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The Undefinable Something

Once, in an Indian Temple, there stood a mother who held in her arms her dying baby, and as she stood she prayed passionately that the child might live and grow up to be a wise and a good man. And a foreigner standing by, who had overheard the prayer, asked to what god or goddess she had been praying. "Oh! Sir," she replied, "I don't know; but I am quite sure there must be someone somewhere who will not despise the prayer of a poor mother for her dying child."

It is impossible to know or realize the whole of anything. After the most searching analysis we find a something more that defies the process—a residuum of a quality which is inscrutable and incomprehensible—a divine or Godlike element which inheres in all things as the soul inheres in the body. In that residuum—that unresolved and ever unresolvable element—lies the secret of Life. Or, rather, it is Life itself and all else is merely its envelope or husk. We see things as through a glass darkly. Beyond the ultimate there is still another ultimate. Thinking we have got to the bottom of a thing, we find it to be the false bottom of a conjurer's box, the real bottom being concealed from our sight. It is this something more that the world of Thought is now so busy trying to find out.

Religion is a combination of two sciences, Divinity and Humanity, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of Man. In trying to divorce these two sciences or knowledges, which in the nature of things overlap and interpenetrate each other, man has set up two hostile camps so that Religion has become a kingdom divided against itself. The object of Christ's mission was to undo this mischief and to that end He demonstrated, by His own life and a code of precepts molded into a thousand literary forms of exquisite beauty, how unreasonable and arbitrary the world had been in trying to rule a hard-and-fast line of demarcation between the two elements inherent in human nature, two things so closely related that to sever them is practically to sever the connection between soul and body, between Heaven and Earth.

In the present day the tendency of advanced modern thought flows in two parallel streams representing respectively the spiritual and the natural Schools; or, rather, there are three streams, for between the Spiritualists and the Scientists there is an intermediate class of thinkers, namely, those of the Esoteric or Psychic School. Of each of these three streams, representing as it does a partial truth, the quality is being experimentally tested with a zeal unprecedented in the history of Science, and a mass of evidence is being collected which clearly points to a time not far distant when the analytical method, having served its purpose, will give place to the synthetical, and a common basis shall be established upon which to found the one grand universal Religion of the Future.

But nomenclature is not definition, though oftentimes it has to stand in its stead. The nomenclature proper to the undefinable something in the various Schools of thought forms an almost endless list which seems to increase every day. Whether with St. Paul we call it "the Spiritual Body," or with St. John "the Word," or with the Theologians "the Holy Spirit" or " Christ-Spirit," or with Swedenborg "the Celestial-Spiritual," or with the advanced scientists "Psychic Force," or with the numerous New Thought philosophers "the Subjective Mind," or the "True Ego, or "the Subliminal Consciousness," or "Intuition," or "Genius," or "Divine Inspiration"—we mean by all these various expressions one and the self-same thing, namely, the undefinable something which defies analysis, but is generally admitted to represent the Divine Element inherent in Humanity.

One cannot but see, struggling through all this bewildering maze of hypothetical definition, a tremendous effort on the part of the human mind to penetrate the veil which separates the two worlds, and either to discover cover an actually existing bridge between the two or at least to discern, however vaguely, the actual form of a veritable something palpable and yet so hazy as to appear different to different minds. Be that as it may, the quest is both fascinating and tantalizing. That something exists is certain, for all can distinctly feel it, know it, live it, be it. What then can it be? Without doubt it is a part of ourselves, or at least so intimately and inseparably connected with ourselves that one instinctively feels that existence without it would be a meaningless nonentity or chaos. We feel that, be it what it may, it is this undefinable something that connects us with the Cosmos, and thus makes us an integral part of the universe, and therefore practically in vital union with the Creator of all things.

In the same way we find gathered round the Personality of Christ an innumerable array of definitions as to His essential nature which are continually being drawn from the inexhaustible store of human invention. Symbolism seems to be the only suitable language applicable to ideas so subtle and so diverse. Nor is there need for any other language. The essential nature of Christ has always been and must for ever remain as unaccountable a phenomenon or Mystery as Life itself, and Symbolism was the language that the Master Himself largely adopted all through His Teaching. Certain it is that whether we regard Christ as a Man, either ordinary or extraordinary, or an Apparition or a Symbol of Deity, or an Image of God, or His Messenger, or His Son, or as God Incarnate, we cannot get beyond an aggregation of symbols and thoughts which all point to the one Idea of a Spiritual Being of transcendent Beauty, Wisdom, and Love, whom we can only describe as an altogether Mysterious Personality, an undefinable Presence or Vision which imperatively commands the world's unbounded adoration.

In dealing with this mass of diverse material what we need is not so much the power of analysis and definition as the power of synthesis and unification or construction; the power of realizing harmony in unison, variety in unity, infinity in oneness: in short, that singleness of aim or spiritual concentration, that purity of sight which alone can "see God" in all things, and especially in ourselves. Too long we have been looking for God in infinite space, our tired eyes wandering aimlessly far afield, sweeping with the telescopes of our souls what must ever remain to our limited human vision an infinite void—a "spacious firmament on high"—which makes one giddy to look at, producing an aching unsatisfied soul-hunger. What we have to do now is to invert the order of our past methods of research. Instead of looking outwards we must look within. Accordingly the new methods provided for us are Introspection, Meditation, Realization, Concentration. These are to be the Educational Arts of the future, and we must hasten to master them. Too long we have been whirled along the circumference of things by the centrifugal fugal energy of our proud, unreined, unregenerate Intellect, which has dissipated and lost itself in vain wandering through the barren void of Metaphysics; now we have to surrender ourselves to the benign Leading of that Kindly Light, the centripetal force of the Universal Spirit we call LOVE—that magnetic Power which, tending as it does to an eternally fixed Center, draws us continually and gently to that Rest which is both the source and the end of all true Power and " Wisdom and Love—the Be-all and End-all of Eternal Life. Happy we who, having survived the intellectual perplexities of the Schools, have calmly and confidently yielded our old wayward selves to that loving Voice that calls to us from the Silence within, "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you Rest!"

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W. H. Gill

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