Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jan/1895) - Mysticism and Natural Law
MYSTICISM AND NATURAL LAW.
(From Our Correspondent "Cid.")
When all these manifestations, these wonders upon wonders, these marvellous evolving and devolving creations, these revelations of a vast past, and these illuminations which show a present unlimited force, of tangible, active creative life, and the entrancing prospects of a brilliantly glorious and unending future evolution answer to the investigating power of man’s reason and conception in the open, in the daylight of research, the dark seance, the curtained manifestations, the childish rap-tapping by a table or chair, and the idiotic fear begot of ignorance of known and provable laws are painfully ridiculous. Truth is the safe guide and goal of life, and superstitious dread is the sure result of the wilful perversion or the unreasoning misconception of explainable phenomena. As truth is the aim and goal of life, so light is its guide. From the first dawn of creation to now, light, more light, has been the innate desire of enquiring intellects. When light first streamed through space, and in grand gradations illumined an evolving universe, it also manifested a great design, ever advancing to some marvellous consummation. To solve the problem of the universe, natural man, apparently, must fail, but he may discover where the problem begins, what is its trend, and, to a great extent, its designed and ultimate meaning. He feels that he must be restrained within prescribed limits, but never does he feel forbidden to seek for more light or restrained from searching out the very Source of all light. He knows there is a vast past which has had its periods, its epochs, its day and night, its evil and its good, which he conceives by the name of time, its reproducing light, and its certain death. Looking at this by the light of reason and the supernal glow of revelation, he concludes that the present life and the present earth must be but an infinitely small part of the universe around, and but a preparatory stage for a higher state of existence and for a clearer comprehension of a brighter light. He feels chat though instinct may often be wiser than reason, yet reason, the mind, the cultivated intellect, must guide and control the promptings of the conscience, and that the twain must act in unison in order to evolve and maintain a God-like man. As he realises the laws which govern life and bring about death, and that all nature must run its designed course, he also perceives that there is everywhere an indestructible consciousness within himself and around him that must live on in eternal activity. When he comprehends that the universe is held together in its myriad motions by the invisible grip of gravitation; when he can use the electric force to serve him, and turn his nights into days; when he faintly grasps by what means gravitation, ether, heat, light, and other subtle powers operate irresistibly through solid, liquid, and gaseous mediums, irrespective of distance or surroundings, he reverently concludes that he can only see the part of a mighty whole. As his mind is therefore suffused by these great thoughts, he also concludes that there must be an all-powerful light, which will ultimately stand fully revealed, and which will scatter mysteries with its radiant warmth, as did the First Light when It revealed chaotic void, and with Its warming and quickening breath evolved a universe.
Of course there are many unexplained mysteries that a future generation will laugh at and marvel at our simplicity in not finding out their causes sooner. The mind is already startled at the thought of the progress made in scientific investigation and discovery during the last 60 or 70 years. So much is this the case that the word “impossible” is seldom on the lips of the educated, and never on the lips of the advanced scientist. When the white light of true research is turned on to the dark places of the earth and sky, and on the mind of man, what appeared to be inexplicable mystery vanishes and the apparent supernatural is exemplified and reduced to law and order. Still, it often follows that the making plain of one mystery discovers another equally obscure. This has been the case hitherto, and seems likely to be so to the end of time, but the indomitable mind of man is never content to let mysteries remain such for fear of examining them, and his determination to find new truth is generally successful. Mysticism, theosophy, and telepathy are but the concentration of quiet force on one or two aspects of life, and which to the free and search-ins healthy mind have no undue charm or extraordinary interest other than that which the temporary unexplained has and must have to the searcher for wholesome truth; consequently the fascinating witchery that the things just enumerated exercise over sensitive and weak temperaments, who look to such means as a medium of communicating with the unseen world, must soon be smiled out of countenance, if not ridiculed out of sight, by the bright light of explicit fact. Look back at the ever-changing nature of the mysteries of the dim past, and the various phases of religious development in the antique world, and you will conclude that the vague speculations of the present day are but the echo and the perpetuation of the whims and fancies of long ago. Many of the dread ghosts of ignorance and superstition have been run to earth, others are being run there, and the rest are but muddled over and used as a means of gratifying a morbid fancy or a weakened intellect, or embraced by those who refuse to be convinced by reason and the broad daylight of thought. It must, however, be admitted that mysteries absorb the attention and arrest the reason of mankind, and fear, mystery’s near relative, influences all life. Yet amongst them all there is a dimly visible orb, from the centre of which, when the encasing clouds are pierced or swept away, the bright rays of a pure light dazzle the eyes even of the highest intellect and confound the imaginings of the multitude, but instead of the latter being inspired by a desire for research, their minds and souls are often filled with awe and superstitious dread. So much has this been the case in some ages that these mysterious manifestations of light and shade, of the unexplained law, instead of enthusing and clarifying the intellect and inspiring the inward man, they have but confounded and still further mystified the timid or the flaccid beholder, with the result that his imagination has clothed them in a garb of mummery, and hid from view or further investigation the eternal truths of revelation. The peoples of Egypt, India, and the East, generally, have practised hidden arts and permitted their minds to indulge in uncontrolled and super-subtle imaginings and aimless reveries, so much that, instead of trying to explain and expound the results of perception, they have wilfully beclouded their intellects and made gross slaves of their reasoning faculties, and thus perverted plain and provable truths. They have also developed a hazy and unspeakable trend of thought which it will take ages to modify and illumine to wholesome and independent reasoning. Rites and ceremonies, unless firmly based on established and irrevocable truth, beget a habit of mind which hides the real in reaching the ideal and thus prepares the mind to accept, without searching investigation, the occult, and entangles the individual or the nation and begets either a fear which timidly shuns the proving of all things, or a bigotted imperiousness which is hardened against change and scared against the promptings of progressive thought. There is an innate desire in man to look up to a higher power, to an existence superior to his own, hence the multiplication of ideal gods as representative of such power. Still, as polytheism wanes and power and light are centred in one grand figure or place, symbolical or allegorical ideals of worship gradually and surely sink into obscurity, and thus historic traditions, which are intended to represent and explain certain phenomena in the visible creation, have been resolved into settled laws and designed order. As great minds have been illumined and refined by discovery, and the nurturing force of undeviating fact, they have imparted to their fellows a higher meaning and a complete knowledge to past wonders and unrevealed mysteries, with the result that by gradual degrees and certain steps the germs of revelation, warmed by the constant sunshine of inspiration, and preserved by the wholesome power of sound reason, have made plain, and must by constant evolution make still more clear, the trend of and the design and Designer of all things visible and invisible. The purifications, sacrificial offerings, processions, songs, dances, dramatic performances, mystic formulas, and the deep secrets of dim-aged superstition have receded from the searching eye of civilisation and discovery, and the present-day Spiritualism, theosophy, and telepathy must certainly be shorn of their hidden significance by unrestricted enquiry. The mystics of all ages can, of course, only communicate with those who, like themselves, have made shipwreck of calm reason and embraced undoubting faith, and passed the stage of preparation under their chief mystagogue’s hand. As in the past, so now, nightly secrecy, dim seances, and mechanical contrivances are resorted to, and doubtless have great fascination over simple and childlike minds. Mysterious voices, singings, whisperings, sighings, glimmering lights and obscuring shades, the mimic and the plastic, as well as all the arts, are put under contribution, special gods and goddesses are improvised by scenic representations, births, deaths, and resurrections are initiated in order to inspire awe and make a prisoner of the mind, and by symbolisms and half-truths take captive the ignorant and unenquiring. Of course, reactions are always in the near wake of these gross perversions, and public or secret orgies are quickly exploded and laughed to scorn, and though subtle metaphysicians by allegorical presentments and superfine fancyings, based on faulty reasonings, strive to revive them and preserve them from complete banishment by trying to adorn them with the mystic dignity they once possessed, it is clear they muse fail. Still, there have been, and probably ever will be. matters far beyond the ken of the mental, and which only the spiritual eye, inner sight, or refined perception can guess at their meaning or source of origin. Certainly, in considering the mysterious, tricks, conjuring, and sleight-of-hand must never be lost sight of. All of us know how skilled Europeans are in this respect, but, if travellers are to be believed, some of the Indians are much more clever. The venerable Yogi, who live in the jungle, far from the haunts of communities, devote themselves to the study and the development of secret powers. They live to themselves and pay little attention to others who may approach them. By living in woods and feeding on nuts, fruit, and on vegetables generally, together with the exposure of the life they lead, they are reduced to little more than skeletons. They can, however, perform wonderful things, compared with which even the marvels of our conjurors are very simple indeed. They also give their experiments in the full light of day, and do not seem to hide anything. They can make the human form vanish as it were into the air or ground, change sticks into serpents, and call forth trees bearing fruit as if by magic. They make solid substances seem to rise in the air and float about, and then immediately change them into doves or other birds. All this is done gradually and openly, to the surprise or consternation of the uninitiated. A little water may then be placed in a dish, and from this a Yogi will take a small fish and put it in a pan of clear water, when in a few minutes the fish grows to a big one. It is then returned to the first dish, when shortly it reappears cooked, with bread and other food. On looking into the pan again the pan will be found to be full of ice-cold sherbet. The Yogi will then put a boy into a basket set on three poles. When the poles are separately taken away the basket and the boy will remain in mid-air. This is done as the Yogi remains kneeling, with clasped hands, several feet away. With the utmost calmness and immobility of features he will then stick a dry pole in the ground when it will instantly grow several inches and turn with the Yogi as he walks round it some distance away. Handkerchiefs hung on the pole will do likewise. Still there are no means taken to hide the secret or prevent the onlooker from discovering how the manifestations or miracles are produced; indeed, they really appear to be miracles, or the suspension or contradiction of natural laws. If these wonders were performed before an ill-informed people they would seem to be the result of supernatural agency and would beget both awe and fear. In fact, they rivet and completely absorb the attention of educated men, who, though they perceive them to be caused by the deep knowledge of some great laws, fail, even by years of study, to discover those laws. When one passes the miracles of old before one’s memory, and compares them with the marvellous discoveries of the present day, one is inclined to conclude that, with a fuller knowledge and a completer comprehension of the forces of the universe, even the word miracle will become obsolete.