IT will be remembered that my colleague, as I may now call her, had written to me about her prevision of some impending change of circumstance or of condition which would radically affect her life and work. Such a change had been gradually overtaking myself. It consisted in an enhancement of faculty, as remarkable as it was unanticipated, in virtue of which I found myself the master of problems which previously had baffled me, and able to discern outstretched before my mental eyes long and luminous vistas of thought reaching far away to the very centre of Being, and bridging the chasm between the real and the apparent in such wise as to disclose their essential identity, thus reducing all things to unity.
The process of enhancement was not confined to the intellectual nature only; it comprised also the emotional, the affectional, the moral, and the spiritual. And under its influence I found myself impelled upwards by the dual force of attraction and repulsion – the attraction for the ideal shown me of a realisable perfection, the repulsion from the hideous actual which men have made of existence. It was as if, through the ardour of its upward striving, my thought had kindled into a flame of such intensity as to dissolve the barrier which divides the world of sense from the world of spirit, from thinker making me seer. For I found myself possessed of a new sense, and one of which, though I was aware of its existence, I had never deemed myself capable. Nor was I seer only; I had become spiritually sensitive in respect of touch and hearing as well as of vision, and was in open conditions with a world which I had no difficulty in recognising as of celestial nature, so far did it transcend anything recognised in the contemporary spiritualism, so entirely did it realise my conception of the divine.
The first intimation of my possession of a new visual faculty was an apparition of my father, then some ten years dead. I had gone to bed, but not to sleep, and was in that state of perfect mental quiescence which lies between waking and sleeping, but is neither of them, wherein – as I came to learn by experience – the system is accessible to impressions which would otherwise escape recognition; just as a pool of water, when its surface is at rest, receives and truly reflects images which the least motion dispels. It was thus no dream, as, in my original record of the experience, I had called it.
The room was in complete darkness, and so situate that no light from without could have illumined it. Yet it was a mass of light like a luminous cloud, stationed in the centre of the room, that first attracted my attention.
In another instant it assumed the form of my father, every feature being distinct, only no longer aged, but in the prime of life, and his aspect was that of one coming from a lofty sphere, so ineffably placid, refined, and spiritual was it. He returned my intent gaze with one as intent, and I at once saw that I could now without offence refer freely to the subject which in his lifetime had been an impossible one between us. This was the doctrine of vicarious atonement, which he held in its grossest and most physical sense, regarding it as being in that sense the very essence of Christianity and religion. Almost his latest words to me had been a reiteration of his belief in it. “But for that blessed sacrifice,” he had said, “what a wretch should I be now!” To which I had responded only, not wishing to distress him, that I thought he would find that God was better that he gave Him credit for being, and that in any case I did not see that we were bound to comprehend the reasons which induced God to forgive His repentant creatures, if the simple fact of their repentance failed to be an adequate reason.
Now, seeing by his aspect that he was free from the constitutional dyspepsia to which I had more than suspected his Calvinism to be due, I said boldly, speaking aloud, “Well, father, what do you think of vicarious atonement now? Do you still think me so wicked for rejecting it?”
It was as I surmised. There was not a trace of the anger such a remark would have aroused in his lifetime; but, in its place, his face became radiant with the most angelic smile possible to
be imagined even upon his singularly benignant countenance – for which he had been called “the beauty of holiness.” It was a smile at once of unqualified assent and approbation, conveying more than any words could express, and impressing me with the conviction that he had thus manifested himself to me in order to signify his approval of the work on which I was engaged, the foremost motive of which was the destruction of what was his once favourite tenet. He evidently considered words unnecessary; for presently, without speaking, but still smiling in the same manner, he rose, or rather indrew himself, and disappeared from my view. Nor was I disappointed at his silence; for he was a man so singularly unready of speech that it seemed to be a corroboration of his identity. But, though withdrawn from view, his presence remained a while by me, not quitting me until he had given me to understand that he had been made aware of the work to which I had been called, and its supreme importance, which far exceeded my present power to estimate. But its accomplishment would require on my part an amount of faith, patience, labour, courage, and endurance such as it was rarely given to mortals to manifest.
By means of this newly developed faculty I found myself able to discern the interior personality of those about me, and this so much more clearly than the exterior as to render the latter the tenuous and shadowy and the former the substantial and real, to the complete inversion of the relations ordinarily regarded as subsisting between spirit and matter. The ability to do this was not without its distressing side. The perception of the interior selfhood of others involved that of their moral and spiritual states, with the result of showing that, while of none could it be said that they had so ordered their lives as to make of themselves the best that they had it in them to be – for in the best there were withholding influences, chiefly prejudices and foregone conclusions, which kept them back – those who had made of themselves well-nigh the worst that they had it in them to be were far from being the minority, the deteriorating causes in their cases being their systematic exaltation of the selfish and other lower instincts as the ruling influence of life. Indeed, as I passed along the streets, taking stock of the spiritual states of those whom I met, I felt as if visiting a hospital, a jail, or a lunatic asylum, so woefully diseased or deranged,
intellectually, morally, and spiritually, were the great majority of persons, seen with the spiritual eyes.
One experience which occurred to me while in this lucid state is worth recording, if only for its relation to an important application of our work. I had accepted the invitation of an acquaintance, whom I knew only as a fashionable physician, to meet a party of his men-friends at his house. The room was already thronged when I entered it. There was no one that I recognised, but I presently found myself suffering acutely with sensations of a kind quite new to me, and to analyse and account for which I for some time tried in vain. It was as if I were being pierced through and through with poisonous but invisible shafts – a St. Sebastian being transfixed by impalpable arrows. Seeking to divert my attention from myself, I looked more particularly at my fellow-guests. They were evidently all men of intellect and culture, followers in no mean degree of literature and science, and to all outward appearance men with whom it would be both a pleasure and a profit to converse. But I had eyes open to other than the outward appearance, and the inner sense disclosed a different tale. In all whom I examined I read worldliness, unbelief, hardness of heart, and selfishness of the most determined and aggravated kind; a resolute repudiation of the ideal, and fixed bent towards whatever would make for personal advancement, no matter at what cost of principle and right. And entering as I had done into their atmosphere sensitive and unshielded, through being taken unawares, I had presented myself as a target, and received the whole concentrated force of their magnetic emanations. It had just occurred to me to liken my position to that of one who, being of a wholly diverse order, should suddenly find himself the centre of an assemblage of devils, when the problem was solved for me by my host coming up and offering to introduce me to one whose name I at once recognised as that of one of the most notorious and pitiless experimentalists of the day. I was in the midst of a gang of vivisectors, their sympathisers, abettors, and partisans, and it was their spiritual states which had so keenly affected me.
Another experience at this date, the reverse of distressing, was the following.
I was walking one Sunday morning to
symbologies, being at the time in an extraordinarily intense state of accessibility to ideas. At the moment in question, while passing through Camberwell, it seemed to me that I was, in some way, on the point of seeing what I sought, and of so realising the idea of a tree as sensibly to discern its spiritual essence. Of the general propriety of the Tree as an emblem of universal nature I was well aware. For had it not, like everything else that has life, the dualism that consists of the inward substantial idea and the outward material phenomenon? And was it not also, like man, a compound being of two natures, planted on earth and aspiring towards heaven; and by virtue of the sustenance derived from the elements, living and growing, and proving its worth by its fruits? And was it not, moreover, the type whereafter consciousness ever develops itself, under whatever mode or form, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, from the snow-crystal to the very tissues of the human body? Of all this I was aware; yet I felt that the ancients had some insight into the matter that I had not; and that where I could only surmise, they knew.
Various experiences had led me to suspect that there subsists between all living beings a bond of sympathy to which, if only the desire on one side reach a sufficient degree of intensity, the other side may be forced to respond by disclosing to view its animating idea. I say idea, because I was as yet wholly removed from the ascription of aught corresponding to personality in that which substands existence. I ascribed a certain reality to that of which ideas are perceptions, but I had no notion of personality in the matter.
On the present occasion, after several attempts subjectively to realise the idea of a tree, and seeming each time to come nearer and nearer to what I wanted – though what precisely that was would be hard to say – I at length succeeded. For just as the process in my mind once more approached its climax, and I reached the very inmost recesses of my consciousness by a spasm, as it were, of intensity, I chanced to cast my eyes upon a tree of considerable dimensions, near which I was passing, when the tree itself seemed to respond to my desire by suddenly trembling and shivering throughout its whole structure; and opening from top to bottom, it disclosed, pervading its entire fabric – trunk, branches, and farthest twigs – a slender and delicate form, most
exquisitely traced, and vivid, luminous, and distinct as a flash of silvery lightning.
The apparition lasted but for an instant, and the tree closed up again, hiding what I had seen from my view; but leaving the notion vividly impressed on my mind that the tree was actually instinct with a life or soul identical with what might be predicated of my own, on the hypothesis of the substantial identity of all things; and that through the intensity of my sympathetic desire I had succeeded in bringing our respective essential selves into actual contact. After walking on a few steps meditating on the phenomenon, I returned to take another look at the tree, half fancying it might repeat the feat. But in vain. It differed nothing now from its fellows, and I was unable to repeat the spasm of intensification. The active part had been mine; the tree had but responded under compulsion. How far the response was real I had no means of judging. What had occurred, however, was precisely what would naturally occur on the hypothesis that “the same incorruptible spirit is in all things,” and that by virtue of its being spirit, and inherently living and sympathetic, the more rudimentary and inert modes of it should yield to the higher and more active. Might there not be between the soul of a tree and of man an interval far less than between the soul of man and that of some yet loftier intelligences, even while all were substantially identical? My latest conclusion was, that as the eyes of the body behold the body and the things thereof, so the eyes of the soul behold the soul and the things thereof, and it was with the latter eyes that I had regarded this tree, with the result of seeing its soul.
The experience had for me a peculiar interest, owing to the sentiment I had always entertained towards trees. Having in years long past spent whole seasons in the giant forests of the coasts of the North Pacific, with no shelter but the trunk and shade of some gigantic tree, I had learnt to regard a tree as at once a home and a companion whom to quit was to regret, and to invest it with an individuality corresponding to my own. And now it seemed that the tree really was in its degree a person, and possessed of a soul so far identical in nature with my own that it could acknowledge my magnetic traction.
Such was the sense of power which accompanied this enhancement
of faculty that when in the library of the
so far from being oppressed and dismayed at the multiplicity of its tomes and the apparent folly of seeking to add to them what could be but as another drop to the ocean or star to the firmament, I found myself exulting in the conviction that, so far at least as things real and essential were concerned, I had it in me to write what would make them all to be superseded as no longer of value. Not that they were deficient in learning, or “that I did not prize learning. Of that I recognised them as possessing an abundance, and of the kind indispensable to my work. Otherwise I had not troubled myself to explore them. But I sought in them in vain for the insight whereby to render their learning available, and it was precisely this that, it seemed to me, it was my mission to supply. They represented, one and all, so far as I was able to ascertain, what their writers thought or supposed, or what other men had said who did not know; and not what anyone knew by having the witness in himself. And it was being made certain to me that in one’s own consciousness is the source and key to all truth.
Meanwhile my studies had begun to take form in a book having for its text and title The Finding of Christ, the Completion of the Intuition, and the Restoration of the Ideal. While engaged on it I noticed with wonder and delight a certain mysterious connection subsisting between it and myself, in virtue of which every step in its progress corresponded with a similar step in my own. For each successive withdrawal of the coverings of the central truth of which I was in search occurred simultaneously with a like withdrawal of something within myself which had served to conceal me from myself, so as to bring me nearer and nearer to what I recognised as my true and essential self; the result being the conviction of an identity subsisting between the object of my quest and myself the seeker, such that the finding of either would be the finding of the other, and the finding of one would be the finding of both, and also, that only in such measure as the one was found could the other be found. Pondering over the matter, it was made clear to me that the work before me was of such nature that only in so far as it was done in me could it be done by me.
This book I was allowed neither to complete nor yet to abandon. Through some compulsion, the source and reason of which I was at the time unable to discern, the writing of it was suspended;
but only – as the event proved – to be resumed, in another form, after the course of education, experience, and unfoldment necessary for its due accomplishment. This proved to be the course of which our joint book, The Perfect Way, was the issue. What I had written was the commencement of my preparation for the share I was destined to bear in The Perfect Way. It had put me on the track of which that book was the goal.
Finding myself withheld from continuing the work thus initiated, the value of which was purely spiritual, I conceived myself free to write something the value of which would be, in one respect at least, commercial, and serve to mitigate, if not to avert, the severity of the impending crisis in my affairs. But on making the attempt, I found, to my surprise, that, try how I would, work on any other plane than the spiritual was out of the question, being made so by a complete withdrawal of force, mental and physical, even to an exhaustion which prostrated me whenever I set about it; while I no sooner allowed my mind to revert to its new groove than my force returned, and ideas luminous and abundant flowed in on me like a torrent. So, finding resistance useless, and captivated by the train of thought disclosed, I at length let myself go, supposing that the task thus indicated would soon be completed, and I should be allowed to resume the work laid aside. I say “allowed,” because it was evident to me that I was under some control, and this of a very high order, be it what it might. Of that I had as yet no conception. All I knew was, that it was in perfect accord with all that was best in myself, with my highest ideals of beauty, goodness, and truth, and that, so far from superseding my own powers or setting aside my own consciousness, it enhanced them, enabling me to write from an altitude and with a facility I could not otherwise have attained. The subject was at first the then impending Russo-Turkish war; and the impulsion was to write a newspaper article calling public attention to the deeper, because the spiritual issues involved. The writing, however, presently grew to the dimensions of a pamphlet; then of a small book; but not until I had written a volume of over six hundred pages was I suffered to stay my hand. The sense of urgency was imperative. It was set up in type as it flowed from me, and the correction of the proofs went on concurrently with the writing
of the book. This occupied me about six weeks, (1) during the whole of which time I worked from fifteen to eighteen hours a day, and this without flagging at the time or subsequent reaction. Either I was miraculously sustained, it seemed to me, or else my Pythagorean regimen surpassed even the utmost that had been claimed for it.
Such was the method of the production of England and Islam, or the Counsel of Caiaphas, a book
written, if ever book was, at white heat and under a veritable baptism of the
Spirit as of fire. Not that it was unimpeachable either from a literary or from
an exegetical point of view. For, as I found on perusing it when published, it
was rather a collection of materials out of which a book should have been made
than a book properly so called, being redundant in expression, defective in
method, and in some instances showing an imperfect apprehension of the idea
intended. It had the further fault of dealing too freely with persons, through
the failure to distinguish between them and the principles or practices
represented by them. But despite its shortcomings in such-like technical
respects, it was a genuine prophecy, and contained prophetic utterances of the
highest order, being identical in spirit with those of old. For its purpose was
to arouse the country to a sense of the danger of the materialistic rule in both
science and politics that was being pressed on it, as exemplified, on the one
hand, by the practice and principles of vivisection, and on the other hand, by
the endeavours, especially of Mr. Gladstone, to ally it to Russia in the pending
conflict. For, while the former represented the deliberate total repudiation of
man’s higher nature to the exclusive recognition of his lower, the latter
represented the sacerdotal and material as distinguished from the prophetic and
spiritual presentment of religion. Thus regarded, Mr. Gladstone was the
Caiaphas, who, by insisting on the sacrifice of
and instruction. I made the mistake, also, of putting my name to the book. Being a prophecy, and coming through one not recognised as a prophet, it ought to have been anonymous, and allowed to make its appeal irrespective of persons; since the world, seeing the instrument only, and not the source of the utterance, ever makes the limitations it ascribes to the former the measure of the latter. But this I perceived only when too late.
That is, humanly speaking. For the book proved to have yet another purpose than its apparent one. This was to disqualify me as its writer for a career which should be literary merely and social, in order that nothing should withhold me from entire devotion to the work to which I found myself called, and this was a purpose which was most effectually accomplished. For the result of its publication was to cut me off entirely from the ambitions and associations hitherto cherished by me, to the loss of my reputation as a literary man, and the rupture of my dearest friendships. Conjoined as were these calamities with a ruinous collapse of fortune, nothing, I verily believe, could have saved me from despair, and an utter breakdown mental and physical, but the exceeding joy which filled me through the consciousness of my new powers and knowledge, and the anticipation of a glorious work to be accomplished by me in a collaboration which of itself was a source of high delight. In view of these things all others seemed insignificant, and the world itself was well lost. And granted that the privations and ordeals were severe to intensity, they did but minister to the end in view, and were but such as had been endured by all candidates for high initiation in the sacred Mysteries of Existence, as told in the stories of the Odyssey, of the Exodus, of Job, and of all the world’s Saviours – narratives of which new and unsuspected meanings now flashed upon me, illuminating the sacred pages which recount them with a light that was as life itself, infusing hope and strength and joy unspeakable.
I have stated that the writing of the Keys of the Creeds had brought me up to
the dividing veil between the sensible and the spiritual. The writing of
in the reality of the phenomena called Spiritualistic. The little I had seen of them had failed to impress me, saving only by the fact of their frequent abortiveness. Conjurers never fail, spiritualism did fail; therefore it was not conjuring. I had got no further than this, saving only that I had been struck by the unanimity and positiveness with which, at every experience I had attended, it was declared that I had it in me to obtain the requisite proofs, and that some day I should obtain them. Meanwhile I was urged by so many friends of strong sense and sound judgment to keep an open mind on the question; and l recognised so fully the unphilosophical character of that attitude of mind, so conspicuous in the science of the day, which assumes that it knows the limits of possibility, and accordingly puts hypothesis above truth by rejecting prior to examination all facts which do not accord with its hypothesis, and even while calling itself experiential, denies on the strength of its own non-experience affirmations based upon experience, and considers it has effectually disposed of these, – that I set myself seriously to consider how existence must be constituted for such phenomena to be possible. Doing which I found that all that was necessary to this end was simply to reverse the materialistic hypothesis, and instead of deriving all things from an unconscious substratum, such as matter is assumed to be, and making consciousness accidental, – deriving them from consciousness itself, making this the original Being of which all things are modes, being individuated in vehicles of various grades of tenuity, some of them so tenuous as to elude the bodily senses. As I followed this track of thought all difficulties disappeared, and the experiences in question became not only possible but inevitable; and not these only, but the way was cleared for the solution of the great problem in view, the philosophical concept underlying the Christ-idea. For the recognition of the universality of consciousness, and therein of consciousness as the condition of Being, the negation of which is the negation of Being, proved to be the solution of this stupendous problem. For it made Christ intelligible as representing the full unfoldment of consciousness in its individuated state, to the realisation of the God-consciousness, while yet in the body.
Until I had arrived at this recognition of consciousness as the universal common denominator which made all things modes of
one and the same Being, I had found it impossible to complete the system of my thought. And I had been withheld from it by the conception of matter as the antithesis of consciousness, and as representing, therefore, non-consciousness; and this dualism was an insurmountable obstacle. My success in overcoming it was the subject of a coincidence so curious as to be well worth relating. I was indebted for the suggestion that, so far from matter representing non-consciousness, it is really a mode of consciousness, to one whom, for sundry characteristics, I had playfully dubbed John Baptist. Those characteristics consisted in his ascetic mode of life, especially in regard to diet, and his earnest inculcation of purity of habit as the means to physical regeneration. He had been the initiator of my colleague into the regimen of Pythagoras, and was thus also, mediately, my initiator therein. For he was her eldest brother, John Bonus. The above list, however, by no means exhausts the characteristics which led to my so styling him, and which were so marked that long before I had even heard of the doctrine of reincarnation I had said of him that, were John the Baptist to come back again, he would be just such a man. And now he had been my intellectual baptizer with the idea by the light of which I was enabled to discover the intellectual concept implied in the term “Christ”!
I was no sooner able to say to myself of phenomena such as those claimed for spiritualism, “Now I see how such things can be,” than I obtained proof positive that they are; as if my arrival at this point in my mental unfoldment had been waited for expressly in order to afford me demonstration of the truth discerned; the experiences vouchsafed transcending in both kind and degree any of which I had heard or thought. And whereas before this I had imagined myself to be so inveterately sceptical as to have lost the very power of belief, I now found it so much a matter of course that such things should be as to make it appear as if I must have known it all along, but had somehow forgotten it. And so far from their being for me superhuman or supernatural, or involving a breach of law, they simply represented another and higher plane of the human and the natural, and the operation of the laws of that plane. Doing which they proved that the hypothesis which excluded and denied them was a false hypothesis due to defect of faculty, such defect being
not constitutional, but conditional only, and induced by a vicious habit of life and thought. Hence my recovery of faculty through my amended habit in these respects.
Although it was not only when I was writing that I found myself exercising the faculty of introvision or clairvoyance, I reckoned as among the means which ministered to the development of this faculty my recent adoption of a typewriter for my literary work; the effect of which was, by concealing from view the words written, to leave the mind free to follow the idea which was seeking expression, wholly unoccupied by aught else. For no sooner did I set to work with this instrument to set down the results of original thought than I found the perceptive point of my mind uplifted to a level clearly lying above and within the physical and sensible, yet without my losing touch of this, in such wise that I came into open relations with a distinct sphere of existence, and one which corresponded to that part of me thus detached and set free, which sphere was tenanted by beings who were at once spiritual and personal, and able to hold audible converse with me. I was at this time so ignorant of all that was meant by the term “Occultism” as not to know of the existence of a science so called. But I came to learn later that the state thus induced by the use of the typewriter was no other than that state of trance or ecstasy which constitutes the Yoga of the Hindoos, and consists in such abstraction of the mind from the outer and lower ranges of the consciousness as enables it to enter its inner and higher ranges; the result being the acquisition of the experiences and knowledges proper to such region, as if by means of a second set of senses appertaining to an interior and spiritual self, but identical in kind with those of the exterior and physical self.
The great factor in this achievement was, undoubtedly, enthusiasm. But this is not to say aught to the discredit of the method, or to the invalidation of its results. It is alleged that Mystics – the order to which I now found that I belonged – have conceived their system, not in that calm, philosophical frame of mind which alone is favourable to the discovery of truth, but in a spirit of excitement and enthusiasm of which the inevitable product is hallucination. This allegation, to which I had formerly lent a not unwilling ear, I now found to be not only contrary to fact, but to be intrinsically absurd, and these whether as applied
to the phenomena or to the philosophy of Mysticism. For enthusiasm is neither the Mystic’s instrument of observation nor that of conclusion. It is simply the agency by means of which he is elevated to that region, interior and superior, of his own system where alone perfect serenity prevails and perception is unobstructed, where are the beginnings of the clues to all the objects of his search, and where his faculties are at their best by reason of their exemption from the limitations of the material organism. Attaining to this his full altitude, he no longer has need to reason and infer; for he sees and knows, and the mind is content. As well refuse credit to the researches of the meteorologist on account of the upward impulses of the gas-inflated vehicle on which he gains the loftier strata of the atmosphere, or of the superior purity of the medium in which he operates, as to those of the Mystic on account of the enthusiasm by means of which his ascent is accomplished. For enthusiasm is simply his impelling force, without which he could never have quitted the outer, nether and apparent, and gained the inner, upper and real. Wherefore, even when his abstraction from the outer world attains the intensity of ecstasy, there is nought in his condition to invalidate his perceptions. Simply are his faculties heightened and perfected through the exclusion of all limiting or disturbing elements, and the consequent release of his consciousness from material trammel and bias. There is no really “invisible world.” That which ecstasy does is to open the vision to a world imperceptible to the exterior senses; that world of substance which, lying behind phenomena, necessarily requires for its cognition faculties which are not of the material but of the substantial man. And being this, ecstasy does but verify by actual vision the highest results of reason.
Thus, and much more to the same purport, did I subsequently write in the chief product of our collaboration, The Perfect Way, (1) upon the strength of the experiences of which at this time I began to be in receipt.
While recognising the identity of these experiences with those related of the Hebrew prophets, I was in no way occupied with any particular prophecies as having reference to our work or times. It was, therefore, with as much surprise as delight that I found
myself, when in these altitudes, distinctly and forcibly impressed by the conviction that the work allotted to us was in express fulfilment of prophecy. The time had come, I was assured, of which it had been declared that then “the great prince Michael, who standeth for the children of God’s people,” should inaugurate his mission of deliverance, bringing in the “end of the world” or prevailing order of things, and accomplishing the second advent of Christ. And in token of the mustering of the celestial hosts to this end, I was enabled to hear sounds as of the rushing by of mighty armies borne on invisible pinions; while the intimation was distinctly given that we were of those who had been appointed agents for the accomplishment of these vast events, having been, for reasons later to be disclosed to us, associated together and trained expressly for that purpose. This, and much more that was shown me at this time, while I treasured it carefully in my mind, I refrained from committing to writing, and even from communicating it to my colleague, knowing how incredible to myself it would have been if related to me by another. I recognised the wisdom of the intimations given me that she should be left to learn them, as I was learning them, by experience; and this in due time she came to do. And then we found that the course of our education was so ordered that, while to me was disclosed the whole scheme of existence as a vast edifice in broad outline, to her was shown the various details filling up the outline, and furnishing, so to speak, the chambers of the edifice, to the completion of the system, the coherence and symmetry of which, when thus finished, we both were able to recognise. Thus was our work one requiring for its due accomplishment the fullest exercise of the mind in both its modes, the analytical or critical, and the synthetical and constructive.
In regard to our transcendental experiences, it may be remarked that it would have been impossible to be more exacting than we were in our demands for crucial proofs. For myself, I had long since arrived at the conviction that, if ever I was to be convinced of the reality of such experiences, it would only be by their occurring m such kind and under such conditions as left not the smallest room for hesitation about accepting them; to which end they must occur when I was quite alone, confident of being in perfect health, physical and mental, and in possession of full consciousness, calm and collected; and they must make their
appeal to more senses than one, and to the mind as well as to the senses.
All these conditions were amply fulfilled, and this in course of a quest which was in no wise for phenomena, but purely for truth; and with such power and plenitude were they vouchsafed that to have doubted of the reality of the world spiritual to which they belonged would have been to leave ourselves without pretext for believing in the reality of the world physical; the evidences for the former being no less positive than for the latter. And never was our keenest scrutiny able to detect the semblance of a flaw in the proof. And whereas their commencement was concurrent with the two events, the opening of my mind to their possibility and the enforced return of my colleague to London under the circumstances already related, they constituted a confirmation of the intimation given me on her departure, that her return was ordained with an express view to our joint simultaneous initiation for the purposes of the task assigned us.
When at length this was made clear to us, and we learnt by manifold indisputable experience the full significance of the events in which we were participators, our feeling was that of triumph and joy. For we felt as explorers who, having ventured their all upon one particular issue, had at last discovered the object in quest of which they had long and arduously toiled and suffered, and on the finding of which all their hopes depended. And, ignorant as we then were of the achievements of predecessors in the same direction, we could have joined in chorus with the “Ancient Mariner,” adapting it to our own case, and exclaimed that –
“We were the first that ever burst
Into that mystic sea!”
The sources of our joy were not confined to ourselves, for they were twofold. There was the joy of achievement in being able to exclaim with Plutarch, when speaking for himself and his fellow-initiates in the sacred mysteries, “We know that we are immortal”; and there was the joy of anticipation, the anticipation of the results of our achievement to the world. For we knew that it meant redemption on a scale never before accomplished.
This also we recognised, and with satisfaction – that, vast as
was the interval which separated our present from our past states, the passage had been effected so gradually and naturally as to make the change clearly the result, not of any abnormal or accidental cataclysm, involving a breach of continuity whether in processes physical or processes mental, but of a perfectly orderly unfoldment, every step of which was discernible as logically sequential, the issue being led up to in such wise as to render it legitimate, normal, and inevitable.
(98:1) The last page of England and Islam bears date January 27, 1877. – S.H.H.
(103:1) Lecture IX, Part III.