The Light of Reason
Founded by James Allen, 1902
Editor Mrs. James Allen
Vol. XX. January 1918 No. 6
The body craves for food. The heart craves for love. The mind craves for mental nourishment. The soul is the seat of the emotions, and longs for experience. The spirit ever seeks union with the Divine.
Man is not all physical body. It is when he thinks that he is, that he lives the smallest and most cramped life. When the physical body predominates, the man lives for sensation and for the gratification of the animal appetites. He seeks sensation through the medium of all his physical senses. Sensation belongs entirely to the physical body. Man always supposes that he is able to gratify his craving for sensation, and at the same time govern his physical body; he imagines that he can wisely use his power to produce pleasurable sensations at will, and that he will always be master—never the slave of sensation. But he is like a child playing with tire, he plays with that that will master him and sooner or later destroy his Physical body. The glutton daily commits suicide as well as the drunkard. i e slaves to opium, nicotine, and impurity are mastered by their sensations long before they are aware of it, and it is a pitiable sight indeed to see those self-made slaves bound as with fetters of cast iron from which they find it impossible to escape, yet all the time declaring that they are masters of the habit and will stop when it pleases them. Truly, in the inordinate craving for sensation men lose themselves in the darkness, and feed their bodies on death, and not on life.
When the human mind grasps the truth that man is not all body; that he is a manifold creature, possessing many bodies, then will he begin to evolve to a higher and more satisfactory condition, for only in the recognition of his higher faculties, and the desire to satisfy the needs of his higher self, will man find any mastery over the lower, and rise above the slavery to sensation which degrades and kills.
The heart hungers for love. Poor and desolate indeed is that heart that knows not the only satisfaction it can know—love! The heart must love or become atrophied. Said Martin Luther,—"The human heart is like a millstone in a mill: when you put wheat under it, it turns and grinds and bruises the wheat to flour; if you put no wheat, it still grinds on, but ‘tis itself it grinds and wears away." Is it not a true word-picture of the nourished heart, and the starved heart. Said another,—"When the heart is touched; when it is moved by love, then the electric spark is communicated and the fire of inspiration kindled; but even then it desires no more than to suffer or to die for what it loves." True, one man here, and one woman there, loves an ideal so deeply, so passionately, that the heart is nourished and satisfied. The pale, devoted nun gazes from her lowly position at the feet of the crucified, and her heart fills with a great, deep, thrilling love—a love whose chief characteristics are sacrifice, worship and devotion. Such represents one type of love—one great and holy satisfaction for the eternal longing of the human heart. The Monk, the Ascetic, the Priest-initiate centers the heart also on the love of the ideal, and happy are they, and well is it with such, when they find that love in the abstract leads on to that love of their fellows wherein only can the love of God be found, and proven; and still on yet to the love for bird and beast, even as sweet St. Francis of Assisi loved with his great heart. But for the great majority the human love is the dearer, and first appeals. The heart, hungering for love, seeks ever in the faces of all who pass by, that face that shall be the one face—the face of the beloved. Poor, starved and poor indeed, would be that heart that failed in its quest; hungry and desolate must it go—hungry with a hunger no bread can satisfy but the bread that is of its own nature—the Bread of love! There are many kinds of love, and all love is beautiful—all love is divine.
Terrible as may be the hunger of the physical body for material food, it is nothing to be compared with that deep, painful craving of the heart-hunger for love, for friendship, for companionship, for sympathy! Surely the heart must love or die, even as the body must feed or perish. I think sometimes, too, that it is possible for the physical body to live on, while the heart within is dead—dead for want of love! Yet, I think too, that somehow such a heart must have missed the way, or wantonly refused to love when it might have loved; refused to give love in the hour of another’s need; or perhaps mistook self-love for the love of its kind—so, shutting the door of its own heaven, when it might have entered in. Better the death of the body than the death of the heart. And if we find no human heart to love us, then let us love the birds and the beasts as Francis did; let us give love to the flowers, to the trees, to all that is beautiful in Nature. Let us love the little children as we pass them in the street; the poor, the deformed, and those who go softly without love. Never so long as God has a little needy child, or a sick one, or a poor forsaken one, can anyone say, I had no one to love. It is never the will of the Father that one child of His shall suffer the hunger of the body in a land of plenty, nor is it His will that one go starving for love, nor perish for lack of it.
The mind must be constantly fed with mental food or become weak, stupid and dull. But here it is very necessarily that the right food be chosen, for even as there are poisons which, if partaken of, will kill the physical body, so are there mental poison stuffs that have power to kill the mind. Vicious and immoral literature fosters vicious and immoral thoughts, which result in a diseased and deformed mind. There are deformed minds as well as deformed bodies. Alas, that we should have so many proofs of this! Just as any individual chooses the food he likes best to feed the physical body, so men and women choose the food they like best to feed the mental body. The mind grows like that upon which it feeds—reads, thinks. Would you have a robust and vigorous mind, healthy and sane? Then be careful and wise in your choice of books. Be careful and wise in your choice of companions, whose words and deeds ever suggests thoughts to the mind, remembering always that, "as a man thinketh so is he." Would you have a great mind, filled with the thoughts and aspirations of the great and good? Then live with the poets, the philosophers, the thinkers, the masters of the race. So shall you become more and more like them.
Greater than the awakening of the man to his mental body is the awakening to the reality of the soul. With that awakening begins the longing for spiritual experiences. He knows that he is not all body, that there is a life other than the physical; and a something higher, and greater, and more beautiful than sensation. To the soul belongs emotion, and emotion is a something far higher than sensation. Through emotion the soul aspires to those realms of light and knowledge which are its true abiding place. True, it may be that the soul is as much in danger of becoming the slave of emotion, as the body is of becoming the slave of sensation. But the earnest Soul before very long recognizes this danger, and sets about controlling the emotions, and transmuting them into aspiration and experience. The soul-life is closely allied to the heart-life, and those individuals who have found love in the abstract—love for the ideal in all its fullness, have found also, in finding It, the spiritual food for which the soul ever hungers. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Bread feeds the body. The Word of God within feedeth the soul. "Take, eat, this is my body which was broken for you." It is the Mystic Bread, broken from before the foundations of the world—broken for all—and freely held out to all. "Take and eat ye all of it!" To the hunger of the soul of every man those beautiful words were spoken—are spoken—and ever will be spoken, until all have "come to the feast." "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and ye that have no money, come buy and eat, without money and without price."
And ever as the soul is satisfied with that bread that came down from heaven, there arises within it that spiritual longing for union with God. It is ever the highest longing, the truest yearning! Our Elder Brother could say, "I, and my Father are one." And did he not pray, "I in them, and Thou in me." Even so shall the hunger and the longing of the spirit be satisfied.
But only through the mastery of the lower shall we rise from one body triumphant to another. Only when we have mastered the physical, making it our willing servant, obedient to the heart and the mind, can we hope to begin to master and control the emotions, and in the mastery and control of the emotions we shall find the beginning of the Life of the Spirit. What lies beyond, who can say? There are higher heights to be attained; greater glories to enter; greater and deeper experiences to realize. For, "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
No pains like passion, no deceit like sense!
Enter the path! far hath he gone whose foot
Treads down one fond offence.
Enter the Path! There spring the healing streams
Quenching all thirst! there bloom th' immortal flowers,
Carpeting all the way with joy! there throng
Swiftest and sweetest hours!