'There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise:
He jumped into a bramble bush
And scratched out both his eyes.
And when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main
He jumped into another bush
And scratched them in again."
A friend in the West used often to amuse himself in asking and answering this conundrum:
"What is matter? Never mind."
"What is mind? No matter."
I quote him to illustrate two of the popular illusions, for mind and matter are no longer regarded by advanced thinkers as different elements of life.
We are continually proving their identity. It has long been our habit to set up these two factors as opposing forces.
We are emerging from the dark ages of materialistic thought.
We have felt that we were bound and limited by matter, that we were held to the animal plane by the dominion of material things even after we have recognized the fact that we are spiritual beings. We have believed that our highest glory in the future would be to pass far away from the necessity and use of matter. Of late the popular thought has been showing a reaction.
Mind is asserting itself as the governing power even in the mortal life. Materialism has had its day both in science and religion. There is danger in this reaction as great as that we have escaped. That classic rhyme of Mother Goose is again proving true. History repeats itself. We put out our eyes in the bramble bush of materialism and now seek to scratch them in again in another bramble bush of most irrational idealism.
The conflict between mind and matter has long been going on in our planetary arena. The time has come at last when matter itself is getting bullied. It no longer clears the ring as formerly, and impales everything upon its horns.
A recently developed school of metaphysicians impudently asserts that it has no real existence.
It denies it even the respect of recognition except to denounce it as a will-o'-the-wisp.
This should entitle it to sympathy, and it is time we came to its relief. In the past men have denied the existence of spirit and taken away our wings.
Today in denying matter they do not leave us a leg to stand on. Is not one illusion as bad as the other? We have suffered much in an unreasonable emphasis upon the exclusive reality of the senses. We will continue to suffer if we seek to ignore matter or denounce it as a thing unworthy to be recognized by spirit. We have as good reason to distrust a teacher or philosophy that defines life as a dream and matter as non-existent as those that assert that there is no reality outside material form.
Matter and mind are two sides of the triangle of life. Whichever we choose to study first will bring us surely to a recognition of the other.
The scientist comes to a point where he is compelled to erect an altar to the unknown God, while the spiritualist finds it necessary to become a student of the science that he has perhaps despised.
Nowhere is superstition more prevalent than in materialistic minds. On the other hand, there are none who show deeper concern for the welfare and comfort of their bodies than those metaphysicians who deny the reality of matter.
We live alternately in two very different phases of experience, and often they so blend that "one world at a time" becomes a real impossibility.
Doubtless all conditions have illusions that are peculiar to themselves. One who has dropped the coarser body is not living a more real life than one who wears the earthly garments. It isn't necessary for a man to deny the reality of his overcoat because he has at the same time a good suit of underwear. Neither the underwear nor overcoat is in itself sufficient for all times and places. The illusions of what we call "the other life" are as bewildering, no doubt, as those that especially belong to this. If this is a school-room in which we study coarser matter, that is one in which we study sublimated matter. Life has many mansions, and, so far as we know, they are all school-rooms. The playgrounds do not belong exclusively to either state of existence. It is as much a privilege to the spiritual being to try its legs in the material world as to try its wings in the astral. All religions have called life a dream, but when and where do the realities exist if not here and now? This is a world of affairs, and in it we work out by day the lessons we have studied in the world of mind at night. By and by we shall remain longer in the higher grade, and find there too affairs in which we shall apply the knowledge we have gained in matter. All power is the expression of knowledge. This is attained only through experience. Hence our need of constantly changing relations toward all the factors of existence, mental and material.
As soon as we have gained adjustment to one situation we encounter another, demanding the exercise of unused forces. In this way our illusions are dispelled as the sun of our consciousness climbs higher in the heavens. The domain of matter is not of necessity a twilight land. If we are ready to open our eyes to the light we will find the high noon of spirit here as well as elsewhere.
Mortal life is not a dream, except to those who prefer to sleep, and to such will come an hour of rude awakening. There are many dreamers, also, on the astral planes. The passage of the Styx does not serve always to dispel illusions. It sometimes deepens them.
Mental treatment is as much a necessity after death as before to those who prefer to believe that the actualities of life belong to future states of being. The horizon line of the spirit is ever a vanishing perspective. Forever it recedes as we advance.
If we live in the belief of necessary bondage to either mind or matter we must suffer the penalty we have imposed upon ourselves, till we awaken to the truth of freedom—individual and universal.
After studying navigation in the schools we seek the open sea to put its principles into operation. When we have finished the academical course of civil engineering we need the fields and forests for our theodolite.
The botanist and geologist return from the mountains and plains to the quiet of the laboratory to analyze and classify the specimens with which they have filled their satchels. So does the soul exchange its tranquil home in the realms of spirit for the more turbulent activities of material life, where it may demonstrate its powers, and so does it return again with its garnered sheaves of earthly knowledge to the contemplation of its triumphs and defeats. There are always two voices sounding in our ears, the voice of fear and the voice of confidence. One is the clamor of the senses, the other is the whispering of the higher self. If we listen to the first we are unnerved. If we give heed to the other, we develop power and become invincible. When the young sailor climbs to the topsail yards for the first time, and looks down upon the narrow deck of his little craft rocking so far below him, he sometimes grows dizzy at the unaccustomed height and is in danger of falling. His shipmates, perceiving his danger, will call out to "look aloft." He turns his eyes to the great blue above, forgets the swaying ship, and feels himself at home in the wide expanse of sky that stretches out around him. It appeals to his higher sense of soul. His eye grows steady. He recovers his balance, and gains a firm hold on the foot-ropes.
"O Lord, thy sea is so great and my little boat so small," prayed the old monk; "grant, I pray thee, that thy great sea may not swallow up my little boat."
When we look aloft we accept both sea and boat as realities and recognize the truth that the soul is the greatest reality of all and controls all else; thus we place ourselves in right relations to both mind and matter and complete our triangle.
When science has admitted that the atom is intelligent and indestructible it has transmuted matter into mind, for we know of nothing else than mind that can make these claims.
Matter and mind are twin offspring of one parent, spirit.
"Every molecule of matter," says Professor Dolbear, "sets the whole visible and invisible universe in a tremor through its radiating waves. A crystal cannot be turned over in the hand without affecting everything outside of it."
Matter is a vehicle of sensation, and through sensation we learn the material lessons of this school of Earth.
There is sensation in matter because there is mind, and there is always matter present in sensation through the movement of the atmospheric or etheric waves.
Matter offers the resistance necessary for demonstration of the superior power of mind. It is the substance that we came to study and to control.
This resistance of matter is as necessary as atmosphere and wings to the flight of the bird.
In earth we find the plastic substance in which to study the art of living.
If matter had no existence, how could we have an objective life?
Through matter we learn all that we know of history.
In the material ruins of ancient cities, temples, and palaces we come in touch with the far past. Through its tablets and monuments we acquaint ourselves with the world's records until such time as we can read the astral pages upon which all history is inscribed.
In fossils and petrifactions we learn the story of evolution.
Through aerolite and solar spectrum we discover the similarity and difference of other worlds in their material conditions.
There is no matter without motion. There is no motion without mind. Atoms and thoughts are alike magnetic, and through the selecting principle attract all other atoms and thoughts of the same vibration. Matter is mind at a slower rate of vibration. Mind is matter at a higher rate. Spirit is infinitely more rapid than either and rules both.
It is as disastrous to have too little respect for matter as to have too much. If we appreciated it better we would value more highly the power of mind that governs it. It is as wrong to distrust our bodily organs or our fortunes as to distrust our minds. The body we despise will shrink away from us and lose its power and beauty. The fortunes we neglect and spurn will quickly pass to other hands.
The larger the development of mind the larger will be its expression in material brain tissue.
When we have mastered matter we will have mastered death, and signed our own emancipation proclamation.
Until that task has been achieved we have not completed our material studies. Between the highest vibration that reaches the ear, and the lowest vibration that reaches the eye, there is an immense and unexplored domain.
We have as yet no senses that can come in contact with it and translate its phenomena.
With only five senses very imperfectly developed, slaves of matter as we are today in many ways, are there no lessons worthy our attention to tempt us back for other incarnations?
Have we so mastered the mathematics of this planet that we are ready now to triangulate the universe? The purpose of life should be the discovery of our real relations to the environment we have drawn about us.
True life in matter is simple and painless. Normal living is a delight when we understand that there is more of everything we want than we can possibly require for use.
Mind cannot sink in the sea of matter. There is nothing that can drown or starve us but our fears.
Why should the philosophy of reembodiment, which has been always held by the larger part of the world, including its most distinguished minds, be so distasteful to a few who have not until recently been made familiar with its teachings?
Because we have learned one or even a dozen of the three thousand tongues of human kind, are we ready to converse with angels, and be enrolled in the schools of the hierarchies? Is one short term sufficient for us? Have we in one brief life sounded the depths and scaled the heights of human knowledge? What do we really know of life on higher or on lower scales than those to which we were born? Can the peasant and the sovereign, the scholar and the tramp, adjust themselves to one another's hardships, responsibilities, and opportunities, and apply to them the principles they have found useful in their own?
Is the pupil who has been only through the simple tables of arithmetic prepared for the calculus and conic sections? How far have we advanced in the control of matter while we are mastered by famine and tornado, to say nothing of the extra cup of coffee at our breakfast table, or our fear of being kept awake at night because our tea is a trifle "strong"? This planet offers infinitely greater opportunities of knowledge and happiness than most have discovered. We have latent within us such power over matter as we have but just begun to dream.
In the scheme of creation we shall ourselves rank as creators, with ability to disintegrate and reintegrate at will such forms as we shall choose to bring into visible existence. We have hardly begun to fathom the latent energies of either matter or mind. We have but recently discovered new properties in the atmosphere itself, and formed new theories of light. We are continually gaining evidence of the action of forces we have not even named. The wealth of material energy is beyond our classification, like the unnamed peaks of the Rocky Mountains that never yet have been explored.
We have not yet obtained possession of this objective life from which many appear so anxious to get away. If we had mastered matter we should find in it a greater satisfaction. With perfect strength and gladness in living, we would not nurse vain longings for a heavenly life. In these ways we acknowledge our defeat. We have fallen far short of perfect physical expression. We have not learned the earthly things and are not ready for the heavenly. The law of love works in matter as well as mind, and evolution tends always to perfection of species.
As long as matter in any form can make us afraid we are but raw apprentices. We have named the wild beasts, but we have not subdued them. We have inherited the Garden of Eden, but we have not found its possibilities of cultivation,—only its trials and temptations. As long as we fancy ourselves dependent upon matter in any form for happiness we are only lackeys and not lords.
Our relation to matter is that of the sculptor to his clay.
The artist fashions the form in which he wishes to express some thought. He models and remodels it until his purpose has been perfected. Then he begins his work in the more enduring stone or bronze or marble which will admit of more complete expression. Our present work is in the modeling-room. When we have gained such mastery of matter that we can vitalize it with our thought at will we shall no doubt pass on to higher expression. Meanwhile we get the best results through confidence in our ability to choose and power to direct our lives. We are truly the architects of our own fortunes and should no longer seek to shelter ourselves behind the superstitions of "heredity" and "fate."
Every man is a "self-made man." He builds the temple that his soul inhabits. Whatever its beauties or deformities, they are the manifestation of his own thought in the past,—even though that past has faded from his recollection.
There are unexplored areas of matter in the human brain and body as well as in the planet we inhabit. Very few of our motor centers have been localized yet in the brain to the satisfaction of the scientific mind. Science itself has given no complete definition of matter. It has named certain properties, such as cohesion and gravitation. It has discovered that every particle attracts every other particle, and that the law of specific gravity governs the relations of one mass to another.
Matter is the matrix of mind. It receives the impress of the thought and expresses it in form. As Ovid says, "The underworld receives the image. The spirit seeks the stars."
Matter and mind are necessary to one another for expression of spirit. Each provides us with lenses for the study of the other.
We should neither fear nor hate, despise or love either matter or mind, but recognize in both the servants of soul.
In the Canary Islands there are but few forests and little verdure.
When the Spaniards landed there some centuries ago they cut down the trees and the springs dried up. The springs were fed by the trees and in their turn they watered them. The forests absorbed the moisture of the atmosphere. That of the soil was vaporized and drawn into the clouds, to be returned again in showers. Such is the beautiful circle of nature—a type of the reciprocal relations of matter, mind, and spirit, each necessary to the complete expression of the other.
In our western world we sometimes enthrone material forces and, like the old Ephesians, fall down and worship our great "Diana." We say, "Cotton is king!" "Wheat is king!" "Corn is king!" "Gold is king!"
We talk of the “Almighty Dollar," and yet we know in our hearts that these things have no power except that conferred upon them by the human mind. Mere puppets, all of them, and pitiably weak and helpless in themselves. Like the lay figures of the artist, we invest them with a transient glory and fictitious life, that they may serve us for a day.
The old Greek stoics taught that man should live above sensation and be indifferent to pleasure and pain. Epicurus claimed, upon the other hand, that everything was good that gave man pleasure, and everything that gave him pain was evil. May we not embody both these teachings in our new philosophy and recognize the use of all sensation in the development of spiritual consciousness? The human soul must not be wrecked on shoals of matter, or blown off its course by winds of doctrine. Our greatest dangers are not those we see or feel.
When we understand matter it can no longer crucify us.
We must needs become lords of life and death. When we can truly say of the body, "I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again," we shall have finished our course. When that point is reached we shall be invulnerable to all material forces, superior to all the elements, fearless of all earthly conditions.
Before we can gain this power we must change our attitude toward matter, and what we have ignorantly called its laws.
We have been trampled by its hoofs till we have thought that matter was our enemy. We have denounced it as the foe of spiritual life and have resented the necessity of living in a material body in a material world. We have sought to punish and starve the senses in the vain delusion that we would thus give satisfaction to the spiritual nature. Such experiments have never been tried successfully.
When the tides of life have brought us any good it must be quickly seized and used, else the ebb will carry it out again beyond our reach. We should be friendly in our attitude to everything we meet.
We should welcome and enjoy the material life in order to accomplish the highest development of the spiritual nature. Growth comes always through satisfaction. We give the child toys in its nursery days, and do not keep it in a state of perpetual unrest. Let us make the body comfortable in every reasonable way, in order to secure the freedom of the mind. Thus will we avoid needless conflict, and gain a larger control of both mind and body, while we move steadily forward toward the absolute mastery of both. This is not a plea for indolence or self-indulgence, but for an orderly and reasonable life in which mind and body shall find their true relations to each other, and learn obedience to the will of the soul. Soul power manifests itself in the largest degree of opulence, health, and happiness, and not in poverty, asceticism, and disease. When we have learned to live we will find the body an organ of wondrous power, and never a clog or hindrance.
It will be both palace and temple, and never a prison house. We will find wings in its feet and brains in its finger-tips. Fear and helplessness will be impossible. A constant and buoyant gladness is the right expression of true life. Life on the material plane offers every possible facility of spiritual development which we can ever require. As long as we are dissatisfied at any point we have failed to learn the lessons set before us, and are in no state of mind to find happiness elsewhere.
Our health and fortunes suffer through our failure to recognize the opportunities of today.
Right here in the world of matter are the building-stones of the New Jerusalem. The quarries lie all about us. All that we wish to manifest can be done here and now. All that we wish to possess lies close at hand, even to jeweled crowns of power, and the scepter of archangels. Should we go on our way whimpering and calling life a dreary pilgrimage, and longing to go “home to God"? Is not this world fit for the palace of any Deity of which the human mind can conceive?
We cannot believe in God and refuse to believe in matter.
We cannot study matter and not find God.
Nature feeds us upon all sides. We draw our life through millions of pores, and give expression to it in diverse and wonderful ways.
We cannot increase our power over matter by denying its existence and revising the dictionary.
Matter is objective mind. Mind is subjective matter.
If we had vivid realization of the forces we have been accustomed to employ as spirit on the subjective planes of our existence, we would find no difficulty in manifesting the same power in the objective life. It is always our doubts that paralyze our energies.
Power is the purpose of life. Law is its expression. Man must master law and become a law unto himself before he can manifest the full freedom of power. Nothing but himself can fix his limitations. Resentment of trouble shows that the soul instinctively knows the needlessness of suffering in any form.
Imagination cannot outstrip the power of execution. Large conceptions of the soul's potencies speedily manifest themselves in material life.
It is impossible to overestimate the power of spirit or raise too high the standards of true idealism.
The present is as infinite as the past or future.
We may have full assurance that man is unconditioned being—" existence absolute." When this central truth is once embodied, man and God become inseparably united.
The Son of man is the Son of God.
It is not conceit to realize and claim our spiritual powers.
It is only the egotism of the personal man that ever doubts or denies them.
We call ourselves practical when our actions appeal to the sense life, and their good results are felt or heard or seen.
We are never truly practical except when we have learned to govern and apply our highest thought.
All devils are friendly.
They test our power and reveal our weakness.
Many of man's highest revelations come to him through his hurts and bruises.
The temptation of devils always precedes an evolution of force.