the spiritual as well as on the physical plane, and acts with the same mathematical precision on both; and thus the human individuality consists, not in the mere aggregation of its parts, whether spiritual or corporeal, but in the unity of power resulting from the intimate association into which those parts enter with one another, which unity, according to this law of the generation of power by attraction, is infinitely superior, both in intelligence and power, to any less fully integrated mode of spirit. Thus a natural principle, common alike to physical and spiritual law, fully accounts for all claims that have ever been made for the creative power of our thought over all things that come within the circle of our own particular life. Thus it is that each man is the centre of his own universe, and has the power, by directing his own thought, to control all things therein.
But, as I have said above, there is no reason why this principle should not be recognised as expanding from the individual until it embraces the entire universe. Each man, as the centre of his own world, is himself centred in a higher system in which he is only one of innumerable similar atoms, and this system again in a higher until we reach the supreme centre of all things; intelligence and power increase from centre to centre in a ratio rising with inconceivable rapidity, according to the law we are now investigating, until they culminate in illimitable intelligence and power commensurate with All-Being.
Now we have seen that the relation of man to the lower modes of spirit is that of superiority and command, but what is his relation to these higher modes? In any harmoniously constituted system the relation of the part to the whole never interferes with the free operation of the part in the performance of its own functions; but, on the contrary, it is precisely by means of this relation that each part is maintained in a position to discharge all functions for which it is fitted. Thus, then, the subordination of the individual man to the supreme mind, so far from curtailing his liberty, is the very condition which makes liberty possible, or even life itself. The generic movement of the whole necessarily carries the part along with it; and so long as the part allows itself thus to be carried onwards there will be no hindrance to its free working in any direction for which it is fitted by its own individuality. This truth was set forth in the old Hindu religion as the Car of Jagannath—an ideal car only, which later ages degraded into a terribly material symbol. "Jagannath" means "Lord of the Universe," and thus signifies the Universal Mind. This, by the law of Being, must always move forward regardless of any attempts of individuals to restrain it. Those who mount upon its car move onward with it to endlessly advancing evolution, while those who seek to oppose it must be crushed beneath its wheels, for it is no respecter of persons.
If, therefore, we would employ the universal law of spirit to control our own little individual worlds, we must also recognise it in respect to the supreme centre round which we ourselves revolve. But not in the old way of supposing that this centre is a capricious Individuality external to ourselves, which can be propitiated or cajoled into giving the good which he is not good enough to give of his own proper motion. So long as we retain this infantile idea we have not come into the liberty which results from the knowledge of the certainty of Law. Supreme Mind is Supreme Law, and can be calculated upon with the same accuracy as when manifested in any of the particular laws of the physical world; and the result of studying, understanding, and obeying this Supreme Law is that we thereby acquire the power to use it. Nor need we fear it with the old fear which comes from ignorance, for we can rely with confidence upon the proposition that the whole can have no interest adverse to the parts of which it is composed; and conversely that the part can have no interest adverse to the whole.
Our ignorance of our relation to the whole may make us appear to have separate interests, but a truer knowledge must always show such an idea to be mistaken. For this reason, therefore, the same responsiveness of spirit which manifests itself as obedience to our wishes, when we look to those degrees of spirit which are lower than our own individuality, must manifest itself as a necessary inflowing of intelligence and power when we look to the infinity of spirit, of which our individuality is a singular expression, because in so looking upwards we are looking for the higher degrees of ourself.
The increased vitality of the parts means the increased vitality of the whole, and since it is impossible to conceive of spirit otherwise than as a continually expanding principle of Life, the demand for such increased vitality must, by the inherent nature of spirit, be met by a corresponding supply of continually growing intelligence and power. Thus, by a natural law, the demand creates the supply, and this supply may be freely applied to any and every subject-matter that commends itself to us. There is no limit to the supply of this energy other than what we ourselves put to it by our thought; nor is there any limit to the purposes we may make it serve other than the one grand Law of Order, which says that good things used for wrong purposes become evil. The consideration of the intelligent and responsive nature of spirit shows that there can be no limitations but these. The one is a limitation inherent in spirit itself, and the other is a limitation which has no root except in our own ignorance.
It is true that to maintain our healthy action within the circle of our own individual world we must continually move forward with the movement of the larger whole of which we form a part. But this does not imply any restriction of our liberty to make the fullest use of our lives in accordance with those universal principles of life upon which they are founded; for there is not one law for the part and another for the whole, but the same law of Being permeates both alike. In proportion, therefore, as we realise the true law of our own individuality we shall find that it is one with the law of progress for the race. The collective individuality of mankind is only the reproduction on a larger scale of the personal individuality; and whatever action truly develops the inherent powers of the individual must necessarily be in line with that forward march of the universal mind which is the evolution of humanity as a whole.
Selfishness is a narrow view of our own nature which loses sight of our place in relation to the whole, not perceiving that it is from this very relation that our life is drawn. It is ignorance of our own possibilities and consequent limitation of our own powers. If, therefore, the evidence of harmonious correlation throughout the physical world leads irresistibly to the inference of intelligent spirit as the innermost within of all things, we must recognise ourselves also as individual manifestations of the same spirit which expresses itself throughout the universe as that power of intelligent responsiveness which is Love.
* * * * * *5.
THUS WE FIND ourselves to be a necessary and integral part of the Infinite Harmony of All-Being; not merely recognising this great truth as a vague intuition, but as the logical and unavoidable result of the universal Life-Principle which permeates all Nature. We find our intuition was true because we have discovered the law which gave rise to it; and now intuition and investigation both unite in telling us of our own individual place in the great scheme of things. Even the most advanced among us have, as yet, little more than the faintest adumbration of what this place is. It is the place of power. Towards those higher modes of spirit which we speak of as "the universal," the law of man's inmost nature makes him as a lens, drawing into the focus of his own individuality all that he will of light and power in streams of inexhaustible supply; and towards the lower modes of spirit, which form for each one the sphere of his own particular world, man thus becomes the directive centre of energy and order.
Can we conceive of any position containing greater possibilities than these? The circle of this vital influence may expand as the individual grows into the wider contemplation of his unity with Infinite Being; but any more comprehensive law of relationship it would be impossible to formulate. Emerson has rightly said that a little algebra will often do far more towards clearing our ideas than a large amount of poetic simile. Algebraically it is a self-evident proposition that any difference between various powers of x disappears when they are compared with x multiplied into itself to infinity, because there can be no ratio between any determinate power, however high, and the infinite; and thus the relation between the individual and All-Being must always remain the same.
But this in no way interferes with the law of growth, by which the individual rises to higher and higher powers of his own individuality. The unchangeableness of the relation between all determinate powers of x and infinity does not affect the relations of the different powers of x between themselves; but rather the fact that the multiplication of x into itself to infinity is mentally conceivable is the very proof that there is no limit to the extent to which it is possible to raise x in its determinate powers.
I trust unmathematical readers will pardon my using this method of statement for the benefit of others to whom it will carry conviction. A relation once clearly grasped in its mathematical aspect becomes thenceforth one of the unalterable truths of the universe, no longer a thing to be argued about, but an axiom which may be assumed as the foundation on which to build up the edifice of further knowledge. But, laying aside mathematical formulae, we may say that because the Infinite is infinite there can be no limit to the extent to which the vital principle of growth may draw upon it, and therefore there is no limit to the expansion of the individual's powers. Because we are what we are, we may become what we will.
The Kabbalists tell us of "the lost word," the word of power which mankind has lost. To him who discovers this word all things are possible. Is this mirific word really lost? Yes, and No. It is the open secret of the universe, and the Bible gives us the key to it. It tells us, "The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart." It is the most familiar of all words, the word which in our heart we realise as the centre of our conscious being, and which is in our mouth a hundred times a day. It is the word "I AM." Because I am what I am, I may be what I will to be. My individuality is one of the modes in which the Infinite expresses itself, and therefore I am myself that very power which I find to be the innermost within of all things.
To me, thus realising the great unity of all Spirit, the infinite is not the indefinite, for I see it to be the infinite of Myself. It is the very same I AM that I am; and this not by any act of uncertain favour, but by the law of polarity which is the basis of all Nature. The law of polarity is that law according to which everything attains completion by manifesting itself in the opposite direction to that from which it started. It is the simple law by which there can be no inside without an outside, nor one end of a stick without an opposite end.
Life is motion, and all motion is the appearance of energy at another point, and, where any work has been done, under another form than that in which it originated; but wherever it reappears, and in whatever new form, the vivifying energy is still the same. This is nothing else than the scientific doctrine of the conservation of energy, and it is upon this well-recognised principle that our perception of ourselves as integral portions of the great universal power is based.
We do well to pay heed to the sayings of the great teachers who have taught that all power is in the "I AM," and to accept this teaching by faith in their bare authority rather than not accept it at all; but the more excellent way is to know why they taught thus, and to realise for ourselves this first great law which all the master-minds have realised throughout the ages. It is indeed true that the "lost word" is the one most familiar to us, ever in our hearts and on our lips. We have lost, not the word, but the realisation of its power. And as the infinite depths of meaning which the words I AM carry with them open out to us, we begin to realise the stupendous truth that we are ourselves the very power which we seek.
It is the polarisation of Spirit from the universal into the particular, carrying with it all its inherent powers, just as the smallest flame has all the qualities of fire. The I AM in the individual is none other than the I AM in the universal. It is the same Power working in the smaller sphere of which the individual is the centre. This is the great truth which the ancients set forth under the figure of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, the lesser I AM reproducing the precise image of the greater, and of which the Bible tells us when it speaks of man as the image of God.
Now the immense practical importance of this principle is that it affords the key to the great law that "as a man thinks so he is." We are often asked why this should be, and the answer may be stated as follows: We know by personal experience that we realise our own livingness in two ways, by our power to act and our susceptibility to feel; and when we consider Spirit in the absolute we can only conceive of it as these two modes of livingness carried to infinity. This, therefore, means infinite susceptibility. There can be no question as to the degree of sensitiveness, for Spirit is sensitiveness, and is thus infinitely plastic to the slightest touch that is brought to bear upon it; and hence every thought we formulate sends its vibrating currents out into the infinite of Spirit, producing there currents of like quality but of far vaster power.
But Spirit in the Infinite is the Creative Power of the universe, and the impact of our thought upon it thus sets in motion a veritable creative force. And if this law holds good of one thought it holds good of all, and hence we are continually creating for ourselves a world of surroundings which accurately reproduces the complexion of our own thoughts. Persistent thoughts will naturally produce a greater external effect than casual ones not centred upon any particular object. Scattered thoughts which recognise no principle of unity will fail to produce any principle of unity. The thought that we are weak and have no power over circumstances results in inability to control circumstances, and the thought of power produces power.
At every moment we are dealing with an infinitely sensitive medium which stirs creative energies that give form to the slightest of our thought-vibrations. This power is inherent in us because of our spiritual nature, and we cannot divest ourselves of it. It is our truly tremendous heritage because it is a power which, if not intelligently brought into lines of orderly activity, will spend its uncontrolled forces in devastating energy. If it is not used to build up, it will destroy. And there is nothing exceptional in this: it is merely the reappearance on the plane of the universal and undifferentiated of the same principle that pervades all the forces of Nature. Which of these is not destructive unless drawn off into some definite direction? Accumulated steam, accumulated electricity, accumulated water, will at length burst forth, carrying destruction all around; but, drawn off through suitable channels, they become sources of constructive power, inexhaustible as Nature itself.
And here let me pause to draw attention to this idea of accumulation. The greater the accumulation of energy, the greater the danger if it be not directed into a proper order, and the greater the power if it be. Fortunately for mankind the physical forces, such as electricity, do not usually subsist in a highly concentrated form. Occasionally circumstances concur to produce such concentration, but as a rule the elements of power are more or less equally dispersed. Similarly, for the mass of mankind, this spiritual power has not yet reached a very high degree of concentration. Every mind, it is true, must be in some measure a centre of concentration, for otherwise it would have no conscious individuality; but the power of the individualised mind rapidly rises as it recognises its unity with the Infinite life, and its thought-currents, whether well or ill directed, then assume a proportionately great significance.
Hence the ill effects of wrongly directed thought are in some degree mitigated in the great mass of mankind, and many causes are in operation to give a right direction to their thoughts, though the thinkers themselves are ignorant of what thought-power is. To give a right direction to the thoughts of ignorant thinkers is the purpose of much religious teaching, which these uninstructed ones must accept by faith in bare authority because they are unable to realise its true import. But notwithstanding the aids thus afforded to mankind, the general stream of unregulated thought cannot but have an adverse tendency, and hence the great object to which the instructed mind directs its power is to free itself from the entanglements of disordered thought, and to help others to do the same. To escape from this entanglement is to attain perfect Liberty, which is perfect Power.
* * * * * *6.
THE ENTANGLEMENT from which we need to escape has its origin in the very same principle which gives rise to liberty and power. It is the same principle applied under inverted conditions. And here I would draw particular attention to the law that any sequence followed out in an inverted order must produce an inverted result, for this goes a long way to explain many of the problems of life. The physical world affords endless examples of the working of "inversion." In the dynamo the sequence commences with mechanical force which is ultimately transformed into the subtler power of electricity; but invert this order, commence by generating electricity, and it becomes converted into mechanical force, as in the motor. In the one order the rotation of a wheel produces electricity, and in the opposite order electricity produces the rotation of a wheel. Or to exhibit the same principle in the simplest arithmetical form, if 10 divided by 2 = 5 then 10 divided by 5 = 2. "Inversion'' is a factor of the greatest magnitude and has to be reckoned with; but I must content myself here with only indicating the general principle that the same power is capable of producing diametrically opposite effects if it be applied under opposite conditions, a truth which the so-called "magicians" of the middle ages expressed by two triangles placed inversely to one another. We are apt to fall into the mistake of supposing that results of opposite character require powers of opposite character to produce them, and our conceptions of things in general become much simplified when we recognise that this is not the case, but that the same power will produce opposite results as it starts from opposite poles.
Accordingly the inverted application of the same principle which gives rise to liberty and power constitutes the entanglement from which we need to be delivered before power and liberty can be attained, and this principle is expressed in the law that "as a man thinks so he is." This is the basic law of the human mind. It is Descarte's "Cogito, ergo sum." If we trace consciousness to its seat we find that it is purely subjective. Our external senses would cease to exist were it not for the subjective consciousness which perceives what they communicate to it.
The idea conveyed to the subjective consciousness may be false, but until some truer idea is more forcibly impressed in its stead it remains a substantial reality to the mind which gives it objective existence. I have seen a man speak to the stump of a tree which in the moonlight looked like a person standing in a garden, and repeatedly ask its name and what it wanted; and so far as the speaker's conception was concerned the garden contained a living man who refused to answer. Thus every mind lives in a world to which its own perceptions give objective reality. Its perceptions may be erroneous, but they nevertheless constitute the very reality of life for the mind that gives form to them. No other life than the life we lead in our own mind is possible; and hence the advance of the whole race depends on substituting the ideas of good, of liberty, and of order for their opposites. And this can be done only by giving some sufficient reason for accepting the new idea in place of the old. For each one of us our beliefs constitute our facts, and these beliefs can be changed only by discovering some ground for a different belief.
This is briefly the rationale of the maxim that "as a man thinks so he is"; and from the working of this principle all the issues of life proceed. Now man's first perception of the law of cause and effect in relation to his own conduct is that the result always partakes of the quality of the cause; and since his argument is drawn from external observation only, he regards external acts as the only causes he can effectively set in operation. Hence when he attains sufficient moral enlightenment to realise that many of his acts have been such as to merit retribution he fears retribution as their proper result. Then by reason of the law that "thoughts are things," the evils which he fears take form and plunge him into adverse circumstances, which again prompt him into further wrong acts, and from these come a fresh crop of fears which in their turn become externalised into fresh evils, and thus arises a circulus from which there is no escape so long as the man recognises nothing but his external acts as a causative power in the world of his surroundings.
This is the Law of Works, the Circle of Karma, the Wheel of Fate, from which there appears to be no escape, because the complete fulfilment of the law of our moral nature today is only sufficient for today and leaves no surplus to compensate the failure of yesterday. This is the necessary law of things as they appear from external observation only; and, so long as this conception remains, the law of each man's subjective consciousness makes it a reality for him. What is needed, therefore, is to establish the conception that external acts are NOT the only causative power, but that there is another law of causation, namely, that of pure Thought. This is the Law of Faith, the Law of Liberty; for it introduces us to a power which is able to inaugurate a new sequence of causation not related to any past actions.
But this change of mental attitude cannot be brought about till we have laid hold of some fact which is sufficient to afford a reason for the change. We require some solid ground for our belief in this higher law. Ultimately we find this ground in the great Truth of the eternal relation between spirit in the universal and in the particular. When we realise that substantially there is nothing else but spirit, and that we ourselves are reproductions in individuality of the Intelligence and Love which rule the universe, we have reached the firm standing ground where we find that we can send forth our Thought to produce any effect we will. We have passed beyond the idea of two opposites requiring reconciliation, into that of a duality in which there is no other opposition than that of the inner and the outer of the same unity, the polarity which is inherent in all Being, and we then realise that in virtue of this unity our Thought is possessed of illimitable creative power, and that it is free to range where it will, and is by no means bound down to accept as inevitable the consequences which, if unchecked by renovated thought, would flow from our past actions.
In its own independent creative power the mind has found the way out of the fatal circle in which its previous ignorance of the highest law had imprisoned it. The Unity of the Spirit is found to result in perfect Liberty; the old sequence of Karma has been cut off, and a new and higher order has been introduced. In the old order the line of thought received its quality from the quality of the actions, and since they always fell short of perfection, the development of a higher thought-power from this root was impossible. This is the order in which everything is seen from without. It is an inverted order. But in the true order everything is seen from within.
It is the thought which determines the quality of the action, and not vice versa, and since thought is free, it is at liberty to direct itself to the highest principles, which thus spontaneously reproduce themselves in the outward acts, so that both thoughts and actions are brought into harmony with the great eternal laws and become one in purpose with the Universal Mind. The man realises that he is no longer bound by the consequences of his former deeds, done in the time of his ignorance, in fact, that he never was bound by them except so far as he himself gave them this power by false conceptions of the truth; and thus recognising himself for what he really is—the expression of the Infinite Spirit in individual personality—he finds that he is free, that he is a "partaker of Divine nature," not losing his identity, but becoming more and more fully himself with an ever-expanding perfection, following out a line of evolution whose possibilities are inexhaustible.
But there is not in all men this knowledge. For the most part they still look upon God as an individual Being external to themselves, and what the more instructed man sees to be unity of mind and identity of nature appear to the less advanced to be an external reconciliation between opposing personalities. Hence the whole range of conceptions which may be described as the Messianic Idea. This idea is not, as some seem to suppose, a misconception of the truth of Being. On the contrary, when rightly understood it will be found to imply the very widest grasp of that truth; and it is from the platform of this supreme knowledge alone that an idea so comprehensive in its adaptation to every class of mind could have been evolved. It is the translation of the relations arising from the deepest laws of Being into terms which can be realised even by the most unlearned; a translation arranged with such consummate skill that, as the mind grows in spirituality, every stage of advance is met by a corresponding unfolding of the Divine meaning; while yet even the crudest apprehension of the idea implied is sufficient to afford the required basis for an entire renovation of the man's thoughts concerning himself, giving him a standing ground from which to think of himself as no longer bound by the law of retribution for past offences, but as free to follow out the new law of Liberty as a child of God.
The man's conception of the modus operandi of this emancipation may take the form of the grossest anthropomorphism or the most childish notions as to the satisfaction of the Divine justice by vicarious substitution, but the working result will be the same. He has got what satisfies him as a ground for thinking of himself in a perfectly new light; and since the states of our subjective consciousness constitute the realities of our life, to afford him a convincing ground for thinking himself free, is to make him free.
With increasing light he may find that his first explanation of the modus operandi was inadequate; but when he reaches this stage, further investigation will show him that the great truth of his liberty rests upon a firmer foundation than the conventional interpretation of traditional dogmas, and that it has its roots in the great laws of Nature, which are never doubtful, and which can never be overturned. And it is precisely because their whole action has its root in the unchangeable laws of Mind that there exists a perpetual necessity for presenting to men something which they can lay hold of as a sufficient ground for that change of mental attitude, by which alone they can be rescued from the fatal circle which is figured under the symbol of the Old Serpent.
The hope and adumbration of such a new principle has formed the substance of all religions in all ages, however misapprehended by the ignorant worshippers; and, whatever our individual opinions may be as to the historical facts of Christianity, we shall find that the great figure of liberated and perfected humanity which forms its centre fulfils this desire of all nations in that it sets forth their great ideal of Divine power intervening to rescue man by becoming one with him. This is the conception presented to us, whether we apprehend it in the most literally material sense, or as the ideal presentation of the deepest philosophic study of mental laws, or in whatever variety of ways we may combine these two extremes. The ultimate idea impressed upon the mind must always be the same: it is that there is a Divine warrant for knowing ourselves to be the children of God and "partakers of the Divine nature"; and when we thus realise that there is solid ground for believing ourselves free, by force of this very belief we become free.
The proper outcome of the study of the laws of spirit which constitute the inner side of things is not the gratification of a mere idle curiosity, nor the acquisition of abnormal powers, but the attainment of our spiritual liberty, without which no further progress is possible. When we have reached this goal the old things have passed away and all things have become new. The mystical seven days of the old creation have been fulfilled, and the first day of the new week dawns upon us with its resurrection to a new life, expressing on the highest plane that great doctrine of the "octave" which the science of the ancient temples traced through Nature, and which the science of the present day endorses, though ignorant of its supreme significance.
When we have thus been made free by recognising our oneness with Infinite Being, we have reached the termination of the old series of sequences and have gained the starting-point of the new. The old limitations are found never to have had any existence save in our own misapprehension of the truth, and one by one they fall off as we advance into clearer light. We find that the Life-Spirit we seek is in ourselves; and, having this for our centre, our relation to all else becomes part of a wondrous living Order in which every part works in sympathy with the whole, and the whole in sympathy with every part, a harmony wide as infinitude, and in which there are no limitations save those imposed by the Law of Love.
I have endeavoured in this short series of articles to sketch briefly the principal points of relation between Spirit in ourselves and in our surroundings. This subject has employed the intelligence of mankind from grey antiquity to the present day, and no one thinker can ever hope to grasp it in all its amplitude. But there are certain broad principles which we must all grasp, however we may specialise our studies in detail, and these I have sought to indicate, with what degree of success the reader must form his own opinion. Let him, however, lay firm hold of this one fundamental truth, and the evolution of further truth from it is only a question of time—that there is only One Spirit, however many the modes of its manifestations, and that "the Unity of the Spirit is the Bond of Peace."
"The Hidden Power & Other Papers on Mental Science
" by Thomas Troward
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