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Essay IV: Life

Its Potential and Its Conservation

Potential:—Anything that is possible.
Conservation:—The fundamental principle of modern physics:
—that the total amount of energy in nature is constant;
—that it can neither be increased nor diminished.
—Century Diet
Life is not the result of organism, but the reverse.
Life is only a particular kind of mechanics.
Consciousness:—The common condition of Self-Knowledge.
—Sir Wm. Hamilton
Out of the deeps of Ultimate Being proceeds the outgoing, acting Life.
The energy behind all evolution is the progressive consciousness of God.
—Bradley, in "Appearance and Reality"
Our conscious life is a stream of varying physical states which follow one another quickly, in a perpetual shimmer, with never an instant of rest.
The elementary psychical states, indeed lie below consciousness, or, as we may say, they are sub-conscious.
We may call these primitive pulsations the psychical molecules out of which are compounded the thoughts and feelings that well up into the stream of consciousness.
—John Fiske, in "Through Nature to God."
There can be no scientific doubt that Life obeys no special or exceptional laws.
It must be regarded as the result of a different interaction of chemical and physical forces, or a particular complicated round of mechanical motion.
—Buchner, in "Force and Matter"
If my body came from brute, though I sensate from their own, I am here.
This is my kingdom. Shall the royal voice be mute? Hold the scepter, Human Soul, and rule thy province of the brute.
Each Soul is in focus of world
For there transformation is wrought,
Where forces are changed into Thought.
—J. W. Powell, "The Soul"

When once the "Great Discovery" was made, through telepathy, that thought is, like heat, sound, light, a mode of motion, identical in principle with all other forms of motion, then was the way open for the study of Life also as a mode of motion. Until then, Life was outside the possibility of study. Its phenomena could be cataloged, but Life itself was an unknown quantity.

Thought is Life transformed in accordance with Nature's one unerring law of Conservation. Force is transformable but non-destructible, non-creatable. Thought, being a form of force, had an antecedent form. In this antecedent form, which we term Life, it passes through the brain and becomes thought. As it passes out of the brain, it ceases to be thought. It becomes some other form of Vibration. It is not lost. Though we may not follow it now, we shall sometime do so. It is safe to infer that part of this force is changed to Will, and from Will is changed into the power to do—into that power which acts in unison with chemical power. By the action of each mode of motion upon each, is caused the phenomena we call the visible conduct of man.

Not yet has the beefsteak been traced by conversion to the thought of the noon. To so attempt to trace thought, would be to trace the origin of the steam in the boiler to the boiler itself. The boiler causes the steam only as one of the many factors at work. Without the boiler, there would be vapor but no steam. We trace steam to water and heat; water and heat to still other forms of force. To trace steam to boiler, would be reasoning in the circle which traces thought to food. Food and some other force must make the phenomena of physical life. We trace water and iron back to the One energy. They are One in the Universal Substance. (One in God, as theology truly says.) Not yet by any process has chemistry been able to convert one into the other, or to trace the change from food to thought, and I do not think it possible. Thought and body are two manifestations of the One. But they are manifestations of two streams of power that start from the One, which, flowing side by side, make by interaction the phenomena of the visible universe. They are never converted, or transformed, into each other. One is ordinarily called matter, the other is called by Science, Ether; by Soul Culture, Spirit. Both are forms of motion.

Both flow from the One, the Undifferentiated, the Unconditioned, the Unconscious, the Homogeneous, "The Undivided Whole of which each creature forms a part."

By a series of actions and interactions, the potentialities of the One are manifest. The process is called Evolution.

There is not the slightest warrant for saying, "thought is the product of the brain;" this is putting the cart before the horse—putting effect for cause. Before brain was, Life was to build it. After Life has left the brain, brain ceases to be.

Life builds brain. Thought is Life transformed. When Life leaves brain, brain decays. We call this death. But decomposition is the result of the same force that was concerned in building brain as constructor under direction of the master—Life. One of the streams of Eternal Energy departs from body and leaves the other—the Chemical—to work alone. After death only chemical, automatic action is found where had been intelligent, self-directive action. Life is a mode of motion, but it can manifest only through contact with some other mode of motion. Science has heretofore hesitated about calling Life a mode of motion. Many scientists and philosophers have replied, when asked if Life is identical with other forms of force, "No!" All who did believe Life to be motion were called materialists. Even Spencer admits that we must seek a spiritual origin. With the accepted principle of Unity, all thinkers will be forced, before the century ends, through the demonstration of this Greatest Discovery, to recognize Life as one form of the One Energy. And it will not be considered materialistic to do so, for the present distinction of matter and spirit will pass away. All will be, in thought, neither matter nor spirit, but will be the Nameless and Unknown ONE who manifests through these two streams of Motion.

Life is the ultimate power in man. Its absence is death. When Life goes, thought goes. Well says Tennyson:—

Life and Thought have gone away
Side by side,
Leaving doors and windows wide:
Careless tenants they.

The primal manifestation of Life in man is Consciousness. The primal manifestation of the One to Man, is Life. Be it where it may, in sand-grain or in Cherubim, it is Life. Each phenomenon is the manifestation of the One Life.

Like all other forms of motion, Life (Spirit) must Ease through transformations, or it would be only intent, unmanifested Life. Into how many forms Life is transformable, we will not dogmatize, but they must be limitless. Consciousness is one.

There are changes in nerve tissue in every act of consciousness. There must be a corresponding change in that which uses chemical force to cause the phenomena of physical life.

Thus consciousness is transformed Life. It is the resultant of prior conditions of sensation. Sensation is the result of contact with other forms of force. Sensation is transformed Life. Born of sensation, is Thought. Man says, "I feel." Then he says, "think because I feel." Then he says, "Because I feel and Think, I AM." Thus Life is converted into sensation, then into Thought, and these two make the Conscious Man—the I AM. In all the change there is no loss of original force.

Only a change is given to the direction and, possibly, to the velocity, of atoms, in which the two forms of force lie in potentiality, and this change gives that form of motion we call Life. Thought is Force, therefore Life must be. This has the Great Discovery done for science:—It has discovered Life. Life as a mode of motion is limitless. From simple protoplasmic cell, it manifests through growth. Growth is but the play of these forces in constant change. Life is not change; Life is Power and it manifests through change. Could Life remain constant but the billionth part of a second, it would be annihilated. Eternal motion means eternal change.

Life is a constant stream of power flowing into expression in millions of forms, but all from the One Source. It builds its organism for manifestation by transformation of itself, just as electricity is changed to light by the conservation of force. Light is not electricity. Light is Light, whether from sun, combustion, or electricity. So when thought manifests, it is not Life, but thought. Life is limitless, indestructible, convertible into thought. It is first converted into feeling. This conversion is accomplished by means of the senses. In this word * "senses," we have the key to a further analysis of Life's changes.

Sensation is the first change in the transformations of Human Life. Before we felt, we were not individuals. We were only potential power in the One. Feeling is the first step toward individuality. Potentials of Infinity are we still. It will take all eternity to manifest all these possibilities. We are manifesting and, because we are manifesting, we are. By virtue of this recognition of our own existence, we are individuals. Should the Ego ever cease to feel, it would cease to be an Ego. It would become only a possibility in Infinity. Individuality begins with feeling. With feeling, consciousness begins. Individuality becomes perfected with Self-consciousness. When the individual can say, "I am," he has attained perfection as an individual, and has won immortality. Consciousness is only the recognition by the Ego of that which is not itself. This recognition conies from contact with some other force. The Ego responds. It thus knows itself. From sensation come the special senses. These are only varieties of feeling. Feeling is the motion the Ego sends out. Thus we rightly say:—an e-motion an outmotion.

As Life is limitless, so is emotion. The most powerful emotion, we call Love. From emotion, by conservation, comes Thought. Life is thus changed in form, but not in potential. Thought, then, is as limitless as is Life and Emotion. Thought is Life manifest through the cerebrum. Love is Life manifest through all the rest of the nervous system. Thus again do we find Thought as Power. How great the error to call thoughts "things."

They are not things, but thought creates things. Things are made out of thought, as one form of power, in union, or combination, with some other form or forms of power. Electricity is not a thing. It is power. When it is in resistance with some other form of power, then we call the resultant things. A thunderbolt is a thing, but it is electricity, plus the resistance and attraction of other forces. Nothing is ever formed from one form of force alone. Thought enters into combination with other forms of force and builds body; then, through hands, it builds whatever it wills. It is silently building, in union with silent forces, still other things as yet unrecognized.

Thus Life and Thought are no longer unknown forces. As we know electricity, we know them. We will learn to use thought in carrying out our desires, as we now use electricity and chemical force in telegraph and cannon to carry out our purposes in other fields of activity.

Thought is Love transformed. Like Thought and Life, Love is limitless. It is the e-motion of the Ego. There is but one possible out-motion, therefore Love is the only possible emotion. As it is not Life and death, but more or less Life, so it is not Love and hate, but more or less Love. Love is the Master Passion. We are in the habit of so naming only those states of intense passion, but this is naming only a degree, and not the emotion. The one motion from the Soul is directed and controlled by different thoughts. It is the thought accompaniment that differs and is named, and not the emotion. There is only Love. Wherever is the most perfect manifestation of the Indwelling God, there is the most perfect manifestation of Love. Conversely, where there is the most perfect manifestation of Love, there is the most perfect manifestation of Life. For Life and Love are one. Love is only Life in expression. Let Life manifest in Love, and there is health. People are sick and die because they do not love enough. The streets are filled with dead and dying persons, dying because they will not let Life flow through them into expression. Repression is death.

Were it not for Love, there would be no reproduction of the species. But for Love, no daily reproduction of the body. Love is the measure of life.

Corollary:—To be in health and enjoy life, we must be loving. Whenever we give any lesser degree of Love than normal, then cells created by the larger degrees die. This decay causes poison and disease is the result. Cure:—More Love.

Here, in a nutshell, is the whole of mental science. Here, in the same shell, is the whole of Professor Elmer Gates' chemical discovery regarding the effects of emotions upon health. Have no ill-feelings, no ill-thoughts, would you have health. Be happy and you will be healthy. It is happiness that creates health. The rule of science is that of Jesus: "Love the Lord (within) with all thy heart, soul and mind. Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Hereon hang all the mental and physical sciences. But when Love passes through the brain it becomes thought. Thought is limitless. Life and Thought are one. To think is to live. Only as we think, we live. The measure of our thought is the measure of our life. The thinker is a healthful person. But do not confound the thinker with the reasoner.

Thinking is the spontaneous action of the mind. It is Life in activity. It is spiritual activity. Reasoning is mere intellectual activity. It is not thinking. It is arranging Thoughts that are dead; they have an objective value, but are spiritually dead. Reason is for the objective life. The Soul knows. It perceives Truth. The intellect applies Truth thus perceived to the needs of the objective life. But to try to live by reason is like man trying to live off of stones for bread. Man does not live by material food, but by every thought that cometh from the Sub-conscious (The Inner God) into the conscious life.

Love and Thought, by the conversion of energy, are only transformed Life. Therefore, to think, and to love, is the all of Life.

When the Human Soul came to say, "I think and I feel," then, because it had power to decide upon its manifestations and to choose pleasure from pain, it became Self-conscious. Through this choice, it became self-creative. It therefore cannot die. Every act of self-consciousness is an act of re-creation. It may change its environment; may, through this Law of Conservation, change the manner of manifestation, but "I" must henceforth ever be "I," because it must ever know that it is not something else. Thus has Telepathy solved the problem of immortality, solved it by the same law that has solved the indestructibility of force.

The greatest of all discoveries has demonstrated the necessity of immortality, through the transformation of unconscious, undifferentiated, force, into differentiated and conscious forms of force, and these again into individualized and self-conscious forms. From Motion, Self-conscious motion has been evolved, and the purpose of the Absolute is accomplished. Henceforth with this Self-conscious form which we call Ego, the Absolute has no place as master. Life is subject to the Self-conscious One—MAN. The steps of this evolution are easily traced in the slower vibrations we call matter by biology. Here we have traced them in the higher vibrations of spirit. The missing links in the chain of evidence, that Prof. Dolbear says are wanting, are found.

If it could be shown that Life itself and the mind of man were in some way associated with atoms of some sort the hopes and longings, cherished by mankind, for a continuous existence would give way to convictions as strong as one has in any physical phenomena. —Prof. E. A. Dolbear, in "Matter, Ether, and Motion."

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Henry Harrison Brown

  • Born in 1840
  • An early leader in the New Thought movement
  • Published NOW magazine which was "...a Monthly Journal of Positive Affirmations, devoted to Mental Science and the Art of Living."
  • Unitarian Minister
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