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Title: The Complex Vision
Author: Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complex Vision" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Note:  I have made the following spelling changes: Prologue:  "methed"
to "method"; Chapter 2: "renders imposssible" to "renders impossible";
"which man possessses" to "which man possesses"; "absolute
unqestionable" to "absolute unquestionable"; "loathesomeness" to
"loathsomeness"; Chapter 3: "alllowed to distort" to "allowed to
distort"; Chapter 4: "itelf in its precise" to "itself in its precise";
Chapter 5: "do very considerably" to "do vary considerably";
Chapter 6: "oversoul" to "over-soul"; "its own permonition" to "its
own premonition"; "arbitrement" to "arbitrament"; "subtratum" to
"substratum"; "gooodeness" to "goodness"; Chapter 7: "flicherings" to
"filcherings"; "Perapity" to "Peripety"; Chapter 8: "penerated" to
"penetrated"; Chapter 9: "the anthropomorphic expresssion" to
"the anthropomorphic expression"; "convuluted" to "convoluted";
Chapter 10: "a vast hierachy" to "a vast hierarchy"; Chapter 11: "to
be too anthromorphic" to "to be too anthropomorphic"; "strictly strictly
speaking" to "strictly speaking"; Chapter 13: "working in isolaton"
to "working in isolation"; "If to this the astronomer answer" to
"If to this the astronomer answers"; "difficult to decribe" to
"difficult to describe"; "the asethetic sense" to "the aesthetic
sense"; "no attentuation" to "no attenuation"; "the Complex Vision
represents" to "the complex vision represents"; Conclusion: "is
eternaly divided" to "is eternally divided"; "rest of the imortals"
to "rest of the immortals"; "elimination of the objectice mystery" to
"elimination of the objective mystery". The word "over-soul" is
mostly spelled with a hyphen, so I added a hyphen to all instances of
this word. The word "outflowing" is mostly spelled without a hyphen,
so I deleted the hyphens from all instances of this word. All other
spelling remains the same.]







What I am anxious to attempt in this anticipatory summary of the
contents of this book is a simple estimate of its final conclusions, in
such a form as shall eliminate all technical terms and reduce the
matter to a plain statement, intelligible as far as such a thing can be
made intelligible, to the apprehension of such persons as have not
had the luck, or the ill-luck, of a plunge into the ocean of

A large portion of the book deals with what might be called our
_instrument of research_; in other words, with the problem of what
particular powers of insight the human mind must use, if its vision
of reality is to be of any deeper or more permanent value than the
"passing on the wing," so to speak, of individual fancies and

This instrument of research I find to be the use, by the human
person, of all the various energies of personality concentrated into
one point; and the resultant spectacle of things or reality of things,
which this concentrated vision makes clear, I call the original
revelation of the complex vision of man.

Having analyzed in the earlier portions of the book the peculiar
nature of our organ of research and the peculiar difficulties--
amounting to a very elaborate work of art--which have to be
overcome before this _concentration_ takes place, I proceed in the
later portions of the book to make as clear as I can what kind of
reality it is that we actually do succeed in grasping, when this
concentrating process has been achieved. I indicate incidentally that
this desirable concentration of the energies of personality is so
difficult a thing that we are compelled to resort to our memory of
what we experienced in rare and fortunate moments in order to
establish its results. I suggest that it is not to our average moments
of insight that we have to appeal, but to our exceptional moments of
insight; since it is only at rare moments in our lives that we are able
to enter into what I call the _eternal vision_.

To what, then, does this conclusion amount, and what is this
resultant reality, in as far as we are able to gather it up and
articulate its nature from the vague records of our memory?

I have endeavoured to show that it amounts to the following series
of results. What we are, in the first place, assured of is the
existence within our own individual body of a real actual living thing
composed of a mysterious substance wherein what we call mind and
what we call matter are fused and intermingled. This is our real and
self-conscious soul, the thing in us which says, "I am I," of which
the physical body is only one expression, and of which all the bodily
senses are only one gateway of receptivity.

The soul within us becomes aware of its own body simultaneously
with its becoming aware of all the other bodies which fill the visible
universe. It is then by an act of faith or imagination that the soul
within us takes for granted and assumes that there must be a soul
resembling our own soul within each one of those alien bodies, of
which, simultaneously with its own, it becomes aware.

And since the living basis of our personality is this real soul within
us, it follows that all those energies of personality, whose
concentration is the supreme work of art, are the energies of this real
soul. If, therefore, we assume that all the diverse physical bodies
which fill the universe possess, each of them, an inner soul
resembling our own soul, we are led to the conclusion that just as
our own soul half-creates and half-discovers the general spectacle of
things which it names "the universe," so all the alien souls in the
world half-create and half-discover what they feel as _their_

If our revelation stopped at this point we should have to admit that
there was not one universe, but as many universes are there are
living souls. It is at this point, however, that we become aware that
all these souls are able, in some degree or other, to enter into
communication. They are able to do this both by the bodily sounds
and signs which constitute language and by certain immaterial
vibrations which seem to make no use of the body at all. In this
communication between different souls, as far as humanity is
concerned, a very curious experience has to be recorded.

When two human beings dispute together upon any important
problem of life, there is always an implicit appeal made by both of
them to an invisible arbiter, or invisible standard of arbitration, in
the heart of which both seem aware that the reality, upon which
their opinions differ, is to be found in its eternal truth. What then
is this invisible standard of arbitration? Whatever it is, we are
compelled to assume that it satisfies and transcends the deepest and
furthest reach of personal vision in all the souls that approach it.
And what is the deepest and furthest reach of our individual soul?
This seems to be a projection upon the material plane of the very
stuff and substance of the soul's inmost nature.

This very "stuff" of the soul, this outflowing of the substance of the
soul, I name "emotion"; and I find it to consist of two eternally
conflicting elements; what I call the element of "love," and what I
call the element of "malice." This emotion of love, which is the
furthest reach of the soul, I find to be differentiated when it comes
into contact with the material universe into three ultimate ways of
taking life; namely, the way which we name the pursuit of beauty,
the way which we name the pursuit of goodness, and the way which
we name the pursuit of truth. But these three ways of taking life find
always their unity and identity in that emotion of love which is the
psychic substance of them all.

The invisible standard of arbitration, then, to which an appeal is
always made, consciously or unconsciously, when two human
beings dispute upon the mystery of life, is a standard of arbitration
which concerns the real nature of love, and the real nature of what
we call "the good" and "the true" and "the beautiful."

And since we have found in personality the one thing in existence of
which we are absolutely assured, because we are aware of it, _on the
inside_, so to speak, in the depths of our own souls, it becomes
necessary that in place of thinking of this invisible standard as any
spiritual or chemical "law" in any stream of "life-force" we should
think of it as being as personal as we ourselves are personal. For
since what we call the universe has been already described as
something which is half-created and half-discovered by the vision of
some one soul in it or of all the souls in it, it is clear that we have
no longer any right to think of these ultimate ideas as "suspended" in
the universe, or as general "laws" of the universe. They are
suspended in the individual soul, which half-creates and
half-discovers the universe according to their influence.

Personality is the only permanent thing in life; and if truth, beauty,
goodness, and love, are to have permanence they must depend for
their permanence not upon some imaginary law in a universe
half-created by personality but upon the indestructible nature of
personality itself.

The human soul is aware of an invisible standard of beauty. To this
invisible standard it is compelled to make an unconscious appeal in
all matters of argument and discussion. This standard must therefore
be rooted in a personal super-human vision and we are driven to the
conclusion that some being or beings exist, superior to man, and yet
in communication with man. And since what we see around us is a
world of many human and sub-human personalities, it is, by
analogy, a more natural supposition to suppose that these
supernatural beings are many than that they are one.

What the human soul, therefore, together with all other souls, attains
in its concentrated moments is "an eternal vision" wherein what is
mortal in us merges itself in what is immortal.

But if what we call the universe is a thing made up of all the various
universes of all the various souls in space and time, we are
forbidden to find in this visible material universe, whose "reality"
does not become "really real" until it has received the "hall-mark,"
so to speak, of the eternal vision, any sort of medium or link which
makes it possible for these various souls to communicate with one

This material universe, thus produced by the concentrated visions of
all the souls entering into the eternal vision, is made up of all the
physical bodies of all such souls, linked together by the medium of
universal ether. But although the bodies which thus occupy different
points of space are linked together by the universal ether, we are not
permitted to find in this elemental ether, the medium which links the
innumerable souls together. And we are not permitted this because
in our original assumption such souls are themselves the
half-creators, as well as the half-discoverers, of that universe whose
empty spaces are thus filled. The material ether which links all
bodies together cannot, since it is a portion of such an universe, be
itself the medium from the midst of which these souls create that

But if, following our method of regarding every material substance
in the world as the body of some sort of soul, we regard this
universal ether as itself the body of an universal or elemental soul,
then we are justified in finding in this elemental omnipresent soul
diffused through space, the very medium we need; out of the midst
of which all the souls which exist project their various universes.

We are thus faced by a universe which is the half-creation and
half-discovery of all living souls, a universe the truth and beauty of
which depend upon the eternal vision, a universe whose material
substance is entirely composed of the actual physical bodies of
those very souls whose vision half-creates and half-discovers it.

We thus reach our conclusion that there is nothing in the world
except personality. The material universe is entirely made up of
personal bodies united by the personal body of the elemental ether.
What we name the universe, therefore, is an enormous group of
bodies joined together by the body of the ether; such bodies being
the physical expression of a corresponding group of innumerable
souls joined together by the soul of the ether.

In the portions of this book which deal with the creative energy of
the soul I have constantly used the expression "objective mystery";
but in my concluding chapter I have rejected and eliminated this
word as a mere step or stage in human thought which does not
correspond to any final reality. When I use the term "objective
mystery" I am referring to the original movement of the individual
mind when it first stretches out to what is outside itself. What is
outside itself consists in reality of nothing but an unfathomable
group of bodies and souls joined together by the body and soul of
the ether which fills space.

But since, in its first stretching out towards these things, all it is
aware of is the presence of a plastic something which lends itself,
under the universal curve of space, to the moulding and shaping and
colouring of its creative vision, it is natural enough to look about
for a name by which we can indicate this original "clay" or "matter" or
"world-stuff" out of which the individual soul creates its vision of
an universe. And the name "objective mystery" is the name by
which, in the bulk of this book, I have indicated this mysterious
world-stuff, by which the soul finds itself surrounded, both in regard
to the matter of its own body and in regard to the still more alien
matter of which all other bodies are composed.

But when by the use of the term objective mystery I have indicated
that general and universal something, not itself, by which the soul is
confronted, that something which, like a white screen, or a thick
mass of darkness, waits the moving lamp of the soul to give it light
and colour, it becomes clear that the name itself does not cover any
actual reality other than the actual reality of all the bodies in the
world joined together by the universal ether.

Is the term "objective mystery," therefore, no more than the name
given to that first solid mass of external impression which the
insight of the soul subsequently reduces to the shapes, colours,
scents, sounds, and all the more subtle intimations springing from
the innumerable bodies and souls which fill universal space? No. It
is not quite this. It is a little deeper than this. It is, in fact, the
mind's recognition that _behind_ this first solid mass of external
impression which the soul's own creative activity creates into its
"universe" there must exist "something," some real substance, or
matter, or world-stuff, in contact with which the soul half-creates
and half-discovers the universe which it makes its own.

When, however, the soul has arrived at the knowledge that its own
physical body is the outward expression of its inner self, and when
by an act of faith or imagination it has extended this knowledge to
every other bodily form in its universe, it ceases to be necessary to
use the term "objective mystery"; since that something which the
soul felt conscious of as existing behind the original solid mass of
impressions is now known by the soul to be nothing else than an
incredible number of living personalities, each with its own body.

And just as I make use in this book of the term "objective mystery,"
and then discard it in my final conclusion, so I make an emphatic
and elaborate use of the term "creative" and then discard it, or
considerably modify it, in my final conclusion.

My sequence of thought, in this matter of the soul's "creative"
power, may thus be indicated. In the process of preparing the
ground for those rare moments of illumination wherein we attain the
eternal vision the soul is occupied, and the person attempting to
think is occupied, with what I call "the difficult work of art" of
concentrating its various energies and fusing them into one balanced
point of rhythmic harmony. This effort of contemplative tension is a
"creative effort" similar to that which all artists are compelled to
make. In addition to this aspect of what I call "creation," there also
remains the fact that the individual soul modifies and changes that
first half-real something which I name the objective mystery, until it
becomes all the colours, shapes, sounds and so forth, produced by
the impression upon the soul of all the other personalities brought
into contract with it by the omnipresent personality of the universal

The words "creation" and "creative" axe thus made descriptive in
this book of the simple and undeniable fact that everything which
the mind touches is modified and changed by the mind; and that
ultimately the universe which any mind beholds is an universe
half-created by the mood of the mind which beholds it. And since the
mood of any mind which contemplates the universe is dependent
upon the relative "overcoming" in that particular soul of the emotion
of malice by love, or of the emotion of love by malice, it becomes
true to say that any universe which comes into existence is
necessarily "created" by the original struggle, in the depths of some
soul or other, of the conflicting emotions of love and malice.

And since the ideal of the emotion of love is life, and the ideal of
the emotion of hate is death, it becomes true to say that the emotion
of love is identical with the creative energy in all souls, while the
emotion of malice is identical with the force which resists creation
in all souls.

Why then do I drop completely, or at least considerably modify, this
stress upon the soul's "creative" power in my final chapter? I am led
to do so by the fact that such creative power in the soul is, after all,
only a preparation for the eternal vision. Creative energy implies
effort, tension, revolution, agitation, and the pain of birth. All
these things have to do with preparing the ground for the eternal
vision, and with the final gesture of the soul, by which it enters
into that ultimate rhythm. But once having entered into that vision--
and in these things time is nothing--the rhythm which results is a
rhythm upon which the soul rests, even as music rests upon music, or
life rests upon life.

And the eternal vision, thus momentarily attained, and hereafter
gathered together from the deep cisterns of memory, liberates us,
when we are under its influence, from that contemplative or creative
tension whereby we reached it. It is then that the stoical pride of the
soul, in the strength of which it has endured so much, undergoes the
process of an immense relaxation and relief. An indescribable
humility floods our being; and the mood with which we contemplate
the spectacle of life and death ceases to be an individual mood and
becomes an universal mood. The isolation, which was a necessary
element in our advance to this point, melts away when we have
reached it. It is not that we lose our personality, it is that we merge
ourselves by the outflowing of love, in all the personalities to which
the procession of time gives birth.

And the way we arrive at this identification of ourselves with all
souls, living or dead or unborn, is by our love for that ideal
symbolized in the figure of Christ in whom this identification has
already been achieved. This, and nothing less than this, is the eternal
vision. For the only "god" among all the arbiters of our destiny, with
whom we are concerned, is Christ. To enter into his secret is to enter
into their secret. To be aware of him is to be aware of everything in
the world, mortality and immortality, the transitory and the eternal.

Life then, as I have struggled to interpret it in this book, seems to
present itself as an unfathomable universe entirely made up of
personalities. What we call inanimate substances are all of them the
bodies, or portions of the bodies, of living personalities. The
immense gulf, popularly made between the animate and the
inanimate, thus turns out to be an unfounded illusion; and the whole
universe reveals itself as an unfathomable series, or congeries, of
living personalities, united by the presence of the omnipresent ether
which fills universal space.

It is of little moment, the particular steps or stages of thought, by
which one mind, among so many, arrives at this final conclusion.
Other minds, following other tracks across the desert, might easily
reach it. The important thing to note is that, once reached, such a
conclusion seems to demand from us a very definite attitude toward
life. For if life, if the universe, is entirely made up of personality,
then our instinctive or acquired attitude toward personality becomes
the path by which we approach truth.

To persons who have not been plunged, luckily or unluckily, in the
troublesome sea of metaphysical phrases, the portions of this book
which will be most tiresome are the portions which deal with those
"half-realities" or logical abstractions of the human reason, when
such reason "works" in isolation from the other attributes of the
soul. Such reason, working in isolation, inevitably produces certain
views of life; and these views of life, although unreal when
compared with the reality produced by the full play of all our
energies, cannot be completely disregarded if our research is to
cover the whole field of humanity's reactions. Since there is always
an irresistible return to these metaphysical views of life directly the
soul loses the rhythm of its total being, it seems as if it were unwise
to advance upon our road until we have discounted such views and
placed them in their true perspective, as unreal but inevitable

The particular views of life which this recurrent movement of the
logical reason results in, are, first, the reduction of everything to
an infinite stream of pure thought, outside both time and space,
unconscious of itself as in any way personal; and, in the second
place, the reduction of everything to one universal self-conscious
spirit, in whose absolute and infinite being independent of space and
time all separate existences lose themselves and are found to be

What I try to make clear in the metaphysical portion of this book is
that these two views of life, while always liable to return upon us
with every renewed movement of the isolated reason, are in truth
unreal projections of man's imperious mind. When we subject them
to an analysis based upon our complete organ of research they show
themselves to be nothing but tyrannous phantoms, abstracted from
the genuine reality of the soul as it exists _within_ space and time.

What I seek to show throughout this book is that the world resolves
itself into an immeasurable number of personalities held together by
the personality of the universal ether and by the unity of one space
and one time. Even of space and time themselves, since the only
thing that really "fills them," so to speak, to the brim, is the
universal ether, it might be said that they are the expression of this
universal ether in its relation to all the objects which it contains.

Thus the conclusion to which I am driven is that the dome of space,
out of which the sun shines by day and the stars by night, contains
no vast gulfs of absolute nothingness into which the soul that hates
life may flee away and be at rest. At the same time the soul that
hates life need not despair. The chances, as we come to estimate
them, for and against the soul's survival after death, seem so
curiously even, that it may easily happen that the extreme longing of
the soul for annihilation may prove in such a balancing of forces the
final deciding stroke. And quite apart from death, I have tried to
show in this book, how in the mere fact of the unfathomable depths
into which all physical bodies as well as all immaterial souls recede
there is an infinite opportunity for any soul to find a way of escape
from life, either by sinking into the depths of its own physical being,
or by sinking into the depths of its own spiritual substance.

The main purpose of the book reveals, however, the only escape
from all the pain and misery of life which is worthy of the soul of
man. And this is not so much an escape from life as a transfiguring
of the nature of life by means of a newly born attitude toward it.
This attitude toward life, of which I have tried to catch at least the
general outlines, is the attitude which the soul struggles to maintain
by gathering together all its diffused memories of those rare
moments when it entered into the eternal vision.

And I have indicated as clearly as I could how it comes about that in
the sphere of practical life the only natural and consistent
realization of this attitude would be the carrying into actual effect
of what I call "the idea of communism."

This "idea of communism," in which the human implications of the
eternal vision become realized, is simply the conception of a system
of human society founded upon the creative instinct, instead of upon
the possessive instinct in humanity.

I endeavour to make clear that such a reorganization of society,
upon such a basis does not imply any radical change in human
nature. It only implies a liberation of a force that already exists, of
the force in the human soul that is centrifugal, or outflowing, as
opposed to the force that is centripetal, or indrawing. Such a force
has always been active in the lives of individuals. It only remains to
liberate that force until it reaches the general consciousness of the
race, to make such a reconstruction of human society not only ideal,
but actual and effective.


Chapter I.        The Complex Vision                           1
Chapter II.       The Aspects of the Complex Vision           20
Chapter III.      The Soul's Apex-Thought                     56
Chapter IV.       The Revelation of the Complex Vision        71
Chapter V.        The Ultimate Duality                       100
Chapter VI.       The Ultimate Ideas                         120
Chapter VII.      The Nature of Art                          160
Chapter VIII.     The Nature of Love                         194
Chapter IX.       The Nature of the Gods                     214
Chapter X.        The Figure of Christ                       225
Chapter XI.       The Illusion of Dead Matter                248
Chapter XII.      Pain and Pleasure                          270
Chapter XIII.     The Reality of the Soul in Relation to
                   Modern Thought                            293
Chapter XIV.      The Idea of Communism                      323
                  Conclusion                                 339


The speculative system which I have entitled "The Philosophy of
the Complex Vision" is an attempt to bring into prominence, in the
sphere of definite and articulate thought, those scattered and chaotic
intimations which hitherto have found expression rather in Art than
in Philosophy.

It has come to be fatally clear to me that between the great
metaphysical systems of rationalized purpose and the actual shocks,
experiences, superstitions, illusions, disillusions, reactions, hope
and despairs, of ordinary men and women there is a great gulf fixed.
It has become clear to me that the real poignant personal drama in all
our lives, together with those vague "marginal" feelings which
overshadow all of us with a sense of something half-revealed and
half withheld, has hardly any point of contact with these formidable
edifices of pure logic.

On the other hand the tentative, hesitating, ambiguous hypotheses of
Physical Science, transforming themselves afresh with every new
discovery, seem, when the portentous mystery of Life's real secret
confronts us, to be equally remote and elusive.

When in such a dilemma one turns to the vitalistic and pragmatic
speculations of a Bergson or a William James there is an almost
more hopeless revulsion. For in these pseudo-scientific,
pseudo-psychological methods of thought something most profoundly
human seems to us to be completely neglected. I refer to the high
and passionate imperatives of the heroic, desperate, treasonable
heart of man.

What we have come to demand is some intelligible system of
_imaginative reason_ which shall answer the exigencies not only of
our more normal moods but of those moods into which we are
thrown by the pressure upon us--apparently from outside the
mechanical sequence of cause and effect--of certain mysterious
Powers in the background of our experience, such as hitherto have
only found symbolic and representative expression in the ritual of
Art and Religion.

What we have come to demand is some flexible, malleable,
rhythmic system which shall give an imaginative and yet a rational
form to the sum total of those manifold and intricate impressions
which make up the life of a real person upon a real earth.

What we have come to demand is that the centre of gravity in our
interpretation of life should be restored to its natural point of
vantage, namely, to the actual living consciousness of an actual
living human being.

And it is precisely these demands that the philosophy of the
complex vision attempts to satisfy. It seeks to satisfy them by using
as its organ of research the balanced "ensemble" of man's whole
nature. It seeks to satisfy them by using as its "material" the whole
variegated and contradictory mass of feelings and reactions to
feelings, which the natural human being with his superstitions, his
sympathies, his antipathies, his loves and his hates, his surmises, his
irrational intuitions, his hopes and fears, is of necessity bound to
experience as he moves through the world.

It seeks, in fact, to envisage from within and without the confused
hurly-burly of life's drama; and to give to this contradictory and
complicated spectacle the aesthetic rationality or imaginative
inevitableness of a rhythmic work of art.

In this attempt the philosophy of the complex vision is bound to
recognize, and include in its _rational form_, much that remains
mysterious, arbitrary, indetermined, organic, obstinately illogical.
For the illogical is not necessarily the unintelligible, so long as the
reason which we use is that same imaginative and clairvoyant
reason, which, in its higher measure, sustains the vision of the poets
and the artists.

By the use of this fuller, richer, more living, more concrete
instrument of research, the conclusions we arrive at will have in
them more of the magic of Nature, and will be closer to the actual
palpable organic mystery of Life, than either the abstract
conclusions of metaphysic or the cautious, impersonal hypotheses of
experimental physical science.



A philosophy is known by its genuine starting-point. This is also its
final conclusion, often very cunningly concealed. Such a conclusion
may be presented to us as the logical result of a long train of
reasoning, when really it was there all the while as one single vivid
revelation of the complex vision.

Like travellers who have already found, by happy accident, the city
of their desire, many crafty thinkers hasten hurriedly back to the
particular point from which they intend to be regarded as having
started; nor in making this secret journey are they forgetful to erase
their footsteps from the sand, so that when they publicly set forth it
shall appear to those who follow them that they are guided not by
previous knowledge of the way but by the inevitable necessity of
pure reason.

I also, like the rest, must begin with what will turn out to be the
end; but unlike many I shall openly indicate this fact and not attempt
to conceal it.

My starting-point is nothing less than what I call the original
revelation of man's complex vision; and I regard this original
revelation as something which is arrived at by the use of a certain
synthetic activity of all the attributes of this vision. And this
synthetic activity of the complex vision I call its apex-thought.

This revelation is of a peculiar nature, which must be grasped, at
least in its general outlines, before we can advance a step further
upon that journey which is also a return.

It might be maintained that before attempting to philosophize upon
life, the question should be asked . . . "why philosophize at all?"
And again . . . "what are the motive-forces which drive us into this
process which we call philosophizing?"

To philosophize is to articulate and express our personal reaction to
the mystery which we call life, both with regard to the nature of that
mystery and with regard to its meaning and purpose.

My answer to the question "Why do we philosophize?" is as
follows. We philosophize for the same reason that we move and
speak and laugh and eat and love. In other words, we philosophize
because man is a philosophical animal. We breathe because we
cannot help breathing and we philosophize because we cannot help
philosophizing. We may be as sceptical as we please. Our very
scepticism is the confession of an implicit philosophy. To suppress
the activity of philosophizing is as impossible as to suppress the
activity of breathing.

Assuming then that we _have_ to philosophize, the question
naturally arises . . . _how_ have we to philosophize if our
philosophy is to be an adequate expression of our complete reaction
to life?

By the phrase "man's complex vision" I am trying to indicate the
elaborate and intricate character of the organ of research which we
have to use. All subsequent discoveries are rendered misleading if
the total activity, at least in its general movement, of our instrument
of research is not brought into focus. This instrument of research
which I have named "man's complex vision" implies his possession,
at the moment when he begins to philosophize, of certain basic
attributes or energies.

The advance from infancy to maturity naturally means, when the
difference between person and person is considered an unequal and
diverse development of these basic energies. Nor even when the
person is full grown will it be found that these energies exist in him
in the same proportion as they exist in other persons. But if they
existed in every person in precisely equal proportions we should not
all, even then, have the same philosophy.

We should not have this, because though the basic activities were
there in equal proportion, each living concrete person whose
activities these were would necessarily colour the resultant vision
with the stain or dye of his original difference from all the rest. For
no two living entities in this extraordinary world are exactly the

What is left for us, then, it might be asked, but to "whisper our
conclusions" and accept the fact that all "philosophies" must be
different, as they are all the projection of different personalities?
Nothing, as far as pure logic is concerned, is left for us but this.
Yet it remains as an essential aspect of the process of philosophizing
that we should endeavour to bring over to our vision as many other
visions as we can succeed in influencing. For since we have the
power of communicating our thought to one another and since it is
of the very nature of the complex vision to be exquisitely sensitive
to influences from outside, it is a matter of primordial necessity to
us all that we should exercise this will to influence and this will to
be influenced.

And just as in the case of persons sympathetic to ourselves the
activity of philosophizing is attended by the emotion of love and the
instinct of creation, so in the case of persons antagonistic to
ourselves the activity of philosophizing is attended by the emotion
of hate and the instinct of destruction. For philosophy being the
final articulation of a personal reaction to life, is penetrated
through and through with the basic energies of life.

On the one hand there is a "Come unto me, all ye . . ." and on the
other there is a "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"
Just because the process of philosophizing is necessarily personal, it
is evident that the primordial aspect of it which implies "the will to
influence" must tally with some equally primordial reciprocity,
implying "the will to be influenced."

That it does so tally with this is proved by the existence of language.

This medium of expression between living things does not seem to
be confined to the human race. Some reciprocal harmony of energy,
corresponding to our complex vision, seems to have created
many mysterious modes of communication by which myriads of
sub-human beings, and probably also myriads of super-human beings,
act and react on one another.

But the existence of language, though it excludes the possibility of
absolute difference, does not, except by an act of faith, necessitate
that any sensation we name by the same name is really identical
with the sensation which another person feels. And this difficulty is
much further complicated by the fact that words themselves tend in
the process to harden and petrify, and in their hardening to form, as
it were, solid blocks of accretion which resist and materially distort
the subtle and evasive play of the human psychology behind them.

So that not only are we aware that the word which we use does not
necessarily represent to another what it represents to ourself, but we
are also aware that it does not, except in a hard and inflexible
manner, represent what we ourselves feel. Words tend all too
quickly to become symbolic; and it is often the chief importance of
what we call "genius" that it takes these inflexible symbols into its
hands and breaks them up into pieces and dips them in the wavering
waters of experience and sensation.

Every philosopher should be at pains to avoid as far as possible the
use of technical terms, whether ancient or modern, and should
endeavour to evade and slip behind these terms. He should
endeavour to indicate his vision of the world by means of words
which have acquired no thick accretion of traditional crust but are
fresh and supple and organic. He should use such words, in fact, as
might be said to have the flexibility of life, and like living plants
to possess leaves and sap. He should avoid as far as he can such
metaphors and images as already carry with them the accumulated
associations of traditional usage, and he should select his
expressions so that they shall give the reader the definite impact and
vivid shock of thoughts that leap up from immediate contact with
sensation, like fish from the surface of a river.

Just because words, in their passage from generation to generation,
tend to become so hard and opaque, it is advisable for any one
attempting to philosophize to use indirect as well as direct means of
expressing his thoughts. The object of philosophizing being to
"carry over" into another person's consciousness one's personal
reaction to things, it may well happen that a hint, a gesture, a
signal, a sign, made indirectly and rather by the grouping of words
and the tone of words than by their formal content, will reach the
desired result more effectually than any direct argument.

It must be admitted, however, that this purely subjective view of
philosophy, with its implied demand for a precise subjective
colouring of the words, leaves some part of our philosophical
motive-force unsatisfied and troubled by an obscure distress. No
two minds can interchange ideas without some kind of appeal, often
so faint and unconscious as to be quite unrecognized, to an invisible
audience of hidden attendants upon the argument, who are tacitly
assumed in some mysterious way to be the arbiters. These invisible
companions seem to gather to themselves, as we are vaguely aware
of them, the attributes of a company of overshadowing listeners.
They present themselves to the half-conscious background of our
mind as some pre-existent vision of "truth" towards which my
subjective vision is one contribution and my interlocutor's
subjective vision another contribution.

This vague consciousness which we both have, as we exchange our
ideas, of some comprehensive vision of pre-existent reality, to
which we are both appealing, does not destroy my passionate
conviction that I am "nearer the truth" than my friend; nor does it
destroy my latent feeling that in my friend's vision there is
"something of the truth" which I am unable to grasp. I think the
more constantly we encounter other minds in these philosophical
disputes the more does there grow and take shape in our own mind
the idea of some mysterious and invisible watchers whose purer
vision, exquisitely harmonious and clairvoyant, remains a sort of
test both of our own and of others' subjectivity; becomes, in fact, an
objective standard or measure or pattern of those ideas which we
discover within us all, and name truth, beauty, nobility.

This objective standard of the things which are most important and
precious to us, this ideal pattern of all human values, attests and
manifests its existence by the primordial necessity of the
interchange of thoughts among us. I call this pattern or standard of
ideas "the vision of the immortal companions." By the term "the
immortal companions" I do not mean to indicate any "immanent"
power or transcendental "over-soul." Nor do I mean to indicate that
they are created by our desire that they should exist. Although I call
them "companions" I wish to suggest that they exist quite
independently of man and are not the origin of these ideas in man's
soul but only the model, the pattern, the supreme realization of these

It is, however, to these tacit listeners, whose vision of the world is
there in the background as the arbiter of our subjective encounters,
that in our immense loneliness we find ourselves constantly turning.
All our philosophy, all our struggle with life, falls into two aspects
as we grow more and more aware of what we are doing. The whole
strange drama takes the form, as we feel our way, of a creation
which at present is non-existent and of a realization of something
which at present is hidden.

Thus philosophy, as I have said, is at once a setting-forth and a
return; a setting-forth to something that has never been reached,
because to reach it we have to create it, and a return to something
that has been with us from the beginning and is the very form and
shape and image of the thing which we have set forth to create.

These hidden listeners, these tacit arbiters, these assumed and
implied witnesses of our life, give value to every attempt we make
at arriving at some unity amid our differences; and their vision
seems, as the eternal duality presses upon us, to be at once the thing
from which we start and the thing towards which, moulding the
future as we go, we find ourselves moving. In the unfathomable
depths of the past we are aware of a form, a shape, a principle, a
premonition; and into the unfathomable depths of the future we
project the fulfilled reality of this. We are as gods creating
something out of nothing. But when we have created it . . . behold!
it was there from the beginning; and the nothing out of which we
have created it has receded into a second future from which it mocks
and menaces us again.

The full significance of this ultimate duality would be rendered
abortive if the future were determined in any more definite way than
by the premonition, the hope, the dream, the passion, the prophecy,
the vision, of those invisible companions whose existence is implied
whenever two separate souls communicate their thoughts to one

It is by our will that the future is created; but around the will hover
intermittently many unfathomable motives. And the pre-existent
motive, which finally gives the shape to the future, holds the future
already in its hand. And this surviving motive, ultimately selected
by our will, is of necessity purged and tested by a continual
comparison with that form, that idea, that dream, that vision, which
is implied from the beginning and which I name "the vision of the
invisible companions."

The philosophical enquiry upon which we are engaged finds its
starting point, then, in nothing less than that revelation of the
complex vision which is also the goal of its journey. The complex
vision, in the rhythmic play of its united attributes, makes use of a
synthetic power which I call its apex-thought.

The supreme activity of this apex-thought is centred about those
primordial ideas of truth, beauty and nobility which are the very
stuff and texture of its being. In the ecstasy of its creative and
receptive "rapport" with these it becomes aware of the presence of
certain immortal companions whose vision is at once the objective
standard of such ideas and the premonition of their fuller realization.

In thus attempting to articulate and clarify the main outlines of our
starting point, a curious situation emerges. The actual _spectacle_,
or mass of impressions to be dealt with, presents itself, we are
forced to suppose, as more or less identical, in its general
appearance, in every human consciousness. And this "general
situation" is strange enough.

We find ourselves, motionless or moving, surrounded by earth and
air and space. Impressions flow past us and flow through us. We
ourselves seem at the same time able to move from point to point in
this apparently real universe and able to remain, as invisible
observers, outside all the phenomena of time and space. As the
ultimate invisible spectator of the whole panorama, or, in the logical
phrase, as the "a priori unity of apperception" our consciousness
cannot be visualized in any concrete image.

But as the empirical personal self, able to move about within the
circle of the objective universe, the soul is able to visualize itself
pictorially and imaginatively, although not rationally or logically.
These two revelations of the situation are simultaneously disclosed;
and although the first-named of them--the "a priori unity of
apperception"--might seem to claim, on the strength of this "a
priori" a precedence over the second, it has no real right to make
such a claim. The truth of the situation is indeed the reverse of this;
and upon this truth, more than upon anything else, our whole
method of enquiry depends. For the fact that we are unable to think
of our integral personal self _as actually_ being this "a priori"
consciousness, and are not only able but are bound to think of our
integral personal self as _actually being_ this individual "soul"
within time and space, we are driven to the conclusion that this "a
priori" observer outside time and space is nothing more than an
inevitable trick or law or aspect or play of our isolated logical

Our logical reason is itself only one attribute of our real concrete
self, the self which exists within time and space; and therefore we
reach the conclusion that this "a priori unity," which seems outside
time and space, is nothing but a necessary inevitable abstraction
from the concrete reality of our personal self which is within time
and space. There is no need to be startled at the apparent paradox of
this, as though the lesser were including the larger or the part the
whole, because when space and time are eliminated there can be no
longer any large or small or whole or part. All are equal there
because all are equally nothing there.

This "a priori" unity of consciousness, outside time and space, is
only real in so far as it represents the inevitable manner in which
reason has to work when it works in isolation, and therefore
compared with the reality of the personal self, within time and
space, it is unreal.

And it is obvious that an unreal thing cannot be larger than a real
thing; nor can an unreal thing be a whole of which a real thing is a

The method therefore of philosophic enquiry, which I name "the
philosophy of the complex vision," depends upon the realization of
the difference between what is only the inevitable play of reason,
working in isolation, and what is the inevitable play of all the
attributes of the human soul when they are held together by the
synthetic activity of what I name the "apex-thought." But this
logical revelation of the "a priori" unity of consciousness outside of
time and space is not the only result of the isolated play of some
particular attribute of personality. Just as the isolated play of
reason evokes this result, so the isolated play of self-consciousness
evokes yet another result, which we have to recognize as intervening
between this ultimate logical unity and the real personal self.

The abstraction evoked by the isolated play of self-consciousness is
obviously nearer reality and less of an abstraction than the merely
logical one above-named, because self-consciousness has more of
the personal self in it than reason or logic can have. But though
nearer reality and less of an abstraction than the other, this
revelation of the inevitable play of self-consciousness, working by
itself, is also unreal in relation to the revelation of the concrete
personal individual soul. This revelation of self-consciousness,
working in isolation, has as its result the conception of one universal
"I am I" or cosmic self, which is nothing more or less than the
whole universe, contemplating itself as its own object. To this
conception are we driven, when in isolation from the soul's other
attributes our self-consciousness gives itself up to its own activity.
The "I am I" which we then seek to articulate is an "I am I" reached
by the negation or suppression of that primordial act of faith which
is the work of the imagination. This act of faith, thus negated and
suppressed in order that this unreal cosmic self may embrace the
universe, is the act of faith by which we become aware of the
existence of innumerable other "selves," besides our own self,
filling the vast spaces of nature.

The difference between the sensation we have of our own body and
the sensation we have of the rest of the universe ceases to exist
when self-consciousness thus expands; and the conceptions we
arrive at can only be described as the idea that the whole universe
with all the bodies which it contains--including our own body--is
nothing but one vast manifestation of one vast mind which is our
own "I am I."

It must not be supposed that this abstraction evoked by the solitary
activity of self-consciousness is any more a "whole," of which the
real self is a "part," than the logical "a priori unity" is a whole, of
which the real self is a part. Both are abstractions. Both are unreal.
Both are shadowy projections from the true reality, which is the
personal self existing side by side with "the immortal companions."
Nor must it be supposed that these primordial aspects of life are of
equal importance and that we have an equal right to make of any
one of them the starting point of our enquiry. The starting point of
our enquiry, and the end of our enquiry also, can be nothing else
than the innumerable company of individual "souls," mortal and
immortal, confronting the mystery of the universe.

The philosophy of the complex vision is not a mechanical
philosophy; it is a creative philosophy. And as such it includes in it
from the beginning a certain element of faith and a certain element
which I can only describe as "the impossible." It may seem
ridiculous to some minds that the conception of the "impossible"
should be introduced into any philosophy at the very start. The
complex vision is, however, essentially creative. The creation of
something really new in the world is regarded by pure reason as
impossible. Therefore the element of "the impossible" must exist in
this philosophy from the very start. The act of faith must also exist
in it; for the imagination is one of the primary aspects of the
complex vision and the act of faith is one of the basic activities of
the imagination.

The complex vision does not regard history as a progressive
predetermined process. It regards history as the projection, by
advance and retreat, of the creative and resistant power of individual
souls. That the "invisible companions" should be in eternal contact
with every living "soul" is a rational impossibility; and yet this
impossibility is what the complex vision, using the faith of its
creative imagination, reveals as the truth.

The imagination working in isolation is able, like reason and
self-consciousness, to fall into curious distortions and aberrations.

One has only to survey the field of dogmatic religion to see how
curiously astray it may be led. It is only by holding fast to the high
rare moments when the apex-thought attains its consummation that
we are able to keep such isolated acts of faith in their place and
prevent the element of the "impossible" becoming the element of the
absurd. The philosophy of the complex vision, though far more
sympathetic to much that is called "materialism" than to much that
is called "idealism," certainly cannot itself be regarded
as materialistic. And it cannot be so regarded because its
central assumption and implication is the concrete basis of
personality which we call the "soul." And the "soul," when we think
of it as something real, must inevitably be associated with what
might be called "the vanishing point of sensation." In other words
the soul must be thought of as having some kind of "matter" or
"energy" or "form" as its ultimate life, and yet as having no kind of
"matter" or "energy" or "form." The soul must be regarded as
"something" which is living and real and concrete, and which has a
definite existence in time and space, and which is subject to
annihilation; but the stuff out of which the soul is made is not
capable of analysis, and can only be accepted by such an act of faith
as that which believes in "the impossible."

The fact that the philosophy of the complex vision assumes as its
only axiom the concrete reality of the "soul" within us which is so
difficult to touch or handle or describe and yet which we feel to be
so much more real than our physical body, justifies us in making an
experiment which to many minds will seem uncalled for and
ridiculous. I mean the experiment of trying to visualize, by an
arbitrary exercise of fancy, the sort of form or shape which this
formless and shapeless thing may be imagined as possessing.

Metaphysical discussion tends so quickly to become thin and
abstract and unreal; words themselves tend so quickly to become
"dead wood" rather than living branches and leaves; that it seems
advisable, from the point of view of getting nearer reality, to make
use sometimes of a pictorial image, even though such an image be
crudely and clumsily drawn.

Pictorial images are always treacherous and dangerous; but, as I
have hinted, it is sometimes necessary, considering the intricate and
delicately balanced character of man's complex vision, to make a
guarded and cautious use of them, so as to arrive at truth
"sideways," so to speak, and indirectly.

One of the curious psychological facts, in connection with the
various ways in which various minds function, is the fact that when
in these days we seek to visualize, in some pictorial manner, our
ultimate view of life, the images which are called up are geometrical
or chemical rather than anthropomorphic. It is probable that even
the most rational and logical among us as soon as he begins to
philosophize at all is compelled by the necessity of things to form in
the mind some vague pictorial representation answering to his
conception of the universe.

The real inherent nature of such a philosophy would be probably
understood and appreciated far better, both by the philosopher
himself and by his friends, if this vague pictorial projection could
be actually represented, in words or in a picture.

Most minds see the universe of their mental conception as
something quite different from the actual stellar universe upon
which we all gaze. Even the most purely rational minds who find
the universe in "pure thought" are driven against their rational will
to visualize this "pure thought" and to give it body and form and
shape and movement.

These hidden and subconscious representations, in terms of sensible
imagery, of the conclusions of philosophic thought, are themselves
of profound philosophical interest. We cannot afford to neglect
them. They are at least proof of the inalienable part played, in the
functioning of our complex vision, by _sensation_ as an organ of
research. But they have a further interest. They are an illuminating
revelation of the inherent character and personal bias of the
individual soul who is philosophizing. I suppose to a great many
minds what we call "the universe" presents itself as a colossal circle,
without any circumference, filled with an innumerable number of
material objects floating in some thin attenuated ether. I suppose the
centre of this circle with no circumference is generally assumed to
be the "self" or "soul" of the person projecting this particular image.

Doubtless, in some cases, it is assumed to be such a person's
physical body as it feels itself conscious of sensation and is aware of
space and time.

As I myself use the expression "complex vision" I suppose I call up
in the minds of my various readers an extraordinary variety of
pictorial images. Without laying any undue stress upon this pictorial
tendency, I should like to indicate the kind of projected image
which I myself am conscious of, when I use the expression, "the
complex vision."

I seem to visualize this thing as a wavering, moving mass of flames,
taking the shape of what might be called a "horizontal pyramid," the
apex of which, where the flames are fused and lost in one another, is
continually cleaving the darkness like the point of a fiery arrow,
while the base of it remains continually invisible by reason of some
magical power which confuses the senses whenever they seek to
touch or to hold it.

Sometimes I seem to see this "base" or "spear handle" or "arrow
shaft," of my moving horizontal pyramid, as a kind of deeper
darkness; sometimes as a vibration of air; sometimes as a cloud of
impenetrable smoke. I am always conscious of the curious fact that,
while I can most vividly see the apex-point of the thing, and while I
know that this moving pyramid of fire has a base, there is for ever
some drastic natural law or magical power at work that obscures my
vision whenever I turn my eyes to the place where I know it exists.

I have not mentioned this particular pictorial image with any wish to
lay undue stress upon it. In all rarified and subtle experiments of
thought pictorial images are quite as likely to hinder us in our
groping towards reality as they are to help us. If my image of a
moving, horizontal pyramid with an apex-point of many names
fused into one and a base of impenetrable invisibility seems to any
reader of this passage a ridiculous and arbitrary fancy I would
merely ask such an one to let it go, and to consider my description
of the complex vision quite independently of it.

Sometimes to myself it appears ridiculous; and I only, as we put it,
"throw it out" in order that, if it has the least illuminative value,
such a value should not be quite lost. Any reader who regards my
particular picture as absurd is perfectly at liberty to form his own
pictorial image of what I am endeavouring to make clear. He may, if
he pleases, visualize "the soul" as a sort of darkened planet from
which the attributes of the complex vision radiate to the right or to
the left, as the thing moves through immensity. All I ask is that
these attributes should be thought of as converging to a point and as
finding their "base" in some thing which is felt to exist but cannot
be described.

Probably to a thorough-going empiricist, and certainly to a
thorough-going materialist, it will appear quite unnecessary to
translate the obvious spectacle of the world, with oneself as a
physical body in the centre of it, into mental symbols and pictorial
representations of the above character. Of such an one I would only
ask, in what sort of manner he visualizes, when he thinks of it at all,
the "soul" which he feels conscious of in his own body; and in the
second place how he visualizes the connection between the will, the
instinct, the reason and so forth, which animate his body and endow
it with living purpose? It will be found much easier for critics to
reject the particular image which has commended itself to me as
suggestive of the mystery with which we have to deal, than for them
to drive out and expel from their own thought the insidious human
tendency towards pictorial representation.

I would commend to any sardonic psychologist whose "malice"
leads him to derive pleasure from the little weaknesses of
philosophers, to turn his attention to the ideal systems of supposedly
"pure thought." He will find infinite satisfaction for his spleen in
the crafty manner in which "impure" thought--that is to say thought by
means of pictorial images--passes itself off as "pure" and conceals
its lapses.

Truth, as the complex vision clearly enough reveals to us, refuses to
be dealt with by "pure" thought. To deal with truth one has to use
"impure" thought, in other words thought that is dyed in the grain by
taste, instinct, intuition, imagination. And every philosopher who
attempts to round off his system by pure reason alone, and who
refuses to recognize that the only adequate organ of research is the
complex vision, is a philosopher who sooner or later will be caught
red-handed in the unphilosophic act of covering his tracks.

No philosopher is on safe ground, no philosopher can offer us a
massive organic concrete representation of reality who is shy of all
pictorial images. They are dangerous and treacherous things; but it
is better to be led astray by them than to avoid them altogether.

The mythological symbolism of antique thought was full of this
pictorial tendency and even now the shrewdest of modern thinkers
are compelled to use images drawn from antique mythology. Poetic
thought may go astray. But it can never negate itself into quite the
thin simulacrum of reality into which pure reason divorced from
poetic imagery is capable of fading.

After all, the most obstinate and irreducible of all pictorial
representations is the obvious one of the material universe with our
physical body as the centre of it. But even this is not complete. In
fact it is extremely far from complete, directly we think closely
about it. For not only does such a picture omit the real centre, that
indescribable "something" we call the "soul," it also loses itself in
unthinkable darkness when it considers any one of its own
unfathomable horizons.

It cannot be regarded as a very adequate picture when both the
centre of it and the circumference of it baffle thought. The
materialist or "objectivist" may be satisfied with such a result, but
it is a result which does not answer the question of philosophy, but
rather denies that any answer is possible. But though this obvious
objective spectacle of the universe, with our bodily self as a part of
it, cannot satisfy the demands of the complex vision, it is at least
certain that no philosophy which does not include this and accept
this and continually return to this, can satisfy these demands.

The complex vision requires the reality of this objective spectacle
but it also requires recognition of certain basic assumptions, implicit
in this spectacle, which the materialist refuses to consider.

And the most comprehensive of these assumptions is nothing less
than the complex vision itself, with that "something," which is the
soul, as its inscrutable base. Thus I am permitted to retain, in spite
of its arbitrary fantasy, my pictorial image of a pyramidal arrow of
fire, moving from darkness to darkness. My picture were false to my
conception if it did not depict the whole pyramid, with the soul itself
as its base, moving, in its complete totality, from mystery to

It may move upwards, downwards, or, as I myself seem to see it,
horizontally. But as long as it keeps its apex-point directed to the
mystery in front of it, it matters little how we conceive of it as
moving. That it should _move_, in some way or another, is the gist
of my demand upon it; for, if it does not move, nothing moves; and
life itself is swallowed up in nothingness.

This swallowing up of life in nothingness, this obliteration of life by
nothingness is what the emotion of malice ultimately desires. The
eternal conflict between love and malice is the eternal contest
between life and death. And this contest is what the complex vision
reveals, as it moves from darkness to darkness.



The aspects of the complex vision may be separated from one
another according to many systems of classifications. As long as, in
the brief summary which follows, I include the more obvious and
more important of these aspects, I shall be doing all that the
philosophy of the complex vision demands.

The reader is quite at liberty to make a different classification from
mine, if mine appears unconvincing to him. The general trend of my
argument will not be in any serious way affected, as long as he
admits that I have followed the tradition of ordinary human
language, in the classification which I have preferred.

It seems to me, then, that the aspects of the complex vision are
eleven in number; and that they may be summarized as consisting of
reason, self-consciousness, will, the aesthetic sense, or "taste,"
imagination, memory, conscience, sensation, instinct, intuition and

These eleven aspects or attributes are not to be regarded as
absolutely separate "functions," but rather as relatively separate
"energies" of the one concrete soul-monad. The complex vision is
the vision of an irreducible living entity which pours itself as a
whole into every one of its various energizings. And though it pours
itself as a whole into each one of these, and though each one of
these contains the latent potentiality of all the rest, the nature of
the complex vision is such that it necessarily takes colour and form
from the particular aspect or attribute through which at the moment
it is especially energizing.

It is precisely here that the danger of "disproportion" was found. For
the complex vision with the whole weight of all its aspects behind it
receives the colour and the form of only one of them. We can see
the result of this from the tenacity--implying the presence of
emotion and will--with which some philosopher of pure reason
passionately and imaginatively defends his logical conclusion.

But we are ourselves proof of it in every moment of our lives.
Confronted with some definite external situation, of a happy or
unhappy character, we fling ourselves upon this new intrusion with
the momentum of our whole being; and it becomes largely a matter
of accident whether our reaction of the moment is coloured by
reason or by will or by imagination or by taste. Immersed in the tide
of experience, receiving shock after shock from alien and hostile
forces, we struggle with the weight of our whole soul against each
particular obstacle, not stopping to regulate the complicated
machinery of our vision but just seizing upon the thing, or trying to
avoid it, with whatever energy serves our purpose best at the

This is especially true of small and occasional pleasures or small
and occasional annoyances. A supreme pleasure or a supreme pain
forces us to gather our complex vision together, forces us to make
use of its apex-thought, so that we can embrace the ecstasy or fling
ourselves upon the misery with a co-ordinated power. It is the little
casual annoyances and reliefs of our normal days which are so hard
to deal with in the spirit of philosophic art, because these little
pleasures and pains while making a superficial appeal to the reason
or the emotion or the will or the conscience, are not drastic or
formidable enough to drive us into any concentration of the
apex-thought which shall harmonize our confused energies.

The fatal ease with which the whole complex vision gets itself
coloured by and obsessed by one of its own attributes may be
proved by the history of philosophy itself. Individual philosophers
have, over and over again, plunged with furious tenacity into the
mystery of life with a complex vision distorted, deformed and

I seem to see the complex vision of such thinkers taking some
grotesque shape whereby the apex-point of effective thought is
blunted and broken. The loss and misery, or the yet more ignoble
comfort, of such suppressions of the apex-thought, is however a
personal matter. Those "invisible companions," or immortal
children of the universe, who are implicitly present as the
background of all human discussion, grow constantly more definite
and articulate the apprehension of the general human mind by
reason of these personal aberrations.

It is perhaps rather to the great artists of our race than to any
philosopher at all that these invisible ones reveal themselves, but in
their gradual disclosure to the consciousness of the human race, they
are certainly assisted by the most insane and unbalanced plunges
into mystery, of this and the other abnormal individual. The paradox
may indeed be hazarded that the madder and more abnormal are the
individual's attempts to dig himself into the very nerves and fibres
of reality, the clearer and more definite as far as consciousness of
the race is concerned, does the revelation of these invisible ones

The abnormal individual whose complex vision is distorted almost
out of human recognition by the predominance of some one
attribute, is yet, in his madness and morbidity, a wonderful engine
of research for the clairvoyance of humanity.

The vision of the immortals, as a background to all further
discussion, is rendered richer and more rhythmical every day, or
rather the hidden rhythm of their being is revealed more clearly
every day, by the eccentricities and maladies, nay! by the insanities
and desperations, of individual victims of life.

Thus it comes about that, while the supreme artists, whose
approximation, to the vision of the invisible ones is closest, remain
our unique masters, the lower crowd of moderately sane and
moderately well-balanced persons are of less value to humanity than
those abnormal and wayward ones whose psychic distortions are the
world's perverted instruments of research.

A philosopher of this unbalanced kind is indeed a sort of living
sacrifice or victim of self-vivisection, out of whose demonic
discoveries--bizarre and fantastic though they may seem to the
lower sanity of the mob--the true rhythmic vision of the immortals
is made clearer and more articulate.

The kind of balance or sanity which such average persons, as are
commonly called "men of the world," possess is in reality further
removed from true vision than all the madness of these debauches of
specialized research. For the consummation of the complex vision is
a meeting place of desperate and violent extremes; extremes, not
watered down nor modified nor even "reconciled," certainly not
cancelled by one another, but held forcibly and deliberately together
by an arbitrary act of the apex-thought of the human soul.

As I glance at these basic activities of the complex vision one by
one, I would beg the reader to sink as far as he can into the recesses
of his own identity; so that he may discover whether what he finds
there agrees in substance--call it by what name he pleases and
explain it how he pleases--with each particular energy I name, as I
indicate such energies in my own way.

Consider the attitude of self-consciousness. That man is self-conscious
is a basic and perhaps a tragic fact that surely requires no
proof. The power of thinking "I am I" is an ultimate endowment of
personality, outside of which, except by an act of primordial faith,
we cannot pass. The phenomenon of human growth from infancy to
maturity proves that it is possible for this self-consciousness--this
power of saying "I am I"--to become clearer and more articulate
from day to day. It seems as impossible to fix upon a definite
moment in a child's life where we can draw a line and say "_there_
he was unconscious of himself and _here_ he is conscious of
himself" as it is impossible to observe as an actual visible movement
the child's growth in stature.

Between consciousness and self-consciousness the dividing line
seems to be as difficult to define as it is difficult to define the
line between sub-consciousness and consciousness. My existence as a
self-conscious entity capable of thinking "I am I" is the basic
assumption of all thought. And though it is possible for my thought
to turn round upon itself and deny my own existence, such thought
in the process of such a denial cuts the very ground away which is
the leaping point of any further advance.

Philosophy by such drastic scepticism is reduced to complete
silence. You cannot build up anything except illusion from a basis
that is itself illusion. If I were not self-conscious there would be no
centre or substratum or coherence or unity in any thought I had. If I
were not self-conscious I should be unable to think.

Consider, then, the attribute of reason. That we possess reason is
also a fact that carries with it its own evidence. It is reason which
at this very moment--reason of some sort, at any rate--I am bound to
use, in estimating the important place or the unimportant place
which reason itself should occupy. You cannot derogate from the
value of reason without using reason. You cannot put reason into an
inferior category, when compared with will or instinct or emotion,
without using reason itself to prove such an inferiority.

We may come to the conclusion that the universe is rather irrational
than rational. We may come to the conclusion that the secret of life
transcends and over-brims all rationality. But this very conclusion
as to the irrational nature of the mystery with which reason is
attempting to deal is itself a conclusion of the reason.

There is only one power which is able to put reason aside in its
search for truth and that power is reason.

Consider, then, the attribute of will. That we possess a definite and
distinct energy whose activity may be contrasted with the rest and
may be legitimately named "the will" is certainly less self-evident
than either of the two preceding propositions but is none the less
implied in both of them. For in the act of articulating to ourself the
definite thought "I am I" we are using our will. The motive-force
may be anything. We may for instance will an answer to the implied
question "_what_ am I," and our self-consciousness may return the
answer "I am I," leaving it to the reason to deal with this answer as
best it can. The motive may be anything or nothing. Both
consciousness and will are independent of motive.

For in all these primordial energizings of the complex vision
everything that happens, happens simultaneously. With the
consciousness "I am I" there comes simultaneously into existence
the consciousness of an external universe which is, at one and the
same time, included in the circle of the "I am I" and outside the
circle. That is to say when we think the thought "I am I," we feel
ourselves to be the whole universe thinking "I am I," and yet by a
primordial contradiction, we feel ourselves to be an "I am I"
opposed to the universe and contrasted with the universe.

But all this happens simultaneously; and the consciousness that we
are ourselves implies, at one and the same time, the consciousness
that we _are_ the universe and the consciousness that we are
_inside_ the universe.

And precisely as the fact of self-consciousness implies the
primordial duality and contradiction of being at once the whole
universe and something inside the universe, so the original fact of
our thinking at all, implies the activity of the will.

We think because we are "thinking animals" and we will because
we are "willing animals." The presence of what we call motive is
something that comes and goes intermittently and which may or
may not be present from the first awakening of consciousness. We
_may_ think "I am I" at the very dawn of consciousness under the
pressure of a vague motive of clearing up a confused situation. We
_may_ use our reason at the very dawn of consciousness under the
pressure of a vague motive of alleviating the distress of disorder
with the comfort of order. But, on the other hand, self-consciousness
may play its part, reason may play its part and the will may play its
part in the complete absence of any definite motive. There is such a
thing--and this is the point I am anxious to make--as _motiveless_
will. Certain thinkers have sought to eliminate the will altogether by
substituting for it the direct impact or pressure of some motive or
motive-force. But if the will can be proved to be a primordial energy
of the complex vision and if the conception of a motiveless exertion
of the will is a legitimate conception, then, although we must admit
the intermittent appearance and disappearance of all manner of
motives, we have no right to substitute motive for will. If we do
make such a substitution, all we really achieve is simply a change of
_name_; and our new motive is the old will "writ small."

Motives undoubtedly may come and go from the beginning of
consciousness and the beginning of will. They may flutter like
butterflies round both the consciousness and the will. For instance it
is clear that I am not _always_ articulating to myself the notable or
troublesome thought "I am I." I may be sometimes so lost and
absorbed in sensation that I quite forget this interesting fact. But it
may easily happen at such times that I definitely experience the
_sensation of choice_; of choice between an intensification of
self-consciousness and a continued blind enjoyment of this external
preoccupation. And it is from this _sensation of choice_ that we
gather weight for our contention that the will is a basic attribute of
the human soul.

It is certainly true that we are often able to detach ourselves from
ourselves and to watch the struggle going on between two opposite
motive-forces, quite unaware, it might seem, and almost indifferent,
as to how the contest will end.

But this struggle between opposite motives does not obliterate our
sensation of choice. It sometimes intensifies it to an extreme point
of quite painful suspension. The opposite motives may be engaged
in a struggle. But the field of the struggle is what we call the will.
And it may even sometimes happen that the will intervenes between
a weaker and stronger motive and, out of arbitrary pride and the
pleasure of exertion for the sake of exertion, throws its weight on
the weaker side.

It is a well-known psychological fact that the complex vision can
energize, with vigorous spontaneity, through the will alone, just as it
can energize through sensation alone. The will can, so to speak,
stretch its muscles and gather itself together for attack or defence at
a moment when there is no particular necessity for its use.

Some degree of self-consciousness is bound to accompany this
"motiveless stretching" of the will, for the simple reason that it is
not "will in the abstract" which makes such a movement but the
totality of the complex vision, though in this case all other
attributes of the complex vision, including self-consciousness and
reason, are held in subordination to the will.

Man is a philosophical animal; and he philosophizes as inevitably as
he breathes. He is also an animal possessed of will; and he uses his
will as inevitably as, in the process of breathing, he uses his lungs
or his throat. Around him, from the beginning, all manner of motives
may flutter like birds on the wing. They may be completely
different motives in the case of different personalities. But in all
personalities there is consciousness, to grasp these motives; and in
all personalities there is will, to accept or to reject these motives.

The question of the freedom of the will is a question which
necessarily enters into our discussion.

The will feels itself--or rather consciousness feels the will to be--at
once free and limited. The soul does not feel it is free to do anything
it pleases. That at least is certain. For without some limitation,
without something resistant to exert itself upon, the will could not
be known. An absolutely free will is unthinkable. The very nature of
the will implies a struggle with some sort of resistance.

The will is, therefore, by the terms of its original definition and by
the original feeling which the soul experiences in regard to it,
limited in its freedom. The problem resolves itself, therefore, if once
we grant the existence of the will, into the question of how much
freedom the will has or how far it is limited. Is it, for instance, when
we know all the conditions of its activity, entirely limited? Is the
freedom of the will an illusion?

It is just at this point that the logical reason makes a savage attempt
to dominate the situation. The logical reason arrives step by step at
the inevitable conclusion that the will has no freedom at all but is
absolutely limited.

On the other hand emotion, instinct, imagination, intuition, and
conscience, all assume that the limitation of the will is not absolute
but that within certain boundaries, which themselves are by no
means fixed or permanent, the will is free.

Consciousness itself must be added to this list. For whatever
arguments may be used in the realm of thought, when the moment
of choice arrives in the realm of action, we are always conscious of
the will as free. If the reason is justified in regarding the freedom
of the will as an illusion, we are justified in denying the existence
of the will altogether. For a will with only an illusion of freedom is
not a will at all. In that ease it were better to eliminate the will
and regard the soul as a thing which acts and reacts under the stimuli
of motives like a helpless automaton endowed with consciousness.

But the wiser course is to experiment with the will and let it prove
its freedom to the sceptical reason by helping that same reason to
retire into its proper place and associate itself with the apex-thought
of the complex vision.

Leaving the will then, as a thing limited and yet free, let us pass to
a consideration of what I call "taste." This is the aesthetic sense, an
original activity of the human soul, associated with that universal
tendency in life and nature which we name the beautiful. I use the
word "taste" at this moment in preference to "aesthetic sense,"
because I feel that this particular original activity of the complex
vision has a wider field than is commonly supposed. I regard it, in
fact, as including much more than the mere sense of beauty. I regard
it as a direct organ of research, comparable to instinct or intuition,
but covering a different ground. I regard it as a mysterious
clairvoyance of the soul, capable of discriminating between certain
everlasting opposites, which together make up an eternal duality in
the very depths of existence.

These opposites imply larger and more complicated issues than are
implied in the words beautiful and ugly. The real and the unreal, the
interesting and the uninteresting, the significant and the
insignificant, the suggestive and the meaningless, the arresting and
the commonplace, the exciting and the dull, the organic and the
affected, the dramatic and the undramatic, are only some of the
differences implied.

The fact that art is constantly using what we call the ugly as well as
what we call the commonplace, and turning both these into new
forms of beauty, is a fact that considerably complicates the
situation. And what art, the culminating creative energy of the
aesthetic sense, can do, the aesthetic sense itself can do with its
critical and receptive power.

So that in the aesthetic sense, or in what I call "taste," we have an
energy which is at once receptive and creative; at once capable of
responding to this eternal duality, and of creating new forms of
beauty and interest _out of_ the ugly and uninteresting. A new name
is really required for this thing. A name is required for it that
conveys a more creative implication than the word "taste," a word
which has an irresponsible, arbitrary, and even flippant sound, and a
more passionate, religious, and ecstatic implication than the word
"aesthetic," a word which suggests something calculated, cold,
learned, and a little tame. I use the word "taste" at this particular
moment because this word implies a certain challenge to both
reason and conscience, and some such challenge it is necessary to
insist upon, if this particular energy of the soul is to defend its
basic integrity.

This ultimate attribute of personality, then, which I call "taste"
reveals to us an aspect of the system of things quite different from
those revealed by the other activities of the human soul. This aspect
of the universe, or this "open secret" of the universe, loses itself,
as all the others do in unfathomable abysses. It descends to the very
roots of life. It springs from the original reservoirs of life. It has
depths which no mental logic can sound; and it has horizons in the
presence of which the mind stops baffled. When we use the term "the
beautiful" to indicate the nature of what it reveals, we are easily
misled; because in current superficial speech--and unless the word is
used by a great artist--the term "beautiful" has a narrow and limited
meaning. Dropping the term "taste" then, as having served its
purpose, and reverting to the more academic phrase "aesthetic
sense" we must note that the unfathomable duality revealed by this
aesthetic sense covers, as I have hinted, much more ground than is
covered by the narrow terms "beauty" and "ugliness."

It must be understood, moreover, that what is revealed by the aesthetic
sense is a struggle, a conflict, a war, a contradiction, going
on in the heart of things. The aesthetic sense does not only reveal
loveliness and distinction; it also reveals the grotesque, the bizarre,
the outrageous, the indecent and the diabolic. If we prefer to use the
term "beauty" in a sense so comprehensive and vast as to include
_both sides_ of this eternal duality, then we shall be driven to regard
as "beautiful" the entire panorama of life, with its ghastly contrasts,
with its appalling evil, with its bitter pain, and with its intolerable

The "beautiful" will then become nothing less than the whole
dramatic vortex regarded from the aesthetic point of view. Life with
all its contradictions, considered as an aesthetic spectacle, will
become "beautiful" to us. This is undoubtedly one form which the
aesthetic sense assumes; the form of justifying existence, in all its
horror and loathsomeness as well as in all its magical attraction.

Another form the aesthetic sense may assume is the form of "taking
sides" in this eternal struggle; of using its inspiration to destroy,
or to make us forget, the brutality of things, by concentrating our
attention upon what in the narrow sense we call the beautiful or the
distinguished or the lovely. But there is yet a third form the
aesthetic sense may assume. Not only can it visualize the whole
chaotic struggle between beauty and hideousness as itself a beautiful
drama; not only can it so concentrate upon beauty that we forget the
hideousness; it is also able to see the world as a humorous spectacle.

When the aesthetic sense regards the whole universe as "beautiful"
it must necessarily regard the whole universe as tragic; for the pain
and dreariness and devilishness in the universe is so unspeakable
that any "beauty" which includes such things must be a tragic
beauty. Not to recognize this and to attempt to "accept" the universe
as something which is not tragic, is to outrage and insult the
aesthetic sense.

But we may regard the universe as tragic without regarding it as
"beautiful" and yet remain under the power of the aesthetic energy.
For there exists a primordial aspect of the aesthetic vision which is
not concerned with the beautiful at all, or only with the beautiful in
so wide a latitude as to transcend all ordinary usage, and this is our
sense of humour.

The universe as the human soul perceives it, is horribly and most
tragically humorous. Man is the laughing animal; and the "perilous
stuff" which tickles his aesthetic sense with a revelation of
outrageous comedy has its roots in the profoundest abyss. This
humorous aspect of the system of things is just as primordial and
intrinsic as what we call the "beautiful." The human soul is able to
pour the whole stream of its complex vision through this fantastic
casement. It knows how to respond to the "diablerie" of the abysses
with a reciprocal gesture. It is able to answer irony with irony; and
to the appalling grotesqueness and indecency of the universe it has
the power of retorting with an equally shameless leer.

But this sardonic aspect of human humour, though tallying truly
enough with one eternal facet of the universe, does not exhaust the
humorous potentiality of the aesthetic sense. There is a "good" irony
as well as a "wicked" irony. Humour can be found in alliance with
the emotion of love as well as with the emotion of hate. Humour can
be kind as well as cruel; and there is no doubt that the aesthetic
spectacle of the world is as profoundly humorous in a quite normal
sense as it is beautiful or noble or horrible.

Turning now to that primeval attribute of the complex vision which
we call emotion, we certainly enter the presence of something
whose existence cannot be denied or explained away. Directly we
grow conscious of ourselves, directly we use reason or instinct or
the aesthetic sense, we are aware of an emotional reaction. This
emotional reaction may be resolved into a basic duality, the activity
of love and the activity of the opposite of love.

I say "the opposite of love" deliberately; because I am anxious to
indicate, in regard to emotion, how difficult it is to find adequate
words to cover the actual field of what we feel.

I should like to write even the word "love" with some such mark of
hesitation. For, just because of the appalling importance of this
ultimate duality, it is essential to be on our guard against the use
of words which convey a narrow, crude, rough-and-ready, and
superficial meaning. By the emotion of "love" I do not mean the
amorous phenomenon which we call "being in love." Nor do I mean
the calmer emotion which we call "affection." The passion of
friendship, when friendship really becomes a passion, is nearer my
meaning than any of these. And yet the emotion of love, conceived
as one side of this eternal duality, is much more than the "passion of
friendship"; because it is an emotion that can be felt in the presence
of things and ideas as well as persons. Perhaps the emotion of love
as symbolized in the figure of Christ, combined with the aesthetic
and intellectual passion inherited from the Greek philosophers,
comes nearest to what I have in mind; though even this, without
some tangible and concrete embodiment, tends to escape us and
evade analysis.

And if it is hard to define this "love" which is the protagonist, so to
speak, in the world's emotional drama, it is still harder to define its
opposite, its antagonist. I could name this by the name of "hate," the
ordinary antithesis of love, but if I did so it would have to be with a
very wide connotation.

The true opposite to the sort of "love" I have in my mind is not so
much "hate" as a kind of dull and insensitive hostility, a kind of
brutal malignity and callous aversion. Perhaps what we are looking
for as the true opposite of love may be best defined as malice.

Malice seems to convey a more impersonal depth and a wider reach
of activity than the word hate and has also a clearer suggestion of
deliberate insensitiveness about it. The most concentrated and
energetic opposite of love is not either hate or malice. It is
_cruelty_; which is a thing that seems to draw its evil inspiration
from the profoundest depths of conscious existence.

But cruelty must necessarily have for its "object" something living
and sentient. A spiritual feeling, a work of art, an idea, a principle,
a landscape, a theory, an inanimate group of things, could not be
contemplated with an emotion of cruelty, though it could certainly
be contemplated with an emotion of malice.

There is often, if not always, a strange admixture of sensuality in
cruelty. Cruelty, profoundly evil as it is, has a living intensity
which makes it less dull, less thick, less deliberately insensitive,
less coldly hostile, than the pure emotion of malice, and therefore
less adapted than malice to be regarded as the true opposite of love.

But the best indication of the distinction I want to make will be
found in the contrast between the conceptions of creation and
destruction. The dull, thick, insensitive callousness which we are
conscious of in the opposite of love is an indication that while love
is essentially creative the opposite of love is essentially _that
which resists creation_.

The opposite of love is not destructive in the sense of being an
active destructive force. Such an active destructive force must
necessarily, by reason of the passionate energy in it, be a perversion
of creative power, not the opposite of creative power.

Creative power, even in its unperverted activity, must always be
capable of destroying. It must be capable of destroying what is in
the way of further creation. Thus the true opposite of creation is not
destruction, but the inert, heavy, thick, callous, brutal, insensitive
"obscurantism" or "material opacity" which resists the pressure of
the creative spirit.

By this analysis of the ultimate duality of emotion we are put in
possession of a basic aspect of the complex vision, which must
largely shape and determine its total activity. The soul within us,
that mysterious "something" which is the living and concrete
"person" whose vision the complex vision is, is a thing subject at the
start to this unfathomable duality, the emotion of love and the
emotion of malice.

The emotion of love is the life-begetting, life-conceiving force, the
creator of beauty, the discoverer of truth, and the reconciler of
eternal contradictions.

The emotion of malice, with its frozen sneer of sardonic denial,
raises its "infernal fist" against the centrifugal outflowing of the
emotion of love. It is impossible to conceive of self-consciousness
without love and hatred; or, as I prefer to say, without love and
malice. Self-consciousness implies from the start what we call the
universe; and the universe cannot appear upon the scene without
exciting in us the emotion of love and hate. Every man born into the
world loves and hates directly he is conscious of the world. This is
the ultimate duality. Attraction and repulsion is the material formula
for this contradiction.

If everything in the world were illusion except one Universal Being,
such a being must necessarily be thought of as experiencing the
emotion of self-love and of self-hatred. A condition of absolute
indifference is unthinkable. Such indifference could not last a
moment without becoming either that faint hatred, which we call
"boredom," or that faint love, which we call "interest." The
contemplation of the universe with no emotional reaction of any
kind is an inconceivable thing. An infant at its mother's breast
displays love and malice. At one and the same moment it satisfies
its thirst and beats upon the breast that feeds it.

The primordial process of philosophizing and the primal will to
philosophize are both of them penetrated through and through, with
this ultimate duality of love and malice. Love and malice in
alternate impulse are found latent and potent in every philosophic
effort. Behind every philosophy, if we have the love or the malice to
seek for it, may be found the love or malice, or both of them, side
by side, of the individual philosopher. That pure and unemotional
desire for truth for its own sake which is the privilege of physical
science cannot retain its simplicity when confronted with the deeper
problems of philosophy. It cannot do so because the complex vision
with which we philosophize contains emotion as one of its basic

To consider next, the attribute of imagination. Imagination seems,
when we analyse it, to resolve itself into the half-creative,
half-interpretative act by which the complex personality seizes upon,
plunges into, and moulds to its purpose, that deeper unity in any
group of things which gives such a group its larger and more
penetrating significance.

Imagination differs from intuition in the fact that by its creative and
interpretative power it dominates, possesses and moulds the material
it works upon. Intuition is entirely receptive and it receives the
illumination offered to it at one single indrawing, at one breath.
Imagination may be regarded as a male attribute; intuition as a
feminine one; although in a thousand individual cases the situation
is actually reversed.

To realize the primary importance of imagination one has only to
visualize reason, will, taste, sensation, and so forth, energizing in
its absence. One becomes aware at once that such a limited activity
does not cover the field of man's complex vision. Something--a
power that creates, interprets, illumines, gathers up into large and
flowing outlines--is absent from such an experience.

Consider, in the next place, that primordial attribute of the complex
vision which we commonly name conscience. We are not concerned
here with the world-old discussion as to the "origin" of conscience.
Conscience, from the point of view we are now considering, is just
as fundamental and axiomatic as will, or intuition, or sensation.

The philosophy of the complex vision retains, with regard to what is
called "evolution," a completely suspended judgment. The process
of historic evolution may or may not have resulted in the particular
differentiation of species which we now behold. What we are now
assuming is that, in whatever way the differentiation of actual living
organisms has come about, every particular living organism,
including the planetary and stellar bodies, must possess in some
degree or other the organ of apprehension which we call the
complex vision.

Our assumption, in fact, is that every living thing has personality;
that personality implies the existence of a definite soul-monad; that
where such a soul-monad exists there is a complex vision; and
finally that, where there is a complex vision, there must be, in some
rudimentary or embryotic state, the eleven attributes of such a
vision, including the attribute which the human race has come to
call "conscience" and which is, in reality, "the power of response" to
the vision which we have named "immortal." When evolutionists
retort to us that what we call personality is only a late and accidental
phenomenon in the long process of evolution, our answer is that
when they seek, according to such an assumption, to visualize the
universe as it was _before personality appeared_, they really, only in
a surreptitious and illegitimate manner, project their own conscious
personality into "the vast backward and abysm of time," to be the
invisible witness of this pre-personal universe.

Thus when evolutionists assure us that there was once a period in
the history of the stellar system when nothing existed but masses of
gaseous nebulae, our reply is that they have forgotten that invisible
and shadowy projection of their own personality which is the
pre-supposed watcher or witness of this "nothing-but-nebulae" state of

The doctrine or hypothesis of evolution does not in any degree
explain the mystery of the universe. All it does is to offer us an
hypothetical picture--true or false--of the manner in which the
changes of organic and inorganic life succeeded one another in their
historic creation. Evolutionists have to make their start somewhere,
just as "personalists" have; and it is much more difficult for them to
show how masses of utterly unconscious "nebulae" evoked the
mystery of personality than it is for us to show how the primordial
existence of personality demands at the very start some sort of
material or bodily expression, whether of a nebular or of any other

Evolutionists, forgetting the presence of that invisible "watcher" of
their evolutionary process which they have themselves projected
into the remote planetary past, assume as their axiomatic "data" that
soulless unconscious chemical elements possess "within them" the
miraculous power of producing living personalities. All one has to
do is to pile up thousands upon thousands of years in which the
miracle takes place.

But the philosophy of the complex vision would indicate that no
amount of piling up of centuries upon centuries could possibly
produce out of "unconscious matter" the perilous and curious "stuff"
which we call "consciousness of life." And we would further reply
to the evolutionists that their initial assumption as to the objective
existence, suspended in a vacuum, of masses of material chemistry
is an assumption which has been abstracted and isolated from the
total volume of those sense-impressions, which are the only actual
reality we know, and which are the impressions made, in human
experience, upon some living personality.

This criticism of the evolutionists' inevitable attack upon us enters
naturally at this point; because, while the average mind is willing
enough to grant some sort of vague omnipresent "will to evolve" to
the primordial "nebula" and even prepared to allow it such obscure
consciousness as is implied in the phrase "life-force" or "élan vital,"
it is startled and shocked to a supreme degree when we assert that
such "nebula," if it existed, was the outward body or form of a
living "soul-monad" possessed, even as human beings are, of every
attribute of the complex vision.

The average mind, in its vague and careless mood, is ready to accept
our contention that some sort of will or reason or consciousness
existed at the beginning of things. It is only when such a mind
comes to realize that what we are predicating is actual personality,
with all the implications of that, that it cries out in protest. The
average mind can swallow our contention that reason and will
existed from the beginning because the average mind has been
penetrated for centuries by vague traditions of an "over-soul" or an
universal "reason" or "will." It is only when in our analysis of the
attributes of personality we come bolt up against the especially
anthropomorphic attribute of "conscience" that it staggers and

For the original "stellar gas" to be vaguely animated by some
obscure "élan vital" seemed natural enough; but for it to be the
"body" of some definite living soul seems almost humorous; and for
such a living soul to possess the attribute of "conscience," or the
power of response to the vision of immortals, seems not only
humorous but positively absurd.

The philosophy of the complex vision, however, in its analysis of
the eternal elements of personality is not in the least afraid of
reaching conclusions which appear "absurd" to the average
intelligence. The philosophy of the complex vision accepts the
element of the "absurd" or of the "outrageous" or of the "fantastic"
in its primordial assumptions; for according to its contention this
element of the "apparently impossible" is an essential ingredient in
the whole system of things.

Life, according to this philosophy, is only one aspect of personality.
Another aspect of personality is the apparently miraculous creation
of "something" out of "nothing"; for the unfathomable creative
power of personality extends beyond and below all the organic
phenomena which we group vaguely together under the name of

Thus when in our analysis of the attributes of the complex vision we
are confronted by the evolutionary question as to how such a thing,
as the thing we call "conscience," got itself lodged in the little
cells of the human cranium, our answer is that the question stated in
this manner does not touch the essential problem at all. The essential
problem from the point of view of the philosophy of the complex
vision is not how "conscience," or why other attribute of the soul,
got itself lodged in the human skull, or expressed, shall we say,
through the human skull, but how it is that the whole stream of
sense-impressions, of which the hardness and thickness of the
human skull is only one impression among many, and the original
"star-dust" or "star-nebulae" only another impression among many,
ever got itself unified and synthesized into the form of "impression"
at all.

In other words the problem is not how the attributes of the soul
arose from the chemistry of the brain and the nerves; but how the
brain and the nerves together with the whole stream of material
phenomena from the star-dust upwards, ever got themselves unified
and focussed into any sort of intelligibility or system. The average
human mind which feels a shock of distrust and suspicion directly
we suggest that the thing we name "conscience," defined as the
power of response to the ideal vision, is an inalienable aspect of
what we call "the soul" wherever the soul exists, feels no sort of
shock or surprise when we appeal to its own "conscience," or when
it appeals to the "conscience" of its child or its dog or even of its
cat, or when it displays anger with its trees or its flowers for
their apparent wilfulness and errancy.

Kant found in the moral sense of humanity his door of escape from
the fatal relativity of pure reason with its confounding antinomies.
Huxley found in the moral sense of humanity a mysterious,
unrelated phenomenon that refused to fall into line with the rest of
the evolutionary-stream. But when, in one hold act of faith or of
imagination, we project the content of our own individual soul into
the circle of every other possible "soul," including the "souls" of
such phenomenal vortices of matter as those from which historic
evolution takes its start, this impossible gulf or "lacuna" dividing
the human scene from all previous "scenes" is immediately bridged;
and the whole stream of material sense-impression flows forward, in
parallel and consonant congruity, with the underlying creative
energy of all the complex visions of which it is the expression.

Therefore, there is no need for us, in our consideration of the basic
attribute of the soul which we call conscience, to tease ourselves
with the fabulous image of some prehistoric "cave-man" supposedly
devoid of such a sense. To do this is to employ a trick of the
isolated reason quite alien from our real human imagination.

Our own personality is so constructed that it is impossible for us to
realize with any sort of intelligent sympathy what the feelings of
this conscience-less cave-man would be. To contemplate his
existence at all we have to resort to pure rationalistic speculation.
We have to leave our actual human experience completely behind.
But the philosophy of the complex vision is an attempt to interpret
the mystery of the universe in terms of nothing else than actual
human experience. So we are not only permitted but compelled to
put out of court this conscience-less cave-man of pure speculation.
It is true that we encounter certain eccentric human beings who
deny that they possess this "moral sense"; but one has only to
observe them for a little while under the pressure of actual life to
find out how they deceive themselves.

Experience certainly indicates that every human being, however
normal and "good," has somewhere in him a touch of insanity and a
vein of anti-social aberration. But no human being, however
abnormal or however "criminal," is born into the world without this
invisible monitor we call "conscience."

The curious pathological experience which might be called
"conscience-killing" is certainly not uncommon. But it is an
experiment that has never been more than approximately successful.
In precisely the same way we might practise "reason-killing" or
"intuition-killing" or "taste-killing." One may set out to hunt and
try to kill any basic attribute of our complex vision; but the proof of
the truth of our whole argument lies in the fact that these murderous
campaigns are never completely successful. The "murdered"
attribute refuses to remain quiet in its grave. It stretches out an arm
from beneath the earth. It shakes the dust off and comes to life

When we leave the question as to the existence of conscience, and
enquire what the precise and particular "command" of conscience
may be in any individual case, we approach the edge of an
altogether different problem.

The particular message or command of conscience is bound to differ
in a thousand ways in the cases of different personalities. Only in its
ultimate essence it cannot differ. Because, in its ultimate essence,
the conscience of every individual is confronted by that eternal
duality of love and malice which is the universal contradiction at the
basis of every living soul.

But short of this there is room for an infinite variety of "categorical
imperatives." The conscience of one personality is able to accept as
its "good" the very same thing that another personality is compelled
to regard as its "evil." Indeed it is conceivable that a moment might
arise in the history of the race when one single solitary individual
called that thing "good" or that thing "evil" which all the rest of the
world regarded in the opposite sense. Not only so; but it might even
happen that the genius and persuasiveness of such a person might
change into its direct opposite the moral valuation of the whole of
humanity. In many quite ordinary cases there may arise a clash
between the conventional morality of the community and the verdict
of an individual conscience. In such cases it would be towards what
the community termed "immoral" that the conscience of the
individual would point, and from the thing that the community
termed "moral" that it would turn instinctively away.

A conscience of this kind would suffer the pain of remorse when in
its weakness it let itself be swayed by the "community-morality"
and it would experience the pleasure of relief when in absolute
loneliness it defied the verdict of society.

Let us consider now an attribute of man's complex vision which
must instantaneously be accepted as basic and fundamental by every
living person. I refer to what we call "sensation." The impressions
of the outward senses may be criticized. They may be corrected,
modified, reduced to order, and supplemented by other considerations.
Conclusions based upon them may be questioned. But whatever be done
with them, or made by them, they must always remain an integral
and inveterate aspect of man's personality.

The sensations of pain and pleasure--who can deny the primordial
and inescapable character of these? Not that the pursuit of pleasure
or the avoidance of pain can be the unbroken motive-force even of
the most hedonistic among us. Our complex vision frequently flings
us passionately upon pain. We often embrace pain in an ecstasy of
welcome. Nor is this fierce embracing of pain "motivated" by a
deliberate desire to get pleasure out of pain. It seems in some
strange way due to an attraction towards pain for its own sake--
towards pain, as though pain were really beautiful and desirable in
itself. One element in all this is undoubtedly due to the desire of
the will to assert its freedom and the integrity of its being; in
other words to the desire of the will towards the irrational, the
capricious, the destructive, the chaotic.

It has been only the least imaginative of philosophers who have
taken for granted that man invariably desires his own welfare. Man
does not even invariably desire his own pleasure. He desires the
reactive vibration of power; and very often this "power" is the
power to rush blindly upon destruction. But, whether dominant or
not as a motive affecting the will, it remains that our experience of
pleasure and pain is a basic experience of the complex vision. And
this experience of sensation is not only a passive experience. The
attribute of sensation has its active, its energetic, its creative
side. No one who has suffered extreme pain or enjoyed exquisite and
thrilling pleasures, can deny the curious fact that these things take
to themselves a kind of independent life within us and become
something very like "entities" or living separate objects.

This phenomenon is due to the fact that our whole personality
incarnates itself in the pain or in the pleasure of the moment. Such
pain, such pleasure, is the quintessential attenuated "matter" with
which our soul clothes itself. At such moments we _are_ the pain;
we _are_ the pleasure. Our human identity seems merged, lost,
annihilated. Our soul seems no longer _our_ soul. It becomes the
soul of the overpowering sensation. We ourselves at such moments
become fiery molecules of pain, burning atoms of pleasure. Just as
the logical reason can abstract itself from the other primal energies
and perform strange and fantastic tricks, so the activity of sensation
can so absorb, obsess and overpower the whole personality that the
rhythm of existence is entirely broken.

Pain at the point of ecstasy, pleasure at the point of ecstasy, are
both of them destructive of those rare moments when our complex vision
resolves itself into music. Such music is indeed itself a kind of
ecstasy; but it is an ecstasy intellectualized and consciously
creative. Pain is present there and pleasure is present there; but
they are there only as orchestral notes in a larger unity that has
absorbed them and transmuted them.

When a work of art by reason of its sensational appeal reduces us to
an ecstasy of pleasure or pain it renders impossible that supreme act
of the complex vision by means of which the immortal calm of the
ideal vision descends upon the unfathomable universe.

Sensation carried to its extreme limit becomes impersonal; for in its
unconscious mechanism personality is devoured. But it does not
become impersonal in that magical liberating sense in which the
impersonal is an escape, bringing with it a feeling of large, cool,
quiet, and unruffled space. It becomes impersonal in a thick, gross,
opaque, mechanical manner.

There is brutality and outrage; there is bestiality and obscenity
about both pain and pleasure when in their voracious maw they devour
the magic of the unfathomable world. Thus it may be noted that most
great and heroic souls hold their supreme pain at a distance from
them, with a proud gesture of contempt, and go down at the last
with their complex vision unruffled and unimpaired. There is indeed
a still deeper "final moment" than this; but it is so rare as to be
out of the reach of average humanity. I refer to an attitude like that
of Jesus upon the cross; in whose mood towards his own suffering
there was no element of "pride of will" but only an immense pity for
the terrible sensitiveness of all life, and a supreme heightening of
the emotion of love towards all life.

It will be noted that in my analysis of "sensation" I have said
nothing of what are usually called "the five senses." These senses
are obviously the material "feelers" or the gates of material
sentiency by which the soul's attribute of sensation feeds itself from
the objective world; but they are so penetrated and percolated,
through and through, by the other basic activities of the soul, that it
is extremely difficult to disentangle from our impressions of sight,
of sound, of touch, of taste, and of smell, those interwoven threads
of reason, imagination and so forth which so profoundly modify and
transmute, even in the art of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and
smelling, the various manifestations of "the objective mystery"
which we apprehend in our sensuous grasp.

By emphasizing the feelings of pleasure and pain as the primary
characteristics of the attribute of sensation we are indicating the
fact that every sensation we experience carries with it in some
perceptible degree or other, the feeling of "well-being" or the
feeling of distress.

We now come to consider that dim, obscure, but nevertheless
powerful energy, which the universal tradition of language dignifies
by the name of "instinct." This "instinct" is the portion of the
activity of the soul which works more blindly and less consciously
than any other.

The French philosopher Bergson isolates and emphasizes this
subterranean activity until it seems to him to hold in its grasp a
deeper secret of life than any other energy which man possesses To
secure for instinct this primary place in the panorama of life it is
necessary to eliminate from the situation that silent witness which
we call "the mind" or self-consciousness; that witness which from
its invisible watch-tower looks forth upon the whole spectacle. It is
necessary to take for granted the long historic stream of
evolutionary development. It is necessary to regard this
development in its organic totality as the sole reality with which we
have to deal.

The invisible mental witness being eliminated, it becomes
necessary, if instinct is to be thus made supreme, to regard the
appearance of the soul as a mere stage in an evolutionary process,
the driving-force of which is the power of instinct itself. Planets
and plants, men and animals, are seen in this way to be all dominated
by instinct; and instinct is found to be so much the most important
element in evolution, that upon it, rather than upon anything else,
the whole future of the universe may be said to depend.

Having made this initial plunge into shameless objectivity, having
put completely out of court the invisible witness of it all, we find
ourselves reduced to regarding this "blind" instinct as the galvanic
battery which moves the world. Thus isolated from the other powers
of the soul, this mysterious energy, this subterranean driving-force,
has to bear the whole weight of everything that happens in space
and time. A strange sort of "blindness" must its blindness be, when
its devices can supply the place of the most passionate intellectual
struggles of the mind!

If it is blind, it gropes its way, in its blindness, through the
uttermost gulfs of space and into the nethermost abysses of life. If
it is dumb, its silence is the irresistible silence of Fate, the
silence of the eternal "Mothers."

But the "instinct" which is one of the basic attributes of the complex
vision is not quite such an awe-inspiring thing as this. To raise it
into such a position as this there has to be a vigorous suppression, as
I have hinted, of many other attributes of the soul. Instinct may be
defined as the pressure of obscure creative desire, drawn from the
inscrutable recesses of the soul, malleable up to a certain point by
reason and will, but beyond that point remaining unconscious,
irrational, incalculable, elusive. That it plays an enormous part in
the process of life cannot be denied; but the part it plays is not so
isolated from consciousness as sometimes has been imagined.

There is in truth a strange reciprocity between instinct and
self-consciousness, according to which they both play into each
other's hands. This is above all true of great artists' work, which
in a superficial sense might be called unconscious, but which in a
deeper sense is profoundly conscious. It seems as though, in great
works of art, a certain superficial reasoning is sacrificed to
instinct, but in that very sacrifice a deeper level of reason is
reached between which and instinct there is no longer anything
but complete understanding.

To intellectualize instinct is one of the profoundest secrets of the
art of life; and it is only when instinct is thus intellectualized, or
brought into focus with the other aspects of the soul, that it is able
to play its proper rhythmic part in the musical synthesis of the
complex vision. But although we cannot allow to instinct the
all-absorbing part in the world-play which Bergson claims for it, it
remains that we have to regard it as one of the most mysterious and
incalculable of the energies of the soul. It is instinct which brings
all living entities into relation with something sub-conscious in their
own nature.

Under the pressure of instinct man recognizes the animal in himself,
the plant in himself, and even a strange affinity with the inorganic
and the inanimate. It is instinct in us which attracts us so strangely
to the earth under our feet. It is instinct which attracts certain
individual souls to certain particular natural elements, such as air,
fire, sand, mould, rain, wind, water, and the like; a kind of remote
atavistic reciprocity in us stretching out towards that particular
element. It is by means of instinct that we are able to sink into that
mysterious sub-conscious world which underlies the conscious
levels of every soul-monad. Under the groping and fumbling
guidance of this strange power we seem to come into touch with the
profoundest reservoirs of our personal identity.

Considering what fantastic and cruel tricks the lonely thinking
power, the abstract reason, has been allowed to play us it is no
wonder that this French philosopher has been tempted to turn away
from reason and find in instinct the ultimate solution. Instinct, as we
give ourselves up to it, seems to carry us into the very nerves and
tissues and veins and pulses of life. Its verdicts seem to reach us
with an absolute and unquestionable authority. They seem to bear
upon them an "imprimatur" more powerful than any moral sanction.
Potent and terrible, direct and final, instinct seems to rise up out of
the depths and break every law.

It leaps forth from our inmost being like a second self more
powerful than we are. It invades religion. It incarnates itself in
lust. It obsesses taste. It masquerades as intuition. It triumphs over
reason. With an irrationality, that seems at the same time terrible
and beautiful, instinct moves straight to its goal. It follows its
purpose with demonic tenacity, heedless of logic, contemptuous of
consequences. It cares nothing for contradictions. It forces
contradictions to lose themselves in one another according to some
secret law of its own, unknown to the law of reason.

Such, then, is instinct, the sub-conscious fatality of Nature so
difficult to control; whose unrestrained activity is capable of
completely destroying the rhythm of the complex vision. Nothing
but the power of the apex-thought of man's whole concentrated
being is able to dominate this thing. It may be detected lurking in
the droop of the Sphinx's eyelids and in the cruel smile upon her
mouth. But the answer given to the challenge of this subterranean
force is not, after all, any logical judgment of the pure reason. It
is the answer of the vision of the artist, holding its treacherous
material under his creative hand.

Let us turn now to the attribute of "intuition." Intuition is a thing
more clearly definable and more easily analysed than almost any
other of the aspects of the soul. Intuition is the feminine counterpart
of imagination; and, as compared with instinct, it is a power which
acts in clearly denned, isolated, intermittent movements, each one of
which has a definite beginning and a definite end. As compared
with imagination, intuition is passive and receptive; as compared
with instinct it does not fumble and grope forward, steadily and
tenaciously, among the roots of things; but it suspends itself,
mirror-like, upon the surface of the unfathomable waters, and
suspended there reflects in swift sudden glimpses the mysterious
movements of the great deep. In this process of reflecting, or
apprehending in sudden, intermittent glimpses, the mysterious depths
of the life of the soul, intuition is less affected by the reason
or by the will than any other aspect of the complex vision.

Instinct, in secret sub-conscious alliance with the will, is a
permanent automatic energy, working in the hidden darkness of the
roots of things like an ever-flowing subterranean stream. The
revelations of intuition, on the other hand, are not flowing and
constant, but separate, isolated, distinct and detached. In the
subject-matter of their revelations, too, intuition and instinct are
very different. If the recesses of the soul be compared to a fortified
castle, instinct is the active messenger of the place, continually
issuing forth on secret errands concerning the real nature of which
he is himself often quite ignorant. Intuition, on the contrary, is
the little postern gate at the back of the building, set open at
rare moments to the wide fields and magical forests which extend to
the far-off horizon.

Instinct is always found in close contact with sensation, groping its
ways through the midst of the mass of material impressions, acting
and reacting as it fumbles among such impressions. Intuition seems
to deal directly and absolutely with a clear and definite landscape
behind the superficial landscape, with a truth behind truth, with a
reality within reality.

To take an instance from common experience: a stranger, an
unknown person, enters our circle. Instinct, working automatically
and sensationally, may attract us powerfully towards such a person,
with a steady, irresistible attraction. Intuition, on the contrary,
uttering its revelation abruptly and with, so to speak, one sudden
mysterious cry, may warn us of some dangerous quicksand or
perilous jungle in such a stranger's nature of which instinct was
totally ignorant because the thing was what might be called a
"spiritual quality" lying deeper than those sensational or magnetic
levels through which instinct feels its way.

The instinct of animals or birds for instance warns them very
quickly with regard to the presence of some natural enemy whose
approach they apprehend through some mysterious sense-impression
beyond the analysis of human reason. But when their enemy
is the mental intention of a human being they are only too easily

To take quite a different instance. It may easily happen that while
conscience has habitually driven us to a certain course of action
against which instinct has never revolted because of its
preoccupation with the senses, some sudden flash of intuition
reaching us from the hidden substratum of our being changes our
whole perspective and gives to conscience itself a completely
opposite bias. What these intermittent revelations of intuition
certainly do achieve is the preservation in the soul's memory of the
clear and deep and free and unfathomable margins of the ultimate
mystery, those wavering sea-edges and twilight-shores of our being,
which the austere categories of rational logic tend to shut out as if
by impenetrable walls.

It remains to consider the attribute of memory. Memory is the name
which we give to that intrinsic susceptibility, implying an intrinsic
permanence or endurance in the material which displays
susceptibility, such as makes it possible for what the soul feels or
what the soul creates to write down its own record, so that it can be
read at will, or if not "at will," at least can be read, if the proper
stimulus or shock be applied.

Memory is not the cause of the soul's concrete identity. The soul's
concrete identity is the cause or natural ground of memory. Memory
is the "passive-active" power by means of which the concrete
identity of the soul grows richer, fuller, more articulate, more
complex and more subtle.

In looking back over these eleven attributes of the "soul-monad,"
what we have to remark is, that two of the number differ radically in
their nature from the rest. The attribute of emotion differs from the
rest in the sense that it is the living substantial unity or ultimate
synthesis in which they all move. It is indeed more than this. For it
is the actual "stuff" or "material" out of which they are all, so to
speak, "made" or upon which they all, so to speak, inscribe their
diverse creations.

The permanent "surface," or identical susceptibility, of this ebbing
and flowing stream of emotion is memory; but the emotion itself,
divided into the positive and negative "pole," as we say of love and
malice, is an actual projection upon the objective universe of the
intrinsic "stuff" or psycho-material "substance" of which the
substratum of the soul is actually composed. The other aspects of
the soul are, so to speak, the various "tongues" of diversely coloured
flame with which the soul pierces the "objective mystery"; but the
substance of all these flames is one and the same. It is the soul
itself, projected upon the plane of material impression; and thus
projected, becoming the conflicting duality to which I give the name of

The attribute of "will," also, differs radically from the rest; in the
sense that "will" is the power which the soul possesses of
encouraging or suppressing, re-vivifying or letting fade, all the other
attributes of the soul, including that attribute which is the substance
and synthesis of them all and which I name "emotion."

In regard to "emotion" the will can do three separate things. It can
encourage the emotion of love and suppress that of malice. It can
encourage the emotion of malice and suppress that of love. And
finally it can use its energy in the effort, an effort which can never
be totally successful, to suppress all emotion, of any kind at all.

Man's complex vision then consists, in simple terms, of
self-consciousness, reason, taste, imagination, conscience, instinct,
sensation, intuition, will, memory, and emotion. These various
activities, differentiated clearly enough in their separate energizing,
must never be regarded as absolutely separate "faculties," but rather
as relatively separated "aspects." Behind all of them and under all of
them is the complex vision itself, felt by all of us in rare moments in
its creative totality, but constantly being distorted and obscured as
one or other of its primal energies invades the appropriate territory
of some other.

The complex vision must not be regarded as the mere sum or
accumulated agglomeration of all these. It is much more than this. It
is more than a mere formal focussing of its own attributes. It is more
than a mere logical unity suspended in a vacuum.

The complex vision is the vision of a living self, of an organic
personality, of an actual soul-monad. It may be the vision of a man.
It may be the vision of a plant or a planet or a god. It may be the
vision of entities undreamed of and of existences inconceivable. It
may be the vision, for example, of some strange "soul of space" or
"soul of the ether" whose consciousness is extended throughout the
visible universe and even throughout the "etherial medium" which
binds all souls together.

But whether the vision of a plant, a man, or a god, the complex
vision seems to bring with it its own immediate revelation that
where there is any form of "matter," however attenuated, such
"matter" is the outward expression of some inward living soul
whose energies have some mysterious correspondence to the eleven
aspects of the soul of man.



It now becomes necessary to discuss the connection between what
I have named the soul's "apex-thought" and certain permanent
aspects of life with which this "apex-thought" has to deal.

The "apex-thought" is the name I give to that synthetic and
concentrating effort of the soul by means of which the various
energies of the complex vision are brought into focus and fused
with one another. In accordance with my favourite metaphorical
image, the "apex-thought" is the extreme point of the arrow-head
of the soul; the point with which it pierces its ways into eternity.

It is necessary that I should indicate the connection between the
activity of this apex-point of the complex vision and the various
perplexing human problems round which our controversies
smoulder and burn. It is advisable that I should indicate the
connection between the activity of this "apex-thought" and that
thing which the world has agreed to call Religion.

It is advisable that I should indicate the relation of the
"apex-thought" to those recurrent moods of profound human scepticism
wherein we deny the attainability of any "truth" at all.

It is advisable that I should indicate the relation of the
apex-thought to any possible "new organ of vision" with which some
unforeseen experiment of the soul may suddenly endow us. And it
is above all advisable that I should show the relation between this
focussed synthesis of the soul's complexity and the actual physical
body whose material senses are part of this complexity.

The whole problem of the art of life may be said to lie in the
question of co-ordination. The actual process of coordination is the
supreme and eternal difficulty. Only at rare moments do we
individually approximate to its achievement. Only once or twice, it
may be, in a whole life-time, do we actually achieve it. But it is by
the power and insight of such fortunate moments that we attain
whatever measure of permanent illumination adds dignity and
courage to our days.

We live by the memory of such moments. We live by the hope of
their return. In the meanwhile our luck or our ill luck, as living
human beings, depends on no outward events or circumstances but
on our success in the conscious effort of approximation to what,
when it does arrive, seems to take the grace and ease and
inevitable beauty of a free gift of the gods.

This fortunate rhythm of the primordial energies of the complex
vision may be felt and realized without being expressed in words.
The curse of what we call "cleverness" is that it hastens to find
facile and fluent expression for what cannot be easily and fluently
expressed. Education is too frequently a mere affair of words, a
superficial encouragement of superficial expression. It is for this
reason that many totally uneducated persons achieve, unknown to
all except their most intimate friends, a far closer approach to this
difficult co-ordination than others who are not only well-educated
but are regarded by the world as famous leaders of modern

It will be remarked that in my list of the primordial energies of the
complex vision I do not mention religion. This is not because I do
not recognize the passionate and formidable role played by
religion in the history of the human race, nor because I regard the
"religious instinct" as a thing outgrown and done with. I have not
included it because I cannot regard it as a distinct and separate
attribute, in the sense in which reason, conscience, intuition and so
forth, are distinct and separate attributes, of the complex vision.

I regard it as a name given in common usage to certain premature
and disproportioned efforts at co-ordination among these
attributes, and I am well content to apply the word "religion" to
that sacred ecstasy, at once passionate and calm, at once personal
and impersonal, which suffuses our being with an unutterable
happiness when the energies of the complex vision are brought
into focus. I regard the word religion as a word that has drawn and
attracted to itself, in its descent down the stream of time, so rich
and so intricate a cargo of human feelings that it has come to mean
too many things to be any longer of specific value in a
philosophical analysis.

Any sort of reaction against the primeval fear with which man
contemplates the unknown, is religion. The passionate craving of
human beings for a love which changes not nor passes away, is

The desperate longing to find an idea, a principle, a truth, a
"cause," for the sake of which we can sacrifice our personal
pleasure and our personal selfishness, is religion.

The craving for some unity, some synthesis, some universal
meaning in the system of things, is religion. The desire for an
"over-life" or an "over-world," in which the distress, disorder,
misunderstandings and cruelties of our present existence are
redeemed, is religion.

The desire to find something real and eternal behind the transient
flow of appearance, is religion. The desire to force upon others by
violence, by trickery, by fire, by sword, by persecution, by magic,
by persuasion, by eloquence, by martyrdom, an idea which is more
important to us than life itself, is religion.

It will be seen from this brief survey of the immense field which
the word "religion" has come to cover, that I am justified in
regarding it rather as a name given to the emotional thrill
and ecstatic abandonment which accompanies any sort of co-ordination
of the attributes of the complex vision, proportioned or
disproportioned, than as a distinct and separate attribute in itself.

Only when the co-ordination of our human activities rises to the
height of a supreme music, can we regard "religion" as the most
beautiful and most important of all human experiences. And at the
moment when it takes this form it resolves itself into nothing more
than an unutterable feeling of ecstasy produced by the sense that
we are in harmony with the rest of the universe. Religion, as I am
compelled to think of it, resolves itself into that reaction of
unspeakable happiness produced in us, when by any kind of
synthetic movement, however crude, we are either saved from
unreality or reconciled to reality.

Religion is, in fact, the name we give to the ecstasy in the heart of
the complex vision, when, in any sort of coordination between our
contradictory energies, we at once escape from ourselves and
realize ourselves. We are forbidden to speak of the "religious
sense" or the "religious instinct" because, truly interpreted,
religion is not a single activity among other activities, but the
emotional reaction upon our whole nature when that nature is
functioning in its creative fulness.

Religion must therefore be regarded as the culminating ecstasy of
the art of life, or as a premature snatching at such an ecstasy while
the art of life is still discordant and inchoate. In the first instance
it is the supreme reward of the creative act. In the second instance it
is a tragic temptation to rest by the way in a unity which is an
illusive unity and in a heaven from which "the sun of the morning"
is excluded. It thus comes about that what we call religion is
frequently a hindrance to the rhythm of the apex-thought. It may
be a sentimental consolation. It may be an excuse for cruelty and
obscurantism. There is always a danger when it is thus
prematurely manifested, that it should darken, distort, deprave and
obstruct the movement of creation.

At this point, an objection arises to our whole method of research
which it is necessary to meet at once. This objection, a peculiarly
modern one, is based upon the theory, handed about in modern
literature as a kind of diploma of cleverness and repeated
superficially by many who are not really sceptical at all, that it is
impossible in this world to arrive, under any circumstances, at any
kind of truth.

Persons who repeat this sceptical dogma are simply refusing to
acknowledge the evidence of their own experience. However rare
our high rhythmic moments may be, some sort of approximation
to them, quite sufficient to destroy the validity of this absolute
scepticism, must, if a person honestly confesses the truth, and does
not dissimulate out of intellectual pride, have entered into the
experience of every human being.

Let us, however, consider the kind of dogmatic language which
these sceptics use. They speak of "life" as a thing which so
perpetually changes, expands, diminishes, undulates, advances,
recedes, evolves, revolves, explodes, precipitates, lightens,
darkens, thins, thickens, hardens, softens, over-brims, concentrates,
grows shallow, grows deep, that it were ridiculous even to attempt
to create an equilibrium, or rhythmic "parting-of-the-ways,"
out of such evasive and treacherous material.

My answer to this sceptical protest is a simple one. It is an appeal
to human experience. I maintain that this modern tendency to talk
dogmatically and vaguely about "the evasive fluidity of life" is
nothing more than a crafty pathological retreat from the
formidable challenge of life. It is indeed a kind of mental drug or
spiritual opiate by the use of which many unheroic souls hide
themselves from the sardonic stare of the eternal Sphinx. It is a
weakness comparable to the weakness of many premature religious
syntheses; and it has the same soothing and disintegrating effect
upon the creative energy of the mind.

What, as a matter of fact, hurts us all, much more than any
tendency of life to be over-fluid and over-evasive, is the atrocious
tendency of life to be inflexible, rigorous, implacable, harshly
immobile. This vague dogmatic sentiment about "the fluidity of
life," is one of the instinctive ways by which we try to pretend that
our prison-walls are not walls at all, but only friendly and flowing
vapour. None of the great works of art and poetry, the austere
beauty of which reflects the real nature of the universe, could
continue to exercise their magical power upon us, could continue
to sustain us and comfort us, if those tragic ultimate realities were
not ultimate realities.

The sublime ritual of art, which at its noblest has the character of
religion, could not exist for a moment in a world as softly
fluctuating and as dimly wavering as this modern scepticism
would make it. Life is at once more beautiful and far more tragic.
Though surrounded by mystery the grand outlines of the world
remain austerely and sternly the same. The sun rises and sets. The
moon draws the tides. Man goes forth to his work and his labour
until the evening. Man is born; man loves and hates; man dies.
And over him the same unfathomable spaces yawn. And under
him the same unfathomable spaces yawn. Time, with its seasons,
passes him in unalterable procession. From birth to death his soul
wrestles with the universe; and the drama of which he is the
protagonist lifts the sublime monotony of its scenery from the
zenith to the nadir.

Let any man ask himself what it is that hurts him most in life and
yet seems most real to him. He will be compelled to answer . . .
"the atrocious regularity of things and their obscene necessity."
The very persons who talk so glibly about the "fluidity" and
"evasiveness" of life are persons in whose own flesh the
wedge-like granite of fate has lodged itself with crushing finality.
Life has indeed been too rigid and too stark for them; and in
place of seizing it in an embrace as formidable as its own, they go
aside muttering, "life is evasive; life is fluid; life brims over."

This sceptical dogma of "evasiveness" is generally found in
alliance with some vague modern "religion" whose chief object is
to strip the world of the dignity of its real tragedy and endow it
with the indignity of some pretended assurance. This is the role of
that superficial optimism so inherently repugnant to the aesthetic

Such apologists for a shallow and ignoble idealism are in the habit
of declaring that "the tendency of modern thought" is to render
"materialism" unthinkable; but when these people speak of
materialism they are thinking of the austere limits of that vast
objective spectacle into which we are all born. This spectacle is
indeed mysterious. It is indeed staggering and awful. But it is
irrevocably _there_. And no vague talk about the "evasiveness"
and "over-brimmingness" of life can alter one jot or tittle of its
eternal outlines.

From the sublime terror of this extraordinary drama such persons
are anxious to escape, because the iron of it has entered into their
souls. They do not see that the only "escape" offered by the reality
of things is a change of attitude towards this spectacle, not an
assertion that the form of this spectacle is unfixed and wavering.
No psychological or mathematical speculation has the power to
alter the essential outlines of this spectacle.

If such speculations could alter it, then the aesthetic sense of
humanity would be driven to transform itself; and a new aesthetic
sense, adapted to this new "evasiveness of life," would have to
take its place. Attempts are indeed being made at this very hour to
"start fresh" with a new aesthetic sense and only the winnowing
process of time and the pressure of personal experience can refute
such attempts. Meanwhile all we can do is to note the rejection of
such attempts by the verdict of the complex vision; a rejection
which indicates that if such attempts are to be successful they must
imply the substitution of a new complex vision for the one which
humanity has used since the beginning.

In other words they must imply a radical change in the basic
attributes of human nature. Humanity, to justify them, must
become some sort of super-humanity; and a new world inhabited
by a new race must take the place of the world we know. Such an
attempt to substitute a new humanity for the old is already
conscious of itself in those curious experiments of psychical
research which are based upon the hypothesis that some completely
new organs of sense are on the point of being discovered. Philosophers
who believe in the inherent unchangeableness of our present instrument
of research--the complex vision as it now exists--can only look on at
these experiments with an attitude of critical detachment; and wait
until time and experience have justified or refuted them.

Philosophers who believe in the unchangeableness of the complex
vision are bound to recognize that the human will, which is a basic
attribute of this vision, must in any case play a considerable part in
the creation of the future. But from their point of view the will is,
after all, only one of these basic attributes. There is also the
aesthetic sense. And the aesthetic sense is totally averse to this
new kind of humanity and this new kind of world. The eternal
vision of those invisible "sons of the universe," the proof of whose
existence is a deduction from the encounters of all actual souls
with one another, would seem to be entirely irreconcilable with
any new complex vision whose nature had been completely

The visible spectacle of the world with its implied "eternal
arbiters" would be transmuted and transfigured by such an
upheaval. For as long as the human will, as we know it now,
remains in association with the aesthetic sense as we know it now,
the creation of the future--however yielding and indetermined--
must depend upon the form, the shape, the principle, the prophecy,
the premonition, existing from the beginning in the nature of
things. And it is precisely this shape, this form, this principle, this
hope, this dream, this essential motive of those sons of the
universe whose existence is implied "when two and three are
gathered together," which would be destroyed and annihilated, if
the complex vision were transformed into something else and a
new world took the place of the old.

It is the existence of these real "immortals" confronting this real
universe which makes possible the feeling we have that in spite of
all our differences, some accumulated stream of beauty, truth and
goodness, does actually carry the past forward into the future, does
actually create the future according to a premonition and a hope
which have been there from the beginning.

This is the supreme act of faith of the complex vision. This is the
supreme act of faith which saves us at once from our subjective
isolation and from the will towards the acceptance of a premature
"religion." This is what saves us from any psychological or
mathematical or logical speculation, which would contradict this
hope or destroy the reality of the universe from which this hope

When we come to a general consideration of the various attributes
of the complex vision we are struck at once by the appalling power
they each have, when not held in check, of cancelling one
another's contribution. It is for this reason that my newly-coined
word was unavoidable if we are to emphasize the synthetic energy
of the complex vision when it exercises its control over these
diverse attributes and resists their constant tendency to cancel one
another. It was precisely to emphasize this synthetic energy of
the soul that I have made use of the arbitrary expression
"apex-thought." For if we think of these various attributes as
shooting forth like flames from the arrowhead of the individual soul,
we must think of this coordinating energy as the power which
continually draws these flames together when they deviate from
their focussed intensity, and continually restores, from its
inharmonious dispersion, the concentration of their arrows' point.
If we are permitted to use this image of a horizontal pyramid of
flames it will be seen how important a part is played by this
apex-thought in concentrating the energies of the complex vision so
that it can "drive" or "burn" or "pierce" its way into the surrounding

For this image of an arrow-head of focussed flame which is in
constant danger of being dispersed as the flames recede from one
another and are blown backwards is only a symbolic way of
indicating how difficult it is to pierce with our complicated
instrument of research the vast mystery which surrounds us.

All this is mere pictorial metaphor; but in visualizing the human
soul as a moving arrow-head, composed of flickering flames that
only now and then combine into a sharp point, while at other times
the wind drives them apart and bends them back, I am suggesting
that the ultimate reality of things is a state of confused movement
continually becoming a state of concentrated movement. I am
suggesting that the secrets of life only yield themselves up to a
movement of desperation. I am suggesting that the spirit of
creation is also the spirit of destruction, and that the real object
of the energy of creation is to pierce with its burning light the
darkness of the objective mystery.

As proof of the necessity of keeping this apex-thought in constant
poise, let me reiterate one or two of the philosophical disasters
which result from a cessation of its rhythmic function. When the
reason, for instance, usurps the whole field and acts in isolation
from the imagination and the intuition, it tends to persuade us to
deny the very existence of that deepest and most vivid reality of
all, the handle of our spear-head, the base of our pyramid, the
mysterious entity within us, which we have come, following the
traditions of the centuries, to name the "soul." And not only does
the soul disappear when the reason thus isolates itself, but another
primary revelation of the complex vision, I mean that half-created,
half-discovered object of the senses popularly called "matter,"
disappears with it.

Man's self-consciousness is thus left suspended "in vacuo" with no
concrete reality within it and no concrete reality outside it; and
"thought-in-the-abstract" becomes the only truth.

But not only can reason thus set itself up in isolated usurpation
against such other activities as imagination, intuition, will or taste;
it can also divide itself against itself and emerge in completely
contradictory functions. In the form of mathematical logic, for
instance, it can dispose most drastically of that living organic
world which in the form of experimental science it assumes to be
the only truth. Again it may happen that reason will arbitrarily ally
itself with one or the other of the other attributes and on the
strength of such an alliance seek to obliterate all the rest. Thus
while it is impossible to avoid the admission that of all these basic
attributes reason is the most important, because without it all the
rest would be inarticulate and dumb, it remains true that to hold
reason in balanced relation to all the rest and to hold its own
contradictory tendencies in balanced relation to one another is an
undertaking of such extraordinary difficulty that if it were not for
the complex vision's possession of that co-ordinating power which
I have named its apex-thought, one might well pardon the mood of
those persons who use reason to drug reason and who steer their
boat into some unruffled backwater of dogma or mysticism.

The necessity of such an infinitely delicate poise or balance or
rhythm in these high matters, the necessity of keeping all these
conflicting attributes at this exquisite point of suspense between
abysses of contradiction, is a necessity which compels us to
recognize that philosophy is nothing more or less than the supreme
art, and the most difficult of all arts.

Certainly, it seems as though thought has to become in a profound
sense rhythmical, has to take to itself the nature of music, before it
can become the truth. For the truth does not seem to be a mere
picture of the system of things, reflected in the mirror of the mind.
The truth seems to be the very system of things itself, become
conscious and volitional, changing, growing, living, destroying,
creating. Thus it comes about that the thought which plunges into
the universe must of necessity, even in that very act, remould and
re-fashion the universe. Thus Nature perpetually recreates herself
by the passion of her children and is forever re-born as the child of
her own offspring.

But if the supreme difficulty of the art of life lies in the
maintenance of this rhythm between these primary attributes, it
must never be forgotten that these "attributes" are, after all, only
_aspects_ of the soul. The soul _is_ each of them, not _in_ each of
them. They are not "faculties" through which the soul acts. They
are never absolutely distinct from one another. There is something
of each of them in every one of them, and every attempt which
they make to establish themselves in an independent existence is
only an attempt of the soul itself to live a perverted and a
discordant, instead of a natural and a harmonious life.

The rarity and difficulty of that high art which brings all these
orchestral players into harmony is sufficient cause to account for
the scarcity of genuine philosophical thought in this confused
world. The human soul, looking desperately round for some calm
yet passionate light to save its hours from ruinous waste, turns
away in bitter disillusion from the thin dust and the swollen
vapour that are offered it.

Out of the logical laboratories of the abstract reason this thin dust
is offered; and out of the ideal factories of the wish for superficial
comfort this iridescent vapour is poured forth. That burning secret
of life, that lovely and terrible reality for which the soul pines is
not to be found in any mere outward fact or in any mere subjective

Such a fact may crumble to pieces and give place to another. Such
an intuition may melt into air under the shock of experience. The
craving of the soul is not satisfied by the discovery that "matter"
resolves itself into "energy," nor is the misery of the heart
assuaged by the theory that time is an attribute of fourth-dimensional
space. The lamentable beating of blood-stained hands upon the
ultimate walls does not cease when we learn that two straight lines
can or cannot meet in infinity; nor does the knowledge that history
is an "ideal evolution" heal the aching of the world-sorrow.

Could we know for certain that the dead were raised up, even that
knowledge would not reduce to silence the bitter cry of the
outraged generations. So poisonous and so deep is the pain of life
that no kind of knowledge, not even the knowledge that annihilation
must at last, sooner or later, end it all, can really heal it.

But truth is not knowledge. Truth is not the recognition of an
external fact. Truth is a creative gesture. It is a ritual, a rhythmic
poise, a balance deliberately sustained between eternal
contradictions. It is the magical touch which reduces to harmony
the quivering vibrations of many opposites. It is the dramatic
movement of a supreme actor at the climax of an unfathomable
drama. It is music resting upon itself; music so exquisite as to
seem like silence, music so passionate as to have become calm.

The apex-thought of that pyramid of conflicting flames which we
call the complex vision holds itself together at one concentrated
point. And this point is the arrow point of our human soul; that
soul which is shot across immensity in the eternal war between life
and the opposite of life.

Although for the purpose of emphasizing and elucidating the
essential nature of this apex-thought it has been found advisable to
use such metaphorical and pictorial images as the one just
indicated, it must be remembered that what we are actually and in
direct experience confronted with is the mystery of a real human
personality inhabiting a real human body.

This real personal soul inhabiting a real objective body and
surrounded on all sides by a real unfathomable universe, is the
original revelation of the complex vision from which there is no
escape except by death.

The philosophy of the complex vision finds its starting point in an
acceptance of this situation which is nothing more than an
acceptance of the complex vision's own harmonious activity. An
acceptance of the reality of the human body is an essential part of
this harmonious activity because among the aspects of the
complex vision are to be found certain attributes, such as
sensation, instinct and imagination, which would be negated and
rendered abortive if the human body were an illusion.

If the "starting point" of our philosophy demands recognition of
the reality of the body, the "ideal" of our philosophy must have a
place for the body also. Flesh and blood must therefore play their
part in the resultant harmony at which we are all the while aiming;
and no contempt for the body, no hatred of the body, no refusal to
recognize the supreme beauty and sacredness of the body, can be
allowed to distort or pervert our vision.

The activity of the apex-thought, though we have a right to use
any metaphorical image we please about it in order to elucidate its
nature, must always be considered as using the bodily senses in its
resultant rhythm. It must always be considered as using that
portion of the objective universe which we name the body as an
inevitable "note" in its musical flight from darkness to darkness. It
must always be conceived as following the attraction of an eternal
vision, in which "the idea of the body" is an imperishable element.

This "eternal vision," which it is the rhythmic motive of the
apex-thought to seek, carries with it the witness and "imprimatur" of
the gods; and although no man has ever "beheld" the gods, and
although the gods by reason of their omnipresent activity, cannot
be thought of as being "incarnated," yet since they are living souls,
even as we are, and since every living soul has, as the substratum
of its identity, what might be called a "spiritual body," there is
nothing in the revelation made to us through the activity of our
complex vision to forbid our free and even fanciful speculation as
to its use, by the very highest of superhuman personalities, even,
let us say, by the Christ himself, of this mysterious energy of the
soul which I have named the "apex-thought."



Using then, as our instrument of research, that totality of attributes
by which the soul in its rare moments of rhythmic consummation
visualizes the world, the question arises--what, in plain
untechnical terms, is the revelation made to us by this complex
medium? Here, as before, I am anxious, before I venture upon
such a hazardous undertaking as an answer to this question, to
indicate clearly that what I am attempting to state is a revelation
which is common to the experience of all souls, wherever such a
thing as the soul exists. The question as to whether or not such an
universal revelation is an illusion does not concern us. To call any
universal experience "an illusion" is no more and no less
illuminating than to call it "an ultimate truth." It is the only
reality we are at present in possession of; and we must accept it,
or remain in complete scepticism; which is only another name for
complete chaos.

The first important discovery which the complex vision makes is
the fact that the revelation, thus half-offered to it and half-created
by it, is presented simultaneously in all its various aspects. It does
not appear to us bit by bit or in succession but "en masse" and in
its complete "ensemble." It is of course unavoidable that its
aspects should be enumerated one by one and that in such an
enumeration one aspect should be placed first and another last.
Nevertheless, this "first" and "last" must not be regarded as of any
reasonable importance; but as nothing more than an accident of
arbitrary choice. All the aspects of this original revelation are
linked together. All are dependent upon one another. Among them
there is no "first" and "last." All are equally real. All are equally
necessary. All are equally inescapable.

The activity of the complex vision, then, makes us aware that we
have within us an integral irreducible self, the living personal
substratum of our self-consciousness, the "I" of our primordial "I
am I." This living personal self is the background of our complex
vision. It is the personal "visionary" whose vision we are using. I
say we have "within us" such a self. This "within us" is one of the
inescapable original revelations. For though our consciousness
will be found in its full circle to invade obscure shores and
wavering margins, there must always be a return, however far it
may wander, to this definite "something" within us which utters
the happy or unhappy "I am I."

It is precisely here, in regard to the nature of this "I am I," that it
is essential to let the totality of our complex vision speak, and not
one or other of its attributes. Nowhere has the fantastic and
desolating power of pure abstract reason left to itself done more to
distort the general situation than in this matter. It has distorted it
in two opposing ways.

It has distorted it metaphysically by completely eliminating this
revelation of a personal self, "within us," and it has distorted it
scientifically by reducing this personal self to an automatic
mechanical phenomenon produced by the action and interaction of
unconscious chemical "forces."

To the logic of metaphysical reason there is no concrete living self
which can say "I am I" from that definite point in space and time
which we indicate by the use of the phrase "within us." According
to such logic our "I am I" becomes "an infinity of consciousness"
with no local habitation. It becomes a consciousness which
includes both the "within" and the "without," a consciousness in
which our actual personal self is nothing but an illusory
phenomenon, a consciousness which is outside both time and
space, a consciousness whose centre is everywhere and its
circumference nowhere, a consciousness which is pure disembodied
"thought," thought without any "thinker," thought contemplating
itself as thought, thought in an absolutely empty void.

When to this ultimate "unity of apperception," suspended
in a vacuum, consciousness of self is added; when this
"consciousness-in-the-abstract" is regarded as an universal
self-consciousness, the resultant "I am I" of such an omnipresent
being becomes an infinite "I am I" which is nothing less than the
unfathomable universe conscious of itself in its totality. Whether
consciousness of self be added to this "consciousness-in-the-abstract"
or not, it is hard to see how out of this unruffled ocean of identity
the actual multifarious world which we feel around us, this world of
plants and planets and birds and fishes and mortal men and immortal
gods, ever succeeded in getting itself produced at all.

The vague metaphysical phrases about the One issuing forth into
the Many, in order to make Itself more completely Itself than it
was before, seem to us, when under the influence of our complex
vision, no other than the meaningless playing with cosmic tennis
balls of some insane universal Juggler.

The second way in which reason, left to itself, has distorted what
the complex vision reveals to us about the "I am I," is the scientific
or evolutionary way. According to this view which assumes that
the objective process of evolution is our only knowable reality, the
individual personal "I am I" finds itself resolved into a fatal
automatic phenomenon of cause and effect; a phenomenon which
has as its "cause" nothing, but the prehistoric chemical movements
of "matter" or "energy." The personal self thus considered
becomes a momentary vortex in a perpetually changing stream of
"states of consciousness" or "ripples of sensation" to each of
which vast anterior tides of atavistic forces have contributed their
mechanical quota.

The chemical fatality of our nerve-tissues, the psychological
fatality of our motive-impulses, leave no space, when they have all
been summed up, for any free arbitrary action of an independent

And so, just as according to the metaphysical view, the soul
disappears in a blur of ideal fatality, according to the scientific
view the soul disappears in a nexus of mechanical determinism.
As against both these errors, to the complex vision this "soul"
within us appears to be something altogether different from the
physical body. The experience we have of it, the feeling we have
of it, is that it is a definite "something" dwelling "within" the
physical body.

This revelation with regard to it is as unmistakable as it is difficult
to analyze. That it is here, within us, we feel and know; but as
soon as we attempt to subject it to any exact scrutiny it seems to
melt away under our hands. The situation is indeed a kind of
philosophical tragic-comedy; and is only too indicative of the
baffling whimsicality of the whole system of things. Contradiction
and paradox at the very basis of life mock our attempt to utter one
intelligible word about the thing which is the most real of all
things to us.

We are vividly aware of this mysterious personality within us, "the
guest and companion of the body," but directly we attempt to lay
hold upon the actual substance of it it seems to vanish into thin air.
But at least our complex vision, which is _its_ complex vision,
reveals to us the fact of its existence; and with its existence once
acknowledged, however impossible analysis of it may be, we are
able to give a plain and unequivocal denial to all the impersonal
conclusions reached by metaphysic and science.

This categorical pronouncement of the complex vision with regard
to the "I am I," namely that it is the voice of a living concrete soul
within us, is supported historically by an immense weight of
human tradition. Belief in the reality of the soul is older and more
tenacious than any other human doctrine which our race has ever
held. The use of the term "soul" is no more than a bare recognition
that behind the consciousness which says "I am I" there is a living
entity whose consciousness this is.

With this bare recognition the revelation of the complex vision
abruptly stops. It stops with that peculiar and disconcerting
suddenness with which it seems to be its nature to stop, whenever
it reaches the limit of its scope in any direction. It stops here,
with regard to the soul, just as it stops when confronted with the
conception of limitlessness, both with regard to space and with
regard to time. But the soul at least is ours; a fact that cannot be
explained away.

And although we have no right to go a step beyond the bare
recognition of its existence and although all words regarding it are
misleading if used in any other than a symbolic sense, we must
remember that since the complex vision is conscious of itself as a
unity, whatever this "something" may be which is the centre and
core of our living personality, it must at least be a definite
irreducible "monad," "something" that cannot be resolved into
anything else, or accounted for by anything else, or explained in
terms of anything else, or "caused" by anything else; "something"
that may, perhaps, at last be annihilated; but that while it lives
must remain the vividest reality we know.

Insanity and disease may obstruct and cloud the soul. Outward
circumstances may drive the soul back upon itself. But while it
lives it lives in its totality and when it perishes, if it be its
destiny to perish, it perishes in its totality.

While the soul lives we may sink into it and have no fear; and yet
all the while we have no right to say anything about it except that
it exists. Truly it is a tragic commentary upon the drama that we
call our life, that we should find our ultimate "rest" and "peace" in
so bare, so stark, so austere, so irrational a revelation as this!

But surrounded as we are by the menace of eternal nothingness it
is at least something to have at the background of our life a living
power of this kind, a power which can endure unafraid the very
breaking point of disaster, a power which can contemplate the
possibility of annihilation itself with equanimity and unperturbed

It will be noted that I have been compelled to use once and again
the term "eternal nothingness." This is indeed an inevitable aspect
of what the soul visualizes as possible. For since the soul is the
creator and discoverer of all life, when once the soul has ceased to
exist, non-existence takes the place of existence, and nothingness
takes the place of life.

Speculatively we have the right, although the complex vision is
silent on that tremendous question, to dally with the idea of the
survival of the soul after the death of the body. But this must for
ever be an open question, not to be answered either negatively or
affirmatively, not to be answered by the intelligence of any living
man. All we can say is that it seems as if the death of the body
destroyed the complex vision; and if the complex vision is
destroyed it seems as though non-existence were bound to take the
place of existence, and as though nothingness were bound to take
the place of everything. The oriental conception of "Nirvana" is no
more than a soothing opiate administered to a soul that has grown
weary of its complex vision and weary of its irreducible
personality. To imagine oneself freed from the burden of personal
consciousness, and yet in some mysterious way conscious of being
freed from consciousness, is a delicious and delicate dream of
life-exhausted souls.

As a speculation it has a curious attraction; as a reality it has
nothing that is intelligible. But though the tragedy of life to all
sensitive spirits is outrageous and obscene, at least we may say
that the worst conceivable possibility is not likely to occur. The
worst conceivable possibility would be to be doomed to an
immortal personal life without losing the restrictions and
limitations of our present personal life. If the soul survives the
body it must do so on the strength of its possession of some
transforming energy which shall enable it to supply the place in its
organic being which is at present occupied by the attribute of
sensation. It is quite obvious that if the life of the soul depends
upon the active functioning of all its attributes; and if one of its
attributes, namely sensation, is entirely dependent for its active
functioning upon the life of the body; the life of the soul itself
must also depend upon the life of the body, unless, as I have
hinted, it can transmute its attribute of sensation into some other
attribute suitable to some unknown plane of spiritual existence.

There are indeed certain ecstatic moments when the soul feels as if
such a power of liberation from the bodily senses were actually
within its grasp; but it will inevitably be found, when the great
rhythmic concentration of the apex-thought is brought to bear
upon such a feeling as this, that it either melts completely away, or
is relegated to unimportance and insignificance. Such a feeling,
ecstatic and intense though it may have been, has been nothing
more than a disproportioned activity of the attribute of intuition;
intuition misled in favour of the immortality of the soul, even as
the pure reason is often misled in the direction of the denial of the
soul's existence.

The revelation of the complex vision has no word to say, on either
side, with regard to whether the soul does or does not survive the
death of the body; but it has a very distinct word to say as to the
importance of this whole question; and what it says in regard to
this is--that it is not important at all! The revelation of the complex
vision implies clearly enough that what man were wise to
"assume"--leaving always the ultimate question as an open
question--is that the individual soul and the individual body perish

This assumption is in direct harmony with what we actually _see_;
even though it is in frequent collision with what we sometimes
_feel_. But the essence of the matter is to be found in this, that our
assumption as to the soul's perishing, when the body perishes, is
an assumption, untrue though it may turn out to be, which the soul
itself, when under the power of its apex-thought, is compelled to
make. And it is compelled to make this assumption by reason of
the inherent nature of love. For it is of the nature of love when
confronted by two alternatives one of which lays the stress upon
personal advantage and the other _upon love itself_ apart from any
personal advantage, whether one's own or another's, to choose, as
the assumption upon which it shall live, the latter of these two
alternatives. For it is the nature of love to seek love and nothing
else than love. And as long as the assumption which the soul
makes is the assumption that it survives the death of the body, that
emotion of love which is the soul's creative essence is debarred
from the full and complete integrity of its desire.

For the desire of love is not for immortality but for the eternal; and
the eternal is not something that depends upon the survival of any
individual soul, whether our own or another's. The eternal is
something which can be realized in one single moment; something
which completely destroys in us any desire for survival after
death; something which reconciles us to existence _considered in
the light of love alone_; something that does not assume anything
at all about the universe, except that love exists.

Thus we return to that assumption about the soul, which it is
better--leaving the open question still an open question--for the
mind to accept as its working assumption; namely that the soul
uses the body in its own ends, is conscious of its existence through
the senses of the body, lives _in_ the body, and perishes when the
body perishes. Nor is it only the emotion of love which rejects the
dogma of the immortality of the soul. Were the soul proved
beyond all possibility of doubt to be immortal, there would at once
fall upon us a despair more appalling than any which we have
known. For just as the idea of the eternal satisfies the very depths
of our soul with an infinite peace, so the idea of immortality
troubles the very depths of our soul with an infinite doubt.
Something unutterable in our aesthetic sense demands that life
should be surrounded by death and ended by death. Thus and not
otherwise should we ourselves have created the world at the
beginning. Thus and not otherwise by the rhythmic play of the
complex vision, do we create the world.

But meanwhile, whatever happens, as long as we live we possess
the reality of the soul. This is, and always has been, the
rallying-ground of heroic and sensitive personalities, struggling with
the demons of circumstance and chance. This is that unconquerable
"mind-within-themselves" into which the great Stoics of Antiquity
withdrew at their will, and were "happy," beyond the reach of
hope and fear. This is the citadel from the security of which all the
martyrs for human liberty have mocked their tormentors. This is
the fortress from which the supreme artists of the world have
looked forth and moulded the outrage of life's dilemma into
monumental forms of imaginative beauty. This is the sanctuary
from which all human personalities, however weak and helpless,
have been permitted to endure the cruelty and pitilessness of fate.

After all, it does not so greatly matter that we are unable to do
more than know that this thing, this indescribable "something,"
really exists. Perhaps it is because its existence is more real than
anything else that we are unable to define it. Perhaps we can only
define those attributes which are the outward aspects of our real
being. Perhaps it is simply because the soul is nothing less than
our very self, that our analytical power stops, helpless, in its
presence. _We_ are what it is; and for this very cause it
perpetually evades and escapes us.

The reality of the soul, therefore, is the first revelation of the
complex vision. The second revelation is the objective reality of
the outward visible universe. Left to itself, in its isolated activity,
our logical reason is capable of throwing doubt upon this
revelation also. For it is logically certain that what we are actually
conscious of is no more than a unified stream of various mental
impressions, reaching us through our senses, and never interrupted
except in moments of unconscious sleep.

It is therefore quite easy for the logical reason, functioning in its
isolation from the other attributes, to maintain that this stream of
mental impressions _is all that there is_, and that we have no right
to call the universe real and objective, except in the ambiguous
sense of a sort of permanent illusion. But as soon as the complex
vision, in its totality, contemplates the situation, the thing takes on
a very different aspect. The pure reason may be as sceptical as it
pleases about the static solidity of what is popularly called
"matter." It may use the term energy, or movement, or ether, or
force, or electricity, or any other name to describe that _permanent
sensation of outward reality_ which our complex vision reveals.

But one thing it has no right to do. It has no right to utter the word
"illusion" with regard to this objective universe. The apparent
solidity of matter may be rationally resolved into energy or
movement, just as the apparent objectivity of matter may be
rationally resolved into a stream of mental impression. But the
complex vision still persists in asserting that this _permanent
sensation of outward reality_, which, except in dreamless sleep, is
never normally interrupted, represents and bears witness to the real
existence, outside ourselves, of "something" which corresponds to
such a sensation. It is just at this point that the soul--helped by
instinct, imagination, and intuition--makes its great inevitable
plunge into the act of primordial faith.

This act of primordial faith is the active belief of the soul not only
in an objective universe outside itself, but also in the objective
existence of other individual souls. Without this primordial act of
faith the individual soul can never escape from itself. For the pure
reason not only reduces the whole universe to an idea in the mind;
but it also reduces all _other_ minds to ideas in _our_ mind. In
other words the logical reason imprisons us fatally and hopelessly
in a sort of cosmic nut-shell of our own mentality.

And there would, actually, be no escape from this appalling
imprisonment, according to which the individual soul becomes a
solitary circle, the centre and circumference of all possible
existence, if it were not that the soul possesses other organs of
research, in addition to reason and self-consciousness. Directly we
temper reason with these other activities the whole situation has a
different look. It is a thing of small consequence what word we
use to describe that external cause of the flowing stream of mental
impressions. The important point is that we are compelled to
assume, as representing a real outward fact, this permanent sense
of objectivity from which there is no escape.

And as the existence of the objective universe is established by a
primordial act of faith, so it is also established that these alien
bodily personalities, whose outward appearance stands and falls
with the objective universe, possess "souls," or what we have
come to name "complex visions," comparable with our own. And
this is the case not only with regard to other human beings, but
with regard to all living entities whether human or non-human. As
to how the "souls" of plants, birds, and animals, or of planets or
stars, differ in their nature from human souls we can only vaguely
conjecture. But to refuse some degree of consciousness, some
measure of the complex vision, to any living thing, is to be false to
that primordial act of faith into which the original revelation of the
complex vision compels us to plunge.

The inevitableness of this act of faith may be perhaps more vividly
realized when we remember that it includes in its revelation the
objective reality of our own physical body. Our evidence for the
real outward existence of our own body is no surer and no more
secure than our evidence for the outward existence of other

They stand or fall together. If the universe is an illusion then our
own physical body is an illusion also.

And precisely as the "stuff" out of which the universe is made may
be named "energy" or "ether" or "force" or "electricity," rather
than "matter," so also the "stuff" out of which the body is made
may be named by any scientific term we please. The term used is
of no importance as long as the thing represented by it is accepted
as a permanent reality.

We are now able to advance a step further in regard to the
revelation of the complex vision. Granting, as we are compelled to
grant, that the other "souls" in the universe possess, each of them,
its own "vision" of this same universe; and assuming that each
"vision" is so coloured by the individuality of the "visionary" as to
be, in a measure, different from all the rest, it becomes obvious
that in a very important sense there is not only one universe, but
many universes. These many universes, however, are "caused," or
evoked, or created, or discovered, by the encounter of various
individual souls with that one "objective mystery" which confronts
them all.

What a naive confession it is of the limitation of the human mind
that we should be driven, after all our struggles to articulate the
secret of life, to accept, as our final estimate of such a secret just
the mysterious "something" which is the substratum of our own
soul, confronted by that other mysterious "something" which is the
substratum of all possible universes! With the complex vision's
revelation that the objective universe really exists comes the
parallel revelation that time and space really exist. Here, for the
third time, are we faced with critical protests from the isolated
activity of the logical reason.

Metaphysic reduces both time and space to categories of the mind.
Mathematical speculation hints at the existence of some
mysterious fourth-dimensional space. Bergsonian dialectic regards
ordinary "spatial" time as an inferior category; and finds the real
movement of life in a species of time called "duration," which can
only be detected by the interior feeling of intuition.

But while we listen with interest to all these curious speculations,
the fact remains that for the general vision of the combined
energies of the soul the world in which we find ourselves is a
world entirely dependent upon what must be recognized as a
_permanent sensation_ of "ordinary" space and "ordinary" time.
And as we have shown in the case of the objective existence of
what we call Nature, when any mental impression reaches the
level of becoming a _permanent sensation_ of all living souls it
ceases to be possible to speak of it as an illusion.

It is well that we should become clearly conscious of this
"reality-destroying" tendency of the logical reason, so that whenever
it obsesses us we can undermine its limited vision by an appeal to
the complex vision. Shrewdly must we be on our guard against
this double-edged trick of logic, which on the one hand seeks to
destroy the basis of its own activity, by disintegrating the unity of
the soul, and on the other hand seeks to destroy the material of its
own activity by disintegrating the unity of the "objective mystery."

The original revelation of the complex vision not only puts us on
our guard against this disintegrating tendency of the pure reason,
but it also explains the motive-force behind this tendency. This
motive-force is the emotion of malice, which naturally and
inevitably seeks to hand us over to the menace of nothingness; in
the first place of nothingness "within" us, and in the second place
of nothingness "without" us. That the logic of the pure reason
quickly becomes the slave of the emotion of malice may be proved
by both introspection and observation. For we note, both in
ourselves and others, a peculiar glow of malicious satisfaction
when such logic strikes its deadliest blows at what it would
persuade us to regard as the illusion of life.

Life, just because its deepest secret is not law, determined by fate,
but personality struggling against fate, is always found to display a
certain irrationality. And the complex vision becomes false to
itself as soon as it loses touch with this world-deep irrationality.

We have now therefore reached the conception of reality as
consisting of the individual soul confronted by the objective
mystery. That this objective mystery would be _practically_ the
same as _nothing_, if there were no soul to apprehend it, must be
admitted. But it would not be _really_ the same as _nothing_;
since as soon as any kind of soul reappeared upon the scene the
inevitable material of the objective mystery would at once
re-appear with it. The existence of the objective mystery as a
permanent possibility of material for universe-building is a fact
which surrounds every individual soul with a margin of
unfathomable depth.

At its great illuminated moments the complex vision reduces the
limitlessness of space to a realizable sensation of liberty, and the
"flowingness" of time to an eternal now; but even at these
moments it is conscious of an unfathomable background, one
aspect of which is the immensity of space and the other the
flowingness of time.

The revelation of the complex vision which I have thus attempted
to indicate will be found identical with the natural conclusions of
man in all the ages of his history. The primeval savage, the ancient
Greek, the mediaeval saint, the eighteenth century philosopher, the
modern psychologist, are all brought together here and are all
compelled to confess the same situation.

That we are now living personalities, possessed of soul and body,
and surrounded by an unfathomable universe, is a revelation about
which all ages and all generations agree, whenever the complex
vision is allowed its orchestral harmony. The primeval savage
looking up at the sky above him might regard the sun and moon as
living gods exercising their influence upon a fixed unmoving
earth. In this view of the sun and the moon and the stars such a
savage was perfectly within his right, because always along with it
even to the most anthropomorphic, there came the vague sense of

The natural Necessity of the ancient Greeks, the trinitarian God
of the mediaeval school-man, the great First Cause of the
eighteenth-century deist, the primordial Life-Force of the modern
man of science, are all on common ground here in regard to the
unfathomableness of the ultimate mystery.

But the revelation of the complex vision saves us from the logical
boredom of the word "infinite." The idea of the infinite is merely a
tedious mathematical formula, marking the psychological point
where the mind finds its stopping-place. All that the complex
vision can say about "infinite space" is that it is a real experience,
and that we can neither imagine space with an end nor without an

The "Infinite" is the name which logic gives to this psychological
phenomenon. The fact that the mind stops abruptly and breaks into
irreconcilable contradictions when it is confronted with
unfathomable space is simply a proof that space without an end is
as unimaginable as space with an end. It is no proof that space is
merely a subjective category of the human mind. One, thing,
however, it is a proof of. It is a proof that the universe can never
be satisfactorily explained on any materialistic hypothesis.

The fact that we all of us, at every hour of our common day, are
surrounded by this unthinkable thing, space without end, is an
eternal reminder that the forms, shapes and events of habitual
occurrence, which we are inclined to take so easily for granted, are
part of a staggering and inscrutable enigma.

The reality of this thing, actually there, above our heads and under
our feet, lodges itself, like an ice cold wedge of annihilating
scepticism, right in the heart of any facile explanation. We cannot
interpret the world in terms of what we call "matter" when what
we call "matter" has these unthinkable horizons. We may take into
our hands a pebble or a shell or a grain of sand; and we may feel
as though the universe were within our grasp. But when we
remember that this little piece of the earth is part of a continuous
unity which recedes in every direction, world without end, we are
driven to admit that the universe is so little within our grasp that
we have to regard it as something which breaks and baffles the
mind as soon as the mind tries to take hold of it at all.

The reason does not advance one inch in explaining the universe
when it utters the word "evolution" and it does not advance one
thousandth part of an inch--indeed it gives up the task altogether--
when it informs us that infinite space is a category of the human
mind. We must regard it, then, as part of the original revelation of
the complex vision, that we are separate personal souls surrounded
by an unfathomable mystery whose margins recede into unthinkable

The ancient dilemma of the One and the Many obtrudes itself at
this point; and we are compelled to ask how the plurality of these
separate souls can be reconciled with the unity of which they form
a part. That they cannot be regarded as absolutely separate is clear
from the fact that they can communicate with one another, not
only in human language but in a thousand more direct ways. But
granting this communication between them, does the mere
existence of myriads of independent personalities, living side by
side in a world common to all, justify us in speaking of the
original system of things as being pluralistic rather than monistic?

Human language, at any rate, founded on the fact that these
separate souls can communicate with one another, seems very
reluctant to use any but monistic terms. We say "the system of
things," not "the systems of things." And yet it is only by an act of
faith that human language makes the grand assumption that the
complex vision of all these myriad entities tells the same story.

We say "the universe"; yet may it not be that there are as many
"universes" as there are conscious personalities in this
unfathomable world? If there were no closer unity between the
separate souls which fill the universe than the fact that they are
able, after one primordial act of faith, to communicate with one
another, these monistic assumptions of language might perhaps be
disregarded and we might have a right to reject such expressions
as "system of things" and "cosmos" and "universe" and "nature."

But it still remains that they are connected, in space and in time,
by the medium, whatever it may be, which fills the gulfs between
the planets and the stars. As long as these separate souls are
invariably associated as they are, with physical bodies, and as long
as these physical bodies are composed of the same mysterious
force which we may call earth, fire, water, air, ether, electricity,
energy, vibration, or any other technical or popular name, so long
will it be legitimate to use these monistic expressions with which
human language is, so to speak, so deeply stained. As a matter of
fact we are not left with only this limited measure of unity. There
are also certain psychological experiences--experiences which I
believe I have a right to regard as universal--which bring these
separate souls into much closer connection.

Such experiences can be, and have been, ridiculously exaggerated.
But the undeniable fact that they exist is sufficient to prove that in
spite of the pluralistic appearance of things, there is still enough
unity available to prevent the Many from completely devouring
the One. The experiences to which I am referring are experiences
which the complex vision owes to the intuition. And though this
experience has been made unfair use of, by both mystics and
metaphysicians, it cannot be calmly disregarded.

The intuition, which is, as I have already pointed out, the feminine
counterpart to the imagination, is found, with regard to this
particular problem, uttering so frequent and impressive an oracle
that to neglect its voice, would be to nullify and negate the whole
activity of the intuition and deny it its place among the ultimate
energies of vision.

There is always more difficulty in putting into words a revelation
which the complex vision owes to intuition than in regard to any
other of its attributes. Reason in his matter, and sensation and
imagination also, have an unfair advantage when it comes to
_words_. For human language is compelled to draw its images
from sensation and its logic from reason. But intuition--the
peculiarly feminine attribute of the soul--finds itself dealing with
what is barely intelligible and with what is profoundly irrational.
Thus it naturally experiences a profound difficulty in getting itself
expressed in words at all.

And, incidentally, we cannot avoid asking ourselves the curious
question whether it may not be that language, which is so
dependent upon the peculiarly masculine attributes of reason and
sensation, has not become an inadequate medium for the
expression of what might be called the feminine vision of the
world? May we not indeed go so far as to hazard the suggestion
that when this fact, of the masculine domination of language,
has been adequately recognized, there will emerge upon the
earth women-philosophers and women-artists who will throw
completely new light upon many problems? The difficulty which
women experience in getting expressed in definite terms, whether
in philosophy or art, the co-ordinated rhythm of _their_ complex
vision, may it not be largely due to the fact that the attribute of
intuition which is their most vital organ of research has remained
so inarticulate? And may not the present wave of psychological
"mysticism," which just now is so prominent a psychic phenomenon,
be due to the vague and, in many cases, the clumsy attempt, which
women are now making to get their intuitive contribution into
line with the complex vision of the rest?

When the universe is referred to as "Nature," may it not be that it
is this very element, this strange wisdom of the abysmal
"Mothers," which humanity thinks of as struggling to utter its
unutterable secret?

How, then, for the sake of its contribution to the ultimate rhythm,
does the complex vision articulate this mysterious oracle from the
feminine principle in life, as it brokenly and intermittently lifts up
its voice?

One aspect of this oracle's voice is precisely what we are
concerned with now. I mean the problem of the relation of the One
to the Many. The merely logical conception of unity is misleading
because the wavering mass of impression which makes up our life
has a margin which recedes on every side into unfathomableness.
This conception has two aspects. In the first place it implies
_continuity_, by which I mean that everything in the world is in
touch with everything else.

In the second place it implies _totality_, by which I mean that
everything in the world can be considered as one rounded-off and
complete "whole." According to this second aspect of the case, we
think of the world as an integral One surrounded by nothingness,
in the same way that the individual soul is surrounded by the

The revelation of the complex vision finds the second of these two
aspects entirely misleading. It accepts the conception of
_continuity_, and rejects the conception of _totality_. It rejects the
conception of "totality," because "totality," in this cosmic sense, is
a thing of which it has no experience; and the revelation of the
complex vision is entirely based on experience. The margins of the
world, receding without limit in every direction, prevent us from
ever arriving at the conception of "totality."

What right have we to regard the universe as a totality, when all
we are conscious of is a mass of wavering impression continued
unfathomable in every direction? In only one sense, therefore,
have we a right to speak of the unity of the system of things; and
that is in the sense of continuity. Since this mass of impression,
which we name the universe, is on all sides lost in a margin of
unfathomableness, it is, after all, only a limited portion of it which
comes into the scope of our consciousness. It is one of the curious
exaggerations of our logical reason that we should be tempted to
"round off" this mystery. The combined voices of imagination and
intuition protest against such an enclosed circle.

The same revelation of the complex vision which gives objective
reality to what is outside our individual soul insists that this
objective reality extends beyond the limited circle of our
consciousness. The device by which the logical reason "rounds
off" the conception of _continuity_ by the conception of _totality_
is the device of the mathematical formula of "infinity."

The imaginative movement by which the complex vision of the
soul plunges into the abysses of stellar space, seeking to fathom, at
least in a mental act, immensity beyond immensity, and gulf
beyond gulf, is a definite human experience. It is the actual
experience of the soul itself, dropping its plummet into immensity,
and finding immensity unfathomable. But as soon as the logical
reason dominates the situation, in place of this palpable plunge
into a real concrete experience, with its accompanying sensation of
appalling wonder and terrible freedom, we are offered nothing but
a thin, dry, barren mathematical formula called "infinity," the mere
mention of which freezes the imagination at its source.

What, in fact, the complex vision reveals to us is that all these arid
formulae, such as infinity, the Absolute Being, and the Universal
Cause, are conceptions projected into the real and palpable bosom
of unfathomable life by the very enemy and antagonist of life, the
aboriginal emotion of inert malice. This is why so often in the
history of the human race the conception of "God" has been the
worst enemy of the soul. The conception of "God" by its alliance
with the depressing mathematical formula of "infinity" has indeed
done more than any other human perversion to obliterate the
beauty and truth of the emotional feeling which we name

The revelation of the complex vision makes it clear to us that the
idea of "God," in alliance with the idea of "Infinity," is a
projection, into religious experience, of the emotion of inert
malice. As soon as the palpable unfathomableness of space is
reduced to the barren notion of a mathematical "infinity" all the
free and terrible beauty of life is lost. We have pressed our hands
against our prison-gates and found them composed of a material
more rigid than adamant, the material of "thought-in-the-abstract."

Now although our chief difficulty in regard to this insistent
problem of the One and the Many has been got rid of by eliminating
from the notion of the One all idea of totality, it is still
true that something in us remains unsatisfied while our individual
soul is thought of as absolutely isolated from all other souls. It is
here, as I have already said, that the peculiarly feminine attribute
of intuition comes to our rescue. The fact that we can
communicate together by human and sub-human language, does
not, though it implies a basic similarity in our complex vision,
really satisfy us.

A strange unhappiness, a vague misery, a burden of unutterable
nostalgia, troubles the loneliness of our soul. And yet it is not, this
vague longing, a mere desire to break the isolating circle of the "I
am I" and to invade, and mingle with, other personalities. It is
something deeper than this, it is a desire to break the isolation of
all personalities, and to enter, in company with all, some larger,
fuller, freer level of life, where what we call "the limits of
personality" are surpassed and transcended.

This underlying misery of the soul is, in fact, a constant
recognition that by the isolated loneliness of our deepest self we
are keeping at a distance something--some unutterable flow of
happiness--which would destroy for us all fears and all weariness,
and would end for ever the obscene and sickening burden of the
commonplace. It is precisely at this point that the intuition comes
to the rescue; supplying our complex vision with that peculiar
"note," or "strain of music," without which the orchestral harmony
must remain incomplete.

In seeking to recall those great moments when the "apex-thought"
of the complex vision revealed to us the secret of things, we find
ourselves remembering how, when in the presence of some
supreme work of art, or of some action of heroic sacrifice, or of
some magical effect of nature, or of some heart-breaking gesture
of tragic emotion in some simple character, we have suddenly
been transported out of the closed circle of our personal life into
something that was at once personal and impersonal. At such a
moment it seems as if we literally "died" to ourself, and became
something "other" than ourself; and yet at the same time "found"
ourself, as we had never "found" ourself before.

What the complex vision seems to reveal to us about this great
human experience is that it is an initiation into an "eternal vision,"
into a "vision of the immortals," into a mood, a temper, a "music
of the spheres," wherein the creative mystery of the emotion of
love finds its consummation. The peculiar opportunity of an
experience of this kind, its temporal "occasion," shall we say,
seems to be more often supplied by the intuition, than by any other
attribute of the complex vision.

Intuition having this power, it is not surprising that many souls
should misuse and abuse this great gift. The temptation to allow
the intuition to absorb the whole field of consciousness is to
certain natures almost irresistible. And yet, when intuition is
divorced from the other aspects of the rhythm of life, its tendency
towards what might be called "the passion of identity" very easily
lapses into a sort of spiritual sensuality, destructive to the creative
freedom of the soul. Woe to the artist who falls into the quagmire
of unbalanced intuition! It is as if he were drugged with a spiritual

To escape from self-loathing, to escape from the odious monotony
and the indecent realism of life--what a relief! How desirable to be
confronted no longer by that impassable gulf between one's own
soul and all other living souls! How desirable to cross the abyss
which separates the "something" which is the substance of our
being from the "something" which is the substance of the
"objective mystery"!

And yet, according to the revelation of the complex vision, this
"spiritual ecstasy" is a perversion of the true art of life. The true
art of life finds in "the vision of the immortals," and in "the vision
of the immortals" alone, its real escape from evil. This "passion of
identity," offered us by the vice, by the madness of intuition, is not
in harmony with the great moments of the soul. Its "identity" is but
a gross, mystical, clotted "identity"; and its "heaven" is not the
"heaven" of the Christ.

If the "ecstasy of identity," as the unbalanced attribute of intuition
forces it upon us, were in very truth the purpose of life, how
grotesque a thing life would be! It would then be the purpose of
life to create personality, only in order to drown it in the
impersonal. In other words it would be the purpose of life to create
the "higher" in order that it should lose itself in the lower. At its
very best this "ecstasy of identity" is the expression of what might
be called the "lyrical" element in things. But the secret of life is
not lyrical, as many of the prophets have supposed, but dramatic,
as all the great artists have shown. For the essence of life is
contradiction. And contradiction demands a "for" and an "against,"
a protagonist and an antagonist. What the revelation of the
complex vision discloses is the inherent duality of all things.
Pleasure and pain, night and day, man and woman, good and evil,
summer and winter, life and death, personality and fate, love and
malice, the soul and the objective mystery, these are the threads
out of which the texture of existence is woven; and there is no
escape from these, except in that eternal "_nothingness_" which
itself is the "contradiction" or "opposite" of that "_all_," which it
reduces to chaos and annihilation. Thus runs the revelation of the
complex vision.

This integral soul of ours, made of a stuff which for ever defies
analysis; this objective mystery, made of a stuff which for ever
defies analysis; these two things perpetually confront one another
in a struggle that only annihilation can end. The vision of the
eternal implies the passing of the transitory. For what cannot cease
from being beautiful has no real beauty; and what cannot cease
from being true has no real truth. The art of life according to the
revelation of the complex vision, consists in giving to the
transitory the form of the eternal. It is the art of creating a rhythm,
a music, a harmony, so passionate and yet so calm, that the mere
fact of having once or twice attained it is sufficient "to redeem all

The assumption that death ends it all, is an assumption which the
very nature of love calls upon us to make; for, if we did not make
it make it, something different from love would be the object and
purpose of our life. But the revelation of the complex vision, in
our supreme moments, discloses to us that love itself is the only
justification for life; and therefore, by making the assumption that
the soul perishes, we put once and for all out of our thought that
formidable revival of love, the idea of personal immortality.

For the idea of personal immortality, like the idea of an Absolute
God, is a projection of the aboriginal "inert" malice. It must be
remembered that the revelation of the complex vision, by laying
stress upon the creative energy of the soul in its grappling with the
objective mystery, implies an element of _indeterminism_, or free
choice, in regard to the ultimate nature of the world. Man, in a
very profound sense, perpetually creates the world according to his
will and desire. Nor can he ever know at what point, in the
struggle between personality and destiny, the latter is bound to
win. Such a point may _seem_ to be reached; until some astounding
"act of faith" on the part of the soul flings that "point"
into a yet further remoteness. And this creative power in the soul
of man may apply in ways which at present our own race has
hardly dared to contemplate. It may apply, for instance, to the idea
of personal immortality.

Personal immortality may be a thing which the soul, by a
concentrated act of creative will, can secure for itself, or can
reject for itself. It may be, if we take the whole conscious and
subconscious purpose of a man's life, a _matter of choice_.

But when a man makes a choice of such a kind, when a man
concentrates his energy upon surviving the death of his body, he is
deliberately selecting a "lower" purpose for his life in place of a
"higher." In other words, instead of concentrating his will upon the
evocation of the emotion of love, he is concentrating his will upon
self-realization or self-continuance. What he is really doing is even
worse than this. For since what we call "emotion" is an actual
projection into the matrix of the objective mystery, of the very
substance and stuff of the soul, when the will thus concentrates
upon personal immortality, it takes the very substance of the soul
and perverts it to the satisfaction of inert malice. In other words it
actually transforms the stuff of the soul from its positive to its
negative chemistry, and produces a relative victory of malice over

The soul's desires for personal immortality is one of the aspects of
the soul's "possessive" instinct. The soul desires to "possess"
itself--itself as it exactly is, itself in its precise and complete
"status quo"--without interruption for ever. But love has a very
different desire from this. Love is not concerned with time at all--
for time has a "future"; and any contemplation of a "future"
implies the activity of something in the soul which is different
from love, implies something which is concerned with outward
events and occurrences and chances. But love is not concerned
with outward events, whether past or future. Love desires eternity
and eternity alone. Or rather it does not "desire" eternity. It _is_
eternity. It is an eternal Now, in which what _will_ happen and
what _has_ happened are irrelevant and unimportant.

All this offers us an intelligible explanation of a very bewildering
phenomenon in human life. I mean the instinctive disgust
experienced by the aesthetic sense when men, who otherwise seem
gentle and good, display an undue and unmeasured agitation about
the fate of their souls.

Love never so much as even considers the question of the fate of
the soul. Love finds, in the mere act of loving, a happiness so
profound that all such problems seem tiresome and insignificant.
The purpose of life is to attain the rhythmic ecstasy of all love's
intrinsic potentialities. This desire for personal immortality is not
one of love's intrinsic potentialities. When a human soul has lost
by death the one person it has loved, the strength of its love is
measured by the greater or less emphasis it places upon the
problem of the lost one's "survival."

The disgust which the aesthetic sense experiences when it
encounters a certain sort of mystical and psychic agitation over the
question as to whether the lost one "lives still somewhere" is a
disgust based upon our instinctive knowledge that this particular
kind of inquiry would never occur to a supreme and self-forgetful
love. For this enquiry, this agitation, this dabbling in "psychic
evidences," is a projection of the baser nature of the soul; is, in
fact, a projection of the "possessive instinct," which is only
another name for the original inert malice.

In the "ave atque vale" of the Roman poet, there is much more of
the absolute quality of great love than in all these psychic
dabblings. For in the austere reserve of that passionate cry there is
the ultimate acceptance, by Love itself, of the tragedy of having
lived and loved at all. There is an acceptance of that aspect of the
"vision of the immortals" which implies that the possessive
instinct has no part or lot in the eternal.

The inhuman cruelties which have been practised by otherwise
"good" men under the motive of "saving" other people's souls, and
the inhuman cruelties which have been practised by otherwise
"good" men under the motive of saving their own souls, have,
each of them, the same evil origin. Love sweeps aside, in one great
wave of its own nature, all these doubts and ambiguities. It lifts the
object of its love into its own eternity; and in its own eternity the
ultimate tragedy of personal separation is but one chord of its
unbroken rhythm.

The tragedy of personal separation is not a thing which love
realizes for the first time when it loses the object of its love. It is
a thing which is of the very nature of the eternity in which love
habitually dwells. For the eternity in which love habitually dwells
is its vision of the tragedy of all life.

This, then, is the original revelation of the complex vision. The
soul is confronted by an ultimate duality which extends through
the whole mass of its impressions. And because this duality
extends through every aspect of the soul's universe and can be
changed and transformed by the soul's will, it is inevitable that
what the world has hitherto named "philosophy" and has regarded
as the effort of "getting hold" of a reality which exists already,
should be named by the complex vision the "art of life" and should
be regarded as the effort of reducing to harmony the unruly
impulses and energies which perpetually transform and change the



What we are really, all of us, in search of, whether we know it or
not, is some concrete and definite symbol of life and the "object"
of life which shall gather up into one living image all the broken,
thwarted, devious, and discordant impressions which make up our
experience. What we crave is something that shall, in some
permanent form and yet in a form that can grow and enrich itself,
represent and embody the whole circle of the joy and pain of
existence. What we crave is something into which we can throw
our personal joys and sorrows, our individual sensations and ideas,
and know of a certainty that thrown into that reservoir, they will
blend with all the joys and sorrows of all the dead and all the

Such a symbol in order to give us what we need must represent the
ultimate reach of insight to which humanity has attained. It must
be something that, once having come into existence, remains
independent of our momentary subjective fancies and our passing
moods. It must be something of clearer outlines and more definite
lineaments than those vague indistinct ecstasies, half-physiological
and half-psychic, which the isolated intuition brings us.

Such a symbol must represent the concentrated struggle of the
human soul with the bitterness of fate and the cruelty of fate, its
long struggle with the deadly malice in itself and the deadly
malice in nature.

There is only one symbol which serves this purpose; a symbol
which has already by the slow process of anonymous creation and
discovery established itself in the world. I mean the symbol of the
figure of Christ.

This symbol would not have sufficed to satisfy the craving of
which I speak if it were only a "discovery" of humanity. The
"God-man" may be "discovered" in nature; but the "Man-god"
must be "created" by man.

We find ourselves approaching this symbol from many points of
view, but the point of view which especially concerns us is to note
how it covers the whole field of human experience. In this symbol
the ultimate duality receives its "eternal form" and becomes an
everlasting standard or pattern of what is most natural and most
rhythmic. As I advance in my analysis of the relation of the
ultimate duality to this symbolic figure of Christ, it becomes
necessary to review once more, in clear and concise order, the
various stages of thought by means of which I prove the necessity
of some sort of universal symbol, and the necessity of moulding
this symbol to fit the drama of One ultimate duality.

A summary of the stages of thought through which we have
already passed will thus be inevitable; but it will be a summary of
the situation from the view-point of a different angle.

Philosophy then is an attempt to articulate more vividly the nature
of reality than such "reality" can get itself articulated in the
confused pell-mell of ordinary experience. The unfortunate thing
is that in this process of articulating reality philosophy tends to
create an artificial world of its own, which in the end gets so far
away from reality that its conclusions when they are confronted
with the pell-mell of ordinary experience appear remote, strange,
fantastic, arbitrary, and even laughable.

This philosophical tendency to create an artificial world which
when confronted with the real world appears strange and remote is
due to the fact that philosophers, instead of using as their
instrument of research the entire complex vision, use first one and
then another of its isolated attributes. But there must come
moments when, in the analysis of so intricate and elaborate a thing
as "reality" by means of so intricate and elaborate an instrument,
as the complex vision, the most genuine and the least artificial of
philosophies must appear to be following a devious and serpentine

These moments of difficulty and obscurity are not, however--as
long as such a philosophy attaches itself closely to "reality" and
flows round "reality" like a tide flowing round submerged rocks or
liquid metal flowing round the cavities of a mould--a sign that
philosophy has deserted reality, but only a sign that the curves and
contours and jagged edges of reality are so intricate and involved
that only a very fluid element can follow their complicated shape.
But these moments of difficulty and obscurity, these vague and
impalpable links in the chain, are only to be found in the
_process_ by which we arrive at our conclusion. When our
conclusion has been once reached it becomes suddenly manifest to
us that it has been there, with us, all the while, implicit in our
whole argument, the secret and hidden cause why the argument
took the form it did rather than any other. The test of any
philosophy is not that it should appeal immediately and directly to
what is called "common-sense," for common-sense is no better
than a crude and premature synthesis of superficial experiences; a
synthesis from which the supreme and culminating experiences of
a person's life have been excluded. For in our supreme and
culminating experiences there is always an element of what might
be called the "impossible" or of what must be recognized as a
matter of faith or imagination. It is therefore quite to be expected
that the conclusions of a philosophy like the philosophy of the
complex vision, which derives its authority from the exceptional
and supreme experiences of all souls, should strike us in our
moments of "practical common-sense" as foolish, impossible,
ridiculous and even insane. All desperate and formidable efforts
towards creation have struck and will strike the mood of "practical
common-sense" as ridiculous and insane. This is true of every
creative idea that has ever emanated from the soul of man.

For the mood of "practical common-sense" is a projection of the
baser instinct of self-preservation and is penetrated through and
through with that power of inert malice which itself might be
called the instinct of self-preservation of the enemy of life.
"Practical common-sense" is the name we give to that superficial
synthesis of our baser self-preservative instincts, which, when it is
reinforced and inspired by "the will of malice" out of the evil
depths of the soul, is the most deadly of all antagonists of new life.

We need suffer, therefore, no surprise or pain if we find the
conclusions of the philosophy of the complex vision ridiculous
and "impossible" to our mood of practical common-sense. If on
the contrary they did not seem insane and foolish to such a mood
we might well be profoundly suspicious of them. For although
there are very few certainties in this world, one thing at least is
certain, namely that for any truth or reality to satisfy the creative
spirit in us it must present itself as something dangerous,
destructive, ridiculous and insane to that instinct in us which
resists creation.

But although "the appeal to common-sense" is no test of the truth
of a philosophy, since common-sense is precisely the thing in us
which has a malicious hostility to the creative spirit, yet no
philosophy can afford to disregard an appeal to actual experience
as long as actual experience includes the rare moments of our life
as well as all the rest. Here is indeed a true and authentic test of
philosophic validity. If we take our philosophical conclusions, so
to speak, in our hands, and plunge with them into the very depths
of actual experience, do they grow more organic, more palpable
and more firm, or do they melt away into the flowing waters?

Who is not able to recall the distress of bitter disillusionment
which has followed the collapse of some plausible system of
"sweet reasonableness" under the granite-like impact of a rock of
reality which has knocked the bottom out of it and left it a derelict
upon the waves? This collapse of an ordered and reasonable
system under the impact of some atrocious projection of "crass
casuality" is a proof that if a philosophy has not got in it some
"iron" of its own, if it has not got in it something formidable and
unfathomable, something that can destroy as well as create, it is
not of much avail against the winds and storms of destiny.

For a philosophy to be a true representation of reality, for it to be
that reality itself, become conscious and articulate, it is necessary
that it should prove most vivid and actual at those supreme
moments when the soul of man is driven to the ultimate wall and
is at the breaking-point.

The truth of a philosophy is not to be tested by what we feel about
it in moods of practical common-sense; for in these moods we
have, for some superficial reason, suppressed more than half of the
attributes of our soul. The truth of a philosophy can only be tested
in those moments when the soul, driven to the wall, gathers itself
together for one supreme effort. But there is, even in less stark and
drastic hours, an available test of a sound and organic philosophy
which must not be forgotten. I refer to its capacity for being
vividly and emphatically summed up and embodied in some
concrete image or symbol.

If a philosophy is so rationalistic that it refuses to lend itself to
a definite and concrete expression we are justified in being more
than suspicious of it.

And we are suspicious of it not because its lack of simplicity
makes it intricate and elaborate, for "reality" is intricate and
elaborate; but because its inability to find expression for its
intricacy in any concrete symbol is a proof that it is too simple.
For the remote conclusions of a purely logical and rationalistic
philosophy are made to appear much less simple than they really
are by reason of their use of remote technical terms.

What the soul demands from philosophy is not simplicity but
complexity, for the soul itself is the most complex thing we know.
The thin, rigid, artificial outlines of purely rationalistic systems
can never be expressed in ritual or symbol or drama, not because
they are too intricate, but because they are not intricate enough.

A genuine symbol, or ritualistic image, is a concrete living organic
thing carrying all manner of magical and subtle associations. It is
an expression of reality which comes much nearer to reality than
any rationalistic system can possibly do. A genuine symbolic or
ritualistic image is a concrete expression of the complexity of life.
It has the creative and destructive power of life. It has the
formidable mysteriousness of life, and with all this it has the
clear-cut directness of life's terrible and exquisite tangibility.

When suddenly confronted, then, in the mid-stream of life, by the
necessity of expressing the starting-point, which is also the
conclusion, of the philosophy of the complex vision, what
synthetic image or symbol or ritualistic word are we to use in
order to sum up its concrete reality?

The revelation of life, offered to us by the complex vision, is, as
we have seen, no very simple or logical affair. We axe left with
the spectacle of innumerable "souls," human, sub-human and
super-human, held together by some indefinable "medium" which
enables them to communicate with one another. Each one of these
"souls" at once creates and discovers its own individual "universe"
and then by an act of faith assumes that the various "universes"
created and discovered by all other souls are identical with its

That they _are_ identical with its own the soul is led to assume
with more and more certainty in proportion as its communion with
other souls grows more and more involved. This identity between
the various "universes" of alien souls is rendered more secure and
more objective by the fact that time and space are found to be
essential peculiarities of all of them alike. For since time and space
are found to enter into the original character of all these
"universes," it becomes a natural and legitimate conclusion that all
these "universes" are in reality the same "universe."

We are left, then, with the spectacle of innumerable souls
confronting a "universe" which in their interaction with one
another they have half-created and half-discovered. There is no
escape from the implication of this phrase "half-discovered." The
creative activity of the complex vision perpetually modifies,
clarifies and moulds the mystery which surrounds it; but that there
is an objective mystery surrounding it, of which time and space are
permanent aspects, cannot be denied.

The pure reason's peculiar power of thinking time and space away,
or of lodging itself outside of time and space, is an abstraction
which leads us out of the sphere of reality; because, in its resultant
conception, it omits the activity of the other attributes of the
complex vision.

The complex vision reveals to us, therefore, three aspects of
objective mystery. It reveals to us in the first place the presence of
an objective "something" outside the soul, which the soul by its
various energies moulds and clarifies and shapes. This is that
"something" which the soul at one and the same moment "half-discovers"
and "half-creates." It reveals to us, in the second place, the presence
of an indefinable objective "something" which is the medium
that makes possible the communion of one soul with another and with
"the invisible companions."

This is the medium which holds all these separate personalities
together while each of them half-creates and half-discovers his
own "universe."

In the third place it reveals to us the presence, in each individual
soul, of a sort of "substratum of the soul" or something beyond
analysis which is the "vanishing point of sensation" and the
vortex-point or fusion-point where the movement which we call
"matter" loses itself in the movement which we call "mind."

In all these three aspects of objective mystery, revealed to us by
the united activities of the complex vision, we are compelled, as
has been shown, to use the vague and obscure word "something."
We are compelled to apply this unilluminating and tantalizing
word to all these three aspects of "objective mystery," because no
other word really covers the complex vision's actual experience.

The soul recognizes that there is "something" outside itself which
is the "clay" upon which its energy works in creating its
"universe," but it cannot know anything about this "something"
except that it is "there"; because, directly the soul discovers it, it
inevitably moulds it and recreates it. There is not one minutest
division of time between this "discovery" and this "creation"; so
all that one can say is that the resultant objective "universe" is
half-created and half-discovered; and that whatever this
mysterious "something" may be, apart from the complex vision, it
at any rate has the peculiarity of being forced to submit to the
complex vision's creative energy.

But not only are we compelled to apply the provoking and
unilluminating word "something" to each of these three aspects of
objective mystery which the complex vision reveals; we are also
compelled to assume that each one of these is dominated by time
and space.

This implication of "time and space" is necessitated in a different
way in each of these three aspects of what was formerly called
"matter." In the first aspect of the thing we have time and space as
essential characteristics of all the various "universes," reduced by
an act of faith to one "universe," of the souls which fill the world.

In the second aspect of it we have time and space as essential
characteristics of that indefinable "medium" which holds all these
souls together, and which by holding them together makes it easier
to regard their separate "universes" as "one universe," since they
find their ground or base in one universal "medium."

In the third aspect of it we have time and space as essential
characteristics of that "substratum of the soul" which is the
vanishing-point of sensation and the fusion-point of "mind" and

We are thus inevitably led to a further conclusion; namely, that all
these three aspects of objective reality, since they are all
dominated by time and space, are all dominated by the _same_
"time" and the same "space." And since it is unthinkable that three
coexistent forms of objective reality should be all dominated by
the same time and space and remain absolutely distinct from one
another, it becomes evident that these three forms of objective
mystery, these three indefinable "somethings," are not separate
from one another but are in continual contact with one another.

Thus the fact that all these three aspects of objective reality are
under the domination of the same time and space is a further
confirmation of the truth which we have already assumed by
an act of faith, namely that all the various "universes,"
half-discovered and half-created by all the souls in the world, are
in reality "one universe."

The real active and objective existence of this "one universe" is
made still more sure and is removed still further from all
possibility of "illusion," by the fact that we are forced to regard it
as being not only "our" universe but the universe also of those
"invisible companions" whose vision half-creates it and
half-discovers it, even as our own vision does. It is true that to
certain types of mind, for whom the definite recognition of mystery is
repugnant, it must seem absurd and ridiculous to be driven to the
acknowledgment of a thing's existence, while at the same time we
have to confess complete inability to predicate anything at all
about the thing except that it exists.

It must seem to such minds still more absurd and ridiculous that
we should be driven to recognize no less than three aspects of this
mysterious "something."

But since they are included in the same time and space, and since,
consequently, they are intimately connected with one another, it
becomes inevitable that we should take the yet further step and
regard them as three separate aspects of one and the same mystery.
Thus we are once more confronted with the inescapable trinitarian
nature of the system of things; and just as we have three ultimate
aspects of reality in the monistic truth of "the one time and space,"
in the pluralistic truth of the innumerable company of living souls
and the dualistic truth of the contradictory nature of all existence;
so we have three further ultimate aspects of reality, in the
incomprehensible "something" which holds all souls together; in
the incomprehensible "something" out of which all souls create the
universe; and in the incomprehensible "something" which forms
the substratum both of the souls of the invisible "companions of
men" and of the soul of every individual thing.

The supreme unity, therefore, in this complicated world, thus
revealed to us by the activity of the complex vision is the unity of
time and space. This unity is eternally reborn and eternally
re-discovered every time any living personality contemplates the
system of things. And since "the sons of the universe" must be
regarded as continually contemplating the system of things,
struggling with it, moulding it, and changing it, according to their
pre-existent ideal, we are compelled to assume that time and space
are eternal aspects of reality and that their eternal necessity gives
the system of things its supreme unity.

No isolated speculation of the logical reason, functioning apart
from the other attributes of the complex vision, can undermine this
supreme unity of time and space. The "a priori unity of
apperception" is an unreality compared with this reality. The
all-embracing cosmic "monad," contemplating itself as its eternal
object, is an unreality compared with this reality.

We are left with a pluralistic world of individual souls, finding
their pattern and their ideal in the vision of the "immortal gods"
and perpetually rediscovering and recreating together "a universe"
which like themselves is dominated by time and space and which
like themselves is for ever divided against itself in an eternal and
unfathomable duality.

The ultimate truth of the system of things according to the
revelation of the complex vision is thus found to consist in the
mystery of personality confronting "something" which _seems_
impersonal. Over both these things, over the personal soul and
over the primordial "clay" or "energy" or "movement" or "matter"
out of which the personal soul creates its "universe," time and
space are dominant. But since we can predicate nothing of this
original "plasticity" except that it is "plastic" and that time and
space rule over it, it is in a strict sense illegitimate to say that
this primordial "clay" or "world stuff" is in itself divided into a
duality. We know nothing, and can never know anything about it, beyond
the bare fact of its existence. Its duality comes from the duality in
us. It is we who create the contradiction upon which its life
depends. It is from the unfathomable duality in the soul of the
"companions of men" that the universe is brought forth.

The ultimate duality which perpetually creates the world is the
ultimate duality in all living souls and in the souls of "the sons of
the universe." But although it is we ourselves who in the primal
act of envisaging the world endow it with this duality, it would be
an untrue statement to say that this duality in the material universe
is an "illusion." It is no more an illusion than the objective
material world itself is an illusion. Both are created by the
inter-action between the mystery of personality and the mystery of what
seems the impersonal. Thus it remains perfectly true that what we
sometimes call "brute matter" possesses an element of malignant
inertness and malicious resistance to the power of creation. This
malice of the impersonal, this malignant inertness of "matter," is
an ultimate fact; and is not less a fact because it depends upon the
existence of the same malice and the same inert resistance in our
own souls.

Nor are we able to escape from the conclusion that this malignant
element in the indefinable "world-stuff" exists independently of
any human soul. It must be thought of as dependent upon the same
duality in the souls of "the sons of the universe" as that which
exists in the souls of men. For although the primordial ideas of
truth and nobility and beauty, brought together by the emotion of
love, are realized in the "gods" with an incredible and immortal
intensity, yet the souls of the "gods" could not be souls at all if
they were not subject to the same duality as that which struggles
within ourselves.

It follows from this that we are forced to recognize the presence of
a potentiality of evil or malice in the souls of "the sons of the
universe." But although we cannot escape from the conclusion that
evil or malice exists in the souls of the immortals as in all human
souls, yet in their souls this evil or malice must be regarded as
perpetually overcome by the energy of the power of love. This
overcoming of malice by the power of love, or of evil by "good,"
in the souls of "the sons of the universe," must not be regarded as
a thing once for all accomplished, but as a thing eternally
re-attained as the result of an unceasing struggle, a struggle so
desperate, so passionate and so unfathomable, that it surpasses all
effort of the mind to realize or comprehend it.

It must not, moreover, be forgotten that what the complex vision
reveals about this eternal struggle between love and malice in the
souls of "the sons of the universe" and in the souls of all living
things, is not that love and malice are vague independent
elemental "forces" which obsess or possess or function _through_
the soul which is their arena, but rather that they themselves _are_
the very stuff and texture and essence of the individual soul itself.

Their duality is unfathomable because the soul is unfathomable.
The struggle between them is unfathomable because the struggle
between them is nothing less than the intrinsic nature of the soul.
The soul is unthinkable without this unfathomable struggle in its
inherent being between love and malice or between life and what
resists life. We are therefore justified in saying that "the universe"
is created by the perpetual struggle between love and malice or
between life and what resists life. But when we say this we must
remember that this is only true because "the universe" is
half-discovered and half-created by the souls of "the sons of the
universe" and by the souls of all living things which fill the
universe. This unfathomable duality which perpetually re-creates
Nature, does not exist in Nature apart from living things, although
it does exist in nature apart from any individual living thing.

All those aspects of the objective universe which we usually call
"inanimate," such as earth, water, air, fire, ether, electricity,
energy, movement, matter and the like, including the stellar and
planetary bodies and the chemical medium, whatever it may be,
which unites them, must be regarded as sharing, in some
inscrutable way, in this unfathomable struggle. We are unable to
escape from this conception of them, as thus sharing in this
struggle, because they are themselves the creation and discovery
of the complex vision of the soul; and the soul is, as we have seen,
dependent for its every existence upon this struggle.

In the same way, all those other aspects of the universe which are
"animate" but sub-human, such as grass, moss, lichen, plants,
sea-weed, trees, fish, birds, animals and the like, must be regarded
as sharing in a still more intimate sense in this unfathomable
struggle. This conception has a double element of truth. For not
only do these things depend for their form and shape and reality
upon the complex vision of the soul which contemplates them; but
they are themselves, since they are things endowed with life,
possessed of some measure or degree of the complex vision.

And if the souls of men and the Souls of the "sons of the universe"
are inextricably made up of the very stuff of this unfathomable
struggle, between life and what resists life, we cannot escape from
the conclusion that the souls of plants and birds and animals and
all other living things are inextricably made up of the stuff of the
same unfathomable struggle. For where there is life there must be
a soul possessed of life. Life, apart from some soul possessed with
life, is an abstraction of the logical reason and a phantom of no
more genuine reality than the "a priori unity of apperception" or
"the universal self-conscious monad."

What we call reality, or the truth of the system of things, is
nothing less than an innumerable company of personalities
confronting an objective mystery; and while we are driven to
regard the "inanimate," such as earth and air and water and fire, as
the bodily expressions of certain living souls, so are we much
more forcibly driven to regard the "animate," wherever it is found,
as implying the existence of some measure of personality and
some degree of consciousness.

Life, apart from a soul possessing life, is not life at all. It is an
abstraction of the logical reason which we cannot appropriate to
our instinct or imagination. A vague phrase, like the phrase
"life-force," conveys to us whose medium of research is the complex
vision, simply no intelligible meaning at all. It is on a par with the
"over-soul"; and, to the philosophy of the complex vision, both the
"life-force" and the "over-soul" are vague, materialistic,
metaphorical expressions which do not attain to the dignity of a
legitimate symbolic image.

They do not attain to this, because a legitimate symbolic image
must appeal to the imagination and the aesthetic sense by the
possession of something concrete and intelligible.

Any individual personal soul is concrete and intelligible. The
personal souls of "the sons of the universe" are concrete and
intelligible. But the "over-soul" and the "life-force" are neither
concrete nor intelligible and therefore cannot be regarded as
legitimate symbols. One of the most important aspects of the
method of philosophical enquiry which the philosophy of the
complex vision adopts is this use of legitimate symbolic images in
place of illegitimate metaphorical images.

This use of concrete, tangible, intelligible images is a thing which
has to pay its price. And the price which it has to pay is the price
of appearing childish, absurd and ridiculous to the type of mind
which advocates the exclusive use of the logical reason as the sole
instrument of philosophical research. This price of appearing
naive, childish and ridiculous has to be paid shamelessly and in

The type of mind which exacts this price, which demands in fact
that the concrete intelligible symbols of the philosophy of the
complex vision should be regarded as childish and ridiculous, is
precisely the type of mind for whom "truth" is a smoothly
evolutionary affair, an affair of steady "progress," and for whom,
therefore, the mere fact of an idea being "a modern idea" implies
that it is "true" and the mere fact of an idea being a classical idea
or a mediaeval idea implies that it is crude and inadequate if not
completely "false."

To the philosophy of the complex vision "truth" does not present
itself as an affair of smooth and steady historical evolution but as
something quite different from this--as a work of art, in fact,
dependent upon the struggle of the individual soul with itself, and
upon the struggle of "the souls of the sons of the universe" with
themselves. And although the struggle of the souls of "the sons of
the universe" towards a fuller clarifying of the mystery of life must
be regarded as having its concrete tangible history in time and
space, yet this history is not at all synonymous with what is
usually called "progress."

An individual human soul, the apex-thought of whose complex
vision has attained an extraordinary and unusual rhythm, must be
regarded as having approached nearer to the vision of "the sons of
the universe" although such an one may have lived in the days of
the patriarchs or in the Greek days or in the days of mediaevalism
or of the renaissance, than any modern rationalistic thinker who is
obsessed by "the latest tendencies of modern thought."

The souls of "the immortals" must certainly be regarded as
developing and changing and as constantly advancing towards the
realization of their hope and premonition. But this "advance" is
also, as we have seen, in the profoundest sense a "return," because
it is a movement towards an idea which already is implicit and
latent. And in the presence of this "advance," which is also a
"return," all historic ages of individual human souls are equal and

All real symbols are "true," wherever and whenever they are
invoked, because all real symbols are the expression of that rare
unity of the complex vision which is man's deepest approximation
to the mystery of life. The symbol of the cross, for instance, has
far more truth in it than any vague metaphorical expression such
as the "over-soul." The symbolic ritual of the Mass, for instance,
has far more truth in it than any metaphorical expression such as
the "life-force." And although both the Cross and the Mass are
inadequate and imperfect symbols with regard to the vision of "the
sons of the universe," because they are associated with the idea of
an historic incarnation, yet in comparison with any modern
rationalistic or chemical metaphor they are supremely true.

The philosophy of the complex vision, just because it is the
philosophy of personality, must inevitably use images which
appear to the rationalistic mind as naive and childish and
ridiculous. But the philosophy of the complex vision prefers to
express itself in terms which are concrete, tangible and intelligible,
rather than in terms which are no more than vague projections of
phantom logic abstracted from the concrete activity of real

In completing this general picture of the starting point of the
philosophy of the complex vision there is one further implication
which ought to be brought fully into the light. I refer to a doctrine
which certain ancient and mediaeval thinkers adopted, and which
must always be constantly re-appearing in human thought because
it is an inevitable projection of the human conscience when the
human conscience functions in isolation and in disregard of the
other attributes. I mean the doctrine of the essentially evil,
character of that phenomenon which was formerly called "matter"
but which I prefer to call the objective mystery.

According to this doctrine--which might be called the eternal
heresy of puritanism--this objective mystery, this world-stuff, this
eternal "energy" or "movement," this "flesh and blood" through
which the soul expresses itself and of which the physical body is
made, is "evil"; and the opposite of this, that is to say "mind" or
"thought" or "consciousness" or "spirit" is alone "good."

According to this doctrine the world is a struggle between "the
spirit" which is entirely good and "the flesh" which is entirely evil.
To the philosophy of the complex vision this doctrine appears
false and misleading. It detects in this doctrine, as I have hinted,
an attempt of the conscience to arrogate to itself the whole field of
experience and to negate all the other attributes, especially
emotion and the aesthetic sense.

Such a doctrine negates the whole activity of the complex vision
because it assumes the independent existence of "flesh and blood"
as opposed to "mind." But "flesh and blood" is a thing which has
no existence apart from "mind," because it is a thing "half-created"
as well as "half-discovered" by "mind."

It negates the aesthetic sense because the aesthetic sense requires
the existence of "the body" or of "flesh and blood" or of what we
call "matter," and cannot exert its activity without the reality of
this thing.

It negates emotion, because the emotion of love demands, for its
full satisfaction, nothing less than "the eternal idea of flesh and
blood." And since love demands the "eternal idea of flesh and
blood," "flesh and blood" cannot be "evil."

This doctrine of the evil nature of "matter" is obviously a
perversion of what the complex vision reveals to us about the
eternal duality. According to this doctrine, which I call the puritan
heresy, the duality resolves itself into a struggle between the spirit
and the flesh. But according to the revelation of the complex
vision the true duality is quite different from this. In the true
duality there is an evil aspect of "matter" and also an evil aspect of

In the true duality "spirit" is by no means necessarily good. For
since the true duality lies in the depths of the soul itself, what we
call "spirit" must very often be evil. According to the revelation of
the complex vision, evil or malice is a positive force, of malignant
inertness, resisting the power of creation or of love. It is, as we
have seen, the primordial or chaotic weight which opposes itself to

But "flesh and blood" or any other definite form of "matter" has
already in large measure submitted to the energy of creation and is
therefore both "good" and "evil." That original shapeless "clay" or
"objective mystery" out of which the complex vision creates the
universe certainly cannot be regarded as "evil," for we can never
know anything at all about it except that it exists and that it lends
itself to the creative energy of the complex vision. And in so far as
it lends itself to the creative energy of the complex vision it
certainly cannot be regarded as entirely evil, but must obviously
be both good and evil; even as the complex vision itself, being the
vision of the soul, is both good and evil.

According to the philosophy of the complex vision then, what we
call "mind" is both good and evil and what we call "matter" being
intimately dependent upon "mind" is both good and evil. We are
forced, therefore, to recognize the existence of both spiritual "evil"
and spiritual "good" in the unfathomable depths of the soul. But
just because personality is itself a relative triumph of good over
evil it is possible to conceive of the existence of a personality in
whom evil is perpetually overcome by good, while it is impossible
to conceive of a personality in whom good is _perpetually_
overcome by evil.

In other words, all personalities are relatively good; and some
personalities namely those of "the immortals" are, as far as we are
concerned, absolutely good. All personalities including even the
personalities of "the immortals" have evil in them, but no
personality can be the embodiment of evil, in the sense in which
"the sons of the universe" are the embodiment of good.

I thus reach the conclusion of this complicated summary of the
nature of the ultimate duality and the necessity of finding a clear
and definite symbol for it.



It now becomes necessary to consider in greater detail those
primary human conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness, which
I have already referred to as the soul's "ultimate ideas." Let no one
think that any magical waving of the wand of modern psychology
can explain away these universal human experience. They may be
named by different appellations; but considering the enormous
weight of historical tradition behind these names it would seem
absurd and pedantic to attempt to re-baptize them at this late hour.

Human nature, in its essentials, has undergone no material change
since we have any record of it; and to use any other word than
"beauty" for what we mean by beauty, or than "goodness" for what
we mean by goodness, would seem a mere superstition of originality.
The interpretation offered, in what follows, of the existence
of these experiences is sufficiently startling to require no
assistance from novelty of phrasing to give it interest and
poignancy. That our souls are actually able to touch, in the
darkness which surrounds us, the souls of super-human beings,
and that the vision of such super-human beings is the "eternal
vision" wherein the mystery of love is consummated, is a doctrine
of such staggering implications that it seems wise, in making our
way towards it, to use the simplest human words and to avoid any
"stylistic" shocks.

It seems advisable also to advance with scrupulous leisureliness in
this formidable matter and at certain intervals to turn round as it
were, and survey the path by which we have come. The existence
of super-human beings, immeasurably superior to man, is in itself
a harmless and natural speculation. It is only when it presents itself
as a necessary link in philosophical discussion that it appears
startling. And the mere fact that it does appear startling when
introduced into philosophy shows how, lamentably philosophy has
got itself imprisoned in dull, mechanical, mathematical formulae;
in formulae so arid and so divorced from life, that the conception
of personality, applied to man or to the gods, seems to us as
exciting as an incredible fairy story when brought into relation
with them.

As the souls of men, then, each with its own complex vision, move
side by side along the way, or across one another's path, they are
driven by the necessity of things to exchange impressions with
regard to the nature of life. In their communications with one
another they become aware of the presence, at the back of their
consciousness, of an invisible standard of truth, of beauty, of
goodness. It is from this standard of beauty and truth and
goodness, from this dream, this vision, this hope, that all these
souls seem to themselves to draw their motive of movement.
But though they seem to themselves to be "moving" into an
indetermined future still to be created by their wills, they also
seem to themselves to be "returning" towards the discovery of that
invisible standard of beauty, truth and goodness, which has as their
motive-impulse been with them from the beginning. This implicit
standard, this invisible pattern and test and arbitrament of all
philosophizing, is what I call "the vision of the immortals." Some
minds, both philosophical and religious, seem driven to think of
this invisible pattern, this standard of truth and beauty, as the
_parent_ of the universe rather than as its offspring. I cannot bring
myself to take this view because of the fact that the ultimate
revelation of the world as presented, to man's complex vision is
essential and unfathomably _dualistic_.

A "parent" of the universe can only be thought of as a
stopping-place of all thought. He can only be _imagined_--for
strictly speaking he cannot be thought of at all--as some unutterable
mystery out of which the universe originally sprang. From this
unutterable mystery, to which we have no right to attribute either a
monistic or a pluralistic character, we may, I suppose, imagine to
emerge a perpetual torrent of duality.

Towards this unutterable mystery, about which even to say "it is"
seems to be saying too much, it is impossible for the complex
vision to have any attitude at all. It can neither love it nor hate it.
It can neither reject it nor accept it. It can neither worship it nor
revolt against it. It is only _imaginable_ in the illegitimate sense of
metaphor and analogy. It is simply the stopping-place of the
complex vision; that stopping-place beyond which anything is
possible and nothing is thinkable.

This thing, which is at once everything and nothing, this thing
which is _no thing_ but only the unutterable limit where all things
pass beyond thought, cannot be accepted by the complex vision as
the parent of the universe. The universe has therefore no parent, no
origin, no cause, no creator. Eternally it re-creates itself and
eternally it divides itself into that ultimate duality which makes
creation possible.

That monistic tendency of human thought, which is itself a
necessary projection of the monistic reality of the individual soul,
cannot, except by an arbitrary act of faith, resolve this ultimate
duality into unity. Such a primordial "act of faith" it can and must
make with regard to the objective reality of other souls. But such
an "act of faith" is not demanded with regard to the unutterable
mystery behind the universe. We have not, strictly speaking, even
the right to use the expression "an unutterable mystery." All we
have a right to do is just to titter the final judgment--"beyond this
limit neither thought nor imagination can pass."

What the complex vision definitely denies to us, therefore, is the
right to regard this thing, which is _no_ thing, with any emotion at
all. The expression "unutterable mystery" is a misleading one
because it appears to justify the emotions of awe and reverence.
We have no right to regard this thin simulacrum, this mathematical
formula, this stopping-place of thought, with any feelings of awe
or reverence. We have not even a right to regard it with humorous
contempt; for, being nothing at all, it is beneath contempt.

Humanity has a right to indulge in that peculiar emotional attitude
which is called "worship" towards either side of the ultimate
duality. It has a right to worship, if it pleases--though to do so
several attitudes of the complex vision must be outraged and
suppressed--the resistant power of malice. It has even a right to
worship the universe, that turbulent arena of these primal
antagonists. What it has no right to worship is the "unutterable
mystery" _behind the universe_; for the simple reason that the
universe is unfathomable.

Human thought has its stopping-place. The universe is unfathomable.
Human thought has a definite limit. The universe has no
limit. The universe is "unutterably mysterious"; and so also
is the human soul; but as far as the soul's complex vision is
concerned there can be no reality "behind the appearances of
things" except the reality of the soul itself. Thus there is no
"parent" of man and of the universe. But "the immortal companions"
of men are implied from man's most intimate experiences of life.
For if there were no invisible watchers, no arbiters, no standards,
no tests, no patterns, no ideals; our complex vision, in regard to
certain basic attributes, would be refuted and negated.

Every soul which exists must be thought of as possessing the
attribute of "emotion" with its duality of love and malice, the
attribute of "taste" with its duality of beauty and hideousness, of
conscience with its duality of good and evil, and the attribute of
"reason" with its duality of the true and the false. Every one of
these basic attributes would be reduced to a suicidal confusion of
absolute sceptical subjectivity if it could not have faith in some
objective reality to which it can appeal.

Such an appeal, to such an objective reality, it does, as a matter of
fact, continually make, whether it makes it consciously or
sub-consciously. And just as the soul's basic attributes of emotion,
taste, conscience, and reason indicate an implicit faith in the
objective reality of the ideas of beauty and nobility and truth; so
the soul's basic attribute of self-consciousness indicates an implicit
demand that the objective reality of these ideas should be united
and embodied in actual living and self-conscious "souls" external
to other "souls."

The most dangerous mistake we can make, and the most deadly in
its implications, is to reduce these "companions of men" to a
monistic unity and to make this unity what the metaphysicians call
"absolute" in its embodiment of these ultimate ideas.

In comparison with the fitful and moody subjectivity of our
individual conceptions of these ideas the vision of the immortals
may be thought of as embodying them absolutely. But in itself it
certainly does not embody them absolutely; otherwise the whole
movement of life would end. It is unthinkable that it should ever
embody them absolutely. For it is in the inherent nature of such a
vision that it should be growing, living, inexhaustible. The most
withering and deadly of all conceivable dogmas is the dogma that
there is such a thing as absolute truth, absolute beauty, absolute
good and absolute love.

The attraction of such a dogma for the mind of man is undoubtedly
due to the spirit of evil or of malice. For nothing offers a more
frozen resistance to the creative power than such a faith.
Compared with our human visions of these ideas the vision of
these "companions of men" must be thought of as relatively
complete. And complete it is, with regard to its general synthesis
and orientation. But it is not really complete; and can never be so.
For when we consider the nature of love alone, it becomes
ridiculous to speak of an absolute or complete love. If the love of
these "companions of men" became at any moment incapable of a
deeper and wider manifestation, at that very moment the whole
stream of life would cease, the malice of the adversary would
prevail, and nothingness would swallow up the universe. It is
because we are compelled to regard the complex vision, including
all its basic attributes, as the vision of a personal soul, that it is
a false and misleading conception to view these "companions of
men" as a mere ideal.

An ideal is nothing if not expressed in personality. Subjectively
every ideal is the ideal of "some one," an ideal of a conscious,
personal, and living entity. Objectively every ideal must be
embodied in "some one": and must be a standard, a measure, a
rhythm, of various energies synthesized in a living soul. This is
really the crux of the whole matter. Vaguely and obscurely do we
all feel the pressure of these deep and secret impulses. Profoundly
do we feel that these mysterious "ideas," which give life its
dramatic intensity, are part of the depths of our own soul and part
of the depths of the souls of the immortals. And yet though they
are so essentially part of us and part of the universe, they remain
vague, obscure, contradictory, confused, inchoate; only gradually
assuming coherent substance and form as the "rapport" between
man and his invisible companions grows clearer and clearer.

We are confronted at this point by one of the most difficult of all
dilemmas. If by reason of the fact that we are driven to regard
personality as the most real thing in the universe we are compelled
toward the act of faith which recognizes one side of the eternal
duality of things as embodied in actual living souls, how is it that
we are not equally compelled to a similar act of faith in relation to
the other side of this duality? In simpler words, how is it that while
we are compelled to an act of faith with regard to the existence of
powers which embody the spirit of love, we are not compelled to
an act of faith with regard to the existence of powers which
embody the spirit of malice?

How is it that while we have a right to regard the ideas of truth,
beauty, goodness as objectively embodied in living personalities
we have no right to regard the ideas of falseness, hideousness, evil
and malice, as objectively embodied in living personalities? To
answer this question it is necessary to define more clearly the
essential duality which we discover as the secret of the universe.

One side of this duality is the creative power of life, the other side
is the resistant power which repels life. The emotion of love is the
motive-force of the power of creation, a force which we have to
recognize as containing in itself the power of destruction; for
destruction is necessary to creation and is inspired by the creative

The other side of the eternal duality is not a destructive force, but a
resistant force. That is why it is necessary to define the opposite of
love, not as hate--but as malice, which is a resistant thing. Thus it
becomes clear why it is that we are not driven by the necessity of
the situation to any act of faith with regard to the existence of
living souls which embody evil and malice. We are not compelled
towards this act of faith because the nature of the "other side" of
the eternal duality is such that it cannot be embodied, in any
complete or objective way, in a living personality. It can and it
does appear in every personality that has ever existed. We are
compelled to assume that it exists, though in a state of
suppression, even in the souls of the immortals. If it did not exist,
in some form or other, in the souls of the immortals, the ideas of
truth, beauty, and goodness would be absolute in them, and the life
of the universe would cease.

For the nature of this eternal duality is such that the life of the
universe depends upon this unending struggle between what
creates and what resists creation. The power that creates must be
regarded as embodied in personality, for creation always implies
personality. But the power that resists creation--though present in
every living soul--cannot be embodied in personality because
personality is the highest expression of creation.

Every soul born into life must possess the attributes of taste,
reason, conscience and emotion. And each of these attributes
implies this fundamental duality; being resolvable into a choice
between hideousness, falsehood, evil, malice, and the opposites of
these. But the soul itself, being a living and personal thing, can
never, however deeply it plunges into evil, become the embodiment
of evil, because by the mere fact of existing at all it has
already defeated evil.

Any individual soul may give itself up to malice rather than to
love, and may do its utmost to resist the creative power of love.
But one thing it cannot do. It cannot become the embodiment of
evil, because, by merely being alive, it is the eternal defiance of
evil. Personality is the secret of the universe. The universe exists
by reason of a struggle between what creates and what resists
creation. Therefore personality exists by reason of a struggle
between what creates and what resists creation. And the existence
of personality, however desperate the struggle within itself may
be, is a proof that the power of life is stronger than the power
which resists life.

But we have to consider another and yet deeper dilemma. Since
the existence of the universe depends upon the continuance of this
unfathomable struggle and since the absolute victory of life over
death, of love over malice, of truth over falsehood, of beauty over
hideousness and of nobility over ignobility, would mean that the
universe would end, are we therefore forced to the conclusion that
evil is necessary to the fuller manifestation of good?

Undoubtedly we _are_ forced to this conclusion. Not one of these
primordial ideas, which find their synthesis in "the invisible
companions of men," can be conceived without its opposite. And
it is in the process of their unending struggle that the fuller
realization of all of them is attained. And this struggle must
inevitably assume a double character. It must assume the character
of a struggle within the individual soul and of a struggle of the
individual soul with other souls and with the universe. Such a
struggle must be thought of as continually maintained in the soul
of the "invisible companions of men" and maintained there with a
depth of dramatic intensity at which we can only guess.

Only less false and dangerous than the dogma that the absolute
victory of good over evil has already been achieved, is the dogma
that these two eternal antagonists are in reality one and the same
thing. They are only one and the same thing in the sense that
neither is thinkable without the other; and in the sense that they
create the universe by their conflict.

It is important in a matter as crucial as this matter, concerning "the
invisible companions of men," not to advance a step beyond our
starting-point till we have apprehended it from several different
aspects and have gone over our ground again and again--even as
builders of a bridge might test the solidity of their fabric stone by
stone and arch by arch. By that "conscience in reason" which
never allows us pleasantly to deceive ourselves, we are bound to
touch, as it were with our very hands, every piece of stone work
and every patch of cement which holds this desperate bridge
together over the dark waters.

We have not, then, a right to say that every energy of the complex
vision depends for its functioning upon the existence of these
invisible companions. We have not a right to say--"if there were
no such beings these energies could not function; but they do
function; therefore there are such beings." What we have a right to
say is simply this, that it is an actual experience that when two or
more personalities come together and seek to express their various
subjective impressions of these ultimate ideas there is always a
tacit reference to some objective standard.

This objective standard cannot be thought of apart from
personalities capable of embodying it. For these ultimate ideas are
only real and living when embodied in personality. Apart from
personality we are unable to grasp them; although we must
recognize that the universe itself is composed of the very stuff of
their contention. We have in the first place, then, completely
eliminated from our discussion that "inscrutable mystery"
behind the universe. In every direction we find the universe
unfathomable; and though our power of thought stops abruptly at a
certain limit, we have no reason to think that the universe stops
there; and we have every reason to think that it continues--together
with the unfathomable element in our souls--into impenetrably
receding depths.

The universe, as we apprehend it, presents itself as a congeries of
living souls united by some indefinable medium. These living
souls are each possessed of that multiform activity which I have
named the complex vision. Among the basic energies of this
vision are some which in their functioning imply the pre-existence
of certain primordial ideas.

These ideas are at once the eternally receding horizon and the
eternally receding starting-point--the unfathomable past and the
unfathomable future--of this procession of souls. The crux of the
whole situation is found in the evasive and tantalizing problem of
the real nature of these primordial ideas. Can "truth," can "beauty,"
can "goodness" be conceived of as existing in the universe apart
from any individual soul?

They are clearly not completely exhausted or totally revealed by
the vision of any individual human soul or of any number of
human souls. The sense which we all have when we attempt to
exchange our individual feelings with regard to these things is that
we are appealing to some invisible standard or pattern which
already exists and of which we each apprehend a particular facet
or aspect.

All human intercourse depends upon this implicit assumption; of
which language is the outward proof.

The existence of language goes a long way in itself to destroy that
isolation of individual souls which in its extreme form would
mean the impossibility of any objective truth or beauty or nobility.
Language itself is founded upon that original act of faith by which
we assume the independent existence of other souls. And the same
act of faith which assumes the existence of other souls assumes
also that the vision of other souls does not essentially differ from
our own vision.

Once having got as far as this, the further fact that these other
visions do vary considerably, though not essentially, differ from
our own leads us by an inevitable, if not a logical, step to the
assumption that all our different visions are the imperfect
renderings of one vision, wherein the ideas of truth, beauty and
nobility exist in a harmonious synthesis.

There is no reason why we should think of this objective synthesis
of truth, beauty, and goodness as absolute or perfect. Indeed there
is every reason why we should think of it as imperfect and
relative. But it is imperfect and relative only in its relation to its
own dream, its own hope, its own prophecy, its own premonition,
its own struggle towards a richer and fuller manifestation. In its
relation to our broken, baffled, and subjective visions it is already
so complete as to be relatively absolute. To this objective ideal of
our aesthetic and emotional values, I have given the name "the
vision of the immortals" because we are unable to disassociate it
from personality; and because, while the generations of man pass
away, this vision does not pass away.

Have I, in giving to this natural human ideal, such a formidable
name--a name with so many bold and startling implications--been
merely tempted into an alluring metaphorical image, or have I
been driven to make use of this expression by reason of the
intrinsic nature of life itself?

I think that the latter of these two alternatives is the true one. The
"logic" by which this conclusion is reached differs from the
"logic" of the abstract reason in the sense of being the organic,
dynamic, and creative "logic" of the complex vision itself, using
the very apex-thought of its pyramidal activity in apprehending a
mystery which is at once the secret of its own being and the secret
of the unfathomable universe into the depths of which it forces its

The expression, then, "the vision of the immortals" is not a mere
pictorial image but is the definite articulation of a profound reality
from which there is no escape if certain attributes of the human
soul are to be trusted at all. We cannot get rid of this dilemma, one
of those dilemmas which offer alternative possibilities so
appallingly opposite, that the choice between them seems like a
choice between two eternities.

Is the vision of these immortals, the existence of which as a
standard of all philosophical discussion seems to be implied by the
very nature of man's soul, to be regarded or not to be regarded as
the vision of real and living personalities?

In other words, to put the case once more in its rigid outlines, is
that objective vision of truth, beauty, and goodness of which our
individual subjective visions are only imperfect representations,
the real vision of actual living "gods" or only the projection, upon
the evasive medium which holds all human souls together, of such
beauty and such truth and such goodness as these souls find that
they possess in common?

This is the crux of the whole human comedy. This is the throw of
the dice between a world without hope and a world with hope.
Philosophers are capable of treating this subject with quiet
intellectual curiosity; but all living men and women--philosophers
included--come, at moments, to a pitiless and adamantine
"impasse" where the eternal "two ways" branch off in unfathomable

In our normal and superficial moods we are able to find a plausible
excuse for our struggles with ourselves, in a simple acceptance of
the ultimate duality.

It is enough for us, in these moods, that we have on the one hand a
consciousness of "love" and on the other a consciousness of
"malice." It is enough for us, in these moods, that we have on the
one hand a consciousness of truth and beauty and nobility; and on
the other a consciousness of unreality, of hideousness, and of evil.
But there come other, deeper, more desperate moods, when, out of
intolerable and unspeakable loneliness our soul sinking back into
its own depths refuses to be satisfied with a mere recognition of
this ultimate duality.

At these moments the soul seems to rend and tear at the very roots
of this duality. It takes these ideas of beauty and truth and
goodness and subjects them to a savage and merciless analysis. It
takes the emotion of love and the emotion of malice and tries to
force its way behind them. It turns upon itself, in its insane
trouble, and seeks to get itself out of its own way and to efface
itself, so that "something" beyond itself may flow into its place.

At these moments the soul's complex vision is roused to a supreme
pitch of rhythmic energy. The apex-thought of its focussed
attributes gathers itself together to pierce the mystery. Like a strain
of indescribable music the apex-thought rests upon itself and
brings each element of its being into harmony with every other.

This ultimate harmony of the complex vision may be compared to
a music which is so intense that it becomes silence. And in this
"silence," wherein the apex-thought becomes at once a creator and
a discoverer, the pain and distress of the struggle seems suddenly
to disappear and an indescribable happiness flows in upon the
soul. At this moment when this consummation is reached the
soul's complex vision becomes aware that the ideas of beauty,
truth and goodness are not mental abstractions or material qualities
or evolutionary by-products, but are the very purpose and meaning
of life. It becomes aware that the emotion of love is not a mental
abstraction or a psychological accident or a biological necessity
but the secret of the whole struggle and the explanation of the
whole drama.

It becomes aware that this truth, this beauty, this nobility find their
unity and harmony in nothing less than in the emotion of love. It
becomes aware that these three primordial "ideas" are only varying
facets and aspects of one unfathomable secret which is the activity
of love. It becomes aware that this activity of love is the creative
principle of life itself; that it alone is life, and the force which
resists it is the enemy of life.

Such, then, is the ultimate reality grasped in its main outlines by
the rhythmic energy of the soul's apex-thought when, in its
desperate and savage struggle with itself, the complex vision
reaches its consummation. And this reality, thus created and thus
discovered by the apex-thought of the complex vision, demands
and requires that very revelation, towards which we have been
moving by so long a road.

It requires the revelation, namely, that the emotion of love of
which we are conscious in the depths of our being, as an emotion
flowing through us and obsessing us, should be conceived of as
existing in a far greater completeness in these silent "watchers"
and "companions" whom we name "the immortal gods." It requires,
therefore, that these immortal ones should be regarded as
conscious and living "souls"; for the ultimate reach of the complex
vision implies the idea of personality and cannot interpret life
except in terms of personality.

As I said above, there come moments in all our lives, when,
rending and tearing at the very roots of our own existence, we seek
to extricate ourselves from ourselves and to get ourselves out of
the way of ourselves, as if we were seeking to make room for
some deeper personality within us which is ourself and yet not
ourself. This is that impersonal element which the aesthetic sense
demands in all supreme works of art so that the soul may find at
once its realization of itself and its liberation from itself.

The "watchers" and "companions" of men must therefore be
immortal and living "souls" existing side by side with our human
"souls" and side by side with all other "souls," super-human or
sub-human, which the universal medium of the world holds
together. In arriving at this conclusion which seems to me to be
the consummation vouched for and attested by the rhythmic
energy of the complex vision, I have refused to allow any
particular attribute of this vision, such as the will or the intuition
or the conscience, to claim for its isolated discoveries any
universal assent.

The soul's emotion of love passionately craves for the real
existence of these "invisible companions." The soul's emotion of
malice displays an abysmal resistance to such a reality. This is
naturally a fact that we cannot afford to disregard. But in our final
decision in so high and difficult a matter nothing can be allowed to
claim an universal assent except the rhythmic activity of the soul's
apex-thought in its supreme moments.

At this point in our argument it is advisable to glance backward
over the way we have come; because the reality of this "eternal
vision" depends, more than has as yet been understood, upon our
whole attitude to the mystery of personality, and to the place of
personality, as the secret of the world.

The feeling which we have about the emotion of love, as if it were
a thing pouring through us from some unfathomable depth, does
not imply that "the invisible companions" are themselves that
depth. The "invisible companions" are not in any sense connected
with the conception of an "over-soul." That "depth," from which
the power of creative love pours forth, is not the "depth" of any
"over-soul" but is the depth of our own unfathomable nature.

The introduction of "something behind the universe," the
introduction of some "parent" or "first cause" of the universe, from
which we have to suppose this secret of love as emerging, is as
unnecessary as it is unbeautiful. It does nothing but fling the
mystery one step further back without in the least elucidating it;
and in thus throwing it back it thins it out and cheapens it. There is
nothing which appeals to the aesthetic sense about this hypothesis
of an "over-soul" from whose universal being the ideas of beauty
and truth and goodness may be supposed to proceed. It is a clumsy
and crude speculation, easy to be grasped by the superficial mind,
and with an air of profundity which is entirely deceptive.

So far from being a spiritual conception, this conception of an
over-soul, existing just behind the material universe and pouring
forth indiscriminately its "truth," "beauty," "nobility" and "love,"
is an entirely materialistic one. It is a clumsy and crude metaphor
or analogy drawn from the objective world and projected into that
region of sheer unfathomableness which lies beyond human

When the conception of the over-soul is submitted to analysis it is
found to consist of nothing else than vague images drawn from
material sensation. We think of the world for instance as a vast
porous sponge continually penetrated by a flood of water or air or
vapour drawn from some hidden cistern or reservoir or cosmic
lake. The modern theological expression "immanent" has done
harm in this direction. There is nothing profound about this
conception of "immanence." It is an entirely materialistic
conception drawn from sense analogy.

The same criticism applies to much of the vague speculation
which is usually called "mysticism." Mysticism is not a spiritual
attitude. It is often no more than the expression of thwarted
sex-desire directed towards the universe instead of towards the person
who has repulsed it. The basic motive of mysticism, although in
the highest cases it springs from intuition, is very often only an
extension into the unknown of physiological misery or of
physiological well-being.

The word "spiritual" retains, by some instinctive wisdom in human
language, a far nobler significance than the word "mystical."

It is, so to speak, a purer word, and has succeeded, in its progress
down the ages, in keeping itself more clear of physiological
associations than any other human word except the word "soul." It
must, however, be recognized, when we submit the two words to
analysis, that the word "spirit" is less free from metaphorical
materialism than the word "soul."

The word "spirit" is a metaphorical word derived from the material
phenomenon of breath. For the purest and least tangible of all
natural phenomena, except perhaps "ether" or electricity, is
obviously nothing less than the wind. "The wind bloweth where it
listeth," and this elementary "freedom of the wind," combined
with our natural association of "breath" and "breathing" with all
organic life, accounts for the traditional nobility of the word spirit.

"Spirit" and "life" have become almost interchangeable terms. The
modern expression "the life-force" is only a metaphorical
confusion of the idea conveyed by the word "spirit" or "breath"
with the idea conveyed by the word "consciousness" when
abstracted from any particular conscious soul. The use of the term
"spirit" as applied to what metaphysical idealists name "the
absolute" is the supreme example of this metaphorical confusion.

According to this use of the term "spirit" we have an arbitrary
association of the ultimate fact of self-consciousness--a fact drawn
from the necessity of thought--with that attenuated and etherial
materialism implied in the words "breath" or "breathing" and in
the elemental "freedom of the wind." The word "spiritual" is a
purer and nobler word than the word "mystical" for the same
reason that the word "soul" is a purer and nobler word than the
word "spirit."

The historic fact must, however, be recognized that in the
evolution of human thought and in the evolution of philosophical
systems the word "spirit" has in large measure usurped the
position that ought to belong to the word "soul" as the highest and
purest expression of what is most essential and important in life.

The history of this usurpation is itself a curious psychological
document. But I cannot help feeling that the moment has arrived
for reinstating the word "soul" in its rightful place and altering this
false valuation.

The word "soul" is the name given by the common consent of
language to that original "monad" or concrete unity or living "self"
which exists, according to universal experience, "within" the
physical body and is the indescribable "substratum" of
self-consciousness and the unutterable "something" which gives a
real concrete permanence to what we call "personality."

Here also we are confronted by the metaphorical danger, which is
a danger springing from the necessity of thought itself; the
necessity under which thought labours of being compelled to use
sense-impressions if it is to function at all. But though thought
cannot exist as thought without the use of sense-impressions it can
at least concentrate its attention upon this primal necessity and be
aware of it and cautious of it and hypercritical in its use. It can do
more than this. It can throw back, so to speak, the whole weight of
the mystery and drive it so rigorously to the ultimate wall, that the
materialistic and metaphorical element is reduced to a mere gap or
space or lacuna in the mind that only a material element can fill
and yet that we cannot imagine being filled by any material
element which we are able to define.

This is precisely what we have to do with regard to that
"vanishing-point of sensation" which is the substratum of the soul.
The situation resolves itself into this. The highest, deepest, most
precious thing we know or can imagine is _personality_.
Personality is and must be our ultimate synthesis, our final ideal,
and the origin of all our ideals. Nothing can be conceived more
true, more real, more spiritual than personality.

All conceptions, qualities, principles, forces, elements, thoughts,
ideas, are things which we abstract from personality, and project
into the space which surrounds us, as if they could be independent
of the personal unity from which they have been taken. We are
compelled by the inevitable necessity of thought itself, which
cannot escape from the world of sense-impressions, to think of
personality as possessing for its "substratum" "something" which
gives it concrete reality. This "something" which is utterly
indefinable, is the last gesture, so to speak, made by the
sense-world before it vanishes away.

This "something" which is the substratum of the soul and the thing
which gives unity and concreteness to the soul is the thinnest and
remotest attenuation of the world of sense-impression. It is far
thinner and more remote than the sense-element in our conception
of spirit. Why, it may be asked, can we not get rid of this
"something" which fills that gap or lacuna in the identity of the
soul which can only be thought of in material terms?

We cannot get rid of it because directly we attempt to do so we are
left with that vague idealistic abstraction upon our hands which we
call "thought-in-the-abstract"--or "pure thought" or "pure
self-consciousness." But it may be asked--"Why cannot the physical
body serve this necessary purpose of giving personality a local and
concrete identity?"

First--and this is the psychological reason--it cannot do so because
our feeling of the soul as "something within" our physical body is
an ultimate fact of experience which would then remain as an
experience denied and contradicted.

Secondly--and this is the metaphysical reason--it cannot do so
because our physical body is itself only a part of that objective
universe of sense-impressions which the soul is conscious of as
essentially distinct from its own inmost identity.

Metaphysical idealism seems to hold that the ultimate monad of
self-consciousness is not this personal micro-cosmic monad which
I am conscious of as the empirical self or "soul" but an impersonal
macrocosmic monad or "unity of apperception" which underlies
the whole field of impressions and is unable, by reason of its
inherent nature, to contemplate itself as an "object" at all.

What the complex vision seems to me to disclose, is a revelation
which includes at one and the same moment "the universal
monad" and the "personal monad"; but it indicates clearly enough
that the former is an abstraction from the latter. My thought can
certainly think of the whole universe, including time and space, as
one enormous mass of impressions or ideals presenting itself
inside the circle of my mind.

Of this mass of impressions, including time and space, my
thought, thus abstracted from my personal soul, becomes the
circumference. Outside my thought there is nothing at all. Inside
my thought there is all that is. The metaphysical reason insists that
this all-comprehensive thought or all-embracing consciousness
cannot contemplate itself as an object but is compelled to remain
an universal subject whose object can only be the mass of
impressions which it contains.

If it is possible to speak of this "a priori" background of all
possible perception as a "monad" at all, it is a monad which
certainly lacks the essential power of the individual monad which
we know as our real self, for this latter can and does contemplate
itself as an object.

But as I have hinted before, the complex vision's attribute of
self-consciousness projects a second abstraction, which takes its place
between this ultimate monad which is pure "subject" and our real
personal self which is so much more than subject and object

This second abstraction, "thrown off" by our pure self-consciousness
just as the first one is "thrown off" by our pure reason,
becomes therefore an intervening monad which exists midway
between the monad which is pure "subject"--if that can be
called a monad at all--and the actual individual soul which is the
living reality of both these thought-projections.

The whole question resolves itself into a critical statement of the
peculiar play of thought when thought is considered in its own
inherent nature apart from concrete objects of thought. This
original play of thought, apart from what it may think, can result in
nothing better than isolated abstractions; because thought, apart
from concrete objects of thought, is itself nothing more than one
attribute of the complex vision, groping about in a vacuum and
finding nothing. We are, however, bound by the "conscience of
reason," and by what might be called reason's sense of honour to
articulate as clearly as we can all these movements of pure thought
working in the void; but we certainly are forbidden by the original
revelation of the complex vision to accept them as the starting
point of our philosophical enquiry. And we cannot accept them as
a starting point, because the complex vision includes much more
than self-consciousness and reason. It includes indeed so much
more than these, that these, when indulging in their isolated
conjuring-tricks, seem like irrelevant and tiresome clowns who
insist upon interrupting with their fantastic pedantry the great
tragic-comedy wherein the soul of man wrestles with its fate.

As I have already indicated, it is necessary in dealing with a matter
as dramatic and fatal as this whole question of ultimate reality, to
risk the annoyance of repetition. It is important to go over our
tracks again so that no crevice should be left in this perilous bridge
hung across the gulf. Reason, then, working in isolation, provides
us with the recognition of an ultimate universal "subject" or, in
metaphysical language, with an "a priori unity of apperception."
Simultaneously with this recognition, self-consciousness, also
working in isolation, provides us with the recognition of an
universal self-conscious "monad" or "cosmic self" which is not
only able but is compelled to think of itself as its own object.

Both these recognitions imply a consciousness which is outside
time and space; but while the first, the outer edge of thought, can
only be regarded as "pure subject," the second can be regarded as
nothing else than the whole universe contemplating itself as its
own object.

In the third place the complex vision, working with all its
attributes together, provides us with the recognition of a personal
or empirical self which is the real "I am I" of our integral soul.
This personal self, or actual living soul, must be thought of as
possessing some "substratum" or "vanishing point of sensation" as
the implication of its permanence and continuous identity. This
"vanishing point of sensation," or in other words this attenuated
form of "matter" or "energy" or "movement," must not be allowed
to disappear from our conception of the soul. If it _were_ allowed
to disappear, one of the basic attributes of the soul's complex
vision, namely its attribute of sensation, would be negated and

Directly we regarded the "I am I" within us as independent of such
a "vanishing point of sensation" and as being entirely free from
any, even from the most attenuated form, of what is usually called
"matter," then, at that very moment, the complex vision's
revelation would be falsified. Then, at that very moment, the
integrity of the soul would dissolve away, and we should be
reduced to a stream of sensations with nothing to give them
coherence and unity, or to that figment of abstract self-consciousness,
"thought-in-itself," apart from both the thing "thinking"
and the thing "thought." The soul, therefore, must be conceived
if we are to be true to the original revelation of the complex
vision, as having an indefinable "something" as its substratum
or implication of identity. And this something, although
impossible to be analysed, must be regarded as existing
within that mysterious medium which is the uniting force of the
universe. The soul must, in fact, be thought of as possessing some
sort of "spiritual body" which is the centre of its complex vision
and which, therefore, expresses itself in reason, self-consciousness,
will, sensation, instinct, intuition, memory, emotion, conscience,
taste, and imagination. All this must necessarily imply that the
soul is within, and not outside, time and space. It must further
imply that although the physical body, which the soul uses at its
will, is only one portion of the objective universe which confronts
it, this physical body is more immediately connected with the soul's
complex vision and more directly under the influence of it than
any other portion of the external universe.

The question then arises, can it be said that this "vanishing point of
sensation," this "substratum" composed of "something" which we
are only able to define as the limit where the ultimate attenuation
of what we call "matter" or "energy" passes into unfathomableness,
this centre of the soul, this "spiritual body," this invisible
"pyramid base" of the complex vision, is also, just as the physical
body is, a definite portion of that objective universe which we
apprehend through our senses?

The physical body is entirely and in all its aspects a portion of this
objective universe. Is the substratum of the soul a portion of it
also? I think the answer to this question is that it _is_ and also _is
not_ a portion of this universe. This "spiritual body," this
"vanishing point of sensation," which is the principle of
permanence and continuity and identity in the soul, is obviously
the very centre and core of reality. Being this, it must necessarily
be a portion of that objective world whose reality, after the reality
of the soul itself, is the most vivid reality which we know.

The complex vision demands and exacts the reality of the
objective world. The whole drama of its life depends upon this.
Without this the complex vision would not exist. And just as the
complex vision could not exist without the reality of the objective
world, so the objective world could not exist without the reality of
the complex vision. These two depend upon one another and
perpetually recreate one another.

Any metaphysical system which denies the existence of the
objective world, or uses the expression "illusion" with regard to it,
is a system based, not upon the complex vision in its entirety, but
upon some isolated attribute of it. The "substratum" of the soul,
then, must be a portion of the objective world so as to give
validity, so to speak, and assurance that this objective world with
its mysterious medium crowded with living bodies and inanimate
objects is not a mere illusion. But the "substratum" of the soul
must be something else in addition to this. Being the essential
meeting-point between what we call thought on the one hand, and
what we call "matter" or "energy" on the other, the "substratum" of
the soul must be a point of perpetual movement where the life of
thought passes into the life of sensation.

The "substratum" of the soul must be regarded as the ultimate
attenuation of "matter" on the one hand, and on the other as
perpetually passing into "mind." For since it is the centre-point of
life it must be composed of a stuff woven, so to speak, out all the
threads of life. That is to say it must be the very centre and vortex
of all the contradictions in the universe.

Since the "substratum" or "spiritual body" of the soul is the most
real thing in the universe it must, in its own nature, partake of
every kind of reality which exists in the universe. It must therefore
be, quite definitely, a portion of the objective world existing
within time and space. But it must also be the ultimate unity of
"the life of thought." And since, as we have seen, it is within the
power of reason and self-consciousness to isolate themselves from
the other attributes of the soul and to project themselves outside of
space and time, it must be the perpetual fatality of the
"substratum" of the soul to recall these wanderers back to the true
reality of things, which does not lie outside of space and time but
within space and time, and which must justify time and space as
something very different from illusion.

But because, within time and space, the universe is unfathomable,
and because, also within time and space, personality is
unfathomable, the "substratum" of the soul, which is the point
where the known and the unknown meet, must be unfathomable
also, and hence must sink away beyond the limit of our thought
and beyond the limit of our sensation.

Since it does this, since it sinks away beyond the limit of our
thought, it must be regarded as "something" whose reality is partly
known and partly unknown. Thus it is true to say that the
"substratum" of the soul _is_ and _is not_ a portion of the
objective universe. The substratum of the soul is, in fact, the
essential and ultimate reality, where all that we know loses itself in
all that we do not know. Because we are compelled to admit that
only one aspect of the "substratum" of the soul is a portion of the
objective universe as we know it, this does not justify us in
asserting that the "substratum" of the soul is at once within space
and time and outside of space and time.

Nothing is outside of space and time. This conception of "outside"
is, as we have seen, an abstraction evoked by the isolated activity
of the logical reason. The fact that only one aspect of the
"substratum" of the soul--and even that one with the barest limit of
definition--can be regarded as a portion of the objective universe
does not give the soul any advantage over the universe. For the
universe, like the soul, has also its unfathomable depths. That
indefinable medium, for instance, which we are compelled to think
of as making it possible that various souls should touch one
another and communicate with one another, is in precisely the
same position as regards any ultimate analysis as is the soul itself.
It also sinks away into unfathomableness. It also becomes a
portion of that part of reality which we do _not_ know.

At this point in our enquiry it is not difficult to imagine some
materialistic objector asking the question how we can conceive
such a vaguely denned entity as the soul possessing such very
definite attributes as those which make up the complex vision.

Is it not, such an one might ask, a fantastic and ridiculous
assumption to endow so obscure a thing as this "soul" with such
very definite powers as reason, instinct, will, intuition,
imagination, and the rest? Surely, such an one might protest, it is
in the physical body that these find their unity? Surely, if we must
have a meeting-place where thought and the objects of thought
lose themselves in one another, such a meeting-place can be
nothing else than the cells of the brain?

The answer to this objection seems to me quite a final one. The
physical body cannot supply us with the true meeting-place
between "the life of thought" and "the life of sensation"
because the physical body does not _in itself_ sink away into
unfathomablenesss as does the substratum of the soul. The
physical body can only be regarded as unfathomable when
definitely included in the whole physical universe. But the
substratum of the soul is doubly unfathomable. It is unfathomable
as being the quintessence or vanishing-point of "matter" or
"energy," and it is unfathomable as being the quintessence of that
personal self which confronts not only the objective universe but
the physical body also as part of that universe. It is undoubtedly
true that this real self which is the centre of its own universe is
bound to contemplate itself as occupying a definite point in space
and time.

This is one of its eternal contradictions; that it should be at the
same time the creator of its universe and an unfathomable portion
of the very universe it creates. The answer which the philosophy
of the complex vision makes to the materialistic questioner who
points to the "little cells of the brain" may be briefly be put thus.

The soul functions through the physical body and through the cells
of the brain. The soul is so closely and so intimately associated
with the physical body that it is more than possible that the death
of the physical body implies the annihilation of the soul. But when
it comes to the question as to where we are to look for the essential
self in us which is able to say "I am I" it is found to be much more
fantastic and ridiculous to look for it in the "little cells of the
brain" than in some obscure "something," or "vanishing point of
sensation," where mind and matter are fused together. That this
"something" which is able to say "I am I" should possess instinct,
reason, will, intuition, conscience and the rest, may be hard to
imagine. But that the "little cells of the brain" should possess these
is not only hard to imagine--it is unimaginable. The mysterious
relation which exists between our soul and our body lends itself to
endless speculation; and much of this speculation tends to become
far more fantastic and ridiculous than any analysis of the attributes
of the soul. Experiment and experience alone can teach us how far
the body is actually malleable by the soul and amenable to the
soul's purpose.

The arbitrary symbol which I have made use of to indicate the
nature of the soul's essential reality, the image of a pyramidal
wedge of flames, is certainly felt to be but a thin and rigid fancy
when we consider how in the actual play of life the soul expresses
itself through the body.

As I have already indicated, the original revelation of the complex
vision accepts without scruple the whole spectacle of natural life.
The philosophy of the complex vision insists that no rationalistic
necessity of pure logic gives it the right to reject this natural
objective spectacle. The philosophy of the complex vision insists
that this obvious, solid, external, so-called "materialistic" spectacle
of common life, be accepted, included and continually returned to.
It insists that the word "illusion" be no more used about this
spectacle. It insists that this vast unfathomable universe of time
and space be recognized as an ultimate reality, and that all these
projected images of the pure reason, all these circles, cubes,
squares and straight lines, all these "unities of apperception,"
universal "monads" and the like, be recognized as by-products of
the abstracting energy of human logic and as entirely without
reality when compared with this objective spectacle. My own
symbolic or pictorial image of the activity of the complex vision,
this pyramidal wedge or arrow-head of concentrated and focussed
flames, must be recognized as no more adequate or satisfactory
than any of these.

The complex vision, with its rhythmic apex-thought, is not really a
"pyramid" or a "wedge of flame" any more than it is a circle or a
cube or a square or an "a priori synthetic unity of apperception" or
"an universal self-conscious monad." It is the vision of a living
personality, surrounded by an unfathomable universe.

To keep our thoughts firmly and harmoniously fixed on the real
objective spectacle of life and on the real subjective "soul," or
personality, contemplating this spectacle, it is advisable to revert
to the magical and mysterious associations called up by the
classical word _Nature_. The mere utterance of the word "Nature"
serves to bring us back to the things which are essential and
organic, and to put into their proper place of comparative unreality
all these "unities" and circles, all these pyramids and "monads."
When we think of the astounding beauty and intricacy of the
actual human body; when we think of the astounding beauty and
intricacy of the actual living soul which animates this body, and
when we think of the magical universe which surrounds them
both, we are compelled to recognize that in the last resort Nature
herself is the great mystery. The word "Nature" conveys a more
living and less metaphysical connotation than the word "universe,"
and may be regarded as implying more of that in-determined
future of all living souls, which is still in the process of creation.

The "universe" is a static conception. Nature is a dynamic
conception. When we speak of Nature we think of the whole
struggle towards a fuller life of all the living entities which the
indefinable medium of the universe contains. Nature from this
point of view becomes the whole unfathomable spectacle, seen as
something living and growing and changing.

The "invisible companions" of men who supply the pattern and
standard of all human ideas, become in this way the immortal
children of Nature. The creative energy of the complex vision is
itself an integral portion of the creative energy of Nature; for
"Nature" is no more than the beautiful and classical word which
recalls us to the objective spectacle which is the ultimate
revelation of the complex vision. Nature is the supreme artist; but
the apex-point of her artistry is nothing less than the apex-point of
the artistry of the immortal gods.

The artistry of the human soul, when its rhythm is most
harmonious and complete, implies the magical artistry of Nature,
for "Nature" is nothing more than the whole objective spectacle
finding its myriad creative centres of new life in all living souls.
The value of the word Nature, the value of the conception of
Nature, is that it reminds us that, held together by the indefinable
medium which fills the universe, there are innumerable entities
both subhuman and super-human, all of whom, in their various
degrees, possess living souls.

Nature's supreme art is nothing more than the natural impulses of
all these, as they are thus held together, and to "return to Nature" is
nothing more than to return to the objective spectacle of real life,
and to the objective ideal of real life as it is embodied in "the
invisible companions."

These "invisible companions" just because they are the most
"natural" of all living personalities, are the supreme manifestation
of the secret of Nature. It is because the objective spectacle of life,
the spectacle which includes the stars, the planets, plants, trees,
grass, moss, lichen, earth, birds, fish, animals, is a spectacle
continually shifting and changing under the pressure of
innumerable conscious and sub-conscious souls, that we find
ourselves turning to these invisible companions whose supreme
"naturalness" is the test and pattern of all Nature.

And it is because our physical bodies in their magical mysteriousness
are so much more real than any rationalistic symbols, such as
circles, cubes, squares, wedges, pyramids, and the like, that
when we seek to visualize the actual appearance of these
"invisible companions," it seems much more appropriate to
image their souls as clothed, like the souls of plants, trees, grass,
planets, animals and men, in some tangibleness of physical form,
than in nothing but the insubstantial stuff of air or wind or vapour,
or "spirit."

But since all that we call "Nature" continually changes, passes
away in dissolution and is reborn again in other forms; and since
no physical body is exempted from death, it is apparent that if the
"immortals" possessed physical bodies such as our own, they also
would be subject to this law along with the rest of the universe.
But the generations of mankind come and go and the "invisible
companions" of men remain; therefore the "invisible companions"
cannot be supposed, except pictorially and in a symbolic sense, to
be subject to the laws which govern our mortal bodies.

It is this freedom from the laws which govern the physical body
and from all the intimate and intricate relations which exist
between our human soul and our human body, which makes it
possible for these companions of men to remain in perpetual
contact with every living soul born into the world. The difficulty
we experience in realizing the nearness to our individual souls of
these invisible companions, is due to a false and exaggerated
emphasis laid upon the material spectacle of nature.

This spectacle of the objective universe is undoubtedly one of the
ultimate realities revealed to us by the complex vision; but it is
only one of these ultimate realities. The complex vision is itself
another one of these; and the real existence of the soul is implied
in the activity of the complex vision. The reality of the external
universe, the reality of Nature, is so closely associated with the
activity of the soul that it is impossible to think of the one apart
from the other.

The soul's attribute of sensation is alone responsible for the greater
portion of this objective spectacle; for apprehended through any
other senses than the ones we possess the whole universe would be
transformed. It is only when the soul's essential part in the creation
of Nature is fully realized that we see how false and exaggerated
an emphasis we are placing upon this "externality" when we
permit it to hinder our recognition of the nearness of the immortal

The laws which govern the physical body and "the thousand ills
that flesh is heir to" obstruct, confuse, conceal, and distort the soul
and hold the gods at a distance. But although the brain and the
senses may be tortured, atrophied, perverted; and although the soul
may be driven back into its unfathomable depths and held there as
if in prison; and although madness intervene between the soul's
vision and the world, and sleep may fling it into oblivion, and
death may destroy it utterly; tortured or perverted or atrophied or
semi-conscious or unconscious, while the soul _lives_, the
"invisible companions of men" remain nearer to it than any
outward accident, chance, circumstance, fatality or destiny, and
are still the arbiters of its hope.

Retracing once more our steps over this perilous bridge of ultimate
thought, we may thus indicate the situation. Our starting-point
cannot be the "a priori synthetic unity of apperception," because
this is an abstraction of the pure reason, and if accepted as a real
fact would contradict and negate all the other attributes of the soul.

Our starting-point cannot be the universal "monad" of
self-consciousness, because this is an abstraction of the "I am I" and
if accepted as a real fact would negate and suppress every attribute
of the soul except the attributes of self-consciousness and emotion.

Our starting-point cannot be the objective world, considered in its
evolutionary externality, because this external world depends for
its very existence upon the attributes of the soul, especially upon
the attribute of sensation.

Our starting-point can therefore be nothing less than the complex
vision, which on the one hand implies the reality of the soul and
on the other the reality of the external world, and which itself is
the vision of a real concrete personality. The individual is thus
disclosed as something more than the universal, the microcosm as
something more than the macrocosm, and any living personality as
something more than any conceivable absolute being.

By an original act of faith, towards which we are helped by the
soul's attribute of imagination, we are compelled to conceive of
every other soul in the world as being the centre of a universe
more or less identical in character with the universe of which our
own soul is the centre. These separate universes we have to
conceive as being subjective impressions of the same objective
reality, the beauty, truth, and goodness of which are guaranteed for
us by those "invisible companions of men" in whose eternal vision
they find their synthesis.

The tragedy of our life consists in the fact that it is only in rare
exalted moments, when the rhythmic harmony of the complex
vision is most intense and yet most calm, that the individual soul
feels the presence of those supreme companions whose real and
personal existence I have attempted to indicate. These ideal and
yet most real companions of humanity make their presence felt by
the soul in just the same immediate, direct and equivocal way in
which we feel the influence of a friend or lover whose spirit, in his
bodily absence, is concentrated upon our spirit, even as ours is
upon his.

To the larger vision of these "invisible companions" we find
ourselves consciously and sub-consciously turning whenever the
burden of our flesh oppresses us more than we can bear. We are
compelled to turn to them by reason of the profound instinct in us
which recognizes that our ideas of truth, of beauty, and goodness
are not mere subjective fancies but are actual objective realities.
These ideas do not spring from these "companions" or find their
origin and cause in them, any more than they spring from some
imaginary "parent" of the universe and find their origin and cause
in something "behind life." They do not "spring" from anything at
all; but are the very stuff and texture of our own unfathomable
souls, just as they are the very stuff and texture of the
unfathomable souls of the immortal gods. What we are conscious
of, when our complex vision gathers itself together, is the fact that
the inevitable element of subjectivity in our individual feeling
about these things is transcended and supplemented by an invisible
pattern or standard or ideal in which these things are reconciled
and fused together at a higher pitch of harmony than we individually,
or even in contact with one another, are capable of attaining.

The vision of these "invisible companions"--absolute enough in
relation to our own tragic relativity--is itself relative to its own
hope, its own dream, its own prophecy, its own premonition. The
real evolution of the world, the real movement of life, takes
therefore a double form. It takes the form of an individual _return_
to the fulness of ideas which have always been implicit and latent
in our individual souls. And it takes the form of a co-operative
_advance_ towards the fulness of ideas which are foreshadowed
and prophesied in the vision of these immortals' companions. Thus
for us, as well as for them, the eternal movement is at once an
advance and a return. Thus for us, as well as for them, the eternal
inspiration is at once a hope and a reminiscence.

It will be seen from what I have said that this philosophy of the
complex vision finds a place for all the nobler and more desperate
struggles of the human race towards a solution of the mystery of
life. It accepts fully the fact that the human reason playing isolated
games with itself, is driven by its own nature to reduce "all objects
of all thought" to the circle of one "synthetic unity" which is the
implied "a priori" background of all actual vision. It accepts fully
the fact that human self-consciousness, playing isolated games
with itself, is driven by the necessity of its own nature to reduce all
separate "selves" to one all embracing "world self" which is the
universe conscious of itself as the universe.

It accepts fully the fact that we have to regard the apparent
objectivity of the external universe, with its historic process, as an
essential and unalterable aspect of reality, so grounded in truth that
to call it an "illusion" is a misuse of language. But although it
accepts both the extreme "materialistic" view and the extreme
"idealistic" view as inevitable revelations of reality, it does not
regard either of them as the true starting-point of enquiry, because
it regards both these extremes as the result of the isolated play of
one or the other of the complex vision's attributes.

The philosophy of the complex vision refuses to accept as its
starting-point any "synthetic unity" other than the synthetic unity
of personality; because any other than this it is compelled to
regard as abstracted from this by the isolated play of some
particular attribute of the mind. The philosophy of the complex
vision refuses to accept as its starting-point any attenuated
materialistic hypothesis, such as may be indicated by the arbitrary
words "life" or "movement" or "ether" or "force" or "energy" or
"atoms" or "molecules" or "electrons" or "vortices" or "evolutionary
progress," because it recognizes that all these hypothetical
origins of life are only projected and abstracted aspects
of the central reality of life, which is, and always must be,

But what is the relation of the philosophy of the complex vision to
that modern tendency of thought which calls itself "pragmatism"
and which also finds in personality its starting-point and centre?
The philosophy of the complex vision seems to detect in the
pragmatic attitude something which is profoundly unpleasing to its
taste. Its own view of the art of life is that it is before everything
else a matter of rhythm and harmony and it cannot help discerning
in "pragmatism" something piece-meal, pell-mell and "hand-to-mouth."
It seems conscious of a certain outrage to its aesthetic
sense in the method and the attitude of this philosophy. The
pragmatic attitude, though it would be unfair to call it superficial,
does not appeal to the philosophy of the complex vision as being
one of the supreme, desperate struggles of the human race to
overcome the resistance of the Sphinx. The philosophy of the
complex vision implies the difficult attainment of an elaborate
harmony. It regards "philosophy" as the most difficult of all
"works of art." What it seems to be suspicious of in pragmatism is
a tendency to seek mediocrity rather than beauty, and a certain
humorous opportunism rather than the quiet of an eternal vision. It
seems to look in vain in "Pragmatism" for that element of the
_impossible_, for that strain of Quixotic faith, in which no high
work of art is found to be lacking. It seems unable to discover in
the pragmatic attitude that "note of tragedy" which the fatality of
human life demands.

It certainly shares with the pragmatic philosophy a tendency to lay
more stress upon the freedom of the will than is usual among
philosophies. But the "will" of the complex vision moves in closer
association with the aesthetic sense than does the "will" of
pragmatism. It is perhaps as a matter of "taste" that pragmatism
proves most unsatisfactory to it. It seems to be conscious of
something in pragmatism, which, though itself perhaps not
precisely "commercial," seems curiously well adapted to a
commercial age. It is aware, in fine, that certain high and
passionate intimations are roused to unmitigated hostility by the
whole pragmatic attitude. And it refuses to outrage these
intimations for the sake of any psychological contentment.

In regard to the particular kind of "truth" championed by
pragmatists, the "truth" namely which gives one on the whole the
greatest amount of practical efficiency, the philosophy of the
complex vision remains unconvinced. The pragmatic philosophy
judges the value of any "truth" by its effective application to
ordinary moments. The philosophy of the complex vision judges
the value of any "truth" by its relation to that rare and difficult
harmony which can be obtained only in extraordinary moments.
To the pragmatic philosopher a shrewd, efficient and healthy-minded
person, with a good "working" religion, would seem the lucky
one, while to the philosophy of the complex vision some
desperate, unhappy suicidal wastrel, who by the grace of the
immortals was allowed some high unutterable moment, might
approach much more closely to the vision of those "sons of the
universe" who are the pattern of us all.

This comparison of the method we are endeavouring to follow
with the method of "pragmatism" helps to throw a clear light upon
what the complex vision reveals about these "ultimate ideas" in the
flow of an indiscriminate mass of mental impression.

To the passing fashion of modern thought there is something stiff,
scholastic, archaic, rigid, and even Byzantine, about the words
"truth," "beauty," "goodness," thus pedestalled side by side. But
just as with the old-fashioned word "matter" and the old-fashioned
word "soul," we must not be misled by a mere "superstition of
novelty" in these things.

Modern psychology has not been able, and never can be able, to
escape from the universal human experiences which these
old-fashioned words cover; and as long as the experiences are
recognized as real, it surely does not make much difference what
_names_ we give to them. It seems, indeed, in a point so human
and dramatic as this, far better to use words that have already
acquired a clear traditional and natural connotation than to invent
new words according to one's own arbitrary fancy. It would not be
difficult to invent such words. In place of "truth" one could say
"the objective reality of things" rhythmically apprehended by the
complex vision. Instead of "beauty" one could say "the world seen
under the light of a peculiar creative power in the soul which
reveals a secret aspect of things otherwise concealed from us."
Instead of "goodness" one could say "the power of the conscious
and living _will_, when directed towards love." And in place of
"love" itself one could say "the projection of the essence of the
soul upon the objective plane; when such an essence is directed
towards life."

But it would be futile to continue this "fancy-work," of definition
by an individual temperament. The general traditional meaning of
these words is clear and unmistakable; though there may be
infinite minute shades of difference between one person's
interpretation of such a meaning and another's. What it all really
amounts to is this. No philosophic or scientific interpretation of
life, which does not include the verdict of life's own most
concentrated moments, can possibly be adequate.

Human nature can perfectly well philosophize about its normal
stream of impressions in "cold blood," so to speak, and according
to a method that discounts all emotional vision. But the resultant
conclusions of such philosophizing, with their easy-going
assumption that what we call "beauty" and "goodness" have no
connection with what we call "truth," are conclusions so
unsatisfying to more than half of our being that they carry their
refutation on the face of them.

To be an "interpretation of life" a philosophical theory cannot
afford to disregard the whole turbulent desperate dramatic content
of emotional experience. It cannot disregard the fact, for instance,
that certain moments of our lives bring to us certain reconciliations
and revelations that change the whole perspective of our days. To
"interpret life" from the material offered by the uninspired
unconcentrated unrhythmical "average" moods of the soul is like
trying to interpret the play of "Hamlet" from a version out of
which every one of Hamlet's own speeches have been carefully
removed. Or, to take a different metaphor, such pseudo-psychological
philosophy is like an attempt to analyse the nature of fire
by a summary of the various sorts of fuel which have been
flung into the flame.

The act of faith by which these ultimate ideas are reduced to the
vision of living personalities is a legitimate matter for critical
scepticism. But that there are such ultimate ideas and that life
cannot be interpreted without considering them is not a matter for
any sort of scepticism. It is a basic assumption, without which
there could be no adequate philosophy at all. It is the only
intelligible assumption which covers the undeniable human
experience which gathers itself together in these traditional words.



The only adequate clue to the historic mystery of that thing which
the human race has come to call "beauty," and that other thing--the
re-creation of this through individual human minds--which we
have come to call "art"--is found, if the complex vision is to be
trusted at all, in the contact of the emotion of love with the
"objective mystery," and its consequent dispersion, as the other
aspects of the soul are brought to bear upon it, into the three
primordial ideas of goodness, beauty, and truth.

The reason why this one particular aspect of the soul which we
call emotion is found to be the synthesis of what is discovered by
all the other aspects of the soul functioning together is that the
nature of emotion differs radically from reason, conscience, will,
imagination, taste, and the rest, in that it is not only a clarifying,
directing and discriminating activity but is also--as none of these
others are--an actual mood, or temper, or state of the soul,
possessing certain definite vibrations of energy and a certain sort
of psychic fluidity or outflowing which seems perpetually to
spring up from an unfathomable depth.

This synthetic role played by emotion in unifying the other
activities of the complex vision and preparing the psychic material
for the final activity of the apex-thought may perhaps be
understood better if we think of emotion as being an actual
outflowing of the soul itself, springing up from unfathomable
depths. Thinking of it in this way we may conceive the actual size
or volume of the "soul monad" to be increased by this centrifugal

By such an increase of the soul's volume we do not mean an actual
increase; because the depths of all souls are equally unfathomable
when their recession inwards is considered. By such an increase
we refer to the forth-flowing of the soul as it manifests itself
through the physical body. Thus our theory brings us back, as all
theories must if they are consonant with experience, to the
traditional language of the human race. For in ordinary language
there is nothing strange about the expression "a great soul." Such
an expression simply refers to the volume of the soul's outflowing
through the body. And this outflowing is the fulness, more or less,
of the soul's well-spring of emotion.

A "great soul" is thus a soul whereof the outflowing emotion--on
both sides of its inherent duality--is larger in volume as it
manifests itself through the body than in normal cases; and a
"small soul" is a soul whose volume of outflowing emotion is less
than in normal cases.

It must be remembered, however, when we speak of the outflowing
emotion of the soul that we do not mean that there _pours through_
the soul from some exterior source a stream of emotion distinct
from the integral being of the soul itself. What we mean is that
the soul itself finds itself divided against itself in an eternal
contradiction which may be compared to the positive and negative
pole of electricity.

This outflowing of emotion is not, therefore, the outflowing of
something which emerges from the soul but is the outflowing, or
the expansion and dilation through the body, or the soul itself.
What we are now indicating, as to the less or greater degree of
volume in the soul's manifestation through the body, is borne
witness to in the curious fact that the bodies of persons under
strong emotion--whether it be the emotion of love or the emotion
of malice--do actually seem to dilate in bulk and stature.

All that we have been saying has a clear bearing upon the problem
of the relation between the emotional aspect of the soul and the
other aspects. The emotion of the soul is the outflowing of the soul
itself, on one side or other of its inherent duality; while the other
aspects of the soul--such as will, taste, imagination, reason, and so
forth--are the directing, selecting, clarifying, interpreting
activities of the soul as it flings itself upon the objective mystery.
Thus, while it is by means of that activity of the soul which we call
conscience that we distinguish between good and evil; and by
means of that activity called the aesthetic sense that we distinguish
between beauty and hideousness; and by means of that activity
called reason that we distinguish between reality and unreality; it
is all the while from its own emotional outflowing that the soul
directed and guided by these critical energies, creates the universe
which becomes its own, and then discovers that the universe
which it has created is also the universe of the immortals.

It is because this emotional duality of love and malice is the
inherent "psychic stuff" of all living souls whether mortal or
immortal that the soul of man comes at last to comprehend that
those primordial ideas of goodness, beauty and truth, out of which
the universe is half-created and half-discovered, draw, so to speak
the sanction of their objective reality from the eternal vision of the

The distinction we have thus insisted upon between the nature of
emotion and the nature of the other aspects of the soul makes it
now clear how it is that we are compelled to regard these three
primordial ideas of beauty, truth and goodness as finding their
unity and their original identity in the emotion of love.

It has been necessary to consider these ultimate movements of the
soul in order that we may be in a position to understand the
general nature of this mysterious thing we call "art," and be able to
track its river-bed, so to speak, up to the original source. From a
consideration of the fact that the outflowing of the soul takes the
form of emotion, and that this emotion is at perpetual war within
itself and is for ever contradicting itself, we arrive at our first
axiomatic principle with regard to art, namely that art is, and must
always be, penetrated through and through by the spirit of
contradiction. Whatever else art may become, then, one thing we
can predicate for certain with regard to it, namely that it springs
from an eternal conflict between two irreconcilable opposites.

We are, further than this, able to define the nature of these
opposites as the everlasting conflict between creation and what
resists creation, or between love and malice. It is just here, in
regard to the character of these opposites, that the philosophy of
the complex vision differs from the Bergsonian philosophy of the
"élan vital."

According to Bergson's monistic system the only genuine reality is
the flux of spirit The spirit of some primordial self-expansion
projects what we call "matter" as its secondary manifestation and
then is condemned to an unending and exhausting struggle with
what it has projected.

Spirit, therefore, is pure energy and movement and matter is pure
heaviness and resistance. Out of the necessity of this conflict
emerge all those rigid logical concepts and mathematical
formulae, of which space and time, in the ordinary sense of those
words, are the ultimate generalization.

Our criticism of this theory is that both these things--this "spirit"
and this spirit-evoked "matter"--are themselves meaningless
concepts, concepts which, in spite of Bergson's contempt for
ordinary metaphysic, are in reality entirely metaphysical, being in
fact, like the old-fashioned entities whose place they occupy,
nothing but empty bodiless generalizations abstracted from the
concrete living reality of the soul. But quite apart from our
criticism of the Bergsonian "spirit" and "matter" on the ground of
their being unreal conceptions illegitimately abstracted from real
personality we are compelled to note a second vivid difference
between our point of view and his in regard to this matter of
opposites and their contradiction. Bergson's monism, as we have
seen, resolves itself into a duality which may be defined as
conscious activity confronted by unconscious inertness.

Our duality, on the contrary, which has behind it, not monism, but
pluralism, may be denned as conscious creation, or conscious love,
confronted by conscious resistance to creation, or conscious inert
malice. Thus while Bergson finds his ultimate axiomatic "data" in
philosophical abstractions, we find our ultimate axiomatic "data"
in the realities of human experiences. Bergson seeks to interpret
human life in terms of the universe. We seek to interpret the
universe in terms of human life. And we contend that we are
justified in doing this since what we call "the universe," as soon as
it is submitted to analysis, turns out to be nothing but an act of
faith according to which an immense plurality of separate personal
universes find a single universe of inspiration and hope in the
vision of the immortal gods.

The ultimate duality revealed by the complex vision is a
duality on both sides of which we have unfathomable abysses of
consciousness. On the one side this consciousness is eternally
creative. On the other side this consciousness is eternally
malicious, in its deliberate inert resistance to creation. It is
natural enough, therefore, that while Bergson's "creative evolution"
resolves itself into a series of forward-movements which are as
easy and organic as the growth of leaves on a tree, our advance
toward the real future which is also a return to the ideal past,
resolves itself in a series of supremely difficult rhythms, wherein
eternally conscious "good" overcomes eternally conscious "evil."

Our philosophy, therefore, may, in the strictest sense, be called
a "human" philosophy in contra-distinction to a "cosmic"
philosophy; or, if you please, it may be called a "dramatic"
philosophy in contra-distinction to a "lyric" philosophy. From all
this it will be clearly seen that it would be impossible for us to
hypostasize a super-moral or sub-moral universe in complete
disregard of the primordial conscience of the human soul. It will
be equally clearly seen that it would be impossible for us to project
a theoretical universe made up of "cosmic streams of tendency,"
whether "spiritual" or "material," in complete disregard of the
soul's primordial aesthetic sense.

The logical scrupulosity and rationalistic passion which drive a
cosmic philosopher forward, in his attempt to construct a universe
in disregard of the human conscience and the human aesthetic
sense, are themselves evidence that while he has suppressed in
himself the first two of the three primordial ideas of which we
speak, he has become an all-or-nothing slave of the last of these
three ideas--namely, the idea of truth. He has sacrificed his
conscience and his taste to this isolated and abstracted "truth," the
quest of pure reason alone, and, as a result of this fanaticism, the
real "true truth," that is to say the complete rhythmic vision of the
totality of man's nature, has been suppressed and destroyed.

It must be fully admitted at this point that the fanaticism of the
so-called "pure saint" and the so-called "pure artist" who suppress,
the one for the sake of "goodness" and the other for the sake of
"beauty," the third great primordial idea which we have called
"truth," is a fanaticism just as one sided and just as destructive of
the complete harmonious vision as those other kinds.

That this is the case can easily be proved by recalling how thin,
how strained, how morbid, how ungracious, how inhuman, those
so-called "saints" and "artists" become, when, in their neglect of
reason and truth, they persist in following their capricious,
subjective, fantastic, individual dreams, out of all concrete relation
to the actual world we live in.

We arrive, therefore, at a point from which we are able to detect
the true inner spirit of the nature of art; and what we discover may
thus be stated. Art is the expression, through the medium of an
individual temperament, of a beauty which is one of the primordial
aspects of this pluralistic world. The eternal duality of things
implies that this beauty is always manifested as something in
perpetual conflict with its opposite, namely with that antagonistic
aspect of the universe which we name the hideous or the ugly.

This duality exists as the eternal condition of each one of the three
primordial ideas out of which the universe is evoked. Each of
these three ideas is only known to us as the result of a relative
victory over its opposite. Beauty is known to us as a relative
victory over hideousness. Goodness is known to us as a relative
victory over evil. Truth is known to us as a relative victory over
the false and the unreal. The fact that each of these ideas can only
be known in a condition of conflict with its opposite and in a
condition of relative victory over its opposite is due to the fact that
all three of them are in their own nature only clarifying, selecting,
and value-giving activities; whereas the actual material upon
which they have to work, as well as the energy from which they
derive their motive-power, is nothing else but that mysterious
outflowing of the soul itself which we call emotion.

For since emotion is eternally divided against itself into love and
malice, the three primordial ideas which deal this emotion are also
eternally divided against themselves, into beauty and hideousness,
into goodness and evil, into reality and unreality. And since the
very existence of emotion depends upon the struggle between love
and malice, in the same way the very existence of our aesthetic
sense depends upon the struggle between beauty and hideousness;
and the very existence of reason depends upon the struggle
between reality and unreality. The only love we can possibly have
to deal with is a love which is for ever overcoming malice. The
only beauty we can possibly have to deal with is a beauty which is
for ever overcoming hideousness.

And the same assertion must be made both with regard to
goodness and with regard to truth. If any one of them absolutely
overcame the other, so as completely to destroy it, the ebb and
flow of life would at that moment cease.

A world where all minds could apprehend all truth without any
illusion or admixture of unreality, would not be a world at all, as
we know the world. It would be the colourless dream of an
immobile plurality of absolutes. As far as we are concerned it
would be synonymous with death. Thus the ultimate nature of the
world is found to be unfathomably dualistic. A sharp dividing line
of irreconcilable duality intersects every living soul; and the secret
of life turns out to be the relatively victorious struggle of
personality with the thing that in itself resists its fuller life.

This verdict of the complex vision is in unison with the natural
feeling of ordinary humanity and it is also in unison with the
supreme illuminated moments when we seem to apprehend the
vision of the gods. When once we have apprehended the inherent
nature of beauty, we are in a position to understand what the spirit
of art must be, whose business it is to re-create this beauty in terms
of personality. The idea of beauty itself is profoundly personal
even before art touches it, since it is one of the three primordial
ideas with which every conscious soul sets forth.

But it is not only personal. It is also objective and impersonal. For
it is not only the reaction of a particular soul to its own universe;
it is also felt, in the rare moments when the apex-thought of the
complex vision is creating its world rhythm, to be nothing less
than the vision of the immortals.

Art, therefore, which is the representation in terms of some
particular personal temperament, of that sense of beauty which is
the inheritance of all souls born into the world, must be profoundly
penetrated by the victorious struggle of the emotion of love with
the emotion of malice. For although the human sense of the beauty
of the world, which may be called the objective sense of the
beauty of the world, since the vision of the immortals lies behind
it, is the thing which art expresses, it must be remembered that this
sense is not an actual substance or concrete entity, but is only a
principle of selection or a process of mental reaction, in regard to

The thing which may be called an actual substance is that outflowing
of the soul itself in centrifugal waves of positive and
negative vibration which we have chosen to name by the name
"emotion." This may indeed be called an actual concrete extension
of the psychic-stuff of the substantial soul. None of the three
primordial ideas resemble it in this. They are all attitudes of the
soul; not conscious enlargements or lessenings of the very stuff; of
the soul.

The idea of beauty is a particular reaction to the universe. The idea
of truth is a particular reaction to the universe. The idea of
goodness is a particular act of the will with regard to our relation
to the universe. But the emotion of love, in its struggle with the
emotion of malice, is much more than this. It is the actual outflowing
of the soul itself; and it offers, as such, the very stuff and
material out of which truth and beauty and goodness are
distinguished and discerned.

Some clear hints and intimations as to the nature of art may be
arrived at from these considerations. We at any rate reach a
general criterion, applicable to all instances, as to the presence or
absence in any particular case of the authentic and objective "note"
of true art. This "note" is the presence in a work of art of the
decisive relative victory of love over malice. When, on the
contrary, in any work of art, the original struggle of love with
malice issues in a relative overcoming of love by malice, then such
a work of art belongs, ipso facto, to an inferior order of excellence.

This criterion is one of easy intuitive application, although any
exact analysis of it, in a particular case, may be difficult and
obscure. Roughly and generally expressed it amounts to this. In
the great works of art of the world, wherein the subjective vision
of the artist expresses itself in mysterious reciprocity with the
objective vision of the immortals, there is always found a certain
large "humanity." This humanity, wherein an infinite pity never
for a moment degenerates into weak sentiment, reduces the
co-existence of cruelty and malice to the lowest possible minimum,
consonant with the ebb and flow of life.

Some residuum of such malice and cruelty there must be, even in
the supremest work of art, else the eternal contradictions upon
which life depends would be destroyed. But the emotion of love,
in such works, will always be found to have its fingers, as it were,
firmly upon the throat of its antagonist, so that the resultant
rhythm shall be felt to be the ultimate rhythm of life itself, wherein
the eternal struggle of love with malice issues in the relative
overcoming of the latter by the former.

It would be invidious perhaps to name, in this place, any particular
works of art in which the predominant element is malice rather
than love. But such works of art exist in considerable number, and
the lacerated and distorted beauty of them remains as a perpetual
witness to what they have missed. In speaking of these inferior
works of art the aesthetic psychologist must be on his guard
against the confusion of such moods as the creative instinct of
destruction or the creative instinct of simple sensuality with the
inert malice we are considering.

The instinct of destruction is essentially connected with the
instinct of creation and indeed must be regarded as an indirect
expression of that instinct; for, as one can clearly understand,
almost every creative undertaking implies some kind of destructive
or at least some kind of suppressive or renunciant act which
renders such an undertaking possible.

In the same way it is not difficult to see that the simple impulse of
natural sensuality, or direct animal lust, is profoundly connected
with the creative instinct, and is indeed the expression of the
creative instinct on the plane of purely material energy. But it must
be understood, however, that neither the will to destruction nor the
will to sensuality are by any means always as innocent as the
forms of them I have indicated above.

It often happens indeed that this destructive instinct is profoundly
penetrated by malice and derives the thrill of its activity from
malice; and this may easily be observed in certain famous but not
supreme works of art. It must also be understood that the impulse
to sensuality or lust is not always the direct simple animal instinct
to which I have referred. What has come to be called "Sadism" is
an instance of this aberration of an innocent impulse.

The instinct of "sadism," or the deriving of voluptuous pleasure
from sensual cruelty, has its origin in the legitimate association of
the impulse to destroy with the impulse to create, as these things
are inseparably linked together in the normal "possession" of a
woman by a man. In such "possession" the active masculine
principle has to exercise a certain minimum of destruction with a
view to a certain maximum of creation; and the normal resistance
of the female is the mental corollary of this.

The normal resistance of the artist's medium to the activity of his
energy is a sort of aesthetic parallel to this situation; and it is
easy to see how, in the creation of a work of art, this aesthetic
overcoming of resistance may get itself mentally associated with
the parallel sensation experienced on the sensual plane. The point
we have to make is this: that while in normal cases the impulse to
sensuality is perfectly direct, innocent, animal, and earth-born; in
other cases it becomes vitiated by the presence in it of a larger
amount of destructive energy than can be accounted for by the
original necessity.

Thus in a great many quite famous works of art there will be found
an element of sadism. But it will always remain that in the
supreme works of art this sadistic element has been overcome and
transformed by the pressure upon it of the emotion of love. There
exists, however, other instances, when the work of art in question
is obviously inferior, in which we are confronted by something
much more evil than the mere presence of the sadistic impulse.
What I refer to is a very subtle and complicated mood wherein the
simple sadistic impulse to derive sensual pleasure from the
contemplation of cruelty has been seized upon and taken
possession of by the emotion of malice.

The complicated mood resulting from this association of sadistic
cruelty with inert malice is perhaps the most powerful engine of
evil that exists in the world; although a pure unmitigated condition
of unsensualized, unimpassioned, motiveless malice is, in its
inmost self, more essentially and profoundly evil. For while the
energy of sadism renders the actual destructive power of malice
much more formidable, we must remember that what really
constitutes the essence of evil is never the energy of destruction
but always the malicious inertness of resistance to creation. We
have thus arrived at some measure of insight as to the nature of art
and we find that whatever else it may be it must be penetrated
through and through by the overcoming of malice by love. It must,
in other words, have the actual outflowing of the soul as the
instrument of its expression and as the psycho-material medium
with which it inscribes its vision upon the objective mystery that
confronts it.

We have at least arrived at this point in our search for a definite
criterion: that when in any work of art a vein of excessive cruelty
or, worse still, a vein of sneering and vindictive malice, dominates
the emotional atmosphere, such a work of art, however admirable
it may be in other respects, falls below the level of the most
excellent. The relation between the idea of beauty as expressed by
the aesthetic sense and those other ideas, namely of truth and
goodness, which complete the circle of human vision, is a relation
which may be suggested thus.

Since all three of these primordial ideas are unified by the emotion
of love it is clear that the emotion of love is the element in which
each of them severally moves. And since it is impossible that love
should be antagonistic to itself we must conclude that the love
which is the element or substratum of beauty is the same love that
is the element or substratum of goodness and truth. And since all
these three elements are in reality one element, which is indeed
nothing less than the dominant outflowing of the soul itself, it
follows that those portions of the soul's outflowing which have
been directed by reason and by conscience, which we call the idea
of truth and the idea of goodness, must have an ultimate identity
with that portion of the soul's outflowing which has been directed
by the aesthetic sense and which we call the idea of beauty.

This identity between truth and goodness on the one hand and
beauty on the other cannot be regarded as an absolute identity. The
idea of truth continues to represent one facet of the universe, the
idea of goodness another, and the idea of beauty another or a third.
What we mean by the use of the term "identity" is simply this: that
the universe revealed by each one of these three ideas is the same
universe as is revealed by the others, and the emotional
out-flowing of the individual soul, which reveals each of these
separate facets or aspects of the universe, is the same in each of
the three ideas which govern its direction.

It is, however, only at their supreme point, when they are fused
together by the apex-thought of the complex vision, that the
activity of these separate ideas is found to be in complete
harmony. Short of this extreme limit they tend to deviate from
each other and to utter contradictory oracles. We may therefore lay
it down as an unalterable law of their activity that when any one of
these ideas contradicts another it does so because of a weakness
and imperfection in its own intensity or in the intensity of the idea
it contradicts.

Thus if an idea of goodness is found irreconcilable with an idea of
beauty, something is wrong with one or the other of these ideas, or
perhaps with both of them. And we are not only able to say that
something is wrong with such ideas when they contradict one
another, we are able to predicate with certainty as to what
precisely is wrong. For the "something wrong" which leads to this
contradiction, the "something wrong" which stands in the way of
the rhythmic activity of the soul's apex-thought, will invariably be
found to be a weakening of the outflowing of the emotion of love
in one or other or perhaps all three of the implicated ideas.

For the outflowing of the soul's emotion is not only the life of the
root of this "tree of knowledge"; it is also the life of the sap of the
uttermost branches; it is the force that makes the fragrance of each
topmost leaf mingle with that of all the rest, in that unified breath
of the whole tree which loses itself in the air.

Thus we arrive at our final conclusion as to the nature of art. And
when we apply our criterion to any of the supreme works of art of
the world we find it does not fail us. The figure of Christ, for
instance, remains the supreme incarnation of the idea of goodness
in the world; and few will deny that the figure of Christ represents
not only the idea of goodness but the ideas of truth and beauty
also. If one contemplates many another famous "good man" of
history, such as easily may be called to mind, one is at once
conscious that the "goodness" of these admirable persons is a thing
not altogether pleasing to the aesthetic taste, and a thing which in
some curious way seems to obscure our vision of the real truth of

A great work of art, such as Leonardo's "Virgin of the Rocks," or
Dostoievsky's "Idiot," is intuitively recognized as being not only
entirely satisfying to the aesthetic sense but also entirely satisfying
to our craving for truth and our longing for the inmost secret of
goodness. Every great work of art is the concentrated essence of a
man's ultimate reaction to the universe. It has an undertone of
immense tragedy; but in the depths of this tragedy there is no
despair, because an infinite pity accompanies the infinite sorrow,
and in such pity love finds itself stronger than fate. No work of art,
however appealing or magical, can carry the full weight of what it
means to be an inheritor of human tradition, of what it means to be
a living soul, until it has arrived at that rhythm of the apex-thought
which is a fusion of what we call the "good" with what we call the
"beautiful" and the "true."

It is only when our notion of what _is_ good and what is true falls
short of the austere demands of the aesthetic sense that a certain
uneasiness and suspicion enters into a discussion of this kind. And
such an uneasiness is justified by reason of the fact that the
popular notion both of goodness and truth does so often fall
lamentably short of such demands. The moral conscience of
average humanity is a thing of such dull sensibility, of such
narrow and limited vision, that it is inevitable that its "goodness"
should clash with so exacting a censor as the aesthetic sense.

The rational conscience of average humanity is a thing of such
dense and rigid and unimaginative vision that it is inevitable that
its "truth" should clash with the secrets revealed by the aesthetic
sense. The cause, why the aesthetic sense seems to come on the
scene with an apparatus of valuation so much more advanced and
refined than that possessed by the conscience or by the reason, is
that both conscience and reason are continually being applied to
action, to conduct, to the manipulation of practical affairs, and are
bound in this commerce with superficial circumstance to grow a
little blunt and gross and to lose something of their fine edge.

Conscience and reason, in the hurly-burly and pell-mell of life, are
driven to compromise, to half-measures, to the second-best.

Conscience is compelled to be satisfied with something less than
its own rigid demands. Reason is compelled to accept something
less than its own rigid demands. Both of these things tend
to become, under the pressure of the play of circumstance,
pragmatical, time-serving, and opportunist. But the aesthetic
sense, although in itself it has always room for infinite growth, is
in its inherent nature unable to compromise; unable to bend this
way and that; unable to dally with half-measures.

Any action, in a world of this kind, necessarily implies
compromise; and since goodness is so largely a matter of action,
goodness is necessarily penetrated by a spirit of compromise.
Indeed it may be said that a certain measure of common-sense is
of the very essence of goodness. But what has common-sense to
do with art? Common-sense has never been able, and never will be
able, to understand even the rudiments of art. For art is the
half-discovery of something that must always seem an impossibility to
common-sense; and it is the half-creation of something that must
always render common-sense irrelevant and unimportant. Truth,
again, in a world of so infinite a complication, must frequently
have to remain an open question, a suspended judgment, an
antinomy of opposites. The agnostic attitude--as, for instance, in
the matter of the immortality of the soul--may in certain cases
come to be the ultimate gesture of what we call the truth.

But with the aesthetic sense there can never be any suspension of
judgment, never any open question, never any antinomy of
opposites, never the least shadow of the pragmatic, or "working"
test. It is therefore natural enough that when persons possessed of
any degree of cultivated taste hear other persons speak of
"goodness" or "truth" they grow distrustful and suspicious, they
feel uneasy and very much on guard. For they know well that the
conscience of the ordinary person is but a blunt and clumsy
instrument, quite as likely to distort and pervert the essential spirit
of "goodness" as to reveal it, and they know well that the "truth"
of the ordinary person's reason is a sorry compound of logical
rigidity and practical opportunism; with but small space left in it
for the vision of imagination.

It is because of their primary importance in the sphere of practical
action that the conscience and the reason have been developed out
of all proportion to the aesthetic sense. And it is because the
deplorable environment of our present commercial system has
emphasized action and conduct, out of all proportion to
contemplation and insight, that it is so difficult to restore the
balance. The tyranny of machinery has done untold evil in
increasing this lack of proportion; because machinery, by placing
an unmalleable and inflexible material--a material that refuses to
be humanized--between man's fingers and the actual element he
works in, has interrupted that instinctive aesthetic movement of
the human hands, which, even in the midst of the most utter
clumsiness and grossness, can never fail to introduce some touch
of beauty into what it creates.

We have thus arrived at a definite point of view from which we
are able to observe the actual play of man's aesthetic sense as, in
its mysterious fusion with the energy of reason and conscience, it
interprets the pervading beauty of the system of things, according
to the temperament of the individual. It remains to note how in the
supreme works of art this human temperamental vision is caught
up and transcended in the high objectivity of a greater and more
universal vision; a vision which is still personal, because
everything true and beautiful in the universe is personal, but
which, by the rhythm of the apex-thought, has attained a sort of
impersonal personality or, in other words, has been brought into
harmony with the vision of the immortals.

The material upon which the artist works is that original "objective
mystery," confronting every individual soul, out of which every
individual soul creates its universe. The medium by means of
which the artist works is that outflowing of the very substance of
the soul itself which we name by the name of emotion. This actual
passing of the substantial substance of the soul into whatever form
or shape of objective mystery the soul's vision has half-discovered
and half-created is the true secret of what happens both in the case
of the original creation of the artist and in case of the reciprocal
re-creation of the person enjoying the work of art.

For Benedetto Croce, the Italian philosopher, is surely right when
he asserts that no one can enter into the true spirit of a work of art
without exercising upon it something of the same creative impulse
as that by the power of which it originally came into existence. In
the contemplation of a statue or a picture or a piece of bric-a-brac,
in the enjoyment of a poem or an exquisite passage of prose, just
as much as in the hearing of music, the soul of the recipient is
projected beyond its normal limitation in the same way as the soul
of the creator was projected beyond its normal limitation.

The soul which thus gives itself up to Beauty is actually extended
in a living ecstasy of vibration until it flows into, and through, and
around, the thing it loves. But even this is an inadequate
expression of what happens; for this outflowing of the soul is the
very force and energy which actually is engaged in re-creating this
thing out of what at present I confine myself to calling the
"objective mystery."

The emotion of the soul plays therefore a double part. It
half-discovers and half-creates the pervading beauty of things; and it
also loses itself in receptive ecstasy, in embracing what it has
half-created and half-found.

We have now reached a point from which we are able to advance
yet another step.

Since what we call beauty is the evocation of these two confronted
existences, the existing thing which we call the soul and the
existing thing which we call the objective mystery, it follows that
there resides, as a potentiality, in the nature of the objective
mystery, the capacity for being converted into Beauty at the touch
of the soul. There is thus a three-fold complication of reality in
this thing we call the beauty of the universe.

There is the individual, human, subjective reality of it, dependent
upon the temperament of the observer. There is the universal
potential reality of it, existing in the objective mystery. And finally
there is the ideal reality of it, objective and absolute as far as we
are concerned, in the vision that I have called "the vision of the
immortals." If it be asked why, in all these ultimate problems, it is
necessary to introduce the vision of the immortals, my answer is
that the highest human experience demands and requires it.

At those rare moments when the "apex-thought" reaches its
rhythmic consummation the soul is conscious that its subjective
vision of Truth and Beauty merges itself and loses itself in an
objective vision which carries the "imprimatur" of eternity. This is
a definite universal experience which few introspective minds will
dare to deny.

But since, as we have already proved, the ultimate reality of things
is personality, or, to be more exact, is personality, confronting the
objective mystery, it is clear that if the subjective vision of the
soul is to correspond with an objective reality outside the soul, that
objective reality outside the soul must itself be the vision of
personality. It may be asked, at this point, why it is that the
potentiality or the capacity for being turned into beauty at the
touch of the soul, which resides in the objective mystery is not
enough to explain this recognition by the soul of an eternal
objective validity in its ultimate ideas.

It is not enough to explain it, because this potentiality remains
entirely unrecognized until it is touched by personality, and it is
therefore quite as much a potentiality of inferior beauty,
inadequate truth, and second-rate goodness, as it is a potentiality
of the rarest of these things.

The objective mystery by itself cannot explain the soul's
experience of an eternal validity in its deepest ideas because the
objective mystery in its role of pure potentiality is capable of
being moulded into the form of _any_ ideas, whether deep or
shallow. Thus our proof of the real existence of "the vision of the
immortals" depends upon two facts.

It depends upon the fact that the soul experiences an intuitive
assurance of objective reality in its ideas. And it depends upon the
fact that there is no other reality in the world, with any definite
form or outline, except the reality of personality. For an idea to be
eternal, therefore, it must be the idea of a personality, or of many
personalities, which themselves are eternal; and since we have no
evidence that the human soul is eternal and does not perish with
the body we are compelled to assume that somewhere in the
universe there must exist beings whose personality is able to resist
death and whose vision is an immortal vision.

It might be objected at this point, by such as follow the philosophy
of Epicurus, that, even though such beings exist, we have no right
to assume that they have any regard for us. My answer to this is
that in such moments as I have attempted to describe, when the
rhythmic activity of the soul is at its highest, we become directly
and intuitively conscious of an immense unutterable harmony
pervading all forms of life, whether mortal or immortal; a
harmony which could not be felt if there were not some mysterious
link binding all living souls together.

We become aware at such moments that not only are all living
souls thus bound together but that all are bound together by the
fact that the ideal vision of them all is one and the same. This is
not only my answer to such as maintain that though there may be
Beings in the system of things superior to man, such Beings have
no necessary connection with man; it is also my answer to the
question as to how, considering the capricious subjectivity of our
human vision, we can be assured that the ideal vision of the
immortals does not vary in the same way among themselves. We
are assured against both these possibilities; against the possibility
of the immortals being indifferent to humanity, and against the
possibility of the immortals being divided among themselves, by
the fact that, according to the very basic revelation of the complex
vision, wherever there is a living soul, that living soul is dependent
for its continued existence upon the overcoming of malice by love.

This duality is so much the essence of what we call personality
that we cannot conceive of personality without it. If, therefore, the
immortals are possessed of personality they must be subject to this
duality; and the fact that they are subject to it puts them
necessarily in at least a potential "rapport" with all other living
souls, since the essence of every living soul is to be found in the
same unfathomable struggle.

But granting that there _are_ superior Beings, worthy to be called
Gods, who in their essential nature resemble humanity, how can
we be assured that there is any contact between them and
humanity? We are assured of this in the intuitive revelation of a
most definite human experience, an experience which few
philosophers have been sceptical enough to deny, although their
explanations of it may have been different from mine.

William James, for instance, whose psychological investigations
into the phenomena of religious feeling are so thorough and
original, describes the sense we have of the presence of these
unseen Powers in a very interesting and curious way. He points
out that the feeling we experience at such moments is that there
exists below the level of our ordinary consciousness a deep and
limitless reservoir or cistern containing "more" of the same stream
of spiritual emotion which we are conscious of as being our very
inmost self or soul of our soul.

On the waves of this subconscious ocean of deeper life we are, so
to speak, able to "ride"; if once, in a sudden revolution of absolute
humility, we can give ourselves up to it.

It is needless to indicate how the Ideas of Plato, the "sub specie
aeternitatis" of Spinoza, the "Liberation" from "the Will" of
Schopenhauer, the "Beatific Vision" of the Catholic saints are all
analogues and parallels, expressed under different symbols, of the
same universal feeling. The difference between these philosophic
statements of the situation and mine, is that, whereas these are
content, with the doubtful exception of Plato, to eliminate from
this subconscious "more" of what is "best" in our own soul, every
trace and element of personality, I am unable to escape from the
conviction that compared with personality no power in the
universe, whether it be called "Idea" or "Substance" or a "Will to
annihilate Will" or "Life Force" or "Stream of consciousness" or
any other name, is worthy to be regarded as the cause and origin of
that intimation of "something more" by which our soul comes into
contact with the secret of the system of things.

To assume that the vision of unutterable truth which is reached in
the supreme works of art is anything less than the vision of
super-human Personality is to assume that something other than
Peripety is the secret of life. And how can man, who feels so
profoundly conscious that his own personal "I am I" is the inmost
essence of his being, when it comes to the question of the cause of
his sensation of "riding on the waves" of this something "more," be
content to find the cause in mere abstractions from personality,
such as "streams of consciousness" or "life-force" or "Absolute

What we _know for certain_, in this strange imbroglio, is that
what we call Beauty is a complex of two mysteries, the mystery of
our own "I am I" and the mystery of the "objective something"
which this "I am I" confronts. And if, as is the case, our most
intense and passionate experience, when the rhythm of our nature
is at the fullest, is the intuition of some world-deep authority or
sanction giving an eternal validity to our ideas, this authority or
sanction cannot be interpreted in mere metaphors or similes
abstracted from personality, or in any material substance without a
mind, or in any "stream of thought" without a thinker: but can only
be interpreted in terms of what alone we have an inside
consciousness of, namely in terms of personality itself.

To some temperaments it might seem as though this reduction of
the immense unfathomable universe to a congeries of living
souls were a strangling limitation. There are certain human
temperaments, and my own is one of them, whose aesthetic sense
demands the existence of vast interminable spaces of air, of water,
of earth, of fire, or even of blank emptiness. To such a
temperament it might seem as though to be jostled throughout
eternity by other living souls were to be shut up in an unescapable
prison. And when to this unending population of fellow-denizens
of space we add this doctrine that our deepest ideas of Beauty
remain subjective and ephemeral until they have received the
"imprimatur" of some mysterious superhuman Being or Beings,
such rebellious temperaments as I am speaking of might
conceivably cry aloud for the Psalmist's "wings of a dove."

But the aspect of things which I have just suggested is after all
only a superficial aspect of the situation. Those hollow spaces
of unplumbed darkness, those gulfs filled with primordial
nothingness, those caverns of midnight where the hoary chemistry
of matter swirls and ferments in eternal formlessness; these indeed
_are_ taken away from us. But as I have indicated again and again,
no movement of human logic, no energy of human reason, can
destroy the unfathomableness of Nature. The immense spectacle
of the material universe, with its perpetually receding background
of objective mystery, is a thing that cannot be destroyed. Those
among us who reluct at every human explanation of this panorama
of shadows, are only too easily able to "flee away and be at rest" in
the bottomless gulf they crave.

The fact that man's apex-thought reveals the presence of an
unending procession of living souls, each of whose creative energy
moulds this mystery to its own vision, does not remove the
unfathomableness of the world-stuff whereof they mould it. As we
have already seen, this aboriginal world-stuff, so impenetrable to
all analysis, assumes as far as we are concerned a three-fold form.
It assumes the form of the material element in that fusion of matter
and consciousness which makes up the substance of the soul. It
assumes the form of the universal medium which binds all souls
together. And it assumes the form of the objective mystery which
confronts the vision of all souls. Over these three forms of the
"world-stuff" hangs irrevocably the great "world-curve" or
"world-circle" of omnipresent Space, which gives the final and
ultimate unity to all possible universes.

The temperamental revolt, however, which I am endeavouring to
describe, against our doctrine of personality, does not stop with a
demand for de-humanized air and space. It has a passionate
"penchant" for the projection of such vague imaginative images as
"spirit" and "life." Forgetful that no man has ever seen or touched
this "spirit," apart from a personal soul, or this "life," apart from
some living thing, the temperament I am thinking of loves to make
imaginative excursions into what it supposes to be vast receding
abysses of pure "spirit" and of impersonal inhuman "life."

It gains thus a sense of liberation from the boundaries of its own
personality and a sense of liberation from the boundaries of all
personality. The doctrine, therefore, that the visible universe
is a mysterious complex of many concentrated mortal visions,
stamped, so to speak, with the "imprimatur" of an ideal immortal
vision, is a doctrine that seems to impede and oppose such a
temperament in this abysmal plunge into the ocean of existence.
But my answer to the protest of this temperament--and it is an
answer that has a certain measure of authority, since this
temperament is no other than my own--is that this feeling of
"imprisonment" is due to a superficial understanding of the
doctrine against which it protests. It is superficial because it does
not recognize that around, above, beneath, within, every form of
personality that the "curve of space" covers, there is present the
aboriginal "world-stuff," unfathomable and inexplicable, out of
which all souls draw the material element of their being, in which
all souls come into contact with one another, and from which all
souls half-create and half-discover their personal universe.

It was necessary to introduce this question of temperamental
reaction just here, because in any conclusion as to the nature of
Beauty it is above all things important to give complete
satisfaction to every great recurrent exigency of human desire.
And this desire for liberation from the bonds of personality is one
of the profoundest instincts of personality.

We have now arrived at a point of vantage from which it is
possible to survey the outlines of our final problem; the problem,
namely as to what it really is which renders one object in nature
more beautiful than another object, and one work of art more
beautiful than another work of art. We know that in the intuitive
judgment which affixes these relative valuations there must be the
three elements of mortal subjective vision, of immortal objective
vision, and of the original "world-stuff" out of which all visions
are made.

But upon what criteria, by what rules and standards, do we
become aware that one tree is more beautiful than another tree,
one landscape than another landscape, one poem or person or
picture than another of the same kind? The question has already
been lifted out of the sphere of pure subjective taste by what has
been said with regard to the eternal Ideal vision. But are there any
permanent laws of Beauty by which we may analyse the verdict of
this objective vision? Or are we made aware of it, in each
individual case, by a pure intuitive apprehension?

I think there _are_ such laws. But I think the "science," so to say,
of the aesthetic judgment remains at present in so rudimentary a
stage that we are not in a position to do more than indicate their
general outline. The following principles seem, as far as I am able
to lay hold upon this evasive problem, of more comprehensive
application than any others.

A thing to be beautiful must form an organic totality, even though
in some other sense it is only a portion of a larger totality.

It must carry with it the impression, illusive or otherwise, that it
is the outward form or shape of a living personal soul.

It must satisfy, at least by symbolic association, the physical
desires of the body.

It must obey certain hidden laws of rhythm, proportion, balance,
and harmony, both with regard to colour and form, and with
regard to magical suggestiveness.

It must answer, in some degree, the craving of the human mind for
some symbolic expression of the fatality of human experience.

It must have a double effect upon us. It must arouse the excitement
of a passion of attention, and it must quiet us with a sense of
eternal rest.

It must thrill us with a happiness which goes beyond the pleasure
of a passing physical sensation.

It must convey the impression of something unique and yet
representative; and it must carry the mind through and beyond
itself, to the very brink and margin of the ultimate objective

It must suggest inevitableness, spontaneity, a certain monumental
ease, and a general feeling of expansion and liberation.

It must, if it belong to nature, convey that magical and world-deep
sadness which springs from an inarticulate appeal; or, if it belong
to art, that wistful loneliness which springs from the creation of
immortality by the hands of mortality.

The above principles are not offered as in any way exhaustive.
They are outlined as a temporary starting point and suggestion for
the more penetrating analysis which the future will surely provide.
And I have temporally excluded from them, as can be seen, all
references to those auxiliary elements drawn from reason and
conscience which, according to the philosophy of the complex
vision, must be included in the body of art, if art is to be the final
expression of human experience.

But after gathering together all we have accumulated among these
various paths leading to the edge of the mystery of art, what we
are compelled to recognize, when we confront the palpable thing
itself, is that, in each unique embodiment of it, it arrests and
entrances us, as with a sudden transformation of our entire

Out of the abysses of personality--human or super-human--every
new original work of art draws us, by an irresistible magnetism,
into itself, until we are compelled to become _what it is_, until we
are actually transformed into its inmost identity.

What hitherto has seemed to us mere refuse and litter and
dreariness and debris--all the shards and ashes and flints and
excrement of the margins of our universe--take upon themselves,
as they are thus caught up and transfigured, a new and ineffable

The terrible, the ghastly, the atrocious, the abominable, the
apparently meaningless and dead, suddenly gather themselves
together and take on strange and monumental significance.

What has hitherto seemed to us floating jetsom and blind
wreckage, what has hitherto seemed to us mere brutal lumps of
primeval clay tossed to and fro by the giant hands of chaos, what
has hitherto seemed to us slabs of inhuman chemistry, suddenly
assumes under the pressure of this great power out of the abyss a
strange and lovely and terrible expressiveness.

Deep calls to Deep; and the mysterious oceans of Personality
move and stir in a terrific reciprocity.

The unfathomable gulfs of the eternal duality within us are roused
to undreamed-of response in answer to this abysmal stirring of the
powers that create the world.

What is good in us is enlarged and heightened; what is evil in us is
enlarged and deepened; while, under the increasing pressure of
this new wave of the perilous stuff "of emotion," slowly, little by
little, as we give ourselves up to the ecstasy of contemplation, the
intensified "good" overcomes the intensified "evil."

It is then that what has begun in agitation and disturbance sinks by
degrees into an infinite peace; as, without any apparent change or
confusion, the waves roll in, one after another, upon our human
shore, and we are lifted up and carried out on that vast tide into the
great spaces, beneath the morning and the evening, where the
eternal vision awaits us with its undescribable calm.

Let art be as bizarre, as weird, as strange, as rare, as fantastic, as
you please, if it be true art it must spring from the aboriginal
duality in the human soul and thus must remain indestructibly
personal. But since the two elements of personality wrestle
together in every artist's soul, the more personal a work of art
becomes the more comprehensive is its impersonality.

For art, by means of the personal and the particular, attains the
impersonal and the universal. By means of sinking down into the
transitory and the ephemeral, by means of moulding chance and
accident to its will, it is enabled to touch the eternal and the
eternally fatal.

From agitation to peace; from sound to silence; from creation to
contemplation; from birth and death to that which is immortal;
from movement to that which is at rest--such is the wayfaring of
this primordial power.

It is from the vantage-ground of this perception that we are able
to discern how the mysterious beauty revealed in apparently
"inhuman" arrangements of line and colour and light and shade is
really a thing springing from the depths of some personal and
individual vision.

The controversy as to the superior claims of an art that is just "art,"
with an appeal entirely limited to texture and colour and line and
pure sound, and an art that is imagistic, symbolic, representative,
religious, philosophical, or prophetic, is rendered irrelevant and
meaningless when we perceive that all art, whether it be a thing of
pure line and colour or a thing of passionate human content, must
inevitably spring from the depths of some particular personal
vision and must inevitably attain, by stressing this personal
element to the limit, that universal impersonality which is implied
in the fact that every living soul is composed of the same

It may require no little subtlety of vision to detect in the pure
beauty of line, colour, and texture that compose, say, some lovely
piece of bric-a-brac, the hidden presence of that primordial duality
out of which all forms of beauty emerge, but the metaphysical
significance latent in the phrase "the sense of difficulty overcome"
points us towards just this very interpretation. The circumstantial
and the sexual "motifs" in art, so appealing to the mob, may or
may not play an aesthetic part in the resultant rhythm. If they do,
they do so because such "interest" and such "eroticism" were an
integral portion of the original vision that gave unity to the work
in question. If they do not, but are merely dragged in by the
un-aesthetic observer, it is easy enough for the genuine virtuoso to
disregard such temptation and to put "story," "message,"
"sentiment," and "sex-appeal" rigidly aside, as he seeks to respond
to the primordial vision of an "unstoried" non-sexual beauty
springing from those deeper levels of the soul where "story,"
"sentiment," and sex have no longer any place.

More dangerous, however, to art, than any popular craving for
"human interest" or for the comfort of amorous voluptuousness, is
the unpardonable stupidity of puritanical censorship. Such
censorship, in its crass impertinence, assumes that its miserable
and hypocritical negations represent that deep, fierce, terrible
"imperative" uttered by the soul's primordial conscience.

They represent nothing of the sort.

The drastic revelations of "conscience" are, as I have pointed out
again and again, fused and blended in their supreme moments with
the equally drastic revelations of reason and the aesthetic sense.

They are inevitably blended with these, because, as we have
proved, they are all three nothing less than divergent aspects of the
one irresistible projection of the soul itself which I have named
"creative love."

Thus it comes about that in the great, terrible moments of tragic art
there may be an apparent catastrophic despair, which in our
normal moods seems hopeless, final, absolute.

It is only when the complex rhythm of the apex-thought is brought
to bear upon these _moments of midnight_ that a strange and
unutterable healing emerges from them, a shy, half-hinted whisper
or something deeper than hope, a magical effluence, a "still, small
voice" from beneath the disastrous eclipse, which not only "purges
our passions by pity and terror" but evokes an assured horizon,
beyond truth, beyond beauty, beyond goodness, where the mystery
of love, in its withdrawn and secret essence, transforms all things
into its own likeness.

The nature of art is thus found to be intimately associated with the
universal essence of every personal life. Art is not, therefore, a
thing for the "coteries" and the "cliques"; nor is it a thing for the
exclusive leisure of any privileged class. It is a thing springing
from the eternal "stuff of the soul," of every conceivable soul,
whether human, sub-human, or super-human.

Art is nearer than "philosophy" or "morality" to the creative
energy; because, while it is impossible to think of art as
"philosophy" or "morality," it is inevitable that we should think of
both of these as being themselves forms and manifestations of art.

All that the will does, in gathering together its impressions of life
and its reactions to life, must, even in regard to the most vague,
shadowy, faint and obscure filcherings of contemplation, be
regarded as a kind of intimate "work of art," with the soul as the
"artist" and the flow of life as the artist's material.

Every personal soul, however "inartistic," is an artist in this sense;
and every personal life thus considered is an effective or
ineffective "work of art."

The primal importance of what in the narrow and restricted sense
we have come to call "art" can only be fully realized when we
think of such "art" as concentrating upon a definite material
medium the creative energy which is for ever changing the world
in the process of changing our attitude to the world.

The deadly enemy of art--the power that has succeeded, in these
commercial days, in reducing art to a pastime for the leisured and
wealthy--is the original inert malice of the abyss.

This inert malice assumes, directly it comes in contact with
practical affairs, the form of the possessive instinct. And the
attitude towards art of the "collector" or the leisured "epicurean,"
for whom it is merely a pleasant sensation among other sensations,
is an attitude which undermines the basis of its life. The very
essence of art is that it should be a thing common to all, within the
reach of all, expressive of the inherent and universal nature of all.
And that this is the nature of art is proved by the fact that art is
the personal expression of the personal centrifugal tendency in all
living souls; an expression which, when it goes far enough,
becomes _impersonal_, because, by expressing what is common to
all, it reaches the point where the particular becomes the

It thus becomes manifest that the true nature of art will only be
incidentally and occasionally manifested, and manifested among
us with great difficulty and against obstinate resistance, until the
hour comes when, to an extent as yet hardly imaginable, the
centripetal tendency of the possessive instinct in the race shall
have relinquished something of its malicious resistance to the
out-flowing force which I have named "love." And this yielding of the
centripetal power to that which we call centrifugal can only take
place in a condition of human society where the idea of
communism has been accepted as the ideal and, in some effective
measure, realized in fact.

For every work of art which exists is the rhythmic articulation, in
terms of any medium, of some personal vision of life. And the
more entirely "original" such a vision is, the more closely--such is
the ultimate _paradox_ of things--will it be found to approximate
to a re-creation, in this particular medium, of that "eternal vision"
wherein all souls have their share.



The secret of the universe, as by slow degrees it reveals itself to
us, turns out to be personality. When we consider, further, the
form under which personality realizes, itself, we find it to consist
in the struggle of personality to grapple with the objective
mystery. When, in a still further movement of analysis, we
examine the nature of this struggle between the soul and the
mystery which surrounds the soul, we find it complicated by the
fact that the soul's encounter with this mystery reveals the
existence, in the depths of the soul itself, of two conflicting
emotions, the emotion of love and the emotion of malice.

The word "love" has been used so indiscriminately in its surprising
history that it becomes necessary to elucidate a little the particular
meaning I give to it in connection with this ultimate duality. A
strange and grotesque commentary upon human life, these various
contradictory feelings that have covered their "multitude of sins"
under this historic name!

The lust of the satyr, the affectionate glow of the domestic
habitué, the rare exalted passion of the lover, the cold, clear
attraction of the intellectual platonist, the will to possession of the
sex-maniac, the will to voluptuous cruelty of the sex-pervert, the
maternal instinct, the race-instinct, the instinct towards
fetish-worship, the instinct towards art, towards nature, towards the
ultimate mystery--all these things have been called "love" that we
should follow them and pursue them; all these things have been
called "love" that we should avoid them and fly from them.

The emotion of love in which we seem to detect the ultimate
creative force is not precisely any of these things. Of all normal
human emotions it comes nearest to passionate sympathy. But it is
much more than this. The emotion of love is not a simple nor an
easily defined thing. How should it be that, when it is one aspect
of the outpouring of the very stuff of the soul itself? How should it
be that when it is the projection, into the heart of the objective
mystery, of the soul's manifold and complicated essence?

The best definition of love is that it is the creative apprehension of
life, or of the objective mystery, under the form of an eternal
vision. At first sight this definition might seem but a cold and
intellectual account of love; an account that has omitted all
feeling, all passion, all ecstasy.

But when we remember that what we call "the eternal vision" is
nothing less than the answer of love to love, nothing less than the
reciprocal rhythm of all souls, in so far as they have overcome
malice, with one another and with the mystery which surrounds
them, it will be seen that the thing is something in which what we
call "intellect" and what we call "feeling" are both transcended.
Love, in this sense, is an ecstasy; but it is an ecstasy from which
all troubling, agitating, individual exactions have been obliterated.
It is an ecstasy completely purged of the possessive instinct. It is
an ecstasy that brings to us a feeling of indescribable peace and
calm. It is an ecstasy in which our personal self, in the fullest
realization of its inmost identity, loses itself, even at the moment
of such realization, in something which cannot be put into
words. At one moment our human soul finds itself harassed by a
thousand vexations, outraged by a thousand miseries. Physical
pain torments it, spiritual pain torments it; and a great darkness
of thick, heavy, poisonous obscurity wraps it round like a
grave-cloth. Then, in a sudden movement of the will, the soul cries
aloud upon love; and in one swift turn of the ultimate wheel, the
whole situation is transformed.

The physical pain seems to have no longer any hold upon the soul.
The mental misery and trouble falls away from it like an
unstrapped load. And a deep, cool, tide--calm and still and full of
infinite murmurs--rolls up around it, and pours through it, and
brings it healing and peace. The emotion of love in which
personality, and therefore in which the universe, finds the secret of
its life, has not the remotest connection with sex. Sexual passion
has its place in the world'; but it is only when sexual passion
merges itself in the sort of love we are now considering that it
becomes an instrument of real clairvoyance.

There is a savage instinct of cruel and searching illumination in
sexual passion, but such an instinct is directed towards death
rather than towards life, because it is dominated, through all its
masks and disguises, by the passion of possession.

Like the passion of hate, to which it is so closely allied, sexual
passion has a kind of furious intensity which is able to reveal
many deep levels of human obliquity. But one thing it cannot
reveal, because of the strain of malice it carries with it, and that is
the spring of genuine love. "Like unto like" is the key to the
situation; and the deeper the clairvoyance of malice digs into the
subterranean poison of life, the more poison it finds. For in finding
poison it creates poison, and in finding malice it doubles malice.

The great works of art are not motivated by the clairvoyance of
malice; they are motivated by the clairvoyance of love. It is only
in the inferior levels of art that malice is the dominant note; and
even there it is only effective because, mixed with it, there is an
element of destructive hatred springing from some perversion of
the sexual instinct. Whatever difficulty we may experience in
finding words wherewith to define this emotion of love, there is
not one of us, however sceptical and malign, who does not
recognize it when it appears in the flesh. Malice displays its
recognition of it by a passion of furious hatred; but even this
hatred cannot last for ever, because in every personality that exists
there must be a hidden love which answers to the appeal of love.

The feeling which love has, at its supreme moments, is the feeling
of "unity in difference" with all forms of life. Love may
concentrate itself with a special concentration upon one person or
upon more than one; but what it does when it so concentrates itself
is not to make an alliance of "attack and defence" with the person
it loves, but to flow outwards, through them and beyond them,
until it includes every living thing. Let it not, however, be for a
moment supposed that the emotion of love resembles that vague
"emotion of humanity" which is able to satisfy itself in its own
remote sensationalism without any contact with the baffling and
difficult mystery of real flesh and blood.

The emotion of love holds firmly and tightly to the pieces and
fragments of humanity which destiny has thrown in its way. It
does not ask that these should be different from what they are,
except in so far as love inevitably makes them different. It accepts
them as its "universe," even as it accepts, without ascetic dismay,
the weakness of the particular "form of humanity" in which it
finds _itself_ "incarnated."

By gradual degrees it subdues these weaknesses of the flesh,
whether in its own "form" or in the "form" of others; but it is quite
contrary to the emotion of love to react against such weaknesses of
the flesh with austere or cruel contempt. It is humorously
indulgent to them in the form of its own individual "incarnation"
and it is tenderly indulgent to them in the form of the "incarnation"
of other souls.

The emotion of love does not shrink back into itself because in the
confused pell-mell of human life the alien souls which destiny has
chosen for its companions do not satisfy, in this detail or the other
detail, the desire of its heart. The emotion of love is always
centrifugal, always outflowing. It concentrates itself upon this
person or the other person, as the unaccountable attractions of
likeness and difference dictate or as destiny dictates; but the
deepest loyalty of love is always directed to the eternal vision; for
in the eternal vision it not only becomes one with all living souls
but it also becomes one--though this is a high and difficult
mystery--with all the dead that have ever loved and with all the
unborn that will ever love. For the apprehension of the eternal
vision is at once the supreme creation and the supreme discovery
of the soul of man; and not of the soul of man alone, but of all
souls, whether of beasts or plants or demi-gods or gods, who fill
the unfathomable circle of space.

The secret of this kind of love, when it comes to the matter of
human relationships, may perhaps best be expressed in those
words of William Blake which imply the difficulty which love
finds in overcoming the murderous exactions of the possessive
instinct and the cruel clairvoyance of malice. "And throughout all
eternity, I forgive you: you forgive me: As our dear Redeemer
said--This is the wine: this is the bread."

This "forgiveness" of love does not imply that love, as the old
saying runs, is "blind." Love sees deeper than malice; for malice
can only recognize its own likeness in everything it approaches. It
must be remembered too that this process of laying bare the faults
of others is not a pure process of discovery. Like all other forms of
apprehension it is also a reproduction of itself. The situation, in
fact, is never a static one. These "faults" which malice, in its
reproductive "discoveries" lays bare, are not fixed, immobile,
dead. They are organic and psychic conditions of a living soul.
They are themselves in a perpetual state of change, of growth, of
increase, of withering, of fading. They are affected at every
moment by the will and by the emotion of the subject of them.
They project themselves; they withdraw themselves. They dilate;
they diminish. Thus it happens that at the very touch of this
"discovering," the malice which is thus "discovered" dilates with
immediate reciprocity to meet its "discoverer"; and this can
occur--such is the curious telepathic vibration between living
things--without any articulate act of consciousness.

The art of psychological investigation is therefore a very
dangerous organ of research in the hands of the malicious; for it
goes like a reproductive scavenger through the field of human
consciousness increasing the evil which it is its purpose to collect.
The apostolic definition of "charity" as the thing which "thinketh
no evil" is hereby completely justified; and the profound Goethean
maxim, that the way to enlarge the capacities of human beings is
to "assume" that such capacities are larger than they really are, is
justified also.

Malice naturally assumes that the "faults" of people are "static,"
immobile, and unchanging. It assumes this even in the very act of
increasing these faults. For the I static and unchanging is precisely
what malice desires and seeks to find; for death is its ideal; and,
short of pure nothingness, death is the most static thing we know.

Love is not blind or fooled or deluded when it waives aside the
faults of a person and plunges into the unknown depths of such a
person's soul. It is not blind, when, in the energy of the creative
vision, such faults subside and fall away and cease to exist. It is
completely justified in its declaration that what it sees and feels in
such a person is a hidden reservoir of unsatisfied good. It does see
this; it does feel this; because there arises, in answer to its
approach, an upward-flowing wave of its own likeness; because in
such a person's inmost soul love, after all, remains the creative
impulse which is the life of that soul and the very substance of that
soul's personality.

The struggle between the emotion of love and the emotion of
malice goes on perpetually, in the depths of life, below a thousand
shifting masks and disguises. What we call the "universe" is
nothing but a congeries of innumerable "souls," manifested in
innumerable "bodies," each one confronted by the objective
mystery, each one surrounded by an indescribable ethereal

What we call the emotion of love is the outflowing of any one of
these souls towards the body and soul of any other, or again, in a
still wider sense, towards all bodies and souls covered by the
unfathomable circle of space.

I will give a concrete example of what I mean. Suppose a man to
be seated in the yard of a house with a few patches of grass in
front of him and the trunk of a solitary tree. The slanting sunshine,
we will suppose, throws the shadows of the leaves of the tree and
the shadows of the grass-blades upon a forlorn piece of trodden
earth-mould or dusty sand which lies at his feet. Something about
the light movement of these shadows and their delicate play upon
the ground thrills him with a sudden thrill; and he finds he "loves"
this barren piece of earth, these grass-blades, and this tree. He does
not only love their outward shape and colour. He loves the "soul"
behind them, the "soul" that makes them what they are. He loves
the "soul" of the grass, the "soul" of the tree, and that dim,
mysterious, far-off "soul" of the planet, of whose "body" this
barren patch of earth is a living portion.

What does this "love" of his actually imply? It implies an
outflowing of the very stuff and substance of his own towards the
thing he loves. It implies, by a mysterious vibration of reciprocity,
an indescribable response to his love from the "soul" of the tree,
the plant, and the earth. Let an animal enter upon the scene, or a
bird, or a windblown butterfly, or a flickering flight of midges or
gnats, their small bodies illumined by the sun. These new comers
he also loves; and is obscurely conscious that between their
"souls" and his own there vibrates a strange reciprocity. Let a
human being enter, familiar or unfamiliar, and if his will be set
upon "love," the same phenomenon will repeat itself, only with a
more conscious interchange.

But what of "malice" all this time? Well! It is not difficult to
indicate what "malice" will seek to do. Malice will seek to find its
account in some physical or mental annoyance produced in us by
each of these living things. This annoyance, this jerk or jolt to our
physical or mental well-being, will be what to ourselves we name
the "fault" of the offending object.

The shadows will tease us by their incessant movement. The tree
will vex us by the swaying of its branches. The grass will present
itself to us as an untidy intruder. The barren patch of earth will fill
us with a profound depression owing to its desolate lack of life and
beauty. The dog will worry us by its fuss, its solicitation, its desire
to be petted. The gnats or midges will stir in us an indignant
hostility; since their tribe have been known to poison the blood of
man. The human invader, above all; how loud and unpleasing his
voice is! The eternal malice in the depths of our soul pounces upon
this tendency of grass to be "a common weed," of gnats to bite, of
dogs to bark, of shadows to flicker, of a man to have an evil
temper, of a woman to have an atrocious shrewishness, or an
appalling sluttishness; and out of these annoyances or "faults" it
feeds its desire; it satisfies its necrophilistic lust; and it rouses
in the grass, in the earth, in the tree, in the dog, in the human
intruder, strange and mysterious vibrations of response which add
to the general poison of the world. But the example I have selected
of the activity of emotion may be carried further than this. All
these individual "souls" of human, animal, vegetable, planetary
embodiment, are confronted by the same objective mystery and
surrounded by the same ethereal "medium."

By projecting a vision poisoned by malice into the matrix of the
objective mystery, the resultant "universe" becomes itself a
poisoned thing, a thing penetrated by the spirit of evil. It is
because the universe is always penetrated by the malice of the
various visions whose "universe" it is, that we suffer so cruelly
from its ironic "diablerie." A universe entirely composed of the
bodies and souls of beings whose primordial emotion is so largely
made up of malice is naturally a malicious universe. The age-old
tradition of the witchery and devilry of malignant Nature is a proof
as to how deep this impression of the system of things has sunk.
Certain great masters of fiction draw the "motive" of their art from
this unhappy truth.

And just as the universe is penetrated through and through by the
malice of those whose universe it is, so we may suppose that the
ethereal "medium" which surrounds all souls, before they have
visioned their various "universes" and found them to be one, is a
thing which also may be affected by malice. It is an open question
and one which, in the words of Sir Thomas Browne, "admits a
wide solution," whether or not this ethereal "medium," which in a
sense is of one stuff both with the objective mystery and with the
substratum of the soul, is itself the "elemental body," as it were, of
a living ubiquitous soul.

If this should be the case--and it is no fantastic hypothesis--we are
then provided with an explanation of the curious malignant
impishness of those so-called "elementals" who tease, with their
enigmatic oracles, the minds of unwise dabblers in "psychic

But what we are concerned with noting now is that just as the
primordial malice of all the souls it contains continually poisons
the universe, so the primordial love of all the souls it contains
continually redeems and transforms the universe. In other words it
is no exaggeration to say that the unfathomable universe is
continually undergoing the same ebb and flow between love and
malice, as are the souls and bodies of all the living things whereof
it is composed.

And what precisely is the attitude of love towards the physical
body? Does it despise the physical body? Does its activity imply
an ascetic or a puritanical attitude towards the body and the
appetites of the body? The truth is quite the contrary of this. What
the revelation of the complex vision indicates is that this loathing
of the body, this revulsion against the body, this craving to escape
from the body, is a mood which springs up out of the eternal
malice. It is from the emotion of love in its attitude to the body
that we arrive at the idea of the sacredness of the body and at the
idea of what might be called "the eternal reality of the body."

This idea of the eternal reality of the body springs directly from
those ideas of truth, beauty and goodness which are pre-existent in
the universe and therefore springs directly from that emotion of
love which is the synthesis of these.

The forms and shapes of stars and plants and rivers and hills are
all realized and consummated in the form and shape of the human
body. The magic of the elements, the mystery of earth and air and
water and fire, are incarnated in this miracle of flesh and blood. In
the countenance of a human child, in the countenance of a man or
a woman, the whole unfathomable drama of life is expressed. The
most evil of the children of men, asleep or dead, has in his face
something more tragic and more beautiful than all the waters and
all the land.

Not to "love" flesh and blood, not to will the eternal existence of
flesh and blood, is not to know "love" at all. To loathe flesh and
blood, to will the annihilation of flesh and blood, is to be a victim
of that original "motiveless malignity" which opposes itself to the
creative force.

This insistence upon "the eternal idea of the body" does not
necessarily limit "the idea of the body" to the idea of the human
body; but practically it does so. And it practically does so because
the human body evidently incarnates the beauty and the nobility of
all other forms and shapes and appearances which make up our
existing universe.

There may be other and different bodies in the unfathomable
spaces of the world; but for those among us who are content to
deal with the actual experiences which we have, the human body,
summing up the magical qualities of all other terrestrial forms and
shapes, must, as far as we are concerned, remain our permanent
standard of truth and beauty.

The substitution in art, in philosophy, and in religion, of other
symbols, for this natural and eternal symbol of the human body is
always a sign of a weakening of the creative impulse. It is a sign
of a relative disintegration of the power of "love" and a relative
concentration of the power of "malice." Thus when, by an abuse of
the metaphysical reason, "thought-in-the-abstract" assumes the
rights of a personality the principle of love is outraged, because
the eternal idea of the body is denied.

And when, by an abuse of the psychological reason, the other
activities of the soul are so stressed and emphasized that the
attribute of sensation is forgotten, the principle of love is outraged,
because the eternal idea of the body is denied. The principle of
love, by the necessity of its own nature, demands that the
physiological aspect of reality should retain its validity.

When, therefore, we come to consider the relation of this "eternal
idea of the body" to those invisible "sons of the universe" whose
power of love is inconceivably greater than our own, we are
compelled, by the necessity of the complex vision, to encounter
one of those ultimate dilemmas from which there appears to be no
escape. The dilemma to which we are thus led may be defined in
the following manner.

Because the secret of the universe and the ultimate harmony
between the pre-existent ideas by which all souls must live can be
nothing less than what, in this rarified and heightened sense, we
have named "love" and because the objective pattern and standard
of this love is the creative energy of those personal souls we have
named "the sons of the universe," therefore "the sons of the
universe" must be regarded as directing their desire and their will
towards what satisfies the inherent nature of such love. And
because the inherent nature of such love demands nothing less
than the eternalizing of the idea of flesh and blood, therefore the
"sons of the universe" must be regarded as directing their desire
and their will towards the eternalizing of the idea of flesh and

And just as the will and desire of these "invisible companions of
men" must be regarded as directed towards the eternalizing of this
idea whose magical "stuff of dreams" is one of the objects of their
love, so the will and desire of all living souls must be directed
towards the eternalizing of this same reality. And because the love
of all living souls remains restless and unsatisfied when directed to
any object except the "eternal vision" and because when directed
to the "eternal vision" such love loses the misery of its craving and
becomes satisfied, therefore the "eternal vision" must be regarded
as the only object which can ultimately and really satisfy the
eternal restlessness of the love of all living souls.

But the inherent nature of love demands, as we have seen, the
permanent reality of the physiological aspect of the universe. That
is to say, the inherent desire of the love of all living souls is
directed towards the eternalizing of the idea of flesh and blood.
From this it follows that since the "eternal vision" satisfies the
desire of love "the eternal vision" must include within it the
eternal idea of the body.

Both "the sons of the universe," therefore, and all other living
souls are compelled, in so far as they give themselves up to the
creative energy, to direct their will towards the eternalization of
this idea. But is there not an inevitable frustration and negation of
this desire and this will?

Are not both the "companions of men" and men themselves denied
by the very nature of things the realization of this idea? Is not the
love of man for "the sons of the universe" frustrated in its desire in
so far as "the sons of the universe" cannot be embodied in flesh
and blood? And is not the love of "the sons of the universe" for
man frustrated in its desire in so far as the physical form of each
individual soul is destroyed by death?

It seems to me that this dilemma cannot be avoided. Love insists
on the eternity of the idea of the body. Therefore every soul who
loves "the sons of the universe" desires their incarnation. But if
"the sons of the universe" could appear in flesh and blood for the
satisfaction of any one of their lovers, all other souls in the wide
world would lose them as their invisible companions. But although
this dilemma cannot in its literal outlines be avoided, it seems that
the same inherent nature of love which leads to this dilemma leads
also to the vanishing point or gap or lacuna in thought where the
solution, although never actually realized, may conceivably exist.

What love desires is the eternalizing of the idea of flesh and blood.
It desires this because the idea of flesh and blood is a necessary
aspect of the fulness and completeness of personality. But though
the idea of flesh and blood is a necessary aspect of personality,
every actual incarnation of personality leaves us aware that the
particular soul we love has something more of beauty and nobility
than is expressed.

This "something more" is not a mere hypothetical quality but is an
actual and real quality which we must assume to exist in the very
stuff and texture of the soul. It exists, therefore, in that
"vanishing-point of sensation," as I called it, which we have to think
of, although we cannot define it, as constituting the soul's essential
self. Those pre-existed ideas which find their synthesis in the
emotion of love are undoubtedly part of the unfathomable
universe. But they are this only because they are interwoven
with the unfathomable soul which exists in each of us. The
"something," therefore, which is the substratum of the soul and its
centre of identity is a thing woven out of the very stuff of these

This is the "vanishing point of sensation" to which I have referred,
the point namely where what we call "mind" blends indissolubly
with what we call "matter." The emotion of love which desires the
eternalization of the idea of flesh and blood would be on the way
to satisfaction, even if it never altogether reached it, if it were able
to feel that this beauty and nobility and reality which exist in this
"vanishing point of sensation" which is the very self of the soul
were actually the living essence of flesh and blood, were, in fact, a
real "spiritual body," of which the material body was the visible

It is the inherent nature of love itself, with its craving for reality,
which leads us to the verge of this conception; and although this
conception can never, as we have seen, become more than a
"vanishing-point of sensation" we have at least the satisfaction of
knowing that if we were able to define the thing more clearly it
would cease at once to be the object of love; because it would
cease to be that mysterious fusion of "mind" and "matter" which it
is the nature of love to crave.

Without the necessity then that these immortal ones whom I call
the "sons of the universe" should satisfy the love of human souls
by any physical incarnation, they may be considered as leading
such love upon the true way by simply being what they are; that is
by being living souls. For, as living souls, they also must possess
as the centre of their being, a "spiritual body," or fusion-point of
"mind" and "matter," which is the inner reality of flesh and blood.

This "spiritual body" of "the gods" or the "sons of the universe"
must necessarily be more noble and more beautiful than any
visible embodiment of them could possibly be; though human
imagination and human art have a profound right to attempt to
visualize such an impossible embodiment; and the purest and most
natural form of "religion" would be the form which struggled most
successfully to appropriate such a visualization.

And just as the human soul can satisfy something, though not all,
of its desire for the eternalizing of flesh and blood in the "spiritual
bodies" of these "invisible companions," so the gods can
themselves satisfy something, though not all, of their love for the
individual soul in the reality of the soul's "spiritual body."

All this may carry to certain minds an ambiguous and even
distasteful association; but I think it will only do so to such minds
as are reluctant to analyse, to the furthest limit, their own capacity
for the kind of "love" I have attempted to describe; and possibly
also such minds as are debarred, by some sub-conscious element
of "malice" in them, from even desiring to develop such a

The ambiguity and unsatisfactory vagueness in what I have been
attempting to indicate may perhaps be in a measure dissipated by a
direct appeal to concrete experience. When one analyses this
emotion of love in relation to any actual human object I think it
becomes clear that in our attitude to the physical body of the
person we love there is a profound element of pity.

The sexual emotion may destroy this pity; and any emotion which
is sensual as well as sexual may not only destroy it but turn it into
a very different kind of pity; into the "pity," namely, of a torturer
for his victim. But I feel I am not wrong in my analysis of the kind
of "love" I have in my mind, when I say that the element of pity
enters profoundly into our attitude towards the body of the person
we love.

It enters into it for this reason; namely because the physical body
of the person we love does so inadequately and so imperfectedly
express the beauty of such a person's soul. "Love is not love"
when the blemishes and defects and maladies of the physical form
of the person loved interfere with our love and cause it to
diminish. And such blemishes and defects and maladies _would_
interfere with love if love were not in its essence profoundly
penetrated by pity.

It may be asked--"how can love, which is naturally associated with
beauty and nobility, endure for a moment in the presence of such
lamentable hideousness and repulsiveness and offensiveness, as
exists in some degree in the physiological aspects of us all?" It is
able to endure because in the presence of this what it desires is, as
I have said, not so much the actual physical body of the object of
its love as the "eternal idea" of such a body.

When the individual soul allows itself to demand with too
desperate a craving the actual incarnation of these "sons of the
universe" it is in reality false to its desire for the "eternal idea of
the body," because no actual incarnation of these immortal ones
could realize in any complete sense this "eternal idea."

In the same way when we feel the emotion of love towards any
human soul, our attitude towards the physical form of such a soul
must of necessity be profoundly penetrated by pity and by a tender
and humorous recognition that such a physical form only
expresses a very limited portion of the unfathomable soul which
we love.

If, with a desperate craving to contradict the essential nature of
love, we insist upon regarding the physical body as the complete
expression of the soul, we fall into the same fatal weakness as that
into which those fall who demand a physical incarnation of the
"companions of men," and along with such as these we are false to
love's true craving for the "eternal idea of flesh and blood."

In other words, this craving of love for "the eternal idea of the
body" does not imply that we are false to love when we are unable
to change our natural repugnance in the presence of the repulsive
and the offensive into attraction to these things. Love certainly
does not mean a morbid attraction to what is unattractive. The
sexual emotion, the emotion which we call "being in love," does
sometimes include this morbidity, just because, by reason of its
physiological origin, it tends to remain the slave of the
physiological. But although love does not imply a morbid
attraction to the repulsive and the offensive, and although the
presence of the repulsive and offensive in connection with those
we love is a proof to us that "the eternal idea of the body," is not
realized in the actual body, it is clear that "love is not love" when
it allows itself to be diminished or destroyed by the presence of
these things.

What love really demands, both with regard to the universe and
with regard to any individual soul in the universe, is not so much
the retention of the physiological aspect of these things, _as we
know them now_, but of the physiological aspect of them implied
in such a phrase as "the eternal idea of matter" or "the eternal idea
of flesh and blood."

It may be put still more simply by saying that what love demands
is the existence of something in what we call "matter" or the
"body" which guarantees the eternal reality of these aspects of life.
It does not demand that we should love the repulsive, the
offensive, the false, or the evil, because these exist in the bodies
and the souls of those we love.

Everything in the universe partakes of the eternal duality. The
hideous, the false and the evil are not confined to what we call
"mind" but exist in what we call "matter" also. Consequently love,
when in its craving for complete reality it demands "the eternal
idea of the body" does not demand that this eternal idea should be
realized in any actual body.

When a demand of this kind is made, it is not made by love but by
the sexual instinct, and it is invariably doomed to a ghastly
disillusion. For it is just this very craving, namely that in some
actual human body "the eternal idea of the body" should be
realized, that the sweet and terrible madness of sexual love
continually implies. But real love, the love which is the supreme
synthesis of those ideas which represent the creative power in the
ultimate duality, can never be disillusioned.

And it cannot be disillusioned because it is able to see, beneath the
chaotic litter and unessential debris of "matter," the eternal idea of
"matter" and because it is able to see, under the lamentable
repulsiveness and offensiveness of so much actual flesh and
blood, "the eternal idea of flesh and blood."

Love's attitude toward this element of litter and chaos in the
universe is sometimes an attitude of humorous toleration and
sometimes an attitude of destructive fire. Love's attitude towards
the repulsive and the offensive in human souls and bodies is
sometimes an attitude of humorous toleration and sometimes an
attitude of destructive fire.

But along with this passion of destruction, which is so essential a
part of the passion of creation, and along with this humorous
indulgence, there necessarily mingles, where human beings are
concerned, an element of profound pity. The best concrete
example of the mood I am trying to indicate is the emotion which
any one would naturally feel in the presence of some torturer or
tyrant whom he had slain, or even whom he had surprised asleep.
For the prerogative of both sleep and death is that they obliterate
the repulsive elements of flesh and blood and set free its eternal

And this is true of death even after the ghastly process of chemical
dissolution has actually begun. A loathing of matter as matter, a
hatred and contempt for the body as the body, is therefore a
manifestation not of love but of the opposite of love. Such a
loathing of the physiological is a sign of a weakening of the
creative energy. It is also a sign of the stiffening of the resistant
"malice," or "motiveless malignity," which opposes creation. What
the energy of love directs its desire and its will towards, is first the
"eternal idea of the soul," the idea of the rhythmic harmony of
"mind" and "matter" fused and lost in one another, and then "the
eternal idea of the body," the idea of the rhythmic projection of
this invisible harmony upon the visible fabric of the world.

Thus we arrive at the only definition of the nature of love which is
satisfactory to the deepest moments of feeling experienced by the
human soul. In such moments the soul gathers itself together on
the verge and brink of the unknown. Something beyond the power
of our will takes possession then of all that we are. In our
momentary and transitory movement of the complex vision we are
permitted to pass across the ultimate threshold.

We enter then that mysterious rhythm which I have called "The
Eternal Vision"; and in place of our desire for personal
immortality, in place of our desire for the possession of any person
or thing, in place of our contemplation of "forces" and "energies"
and "evolution" or "dissolution," in place of our struggle for
"existence" or for "power," we become suddenly aware that in the
outflowing and reciprocal inter-action of the emotion of love there
is something that reduces all these to insignificance, something
that out of the very depths of the poisonous misery of the world
and the irony of the world and the madness of the world utters its
defiant Rabelaisian signal, "Bon espoir y gist au fond."



We must now return to our original definition of the true
philosophical instrument of research in order to see if we can
secure from it a clearer notion as to the nature of the Gods. Such
an instrument is, as we have seen, the apex-thought of the complex
vision using all its attributes in rhythmic unison. For the complex
vision using all its attributes in unison is only another name for the
soul using the body and using something more than the body.

If the soul could use no attributes except those given to it by the
body, it might, or it might not, arrive at the idea of the "sons of the
universe." It certainly could not enter into any relation with such
immortal beings. But since it has arrived at such a conception "it is
impossible for it ever to fall entirely away from what it has
reached." For the same unfathomable duality which gave birth to
the sons of the universe has given birth to men; and between these
two, between the ideal figures who cannot perish and the
generations of souls who for ever appear and for ever pass away
there is an eternal understanding. And the understanding between
these two depends upon the fact that they are both children of the
same unfathomable duality.

But this duality which is the cause why the universe is the universe
and not something other than the universe, must remain as great a
mystery to the souls of the "companions of men" as it is to all the
souls in the world who recognize them as their ideal.

We cannot escape the impression that this complex vision of
ours, which is our instrument of research and which leaves us in
the presence of an unfathomable duality, finds a parallel in the
complex vision of the sons of the universe which is their
instrument of research and which leaves them also in the presence
of an unfathomable duality. We cannot escape from the impression
that to these children of the eternal duality the mystery of this
duality is as dark as it is to ourselves.

They find themselves struggling to overcome malice with love,
even as we find ourselves struggling to overcome malice with
love. They find themselves driven to creation and destruction. The
complex vision, which is their instrument of research, is baffled in
the same way as the complex vision which is our instrument of

If, therefore, in our desperate struggle with the unfathomable
nature of this duality, we demand why it is that the gods have
failed, in spite of their love, to give us any clue to some ultimate
reconciliation, the answer must be that such an ultimate
reconciliation is as much beyond the reach of their vision as it is
beyond the reach of ours. The attainment of such a reconciliation
would seem to mean the absolute end of life as we know it and of
creation as we know it. Such a reconciliation would seem to mean
nothing less than the swallowing up of the universe in unthinkable

The truth is that in this ultimate revelation of the complex vision
we are confronted with an inevitable triad, or trinity, of primordial
aspects. We are compelled to think of a plurality of living souls
of which our own is one; of certain ideal companions of all souls
whose vision gives to our vision its objective value; and of an
external universe which is the creation of this vision.

What the complex vision indicates, therefore, is a system of things
which has a monistic aspect, for there is only one space and only
one succession of time; a pluralistic aspect, for the system of
things gives birth continually to innumerable individual souls; and
a dualistic aspect, for the universe itself is created by the struggle
between love and malice.

What the complex vision does not indicate is any ultimate
principle which reduces this complex system of things to the
unbroken mass of one integral unity. The nearest approach to such
an unbroken, integral unity is to be found in that indefinable
"medium" which makes it possible for the innumerable souls
which compose the universe to communicate with one another and
with their invisible pre-existent companions. It is only the
existence of this indefinable medium which makes it possible for
us to speak of a universe at all. For this medium is the objective
ground, or basis, so to say, from the midst of which each
individual vision creates its own universe, always appealing as it
does so to that objective standard or pattern of truth offered by the
vision of man's invisible companions. What we roughly and
loosely call "the universe" or "nature" is therefore an accumulated
projection or creation of all the souls which exist, held together by
this pervading medium which enables them to communicate with
one another. In this eternal process of creating the universe by
their united visions, all these souls must inevitably appeal,
consciously or unconsciously, to the vision of their pre-existent

The best justification which can be offered for the expression
_sons_ of the universe as applied to these invisible companions is
to be found in the inevitable anthropomorphism of all human
thought. The breaking point, so to speak, of man's vision, that
ecstasy of comprehension which I call his apex-thought, is the
moment which makes him aware of these companions' existence.
And, at this ecstatic moment, all individual souls find their
personality deepened to such a point that they feel themselves
possessed of the very secret of the ultimate duality, feel
themselves to be, in fact, unfathomable personifications of that
duality. And their intimation or vision with regard to the gods
presents itself to them at that moment as the very nature and true
being of the gods. Yet it must be remembered that this intimation
is a thing which we reach only by pain and exquisite effort; is a
thing, in fact, which is the culminating point of an elaborate and
difficult "work of art" requiring a rhythm and a harmony in our
nature attained by no easy road.

Since, therefore, the reality of these invisible companions though
implied in all our intercourse with one another, is only visualized
as actual and authentic when our subjective vision is at its highest
point, and since when our subjective vision is at its highest point it
conveys the sensation, rightly or wrongly, that what we call our
"universe" is _their_ universe also, it is not without justification
that we use the anthropomorphic expression "the sons of the
universe" to describe these invisible companions.

This expression, the sons of the universe, this idea of an objective
standard of all ideas, is something that we attain with difficulty
and not something that we just pick up as we go along. The
"objective," in this sense, is the supreme attainment of the
"subjective." And although when we have found these companions
they become real and actual, we must not forget that, in the long
process of escaping from the subjectivity of ourselves into the
objectivity of their existence, it was our own subjective vision
with the rhythmic ecstasy of its apex-thought which led us to the
brink of this discovery. Thus the expression "the sons of the
universe" finds its justification. For they are the objective
discovery, as well as the objective implication, of all our human
and subjective visions. We and they together create the universe
and together become the "children" of the world we create.

And although the universe when thus created remains the creation
of man, assisted by the gods, it now presents itself to us, in its
acquired and attained objectivity, as a pre-existent thing which is
rather our parent than our creation. This objective reality of it,
with the inevitable implication that it existed before we came on
the scene at all, and will exist after we have disappeared from the
scene, is a truth towards which our subjective vision has led us,
but which, when once we reach it, seems to become independent
of our subjective vision.

Here again, therefore, in connection with the universe as in
connection with the gods, the creation of our subjectivity is found
to be something independent of our subjectivity and something
that, all the while, has been implicit in the energy of our subjective
vision. And precisely as the subjective vision of man creates the
companions of men and then discovers them to be an objective
reality, so the subjective vision of man creates the universe and
then discovers the universe to be an objective reality. And in both
cases this discovering finds its justification in a recognition that
the idea of this resultant objectivity was implicit in the subjective
energy from the beginning. But the universe once created or
discovered, is found to be the eternal manifestation of that ultimate
duality which is the essence of our own souls and of the souls of
the immortals.

In no other way can we think of the objectivity of the universe; for
in no other way can we think of ourselves. And because it is the
evocation of that ultimate duality which is the very stuff and
texture of our creative vision, the universe becomes naturally the
parent of man's invisible companions as it becomes the parent of
man himself. And thus are we justified in speaking of these
mysterious ones as the "sons of the universe."

It is out of pain and grief that we arrive at the conception of the
nature of the gods. "Those who have not eaten their bread with
tears, they know them not, the Heavenly Powers!" Pain and
sorrow, both physical and mental, seem to soften the porous shell,
so to speak, of the human intelligence, seem to throw back certain
shutter-like shards or scales with which it protects its malignant

It is when our loneliness becomes intolerable, it is when the
poisonous teeth of the eternal malice in Nature have us by the
throat, it is when our malice rises up, in the miserable torture of
hatred, to answer the malice of the system of things, that, out of
the depths, we cry to the darkness which surrounds us for some
voice or some signal that shall give us an intimation of help.
Merely to know that our wretched pain is known to some one
besides ourselves is an incredible relief. Merely to know that some
sort of superhuman being, even without special preoccupation
with human fate, can turn an amused or an indulgent clairvoyance
towards our wretchedness, can "note" it with dispassionate
sympathy, as we note the hurts of animals or plants, is a sort of
consolation. It is a relief to know that what we feel when we are
hurt to the breaking-point is not absolutely wasted and lost in the
void, but is stored up in an immortal memory along with many
other pains of the same kind. That cry, "Only He do know what I
do suffer" of the Wessex peasant is a cry natural to the whole
human race. It is not that we ask to be confronted and healed by
our immortal friend. We ask merely that our sorrows should not
be altogether drowned in the abyss as though they had never been.
There is a certain outrage about this annihilation of the very
memory of pain against which humanity protests.

But it is necessary at this point to beware of the old pathetic
fallacy of human thought, the fallacy of assuming that to be true,
which we desire to be true. What our complex vision reveals as to
the nature of the gods does not satisfy in any obvious or facile
manner this bitter need of humanity. If it did so satisfy it, then for
some profound and mysterious reason man's own aesthetic sense
would revolt against it, would indignantly reject it, as too smooth
an answer to life's mystery.

For man's aesthetic sense seems in some strange way to be in
league with a certain inveterate tragedy in things, which no facile
optimism can ever cajole or melt.

That the gods are aware of our existence can hardly be doubted. That
they feel pity for us, in this or that significant hour, can easily
be imagined. That the evil in us draws towards us what is evil in
them seems likewise a not unnatural possibility. That the love in
us draws towards us the love in them is a thing in complete
accordance with our own relation to forms of life lower than
ourselves. That even at certain moments the gods may, by a kind
of celestial vampirizing, use the bodily senses of men to "fill out,"
as it were, what is lacking in their own materiality, is a
conceivable speculation.

But it is not in any definite relation between the individual soul of
man and the individual soul of any one of the immortals that our
hope lies. If this were all that we could look for, our condition
would be as miserable as the condition of those unhappy ones who
seek intermittent and fantastic relief in attempted intercourse with
the psychic and the occult.

Our hope lies in that immemorial and traditional human gesture
which has, in the unique figure of Christ, gathered up and focussed,
as it were, all the vague and floating intimations of super-human
sympathy, all the shadowy rumours and intimations of super-human
help, which move to and fro in the background of our apprehension.

The figure of Christ has thus become something more than a mere
name arbitrarily given by us to some nameless god. The figure of
Christ has become a symbol, an intermediary, a kind of cosmic
high-priest, standing between all that is mortal and all that is
immortal in the world, and by means of the love and pity that is in
him partaking of the nature of every living thing.

When, therefore, out of the bitterness of our fate we cry aloud
upon the Unknown, the answer to our cry comes from the heart
of Christ. In other words it comes from the epitome and
personification of all the love in the universe. For to the figure of
Christ has been brought, down the long ages of the world, all the
baffled, thwarted, broken, unsatisfied love in every soul that has
ever lived. It is in the heart of Christ that all the nameless sorrows
and miseries, of the innumerable lives that Nature gives birth to,
are stored up and remembered. Not one single pang, felt by plant
or animal or bird or fish or man or planet, but is embalmed for
ever in that mysterious store-house of the universal pity. Thus, if
there were no other superhuman Beings in the world and if apart
from the creative energy of all souls Christ would never have
existed, as it is now He _does_ exist because He _has_ been
created by the creative power of all souls.

But while in one sense the figure of Christ is the supreme work of
art of the world, the culminating achievement of the anonymous
creative energy of all souls, the turning of the transitory into the
eternal, of the mortal into the immortal, of the human into the
divine; in another sense the figure of Christ is a real and living
personality, the one personality among the gods, whose nature we
may indeed assume that we understand and know.

How should we not understand it, when it has been in so large a
measure created by our sorrow and our desire?

But the fact that the anonymous striving of humanity with the
objective mystery has in a sense created the figure of Christ does
not reduce the figure of Christ to a mere Ideal. As we have seen
with regard to the primordial ideas of truth, beauty, and goodness,
nothing can be an Ideal which has not already, in the eternal
system of things, existed as a reality.

What we call the pursuit of truth, or the creation of truth, what we
call the pursuit of beauty or the creation of beauty, is always a
_return_ to something which has been latent in the eternal nature
of the system of things. In other words, in all creation there is a
rediscovery, just as in all discovery there is creation.

The figure of Christ, therefore, the everlasting intermediary
between mortality and immortality, has been at once created and
discovered by humanity. When any living soul approaches the
figure of Christ, or cries aloud upon Christ out of the depths of its
misery, it cries aloud upon all the love that has ever existed in the
world. It enters at such a moment into definite communion with all
the suffering of all the dead and with all the suffering of all the

For in the heart of Christ all the dead are gathered up into
immortality, and all their pain remembered. In the heart of Christ
all the unborn live already, in their pain and in their joy; for such
pain and such joy are latent in the ultimate duality of love and
malice, and in the heart of Christ this ultimate duality struggles
with such terrible concentration that all the antagonisms which the
procession of time evokes, all the "moments" of this abysmal
drama, in the past, in the present, in the future, are summed up and
comprehended in what that heart feels.

The ancient human doctrine of "vicarious suffering," the doctrine
that upon the person of Christ all the sins and sorrows of the world
are laid, is not a mere logical conclusion of a certain set of
theological axioms; but is a real and true secret of life, discovered
by our most intimate experience.

The profoundest of all the oracles, uttered out of the depths, is that
saying of Jesus about the "losing" of life to "save" it. This "losing
of life" for Christ's sake is that ultimate act of the will by which
the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, the possessive instinct, the
hatred of the body, the malice which resists creation, the power of
pride, are all renounced, in order that the soul may enter into that
supreme vision of Christ, wherein by a mysterious movement of
sympathy, all the struggles of all living things are comprehended
and shared.

Thus it is true to say that the object of life for all living souls is
the eternal vision. Towards the attainment of the eternal vision the
love in all living souls perpetually struggles; and against the
attainment of the eternal vision the malice in all living souls
perpetually struggles. We arrive, therefore, at the only adequate
conception of the nature of the gods which the complex vision
permits us.

The nature of the gods, or of the immortals, or, as I have preferred
to call them, the sons of the universe, is a nature which
corresponds to our nature, even as our nature corresponds to the
nature of animals or of plants. The ultimate duality is embodied in
the nature of the gods more richly, more beautifully, more terribly,
in a more dramatic and articulate concentration, than it is
embodied in our nature. Between us and the gods there must be a
reciprocal vibration, as there is a reciprocal vibration between us
and plants and beasts and oceans and hills. The precise nature of
such reciprocity may well be left a matter for vague and
unphilosophical speculation; because the important aspect of it, in
regard to the mystery of life and the object of life, is not the
method or manner of its functioning but the issue and the result of
its functioning. And this issue and result of the reciprocity
between mortal and immortal, between man and his invisible
companions, is the eternal vision which they both share, the vision
in which love attains its object.

And the eternal vision, which was, and is, and is to come, is the
vision in which Christ, the Intermediary between the transitory and
the permanent, contemplates the spectacle of the unfathomable
world; and is able to endure that spectacle, by reason of the
creative power of love.



In considering the figure of that great Intermediary between
mortality and immortality whom we have come to name Christ,
the question arises, in view of the historic existence of other
world-saviours, such as the Indian Buddha, whether it would not
be better to invent, out of our arbitrary fancy, some completely
new symbol for the eternal vision which should be entirely free
from those merely geographical associations which have limited
the acceptance of this Figure to so much less than one-half of the
inhabitants of our planet.

The question arises--can there be invented any concrete, tangible
symbol which shall appeal to every attribute of the complex vision
and be an accumulated image of that side of the unfathomable
duality from which we draw our ideas of truth, beauty, and

For the complex vision itself I have projected my own arbitrary
image of an arrow-head of many concentrated flames; but when
we approach a matter as important as the choice of a symbolic
image for the expression of the ultimate synthesis of the good as
contrasted with the evil something very different from a mere
subjective fancy is required.

If it were possible for me, the present writer, to give myself up so
completely to the creative spirit as to become suddenly inspired
with the true idea of such a symbolic image, even then my image
would remain detached, remote and individualistic. If it were
possible for me to gather up, as it were, and to bring into focus all
the symbolic images used by all the supreme prophets and artists
and poets of the world, my synthetic symbol, including all these
different symbols, would still remain remote and distant from the
feelings and experiences of the mass of humanity.

But the ideas of truth, beauty, goodness, together with that
emotion of love which is their synthesis, are not confined to the
great artists and prophets of the world. They are felt and
experienced by the common mass of humanity. They have indeed
an even wider scope than this, since they exist in the depths of the
souls of the sons of the universe, and in the depths of that
unfathomable universe whose objective reality depends upon their
energy. They have the widest scope which it is possible for the
complex vision to grasp. Wherever time and space are, they are;
and, as we have seen, time and space make up the ultimate unity
within whose limits the drama of life proceeds.

Although the universe depends for its objective reality upon the
vision of the immortals and incidentally upon all the visions of all
the souls born into the world, it is not true to say that either the
vision of the immortals or the visions of all souls, or even both of
these together, exhaust the possibilities of the universe and sound
the depths of its unfathomableness. The complex vision of man
stops at a certain point; but the unfathomable nature of the
universe goes on beyond that point. The complex vision, of the
immortals stops at a definite point; but the unfathomable nature of
the universe goes on beyond that point.

If it be asked, "how can it be said that an universe, which depends
for its objective reality upon the complex vision, goes on beyond
the point where the complex vision stops?" I would answer that
the complex vision does not only create reality; it discovers
reality. There is always the primordial objective mystery outside
the complex vision; that objective mystery, or world-stuff, or
world-clay, out of which, in its process of half-creation and
half-discovery, the complex vision evokes the universe.

And although apart from the activity of the complex vision this
primordial world-clay or objective mystery is almost nothing
because it is only of its bare existence that we are aware, yet it is
not altogether nothing, because it is, in a sense, the origin of
everything we discover. When, therefore, we speak of the
unfathomable as receding into depths beyond the point where the
vision of man stops and beyond the point where the vision of the
immortals stops, we do not contradict the statement that the vision
of man and the vision of the immortals create the universe. They
create the universe in so far as they discover the universe; but the
universe must be thought of as always capable of being further
discovered and further created. Perhaps the most adequate way of
putting the situation would be to image the objective mystery as a
kind of colourless screen across which a coloured picture is slowly
moved. This coloured picture is the universe as we know it.
Without the white screen as a background there could be no picture.
All the colours of the picture are latent and potential in the
whiteness of the screen; but they require the focussed lime-light of
the magic-lantern to call them forth. The lantern from which the
light comes, half-creates, so to speak, and half-discovers the
resultant colours.

When we say, therefore, that the universe, although created by the
complex vision, recedes into unfathomable depths beyond the
reach of the complex vision, what we mean is that the boundary
line between the moving colour-picture, which is the universe, and
the original whiteness of the screen across which the picture is
moved, which is the objective mystery, is capable of endless
recession. The blank whiteness of the part of the screen over
which the picture has not yet moved is capable of revealing every
kind of colour as soon as the focussed lime-light of the complex
vision reaches it. The colours are in the whiteness of the screen as
well as in the lime-light which is thrown upon the screen; but
neither the lantern which throws the light nor the screen upon
which the light is thrown, can, in isolation from one another,
produce colour.

The universe, therefore, is half-created and half-discovered by the
complex vision; and it may be said to go on beyond the point
where the complex vision stops, although strictly speaking what
goes on beyond the stopping place of the complex vision is not the
universe as we know it but a potential universe as we may come to
know it; a universe, in fact, which is at present held in suspense in
the unfathomable depths of the objective mystery.

This potential universe, this universe which will come into
existence as soon as the complex vision discovers it and creates it,
this universe across which gathers already the moving shadow of
the complex vision, is not a new universe but only an extension
into a further depth of the objective mystery, of the universe which
we already know.

We are not justified in saying of this objective mystery or of this
white screen across which the colours will presently flow, that it is
outside time and space. We are not justified in saying anything at
all about it, except that it exists and that it lends itself to the
advance of the complex vision. If in place of a white screen we
could figure to ourselves this objective mystery as a mass of
impenetrable darkness, we should thus be able to envisage the
complex vision as I have tried to envisage it, namely as a moving
arrow-head of focussed flames with the point of it, or what I have
named the apex-thought of it, illuminating that mass of darkness
with all the colours of life.

But, as I have said, none of these subjective images can serve as
the sort of symbol we are in search of, because by reason of their
being arbitrary and individualistic they lack the organic and
magical associations which cling round such symbols as have
become objective and historical. We can content ourselves with
such fanciful symbols as white screens and arrow-heads and
pyramids of fire in regard to the organ of our research and the
original protoplasmic stuff out of which this organ of research
creates the world; but when it comes to the purpose of life and the
meaning of life, when it comes to that unfathomable duality which
is the essence of life, we require for our symbol something that has
already gathered about it the whole desperate stream of life's tears
and blood and dreams and ecstasies and memories and hopes.

We can find no symbol for the adversary of life, no symbol for the
malignant obscurantism and the sneering malice that resist
creation. To endow this thing which is in the way, this unfathomable
depth of spiritual evil, with the vivid and imaginative life
of a symbolic image would be to change its inherent nature.
No adequate symbol can be found for evil, any more than a
complete embodiment can be found for evil. Directly evil
becomes personal it ceases to be evil, because personality
is the supreme achievement of life. And directly evil is expressed in
a living, objective, historic, mythological image it ceases to be
evil, because such an image instantaneously gathers to itself some
potency of creative energy. Evil is a positive thing, a spiritual
thing, an eternal thing; but it is positive only in its opposition to
creation, in its corruption of the soul, and in its subtle undermining
of the divine moments of the soul by the power of eternal
dreariness and disillusion.

What we need above everything is a symbolic image which shall
represent the creative energy of life, the creative power of love,
and those eternal ideas of truth and beauty and nobility which
seem in some mysterious way derogated from, rendered less
formidable and unfathomable, by being named "the good."

The desire for a symbol of this kind, which shall gather together
all the tribes and nations of men and all conflicting ideals of
humanity, is a desire so deep and universal as to be perhaps the
supreme desire of the human race. No symbol arbitrarily invented
by any one man, even though he were the greatest genius that ever
lived, could supply this want or satisfy this desire. And it could not
do so because it would lack the organic weathering and bleaching,
so to speak, of the long panorama of time. An individual
genius might hit upon a better symbolic image, an image more
comprehensive, more inclusive, more appealing to the entire
nature of the complex vision; but without having been subjected to
the sun and rain of actual human experience, without having
endured the passion of the passing of the generations, such an
image would remain, for all its appropriateness, remote,
intellectual and barren of magical suggestiveness.

I do not mean to indicate that there is necessarily any determined
or fatalistic process of natural selection in these things by which
one symbol rather than another gathers about it the hopes and fears
of the generations. Chance no doubt plays a strange part in all this.
But the concrete necessities of living human souls play a greater
part than chance; and without believing in any steady evolutionary
process or even in any law of natural selection among the
evocations of human desire, it must still remain that the symbol
which survives will be the symbol adapted to the deepest instincts
of complicated souls and at the same time palpable and tangible to
the touch of the crudest and most simple.

It cannot be denied that there are serious difficulties in the way of
the acceptance of any historic symbol, the anonymous evocation
of the generations of men. Just because it has a definite place in
history such a symbol will necessarily have gathered to itself much
that is false and much that is accidental and unessential. It will
have entered into bitter controversies. It will have been hardened
and narrowed by the ferocious logic of rationalistic definition. It
will have been made the rallying cry of savage intolerances and
the mask for strange perversions. Evil will naturally have attached
itself to it and malice will have left its sinister stain upon it.
Because chance and accident and even evil have had much to do
with its survival, it may easily happen that some primary attribute
of the complex vision, such for instance as the aesthetic sense with
its innate awareness of the humorous and the grotesque, will have
been forgotten altogether in the stuff out of which it is made.

Considering such things, considering above all this final fact that it
may not satisfy every attribute of the complex vision, and may
even completely suppress and negate some essential attribute, it
remains still a perilous question whether it were not, after all,
better to invent a new symbol that shall be deliberately adapted to
the entire complex vision, than to accept an already existing
symbol, which in the shocks and jolts and casualties, of history has
been narrowed, limited and stiffened by the malice of attack and

This narrowing and hardening process by which such a symbol,
the anonymous creation of humanity under the shocks of circumstance,
becomes limited and inadequate, is a process frequently assisted
by those premature and violent syntheses of the ultimate
contradiction which we name dogmatic religions. To make such
a symbol once more fluid and flexible, to restore it to its
place in the organic life of the soul, it is necessary to extricate it
from the clutch of any dogmatic religion. I do not say that it is
necessary to extricate it from religion, or even from every aspect
of dogma; for it is of the very essence of such symbol to be a
stimulus to the religious ecstasy and there are many dogmas which
are full of imaginative poetry.

But it is necessary to extricate it from dogmatic religion because
dogmatic religion may be defined as a premature metaphysical
synthesis, masquerading beneath a system of imaginative ritual.
The truth of religion is in its ritual and the truth of dogma is in its
poetry. Where a dogmatic religion becomes dangerous to any
human symbol is when it tries to rationalize it and interpret it
according to a premature metaphysical synthesis. In so far as it
remains purely symbolic and does not attempt to rationalize its
symbolism, a dogmatic religion must always contain within the
circle of its creed many profound and illuminating secrets. The
false and ephemeral portion of a dogmatic religion is its
metaphysical aspect, because the whole science of metaphysics is
an ambiguity from the start, since it is a projection of one isolated
attribute of the complex vision.

What the apex-thought of the complex vision does is to undermine
metaphysic; not by the use of metaphysic but by the use of the
rhythmic totality of all the attributes of the soul. The philosophy of
the complex vision has its metaphysical, as it has its psychological
and its physiological aspect, but its real starting point must
transcend all these, because it must emanate from personality. And
personality is something super-metaphysical; as it is something
super-psychological, and super-physiological.

The creed of a dogmatic religion is not to be condemned because it
calls upon us to believe the impossible. Some sort of belief in the
impossible, some primordial act of faith is an essential part of the
process of life and, without it, life could not continue. It is where
dogmatic religion attempts to justify its belief in the impossible by
the use of metaphysical reason that we must regard it as an enemy
of the truth of its own symbolism.

The supreme example of the evil and dangerous influence of
metaphysic upon religion is to be found in connection with that
inscrutable nothingness behind the universe, and also behind the
objective mystery out of which the soul creates the universe. I
refer to that ambiguous and unbeautiful phantom, which has
acquired for itself the name of "the absolute," or the parent or first
cause of life.

That the conception of "the sons of the universe," to which certain
basic facts and experiences in regard to the intercourse between
living human souls has led humanity, is not a metaphysical
conception, is proved by the fact that it is a conception of a reality
existing inside and not outside the ultimate unity of time and
space. Any pure metaphysical conception must, as we have seen,
remain outside the categories of time and space, and remaining
there bear perpetual witness to its essential unreality.

The sons of the universe are living personal souls; and being this,
they must be, as all personalities are, super-metaphysical,
super-psychological, and super-physiological.

The perilous choice between the invention of an arbitrary symbol
which shall represent in its full complexity this idea of the sons of
the universe, and the acceptance of a symbol already supplied by
that chaotic mixture of accident and human purpose which we call
history is a choice upon which more than we can imagine or
surmise may ultimately depend. It is necessary in all matters of
this kind, wherein the rhythmic totality of the complex vision is
involved, to remain rigorous in our suppression of any particular
usurpation of the whole field by any isolated attribute of the soul.
It is a most evil usurpation, for instance, an usurpation of which
the sinister history of dogmatic religion is full, when the
conscience is allowed to introduce the conception of a "duty," of
an "ought," of a "categorical" imperative, into such a choice as
this. There is no ought in philosophy. There is no ought in faith.
And there can be, in no possible way, any ought of the usurping
conscience, in regard to this choice of an appropriate symbol
which shall represent a thing so entirely beyond the conception of
any single attribute, as this eternal protagonist of the ultimate
struggle. The risk of choosing for our symbol a mere arbitrary
invention is that it should remain thin and cold and unappealing.

The risk of choosing for our symbol a form, a figure, a gesture, a
name, offered us by history, is that it should carry with it too many
of the false accretions of accident, chance, the passions of
controversy and the hypocrisies of malice. But after all the
anonymous creative spirit of the generations is so full of the
wisdom of the earth and so involved with the rhythmic inspiration
of innumerable souls, that it would seem better to risk the presence
of certain sinister accretions, than to risk the loss of so much
magical suggestiveness.

If we do select for our symbol such a form, such a shape, such a
gesture and such a name, as history may offer, we shall at any rate
be always free to keep it fluid and malleable and organic. We shall
be free to plunge it, so to speak, again and again into the living
reality which it has been selected to represent. We shall be free to
extricate it completely from all its accretions of chance and
circumstance and material events. We shall be free to extricate it
from all premature metaphysical syntheses. We shall be free to
draw it from the clutches of dogmatic religion. We shall be free
to make it, as all such symbols should be made, poetical
and mythological and, in the aesthetic sense, shamelessly
anthropomorphic. Above all we shall be completely free, since it
represents for us those sons of the universe who are the
embodiment of the creative energy, to associate it with every
aspect of the life of the soul. We shall be free to associate it with
those aspects of the soul which in the process of its slow invention
by the generations have, it may be, been disassociated from it and
separated from it. We shall be free to use it as a symbol for the
fuller, complete life of the future, and for every kind of revolt,
into which the spirit of creation may drive us, against the evil
obscurantism and malicious inertness which resist the power of
love. The conclusion to which we are thus led, the choice which
we are thus compelled to make, is one that has been anticipated
from the beginning. No other name except the name of Christ, no
other figure except the figure of Christ, can possibly serve, if we
are to make any use of history at all, as our symbol for the sons of
the universe.

The choice of Christ as our symbol for these invisible companions
does not imply that we are forced to accept in their entirety the
scriptural accounts of the life of Jesus, or even that we are forced
to assume that the historic Jesus ever lived at all. The desire which
the soul experiences for the incarnation of Christ does not prove
that Christ has already been incarnated, or ever will be incarnated.
And it does not prove this because, in the greater, nobler, and
more spiritual moods of the soul, there is no need for the
incarnation of Christ. In these rare and indescribable moments,
when the past and future seem annihilated and we experience the
sensation of eternity, Christ is felt to be so close to us that no
material incarnation could make him any closer.

The association of Christ with the figure of Jesus is a sublime
accident which has had more influence upon the human soul than
any other historic event; and it must be confessed that the idea of
Christ has been profoundly affected by this association. It has been
so deepened and enlarged and clarified by it that the substitution
of the religion of Jesus for the religion of Christ has been an
almost entirely fortunate event, since it has furnished the soul with
a criterion of the true nature of love which otherwise it might
never have gained.

Jesus undoubtedly came so much nearer than any other to the
understanding of the nature of love, and consequently of the nature
of "the immortals," that the idea of the incarnation--that beautiful
concession to the weakness of the flesh--emanated with an almost
inevitable naturalness from their association. Jesus himself felt in
his own soul the presence of the invisible companions; although he
was led, by reason of his peculiar religious bent, and by reason of
the influences that surrounded him, to speak of these companions
as a "heavenly father."

But the words of Jesus which carry with them the very magic of
truth are not the words in which he speaks of his "father," but the
words in which he speaks of himself as if he were the very
incarnation of Love itself. There is no doubt that the sons of the
universe found in Jesus a soul so uniquely harmonious with
their own that there existed between them a sympathy and an
understanding without parallel in the history of humanity.

It is this sympathy which is the origin of those unequalled words
used by the son of Mary in which he speaks as if he were himself
in very truth an incarnation of the vision of the immortals. The
whole situation is one which need have little mystery for those
who understand the nature of love. In moment after moment of
supreme ecstasy Jesus felt himself so given up to the will of the
invisible companions that this own identity became lost. In
speaking for himself he spoke for them; in suffering for himself he
suffered for them, and in the great hours of his tragic wayfaring he
felt himself so close to them that, by reason of his love, he knew
himself able to speak of the secret of life even as the immortals
themselves would speak.

We are permitted indeed in reading the divine narrative to
distinguish between two moods in the soul of Jesus. In one of
these moods he refers to his "father" as if his father were distinct
and separate from him and even very distant. In the other mood he
speaks as if he himself were in very truth a god; and were able,
without any appeal to any other authority, to heal the wounds of
the world and to reveal to mankind the infinite pity of the love
which is beyond analysis.

It is towards the words and gestures of the son of Mary, when he
spoke of himself rather than of his "father" that we are inevitably
drawn, in our search for an adequate symbol for the eternal vision.
It is when he speaks with authority as if he himself were an
immortal god, as if he himself were one of the invisible
companions, that his words and gestures carry the very breath and
fragrance of truth.

As the drama of his life unfolds itself before us we seem to grow
more and more aware of these two aspects of his soul. It was his
reason, brooding upon the traditions of his race, that led him into
that confusion of the invisible witnesses with the jealous tribal
God of his father David. It was the rhythmic harmony of his soul,
rising up out of the depths of his struggle with himself, that led
him, in his passionate submission to the will of his invisible
friends, to feel as if he were identical with those friends, as if he
were himself the "son of man" and the incarnation of man's
supreme hope.

It is the emphasis laid by Jesus upon his identity with his "father"
which has produced the tragic results we know. For although this
was the personal conception of the noblest of all human souls, it
remains a proof of how much even the soul of Jesus was limited
and restricted by the malicious power which opposes itself to love.

The living companions of men are as we have seen a necessary
answer to the craving of the complex vision for some objective
standard of beauty and reality, which shall give these things an
eternal unity and purpose. Such a vision is an answer to our desire
that the spirit of creative love, which is one side of the
unfathomable duality, should be embodied in personality.

And we have a right to use the name of Christ in this sense; and to
associate it with all that immortal anonymous company, so
beautiful, so pitiful, so terrible, which the name of "_the gods_"
has, in its turbulent and dramatic history, gathered about itself.

The idea of Christ is older than the life of Jesus; nor does the life
of Jesus, as it has come down to us in ecclesiastical tradition,
exhaust or fulfil all the potentialities latent in the idea of Christ.
What the complex vision seems to demand is that the invisible
companions of men should be regarded as immortal gods. If,
therefore, we throw all hesitancy and scruple aside and risk the
application of the name of Christ to this vision of the sons of the
universe, then we shall be compelled to regard Christ as an
immortal God.

The fact that there must be some objective standard which shall
satisfy all the passionate demands of the complex vision is the
path by which we reach this conception of Christ. But once having
reached him he ceases to be a mere conception of the intellect, and
becomes an objective reality which we can touch and appeal to
with our emotion, our imagination, and our aesthetic sense.
But although Christ as our symbolic image of the invisible
companions, must be assumed to be the objective standard of all
our ideas of truth, it is obvious that we cannot escape from
subjectivity in our individual interpretation of his deeper and truer

Thus there are two parallel streams of growth and change. There is
growth and change in the soul of Christ as he continually
approximates nearer and nearer to his eternally receding ideal.
And there is growth and change in the accumulated harmony of
our individual ideas about his ideal, as each human soul and each
generation of human souls restates this ideal in terms of its own
limited vision.

Each new restatement of this accumulated interpretation of the
ideal of the son of man brings necessarily with it an innate
conviction of its truth because it finds an immediate response in
every individual soul in so far as such individual souls are able to
overcome their intrinsic evil or malice.

What Jesus did for the universe was to recognize in it the peculiar
nature of that love which is its essential life. He would have done
yet more for it had he been able to disassociate his vision from the
conception of an imaginary father of the universe and from his
traditional interest in the tribal god of his ancestors. But Jesus
remains the one human soul who has revealed to us in his own
subjective vision the essential secret of the vision of the
immortals. And that he has done so is proved by the fact that all
his words and actions have come to be inextricably associated with
the Christ-idea.

In this way Jesus remains the profoundest of all human philosophers
and the subtlest of all human psychologists; and although
we have the right to disassociate the Christ-idea from the
sublime illusion of Jesus which led him to confuse the invisible
companions of humanity with the tribal God of the Hebrews, we
are compelled to recognize that Jesus has done so much for
humanity by the depth of his psychological insight that we do not
experience any shock when in the ritual of the Church the name of
the son of David becomes identical with the name of Christ.

The essential thing to establish is that there are greater depths in
the Christ-idea than even Jesus was able to fathom; and that
compared with the soul of Jesus or with the soul of any other man
or god or spiritual entity, the figure of Christ has come now at last
to be for humanity the only god we need; for he is the only god
whose love for all living things is beyond question and dispute,
and whose existence is assumed and implied when any soul in the
universe loves any other soul.

It is necessary then to do two things. To accept without reserve the
vision which Jesus had as to the secret of love; because to nothing
less than this does the love which we possess in our own souls
respond. And in the second place to be merciless and drastic, even
at the risk of pain to the weakness of our human flesh, in
separating the personality of Christ, the immortal god, from the
historic figure of the traditional Jesus. By doing these two things,
and by this alone, we establish what the complex vision desires,
upon a firm ground. For we retain what the vision of Jesus has
revealed to us as to the inherent nature of the invisible companions
and we are saved from all controversy as to the historic reality of
the life of Jesus.

It does not matter to us whether Jesus "really lived"; or whether,
like other great figures, his personality has been created by the
anonymous instinct of humanity. What matters to us is that
humanity itself, using the vision of Jesus as its organ of research
or as the focus point of its own passionate clairvoyance has in
some way or another recognized that the secret of the universe is
to be found in the unfathomable duality of love and malice. From
this point, now it has been once reached, the intrinsic nature of all
human souls makes sure that humanity cannot go back. And it is
because, either by his own sublime insight or by the accident and
chance of history, the figure of Jesus has become associated with
the reality of the immortal gods that we are justified in using for
our symbol of these sons of the universe no other name than the
name of Christ.

We shall, however, be doing wrong to our conception of Christ, if,
while recognizing that the kind of love, of which Jesus revealed
the secret, is the essence of Christ's soul, we refuse to find in him
also many aspects and attributes of life which occupy but little
place or no place at all in the traditional figure of Jesus.

All that is most beautiful and profound, all that is most magical
and subtle, in the gods of the ancient world, must be recognized as
existent in the soul of Christ who is our true "Son of the Morning."
The earth-magic of the ancient gods must be in him; and the
Titanic spirit which revolted against such gods must be in him
also. The mystery of the elements must be interwoven with the
very stuff of his being and the unfathomable depths of Nature
must be a path for his feet. In him all mythologies and all religions
must meet and be transcended. He is Prometheus and Dionysus.
He is Osiris and Balder. He is the great god Pan. "All that we have
been, all that we are, and all that we hope to be, is centred in him
alone." His spirit is the creative spirit which moves for ever upon
the face of the waters. In him all living souls find the object of
their love. Against him the unfathomable power of evil struggles
with eternal demonic malice. In his own soul it struggles against
him; and in the universe which confronts him it struggles against
him. His inmost being is made up of the duality of this struggle
even as is the inmost being of all that exists. If it were not for the
presence of evil in him his passion of love would be as nothing.
For without evil there can be no good, and without malice there
cannot be love. His soul and our human souls remain the ultimate
reality. These alone are concrete, definite, actual and personal. All
except these is ambiguous, half-real and unstable as water. These
and the universe which they create are the true truth; and
compared with these every other "truth" is dubious, shadowy and

These are the true truth, because these are personal; and we know
nothing in life, and can know nothing, with the interior
completeness with which we know personality. And the essence of
that interior knowledge with which we know personality is our
recognition of the unfathomable duality within ourselves. We
cannot imagine the good in us as existing without the evil in us;
and we cannot imagine the evil in us as existing without the good
in us.

And this ultimate essence of reality must apply to the soul of
Christ. And this duality has no reconciliation except the
reconciliation that it is a duality in ourselves and a duality in him.
For both the good and the evil in us recede into unfathomable
depths. So that the ultimate reality of the universe is to be found in
the two eternal emotions which perpetually contradict and oppose
one another; of which the only unity and reconciliation is to be
found in the fact that they both belong to every separate soul; and
are the motive power which brings the universe into existence; and
in bringing the universe into existence find themselves under the
domination of time and space.

Every individual soul in the world is composed of two unfathomable
abysses. From the limitless depths of each of these emanates
an emotion which is able to obsess and preoccupy the whole
field of consciousness. Every individual soul has depths,
therefore, which descend into unfathomable recesses; and we are
forced into the conclusion that the unfathomable recesses in the
soul of Christ are subject to the same eternal duality as the souls of

Every movement of thought implies an evocation of the opposing
passion of these two emotions. For no movement of thought can
take place without the activity of the complex vision; and since
one of the basic attributes of the complex vision is divided into
these two primary emotions, we are compelled to conclude that it
is impossible to think any thought at all without some evocation of
the emotion of love and some evocation of the emotion of malice.

The emotion of love is the power that brings together and
synthesizes those eternal ideas of truth and beauty and nobility
which find their objective standard in the soul of Christ. The
emotion of malice is the power that brings together and
synthesizes and harmonizes those eternal ideas of unreality and
hideousness and evil with which the love of Christ struggles
desperately in the unfathomable depths of his soul. It matters to us
little or nothing that we have no name to give to any among the
gods except to this god; for in this god, in this companion of men,
in this immortal helper, the complex vision of man finds all it
needs, the embodiment of Love itself.

We arrive, therefore, at the very symbol we desire, at the symbol
which in tangible and creative power satisfies the needs of the
soul. We owe this symbol to nothing less than the free gift
of the gods themselves; and to the anonymous strivings of
the generations. And once having reached this symbol, this
name of Christ, the same phenomenon occurs as occurs in the
establishment of the real existence of the external universe.
_That_, like this, was at first only a daring hypothesis, only a
supreme act of faith, reached by the subjective effort of the
innumerable individual souls. But once having been reached, it
became, as this has become, a definite objective fact, whose reality
turns out to have been implicit from the beginning.

Thus the name, the word, which we arrive at as the only possible
symbol of our hope is found to be, as soon as we reach it, no
longer merely a symbol but the outward sign of an invisible and
eternal truth. And thus although it remains that we are forced to
recognize that the world is full of gods and that the Person we
name Christ is only one of an innumerable company of invisible
companions to whom in our loneliness we have a right to turn, yet
just because the vision of humanity has found in Christ a
completer, subtler, more beautiful, more revolutionary figure upon
which to fix its hope than it has found in Buddha or Confucius or
Mahomet, or any other name, the figure of Christ has become the
supreme and solitary embodiment of the Ideal to which we look,
and about this figure has come to gather itself and focus itself all
the hopeless longing with which the soul of man turns to the souls
of the immortals.

These divine people of the abyss, these sons of the universe, are
for us henceforth and must be now for us for ever summed up and
embodied in this one figure, the only one among them all whose
nature and being has been drawn so near to us that we can
appropriate it to ourselves.

It remains that the unity of time and space contains an
immeasurable company of immortals; but of these immortals only
one has been articulated and outlined, and so to speak "touched
with the hand," by the troubled passion of humanity. Henceforth,
therefore, while the necessity of the complex vision compels us to
think of the invisible company of the sons of the universe as a vast
hierarchy of supernatural beings, the necessity of the complex
vision compels us also to recognize, that of this company, only
one--only one until the end of time--can be the true symbol of
what our heart desires.

It is better to think of the evocation of this figure as due to the pity
of the gods themselves and to the anonymous craving of humanity
than to think of him as dependent upon the historic evidence as to
the personality of Jesus. The soul requires something more certain
than historic evidence upon which to base its faith. It requires
something closer and more certain even than the divine "logoi"
attributed to the historic Jesus. It requires a living and a personal
soul for ever present to the depths of its own nature. It requires a
living and a personal soul for ever ready to answer the cry of its
love. The misery and unhappiness, the restlessness and pain of all
our human "loves," is due to the fact that the only eternal response
to Love as it beats its hands against the barriers set up against it,
is the embodiment of Love itself as we feel it present with us in the
figure of Christ.

The love which draws two human souls together can only become
eternal and indestructible when it passes beyond the love of the
two for one another into the love of both of them for the Lover
who is immortal. This merging of the love of human lovers into
the love of the immortal Lover does not imply the lessening or
diminishing of the love which draws them together. The nature of
this love cries out against their separation, cries out that they two
shall become one. And yet if they actually and in very truth
became one, that unity in difference which is the very essence of
love would be destroyed. But though they know this well enough
there still remains the desperate craving of the two that they
should become one; and this is of the very nature of love itself.
Thus it may be seen that the only path by which human lovers can
be satisfied is by merging their love for one another into their love
for Christ. In this way, in a sense profounder than mortal flesh can
know, they actually do become one. They become so completely
one that no power on earth or above the earth can ever separate
them. For they are bound together by no mortal link but by the
eternal love of a soul beyond the reach of death. Thus when one of
them comes to die the love which was of the essence of that soul
lives on in the soul of Christ; and when both of them are dead it
can never be as though their love had not been, for in the eternal
memory of Christ their love lives on, increasing the love of Christ
for others like themselves and continually drawing the transitory
and the mortal nearer to the eternal and the immortal.

It therefore becomes evident why it is that the vision of the
invisible companions which remains our standard of reality and of
beauty is not broken up into innumerable subjective visions but is
fixed and permanent and sure. All the unfathomable souls of the
world, and all souls are unfathomable whether they are the souls of
plants or animals or planets or gods or men, are found, the closer
they approach one another, to be in possession of the same vision.
For this immortal vision, in which what we name beauty, and what
we name "reality," finds its synthesis, is found to be nothing less
than the secret love. And while the great company of the immortal
companions are only known to us by the figure of one among
them, namely by the figure of Christ, this figure alone is sufficient
to contain all that we require of life; for being the embodiment of
love this figure is the embodiment of life, of which love is the
creator and the sustainer.

Thus what the apex-thought of man's complex vision reveals is not
only the existence of the gods but the fact that the vision of the
gods is not broken up and divided but is one and the same; and is
yet for ever growing and deepening. And the only measure of the
vision of the gods which we possess is the figure of Christ; for it
has come about by reason of the anonymous instinct of humanity,
by reason of the compassion of the immortals, and by reason of
the divine insight of Jesus, that the figure of Christ contains within
it every one of those primordial ideas from which and towards
which, in a perpetual advance which is also a perpetual return, the
souls of all living things are for ever journeying.

Whether the souls of men and of beasts, of plants and of planetary
spheres survive in any form after they are dead we know not and
can never know. But this at least the revelation of the complex
vision makes clear, that the secret of the whole process is to be
found in the mystery of love; and to the mystery of love we can, at
the worst, constantly appeal; for the mystery of love has been at
last embodied for us in a living figure over whom Death has no



The philosophy of the complex vision is based, as I have shown,
upon nothing less than the whole personality of man become
conscious of itself in the totality of its rhythmic functioning. This
personality, although capable of being analysed in its constituent
elements, is an integral and unfathomable reality. And just because
it is such a reality it descends and expands on every side into
immeasurable depths and immeasurable horizons.

We know nothing as intimately and vividly as we know personality
and every knowledge that we have is either a spiritual or
a material abstraction from this supreme knowledge. This
knowledge of personality which is our ultimate truth, implies a
belief in the integral and real existence of what we call the soul.
And because personality implies the soul and because we have no
ultimate conception of any other reality in the world except the
reality of personality, therefore we are compelled to assume that
every separate external object in Nature is possessed of a soul.

The peculiar psychological melancholy which sometimes seizes us
in the presence of inanimate natural objects, such as earth and
water and sand and dust and rain and vapour, objects whose
existence may superficially appear to be entirely chemical or
material, is accounted for by the fact that the soul in us is baffled
and discouraged and repulsed by these things because by reason of
their superficial appearance they convey the impression of
complete soullessness. In the presence of plants and animals and
all animate things we are also vaguely conscious of a strange
psychological melancholy. But this latter melancholy is of a
less poignant character than the former because what we seem
superficially conscious of is not "soullessness" but a psychic life
which is alien from our life, and therefore baffling and obscure.

In both of these cases, however, as soon as we are bold enough to
apply the conclusions we have arrived at from the analysis of the
knowledge which is most vivid and real to us, namely, the
knowledge of our own soul, this peculiar psychological melancholy
is driven away. It is a melancholy which descends upon us
 when in any disintegrated moment the creative energy in
us, the energy of love in us, is overcome by the evil and inertness
of the aboriginal malice. Under the influence of this inert malice,
which takes advantage of some lapse or ebb of the creative energy
in us, the rhythmic activity of our complex vision breaks down;
and we visualize the world through the attributes of reason and
sensation alone. And the world, visualized through reason and
sensation alone, becomes a world of uniform, and homogeneous
monotony, made up either of one all-embracing material substance,
or of one all-embracing spiritual substance. In either case
that living plurality of real separate "souls" which correspond
to our own soul vanishes away, and a dreary and devastating
oneness, whether spiritual or chemical, fills the whole field. The
world which is the emanation of this atrophied and distorted vision
is a world of crushing dreariness; but it is an unreal world because
the only vivid and unfathomable reality we know is the reality of
innumerable souls. The curious thing about this world of
superficial chemical or spiritual uniformity is that it seems the
same _identical_ world in the case of all separate souls whose
complex vision is thus distorted by the prevalence of that which
opposes itself to creation and by the consequent ebb and
weakening of the energy of love. It is impossible to be assured that
this is the case; but all evidence of language points towards such
an _identity of desolation_ between the innumerable separate
"universes" of the souls which fill the world, when such souls
visualize existence through reason and sensation alone.

This also is a portion of the same "illusion of impersonality" into
which the inert malice of the ultimate "resistance" betrays us with
demonic cunning. What man is there among us who does not
recall some moment of visionary disintegration, when, in the
presence of both these mysteries, an unspeakable depression of
this kind has overtaken him? He has stood, perhaps, on some wet
autumn evening, watching the soulless reflection of a dead moon
in a pond of dead water; while above him the motionless distorted
trunk of some goblinish tree mocks him with its desolate
remoteness from his own life.

At that moment, with his abortive and atrophied complex vision,
all he sees is the eternal soullessness and deadness of matter; dead
moonlight, dead water, dead mud and slime and refuse, dead mist
and vapour, dead earth-mould and dead leaves. And while the
desolate chemistry of nothingness grips him with its dead fingers
and he turns hopelessly to the silent tree-trunk at his side, that also
repels him with the chill breath of psychic remoteness; and it
seems to him that that also is strange and impersonal and
unconscious; that that also is only a blind pre-determined portion
of some huge planetary life-process that has no place for a living
soul, but only a place for automatic impersonal chemistry.
Brooding in this way, with the eternal malice of the system of
things conquering the creative impulse in the depths of his soul, he
becomes obsessed with the idea that not only these isolated
portions of Nature, but the whole of Nature, is thus alien and
remote and thus given up to a desolate and soulless uniformity.
Unutterable loneliness takes possession of him and he feels
himself to be an exile in a dark and hostile assemblage
of elemental forces. If at such a moment by means of some
passionate invocation of the immortal gods, or by means of some
desperate sinking into his own soul and gathering together of the
creative energy in him, he is able to resist this desolation, how
strange and sudden a shifting of mood occurs! He then, by a bold
movement of imagination, restores the balance of his complex
vision; and in a moment the spectacle is transfigured.

The apparently dead pond takes to itself the lineaments of some
indescribable living soul, of which that particular portion of
elemental being is the outward expression. The apparently dead
moonlight becomes the magical influence of some mysterious
"lunar soul" of which the earth's silent companions is the external
form. The apparently dead mud of the pond's edge becomes a
living portion of that earth-body which is the visible manifestation
of the soul of the earth. The motionless tree-trunk at his side seems
no longer the desolate embodiment of some vague "psychic life"
utterly alien from his own life but reveals to him the immediate
magical presence of a real soul there, whose personality, though
not conscious in the precise manner in which he is conscious, has
yet its own measure of complex vision and is mutely struggling
with the cruel inertness and resistance which blocks the path of the
energy of life. When once, by the bold synthesis of reason and
sensation with those other attributes of the complex vision which
we name instinct, imagination, intuition, and the like, the soul
itself comes to be regarded as the substratum of personal
existence, that desolating separation between humanity and Nature
ceases to baffle us. As long as the substratum of personal life is
regarded as the physical body there must always be this desolating
difference and this remoteness.

For in such a case the stress is inevitably laid upon the
physiological and biological difference between the body of a man
and the body of the earth or the moon or the sun or any plant or
animal. But as soon as the substratum of personal life is regarded
not as the body but as the sour it ceases to be necessary to lay so
merciless a stress upon the difference between man's elaborate
physiological constitution and the simpler chemical constitution of
organic or inorganic objects.

If the complex vision is the vision of the soul, if the soul uses its
bodily sensation as only one among its other instruments of
contact with life, then it is obvious that between the soul of a man
and the soul of a planet or a plant there need be no such appalling
and desolating gulf as that which fills us with such profound
melancholy when we refuse to let the complex vision have its
complete rhythmic play and insist on sacrificing the revelations
made by instinct and intuition to the falsifying conclusions of
reason and sensation, energizing in arbitrary solitude.

The "mort-main" or "dead-hand" of that aboriginal malice which
resists life is directly responsible for this illusion of "unconscious
matter" through the midst of which we grope like outlawed
exiles. Reason and the bodily senses, conspiring together, are
perpetually tempting us to believe in the reality of this desolate
phantom-world of blind material elements; but the unreality of this
corpse-life becomes evident directly we consider the revelation of the
complex vision.

For the complex vision reveals to us that what we call "the
universe" is a thing which is for ever coming newly and freshly
into life, for ever being re-born and re-constituted by the interplay
between the individual soul and the "objective mystery." Of the
objective mystery itself, apart from the individual soul, we are able
to say nothing. But since the "universe" is the discovery and
creation of the individual soul, there must be as many different
"universes" as there are living souls.

Our belief in "one universe," whose characteristics are relatively
identical in the case of all the souls which contemplate it, is a
belief which in part results from an original act of faith and in part
results from an implicit appeal to those "invisible companions"
whose concentrated will towards "reality" and "beauty" and
"nobility" offers us our only objective standard of these ideas.
From the ground, therefore, of this trinity of incomprehensible
substances, namely the substance which is the substratum of the
individual soul, the substance which is "the objective mystery" out
of which the individual soul creates its universe, and the substance
which is the "medium" or "link" which enables these individual
souls to communicate with one another, emerge the only realities
which we can know. And since this trinity of incomprehensible
substances, thus divided one from another, must be thought of as
dominated by the same unity of time and space, it is inconceivable
that they should be anything else than three aspects of one and the
same incomprehensible substance. From this it follows that from
the ground of one incomprehensible substance which in its first
aspect is the substratum of the soul, in its second aspect is the
objective mystery confronting the soul, in its third aspect is the
medium which holds all souls together, there must be evoked all
the reality which we can conceive.

And this reality must, from the conclusions we have already
reached, take two forms. It must take the form of a plurality of
subjective "universes" answering to the plurality of living souls.
And it must take the form of one objective "universe," answering
to the objective standard of truth, beauty, and nobility, together
with the opposites of these, which is implied in the tacit appeal of
all individual souls to their "invisible companions."

In this double reality; the reality of one objective universe
identical in its appearance to all souls but dependent for its identity
upon an implicit reference to the "invisible companions," and the
reality of as many subjective universes as there are living souls; in
this double reality there is obviously no place at all for that
phantom-world of unconscious "matter," which in the form of
soulless elements, or soulless organic automata, fills the human
mind with such devastating melancholy.

The dead pond with its dead moonlight, with its dead mud and its
dead snow, is therefore no better than a ghastly illusion when
considered in isolation from the soul or the souls which look forth
from it. To the soul of which those elements are the "body" neither
mud nor water nor rain nor earth-mould can appear desolate or
dead. To the soul which contemplates these things there can be no
other way of regarding them, as long as the rhythm of its vision is
unimpeded, than as the outward manifestation of a personal life, or
of many personal lives, similar in creative energy to its own.

Between the soul, or the souls, of the elements of the earth, and the
soul of the human spectator there must be, if our conclusions are
to be held good at all, a natural and profound reciprocity. The
apparent "deadness," the apparent automatism of "matter," which
projects itself between these two and resists with corpse-like
opacity their reciprocal understanding, must be one of the ghastly
illusions with which the sinister side of the eternal duality
undermines the magic of life.

But although in its objective isolation, as an absolute entity, this
"material deadness" of earth and water and rain and snow and of
all disintegrated organic chemistry must be regarded as an
"illusion," it would be a falsifying of the reality of things to deny
that it is an "illusion" to which the visions of all souls are
miserably subject. They are for ever subject to it because it is
precisely this "illusion" which the unfathomable power hostile to
life for ever evokes.

Nor must we for a moment suppose that this material objectivity,
this pond, these leaves, this mud, this snow, are altogether unreal.
Their reality is demanded by the complex vision and to deny their
reality would be the gesture of madness. They are only unreal,
they are only an "illusion," when they are considered as existing
independently of the "souls" of which they are the "body." As the
expression and manifestation of such "souls" they are entirely real.
They are indeed, in this sense, as real as our own human body.

The human soul, when it suffers from that malignant power which has
its positive and external existence in the soul itself, feels itself
to be absolutely alone in the midst of a dark chaotic welter of
monstrous elemental forces. In a mood of this kind the thought of
the huge volumes of soulless water which we call "oceans" and
"seas" crushes us with a devastating melancholy. The thought of
the interminable deserts of "dead" sand and the vast polar ice
fields and the monstrous excrescences that we call "mountains"
have the same effect. But the supreme example of the kind of
material ghastliness which I am trying to indicate, is, as may easily
be surmised, nothing less than the appalling thought of the
unfathomable spatial gulfs through which our whole stellar system
moves. Here also, in this supreme insistence of objective
"deadness," the situation is relieved when we realize that this
unthinkable space is nothing more than the material expression of
that indefinable "medium" which holds all souls together.

Moreover we must remember that these stellar gulfs cannot be
thought of except as the habitation of innumerable living souls,
each one of which is using this very "space" as the ground of its
creation of the many-coloured impassioned "universe" which is its
own dwelling. In all these instances of "objective deadness,"
whether great or small, we must not forget that the thing which
desolates us and fills us with so intolerable a nostalgia is a thing
only half real, a thing whose full reality depends upon the soul
which contemplates it and upon the soul's implicit assumption that
its truth is the truth of those "invisible companions" who supply us
with our perpetually renewed and reconstituted standard of what is
"good" and what is "evil."

There is an abominably vivid example of the kind of melancholy
I have in my mind, which, although obviously less common to
normal human experience than the forms of it I have so far
attempted to suggest, is as a rule even more crushing in its cruelty.
I refer to the sight of a dead human body; and in a less degree to
the sight of a dead animal or a dead plant.

A human corpse laid out in its coffin, or nailed down in its coffin,
how exactly does the particular attitude towards life, which for
convenience sake I name the philosophy of the complex vision,
find itself regarding _that_? Such a body, deserted by its living
soul, is obviously no longer the immediate and integral expression
of a personal life. Is it therefore no more than a shred or shard or
husk or remnant of inconceivably soulless matter? The gods
forbid! Certainly and most assuredly it is more than that.

An isolated heterogeneous mass of dead chemistry is a monstrous
illusion which only exists for us when the weakness of our
creative energy and the power of the original malice in the soul
destroys our vision. This dead body lying in its wooden coffin is
certainly possessed of no more life than the inanimate boards of
the coffin in which it lies. But the inanimate boards of the coffin,
together with the inanimate furniture of the house or room that
contains it, and the bricks and stones and mortar of such a house,
are themselves nothing less than inevitable portions of the vast
earth-body of our planetary globe.

And this planetary globe, this earth upon which we live, cannot
under any conceivable kind of reasoning to which imagination has
contributed its share, be regarded as a dead or a soulless thing. In
its isolated integrity, as a separate integral personality, the soul
has deserted the body and left it "dead." But it is only "dead" when
considered in isolation from the surrounding chemistry of
planetary life. And to consider it in this way is to consider it
falsely. For from the moment it ceases to be the expression of the
life of an individual human soul, it becomes the expression--
through every single phase of its chemical dissolution--of the life
of the planet.

In so far as the human soul, which has deserted it, is concerned it
is assuredly no better than a dead husk; but in so far as the soul of
the planet is concerned it is an essential portion of that planet's
living body and in this sense is not dead at all.

Its chemical elements, as they resolve themselves slowly back into
their planetary accomplices, are part and parcel of that general
"body of the earth" which is in a state of constant movement, and
which has the "soul of the earth" as its animating principle of
personality. And just as the human corpse, when the soul has
deserted it, becomes a portion of those chemical elements which
are the body of the planet's "personal soul," so do the dead bodies
of animals and plants and trees become portions of the same
terrestrial bodies.

Thus strictly speaking there is no single moment when any
material form or body can be called "dead." Instantaneously with
the departure of its own individual soul it is at once "possessed" by
the soul of that planetary globe from whose chemistry it drew its
elemental life and from whose chemistry, although the form of it
has changed, it still draws its life. For it is no fantastic
speculation to affirm that every living thing whether human or
otherwise plays, while it lives, a triple part upon the world stage.

It is in the first place the vehicle of the individual soul. It is in
the second place the medium of the "spiritual vampirizing" of the
invisible planetary spirits. And it is in the third place a living
portion of that organic elemental chemistry which is the body of
the terrestrial soul. Thus it becomes manifest that that "illusion of
dead matter" which fills the human soul with so profound a
melancholy is no more than an everlasting trick of the malice of
the abyss.

And the despair which sometimes results from it is a despair
which issues from no "dead matter" but from the terrible living
depths of the soul itself. It is from a consideration of the especial
kind of melancholy evoked in us by the illusion of "objective
deadness" that we are enabled to analyse those peculiar
imaginative feelings which sometime or another affect us all. I
refer to the extraordinary tenacity with which we cling to our
bodily form, however grotesque it may be, and the difficulty we
experience in disassociating our living soul from its particular
envelope or habitation; and the tendency which we have, in spite
of this, to imagine ourselves transferred to an alien body. For the
soul in us has the power of "thinking itself" into any other body it
may please to select.

And there is no reason why we should be alarmed at such an
imaginative power; or even associate its fantastic realization with
any terror of madness. The invisible entity within us which says "I
am I" can easily be conceived as suddenly awakening out of sleep
and discovering, to its astonishment, that its visible body has
suffered a bewildering transformation.

Such a transformation can be conceived as almost unlimited in
its humorous and disconcerting possibilities. But no such
transformation of the external envelope of the soul, whether into
the form of an animal or a plant or a god, need be conceived of as
necessarily driving us into insanity. The "I am I" would remain the
same in regard to its imagination, instinct, intuition, emotion,
self-consciousness and the rest. It would be only "changed" in regard
to sensation, which is a thing immediately dependent upon the
particular and special senses of the human body.

This is a truth to the reality of which the wandering fancies of
every human child bear ample witness; not to speak of the dreams
of those childlike tribes of the race, who in our progressive
insolence we are pleased to name "uncivilized." The deeper we dig
into the tissue of convoluted impressions that make up our
universe the more vividly do we become aware that our only
redemption from sheer insanity lies in "knowing ourselves"; in
other words, in keeping a drastic and desperate hold upon what, in
the midst of ambiguity and treachery, we are definitely assured of.

And the only thing we are definitely assured of, the only thing
which we really know "on the inner side," and with the kind of
knowledge which is unassailable, is the reality of our soul. We
know this with a vividness completely different from the vividness
of any other knowledge because this is not what we feel or see or
imagine or think but what we _are_. And all feeling, all seeing, all
imagining and all thinking are only attributes of this mysterious
"something" which is our integral self.

To the superficial judgment there is always something weird and
arbitrary about this belief in our own soul. And this apparent
weirdness arises from the fact that our superficial judgments are
the work of reason and sensation arrogating to themselves the
whole field of consciousness.

But directly we bring to bear upon this mass of impressions which
is our "universe" the full rhythmic play of our complete identity
this weirdness and arbitrariness disappear and we realize that we
_are_, not this thought or this sensation or even this stream of
thoughts and sensations, but the definite living "monad" which
gives these things their only link of continuity and permanence.
And it is better to accept experience, even though it refuses to
resolve itself into any rational unity, rather than to leave
experience in the distance and permit our reason to evolve its
desired unity out of its own rules and limitations.

We must readily admit that to take all the attributes of personality
and to make them adhere in the mysterious substratum of the soul
rather than in the little cells of the brain, seems to the superficial
judgment a weird and arbitrary act. But the more closely we think
of what we are doing when we make this assumption the more
inevitable does such an assumption appear.

We are driven by the necessity of the case to find some "point," or
at least some "gap" in thought and the system of things, where
mind and matter meet and are fused with one another. Absolute
consciousness does not help us to explain the facts of experience;
because "facing" absolute consciousness, directly it isolates itself,
we are compelled to recognize the presence of "something else,"
which is the material or object of which absolute consciousness is

And what we do when we assume the little cells of the physical
brain to be the point in space or "the gap in thought" where mind
and matter meet and become one is simply to place these two
worlds in close juxtaposition and then assert that they are one. But
this placing them side by side and asserting that they are one does
not make them one. They are just as far apart as ever. The cells of
the brain remain material and the phenomenon of consciousness
remains immaterial and they are still as remote from one another
and as "unfused" as if consciousness were outside of time and
space altogether.

It is only when we come to regard the "fusion-point" of these two
things as being itself a living and personal thing; it is only when
we come to regard the substratum of the soul as a mysterious
"something" which is, at one and the same time, both what we call
"mind" and what we call "matter," that the difficulty I have
described disappears. For in this case we are dealing with
something which, unlike the little cells of the brain, is totally
invisible and totally beyond all scientific analysis; and yet with
something which, because it is affected by bodily sensations and
because it is under the sway of time and space, cannot be regarded
as utterly outside the realm of material substance. We are in fact,
in this case, dealing with something which we feel to be the
integral and ultimate reality of ourselves, as we certainly do not
feel the little cells of the brain to be; and we are dealing with
something that is no mere stream of impressions, but is the
concrete permanent reality which gives to all impressions, whether
material or immaterial, their unity and coherence.

When once we are put into possession of this, when once we come
to recognize our invisible soul as the reality which is our true self,
it is found to be no longer ridiculous and arbitrary to endow this
soul with all those various attributes, which, after all, are only
various aspects of that unique personality which is the personality
of the soul. To say "the soul has imagination," or "the soul has
instinct," or "the soul has an aesthetic sense," has only a ridiculous
sound when under the pressure of the abysmal malice which
opposes itself to life we fall into the habits of permitting those
usurping accomplices, pure reason and pure sensation, to destroy
the rhythmic harmony of the complex vision.

When once we are in full possession of our own soul it is no mere
fanciful speculation but an inevitable act of faith which compels us
to envisage the universe as a thing crowded with invisible souls,
who in some degree or other resemble our own. If this is
"anthropomorphism," though strictly speaking it ought to be
called "pan-psychism," then it is impossible for us to be
too anthropomorphic. For in this way we are doing the only
philosophical thing we have a right to do--namely, interpreting the
less known in the terms of the more known.

When we seek to interpret the soul, which we vividly know, in
terms of chemical or spiritual abstractions of which we have no
direct knowledge but which are merely rationalized symbols, we
are proceeding in an illegitimate and unphilosophical manner to
interpret the more known in terms of the less known, which is in
the true sense ridiculous.

The only escape from that profound melancholy so easily engulfed
in sheer insanity, which is the result of submission to "the illusion
of dead matter," lies in this tenacious hold upon the concrete
identity of the soul. So closely are we linked, by reason of the
chemistry of our mortal body, to every material-element; that it is
only too easy for us to merge our personal life by a perverted use
of the imagination in that phantom-world of supposedly "dead
matter" which is the illusive projection of the abysmal malice.

Thus just as the soul is driven by extreme physical pain to
relinquish its identity and to become "an incarnate sensation," so
the soul is driven by the power of malice to relinquish its
centrifugal force and to become the very mud and slime and
excremental debris which it has endowed with an illusive

The clue to the secret pathology of these moods, to whose brink
reason and sensation have led us and into whose abyss perverted
imagination has plunged us, is therefore to be found in the
unfathomable duality of good and evil. If it seems to the kind of
mind that demands "rational unity" at all costs, even at the cost of
truth to experience, that this duality cannot be left unreconciled,
the answer which the philosophy of the complex vision must
make, is that any reconciliation of such a sort, any reduction to
monistic unity of the eternal adversaries out of whose struggle life
itself springs, would bring life itself back to nothingness.

The argument that because, in the eternal process of destruction
and creation, life or love or what we call "the good" depends for
its activity upon death or malice or what we call "evil," these
opposites are one and the same, is shown to be utterly false when
one thinks of the analogy of the struggle between the sexes.
Because the activity of the male depends upon the existence of the
female, that is no reason for concluding that the male and the
female are one and the same thing.

Because "good" becomes more "good" out of its conflict with
"evil," that does not mean that "good" is responsible for the
existence of "evil"; any more than because "evil" becomes more
"evil" out of its conflict with "good" does it mean that "evil" is
responsible for the existence of "good." Neither is responsible for
the existence of the other. They are both positive and real and they
are both eternal. They are both unfathomable elements in every
personal individual soul, whether of man or plant or animal or god
or demi-god that has ever existed or will ever come to exist.

The prevalent idea that because good "in the long run" and over
vast spaces of time shows itself to be a little--just a little--more
powerful than evil, evil must be regarded as only a form of good
or a necessary negation of good is a fallacy derived from the
illusion that life is the creation of a "parent" of the universe whose
nature is absolutely "good." Such a fallacy takes for granted that
somewhere and somehow "Good" will finally triumph over "evil."

The revelation of the complex vision destroys this fallacy. Such a
complete triumph of "good" over "evil" would mean the end of
everything that exists because everything that exists depends upon
this abysmal struggle. But for personalities who are able to
recognize that the mere fact of their being alive is already a
considerable victory of "good" over "evil," there is nothing
overwhelming in the thought that "good" can never completely
overcome "evil." It is enough that life has given them life; and that
in the perpetually renewed struggle between love and malice they
find at the rare moments when love overcomes malice a flood of
happiness which, brings with it "the sensation of eternity."

For such souls eternity is here and now; and no anticipated
absolute triumph of the "good" in the world over the "evil" can
compare for a moment with the indescribable happiness which this
"sensation of eternity" brings. It is this happiness, evoked by the
rhythmic play of the soul's apex-thought in its supreme hours,
which alone, even in memory, can destroy "the illusion of dead

The psychological situation brought about by the fact that this
illusion is a perpetually recurrent one and a thing that is always
liable to return whenever reason and sensation are driven to isolate
themselves is a situation a good deal more complicated than I have
so far indicated. It is complicated by the fact that although in
certain moods the contemplation of "the illusion of dead matter"
produces profound melancholy, in other moods it produces a kind
of demonic joy. It seems as though the melancholy mood, which
carried to an extreme limit borders on absolute despair, comes
about when the creative energy in our soul, although under the
momentary dominance of what resists creation, is still, so to speak,
the master of our will.

Under such circumstances the will, still resolutely turned towards
life, is confronted by what appears to be the very embodiment of
death. Under these conditions the will is baffled, perplexed,
defeated and outraged. It beats in vain against the "inert mass"
which malice has projected; and feels itself powerless to overcome
it. It then turns furiously round upon the very substratum of the
soul and rends and tears at that, in a mad effort to reach the secret
of a phantom-world which seems to hold no secret. If some sort of
relief does not come, such relief for instance as physical sleep, the
inert misery of the submission of the will, following upon such a
desperate struggle, may easily drift into a deadly apathy, may
easily approach the borders of insanity.

But there is another condition under which the soul may confront
"the illusion of dead matter." This condition comes about when the
will, instead of being turned towards creation, is definitely turned
towards the opposite of creation. It is impossible for the will to
remain in this condition for more than a limited time. Some
outward or inward shock, some drastic swing of the psychic
pendulum, must sooner or later restore the balance and bring the
will back to that wavering and indecisive state--poised like the
point of a compass between the two extremes--which seems to be
its normal attitude.

Any human will unchangeably directed towards "the good" would
be the will of a soul that in its inherent depths were already
"absolutely good"; and this, as we have seen, is an impossible
phenomenon. The utmost reach of "wickedness" that any soul,
whether it be the soul of a man or of a god, can attain to, is a
recurrent concentration of the will upon evil and a recurrent
overcoming, for relatively increasing spaces of time, of the power
of love. This incomplete and constantly interrupted concentration
upon evil is the nearest approach to "the worship of Satan" which
any will is able to reach. The exquisite pleasure, therefore,
culminating in a kind of insane ecstasy, which the soul can enjoy
when, in the passion of its evil will, it leaps to welcome "the
illusion of dead matter," is a pleasure that in the nature of things
cannot last. And the condition of inert malignant apathy which
follows such an "ecstasy of evil" is perhaps the nearest approach to
a consciousness of "eternal death" which the soul can know.

And it is in this malignant apathy, rather than in the demonic
exultation of the mood that preceded it, that the extreme opposite
of love finds its culmination. For in its hour of demonic exultation,
when the will to evil buries itself with insane joy in "the illusion of
dead matter," it is drawing savagely upon the energy of life. It
corrupts such energy as it draws upon it and distorts it from its
natural functions; but the energy itself, although "possessed" by
the abysmal malice, is living and intense; and therefore cannot be
regarded as so entirely the opposite of love as that inert condition
of malignant lifelessness which inevitably succeeds it.

The demonic ecstasy, full of invincible magnetism, which looks
forth from the countenance of a soul obsessed with, evil, has much
more in common with the magnetic exultation of a soul possessed
with love than has that ghastly inertness, with its insane malignant
attraction to death. For out of the countenance of this latter looks
forth everything that is hostile to life; and its expression has in it
the obscene cunning, mixed with frozen despair, of a corpse which
has become utterly dehumanized.

It is frequently a matter of surprise to minds whose view of what is
"good" has excluded the concept of energy that persons obviously
under the obsession of "evil" are able to display such immense
reserves of inexhaustible power. But this surprise disappears when
it is realized that such "worshippers of Satan" are drawing upon
the creative energy and corrupting it, in the process of drawing
upon it, by the malignant power which resists creation.

The "illusion of dead matter" conceived as we have conceived it,
as a thing made up of unconscious chemical elements, is after all
only one aspect of the phantom-world of illusive soullessness
which the abysmal malice delights to project. It is only to
particular sensitive natures that this peculiar "despair of the
inanimate" takes the form of mud or sand or refuse or water or
dead planetary bodies or empty space.

To other natures it may take the form of those innumerable
off-shoots of economic necessity, which are not themselves necessary
either to human life or human welfare but which are the arbitrary
creations of economic avarice divorced from necessity and
indulged in out of an inert hatred of what is beautiful and real. Any
labour, whether mental or physical, which directly satisfies the
economic needs of humanity carries with it the unfathomable thrill
of creative happiness. But when we come to consider those
innumerable forms of financial and commercial enterprise which
in no way satisfy human needs but exist only for the sake of
exploitation we find ourselves confronted by a weight of unreal
soulless hideousness which by reason of the fact that it is
deliberately protected by organized society is a more devastating
example of "the thing which is in the way" than any amount of
mud and litter and refuse and excremental debris. For this
unproductive commercialism, this "unreal reality" projected by the
malignant power which resists creation, is not only an obscene
outrage to the aesthetic sense; it is actually an assassination of
life. When, therefore, a philosopher who uses the complex vision of
the soul as his organ of research is asked the question, "where are we
to look for the type of human being most entirely evil?" the
answer which he is compelled to give is not a little surprising to
many minds.

For there are many minds whose physiological timidity corrupts
their judgment, and who lack the clairvoyance to unmask with
infallible certainty that look of sneering apathy which is the pure
expression of malice. And to such minds some wretched devil of a
criminal, driven to crime by an insane perversion of the creative
instinct--for creation and destruction are not the true opposites--
might easily seem the ultimate embodiment of evil.

Whereas the particular type of human being from whom the
philosopher of the complex vision would draw his standard of evil
would be a type very different from any perverted type even from
those whose mania might take the form of erotic cruelty. It would
be a type whose recurrent "evil" would take the form of a sneering
and malignant inertness, the form of a cold and sarcastic
disparagement of all intense feeling. It would be a type entirely
obsessed by "the illusion of dead matter"; not so much the
"illusion of dead matter" where Nature is concerned, but where the
economic struggle has resulted in some unnecessary and purely
commercial activity, altogether divorced from the basic necessities
of human life. A person of this type would, in his evil moods, be
more completely dominated by a malignant resistance to every
movement of the creative spirit than any other type, unless it were
perhaps one whom the heavy brutality of "officialdom" had
blunted into inhuman callousness.

Compared with persons such as these, by whom no actual positive
"wickedness" may have ever been perpetrated, the confessed
criminal or the acknowledged pervert remains far less committed
to the depths of evil. For in persons who have habitually lent
themselves to "the illusion of dead matter," whether in regard to
Nature or in regard to commercial or financial exploitation, there
occurs a kind of "death-in-life" which gives the sneering malignity
of the abyss its supreme opportunity, whereas in the souls of those
who have committed "crimes," or have been guilty of passionate
cruelty, there may easily remain a vivid and sensitive response to
some form of reality or beauty, or self-annihilating love.

For "the illusion of dead matter" is the most formidable expression
of evil which we know; and it can only be destroyed by the magic
of that creative spirit whose true "opposite" is not hatred or cruelty
or violence or destruction, but the motiveless power of a deadly



Since neither pleasure nor pain can be experienced without
consciousness; and since consciousness finds its substratum not in
the body but in the soul; we are driven to the conclusion that what
we call the capacity of the body for pleasure and pain is really the
capacity of the soul for pleasure and pain. But the capacity of the
soul for pleasure and pain is not confined to its functioning
through the body. Sensation, that is to say, the use of the bodily
senses, gives the soul one particular form of pain and one
particular form of pleasure; but that the soul possesses other forms
of pleasure and pain independently of the body is proved by the
psychological fact that intense bodily pain is sometimes
accompanied by intense spiritual pleasure and intense bodily
pleasure is sometimes accompanied by intense spiritual pain.

What is called "the pursuit of pleasure," that rationalistic
abstraction from our real psychological experience, that
abstraction which has been made the basis of the false philosophy
called "hedonism," cannot stand for a moment against the
revelation of the complex vision. Under certain rare and morbid
conditions, when reason and sensation, in their conspiracy of
assassination, have usurped for a while the whole field
of consciousness, such a "pursuit of pleasure" may become
a dominant motive. But even under these conditions there
often comes a shifting of the stage according to which the
pleasure-seeker, sick to death of pleasure, deliberately
"pursues" pain.

If it be said that this change is no real change because what is then
pursued is the pleasure of "contrast" or even "the pleasure of
pain," the retort to such reasoning can only be that in this case the
whole hedonistic theory has been given up; for what is really then
"pursued" is neither pleasure nor pain but the sensation of novelty
or the sensation of new experience.

Pleasure and pain are emotionalized sensations accompanying
various physical and mental states. The psychological truth about
their "pursuit" is simply that we "pursue" certain objects or
conditions because of their immediate attractiveness or "attractive
terribleness," and that the accompanying pleasure becomes first a
kind of orchestral background to our pursuit; and then, later,
becomes, by the action of the law of association, part and parcel of
the thing's attractiveness or "attractive terribleness." Thus what
really occurs is precisely opposite to the hedonist's contention. For
the thing "pursued" swallows up and appropriates to itself the
pleasure and pain of the pursuit; and, by the law of association,
becomes more vividly, even than at the start the motive force
which lures us.

The most ghastly, the most obscene, the most intolerable thing in
the world is when the pain of pure sensation, the pain of the body,
is accentuated to such a pitch of atrocious suffering that the other
attributes of the soul are annihilated; and the humanity of the
person thus suffering is temporarily destroyed; so that what "lives"
at such a moment is not a person at all but an incarnate pain.

That this ultimate ghastliness, this dehumanization by pain, can
only occur where the aboriginal malice of the soul has previously
weakened the soul's independent life, is proved by the fact that the
most atrocious tortures have been successfully endured, even unto
the point of death, by such as have been martyrs for an idea. And
the reason of this endurance, the reason why, in the case of such
martyrizing, the victim has been able to resist dehumanization is
found in the fact that the soul's creative energy or the power of
love has been so great that it has been able to assert its
independence of bodily torment, even to the last moment of
human identity.

Since pain and pleasure, although so often the direct evocation of
the soul's attribute of bodily sensation, are always composed of the
primordial "stuff" of emotion; and since emotion is a projection of
the soul independently of the body, it is natural that the soul
should, in the reverse manner, colour its emotion with the memory
of sensation. Thus it follows that although it is possible for the
soul, when its emotional feeling is outraged or excited, to
experience pain or pleasure apart from sensation, there is usually
present in such an emotional pain or pleasure a residual element of
sensation; for the soul is not a thing which simply "possesses"
certain functions; but a thing which is present in some degree or
other in all its various aspects of energy.

What we call "memory" is nothing more than the plastic consciousness
of personal identity and continuity. And when once the pain
or pleasure of a bodily sensation has been lodged in the
soul, that pain or pleasure becomes an integral portion of the soul's
life, to be worked upon and appropriated for good or evil by the
soul's intrinsic duality.

Thus although the creative energy in the soul, emerging from
fathomless abysses, can enable the soul to endure until death the
most infernal torments, the fact remains that since the attribute of
sensation, which depends entirely upon the existence of the bodily
senses, is one of the soul's basic attributes and has its ground in the
very substratum of the soul, the sensations of pain and pleasure
whether coloured by emotion and imagination or left "pure" in
the clear element of consciousness, are sensations from which the
soul cannot escape.

From this we are forced to conclude that to affirm that the soul can
remain wholly untouched and unaffected by bodily pain or
pleasure is ridiculous. Bodily pain and pleasure are the soul's pain
and pleasure; because the attribute of sensation, through which the
bodily senses feed the soul, is not the body's attribute of sensation
but the soul's attribute of sensation.

To say, therefore, that the soul can "conquer" the body or be
"indifferent" to the body is as ridiculous as to say that the body
can "conquer" the soul or be "indifferent" to the soul. The fact that
the attribute of sensation is a basic attribute of the soul and that
the attribute of sensation is dependent upon the bodily senses must
inevitably imply that the pressure or impact of the bodily senses
descend to the profoundest depths of the soul.

The thing that "conquers" pain in the invincible martyr is love, or
"the energy of creation," in the soul. The abysmal struggle is not
between the soul and the body or between the flesh and the spirit,
but between the power of life and love, in the body and the soul
together, and the power of death or malice, in the body and the
soul together.

What we are compelled to assume with regard to those "sons of
the universe," whose existence affords a basis for the objectivity of
the "ultimate ideas," is that, with them, what I have called "the
eternal idea of the body" takes the place in their complex vision of
our actual physical body. Their complex vision must be regarded,
if our philosophy is to remain boldly and shamelessly anthropomorphic,
as possessing, even as our own, the basic attribute of sensation.

But since their essential invisibility, and consequent upon this their
ubiquity under the dominant categories of time and place,
precludes any possibility of their incarnation, we are compelled to
postulate that their complex vision's attribute of sensation, in the
absence of any bodily senses, finds its contact with "the objective
mystery" and with the objective "universe" in some definite and
permanent "intermediary" which serves in their case the same
primal necessity as is served in our case by the human body.

If no such "intermediary" existed for them, we should be
compelled to relinquish the idea that they possessed a complex
vision at all, for not only the attribute of sensation, but the
attribute of emotion also, demands for its activity something that
shall represent the human body and occupy in their objective
"universe" the place occupied by our physical bodies in our

As we have already shown, this primary demand for the "eternalizing
of flesh and blood" is a demand which springs from the profoundest
depths of the soul, for it is a demand which springs from
the creative energy itself, the eternal protagonist in the
world-drama. We must conclude, therefore, that although
these super-human children of Nature cannot in the ordinary sense
incarnate themselves in flesh and blood they can and do
appropriate to themselves out of the surrounding body of the ether,
and out of the body of any other living thing they approach, a
certain attenuated essence of flesh and blood which, though
invisible to us, supplies with them the place of our human body.
This, therefore, is the "intermediary" which, in the "invisible
companions" of our planetary struggle, occupies the place which is
occupied by the physical element in our human life. And this is
evoked by nothing less than that "eternal idea of the body," or
"that eternal idea of flesh and blood," which the creative energy of
love demands. A very curious and interesting possibility follows
from this assumption; namely, that by a process which might be
called a process of "spiritual vampirizing" the same creative
passion which demands satisfaction in the eternalizing of "the idea
of the body" actually suffers, by means of its vivid sympathy with
living bodies, the very pains and pleasures through which these
bodies pass.

The possibility that "the invisible companions," or in more
traditional language that the "immortal gods," should be driven by
the passion of their creative love, to suffer vicarious pain and
pleasure through the living bodies of all organic existences, is a
possibility that derives a certain support from two considerations,
both of which are drawn directly from human experiences. It is
certainly a matter of common human experience to be conscious,
for good and for evil, of a kind of obsession of one's body by
some sort of spiritual power. We may regard these moments of
obsession, with their consequent exhilaration or profound gloom,
as due purely to the activity of our own soul; and doubtless very
often this is the explanation of them. But it is conceivable also that
such obsessions are actually due to the presence near us and
around us of the "high immortal ones."

That when we experience this "spiritual vampirizing" of our
mortal bodies by immortal companions, such an obsession is not
necessarily "for good," is a thing inevitably implied in our
primary conception of personality. For although a purely demonic
personality is an impossibility, owing to the fact that personality
is, in itself, an achieved triumph over evil, it must still remain true
that the eternal duality of creation and "what resists creation" must
find an arena in the soul of an "immortal" even as it finds an arena
in the soul of a "mortal."

Therefore we are driven to regard it as no fantastic speculation but
as only too reasonable a possibility, that when a physical
depression takes possession of us it is due to this "spiritual
vampirizing," in an evil sense, by the power of some immortal
whose "malice" at that particular moment has overcome "love."
But just as the power of physical pain may be dominated and
overcome by the energy of love arising from the depths of our own
soul, so this vampirizing by the malice of an "invisible
companion," may be dominated and overcome by the energy of
love from the depths of our own soul.

It may indeed be regarded as certain that it is when the malice in
our own soul is in the ascendant, rather than the love, that we fall
victims to this kind of obsession. For evil eternally attracts evil;
and it is no wild nor erratic fancy to maintain that the malice in the
human soul naturally draws to itself by an inevitable and tragic
reciprocity the malice in the souls of the "immortal companions."

The second consideration derived from human experience which
supports this view of the vicarious pain and pleasure experienced
by the gods through the bodies of all organic entities is the
psychological fact of our own attitude towards plants and animals.
Any sensitive person among us will not hesitate to admit that in
watching animals suffer, he has suffered _with_ such animals; or
again, that in watching a branch torn from its trunk, leaving an
open wound out of which the sap oozes, he has suffered _with_
the suffering of the tree. And just as the phenomenon of bodily
obsession by some immortal god may be either "for good" or "for
evil" as our own soul dictates, so the sympathy which we feel for
plants and animals may be either "for good" or "for evil."

And this also applies to the relation between these bodiless
"immortals" and the bodies of all organic planetary life. According
to the revelation of the complex vision, with its emphasis upon the
ultimate duality as the supreme secret of life, both pain and
pleasure are instruments, in the hands of love, for rousing the soul
out of that sleep of death or semi-death which is the abysmal

The philosophies which oppose pain to pleasure, and insist upon
the "good" of pain and the "evil" of pleasure, are no less
misleading than the philosophies which oppose flesh to spirit, or
matter to mind, calling the one "good" and the other "evil." Such
philosophies have permitted that basic attribute of the complex
vision which we call conscience to usurp the place occupied, in the
total rhythm, by imagination; with the result of a complete
falsifying of the essential values.

In a question of such deadly import as this, we have, more than
ever, to make our appeal to those rare moments of illumination
which we have attained when the rhythmic intensity of the
arrow-point of thought was most concentrated and piercing. And the
testimony of these moments is given with no uncertain sound. In
the great hours of our life, and I think all human experiences
justify this statement, both pain and pleasure are transcended and
flung into a subordinate and irrelevant place. Something which it
is very difficult to describe, a kind of emotion which resembles
happiness, flows through us; so that pain and pleasure seem to
come and go almost unremarked, like dark and light shadows
flung upon some tremendous water-fall.

What we are compelled to recognize, therefore, is that pain and
pleasure are both instruments of the creative power of life. They
only become evil or are used for purposes of evil, when, by reason
of some fatal weakening in the other attributes of the soul, the
purely sensational element in them dominates the emotional and
they become something most horribly like living entities--entities
with bodies composed of the vibrations of torment and souls
composed of the substance of torment--and succeed in annihilating
the very features of humanity.

Pain and pleasure are not identical with the unfathomable duality
which descends into the abyss; for pain and pleasure are definitely
and quite unmistakenly fathomable; though, as the gods know
well, few enough of the sons of mortals reach the limit of them.
They are fathomable; for carried to a certain pitch of intensity they
end in ecstasy or they end in death. They are fathomable; for even
in the souls of "the immortals" they are only instruments of life
warring against death. They are fathomable; because they have
one identical root; and this root is the ecstasy of the rhythm of the
complex vision which transcends and surpasses them both.

The hideous symbol of "hell" is the creation of the false
philosophy which makes the eternal duality resolve itself into flesh
and spirit or into soul and body. The power of love renders this
symbol meaningless and abortive; for personality is the supreme
victory of life over what resists life; and consequently where
personality exists "hell" cannot exist; for personality is the scope
and boundary of all we know. The symbol of "Satan" also is
rendered meaningless by the philosophy of the complex vision;
unless such a symbol is used to express those appalling moments
when the evil in the soul attracts to itself and associates with itself
the evil in the soul of some immortal god.

But just as no mortal can be more evil than good, so also no
immortal can be more evil than good, that is to say intrinsically
and over a vast space of time. Momentarily and for a limited space
of time it is obvious that the human soul can be more evil than
good; and by a reasonable analogy it is only too probable that the
same thing applies to the invisible sons of the universe. But the
philosophy of the complex vision has no place for devils or
demons in its world; for the simple reason that at the very moment
any soul did become intrinsically and unchangeably evil, at that
same moment it would vanish into nothingness, since existence is
the product of the struggle between good and evil.

If any soul, whether mortal or immortal, became entirely and
absolutely good, it would instantaneously vanish into nothingness.
For the life of no kind of living soul is thinkable or conceivable
apart from the unfathomable duality. The false philosophy which
finds its ideal in an imaginary "parent" of the universe whose
goodness is absolute is a philosophy conceived under the furtive
influence of the power of evil. For the essence of the power of evil
is opposition to the movement of life; and no false ideal has ever
done so much injury to the free expansion of life as has been done
by this conception of a "parent" of the universe who is a spirit of
"absolute goodness."

It is entirely in accordance with the unfathomable cunning of the
power of malice that the supreme historic obstacle to the power of
love in the human soul should be this conception of a "parent" of
the universe, possessed of absolute goodness. In the deepest and
most subtle way does this conception oppose itself to the
creative energy of love. The creative energy of love demands an
indetermined and malleable future. It demands an enemy with
which to struggle. It demands the freedom of the individual will.
Directly that ancient and treacherous phantom, the "inscrutable
mystery" _behind_ the "universe," is allowed to become an object
of thought; directly this mystery is allowed to take the shape of a
"parent of things" who is to be regarded as "absolutely good,"
then, at that very moment, the eternal duality ceases to be "eternal"
and ceases to be a "duality."

Good and evil become the manifestations of the same inscrutable
power. Love and malice become interchangeable names of little
meaning. Satan becomes as significant a figure as Christ. All
distinctions are then blurred and blotted out. The aesthetic sense is
made of no account; or becomes a matter of accidental fancy.
Imagination is left with nothing to work upon. The rhythm of the
complex vision is broken to pieces. All is permitted. Nothing is
forbidden. The universe is reduced to an indiscriminate and
formless mass of excremental substance. Indiscriminately we have
to swallow the "universe" or indiscriminately we have to let the
"universe" alone. There is no longer a protagonist in the great
drama, for there is no longer an antagonist. Indeed there is no
longer any drama. Tragedy is at an end; and Comedy is at an end.
All is equal. Nothing matters. Everything is at once good and evil,
beautiful and hideous, true and false. Or rather nothing is
beautiful, nothing is true. The "parent of the universe" has satisfied
his absolute "goodness" by swallowing up the universe; and there
is nothing left for the miserable company of mortal souls to do but
to bow their resigned heads and cry "Om! Om!" out of the belly of
that unutterable "universal," which by becoming "everything" has
become nothing.

This conception of a universal being of "absolute goodness" looms
like a colossal corpse in front of all living movement. If instead of
"absolute goodness" we say "absolute love," the falseness and
deadliness of this conception appears even more unmistakable. For
love is the prerogative of personality alone. Apart from
personality we cannot conceive of love. And we cannot conceive of
personality without the struggle between love and malice.
"Absolute love" is a contradiction in terms; for it is the nature of
love to be perpetually overcoming malignant opposition; and, in
this overcoming, to be perpetually approximating to a far-off ideal
which can never be completely reached.

Devils and demons, or elemental entities of unredeemed evil, are
unreal enough; and in their unreality dangerous enough to the
creative spirit; but far more unreal and far more dangerous than
any devil, is this conception of an absolute being whose
"goodness" is of so spurious a nature that it obliterates all
distinction. This conception of "a parent of the universe" who is
responsible for the "eternal duality," but in whom the "eternal
duality" is reconciled, blots out all hope for mortal or immortal
souls. Between the soul of a man and the soul of an immortal god,
as for instance between the soul of a man and the soul of Christ,
there may be passionate and enduring love. But between the soul
of a man, in whom love is desperately struggling with malice, and
this monstrous being in whom love and malice have arrived at
some unthinkable reconciliation, there can be no love. There can
be nothing but indignant unbelief alternating with profound
aversion. Towards any being in whose nature love has been
reconciled to malice, the true to the false, the beautiful to the
hideous, the good to the evil, there can be no alternative to
unbelief, except unmitigated hostility.

It is especially in connection with the atrocious cruelty of physical
pain that our conscience and our tastes--unless perverted by some
premature metaphysical synthesis or by some morbid religious
emotion--reluct at the conception of a "parent" of the universe.
Personal love, since it is continually being roused to activity by
pain and is continually being expressed through pain and in spite
of pain, has come to find in pain, perhaps even more than in
pleasure, its natural accomplice. Through the radiant well-being
which results from pleasure, love pours forth its influence with a
sun-like sweetness and profusion. But from the profound depths of
pain, love rises like silence out of a deep sea; and no path of
moonlight upon any ocean reaches so far an horizon.

And it is because of this intimate association of love with pain that
it is found to be impossible to love any living being who has not
experienced pain. Pain can be entirely sensational; and in this case
it needs a very passion of love to prevent it becoming obscene and
humiliating. But it also can be entirely emotional; in which case it
results directly from the struggle of malice with love. When pain is
a matter of sensation or of sensationalized emotion, it depends for
its existence upon the body. But when pain is entirely emotional it
is independent of the body and is a condition of the soul.

As a condition of the soul pain is inevitably associated with the
struggle between love and malice. For in proportion as love
overcomes malice, pain ceases, and in proportion as malice
overcomes love, pain ceases. A human being entirely free from
emotional pain is a human being in whom love has for the moment
completely triumphed; or a human being in whom malice has for
the moment completely triumphed. There is an exultation of love
which fills the soul with irresistible magnetic power, so that it can
redeem the universe. There is also an exultation of malice which
fills the soul with irresistible magnetic power, so that it can corrupt
the universe. In both these extreme cases--and they are cases of no
unfrequent occurrence in all deep souls--emotional pain ceases to

Emotional pain is the normal condition of the human soul; because
the normal condition of the human soul is a wavering and
uncertain struggle between love and malice; but although love
may overcome malice, or malice may overcome love, with relative
completeness, they neither of them can overcome the other with
absolute completeness. There must always remain in the depths of
the soul a living potentiality; which is the love or the malice which
has been for the moment relatively overcome by its opposite. And
just as pain can be both emotional and sensational so pleasure can
be both emotional and sensational. Pleasure, like pain, can be a
thing of bodily sensation alone; in which case it tends to become a
thing of degrading and humiliating reality. A human entity entirely
obsessed by physical pleasure is a revolting and obscene spectacle.
Even with animals it is only when their sensation of pleasure is in
some degree emotionalized that we can endure to contemplate it
with sympathy.

The soul of an animal is capable of being "de-animalized" in just
as horrible a way by a pure sensation as the soul of a man is
capable of being "de-humanized" by a pure sensation. The sexual
sensation of pleasure carried to the extreme limit "de-animalizes"
animals as it "de-humanizes" human beings; because it drowns the
consciousness of personality. There is an ecstasy when personality
loses itself and finds itself again in a deeper personality. There is
also an ecstasy where personality loses itself in pure sensation. In
the region of sexual sensation, just as in the region of sexual
emotion, it is love alone which is able to hold fast to personality in
the midst of ecstasy; or which is able to merge personality in a
deeper personality.

It is because of love's intimate association with pain that we are
unable, except under the morbid pressure of some metaphysical or
religious illusion, to regard the imaginary "parent of the universe"
with anything but hostility. Both pain and pleasure are associated
with the unfathomable duality. And although the unfathomable
duality descends into abysses beyond the reach of both of these,
yet we cannot conceive of either of them existing apart from this

But there can be no duality, as there can be no struggle, in the
soul of a being in whom love has absolutely overcome malice.
Therefore in such a soul there can be no pain. And for a soul
incapable of feeling pain we can feel no love. It is of course
obvious that this whole problem is an imaginary one. We are not
really confronted with the alternative of loving or hating the
unruffled soul of this absolute one. And we are not confronted
with this problem for the simple reason that such a soul does not
exist. And it does not exist because every soul, together with the
"universe" created by every soul, depends for its existence upon
this ultimate struggle.

It is from a consideration of the nature of pain and pleasure that
we attain the clue to the ultimate duality. Pain and pleasure are
conditions of the soul; conditions which have a definite and quite
fathomable limit. Malice and love are conditions of the soul;
conditions which have no definite limit, but which descend into
unfathomable depths. Extremity of malice sinks down to an abyss
where pain and pleasure are lost and merged in one another.
Extremity of love sinks down to an abyss where pain and pleasure
are lost and merged in one another. But just as, apart from the
individual soul which is their possessor, pain and pleasure have no
existence at all; so, apart from the individual soul which is the
arena of their struggle, malice and love have no existence at all.
Because we speak of pain and pleasure as if they were "things in
themselves" and of malice and love as if they were "things in
themselves" this can never mean more than that they are eternal
conditions of the soul which is their habitation.

Apart from a personal soul, "love" has no meaning and cannot be
said to exist. Apart from a personal soul, "life" has no meaning
and cannot be said to exist. There is no such thing as the
"love-force" or the "life-force," any more than there is such a thing
as the "malice-force" or the "death-force," apart from some personal
soul. The "life-force" is a condition of the soul which carried to an
extreme limit results in ecstasy. The "death-force" is a condition of
the soul which carried to an extreme limit results in ecstasy.
Beyond these two ecstasies there is nothing but total annihilation;
which would simply mean that the soul had become absolutely
"good" or absolutely "evil."

What we call the "death-force" in the soul does not imply real
death, until it has reached a limit beyond ecstasy. It implies a
malignant resistance to life which may be carried to a point of
indescribable exultation. As I have already hinted there is a
profound association between the duality of love and malice and
the duality of pain and pleasure. But it would be false to our
deepest experience to say that love implies pleasure and that
malice implies pain. As a matter of fact, they both imply a thrilling
and ecstatic pleasure, in proportion as the equilibrium between
them, the balance of the wavering struggle between them, is
interrupted by the relative victory of either the one or the other.

The relative victory of malice or of the "death-force" over love or
over the "life-force" is attended by exquisite and poignant
pleasure, a pleasure which culminates in unutterable ecstasy. The
shallow ethical thinkers who regard "evil" as a negation are
obviously thinkers whose consciousness has never penetrated into
the depths of their own souls. Pain and pleasure for such thinkers
must be entirely sensationalized. They cannot have experienced, to
any profound depth, the kind of pain and pleasure which are
purely emotional.

The condition of the soul which gives itself up to the "death-force"
or to the malignant power which resists creation may be sometimes
a condition of thrilling and exultant pleasure. As we have
already indicated, the normal condition of the soul, wavering
and hesitating between good and evil, is liable to be changed into a
profound melancholy, when it is confronted by the "illusion of
dead matter." But, as we have also discovered, if, in the soul thus
contemplating the "illusion of dead matter," evil is more potent
than good, there may be a thrilling and exquisite pleasure.

The "death-force" in our own soul leaps in exultation to welcome
the "death illusion" in material objects. Upon this illusion, which it
has itself projected, it rejoices to feed. There is a "sweet pain" in
the melancholy it thus evokes; a "sweet pain" that is more delicate
than any pleasure; and it is a mistake to assume that even the
insanity which this aberration may result in is necessarily an
insanity of distress. It may be an insanity of ecstasy. All this is
profoundly associated with the aesthetic sense; and we may note
that the diabolical exultation with which many great artists and
writers fling themselves upon the obscene, the atrocious, the
cruel and the abominable, and derive exquisite pleasure from
representing these things is not an example of the love in them
overcoming the malice but an example of the "death-force" in
them leaping to respond to the death-force in the universe.

It is just here that we touch one of the profoundest secrets of the
aesthetic sense. I refer to that condition of the soul when the
creative energy which is life and love, suffers an insidious
corruption by the power which resists creation and which is malice
and death. This psychological secret, although assuming an
aesthetic form, is closely associated with the sexual instinct.

The sexual instinct, which is primarily creative, may easily, by the
insidious corruption of the power which resists creation, become a
vampirizing force of destruction. It may indeed become something
worse than destruction. It may become an abysmal and unutterable
"death-in-life." That voluptuous "pleasure in cruelty" which is an
intrinsic element of the sexual instinct may attach itself to "the
pleasure in death" which is the intrinsic emotion of the aboriginal
inert malice; or rather the "pleasure in death" of the adversary of
creation may insidiously associate itself with the "pleasure in
cruelty" of the sexual instinct and make of "this energy of cruelty"
a new and terrible emotion which is at once cruel and inert.

All this were mere fantastic speculation if it lacked touch with
direct experience. But direct experience, if we have any
psycho-clairvoyance at all, bears unmistakable witness to what I have
been saying. If one glances at the expression in the countenance of
any human soul who is deriving pleasure from the spectacle of
suffering and who, under the pressure of this queer fusion of the
aesthetic sense with the abysmal malice, is engaged in vampirizing
the victim of such suffering one will observe a very curious and
very illuminating series of revelations.

One will observe, for instance, the presence of demonic energy
and of magnetic dominance in such a countenance; but parallel
with this and simultaneously with this, one will observe an
expression of unutterable sadness, a sadness which is inert and
death-like, a sadness which has the soulless rigidity and the frozen
immobility of a corpse. We are thus justified, by an impression of
direct experience, in our contention that the peculiar pleasure
which many artists derive from the contemplation of suffering and
from the contemplation of what is atrocious, obscene, monstrous
and revolting, is the result of a corruption of both the sexual
instinct and the aesthetic sense by the abysmal malice.

For the pleasure which such souls derive from the contemplation
of suffering is identical with the pleasure they derive from
contemplating the "illusion of dead matter." Philosophers who
give themselves up to the profoundest pessimism do not do so, as
a rule, under the influence of love. The only exceptions to this are
rare cases when preoccupation with suffering does not spring from
a furtive enjoyment of the spectacle of suffering but from an
incurable pity for the victims of suffering. Such exceptions are far
more rare than is usually supposed, because the self-preservative
hypocrisy of most pessimists enables them to conceal their
voluptuousness under the mask of pity.

Nor must we hide from ourselves the fact that even pity, which in
its pure form is the very incarnation of love, has a perverted form
in which it lends itself to every kind of subterranean cruelty. Our
psychological insight does not amount to very much if it does not
recognize that there is a form of pity which enhances the pleasure
of cruelty. There may indeed be discovered, when we dig deep
enough into the abysses of the soul, an aspect of pity which thrills
us with a most delicate sensation of tenderness and yet which
remains an aspect of pity by no means incompatible with the fact
that we continue the process of causing pain to the object of such

Of all human emotions the emotion of pity is capable of the most
divergent subtleties. The only kind of pity which is entirely free
from the ambiguous element of "pleasure in cruelty" is the pity
which is only another name for love, when love is confronted by
suffering. There is such a thing as a suppressed envy of "the
pleasure of cruelty" manifested in the form of moral indignation
against the perpetrator of such cruelty.

Such moral indignation, with its secret impulse of suppressed
unconscious jealousy, is a very frequent phenomenon when any
sexual element enters into the cruelty in question. But the
psychologist who has learnt his art from the profoundest of all
psychologists--I mean the Christ of the gospels--is not deceived by
this moral gesture. He is able to detect the infinite yearning of the
satyr under the righteous fury of the moral avenger.

And he has an infallible test at hand by which to ascertain whether
the emotion he feels is pure or impure pity; whether in other words
it is merely a process of delicate vampirizing, or whether it is the
creative sympathy of love. And the test which he has at his
disposal is nothing less than his attitude towards the perpetrator of
the particular cruelty under discussion. If his attitude is one of
implacable revenge he may be sure that his pity is something else
than the emotion of love. If his attitude is one which implies pity
not only for the victim but also for the victim's torturer--who
without question has more need for pity--then he may be sure that
his attitude is an attitude of genuine love.

The mood of implacable revenge need not necessarily imply a
suppressed jealousy or envy; but it certainly implies the presence
of an element which has its origin in the sinister side of the
great duality. The pleasure which certain minds derive from a
contemplation of the "deadness of matter" is closely associated
with the voluptuousness of cruelty drawn from the recesses of the
sexual instinct. Such cruelty finds one of its most insidious
incentives in the phenomenon of humiliation; and when the
philosopher contemplates the "deadness of matter" with exquisite
satisfaction, the pleasure which he experiences, or the "sweet pain"
which he experiences, is very closely connected with the cruel
idea of humiliating the pride of the human soul.

The duality of pleasure and pain helps us to understand the nature
of the duality of good and evil, for it helps us to realize that good
and evil are not separate independent existences; but are--like
pleasure and pain--emotional conditions of the soul. Thus when
we say that the ultimate duality of good and evil, or of creation
and what resists creation, is the thing upon which the whole
universe depends, we must not for a moment be supposed to mean
that the ultimate reality of the universe consists of two opposed
"forces" who, like blind chemical energies, struggle with one
another in unconscious darkness.

The ultimate reality of the universe is personality, or rather, let us
say, is the existence of an innumerable company of personal souls,
visible and invisible, each of whom half-creates and half-discovers
his own universe; each of whom finds, sooner or later, in the
objective validity of the "eternal ideas," a universe which is
common to them all. The unfathomable duality upon which this
objective world, common to them all, depends for its existence is a
duality which exists in every separate soul. Without such a duality
it is impossible to conceive any soul existing. And directly such a
duality were resolved into unity such a soul would cease to exist.
But because, without the presence of evil, good would cease to
exist, we have no right to say that evil is an aspect of good. We
have no right to say this because, if good is dependent for its
existence upon evil, it is equally true that evil is dependent for its
existence upon good.

The whole question of ultimate issues is a purely speculative one
and one that does not touch the real situation. The real situation,
the real fact of our personal experience--which is the only
experience worth anything--lies undoubtedly in this impression of
unfathomable duality. It cannot be regarded as a reconciliation
between love and malice merely to recognize that love and malice
are not independent "forces," such as can be compared to chemical
"forces," but are states of the soul.

It is true that they both exist within the soul, just as the soul
exists within time and space; but since the soul is unfathomable these
two conditions of the soul are also unfathomable. The struggle
upon which the universe depends is a struggle which goes on
within the circle of personality; but since personality is
unthinkable without this struggle, it may truly be said that the
existence of personality "depends" upon the existence of this
struggle. When we speak of pain and pleasure as if they were
independent entities we are forgetting that it is merely as "states of
the soul" that pain and pleasure exist. When we speak of love and
malice as independent entities we are forgetting that it is merely as
"states of the soul" that love and malice exist. Love and malice,
the life-force and the death-force, these are merely abstractions
when separated from the soul which is their arena.

It is certainly not in harmony with the revelation of the complex
vision to seek to imagine some vague "beginning of things"; when
some inscrutable chemical or spiritual "energy," called "life,"
rushed into objective existence and proceeded to create living
personalities through which it might be able to function.

The revelation of the complex vision is a revelation of a world
made up of unfathomable personalities. Of this world, of these
unfathomable personalities, we are unable to postulate any
"beginning." They have always existed. They seem likely to
remain always in existence. Our knowledge stops at that point;
because our knowledge is the knowledge of personality. The
revelation of the complex vision is constantly warning us against
any tendency to evade the whole question of the original mystery
by the use of meaningless abstractions.

The word "energy" is such an abstraction. So also is the word
"movement." So also are those logical formulae of the pure reason,
such as the "a priori unity of apperception" and the "absolute
spirit." Apart from personality, apart from the complex vision of
the individual soul, there is no such thing as "energy" or
"movement" or "transcendental unity" or "absolute spirit." In
the same way we are compelled to recognize that apart from
personality the unfathomable duality has no meaning. But in so far
as it represents the eternal struggle between life and death which
goes on all the while in every living soul, the unfathomable duality
is the permanent condition of our deepest knowledge.

It is just here that the mystery of pain and pleasure helps
us to understand the mystery of love and malice, the same
insensitiveness in certain souls that prevents their feeling any vivid
pain or any vivid pleasure, also prevents their feeling any intense
malice. But this insensitiveness which prevents their feeling any
intense malice is, more than anything else, the especial evocation
of the power of malice. For intensity, even in malice, is a proof
that malice has been appropriating to its use the energy of life. The
real opposite of intense love is not intense malice but inert malice.

For malignant inertness is the true adversary of creation. From this
it necessarily follows that the soul which is insensitive to pain and
pleasure and to malice and love is a soul in whom the profound
opposite of love has already won a relative victory. It is certainly
possible, as we have seen, for the victory of malice over love to be
accompanied by thrilling pleasure; but, when this happens malice
has lost something of its "inertness" by drawing to itself and
corrupting for its own use the dynamic energy of love. When
malice displays itself in an intense and vivid activity of destruction
it is less "evil" and less purely "malignant" than when it remains
insensitive and inert. For this reason it is undeniably true that an
insensitive person, although he may cause much less positive pain
than a passionately cruel person, is in reality a more complete
incarnation of the power of "evil" than the latter; for the latter, in
the very violence of his passion, has appropriated to himself
something of the creative energy. It is true that in appropriating
this he has corrupted it, and it is true that by the use of it he can
cause far more immediate pain; but it remains that in himself he is
less purely "evil" than the person whose chief characteristic is a
malignant insensitiveness.



It ought not to be forgotten, as at least an important historical fact,
in regard to what we have asserted as the revelation of the
complex vision concerning the reality of the soul, that the two
most influential modern philosophers deny this reality altogether. I
refer to Bergson and William James.

In the systems of thought of both these writers there is no place
left for that concrete, real, actual "monad," with its semi-mental,
semi-material substratum of unknown hyper-physical, hyper-psychic
substance, which is what we mean, in philosophical as well as
in popular language when we talk of the "soul."

According to the revelation of man's complex vision this
hyper-physical, hyper-psychic "something," which is the concrete centre
of will and consciousness and energy, is also the invisible core or
base of what we term personality, and, without its real existence,
personality can have no permanence. Without the assumption of
its real existence personality cannot hold its own or remain
integral and identical in the midst of the process of life.

This then being the nature and character of the soul, what weight
is there in the arguments used against the soul's concrete existence
by such thinkers as James and Bergson? The position of the
American philosopher in regard to this matter seems less plausible
and less consistent than that of his French master.

James is prepared to give his adherence to a belief in a soul of the
earth and in planetary souls and stellar souls. He quotes with
approval on this point the writings of Gustav Theodor Fechner, the
Leipzig chemist. He is also prepared to find a place in his
pluralistic world for at least one quite personal and quite finite

If he is not merely exercising his philosophical fancy in all this,
but is actually prepared to assume the real concrete existence of an
earth-soul and of planetary souls and of at least one beneficent and
quite personal god, why should he find himself unable to accept
the same sort of real concrete soul in living human beings? Why
should he find himself compelled to say--"the notion of the
substantial soul, so freely used by common men and the more
popular philosophers has fallen upon evil days and has no prestige
in the eyes of critical thinkers . . . like the word 'cause' the word
'soul' is but a theoretic stop-gap . . . it marks a place and claims it
for a future explanation to occupy . . . let us leave out the soul,
then, and confront the original dilemma"?

This scepticism of the pragmatic philosophy in regard to the
"substantial soul" is surely an unpardonable inconsistency. For in
all other problems the fact of an idea being "freely used by
common men" is, according to pragmatic principles, an enormous
piece of evidence in its favour. The further fact that all the great "a
priori" metaphysical systems have been driven by their pure logic
to discredit the "substantiality" of the soul, just as they have been
driven to discredit the personality of God, ought, one would think,
where "radical empiricism" is concerned, to be a still stronger
piece of evidence on the soul's side.

James has told us that he has found it necessary to throw away
"pure reason" and to assume an inherent "irrationality" in the
system of things. Why then, when it comes to this particular axiom
of irrational common-sense, does he balk and sheer off?

One cannot resist the temptation of thinking that just here the great
Pragmatist has been led astray by that very philosophical pride he
condemns in the metaphysicians. One cannot help suspecting that
it is nothing less than the fact of the soul's appeal to ordinary
common-sense that has prejudiced this philosopher of common-sense
so profoundly against it.

What James does not seem to see is that his pseudo-scientific
reduction of the integral soul-monad into a wavering and fitful
series of compounded vortex-consciousness is really a falling back
from the empirical data of human reality into the thin abstracted
air of conceptual truth. The concrete substantial soul, just because
it is the permanent basis of personality and the only basis of
personality which common sense can apprehend, is precisely one
of those obstinate original particular "data" of consciousness
which it is the proud role of conceptual and intellectual logic to
explain away, and to explain away in favour of attenuated
rationalistic theories which are themselves "abstracted" or, shall
we say, pruned and shaved off from the very thing they are
supposed to explain.

All these "flowing streams," and "pulses of consciousness" and
multiple "compoundings of consciousness" and overlappings of
sub-consciousness are in reality, for all their pseudo-scientific air,
nothing more or less than the old-fashioned metaphysical
conceptions, such as "being" and "becoming," under a new name.

Nor is the new "irrational reason" by which the pragmatist arrives
at these plausible theories really in the least different from the
imaginative personal vision which, as James himself clearly
shows, was at the back of all that old-fashioned dialectic.

The human mind has not changed its inherent texture; nor can it
change it. We may talk of substituting intuition for reason. But the
"new intuition," with its arrogant claims of getting upon the "inner
side" of reality, is after all only "the old reason" functioning with a
franker admission of its reliance upon that immediate personal
vision and with less regard for the logical rules.

It is not, in fact, because of any rule of "logical identity with
itself" that the human mind clings so tenaciously to the notion of an
integral soul-monad. It is because of its own inmost consciousness
that such a monad, that such a substantial integral soul, is in the
deepest sense its very self, and a denial of it a denial of its very

The attitude of Bergson in this matter is much more consistent
than that of James. Bergson is frankly and confessedly not a
pluralist at all, but a spiritual monist. As a spiritual monist he is
compelled to regard what we call "matter," including in this term
the mechanical or chemical resistance of body and brain, as
something which is produced or evolved or "thrown off" by spirit
and as something which, when once it has been evolved, spirit has
to penetrate, permeate, and render porous and submissive.

The complexity of Bergson's speculations with regard to memory
and the "élan vital," with regard above all to the "true time," has
done much to distract popular attention away from his real attitude
towards the soul. But Bergson's attitude towards the existence of a
substantial soul-monad is consistently and inevitably hostile.

It could not be anything else as long as the original personal
"fling" into life which gives each one of us his peculiar angle of
vision remained with him a question of one unified _spirit_--"a
continuum of eternal shooting-forth"--which functioned through
the brain and through all personal life and perpetually created a
new unforeseen universe.

In the flux of this one universal "spirit," whereof "duration," in the
mysterious Bergsonian sense, is the functional activity, there can
obviously be no place for an actual substantial soul. "The
consciousness we have of our own self in its continual flux
introduces us to the interior of a reality on the model of which we
must represent other realities. All reality, therefore, is a tendency,
if we agree to mean by tendency an incipient change in any
direction." And when we enquire as to the nature of this "continual
flux" of which the positive and integral thing we have come to call
the soul is but a ripple, or swirling whirlpool of centripetal ripples,
the answer which Bergson gives is definite enough. "We approach
a duration which _strains_, contracts, and intensifies itself more
and more; at the limit would be eternity. No longer conceptual
eternity, which is an eternity of death, but an eternity of life. A
living, and therefore still moving eternity in which our own
particular duration would be included, as the vibrations are in
light; an eternity which would be the concentration of all duration,
as materiality is its dispersion. Between these two extreme limits
intuition moves, and this movement is the very essence of

Thus according to Bergson the essential secret of life is to be
found in some peculiar movement of what he calls spirit; a
movement which takes place in some unutterable medium, or upon
some indescribable plane, the name of which is "pure time" or

And listening to all this we cannot resist a sigh of dismay. For
here, in these vague de-humanized terms--"tendency," "flux,"
"eternity," "vibration," "duration," "dispersion"--we are once
more, only with a different set of concepts, following the old
metaphysical method, that very method which Bergson himself
sets out to confine to its inferior place. "Tendency" or "flux" or
"duration" is just as much a metaphysical concept as "being" or
"not being" or "becoming."

The only way in which we can really escape from the rigid
conceptualism of rational logic is to accept the judgment of the
totality of man's nature. And the judgment of the totality of man's
nature points unmistakably to the existence of a real substantial
soul. Such a soul is the indispensable implication of personality.
And the most interior and intimate knowledge that we are in
possession of, or shall ever be in possession of, is the knowledge
of personality.

Bergson is perfectly right when he asserts that "the consciousness
which we have of our own self" introduces us "to the interior of a
reality, on the model of which we must represent other realities."
But Bergson is surely departing both from the normal facts of
ordinary introspection and from the exceptional facts of abnormal
illumination when he appends to the words "the consciousness
which we have of our own self" the further words in its continual
"flux." For in our normal moods of human introspection, as well
as in our abnormal moods of superhuman illumination, what we
are conscious of most of all is a sense of integral continuity in the
midst of change, and of identical permanence in the midst of ebb
and flow.

The flux of things does most assuredly rush swiftly by us; and we,
in our inmost selves, are conscious of life's incessant flow. But
how could we be conscious of any of this turbulent movement
across the prow of our voyaging ship, if the ship itself--the
substantial base of our living consciousness--were not an
organized and integral reality, of psycho-chemical material, able to
exert will and to make use of memory and reason in its difficult
struggle with the waves and winds?

The revelation of man's complex vision with regard to the
personality of the soul is a thing of far-reaching issues and
implications. One of these implications is that while we have the
right to the term "the eternal flux" in regard to the changing waves
of sensations and ideas that pass across the horizon of the soul's
vision we have no right to think of this "eternal flux" as anything
else than the pressure upon us of the universe of our own vision
and the pressure upon us of the universe of other visions, as they
seem, for this or that passing moment, to be different from our

The kind of world to which we are thus committed is a world
crowded with living personalities. Each of these personalities
brings with it its own separate universe. But the fact that all these
separate universes find their ideal synthesis or teleological
orientation in "the vision of the immortals," justifies us in
assuming that in a certain eternal sense all these apparently
conflicting universes are in reality one. This unity of ideas, with its
predominant aesthetic idea--the idea of beauty--and its
predominant emotional idea--the idea of love--helps us towards a
synthesis which is after all only a dynamic one, a thing of
movement, growth and creation.

Such a teleological unity, forever advancing to a consummation
never entirely to be attained, demands however some sort of static
"milieu" as well as some sort of static "material" in the midst of
which and out of which it moulds its premeditated future. It is
precisely this static "milieu" or "medium," and this static
"material" or formless "objective mystery," which Bergson's
philosophy, of the _"élan vital" of pure spirit_, spreading out into
a totally indetermined future, denies and eliminates.

In order to justify this double elimination--the elimination
of an universal "medium" and the elimination of a formless
"thing-in-itself"--Bergson is compelled to reduce _space_ to a quite
secondary and merely logical conception and to substitute for our
ordinary stream of time, measurable in terms of space, an
altogether new conception of time, measurable in terms of feeling.

When however we come to analyse this new Bergsonian time, or
as he prefers to call it "intuitively-felt duration," we cannot avoid
observing that it is merely a new "mysterious something"
introduced into the midst of the system of things, in order to
enable us to escape from those older traditional "mysterious
somethings" which we have to recognize as the "immediate data"
of human consciousness.

It might be argued that Bergson's monistic "spirit," functioning in
a mysterious indefinable "time," demands neither more nor less of
an irrational act of faith than our mysterious psycho-material
"soul" surrounded by a mysterious hyper-chemical "medium" and
creating its future out of an inexplicable "objective mystery."

Where however the philosophy of the complex vision has the
advantage over the philosophy of the "élan vital" is in the fact that
even on Bergson's own admission what the human consciousness
most intensely _knows_ is not "pure spirit," whether shaped like a
fan or shaped like a sheaf, but simply its own integral identity.
And this integral identity of consciousness can only be visualized
or felt in the mind itself under the form of a living concrete

It will be seen, however, when it comes to a "showing up" of what
might be called the "trump cards" of axiomatic mystery, that the
complex vision has in reality fewer of these ultimate irrational
"data" than has the philosophy of the élan vital.

Space itself, whether we regard it as objective or subjective, is
certainly not an irrational axiom but an entirely rational and indeed
an entirely inevitable assumption. And what the complex vision
reveals is that the trinity of "mysterious somethings" with which
we are compelled to start our enquiry, namely the "something"
which is the substratum of the soul, the "something" which is the
"medium" binding all souls together, and the "something" which is
the "objective mystery" out of which all souls create their
universe, is, in fact, a genuine trinity in the pure theological sense;
in other words is a real "three-in-one." And it is a "three-in-one"
not only because it is unthinkable that three "incomprehensible
substances" should exist in touch with one another without being
in organic relation, but also because all three of them are
dominated, in so far as we can say anything about them at all, by
the same universal space.

It is true that the unappropriated mass of "objective mystery" upon
which no shadow of the creative energy of any soul has yet been
thrown must be considered as utterly "formless and void" and thus
in a sense beyond space and time, yet since immediately we try to
_imagine_ or _visualize_ this mystery, as well as just logically
"consider" it, we are compelled to extend over it our conception of
time and space, it is in a practical sense, although not in a logical
sense, under the real dominion of these.

When therefore the philosophy of the complex vision places its
trump-cards of axiomatic mystery over against the similar cards of
the philosophy of the "élan vital" it will be found that in actual
number Bergson has one more "card" than we have. For Bergson
has not only his "pure spirit" and his "intuitively-felt time," but has
also--for he cannot really escape from that by just asserting that
his "spirit" produces it--the opposing obstinate principle of
"matter" or "solid bodies" or "mechanical brains" upon which his
pure spirit has to work.

It is indeed out of its difficulties with "matter," that is to say with
bodies and brains, that Bergson's "spirit" is forced to forego its
natural element of "intuitive duration" and project itself into the
rigid rationalistic conceptualism of ordinary science and

The point of our argument in this place is that since the whole
purpose of philosophy is articulation or clarification and
since in this process of clarification the fewer "axiomatic
incomprehensibles" we start with the better; it is decidedly to the
advantage of any philosophy that it should require at the start
nothing more than the mystery of the individual soul confronting
the mystery of the world around it. And it is to the disadvantage of
Bergson's philosophy that it should require at the start, in addition
to "pure spirit" with its assumption of memory and will, and "pure
matter" with its assumption of ordinary space and ordinary time, a
still further axiomatic trump-card, in the theory of intuitive
"durational" time, in which the real process of the life-flow
transcends all reason and logic.

Putting aside however the cosmological aspect of our controversy
with the "radical empirical" school of thought, we still have left
unconsidered our most serious divergence from their position.
This consists in the fact that both Bergson and James have entirely
omitted from their original instrument of research that inalienable
aspect of the human soul which we call the aesthetic sense.

With only a few exceptions--notably that of Spinoza--all the great
European philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche have begun their
philosophizing from a starting-point which implied, as an essential
part of their "organum" of enquiry, the possession by the human
soul of some sort of aesthetic vision.

To these thinkers, whether rationalistic or mystic, no interpretation
of the world seemed possible that did not start with the aesthetic
sense, both as an instrument of research and as a test of what
research discovered.

The complete absence of any discussion of the aesthetic sense in
Bergson and James is probably an historic confession of the
tyranny of commercialism and physical science over the present
generation. It may also be a spiritual reflection, in the sphere of
philosophy, of the rise to political and social power of that
bourgeois class which, of all classes, is the least interested in
aesthetic speculation.

The philosophy of the complex vision may have to wait for its
hour of influence until the proletariat comes into its own. And it
does indeed seem as if between the triumph of the proletariat and
the triumph of the aesthetic sense there were an intimate
association. It is precisely because these two philosophers have so
completely neglected the aesthetic sense that their speculations
seem to have so little hold upon the imagination. When once it is
allowed that the true instrument of research into the secret of the
universe is the rhythmic activity of man's complete nature, and not
merely the activity of his reason or the activity of his intuition
working in isolation, it then becomes obvious that the universal
revelations of the aesthetic sense, if they can be genuinely
disentangled from mere subjective caprices, are an essential part of
what we have to work with if we are to approach the truth.

The philosophy of the complex vision bases its entire system upon
its faith in the validity of these revelations; and, as we have
already shown, it secures an objective weight and force for this
ideal vision by its faith in certain unseen companions of humanity,
whom it claims the right to name "the immortals."

This is really the place where we part company with Bergson and
James. We agree with the former in his distrust of the old
metaphysic. We agree with the latter in many of his pluralistic
speculations. But we feel that any philosophy which refuses to
take account, at the very beginning, of those regions of human
consciousness which are summed up by the words "beauty" and
"art," is a philosophy that in undertaking to explain life has begun
by eliminating from life one of its most characteristic products.

In Bergson's interpretation of life the stress is laid upon "spirit"
and "intuition." In James' interpretation of life the stress is laid
upon those practical changes in the world and in human nature
which any new idea must produce if it is to prove itself true.

In the view of life we are now trying to make clear, philosophy is
so closely dependent upon the activity of the aesthetic sense that it
might itself be called an art, the most difficult and the most
comprehensive of all the arts, the art of retaining the rhythmic
balance of all man's contradictory energies. What this rhythmic
balance of man's concentrated energies seems to make clear is the
primary importance of the process of discrimination and valuation.

From the profoundest depths of the soul rises the consciousness of
the power of choice; and this power of choice to which we give,
by common consent, the name of "will," finds itself confronted at
the start by the eternal duality of the impulse to create and the
impulse to resist creation. The impulse to create we find, by
experience, to be identical with the emotion of love. And the
impulse to resist creation we find, by experience, to be identical
with the emotion of malice.

But experience carries us further than this. The impulse to create,
or the emotion of love, is found, as soon as it begins a function, to
be itself a living synthesis of three primordial reactions to life,
which, in philosophic language, we name "ideas." These three
primordial ideas may be summed up as follows: The idea of
beauty, which is the revelation of the aesthetic sense. The idea of
goodness or nobility, which is the revelation of conscience. The
idea of truth, or the mind's apprehension of reality, which is the
revelation of reason, intuition, instinct, and imagination,
functioning in sympathic harmony. Now it is true that by laying so
much stress upon the "élan vital" or flowing tide of creative
energy, Bergson has indicated his acceptance of one side of the
ultimate duality. But for Bergson this creative impulse is not
confronted by evil or by malice as its opposite, but simply by the
natural inertness of mechanical "matter."

And once having assumed his "continuum" of pure spirit, he deals
no further with the problem of good and evil or with the problem
of the aesthetic sense.

From our point of view he is axiomatically unable to deal with
these problems for the simple reason that his élan vital or flux of
pure spirit, being itself a mere metaphysical abstraction from
living personality, can never, however hard you squeeze it,
produce either the human conscience or the human aesthetic sense.

These things can only be produced from the concrete activity of a
real living individual soul. In the same way it is true that William
James, by his emphasis upon conduct and action and practical
efficiency as the tests of truth, is bound to lay enormous stress at
the very start upon the ethical problem.

What a person believes about the universe becomes itself an
ethical problem by the introduction on the one hand of the
efficiency of the will to believe and on the other of the assumption
that a person "ought" to believe that which it is "useful" to him to
believe, as long as it does not conflict with other desirable truths.
But this ethical element in the pragmatic doctrine, though it is so
dominant as almost to reduce philosophy itself to a sub-division of
ethics, is not, when one examines it, at all the same thing as what
the philosophy of the complex vision means by the revelation of

Ethics with William James swallows up philosophy and in
swallowing up philosophy the nature of Ethics is changed and
becomes something different from the clear unqualified mandate
of the human conscience. With the philosophy of the complex
vision the revelations of conscience are intimately associated with
the revelations of the aesthetic sense; and these again, in the
rhythmic totality of man's nature, with the revelations of emotion,
instinct, intuition, imagination.

Thus when it comes to conduct and the question of choice the kind
of "imperative" issued by conscience has been already profoundly
changed. It is still the mandate of conscience. But it is the mandate
of a conscience whose search-light has been taken possession of
by the aesthetic sense and has been fed by imagination, instinct
and intuition.

It must be understood when we speak of these various "aspects" or
"attributes" of the human soul we do not imply that they exist as
separable faculties independently of the unity of the soul which
possesses them.

The soul is an integral and indivisible monad and throws its whole
strength along each of these lines of contact with the world. As
will, the soul flings itself upon the world in the form of choice
between opposite valuations. As conscience, it flings itself upon
the world in the form of motive force of opposite valuations. As
the aesthetic sense, it flings itself upon the world in the form of yet
another motive-force of opposite valuations. As imagination, it
half-creates and half-discovers the atmospheric climate, so to
speak, of this valuation. As intuition, it feels itself to be in
possession of a super-terrestrial, super-human authority which
gives objective definiteness and security to this valuation. As
instinct, it feels its way by an innate clairvoyance into the organic
or biological vibrations of this valuation.

Thus we return to the point from which we started, namely that the
whole problem of philosophy is the problem of valuation. And this
is the same thing as saying that philosophy, considered in its
essential nature, is nothing less than art--the art of flinging itself
upon the world with all the potentialities of the soul functioning in
rhythmic harmony.

When Bergson talks of the "élan vital" and suggests that the acts
of choice of the human personality are made as naturally and
inevitably, under the pressure of the "shooting out" of the spirit, as
leaves grow upon the tree, he is falling into the old traditional
blunder of all pantheistic and monistic thinkers, the blunder
namely of attributing to a universal "God" or "life-force" or
"stream of tendency" the actual personal achievements of
individual souls.

Bergson's "apologia" for free-will is therefore rendered ineffective
by reason of the fact that it does not really leave the individual
free. The only "free" thing is the aboriginal "spirit," pouring forth
in its "durational" stream, and moulding bodies and brains as it
goes along.

The philosophy of the complex vision does not believe in "spirit"
or "life-force" or "durational streams of tendency." Starting with
personality it is not incumbent upon it to show how personality
has been evolved. It is no more incumbent upon it to show how
personality has been evolved than it is incumbent upon pantheistic
idealism to show how God or how the Absolute has been evolved.
Personality with its implication of separate concrete psycho-material
soul-monads is indeed our Absolute or at any rate is as much
of an Absolute as we can ever get while we continue to recognize
the independent existence of one universal space, of one universal
ethereal medium, and of on universal objective mystery.

Perhaps the correct metaphysical statement of our philosophic
position would be that our Absolute is a duality from the very
start--a duality made up on one side of innumerable soul-monads
and on the other side of an incomprehensible formless mass of
plastic material, itself subdivided into the two aspects of a medium
binding the soul-monads together, and an objective mystery into
which they pierce their way.

When the evolutionists tell us that personality is a thing of late
appearance in the system of things and a thing of which we are
able to note the historic or prehistoric development, out of the
"lower" forms of life, our answer is that we have no right to
assume that the life of the earth and of the other planetary and
stellar bodies is a "lower" form of life.

If to this the astronomer answer that he is able to carry the history
of evolution further back than any planet or star, as far back as a
vast floating mass of homogeneous fiery vapour, even then we
should still maintain that this original nebular mass of fire was the
material "body" of an integral soul-monad; and that in surrounding
immensities of space there were other similar masses of nebular
fire--possibly innumerable others--who in their turn were the
bodily manifestations of integral soul-monads.

When evolutionists argue that personality is a late and accidental
appearance on the world scene, they are only thinking of human
personalities; and our contention is that while man has a right to
interpret the universe in terms of his soul, he has no right to
interpret the universe in terms of his body; and that it is therefore
quite possible to maintain that the "body" of the earth has been
from the beginning animated by a soul-monad whose life can in no
sense be called "lower" than the life of the soul-monad which
at present animates the human body. And in support of our
contention just here we are able to quote not only the authority of
Fechner but the authority of Professor James himself approving of

What the philosophy of the complex vision really does is to take
life just as it is--the ordinary multifarious spectacle presented to
our senses and interpreted by our imagination--and regard this, and
nothing more recondite than this, as the ultimate Absolute, or as
near an Absolute as we are ever likely to get.

From our point of view it seems quite uncalled for to summon up
vague and remote entities, like streams of consciousness and
shootings forth of spirit, in order to interpret this immediate
spectacle. Such streams of consciousness and shootings forth of
spirit seem to us just as much abstractions and just as much
conceptual substitutions for reality as do the old-fashioned
metaphysical entities of "being" and "becoming."

No one has ever _seen_ a life-stream or a life-force. No one has
ever _seen_ a compounded congeries of conscious states. But
every one of us has seen a living human soul looking out of a
living human body; and most of us have seen a living soul looking
out of the mysterious countenance of earth, water, air and fire.

The philosophy of the soul-monad has at any rate this advantage
over every other: namely, that it definitely represents human
experience and can always be verified by human experience. Any
human being can try the experiment of sinking into the depths of
his own identity. Let the reader of this passage try such an
experiment here and now; and let him, in the light of what he
finds, decide this question. Does he find himself flowing
mysteriously forth, along some indescribable "durational" stream,
and, as he flows, feeling himself to be that stream? Or does he feel
himself to be a definite concrete actual "I am I," "the guest and
companion of his body" and, as far as the mortal weakness of flesh
allows, the motive-principle of that body?

If the philosophy of the complex vision is able to make an appeal
of this kind with a certain degree of assurance as to the answer, it
is able to make a yet more convincing appeal, when--the soul's
existence once admitted--it becomes a question as to that soul's
inherent quality. No human being, unless in the grasp of some
megalomania of virtue, can deny the existence, in the depths of his
nature, of a struggle between the emotion of love and the emotion
of malice.

Out of this ultimate duality under the pressure of the forms and
shapes of life and the reaction against these of the imagination and
the aesthetic sense, spring into existence those primordial ideas of
truth and beauty and goodness which, are the very stuff and
texture of our fate. But these ideas, primordial though they are, are
so confused and distorted by their contact with circumstances and
accident, that it may well be that no clear image of them is found
in the recesses of the soul when the soul turns its glance inward.

No soul, however, can turn its glance inward without recognizing
in its deepest being this ultimate struggle between love and malice.
How then can any philosophy be regarded as a transcript and
reflection of reality when at the very start it refuses to take
cognizance of this fact? If the only knowledge, which is in any
sense certain, is our knowledge of ourselves, and if our knowledge
of ourselves implies our knowledge of a definite "soul-monad" for
ever divided against itself in this abysmal struggle, how then may
a philosophy be regarded as covering the facts of experience,
when in place of this personal contradiction it predicates, as its
explanation of the system of things, some remote, thin, abstract
tendency, such as the "shooting forth of spirit" or the
compounding of states of consciousness?

The whole matter may be thus summed up. The modern tendencies
of thought which we have been considering, get rid of the
old metaphysical notion of the logical Absolute only to
substitute vague psychological "states of consciousness" in its
place. But what philosophy requires if the facts of introspective
experience are to be trusted is neither an Absolute in whose
identity all difference is lost nor a stream of "states of
consciousness" which is suspended, as it were, in a vacuum.

What philosophy requires is the recognition of real actual persons
whose original revelation of the secret of life implies that abysmal
duality of good and evil beyond the margin of which no living soul
has ever passed. Whether or not this concrete "monad" or living
substratum of personality survives the death of the body is quite a
different question; is in fact a question to which the philosophy of
the complex vision can make no definite response. In this matter
all we can say is that those supreme moments of rhythmic ecstasy,
whose musical equilibrium I have indicated in the expression
"apex-thought," establish for us a conclusive certainty as to the
eternal continuance, beyond the scope of all deaths, of that
indestructible aspect of personality we have come to name the
struggle between love and malice.

With the conclusive consciousness of this there necessarily arises
a certain attitude of mind which is singularly difficult to describe
but which I can hint at in the following manner. In the very act of
recognition, in the act by which we apprehend the secret of the
universe to consist in this abysmal struggle of the emotion of love
with the emotion of malice, there is an implication of a complete
acceptance of whatever the emotion of love or the principle of
love is found to demand, as the terms of its relative victory over its
antagonist. Whether this demand of love, or to put it more exactly
this demand of "all souls" in whom love is dominant, actually
issues in a personal survival after death we are not permitted to
feel with any certainty. But what we feel with certainty, when the
apex-thought of the complex vision reaches its consummation, is
that we find our full personal self-realization and happiness in a
complete acceptance of whatever the demand of love may be. And
this is the case because the ultimate happiness and fulfilment of
personality does not depend upon what may have happened to
personality in the past or upon what may happen to personality in
the future but solely and exclusively upon what personality
demands here and now in the apprehension of the unassailable

This suspension of judgment therefore in regard to the question of
the immortality of the soul is a suspension of judgment implicit in
the very nature of love itself. For if there were anything in the
world nearer the secret of the world than is this duality of love and
malice, then that alien thing, however we thought of it, would be
the true object of the soul's desire and the victory of love over
malice would fall into the second place.

If instead of the soul's desire being simply the victory of love over
malice it were, so to speak, the "material fruit" of such a victory--
namely, the survival of personality after death--then, in place of
the struggle between love and malice, we should be compelled to
regard _personality in itself_, apart from the nature of that
personality, as the secret of the universe. But as we have
repeatedly shown, it is impossible to think of any living
personality apart from this abysmal dualism, the ebb and flow of
which, with the relative victory of love over malice, is our ultimate
definition of what living personality _is_. The emotion of love
abstracted from personality is not the secret of the universe,
because personality in its concrete living activity is the secret of
the universe. It is this very abstraction of love, isolated from any
person who loves, and projected as an abstract into the void, that
has done so much to undermine religious thought, just as that other
absolute of "pure being" has done so much to undermine
philosophic thought.

Love and malice are unthinkable apart from personality; but
personality divorced from the struggle between love and malice is
something worse than unthinkable. It is something most tragically
thinkable. It is in fact the plain reality of death. A dead body
is a body in which the struggle between love and malice has
completely ceased. A dead planet would be a planet in which the
struggle between love and malice had ceased. We cannot speak of
a "dead soul" because the soul is, according to our original
definition, the very fusion-point and vortex-point where not only
consciousness and energy meet but where love and malice meet
and wage their eternal struggle.

Strictly speaking it is not true to say that the ultimate secret of the
universe is the emotion of love. The emotion of love, just because
it is an _emotion_, is the emotion of a personality. It is personality,
not the emotion of love, which is the secret of the universe, which
is, in fact, the very universe itself. But it is personality considered
in its true concrete life, not as a mere abstraction devoid of all
characteristics, which is this basic thing. And personality thus
considered is, as we have seen, a living battleground of two
ultimate emotions. The complete triumph of love over malice
would mean the extinction of personality and following from this
the extinction of the universe.

Thus what the soul's desire really amounts to, in those rhythmic
moments when its diverse aspects are reduced to harmonious
energy, is not the complete victory of love over malice but only a
relative victory. What it really desires is that malice should still
exist, but that it should exist in subordination to love.

The ideal of the soul therefore in its creative moments is _the
process of the overcoming of malice_, not the completion of this
process. In order to be perpetually overcome by love, malice must
remain existent, must remain "still there." If it ceased to be there,
there would be nothing left for love to overcome; and the ebb and
flow of the universe, its eternal contradictions, would be at an end.
The soul's desire, according to this view, is not a life after death
where malice, shall we say, is completely overcome and "good"
completely triumphant. The soul's desire is that malice, or evil,
should continue to exist; but should continue to exist under the
triumphant hand of love. The desire of the soul, in such ultimate
moments, has nothing to do with the survival of the soul after
death. It has to do with an acceptance of the demand of love. And
what love demands is not that malice should disappear; but that it
should for ever exist, in order that love should for ever
be overcoming it. And the ecstasy of this process, of this
"overcoming," is a thing of single moments, moments which, as
they pass, not only reduce both past and future to an eternal "now"
but annihilate everything else but this eternal "now." This
annihilation of the past does not mean the extinction of memory or
the extinction of hope. It only means that the profoundest of our
memories are "brought over" as it were from the past into the
present. It only means that a formless horizon of immense hope,
indefinite and vague, hovers above the present, to give it
spaciousness and freedom.

The revelation of the complex vision does not therefore answer the
question of the immortality of the soul. What it does is to indicate
the degree of importance of any answer to this question. And this
degree of importance is much smaller than in our less harmonious
moments we are inclined to suppose. At certain complacent
moments the soul finds itself praying for some final assurance of
personal survival. At certain other moments the soul is tempted to
pray for complete annihilation. But at the moments when it is most
entirely itself it neither prays for annihilation nor for immortality.
It does not pray for itself at all. It prays that the will of the gods
may be done. It prays that the power of love in every soul in the
universe may hold the power of malice in subjection.

The soul therefore, revealed as a real substantial living thing by
the complex vision, is not revealed as a thing necessarily exempt
from death, but as a thing whose deepest activity renders it free
from the fear of death.

In considering the nature of the contrast between the philosophy of
the complex vision and the most dominant philosophic tendencies
of the present time it is important to make clear what our attitude
is towards that hypothetical assumption usually known as the
Theory of Evolution.

If what is called Evolution means simply _change_, then we have
not the least objection to the word. The universe obviously
changes. It is undergoing a perpetual series of violent and
revolutionary changes. But it does not necessarily improve or
progress. On the contrary during enormous periods of time it
deteriorates. Both progress and deterioration are of course purely
human valuations. But according to our valuation of good and evil
it may be said that during those epochs when the malicious, the
predatory, the centripetal tendency in life predominates over the
creative and centrifugal tendency, there is deterioration and
degeneracy; and during the epochs when the latter overcomes the
former there is growth and improvement.

It is quite obvious that from our point of view, there is no such
thing as inanimate chemical substance, no such isolated
evolutionary _phases_ of "matter," such as the movements from
"solids" to "liquids," from "liquids" to "gases," from "gases" to
"ether," from "ether" to "electro-magnetism." All these apparent
changes must be regarded as nothing less than the living organic
changes taking place in the living bodies of actual personal souls.

According to our view the real and important variations in the
multiform spectacle of the universe are the variations brought
about by the perpetual struggle between life and death, in other
words between the personal energy of creation and the personal
resistance of malice.

For us the universe of bodies and souls is perpetually re-creating
itself by the mysterious process of birth, perpetually destroying
itself by the mysterious process of death.

It is this eternal struggle between the impulse to create new life
and the impulse to resist the creation of life, and to destroy or to
petrify life, which actually causes all movement in things and all
change; movement sometimes forward and sometimes backward
as the great pendulum and rhythm of existence swings one way or
the other.

And even this generalization does not really cover what we regard
as the facts of the case, because this backward or forward
movement, though capable of being weighed and estimated "en
masse" in the erratic and violent changes of history, is in reality a
thing of particular and individual instances, a thing that ultimately
affects nothing but individuals and personalities, in as much as it is
the weighing and balancing of a struggle which takes place
nowhere else except in the arena of concrete separate and personal

What is usually called Evolution then, and what may just as
reasonably be called Deterioration, is as far as we are concerned
just a matter of perpetual movement and change.

The living personalities that fill the circle of space are perpetually
reproducing themselves in a series of organic births, and
perpetually passing away in the process of death.

We have also to remember that every living organism whether
such an organism resemble that of a planet or a human being, is
itself the dwelling-place of innumerable other living organisms
dependent on it and drawing their life from it, precisely as their
parent organism depends on, and draws its life from, the
omnipresent universal ether.

What the philosophy of the complex vision denies and refutes is
the modern tendency to escape from the real mystery of existence
by the use of such vague hypothetical metaphors, all of them really
profoundly anthropomorphic, such as "life-force" or "hyper-space"
or "magnetic energy" or "streams of sub-consciousness."

The philosophy of the complex vision drives these pseudo-philosophers
to the wall and compels them to confess that ultimately all
they are aware of is the inner personal activity of their
own individual souls; compels them to confess that when it
comes to the final analysis their "life-force" and "pure
thought" and "hyper-space" and "radio-magnetic activity" are all
nothing but one-sided hypothetical abstractions taken from the
concrete movements of concrete individual bodies and souls which
by an inevitable act of the imagination we assume to reproduce in
their interior reactions what we ourselves experience in ours.

To introduce such a conception as that of those mysterious super
human beings, whom I have named "the gods," into a serious
philosophic system, may well appear to many modern scientific
minds the very height of absurdity.

But the whole method of the philosophy of the complex vision is
based upon direct human experience; and from my point of view
the obscure and problematic existence of some such beings has
behind it the whole formidable weight of universal human feeling--
a weight which is not made less valid by the arrogant use of mere
phrases of rationalistic contempt such as that which is implied in
the word "superstition."

From our point of view a philosophy which does not include and
subsume and embody that universal human experience covered by
the term "superstition" is a philosophy that has eliminated from its
consideration one great slice of actual living fact. And it is in this
aspect of the problem more than in any other that the philosophy
of the complex vision represents a return to certain revelations of
human truth--call them mythological if you please--which modern
philosophy seems to have deliberately suppressed. In the final
result it may well be that we have to choose, as our clue to the
mystery of life, either "mathematica" or "mythology."

The philosophy of the complex vision is compelled by the very
nature of its organ of research to choose, in this dilemma, the latter
rather than the former. And the universe which it thus dares to
predicate is at least a universe that lends itself, as so many
"scientific" universes do not, to that synthetic activity of the
_imaginative reason_ which in the long run alone satisfies the
soul. And such a universe satisfies the soul, as these others cannot,
because it reflects, in its objective spectacle of things, the
profoundest interior consciousness of the actual living self which
the soul in its deepest moments of introspection is able to grasp.

Modern science, under the rhetorical spell of this talismanic word
"evolution," seems to imply that it can explain the multiform
shapes and appearances of organic life by deducing them, in all
their vivid heterogeneity, from some hypothetical monistic
substance which it boldly endows with the mysterious energy
called the "life-force" and which it then permits to project out of
itself, by some sort of automatic volition, the whole long historic
procession of living organisms.

This purely imaginative assumption gives it, in the popular mind, a
sort of vague right to make the astounding claim that it has
"explained" the origin of things. Little further arrogance is needed
to give it, in the popular mind, the still more astounding right to
claim that it has indicated not only the nature of the "beginning" of
things but the nature of their "end" also; this "end" being nothing
less than some purely hypothetical "equilibrium" when the
movement of "advance," coming full circle, rounds itself off into
the movement of "reversion."

The philosophy of the complex vision makes no claim to deal
either with the beginning of things or with the end of things. It
recognizes that "beginnings" and "ends" are not things with which
we can intelligibly deal; are, on the contrary, things which are
completely unthinkable.

What we actually see, feel, divine, imagine, love, hate, detest,
desire, dream, create and destroy--these living, dying, struggling,
relaxing, advancing and retreating things--this space, this ether,
these stars and suns, these animals, fishes, birds, plants, this earth
and moon, these men and these trees and flowers, these high and
unchanging eternal ideas of the beautiful and the good, these
transitory perishing mortal lives and these dimly discerned
immortal figures that we name "gods," all these, as far as we are
concerned, have for ever existed, all these, as far as we are
concerned, must for ever exist.

In the immense procession of deaths and births, it is indeed certain
that the soul and body of the Earth have given birth to all the souls
and bodies which struggle for existence upon her living flesh
and draw so much of their love and their malice from the
unfathomable depths of her spirit. But when once we accept as our
basic axiom that where the "soul-monad" exists, whether such a
"monad" be human, sub-human, or super-human, it exists in actual
concrete organic personal integrity, we are saved from the
necessity of explaining how, and by what particular series of births
and deaths and change and variation, the living spectacle of things,
as we visualize it today, has "evolved" or has "deteriorated" out of
the remote past.

It is in fact by their constant preoccupation with the immediate and
material causes of such organic changes, that men of science have
been distracted from the real mystery. This real mystery does not
limit itself to the comparatively unimportant "How," but is
constantly calling upon us to deal with the terrible and essential
questions, the two grim interrogations of the old Sphinx, the
"_What_" and the "_Wherefore_."

It is by its power to deal with these more essential riddles that any
philosophy must be weighed and judged; and it is just because
what we name Science stops helplessly at this unimportant "How,"
that it can never be said to have answered Life's uttermost

Materialistic and Evolutionary Hypotheses must always, however
far they may go in reducing so-called "matter" to so-called "spirit,"
remain outside the real problem. No attenuation of "matter" into
movement or energy or magnetic radio-activity can reach the
impregnable citadel of life. For the citadel of life is to be found in
nothing less than the complex of personality--whether such
personality be that of a planet or a plant or an animal or a man or a
god--must always be recognized as inherent in an actual living
soul-monad, divided against itself in the everlasting duality.

Although the most formidable support to our theory of an "eternal
vision," wherein all the living entities that fill space under the
vibration of an unspeakable cosmic rhythm and brought into focus
by one supreme act of contemplative "love," is drawn from the
rare creative moments of what I have called the "apex-thought," it
still remains that for the normal man in his most normal hours the
purely scientific view is completely unsatisfying.

I do not mean that it is unsatisfying because, with its mechanical
determinism, it does not satisfy his desires. I mean that it does not
satisfy his imagination, his instinct, his intuition, his emotion, his
aesthetic sense; and in being unable to satisfy these, it proves
itself, "ipso-facto," false and equivocal.

It is equally true that, except for certain rare and privileged
natures, the orthodox systems of religion are equally unsatisfying.

What is required is some philosophic system which is bold enough
to include the element of so-called "superstition" and at the same
time contradicts neither reason nor the aesthetic sense.

Such a system, we contend, is supplied by the philosophy of the
complex vision; a philosophy which, while remaining frankly
anthropomorphic and mythological, does not, in any narrow or
impudent or complacent manner, slur over the bitter ironies of this
cruel world, or love the clear outlines of all drastic issues in a
vague, unintelligible, unaesthetic idealism.

What our philosophy insists upon is that the modern tendency to
reduce everything to some single monistic "substance," which, by
the blind process of "evolution," becomes all this passionate drama
that we see, is a tendency utterly false and misleading. For us the
universe is a much larger, freer, stranger, deeper, more
complicated affair than that.

For us the universe contains possibilities of real ghastly, incredible
_evil_, descending into spiritual depths, before which the normal
mind may well shudder and turn dismayed away.

For us the universe contains possibilities of divine, magical,
miraculous _good_, ascending into spiritual heights and
associating itself with immortal super-human beings, before which
the mind of the merely logical intelligence may well pause,
baffled, puzzled, and obscurely indignant.

The "fulcrum" upon which the whole issue depends, the "pivot"
upon which it turns, is the existence of actual living souls filling
the immense spaces of nature.

If there is no "soul" in any living thing, then our whole system
crumbles to pieces. If there are living "souls" in every living thing,
then the universe, as revealed by the complex vision, is more real
than the universe as revealed by the chief exponents of modern



The philosophy of the complex vision inevitably issues, when it is
applied to political and economic conditions, in the idea of
communism. The idea of communism is inherent in it from the
beginning; and in communism, and in communism alone, does it
find its objective and external expression.

The philosophy of the complex vision reveals, as we have seen, a
certain kind of ultimate duality as the secret of life. This ultimate
duality remains eternally unreconciled; for it is a duality within the
circle of every personal soul; and the fact that every personal soul
is surrounded by an incomprehensible substance under the
dominion of time and space, does not reconcile these eternal
antagonists; because these eternal antagonists are for ever
unfathomable, even as the personal soul, of which they are the
conflicting conditions, is itself for ever unfathomable.

It is therefore a perpetual witness to the truth that the idea of
communism is the inevitable expression of the complex vision that
this idea should, more than other idea in the world, divide the
souls of men into opposite camps. If the idea of communism were
not the inevitable expression of the philosophy of the complex
vision as applied to human life it would be an idea with regard to
which all human souls would hold infinitely various opinions.

But this is not the case. In regard to the idea of communism we do
not find this infinite variety of opinion. We find, on the contrary, a
definite and irreconcilable duality of thought. Human souls are
divided on this matter not, as they are on other matters, into a
motley variety of convictions but into two opposite and
irreconcilable convictions, unfathomably hostile to one another.

There is no other question, no other issue, about which the souls of
men are divided so clearly and definitely into two opposite camps.
The question of the existence of a "parent of the universe" does
not divide them so clearly; because it always remains possible for
any unbeliever in a spiritual unity of this absolute kind to use the
term "parent," if he pleases, for that incomprehensible "substance"
under the dominion of space and time which takes the triple form
of the "substance" out of which the substratum of the soul is made,
the "substance" out of which the "objective mystery" is made, and
the substance out of which is made the surrounding "medium"
which holds all personal souls together.

The question of the mortality or the immortality of the soul does
not divide them so clearly; because such a question is entirely
insoluble; and a vivid consciousness of its insolubility
accompanies all argument. The question of race does not divide
them so clearly; because both with regard to race and with regard
to class the division is very largely a superficial thing, dependent
upon public opinion and upon group-consciousness and leaving
many individuals on each side entirely unaffected.

The question of sex does not divide them so clearly; because there
are always innumerable examples of noble and ignoble treachery
to the sex-instinct; not to speak of a certain intellectual neutrality
which refuses to be biased. The idea of communism is on the
contrary so profoundly associated with the original revelation of
the complex vision that it must be regarded as the inevitable
expression of all the attributes of this vision when such attributes
are reduced to a rhythmic harmony.

That this is no speculative hypothesis but a real fact of experience
can be proved by any sincere act of personal introspection.

The philosophy of the complex vision is based upon those rare and
supreme moments when the soul's "apex-thought" quivers like an
arrow in the very heart of the surrounding darkness. By any honest
act of introspection we can recall to memory the world-deep
revelations which are thus obtained. And among these revelations
the one most vivid and irrefutable, as far as human association is
concerned, is the revelation of the idea of communism.

So vivid and so dominant is this idea, that it may be said that no
motive which drives or obsesses the will in the sphere of external
relations can approach or rival it in importance. And that this is so
can be proved by the fact that the opposite of this idea, namely the
idea of private property, is found when we analyse the content of
our profoundest instincts to be in perpetual conflict with the idea
of communism.

And the inevitableness of the world-deep struggle between these
two ideas is proved by the fact that in no other way, as soon as the
objective world is introduced at all, can we conceive of love and
malice as expressing themselves. Love must naturally express
itself in the desire to "have all things in common"; and malice
must naturally express itself in the desire to have as little as
possible in common and as much as possible for ourselves alone.

The "possessive instinct," although it may often be found
accompanying like an evil shadow some of the purest movements
of love, must be recognized as eternally arising out of the depths
of the power opposed to love. If we have any psychological
clairvoyance we can disentangle this base element from some of
the most passionate forms of the sexual instinct and from some of
the most passionate forms of the maternal instinct. It is undeniable
that the possessive instinct does accompany both these emotions
and we are compelled to recognize that, whenever or wherever it
appears, it is the expression of the direct opposite of love.

So inevitably does the complex vision manifest itself in the idea of
communism that it would be legitimate to say that the main object
of human life as we know it at present is the realization of the
ideas of truth and beauty and nobility in a world-wide
communistic state.

As far as the human soul in our present knowledge of it is
concerned there is no other synthesis possible except this
synthesis. And there is no other synthesis possible except this,
because this and this alone realizes the ideal which the abysmal
power of love implies. And the power of love implies this ideal
because the power of love is the only unity which fuses together
the ideas of reality and beauty and nobility; and because it is
impossible to conceive the power of love as embodying itself in
these ideas except in a world-wide communistic state.

We are able to prove that this is no speculative hypothesis but a
fact based upon experience, by a consideration of the opposite
ideal. For evil, as we have hinted in many places, _has_ its ideal.
The ideal of evil, or of what I call "malice," is the annihilation of
the will to creation. This ideal of malice is in fact an obstinate and
continuous resistance to the power of creation; a resistance carried
so far as to reduce everything that exists to eternal non-existence.
The profoundest experience of the human soul is to be found in the
unfathomable struggle that goes on in the depths between "the
ideal of evil" which is universal death and "the ideal of love"
which is universal life.

Reason and sensation are used in turn by this abysmal malice of
the soul, to establish and make objective "the idea of nothingness."
Thus reason, driven on by the power of malice, derives exquisite
satisfaction from the theory of the automatism of the will.

The theory of the automatism of the will, the theory that the will is
only an illusive name for a pre-determined congeries of irresistible
motives, is a theory that lends itself to the ideal of universal death.
It is a theory that diminishes, and reduces to a minimum, the
identity of the personal soul. And therefore it is a theory which the
isolated reason, divorced from imagination and instinct, fastens
upon and exults in.

The isolated reason, in league with pure sensation and divorced
from instinct, becomes very quickly a slave of the abysmal
power of malice; and the pleasure which it derives from the
contemplation of a mechanical universe predestined and pre-determined,
a universe out of which the personal soul has been completely
expurgated, is a pleasure derived directly from the power of malice,
exulting in the idea of eternal death.

Philosophers are very crafty in these things; and it is necessary to
discriminate between that genuine passion for reality which
derived from the power of love and that exultant pleasure in a
"frightful" reality which is derived from intellectual sadism and
from the unfathomable malice of the soul.

Between a philosophic pessimism which springs from a genuine
passion for reality and from a pure "pity" for tortured sentient
things, and a philosophic pessimism which springs from a cruel
pleasure in atrocious situations and an ambiguous "pity" for
tortured sentient things there is an eternity of difference.

It needs however something almost like a clairvoyance to
recognize this difference; and such a clairvoyance can only be
obtained when, as in the case of Christ, the soul becomes aware of
its own unfathomable possibilities of good and evil.

A careful and implacable analysis of the two camps of opinion
into which the idea of communism divides the world reveals to us
the fact that the philosophical advocates of private property draw a
certain malignant pleasure from insisting that the possessive
instinct is the strongest instinct in humanity.

This is tantamount to saying that the power of malice is the
strongest instinct in humanity; whereas, if the power of malice had
not already been relatively overcome by the power of love there
would be no "humanity" at all. But the philosophical advocates of
private property do not confine themselves to this malign
insistence upon the basic greediness of human nature. They are in
the habit of twisting their arguments completely around and
speaking of the "rights" of property and of the "wholesome" value
of the "natural instinct" to possess property.

This "natural instinct to possess property" becomes, when they so
defend it, something which we assume to be "good" and "noble,"
and not something which we are compelled to recognize as "evil"
and "base."

It is necessary to keep these two arguments quite separate in our
minds and not to allow the philosophical advocates of private
property to confuse them. If the assumption is that the instinct to
possess property is a "good" instinct, an instinct springing from
the power of love in the human soul, then what we have to do is to
subject this "good instinct" to an inflexible analysis; under the
process of which such "goodness" will be found to transform itself
into the extreme opposite of goodness.

If the assumption is that the instinct to possess property is an evil
instinct, but an instinct which is the strongest of all human
instincts and therefore one which it is insane to attempt to resist,
then what we have to do is to prove that the instinct or the emotion
of love is stronger than the instinct or the emotion of malice and so
essential to the life of the soul that if it had not already relatively
overcome the emotion of malice, the personal soul would never
have become what it has become; in fact would never have existed
at all, since its mere existence depends upon the relative victory of
love over malice.

In dealing with the former of these two arguments, namely that the
instinct to possess property is a "good" instinct, it is advisable to
search for some test of "goodness" which shall carry a stronger
conviction to the mind of such biassed philosophers than any
appeal to the conscience or even to the aesthetic sense. The
conscience and the aesthetic sense speak with uncompromising
finality upon this subject and condemn the possessive instinct or
the instinct to possess property with an unwavering voice. As
eternal aspects of the complex vision, both conscience and the
aesthetic sense, when their power is exercised in harmony with all
the other aspects of the soul, indicate with an oracular clearness
that the possessive instinct is not good but evil.

The person obsessed by the idea of "nobility" and the person
obsessed by the idea of "beauty" are both of them found to be
extraordinarily suspicious of the possessive instinct and fiercely
anxious to destroy its power. But the test more likely to appeal to
the type of philosopher whose business it is to defend the
institution of private property is the simple test of reality. Reality
or "truth," much more than nobility or beauty, is the idea in the
soul which is outraged by the illusion of the value of private

For the illusion of the value of private property is like the "illusion
of dead matter." It is a half-truth projected by the power of malice.
The inherent unreality of the illusion of the value of private
property can be proved by the simplest examination of the facts.
The illusion draws its strength from a false appeal to the genuine
and basic necessities of the human mind and the human body.

These necessities demand adequate food, adequate clothing,
adequate shelter and adequate leisure. They also demand freedom,
beauty, happiness, a considerable degree of solitude, and final
relief from the intolerable fear of poverty. But the economic and
intellectual resources of the human race are perfectly capable of
providing all these things for all human beings within the limits of
a communistic society. These things and the legitimate demand for
these things must not be confused with the illusion of the value of
private property. Nor must the illusion of the value of private
property be permitted to fortify its insecure position by a false
appeal to these real values.

The astounding achievements of modern science have brought to
light two things. They have brought to light the fact that no human
or social unit short of the international unit of the whole race can
adequately deal with the resources of the planet. And they have
brought to light the fact that this inevitable internationalizing of
economic production must be accompanied by a co-operative
internationalizing of economic distribution, if murderous chaotic
conflict is to be avoided.

The real values of sufficient food, clothing, shelter, leisure,
and solitude can be secured for every human being inhabiting
this planet, under _a far from perfect_ organization of
world-production and world-distribution. The astounding achievements
of modern science have made this possible. It only requires a
reasonable and not by any means an ideal co-operation to make it

The achievements of modern science, especially in the sphere of
industrial machinery, have made it possible for every human being
to have sufficient food, clothing, shelter, leisure and solitude. Man,
in this sense, has already conquered Nature; and has secured for
his progeny however indefinitely increased, and for the frail and
incompetent ones of his race, however indefinitely increased, a
more than sufficient supply of these primal necessities.

The extraordinary power of international co-operation has been
recently displayed during the years of the war in the production of
engines of destruction. Far less cooperation applied to the
problems of production could secure for an indefinitely multiplied
population, including all derelicts and all incompetents, such
primal necessities of life as normal persons demand. The resources
of this planet, as long as scientific distribution follows close upon
scientific production, are sufficient to maintain in food, in shelter,
in clothing, in leisure, in reasonable comfort, any human progeny.

What then is the principal cause why, as things are now, such
lamentable poverty and such huge fear of lamentable poverty
dominate the human situation? The cause is not far to seek. It lies
in the very root and ground of our existing commercial and
industrial system. It lies in the fact that economic production by
reason of the illusive value of private enterprise, is directed not
towards the satisfaction of such universal and primary necessities
as food, shelter, clothing, leisure and reasonable comfort, but
towards the creation of unnecessary luxury and artificial frippery,
towards the piling up, by means of advertisement, monopoly,
exploitation and every kind of chicanery of unproductive
accumulation of private property.

Our present commercial and industrial system is based upon what
is called "free competition." In other words it is based upon the
right of private individuals to make use of the resources of nature
and the energy of labour to produce unnecessary wealth, wealth
which does little or nothing to increase the food, shelter, clothing,
leisure and comfort of the masses of mankind, wealth which is
artificially maintained by artificial values and by the fantastic
process of advertisement.

In order to make clear and irrefutable the statement that the
illusive value of private property is, like "the illusion of dead
matter," a thing conceived, projected and maintained by the
aboriginal power of evil, it is necessary to prove two things. It is
necessary to prove in the first place that the idea of private
property is neither beautiful nor noble nor real. And it is necessary
to prove in the second place that the defence of the idea of private
property arouses the most evil and most malignant passions which
it is possible for the human soul to feel.

That private property is neither beautiful nor noble can be deduced
from the fact that in proportion as human souls become attuned
to finer, more distinguished, and more intellectual levels
they become more and more indifferent to the "sensation of
ownership." That private property is an unreal thing can be
deduced from the fact that no human being can actually "possess,"
in a definite, positive, and exhaustive manner, more than he can
eat or drink or wear or otherwise personally enjoy.

His "sensation of ownership," over lands, houses, gardens,
pictures, statues, books, animals and human beings, is really and
actually restricted to the immediate and direct enjoyment which he
is able in person to derive from such things. Beyond this
immediate and personal enjoyment the extension of his "sensation
of ownership" can do no more than increase his general sense of
conventional power and importance. His real "possession" of his
land is actually restricted to his capacity for appreciating its
beauty. His real "possession" of his books is actually restricted to
his personal capacity for entering into the living secrets of these
things. Without such capacity, though he may call himself the
"possessor" or "owner," he is really no better than an official
"care-taker," whose province it is to preserve certain objects for
other people to enjoy, or, shall we say, for the permanent
prevention of any people ever enjoying them. And just as the
"sensation of ownership" or "the idea of private property" is unreal
and illusive with regard to land, houses, pictures, books, and the
like so it is unreal and illusive with regard to human beings. No
one, however maliciously he may hug to himself his possessive
instinct, can ever actually and truly "possess" another living

One's wife, one's paramour, one's child, one's slave, are only
apparently and by a conventional illusion of language one's real
and actual "possession." That this is the case can be proved by the
fact that any of these "human possessions" has only to commit
suicide, to escape for ever from such bondage.

The illusion of private property derives its vigour and its obstinate
vividness from two things; from the apparent increase of power
and importance which accompanies it, and from its association
with that necessary minimum of food, shelter, clothing, leisure,
comfort, freedom, solitude, and happiness, which is certainly real,
essential and indispensable.

The universal wisdom of the ages bears witness to the fact that a
"moderate poverty" or a "moderate competence" is the ideal
outward state for a man to find himself in. And this "moderate
enjoyment" of food, shelter, clothing, comfort, leisure and
emotional happiness, is a thing which, in a scientifically organized
communistic society, would be within the reach of even the least

The gloomy and melancholy argument brought forward by the
enemies of "communism" that under such a condition "the
incentive of private initiative would disappear" and that no other
motive could take its place, is an argument based upon the
assumption that human nature derives more inspiration from the
idea of dishonourable greed than it derives from the idea of
honourable and useful labour; which is an assumption so wholly
opposed to true psychology that it has only to be nakedly stated to
be seen in its complete absurdity.

What the psychologist, interested in this abysmal struggle between
the idea of communism and the idea of private property, has to
note is the nature and character of the particular individual who
brings forward this argument of the "incentive of greed" or the
"initiative" produced by greed. Such an individual will never be
found to be a great man of science, or a great artist or scholar or
craftsman, or a first-rate engineer, or a highly trained artisan or
farmer or builder.

The individual bringing forward this argument of the "initiative of
greed" will invariably be found to be a member of what might be
called the "parasitic class." He will either be an intellectually
second-rate minister or politician or lawyer or professor, or he will
be a commercial and financial "middleman," whose activities are
entirely absorbed in the art of exploitation and who has never
experienced the sensation of creative work.

If he does not himself belong to the unproductive and parasitic
class it will be easy to detect in him the unmistakable presence of
the emotion of malice. Nowhere is the emotion of malice more
entirely in harmony with itself than when it is engaged in
attributing base and sordid motives to the energy of human nature.

This monstrous doctrine that human beings _require_ "the
incentive of greed" and that without that incentive or "initiative"
no one would engage in any kind of creative work, is a doctrine
springing directly from the aboriginal malice of the soul; and a
doctrine which is refuted every day by every honest, healthy and
honourable man and woman.

But all these are, after all, only negative proofs of the inevitable
rise, out of the very necessity of love's nature, of the idea of
communism. Of all mortal instincts, the possessive instinct is the
most insidious and most evil. Love is for ever being perverted and
polluted by this thing, and turned from its true essence into
something other than itself. This is equally true of love whether
such love is directed towards persons or towards ideas or things.

The possessive instinct springing directly from the aboriginal
malice is perpetually deceiving itself. Apparently and superficially
what it aims at is the eternally "static." In other words what it aims
at is the retention in everlasting immobility of the person or the
idea or the thing into which it has dug its claws.

Thus the maternal instinct, in its evil mood, aims at petrifying and
rendering immobile that helpless youthfulness in its offspring
which the possessive passion finds so provocative and exciting.
Thus the lover in his evil mood, desires that the object of his love
should remain in everlasting immobility, an odalisque of eternal
reciprocity. That this evil desire takes the form of a longing that
the object of his love should eternally escape and eternally be
recaptured makes no difference in the basic feeling.

Thus the collector of "works of art"--a being divided from the real
lover of art by an impassable gulf--derives no pleasure from the
beauty of anything until it has become _his_, until he has hidden it
away from all the rest of the world. Thus the lover of "nature," in
his evil mood, derives no pleasure from the fitful magic of grass
and bowers and trees, until he feels happy in the mad illusion that
the very body of the earth, even to the centre of the planet, where
these things grow, is his "private" property and is something fixed,
permanent, static, unchanging. But all this desire for the eternally
"static" is superficial and self-deceiving.

Analysed down to its very depth, what this evil possessive instinct
desires is what all malice desires, namely the annihilation of life.
Pretending to itself that it desires to hug to itself, in eternal
immobility, the thing it loves, what in its secret essence it really
desires is that thing's absolute annihilation. It wants to hug that
thing so tightly to itself that the independence of the thing
completely vanishes. It wants to destroy all separation between
itself and the thing, and all liberty and freedom for the thing. It
wants "to eat the thing up" and draw the thing into its own being.

Its evil desire can never find complete satisfaction until it has
"killed the thing it loves" and buried it within its own identity. It
is this evil possessive element in sexual love, whether of a man for a
woman or a woman for a man, which is the real evil in the sexual
passion. It is this possessive instinct in maternal love which is the
evil element in the love of a mother for a child. Both these evil
emotions tend to make war upon life.

The mother, in her secret sub-conscious passion, desires to draw
back her infant into her womb, and restore it to its pre-natal
physiological unity with herself. The lover in his secret evil
sub-consciousness, desires to draw his beloved into ever-increasing
unity with himself, until the separation between them is at an end
and her identity is lost in his identity.

The final issue, therefore, of this evil instinct of possession, this
evil instinct of private property, can never be anything else than
death. Death is what the ultimate emotion of malice desires; and
death is an actual result of the instinct of possession carried to an
extreme limit.

The static immobility and complete "unchangeableness" which the
possessive instinct pretends to itself is all it desires is really
therefore nothing but a mask for its desire to destroy. The
possessive instinct is, in its profoundest abyss, an amorist of death.
What it secretly loves is the dead; for the dead alone can never
defraud it of its satisfaction. Wherever love exercises its creative
energy the possessive instinct relaxes its hold. Love expands and
diffuses itself. Love projects itself and merges itself The creative
impulse is always centrifugal. The indrawing movement, the
centripetal movement, is a sign of the presence of that inert malice
which would reduce all life to nothingness.

The creative energy of love issues inevitably in the idea
of communism. The idea of communism implies the complete
abolition of private property; because private property, whether it
be property in persons or in things, is essentially evil, is indeed the
natural expression of the primordial inert malice, in its hostility to
life. Under any realization, in actual existence, of the idea of
communism the creative energy finds itself free to expand and
dilate. All that heavy clogging burden of "the personally
possessed" being shaken off, the natural fresh shoots of living
beauty rise to the surface like the new green growths of spring
when the winter's rubble has been washed away by the rain.

The accursed system of private property, rooted in the abysmal
malice of the human heart, lies like a dead weight upon every
creative impulse. Everything is weighed and judged, everything is
valued and measured, in relation to this.

Modern Law is the system of restriction by which we protect
private property.

Modern religion is the system of compensation by which we
soften the difference between inequalities in private property.
Modern politics is the system of compromise by which public
opinion registers its devotion to private property. Modern morality
is the system of artificial inhibitions by which the human
conscience is perverted into regarding private property as the
supreme good.

Modern science is the system by which private property is
increased and the uses of it made more complicated. Modern
"truth" is the system of traditional opinion by which the illusion of
private property is established as "responsible" thinking, and
"serious" thinking, and "ethical" thinking.

Modern art is the system by which what is most gross and vulgar
in the popular taste is pandered to in the interests of private

The creative energy in modern life is therefore restricted and
opposed at almost every point by the evil instinct to possess. Of
every new idea the question is asked, "does it conflict with private

Of every new aesthetic judgment the question is asked, "does it
conflict with private property?"

Of every new moral valuation the question is asked, "does it
conflict with private property?" And the instinct which puts these
questions to every new movement of the creative energy is the
instinct of inert malice. The object of life can be regarded as
nothing less than the realization of the vision of the Immortals;
and it is only under a communistic state that the vision of the
Immortals can be realized; because only in such a state is that
petrified illusion of inert malice which we name "private property"
thoroughly got rid of and destroyed.


No attempted articulation of the mystery, life, can be worthy of
being named a "philosophy" unless it has a definite bearing upon
what, in the midst of that confused "manifold" through which we
move, we call the problem of conduct.

The mass of complicated impression, which from our first dawn of
consciousness presses upon us, falls into two main divisions--the
portion of it which comes under the power of our will and the
portion of it which is supplied by destiny or circumstance, and
over which our will is impotent.

Superficially speaking what we call conduct only applies to action;
but in a deeper sense it applies to that whole division of our
sensations, emotions, ideas, and energies, whether it take the form
of action or not, which comes in any measure under the power of
the will. Such acts of the mind therefore, as are purely intellectual
or emotional--as for instance what we call "acts of faith"--are as
much to be considered forms of conduct as those outer visible
material gestures which manifest themselves in action.

This is no fantastic or extravagant fancy. It is the old classical and
catholic doctrine, to which not only such thinkers as Plato and
Spinoza have affixed their seal, but which is at the root of the
deepest instincts of Buddhists, Christians, Epicureans, Stoics, and
the mystics of all ages. It may be summed up by the statement that
life is an art towards which the will must be directed; and that the
larger portion of life manifests itself in interior contemplation and
only the smaller part of it in overt action.

In both these spheres, in the sphere of contemplation as much as in
the sphere of action, there exists that "given element" of destiny or
circumstance, in the presence of which the will is powerless. But
in regard to this given element it must be remembered that no
individual soul can ever, to the end of time, be absolutely certain
that in any particular case, whether his own or another's, he has
finally arrived at this irreducible fatality.

The extraordinary phenomenon of what religious people call
"conversion," a phenomenon which implies a change of heart so
unexpected and startling as to seem miraculous, is a proof of how
unwise it is to be in any particular case rigidly dogmatic as
to where the sunken rock of destiny really begins. So many
appearances have taken the shape of this finality, so many mirages
of "false fate" have paralysed our will, that it is wisest to believe
to the very end of our days that our attitude to destiny can change
and modify destiny.

Assuming then that the articulation of the mystery of life which
has been outlined in this book, under the name of "the philosophy
of the complex vision," must remain the barest of intellectual
hypotheses until it has manifested itself in "conduct"; and
assuming further that this "conduct" includes the whole of that
portion of life, whether contemplative or active, which can be
reduced to a fine art by the effort of the will; the question
emerges--what kind of effort must the will make, both interiorally
and exteriorally, if it desire to respond, by a rhythmic reciprocity,
to the vision which the intellect has accepted?

It must be remembered that the vision upon which this philosophy
depends and from which it derives its primordial assumptions is
not the normal vision of the human soul. The philosophy of the
complex vision rejects the normal vision of the human soul on
behalf of the abnormal vision of the human soul. Its point of view,
in this matter, is that the human soul only arrives at the secret of
the universe in those exalted, heightened, exceptional and rare
moments, when all the multiform activities of the soul's life
achieve a musical consummation. Its point of view is that since
philosophy, at its deepest and highest, necessarily becomes art;
and since art is a rare and difficult thing requiring infinite
adjustments and reconciliations; what philosophy has really to use,
in formulating any sort of adequate system, is the memory of such
rare moments after they have passed away. The point of view from
which we have made all our basic assumptions is the point of view
that the secret of the universe is only revealed to man in rare
moments of ecstasy; and that what man's reason has to do is to
gather together in memory the broken and scattered fragments of
these moments and out of this residuum build up and round off, as
best it may, some coherent interpretation of life.

From all this it follows that the first rhythmic reply of the human
will to the vision to serve is a passionate act of what might be
called "contemplative tension," in the direction of the reviving of
such memories, and in the direction of preparing the ground for
the return of another "moment of vision" similar in nature to those
that have gone before.

The secret of this act of inward contemplative tension we have
already analysed. We have found it to consist in a "complex" of all
the primordial energies of the soul, focussed and concentrated into
what we have compared to a pyramidal apex-point by the power of
a certain synthetic movement of the soul itself which we have
named the apex-thought.

The reply of the will, therefore, to the vision it desires to serve
consists of a gathering together of all the energies of the soul into
a rhythmic harmony. It may well be that this premeditated and
deliberately constructed harmony will have to wait for many days
and years without experiencing the magic touch of the soul's
apex-thought. For though we may passionately desire the touch of
this--aye, and pray for it with a most desperate prayer!--it is of the
very nature of this mysterious thing to require for the moment of its
activity something else than the contemplative tension which
has prepared the ground for its appearance. For this synthetic
apex-thought, which is the soul's highest power, is only in a very
limited sense within the power of the will.

The whole matter is obscure and perhaps inexplicable; but it seems
as if a place were required here for some philosophic equivalent of
that free gift of the Gods which, in theological language, goes by
the name of "grace." Long and long may the soul wait--with the
hardly won rhythm of its multiform "complex" poised in vibrant
expectation--before the moment arrives in which the apex-thought
can strike its note of ecstasy.

In the time and place of such a moment, in the accumulation of
conditions which render such a moment eternal, chance and
circumstance may play a prominent part. There is, however, an
inveterate instinct in humanity--not perhaps to be altogether
disregarded--according to the voice of which this unaccountable
element of chance and circumstance, or, shall we say, of destiny,
is itself the result of the interposed influence of the invisible
companions. But whether this be so or not, the fact remains that
some alien element of indeterminable chance or circumstance or
destiny does frequently enter into that accumulation of obscure
conditions which seem to be necessary before the magic of the
apex-thought is roused.

This preparing of the ground, this deliberate concentration of the
soul's energies, is the first movement of the will in answer to the
attraction of the eternal vision discerned so far only as a remote
ideal. The second movement of the will has been already implied
in the first, and is only a lifting into clear consciousness of what
led the soul to make its initial effort. I speak of the part played by
the will in the abysmal struggle between love and malice. This
struggle was really implicit, in the beginning, in the effort the will
made to focus the multiform energies of the complex vision. But
directly some measure of insight into the secret of life has
followed upon this effort, or directly, if the soul's good fortune has
been exceptional, its great illuminative moment has been reached,
the will finds itself irresistibly plunged into this struggle, finds
itself inevitably ranged, on one side or the other, of the ultimate

That the first effort of the will was largely what might be called an
intellectual one, though its purpose was to make use of all the
soul's attributes together, is proved by the fact that it is possible
for human souls to be possessed of formidable insight into the secret
of life and yet to use that insight for evil rather than for good.

But the second movement of the will, of which I am now speaking,
reveals without a shadow of ambiguity on which side of the
eternal contest the personality in question has resolved to
throw its weight. If, in this second movement, the will answers,
with a reciprocal gathering of itself together, the now far clearer
attraction of the vision attained by its original effort, it will be
found to range itself on the side of love against the power of

If, on the contrary, having made use of its original vision to
understand the secret of this struggle, it allies itself with the power
of malice against love, it will be found to produce the spectacle of
a soul of illuminated intellectual insight deliberately concentrated
on evil rather than good.

But once irrevocably committed to the power of that creative
energy which we call love, the will, though it may have
innumerable lapses and moments of troubled darkness, never
ceases from its abysmal struggle. For this is the conclusion of the
whole matter. When we speak of the eternal duality as consisting
in a struggle between love and malice, what we really mean is that
the human soul, concentrated into the magnet-point of a
passionately conscious will, is found varying and quivering
between the pole of love and the pole of malice.

The whole drama is contained within the circle of personality; and
it would be of a similar nature if the personality in question were
confronted by no other thing in the universe except the objective
mystery. I mean that the soul would be committed to a struggle
between its creative energy and its inert malice even if there were
no other living persons in the world towards whom this love and
this malice could be directed.

I have compared the substance of the soul to an arrowhead of
concentrated flames, the shaft of which is wrapped in impenetrable
darkness while the point of it pierces the objective mystery. From
within the impenetrable darkness of this invisible arrow-shaft the
very substance of the soul is projected; and in its projection it
assumes the form of these flames; and the name I have given to
this mysterious outpouring of the soul is _emotion_, whereof the
opposing poles of contending force are respectively love and
malice. The psycho-material substance of the invisible soul-monad
is itself divided into this eternally alternating duality, of which the
projected "flames," or manifested "energies" are the constant
expression. Each of these energies has as its concrete "material,"
so to speak, the one projected substance of the soul; and is thus
composed of the very stuff of emotion.

The eternal duality of this emotion takes various forms in these
various manifestations of its one substance. Thus the energy or
flame of the aesthetic sense resolves itself into the opposed
vibrations of the beautiful and the hideous. Thus the energy, or
flame, of the pure reason resolves itself into the opposed
vibrations of the true and the false. Thus the energy, or flame, of
conscience resolves itself into the opposed vibrations of the good
and the evil.

Although the remaining energies of the soul, beyond those I have
just named--such as instinct, intuition, imagination, and the like--
are less definitely divided up among those three "primordial ideas"
which we discern as "truth," "beauty," and "goodness," they are
subject, nevertheless, since their substance is the stuff of emotion,
to the same duality of love and malice.

It is not difficult to see how this duality turns upon itself in human
instinct, in human imagination, and in human intuition for the
creative impulse in all these energies finds itself opposed by the
impulse to resist creation. It is when the will is in question that we
are compelled to notice a difference. For the will, although itself a
primal energy or projection of the soul, is in its inherent nature set
apart from the other activities of the soul.

The will is that particular aspect of the soul-monad by means of
which it consciously intensifies or relaxes the outward pressure of
emotion. From the point of view of the complex vision, the will,
although easily differentiated from both consciousness and
emotion, cannot be imagined as existing apart from these.

Every living organism possesses consciousness in some degree,
emotion in some degree, and will in some degree; and the part
played by the will in the complicated "nexus" of the soul's life may
be compared to that of a mechanical spring in some kind of a
machine. In this case, however, the spring of the machine is fed by
the oil of consciousness and releases its force upon the cogs and
wheels of contradictory emotion.

No theory of psychology which attempts to eliminate the will by
the substitution of pure "motive" playing upon pure "action" is
acceptable to us. And such an elimination is unacceptable,
because, in the ultimate insight of the complex vision turned round
upon itself, the soul is aware of a definite recognizable
phenomenon which although present to consciousness is different
from consciousness, and although intensifying and lessoning
emotion is different from emotion.

In regard to this "problem of conduct," which I refuse to interpret
as anything short of the whole art of life, contemplative as well as
active, the will, being, so to say, the main-spring of the soul,
naturally plays the most important part. The prominence given, in
moral tradition, to the struggle of the will with sexual desire is one
of the melancholy evidences as to how seldom the complex vision
of the soul has been allowed full play.

What is called "asceticism" or "puritanism" is the result of an
over-balanced concentration of the will upon the phenomena of
sensation alone. Whereas in the rhythmic balance of the soul's
complete faculties, what the ideal vision calls upon the will to do,
is not to concentrate upon repressing sensation but to concentrate
upon repressing malice and intensifying love.

Sensation is only, after all, one of the energies, or projected
flames, of the soul, in its reaction to the objective mystery. But
emotion is, as we have seen, the very soul itself, poured forth in its
profoundest essence, and eternally divided against itself in the
ultimate duality. Emotion is the psychic element which is the real
substratum of sensation, just as it is the real substratum of reason
and taste. So that when the will concentrates itself, as it
has so often done and so often been commended for doing, upon
sensation alone, it is neglecting and betraying its main function,
which is the repressing of malice and the liberation of love.

The deliberate repression of sensation does, it is true, sometimes
destroy our response to sensation; but it more often intensifies the
soul's sensational life. It is only when the will is concentrated upon
the intensifying of love and the suppression of malice that
sensation falls into its right place in the resultant rhythm. There is
then no question of either suppressing it or of indulging it. It
comes and goes as naturally, as easily, as inevitably, as the rain or
the snow.

When the will is concentrated upon the suppression of malice and
the intensifying of love all those cults of sensation which we call
vice naturally relinquish their hold upon us. The fact that women
so rarely indulge in the worst excesses of these cults is due to the
fact that in their closeness to nature they follow more easily the
rhythmic flow of life and are less easily tempted to isolate and
detach from the rest any particular feeling. But women pay the
penalty for this advantage when it comes to the question of the
illuminative moments of the apex-thought. For in these high, rare
and abnormal moments, the ordinary ebb and flow of life is
interrupted; and something emerges which resembles the final
effluence of a work of art that has touched eternity. The rhythmic
movement of the apex-thought, when under such exceptional
conditions it evokes this effluence, rises for a moment out of the
flux of nature and gathers itself into a monumental vision, calm
and quiet and immortal. It is more difficult for women to attain
this vision than for men; because, while under normal conditions
the play of their energies is better balanced and more harmonious
than man's, it is harder for them to detach themselves from the ebb
and flow of nature's chemistry, harder for them to attain the
personal isolation which lends itself to the supreme creative
act. But while such exceptional moments seem to come more
frequently to men than to women, and while a greater number of
the supreme artists and prophets of the world are of the male sex,
it cannot be denied that the average woman, in every generation,
leads a more human and a more dignified life than the average
man. And she does this because the special labours which occupy
her, such as the matter of food, of cleanliness, of the making and
mending of clothes, of the care of children and animals and
flowers, of the handling of animate and inanimate things with a
view to the increase of life and beauty upon the earth, are labours
which have gathered about them, during their long descent of the
centuries, a certain symbolic and poetic distinction which nothing
but immemorial association with mankind's primal necessities is
able to give.

The same dignity of immemorial association hangs, it is true,
about such masculine labours as are connected with the tilling of
the earth and the sailing of the sea. Certain ancient and eternally
necessary handicrafts, such as cannot be superseded by machinery,
take their place with these. But since man's particular power of
separating himself from Nature and dominating Nature by means
of logical reason, physical science and mechanical devices, puts
him in the position of continuity breaking up those usages of the
ages upon which the ritualistic element in life depends, he has
come, by inevitable evolution, to be much more the child of the
new and the arbitrary than woman is; and in his divorce from
immemorial necessity has lost much of that symbolic distinction
which the life of woman retains.

It may thus be said that while the determining will in the soul of
the average woman ought to be directed towards that exceptional
creative energy which lifts the soul out of the flux of Nature and
gives it a glimpse of the vision of the immortals, the determining
will in the soul of the average man ought to be directed towards
the heightening of his ordinary consciousness so as to bring this up
to the level of the flux of nature and to penetrate it with the
memory of the creative moments which he has had.

In both cases the material with which the will has to work is the
emotions of love and of malice; but in the case of man this malice
tends to destroy the poetry of common life, while in the case of
woman it tends to obstruct and embarrass her soul when the magic
of the apex-thought stirs within her and an opportunity arises for
that creative act which puts the complex vision in touch with the
vision of the Gods.

The philosophy of the complex vision does not discover in its
examination of the psycho-material organism of the soul any
differentiated "faculties" which can be paralleled by the
differentiated "members" of the human body. The organic unity of
the soul is retained, in undissipated concentration, throughout
whatever movement or action or stress of energy it is led to make.
The totality of the soul becomes will, or the totality of the soul
becomes reason, or the totality of the soul becomes intuition, in
the same way as a falling body of water, or the projected stream of
a fountain _becomes_ whatever dominant colour of sky or air or
atmosphere penetrates it and transforms it. What we have called
emotion, made up of the duality of love and malice, is something
much more integral than this. For the totality of the soul, which
_becomes_ reason, consciousness, intuition, conscience, and the
like, is always composed of the very stuff and matter of emotion.
When we say "the totality of the soul becomes imagination or
intuition" it is the same thing as though we said "the emotion of
the soul becomes imagination or intuition."

Emotion is our name, in fact, for the psycho-material "stuff" out of
which the organic substratum of the soul is made. And since this
"stuff" is eternally divided against itself into a positive and a
negative "pole" we are compelled to assert that our ultimate
analysis of the system of things is dualistic, in spite of the fact
that the whole drama takes place under the one comprehensive unity of

When we say that the totality of the soul becomes will, reason,
imagination, conscience, intuition and so forth, we do not mean
that by becoming any one of these single things it is prevented
from becoming others. We are confronted here by a phenomenon
of organic life which, however inexplicable, is of frequent
occurrence in human experience. The ecclesiastical dogma of the
Trinity is no fantastic invention of this or the other theologian. It
is an inevitable definition of a certain body of human experience to
which it affords a plausible explanation.

What the philosophy of the complex vision attempts to do is
to analyse into its component parts that confused mass of
contradictory impressions to which the soul awakens as soon as it
becomes conscious of itself at all. The older philosophers begin
their adventurous journey by the discovery and proclamation of
some particular clue, or catchword, or general principle, out of the
rational necessity of whose content they seek to evoke that living
and breathing universe which impinges upon us all. Modern
philosophy tends to reject these Absolute "clues," these
simplifying "secrets" of the system of things; but in rejecting these
it either substitutes its own hypothetical generalizations, such as
"spirit," "life-force," or "cosmic energy," or it contents itself with
noting, as William James does, the more objective grouping of
states of consciousness, as they weave their pattern on the face of
the swirling waters, without regard to any "substantial soul" whose
background of organic life gives these "states" their concrete

The philosophy of the complex vision differs from the older
philosophies in that it frankly and confessedly starts with that
general situation which is also its goal. Its movement is therefore a
perpetual setting-forth and a perpetual return; a setting forth
towards a newly created vision of the world, and a return to that
ideal of such a vision which has been implicit from the beginning.
And this general situation from which it starts and to which it
returns is nothing less than the huge spectacle of the visible
universe confronting the individual soul and implying the kindred
existence of innumerable other souls. The fact that what the
complex vision reveals is the primary importance of personality
does not detract in the least degree from the unfathomable
mysteriousness of the objective universe And it does not detract
from this because the unfathomableness of the universe is not a
rational deduction drawn from the logical idea of what an
objective universe would be like if it existed, but is a direct human
experience verified at every movement of the soul. The universe
revealed to us by the complex vision is a universe compounded of
the concentrated visions of all the souls that compose it, a universe
which in its eternal beauty and hideousness has received the
"imprimatur of the immortal Gods."

The fact that such a universe is in part a creation of the mind, and
in part a discovery made by the mind when it flings itself upon
the unknown, does not lessen or diminish the strangeness or
unfathomableness of life. The fact that the ultimate reality of such
a universe is to be found in the psycho-material substratum--where
mind and matter become one--of the individual soul, does not
lessen or diminish the magical beauty or cruel terribleness of life.

What we name by the name of "matter" is not less a permanent
human experience, because apart from the creative energy of some
personal soul we are not able to conceive of its existence.

The philosophy of the complex vision reduces everything that
exists to an eternal action and re-action between the individual
soul and the objective mystery. This action and reaction is itself
reproduced in the eternal duality, or ebb and flow, which
constitutes the living soul itself. And because the psycho-material
substance of the soul must be considered as identical, on its
psychic side, with the "spiritual substance" of the universe
"medium" through which all souls come into contact with one
another, and identical on its material side with the objective
mystery which is expressed in all bodies, it is impossible to avoid
the conclusion that the individual personality is surrounded by an
elemental and universal "something" similar to itself, dominated
as itself is dominated by the omnipresent circle of Space.

This universal "something" must be regarded, in spite of its double
nature, as one and the same, since it is dominated by one and
the same space. The fact that the material aspect of this
psycho-material element is constantly plastic to the creative energy of
the soul does not reduce it to the level of an "illusion." The mind
recreates everything it touches; but the mind cannot work in a
vacuum. There must be something for the mind to "touch." What
the soul touches, therefore, as soon as it becomes conscious of
itself is, in the first place, the "material element" of its own inmost
nature; in the second place the "material element" which makes it
possible for all bodies to come in contact with one another; and in
the third place the "material element" which is the original
potentiality of all universes and which has been named "the
objective mystery."

To call this universal material element, thus manifested in a
three-fold form, an illusion of the human mind is to destroy the
integrity of language. Nothing can justly be called an illusion which
is a permanent and universal human experience. The name we select
for this experience is of no importance. We can name it _matter_,
or we can name it _energy_, or _movement_, or _force_. The
experience remains the same, by whatever name we indicate it to
one another.

The philosophy of the complex vision opposes itself to all
materialistic systems by its recognition of personality as the
ultimate basis of life; and it opposes itself to all idealistic systems
by its recognition of an irreducible "material element" which is the
object of all thought but which is also, in the substratum of the
soul-monad, fused and blended with thought itself.

We now arrive at the conclusion of our philosophical journey; and
we find it to be the identical point or situation from which we
originally started. Once and for all we are compelled to ask
ourselves the question, whether since personality is the ultimate
secret of life and since all individual personalities, whether human,
sub-human, or super-human, are confronted by one "material
element" dominated by one universal material space, it is not
probable that this "material element" should itself be, as it were,
the "outward body" of one "elemental soul"? Such an elemental
soul would have no connexion with the "Absolute Being" of the
great metaphysical systems. For in those systems the Absolute
Being is essentially impersonal, and can in no sense be regarded as
having anything corresponding to a body.

But this hypothetical soul of the ethereal element would be just as
definitely expressed in a bodily form as are the personalities of
men, beasts, plants and stars. It is impossible to avoid, now we are
at the end of our philosophic journey, one swift glance backward
over the travelled road; and it is impossible to avoid asking
ourselves the question whether this universal material element
which confronts every individual soul and surrounds every
individual body may not itself be the body of an universal living
personality? Is such a question, so presented to us for the last time,
as we look back over our long journey, a kind of faint and
despairing gesture made by the phantom of "the idea of God," or is
it the obscure stirring of such an idea, from beneath the weight of
all our argument, as it refuses to remain buried? It seems to me
much more than this.

The complex vision seems to indicate in this matter that we have a
right to make the hypothetical outlines of this thing as clear and
emphatic as we can; as clear and emphatic, and also, by a rigid
method of limitation, as little overstressed and as little
overpowering as we can.

The question that presses upon us, therefore, as we glance
backward over our travelled road, is whether or not, by the logic of
our doctrine of personality, we are bound to predicate some sort of
"elemental soul" as the indwelling personal monad belonging to
the universal material element even as any other soul belongs to its

Does it not, we might ask, seem unthinkable that any portion of
this universal element should remain suspended in a vacuum
without the indwelling presence of a definite personality of which
it is the expression? Are we not led to the conclusion that the
whole mass and volume of this material element, namely the
material element in every living soul, the material element which
binds all bodies together, and the material element which
composes the objective mystery, must make up in its total weight
and pressure the _body_, so to speak, of some sort of universal
elemental soul?

And because no personality, whether universal or individual, can
be regarded as absolute, since perpetual creation is the essence of
life, must it not follow that this elemental personality must itself
eternally confront and be confronted by an unfathomable depth of
objective mystery which it perpetually invades with its creative
energy but which it can never exhaust, or touch the limit of? The
body of this being would be in fact its own "objective mystery,"
while our "objective mystery" would be recognized as disappearing
in the same reality. Does this hypothesis reduce the tragedy
of life to a negligible quantity, or afford a basis upon
which any easy optimism could be reared? It does not appear so.
Wherever personality existed, there the ultimate duality would
inevitably reign. And just as with "the invisible companions" what
is evil and malicious in us attracts towards us what is evil and
malicious in them so with the elemental personality, whatever
were evil and malicious in us would attract towards us whatever
were evil and malicious in it. The elemental personality would not
necessarily be better, or nobler, or wiser than we are. There would
be no particular reason why we should worship it, or give it praise.
For if it really existed it could no more help being what it is than
we can help being what we are, or the immortal gods can help
being what they are.

That such an elemental personality would have to be regarded as a
kind of demi-god can hardly be denied; but there would be no
reason for asserting that our highest moments of inspiration were
due to its love for us. As with the rest of the "immortals" it would
be sometimes possessed by love and sometimes possessed by
malice, and we should have not the least authority for saying that
our supreme moments of insight were due to its inspiration.
Sometimes they would be so. On the other hand sometimes our
most baffled, clouded, inert, moribund, and wretched moments
would be due to its influence. Such an elemental personality
would have no advantage over any other personality, except in the
fact of being elemental; and this would give it no absolute
advantage, since its universality would be eternally challenged by
the unfathomable element in its own being. The "body" of such an
elemental personality would have to be regarded as the actual
objective mystery which confronts both men and gods. It would
have to be regarded as possessing a complex vision even as every
other personality possesses it; and its soul-monad would have to
be as concrete, actual, and real, as every other soul monad. An
ethereal Being of this kind, whose body were composed of the
whole mass of the material element which binds all bodies
together, would have no closer connexion with the soul of man
than any other invisible companion. The soul of man could be
drawn to it in love or could be repelled from it by malice, just as it
can be drawn to any other living thing or repelled by any other
living thing.

That the human race should have sometimes made the attempt to
associate such an universal personality with the ideal figure of
Christ is natural enough. But such an association wins no sanction
or authority from the revelation of the complex vision. In one
sense the figure of Christ, as the life of Jesus reveals it, is a pure
symbol. In another sense, as we become aware of his love in the
depths of our own soul, he is the most real and actual of all living
beings. But neither as a symbol of the immortal vision, nor as
himself an immortal God, have we any right to regard Christ as
identical with this elemental personality. Christ is far more
important to us and precious to us than such a being could possibly

And just as this hypothetical personality, whose body is the
material element which binds all bodies together, must not be
confused with the figure of Christ, so also it is not to be confused
with either of those primordial projections of pure reason, working
in isolation, which we have noted as the "synthetic unity of
apperception" and the "universal self," The elemental personality,
if it existed, would be something quite different from the universal
self of the logical reason. For the universal self of the logical
reason includes and transcends all the other selves, whereas the
elemental personality which has the whole weight of the world's
material element as its body could not transcend, or in any way
"subsume" the least of individual things except in so far as the
material element which is its body would surround all living things
and bring them into contact with one another.

The elemental personality could in no sense be called an
over-soul, because, so far from being an universal self made up of
particular individual selves, it would be a completely detached
soul, only related to other souls in the sense that all other souls
come into contact with one another through the medium of its
spiritual substance.

According to the revelation of the complex vision the question of
the existence or non-existence of an elemental soul of this kind has
no relation to the problem of human conduct. For the material
element in the individual soul is fused in individual consciousness;
and therefore the spiritual medium which surrounds the individual
soul cannot impinge upon or penetrate the soul which it surrounds.
And this conclusion is borne witness to in all manner of common
human experience. For although we all feel dimly aware of vast
gulfs of spiritual evil and vast gulfs of spiritual beauty in the world
about us, this knowledge only becomes definite and concrete when
we think of such gifts as being entirely made up of personal
moods, the moods of mortal men, of immortal gods, and the
moods, it may be, of this elemental personality.

But the problem of conduct is not the problem of getting into
harmony with any particular individual soul. It is the problem of
getting into harmony with the creative vision in our own soul,
which when attained turns out to be identical with the creative
vision of every other soul in the universe. The conception of the
elemental personality does not depend, as does the existence of the
immortals, upon our consciousness of something objective and
eternal in our primordial ideas. It depends upon our suspicion that
no extended mass of what we call matter, however attenuated and
ethereal, can exist suspended in soulless space.

Some attenuated form of matter our universe demands, as the
universal medium by means of which all separate bodies come
into touch with each other; but it is hard to imagine an universal
medium hung, as it were, in an enormous vacuum. Such a medium
would seem to demand, as a reason for its existence, some living
centre of energy such as that which a personal soul can alone
supply. It is in this way we arrive at the hypothetical conception of
the elemental soul.

And our hypothesis is borne out by one very curious human
experience. I mean the experience which certain natures have of a
demonic or magnetic force in life which can be drawn upon either
for good or for evil, and which seems in some strange sense to be
diffused round us in the universal air. Goethe frequently refers to
this demonic element; and others, besides Goethe, have had
experience of it. If our hypothetical, elemental personality is to be
regarded as a sort of demi-god, lower than the immortals and
perhaps lower than man, we may associate it with those vague
intimations of a sub-human life around us which seems in some
weird sense distinct from the life of any particular thing we know.

The elemental personality, in this case, would be the cause of
those various "psychic manifestations" which have sometimes
been fantastically accounted for as the work of so-called

But the supreme moments of human consciousness, when the
apex-thought of the complex vision is shooting its arrows of flame
into the darkness, are but slightly concerned with the demonic
sub-human life of hypothetical elemental personalities. They are
concerned with the large, deep, magical spectacle of the great
cosmic drama as it unrolls itself in infinite perspective. They are
concerned with the unfathomable struggle, more terrible, more
beautiful, more real, than anything else in life, between the
resistant power of malice and the creative power of love. Nor do
they see, these moments, the end of this long drama. The soul
creates and is baffled in its creations. The soul loves and is baffled
in its loving. Good and evil grow strangely mingled as they
wrestle in the bottomless abyss. And ever, above us and beneath
us, the same immense space spreads out its encircling arms. And
ever, out of the invisible, the beckoning of immortal beauty leads
us forward. Pain turns into pleasure; and pleasure turns into pain.
Misery, deep as the world, troubles the roots of our being.
Happiness, deep as the world, floods us with a flood like the
waves of the ocean. All our philosophy is like the holding up of a
little candle against a great wind. Soon, soon the candle is blown
out: and the immense Perhaps rolls its waters above our heads.

The aboriginal malice against which the Gods struggle is never
overcome. But who can resist asking the question--supposing that
drama once ended, that eternal duality once reconciled, would
annihilation be the last word or would something else, something
undreamed of, something unguessed at, something "impossible,"
irrational, contrary to every philosophy that has ever sprung from
the human brain, take the place of what we call life and substitute
some new organ of research for the vision which we have called

Who can say? The world is still young and the immortal Gods are
still young; and our business at present is with life rather than
beyond-life. Confused and difficult are the ways of our mortality;
and after much philosophizing we seem to be only more conscious
than ever that the secret of the world is in something else than

The secret of the world is not in something that one can hold in
one's hand, or about which one can say "Lo, here!" or "Lo, there!"
The secret of the world is in the whole spectacle of the world, seen
under the emotion of one single moment. But the memory of such
a moment may be diffused over all the chances and accidents of
our life and may be restored to us in a thousand faint and shadowy
intimations. It may be restored to us in broken glimpses, in little
stirrings and ripples on the face of the water, in rumours and
whispers among the margin-reeds, in sighings of the wind across
the sea-bank. It may be restored to us in sudden flickerings of
unearthly light thrown upon common and familiar things. It may
be restored to us when the shadow of death falls upon the path we
have to follow. It may be restored to us when the common ritual
and the ordinary usages of life gather to themselves a sudden
dignity from the presence of great joy or of tragic grief. For the
stream of life flows deeper than any among us realize or know;
deeper, and with more tragic import; deeper, and with more secret
hope. We are all born, even the most lucky among us, under a
disastrous eclipse. We all contain something of that perilous
ingredient which belongs to the unplumbed depths. Deep calls
unto deep within us; and in the circle of our mortal personality an
immortal drama unrolls itself. Waves of unredeemed chaos roll
upward from the abysses of our souls, and like a brackish tide
contend with the water-springs of life.

Over the landscape of our vision lies a shadow, a rarely lifted
shadow, the shadow of our own malice. But the human race has
not been destined to carry on the unending struggle alone. Its
subjective human vision has touched in the darkness a subjective
super-human vision; and the symbol of the encounter of these two
is the lonely figure of Christ.

Looking backward, as we thus reach our conclusion, we see how
such a conclusion was implicit all the while in the first movement
with which we started. For since the truth we seek is not a thing
we just put out our hand and take, but is a mood, an attitude, a
gesture of our whole being, it follows that whenever, and by
whatever means, we reach it, this "truth" will always be the same,
and will not be affected, when once it is reached, by the slowness
or the speed of the method with which we approach it. Nor will it
be changed or transformed by the vision that finally grasps it as it
would necessarily be if it were an objective fact which we could
each of us take into our hands. Such an objective fact or series of
facts would, of necessity, "look differently" to every individual
vision that seized upon it. But by making our truth, down to the
very depths, a gesture, an attitude, a mood, we have already
anticipated and discounted that fatal relativity which inserts itself
like a wedge of distorting vapour, between any objective fact and
any subjective mind.

"Truth" cannot get blurred and distorted by the subjective mind
when truth is regarded as that subjective mind's own creation.
According to the conclusion we have reached, every subjective
mind in the universe, when it is rhythmically energizing, attains
the same truth. For when subjectivity is carried to the furthest
possible limit of rhythm and harmony, it transforms itself, of
necessity, into objectivity. The subjective vision of all mortal
minds, thus rendered objective by the intensity of the creative
energy, is nothing less than the eternal vision. For as soon as the
rhythmic harmony of the creative act has thus projected such a
truth, such a truth receives the "imprimatur of the Gods" and turns
out to be the truth which was implicit in us from the beginning.

Thus, the reality which we apprehend is found to be identical with
the pursuit of the ideal which we seek; for what we name beauty
and truth and goodness are of the essence of the mystery of life,
and it is of _their_ essence that they should ever advance and

The eternal vision includes in its own inmost rhythm the idea and
spectacle of inexhaustible growth; for, although it beholds all
things "under the form of eternity," its own nature is the nature of
a creative gesture, of a supreme "work of art," whereby it
approximates to the ideal even in the midst of the real. The "form
of eternity" under which it visualizes the world is not a dead or
static eternity but an eternity of living growth. The peace and quiet
which it attains is not the peace and quiet of the equilibrium which
means "nothingness" but the peace and quiet of the equilibrium
which means the rhythmic movement of life. The truth which it
creates is a truth which lends itself to infinite development upon
lines already laid down from the beginning. The beauty which it
creates is a beauty which lends itself to infinite development upon
lines laid down from the beginning.

And this truth, this beauty, this goodness, are all of them nothing
less than the projection of the soul itself--of all the souls which
constitute the system of things--in the mysterious outflowing of
the ultimate duality. And when we make use of the expression
"from the beginning" we are using a mere metaphorical sign-post.
There is no beginning of the system of things and there is no end.
"From the beginning" means nothing except "from eternity"; and
in the immortal figure of Christ the beginning and the end are one.

In my analysis of the ultimate duality which is the secret of the soul
I have said little about sex. The modern tendency is to over-emphasize
the importance of this thing and to seek its influence in
regions it can never enter. Many attributes of the soul are sexless;
and since only one attribute of the soul, namely sensation, is
entirely devoted to the body and unable to function except through
the body, it is ridiculous and unphilosophical to make sex the
profoundest aspect of truth which we know. The tendency to lay
stress upon sex, at the expense of all sexless aspects of the soul, is
a tendency which springs directly from the inert malice of the
abyss What the instinct of sex secretly desires is that the very
fountains of life should be invaded by sex and penetrated by sex.
But the fountains of life can never be invaded by sex; because the
fountains of life sink into that eternal vision which transcends all
sex and reduces sex to its proper place as one single element in the
rhythm of the universe.

It is only by associating itself with love and malice--it is only by
getting itself transformed into love and malice that the sexual
instinct is able to lift itself up, or to sink itself down, into the
subtler levels of the soul's vision. The secret of life lies far deeper
than the obvious bodily phenomena of sex. The fountains from
which life springs _may flow through that channel_ but they flow
from a depth far below these physical or magnetic agitations. And
it is only the abysmal cunning of the inert malice, which opposes
itself to creation that tempts philosophers and artists to lay such a
disproportionate stress upon this thing. The great artists are always
known by their power to transcend sex and to reduce sex to its
relative insignificance. In the greatest of all sculpture, in the
greatest of all music, in the greatest of all poetry, the difference
between the sexes disappears.

The inert malice delights to emphasize this thing, because its
normal functioning implies the most desperate exertion of the
possessive instinct known to humanity. The sexual instinct unless
transfigured by love, tends towards death; because the sexual
instinct desires to petrify into everlasting immobility what the
creative instinct would change and transform. What the sexual
instinct secretly desires is the eternal death of the object of its
passion. It would strike its victim if it could into everlasting
immobility so that it could satiate its lust of possession upon it
without limit and without end. Any object of sexual desire,
untransformed by love, is, for the purposes of such desire, already
turned into a living corpse.

But although, according to the method we have been following,
the difference between men and women is but of small account in
the real life of the soul, it remains that humanity has absurdly and
outrageously neglected the especial vision of the woman, as, in her
bodily senses and her magnetic instincts, she differs from man we
may well hope that with the economic independence of women,
which is so great and desirable a revolution in our age, individual
women of genius will arise, able to present, in philosophy and art,
the peculiar and especial reaction to the universe which women
possess as women we may well desire such a consummation in
view of the fact that all except the very greatest of men have
permitted their vision of the world to be perverted and distorted by
their sex-instinct.

Could women of genius arise in sufficient numbers to counteract
this tendency, such sex-obsessed masculine artists would be
shamed into recognizing the narrowness of their perverted
outlook. As it is, what normal women of talent do is simply to
copy and imitate, in a diluted form, the sex-distortions of man's
narrower vision. Sex-obsessed male artists have seduced the
natural intelligence of the most talented women to their own
narrow and limited view of life.

But it still remains that what the true artists of the world for ever
seek--whether they be male or female--is not the partial and
distorted vision of man as _a man_, or of woman _as a woman_,
but the rhythmic and harmonious vision of, the human soul as it
allies itself with the vision of the immortals. Women in private
life, and in private conversation, disentangle themselves from the
prejudices of men, but, as soon as they touch philosophy and art,
they tend to deny their natural instincts and imitate the
sex-obsessed instincts of man. But this tendency is already beginning
to collapse under the freer atmosphere of economic independence;
and in the future we may expect such a fierce conflict between the
sex-vision of woman and the sex-vision of man, that the human
soul will revolt against both such partialities and seek the "ampler
ether and diviner air" of a vision that has altogether transcended
the difference of sex.

As we look back over the travelled road of our attempt to
articulate the ultimate secret, there arises one last stupendous
question, not to meet which would be to shirk the heaviest weight
of the problem. We have reached the conclusion that the secret of
Nature is to be found in personality. We have reached the further
conclusion that personality demands, for the integrity of its inmost
self, an actual "soul-monad." We are faced with a "universe," then,
made up entirely of living souls, manifested in so-called animate,
or so-called inanimate bodies. Everything that our individual mind
apprehends is therefore the body of a soul, or a portion of the body
of a soul, or the presence of a soul that needs no incarnation. The
soul itself is composed of a mysterious substance wherein what we
call mind and what we call matter are fused and merged. What I
have named throughout this book by the name of the _objective
mystery_ is therefore, when we come to realize the uttermost
implications of our method, nothing more than the appearance of
all the bodies of all the souls in the world _before_ the creative act
of our own particular soul has visualized such a spectacle. We can
never see the objective mystery as _it is_, because directly we
have seen it, that is to say, the appearance of all the adjacent
bodies of all the souls within our reach, it ceases to be the
objective mystery and becomes the universe we know.

The objective mystery is therefore no real thing at all, but only the
potentiality of all real things, before the "real thing" which is our
individual soul comes upon the scene to create the universe. It is
only the potentiality of the "universe" which we have thus named,
only the idea of the general spectacle of such an universe,
_before_ any universe has actually appeared.

And since the final conclusion of our attempt at articulation should
rigorously eliminate from our picture everything that is relatively
unreal, in favour of what is relatively real, it becomes necessary,
now at the end, to eliminate from our vision of reality any
substantial basis for this, "potentiality of all universes," and to
see how our actual universe appears when this thing has been
withdrawn as nothing but an unreal thing. The substantial basis for
what we actually see becomes therefore no mere potential
universe, or objective mystery, but something much more definite
than either of these. The spectacle of Nature, as we behold it,
becomes nothing else than the spectacle of all the living bodies
that compose the universe, each one of them with its corresponding
invisible soul-monad.

The movement of thought to which I have throughout this book
given the name of "the struggle with the objective mystery"
remains the same. In these cases, _names_ are of small account.
But since it is a movement of thought which itself culminates in
the elimination of the "objective mystery," it becomes necessary to
"think through" the stage of thought which this term covered, and
articulate the actual cause of this movement of the mind.

The cause of the spectacle of the universe, as it presents itself to us
in its manifold variety, is the presence of innumerable visible
bodies which are themselves the manifestation of innumerable
invisible souls. Everything that we see and touch and taste and
smell and hear is a portion of some material body, which is the
expression of some spiritual soul.

The universe is an immense congeries of bodies, moved and
sustained by an immense congeries of souls. But it remains that
these souls, inhabiting these bodies, are linked together by
some mysterious medium which makes it possible for them to
communicate with one another. What is this mysterious medium?
What we have already indicated, here and there in this book, leads
us at this point to our natural conclusion. Such a medium may well
be nothing less than that elemental soul, with the universal ether as
its bodily expression, the existence of which we have already
suggested as a more than probable hypothesis. If the omnipresent
body of this elemental soul is the material atmosphere or medium
which unites all material bodies, surely we are justified in
assuming that the invisible primordial medium which binds all
souls together, which hypothetically binds them together even
_before_ they have, by the interaction of their different visions,
created the universe, is this universal "soul of the elements." Only
a spiritual substance is able to unite spiritual substances. And only
a material substance is able to unite material substances. Thus we
are justified in assuming that while the medium which unites all
bodies is the universal body of the elemental soul, the medium
which unites all souls is the omnipresent soul-monad of this
elemental being. It must however be remembered that this uniting
does not imply any sort of spiritual _including_ or subsuming of
the souls thus united. They communicate with one another by
means of this medium; but the integrity of the medium which
unites them does not impinge at any point upon their integrity.

Thus, at the end of our journey, we are able, by this final process
of drastic elimination, to reduce the world in which we live to a
congeries of living souls. Some of these souls possess what we
name animate bodies, others possess what we name inanimate
bodies. For us, these words, animate and inanimate, convey but
slight difference in meaning. Between a stone, which is part of the
body of the earth, and a leaf which is part of the body of a plant,
and a lock of hair which is part of the body of a man, there may be
certain unimportant chemical differences, justifying us in using the
terms animate and inanimate. But the essential fact remains that all
we see and taste and touch and smell and hear, all, in fact, that
makes up the objective universe which surrounds us, is a portion
of some sort of living body, corresponding to some sort of living

Our individual soul-monad, then, able to communicate with other
soul-monads, whether mortal or immortal, through the medium of
omnipresent soul-monads of the universal ether finds itself
dominated, as all the rest are dominated, by one inescapable circle
of unfathomable space. Under the curve of this space we all of us
live, and under the curve of this space those that are mortal among
us, die. When we die, if it be our destiny not to survive death, our
souls vanish into nothingness; and our bodies become a portion of
the body of the earth. But if we have entered into the eternal vision
we have lost all fear of death; for we have come to see that the
thing which is most precious to us, the fact that love remains
undying in the heart of the universe, does not vanish with our
vanishing. Once having attained, by means of the creative vision
of humanity and by means of the grace of the immortals, even a
faint glimpse into this mystery, we are no longer inclined to lay
the credit of our philosophizing upon the creative spirit in our
individual soul. The apex-thought of the complex vision has given
us our illuminated moments. But the eternal vision to which those
moments led us has filled us with an immense humility.

And in the last resort, when we turn round upon the amazing
spectacle of life it is of the free gift of the gods, or of the magical
love hidden in the mystery of nature, that we are led to think,
rather than of any creative activity in ourselves. The word
"creative" like the word "objective mystery," has served our
purpose well in the preceding pages. But now, as we seek to
simplify our conclusion to the uttermost, it becomes necessary to
reject much of the manifold connotation which hangs about this
word; although in this case also, the stage of thought which it
covers is a real movement of the mind.

But the creative activity in the apex-thought of our complex vision
is, after all, only a means, a method, a gesture which puts us into
possession of the eternal vision. When once the eternal vision has
been ours, the memory of it does not associate itself with
any energy of our own. The memory of these eternal moments
associates itself with a mood in which the creative energy rests
upon its own equipoise, upon its own rhythm; a mood in which the
spectacle of the universe, the magic of Nature, the love in all
living souls, the contact of mortality with immortality, become
things which blend themselves together; a mood in which what is
most self-assertive in our personality seems to lose itself in what is
least self-assertive, and yet in thus losing itself is not rendered
utterly void.

For all action, even the ultimate act of faith, must issue in
contemplation; and this is the law of life, that what we
contemplate, _that_ we become. He who contemplates malice
becomes malicious. He who contemplates hideousness becomes
hideous. He who contemplates unreality becomes unreal.

If the universe is nothing but a congeries of souls and bodies,
united by the soul and the body which fill universal space, then it
follows that "the art of philosophy" consists in the attempt to attain
the sort of "contemplation" which can by the power of its love
enter into the joy and the suffering of all these living things.

Thus in reaching a conclusion which tallies with our rarest
moments of super-normal insight we discover that we have
reached a conclusion which tallies with our moments of profoundest
self-abasement. In these recurrent moods of humiliation
it seems ridiculous to speak of the creative or the destructive
energy of the mind. What presents itself to us in such moods
is a world of forms and shapes that we can neither modify
nor obliterate. All we can do is to reflect their impact upon us and
to note the pleasure of it or the pain. But when even in the depths
of our weakness we come to recognize that these forms and shapes
are, all of them, the bodily expressions of souls resembling our
own, the nostalgia of the great darkness is perceptibly lifted and a
strange hope is born, full of a significance which cannot be put
into words. The world-stuff, or the objective mystery, out of which
the eternal vision has been created is now seen to be the very flesh
and blood of a vast company of living organisms; and it has
become impossible to contemplate anything in the world without
the emotion of malice or the emotion of love. If ever the universe,
as we know it now, is dissolved into nothingness, such an end of
things will be brought about either by the complete victory of
malice or by the complete victory of love.


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