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Title: The Drama of Love and Death - A Study of Human Evolution and Transfiguration
Author: Carpenter, Edward, 1844-1929
Language: English
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  [Italics are marked with _underscores_.]


  _A Study_
  _of Human Evolution and_

  Edward Carpenter


  _Copyright 1912 by_
  _Mitchell Kennerley_


  CHAP.                                                     PAGE

        _The Delphian Sibyl overlooking the Earth_           vii

     I. Introduction                                           1

    II. The Beginnings of Love                                 5

   III. Love as an Art                                        24

    IV. Its Ultimate Meanings                                 48

     V. The Art of Dying                                      69

    VI. The Passage of Death                                  87

           Note on Consciousness in the Body                 107

   VII. Is there an After-Death State?                       111

  VIII. The Underlying Self                                  131

            Note on Mediumistic Trance                       156

    IX. Survival of the Self                                 162

     X. The Inner or Spiritual Body                          176

    XI. The Creation and Materialization of Forms            192

   XII. Reincarnation                                        215

  XIII. The Divine Soul                                      237

   XIV. The Return Journey                                   248

    XV. The Mystery of Personality                           262

   XVI. Conclusion                                           284

        Appendix                                             289

                   _The Delphian Sibyl_

      (_On her mountain-slope overlooking the Earth_)

   _The coastline ranges far, the skies unfold;
      The mountains rise in glory, stair on stair;
    The darting Sun seeks Daphne as of old
      In thickets dark where laurel blooms are fair.
    The ancient sea, deep wrinkled, ever young,
      With salt lip kisses still the silver strand;
    In caverns dwell the Nymphs, their loves among,
      And Titans still with strange fire shake the land._

   _A thousand generations here have come,
      And wandered o’er these hills, and faced the light;
    A thousand times slight man from mortal womb
      Has leapt, and lapsed again into the night.
    Here tribesmen dwelt, and fought, and curst their star,
      And scoured both land and sea to sate their needs;
    Prophetic eyes of youth gazed here afar,
      With lips half open brooding on great deeds._

   _Nor dreamed each little mortal of the Past,
      Nor the deep sources of his life divined,
    Watching his herds, or net in ocean cast,
      Deaf to th’ ancestral voices down the wind;
    Nor guessed what strange sweet likenesses should rise,
      Selves of himself, far in the future years,
    With his own soul within their sunlit eyes,
      And in their hearts his secret hopes and fears._

   _Yet I—I saw. Yea, from my lofty stand
      I saw each life continuous extend
    Beyond its mortal bound, and reach a hand
      To others and to others without end.
    I saw the generations like a river
      Flow down from age to age, and all the vast
    Complex of human passion float and quiver—
      A wondrous mirror where the Gods were glassed._

   _And still through all these ages scarce a change
      Has touched my mountain slopes or seaward curve,
    And still the folk beneath the old laws range,
      And from their ancient customs hardly swerve;
    Still Love and Death, veiled figures, hand in hand,
      Move o’er men’s heads, dread, irresistible,
    To ope the portals of that other land
      Where the great Voices sound and Visions dwell._




Love and Death move through this world of ours like things
apart—underrunning it truly, and everywhere present, yet seeming to
belong to some other mode of existence. When Death comes, breaking into
the circle of our friends, words fail us, our mental machinery ceases to
operate, all our little stores of wit and wisdom, our maxims, our
mottoes, accumulated from daily experience, evaporate and are of no
avail. These things do not seem to touch or illuminate in any effective
way the strange vast Presence whose wings darken the world for us. And
with Love, though in an opposite sense, it is the same. Words are of no
use, all our philosophy fails—whether to account for the pain, or to
fortify against the glamour, or to describe the glory of the experience.

These figures, Love and Death, move through the world, like closest
friends indeed, never far separate, and together dominating it in a kind
of triumphant superiority; and yet like bitterest enemies, dogging each
other’s footsteps, undoing each other’s work, fighting for the bodies
and souls of mankind.

Is it possible that at length and after ages we may attain to liberate
ourselves from their overlordship—to dominate _them_ and make them our
ministers and attendants? Can we wrest them from their seeming tyranny
over the human race, and from their hostility to each other? Can we
persuade them to lay aside their disguise and appear to us for what they
no doubt are—even the angels and messengers of a new order of

It is a great and difficult enterprise. Yet it is one, I think, which we
of this generation cannot avoid. We can no longer turn our faces away
from Death, and make as if we did not perceive his presence or hear his
challenge. This age, which is learning to look the facts of Nature
steadily in the face, and see _through_ them, must also learn to face
this ultimate fact and look through it. And it will surely—and perhaps
only—be by allying ourselves to Love that we shall be able to do
so—that we shall succeed in our endeavor.

For after all it is not in the main on account of ourselves that we
cherish a grudge against the ‘common enemy’ and dispute his authority,
but for the sake of those we love. For ourselves we may be indifferent
or acquiescent; but somehow for those others, for those divine ones who
have taken our hearts into their keeping, we resent the idea that _they_
can perish. We refuse to entertain the thought. Love in some mysterious
way forbids the fear of death. Whether it be Siegfried who tramples the
flaming, circle underfoot, or the Prince of Heaven who breaks his way
through the enchanted thicket, or Orpheus who reaches his Eurydice even
in the jaws of hell, or Hercules who wrestles with the lord of the
underworld for Alcestis—the ancient instinct of mankind has declared in
no uncertain tone that in this last encounter Love must vanquish.

It is in the name, then, of one of these gods that we challenge the
other. And yet not without gratitude to both. For it is Azrael’s
invasion of our world, it is his challenge to _us_, that (perhaps more
than anything else) rivets our loyalty to each other. It is his frown
that wakes friendship in human souls and causes them to tighten the
bonds of mutual devotion. In some strange way these two, though seeming
enemies, play into each other’s hands; each holds the secret of the
other, and between them they conceal a kindred life and some common
intimate relation. We feel this in our inmost intuitions; we perceive it
in our daily survey of human affairs; and we find it illustrated (as I
shall presently point out) in general biology and the life-histories of
the most primitive cells. The theme, in fact, of the interplay of Love
and Death will run like a thread-motive through this book—not without
some illumination, as I would hope, cast by each upon the other, and by
both upon our human destiny.



As I have just suggested, the great human problems of Love and Death are
strangely and remarkably illustrated in the most primitive forms of
life; and I shall consequently make no apology for detaining the reader
for a few moments over modern investigations into the subjects of
cell-growth, reproduction and death. If this chapter is a little
technical and complex in places, still it may be worth while delaying
over it, and granting it some patient consideration, on account of the
curious light the study throws on the rest of the book and the general
questions therein discussed.

Love seems to be primarily (and perhaps ultimately) an interchange of
essences. The Protozoa—those earliest cells, the progenitors of the
whole animal and vegetable kingdom—grow by feeding on the minute
particles which they find in the fluid surrounding them. The growth
continues, till ultimately, reaching the limit of convenient size, a
cell divides into two or more portions; and so reproduces itself. The
descendant cells or portions so thrown off are simply continuations, by
division, of the life of the original or parent cell—so that it has not
unfrequently been said that, in a sense, these Protozoa are immortal,
since their life continues indefinitely (with branching but without
break) from generation to generation. This form of reproduction by
simple budding or division extends even up into the higher types of
life, where it is sometimes found side by side with the later sexual
form of reproduction, as in the case of so-called _parthenogenesis_
among insects. It is indeed a kind of virgin-birth; and is well
illustrated in the vegetable world by the budding of bulbs, or by the
fact that a twig torn from a shrub and placed in the ground will
commonly grow and continue the life of the parent plant; or in the lower
stages of the animal world, where, among many of the worms, insects,
sponges, &c., the life may similarly be continued by division, or by the
extrusion of a bud or an egg, without any sex-contact or sex-action

This seems in fact to be the original and primitive form of generation;
and it obviously depends upon _growth_. Generation is the superfluity,
the ὕβρις, of growth, and connects itself in the first instance with the
satisfaction of hunger. First hunger, then growth, then reproduction by
division or budding. And this process may go on apparently for many
generations without change—in the case of certain Protozoa even to
hundreds of generations. But a time comes when the growth-power and
energy decay, and the vitality diminishes[1]—at any rate, as a rule.[2]
But then a variation occurs. Two cells unite, exchange fluids, and part
again. It is a new form of nourishment; it is the earliest form of Love.
It is a very intimate form of nourishment; for it appears that in
general the nuclei themselves of the two cells are shared and in part
exchanged. And the vitality so obtained gives the cells a new lease of
life. They are in fact regenerated. And each partner grows again
actively and reproduces itself by budding and division as before.
Sometimes the two uniting cells will remain conjoined; and the joint
cell will then generate buds, or in some cases enlarge to bursting
point, and so, perishing itself, break up into a numerous progeny.[3]

So far there seems to be but little differentiation between Hunger and
Love. Love is only a special hunger which leads cells to obtain
nourishment from other cells of the same species; and generation or
reproduction in these early stages, being an inevitable accompaniment of
growth, follows on the satisfaction of love just as it follows on the
satisfaction of hunger. Rolph’s words on the relation of these two
impulses (quoted by Geddes and Thompson) are very suggestive. He
says:—“Conjugation occurs when nutrition is diminished.... It is a
necessity for satisfaction, a growing hunger, which drives the animal to
engulf its neighbor, to ‘isophagy.’ The process of conjugation is only a
special form of nutrition, which occurs on a reduction of the nutritive
income, or an increase of the nutritive needs.”

And so far there is no distinction of sex. It is true there may be sex
in the sense of union or fusion between two individuals; but there is no
distinction of sex, in the sense of male and female. In the Protozoa
generally there is simple union or conjugation between cells, which, as
far as can be observed, are quite similar to each other. It is a union
between similars; and it leads to growth and reproduction. But both
union and reproduction at this early stage exist quite independently of
any distinctive sex-action, or any differentiation of individuals into
male and female.

At a later period, however, Sex comes in. It is obvious that for growth
(and reproduction) two things are necessary, which are in some degree
antagonistic to each other—on the one hand the pursuit and capture of
food, which means _activity_ and force, and on the other hand the
digestion and assimilation of the food, which means _quiescence_ and
passivity. And it seems that at a certain stage—in general, when
“animals” have already been formed by the conjunction of many protozoic
cells in co-operative colonies—this differentiation sets in, and some
individuals specialize towards activity and the chase, while others (of
the same species) specialize towards repose and assimilation. The two
sets of qualities are clearly only useful in combination with each
other, and yet, as I have said, they are to some degree contrary to each
other; and therefore it is quite natural that the two corresponding
groups of individuals should form two great branches in each race,
diverse yet united.

These two branches are the male and female—the active, energy-spending,
hungry, food-obtaining branch; and the sessile, non-active, assimilative
and reproductive branch. And by the division of labor consequent on the
formation of these two branches the whole race is benefited; but only of
course on condition that the diverse elements are reunited from time to
time. It is in the fusion of these elements that the real quality and
character of the race is restored; and it is by their fusion that
development and reproduction are secured.

In some of the Infusorians[4] there seems to be a beginning of
sex-differentiation, and fusion takes place between two individuals
slightly differing from each other; but as we have already seen, in
most of the Protozoa the union is a union of _similars_—that is, as
far as can at present be observed, though of course there is a great
probability that here also there is generally _some_ difference which
supplies the attraction and the value of union.[5]

It is in the _Metazoa_ generally, and those forms of life which consist
of co-operative _colonies_ of cells, that sex-differentiation into male
and female begins to decisively assert itself. Here—since it is
obviously impossible for all the cells of one individual to fuse with
all the cells of another—certain special cells are set apart in each
organism for the purpose of union or conjugation; and it seems quite
natural that in the course of time the differentiation spoken of above,
into male and female, should set in—each individual tending to become
decisively either masculine or feminine—both in the sex-cells or
sex-apparatus, and (though in a less marked degree) in the general
‘body’ and structure.

In the lower forms of life, generally, as among the amphibia, fishes,
molluscs, &c., the male and female sex-cells—the sperm and the germ—do
not conjugate within either of the parent bodies, but are expelled from
each, in order to meet and fuse in some surrounding medium, like water.
There the double cell, so formed, develops into the new individual. But
in higher forms the meeting takes place, and the first stages of
development ensue, _within_ one of the bodies. And, as one might expect,
this occurs within the body of the female. For the female, as we have
said, represents quiescence, growth, assimilation. The germ or ovum is
large compared with the spermatozoon; it is also sessile in habit. The
spermatozoon, on the other hand, is exceedingly active. And so it seems
natural that the latter should seek out the germ within the body of the
female. Just as, in general, the female animal remains impassive and
quiescent, and is sought out by the male, so the female germ remains at
home within the female body, and receives its visitor or visitors there.
And the whole apparatus of connection is symbolical of this relation.
The body of the female is the temple in which the sacred mystery of the
union or fusion of two individuals is completed, as a means to the birth
or creation of a new individual.

Yet though the female is thus privileged to be the receptacle and
sanctum of the life-giving power, it must not be thought that this
argues superiority of the female, as such, over the male. The process of
conjunction is sometimes spoken of as a fertilization merely, implying
the idea that the ovum or female element is the main thing, and that
_this_ only requires a slight impulse or stimulus from the male side for
its powers of development to be started and set in operation. But though
it is true that the ovum can in many cases of the lower forms of life be
started developing by the administration of a chemical solution or even
a mechanical needle-prick, this development does not seem to continue;
and modern investigation shows that in normal fecundation an absolute
equality reigns, as far as we can see, between the two contracting
parties and their contributions to the new being that has to be formed.

Nothing is more astounding than the results of these investigations; and
they not only show us that the protozoic cells (and sex-cells), instead
of being very simple in structure, are already extremely complex, and
that their changes in the act of fertilization or fusion are _strangely
elaborate and systematic_; but they suggest that though to us these
cells may represent the microscopic beginnings of life in its most
primitive stages, in reality they stand for the first visible results of
long antecedent operations, and indicate highly organized and, we may
say, intelligent forces at work within them.

The mere process by which a primitive cell divides and reproduces itself
has an air of demonic intelligence about it. Roughly, the process may be
described as follows. The nucleus appears to be the most important
portion of a cell. Certainly it is so as regards the supply of
hereditary and formative material—the surrounding protoplasm fulfilling
more of a nutritive and protective function. Within and through the
liquid of the nucleus there spreads an irregular network of a substance
which is (for a purely accidental reason) called _chromatin_. As long as
the nucleus is at rest, this network is fairly evenly distributed
through it; but the first oncoming of division is signalled by the
break-up of the chromatin into a limited and definite number of short,
threadlike bodies—to which the name _chromosomes_ has been given. These
_chromosomes_, after some curious evolutions, finally arrange themselves
in a line across the middle of the nucleus; and they are apparently
governed in this operation, and the whole splitting of the cell is
governed, by a minute, starlike and radiating centre (called
_centrosome_), which first appearing outside the nucleus and in the
general protoplasm of the cell, seems to play a dominant part in the
whole process. This _centrosome_, when the time comes for the
cell-division, itself divides in two, and the two starlike centres so
formed (which are to become _centrosomes_ of the two new cells), slowly
move to opposite ends or poles of the original cell—all the time, as
they do so, throwing out raylike threads or fibrils which connect them
somehow with the chromosomes and which seem to regulate the movements of
the latter, till, as described, the latter form themselves in a line
across the centre of the cell, transversely to the line joining the
poles. At this stage, then, we have a tiny, starlike centrosome at each
end of the cell, and a transverse line of chromosomes between. (Also,
during the process the wall or enclosing membrane of the nucleus has
disappeared and the general contents of cell and nucleus have become
undivided.) It is at this moment that the real division begins. The
chromosomes—of which it is said that there are always a definite and
invariable number for every species of plant or animal,[6] and which are
now generally supposed to contain the hereditary elements or
determinants of the future individual—these chromosomes have already
arranged themselves longitudinally and end-on to each other across the
middle of the cell. They now, apparently under the influence of the
radiating points at each pole, split longitudinally (as one splits a log
of wood)—so that each chromosome, dividing throughout its length,
contributes one half of itself to one pole and one half to the other.
The halves so formed separate, and approach their respective poles; and
at the same time the cell-wall constricting itself along the equatorial
line, or line of separation, soon divides the original cell into two.
Meanwhile the chromosomes in each new division group themselves (not
round but) near their respective poles or centrosomes, and a new nucleus
membrane forming, encloses each group, so that finally we have two cells
of exactly the same constitution as the original one, and with exactly
the same number and quality of chromosomes as the original.[7]

The whole process seems very strange and wonderful. No military
evolutions and formations, no complex and mystic dance of initiates in a
temple, with advances and retreats, and combinations and separations,
and exchanges of partners, could seem more fraught with intelligence.[8]
Yet this is what takes place among some of the very lowest forms of
life, on the division of a single cell into two. And it is exactly the
same, apparently, which takes place in the higher forms of life when the
single cell which is the result of the fusion together of the sperm-cell
and the germ-cell, divides and subdivides to form the ‘body’ of the
creature. As is well known, the joint cell divides first into two; then
each of the cells so formed divides into two, making four in all; then
each of these divides into two, making eight; then each into two again,
making 16, 32, 64, and so on—till they number the thousands, hundreds
of thousands, millions, which in effect build up and constitute the
body. And at each division the process is carried out with this amazing
care and exactness of partition described—so that every cell is verily
continuous and of the same nature with the original cell, and contains
the same nuclear elements, derived half from the father and half from
the mother. Yet in the process a differentiation has set in, so that in
the end each cell becomes so far modified as to be adapted for its
special position and function in the body—for the skin, mucous
membrane, blood corpuscles, brain, muscular tissue, and so forth.[9] It
is worth while looking carefully at the body of an animal, or one’s own
body, in order to realize what this means—to realize that the entire
creature, in all its form and feature, its coloring, marking, swiftness
of limb, complexity of brain, and so on, has provably been exhaled from
a single cell, _is_ indeed that original cell with its latent powers and
virtue made manifest; and to remember that that original cell was itself
the fusion of two parent cells, the male and the female.

A word, then, upon this matter of the fusion of the two parent cells in
one. Here, again, two very remarkable things appear. One refers to the
equality of the sexes; the other refers to the onesidedness (or
deficiency or imperfection) which seems to be the characteristic _and_
the motive power of the phenomenon of sex.

With regard to the first point, we saw that among the Protozoa
conjugation occurs for the most part between two individual cells which
are alike in size and (to all appearance) alike in constitution; and
this conjugation leads to reproduction. But when among the higher forms
sex begins to show, the conjugating cells—sperm-cell and germ-cell—are
generally unlike in size, and often in the higher animals extremely
unlike—as in the human _spermatozoon_ and _ovum_, of which the latter
is a thousand times the volume of the former;[10] and this has sometimes
led, as remarked before, to an exaggerated view of the preponderant
importance of one sex. But the curious fact seems to be that when the
spermatozoon of the human or higher animal penetrates the ovum, there is
a preliminary period before its nucleus actually combines with the
nucleus of the ovum, during which the nucleus rapidly absorbs
nourishment from the surrounding protoplasm, and _grows_—grows till it
becomes of _exactly the same size_ as the nucleus of the ovum. The
situation then is that there are two nuclei of the same size and both
charged with chromatin of the same general character, in close
proximity, and waiting to fuse with each other.

The product of that fusion is a new being; and as far as can at present
apparently be observed, the parts played by the two sexes in the process
are quite equal. There may be _difference_ of function but there is no
inequality. “Both male and female cells,” says Professor Rolleston,[11]
“prepare themselves for conjugation long before it takes place, and
neither of them can be said to be a more active agent in fertilization
than the other. Not ‘fertilization’ but ‘fusion’ is the keyword of the
process. The mystical conception, as old as Plato, of the male and
female as representing respectively the two halves of a complete being,
turns out to be no poetic metaphor. As regards the essential features of
reproduction, it is a literal fact.”

The second remarkable point has to do with the onesidedness of sexual
conjugation, and the complementary nature of the exchange involved. This
is truly noteworthy and interesting. It is evident that if the
sperm-cell and germ-cell simply coalesced, containing each the amount of
chromatin characteristic of the species—say sixteen chromosomes in the
case of the human being—the result would be a cell with double the
proper amount, _say thirty-two chromosomes_, i.e. _an amount belonging
to another species_. “What happens is that each of the reproductive
cells, male and female, prepares itself for conjugation _by getting rid
of half its_ chromosomes. Two divisions of the nucleus take place, _not_
as in the ordinary fashion of cell-division, when the chromosomes split
longitudinally, but in such a way that, in each division, four of the
sixteen chromosomes (making eight in all) are bodily expelled from the
nucleus and from the cell, when they either perish, or, in some cases,
appear to help in forming an envelope of nutritive matter round the
germ-cell. These divisions are called ‘maturation divisions,’ and until
they are accomplished fecundation is impossible.”[12] Thus the two
nuclei, having each their number of chromosomes reduced to half the
normal number (in this case to eight), are now ready to coalesce and so
form a new cell with the proper number belonging to the species (_i.e._
sixteen). This cell is the commencement of the new being, and, as
already described, it divides and re-divides, and the innumerable cells
so formed differentiate themselves into different tissues, until the
whole animal is built up.

Says Professor E. B. Wilson:—“The one fact of maturation that stands
out with perfect clearness and certainty amid all the controversies
surrounding it, is a reduction of the _number of chromosomes in the
ultimate germ [and sperm] cells_[13] to one half the number
characteristic of the somatic cells. It is equally clear that this
reduction is a preparation of the germ [and sperm] cells for their
subsequent union, and a means by which the number of chromosomes is held
constant in the species.”[14]

This extrusion or expulsion by each of the conjugating cells of half its
constituent elements is certainly very strange.[15] And it seems
strangely deliberate.[16] Various theories have been formed on the
subject, but at present there is apparently no satisfactory conclusion
as to what exactly takes place. Some think that in the one case certain
male elements are expelled, and in the other case certain female
elements; and anyhow it seems probable that a complementary action sets
in, by which each prepares itself to supply a different class of
elements from the other, thus rendering the conjunction more effectual.
Plato has been already quoted with regard to male and female being only
the two halves of a complete original being. He also says (in the speech
of Socrates in the _Banquet_) that the mother of Love was Poverty, and
that Love “possesses thus far his mother’s nature that he is ever the
companion of Want.” And it would appear that in the most primitive
grades of life the same is true, and that two cells combine or coalesce
in order to mutually supply some want or deficiency.

Anyhow, in the process just described two points stand out pretty clear:
first, the exact quality of the number of chromosomes contributed by
sperm-cell and germ-cell to the fertilized ovum—which seems to indicate
that the descendant being has an equal heredity from each
parent[17]—though of course it does not follow that both heredities
become equally prominent or manifest in the descendant body; and
secondly, that the same is true of all the cells in this new body—that
they each contain the potentialities of the joint cell from which they
sprang, and therefore the potentialities of both parents.

These amazing conclusions concerning the origins of life and
reproduction—here, of course, very briefly and imperfectly
presented—cannot but give us pause. Contemplating the evolutions and
affinities of these infinitely numerous but infinitely small organisms
which build up our visible selves, and the strange intelligence which
seems to pervade their movements, the mind reels—somewhat as it does in
contemplating the evolutions and affinities of the unimaginable
stars.[18] We seem, certainly, to trace the same laws or operations in
these minutest regions as we trace in our own corporeal and mental
relations. Cells attract each other just as human beings do; and the
attraction seems to depend, to a certain degree, on difference. The male
spermatozoon seeks the female ovum, just as the male animal, as a rule,
seeks and pursues the female. Primitive cells divide and redivide and
differentiate themselves, building up the animal body, just in the same
way as primitive thoughts and emotions divide and redivide and
differentiate themselves, building up the human mind. But though we thus
see processes with which we are familiar repeated in infinitesimal
miniature, we seem to be no nearer than before to any ‘explanation’ of
them, and we seem to see no promise of any explanation. We merely obtain
a larger perspective, and a suggestion that the universal order is of
the same character throughout—with a suspicion perhaps that the
explanation of these processes does not lie in any concatenation of the
things themselves, but in some other plane of being of which these
concatenations are an allegory or symbolic expression. In portions of
the following chapters I shall trace more in detail the resemblance or
parallelism between these processes among the Protozoa and some of our
own experiences in the great matters of Life and Love and Death.[19]



The astounding revelation of the first great love is a thing which the
youthful human being can hardly be prepared for, since indeed it cannot
very well be described in advance, or put into terms of reasonable and
well-conducted words. To feel—for instance—one’s whole internal
economy in process of being melted out and removed to a distance, as it
were into the keeping of some one else, is in itself a strange
physiological or psychological experience—and one difficult to record
in properly scientific terms! To lose consciousness never for a moment
of the painful void so created—a void and a hunger which permeates all
the arteries and organs, and every cranny of the body and the mind, and
which seems to rob the organism of its strength, sometimes even to
threaten it with ruin; to forego all interest in life, except in one
thing—and that thing a person; to be aware, on the other hand, with
strange elation and joy, that this new person or presence is infusing
itself into one’s most intimate being—pervading all the channels, with
promise (at least) of marriage and new life to every minutest cell, and
causing wonderful upheavals and transformations in tissue and fluids; to
find in the mind all objects of perception to be changed and different
from what they were before; and to be dimly conscious that the reason
why they are so is because the background and constitution of the
perceiving mind is itself changed—that, as it were, there is another
person beholding them as well as oneself—all this defies description in
words, or any possibility of exact statement beforehand; and yet the
actual fact when it arrives is overwhelming in solid force and reality.
If, besides, to the insurgence of these strange emotions we add—in the
earliest stages of love at least—their bewildering fluctuation, from
the deeps of vain longing and desire to the confident and ecstatic
heights of expectation or fulfilment—the very joys of heaven and pangs
of hell in swift and tantalizing alternation—the whole new experience
is so extraordinary, so unrelated to ordinary work-a-day life, that to
recite it is often only to raise a smile of dismissal of the subject—as
it were into the land of dreams.

And yet, as we have indicated, the thing, whatever it is, is certainly
by no means insubstantial and unreal. Nothing seems indeed more certain
than that in this strange revolution in the relations of two people to
each other—called “falling in love”—and behind all the illusions
connected with it, _something is happening_, something very real, very
important. The falling-in-love may be reciprocal, or it may be onesided;
it may be successful, or it may be unsuccessful; it may be only a
surface indication of other and very different events; but anyhow, deep
down in the sub-conscious world, _something_ is happening. It may be
that two unseen and only dimly suspected existences are becoming really
and permanently united; it may be that for a certain period, or (what
perhaps comes to the same thing) that to a certain _depth_, they are
transfusing and profoundly modifying each other; it may be that the
mingling of elements and the transformation is taking place almost
entirely in one person, and only to a slight degree or hardly at all in
the other; yet in all these cases—beneath the illusions, the
misapprehensions, the mirage and the _maya_, the surface satisfactions
and the internal disappointments—something very real is happening, an
important growth and evolution is taking place.

To understand this phenomenon in some slight degree, to have some
inkling of the points of the compass by which to steer over this
exceedingly troubled sea, is, one might say, indispensable for every
youthful human creature; but alas! the instruction is not provided—for
indeed, as things are to-day, the adult and the mature are themselves
without knowledge, and their eyes without speculation on the subject.
Treatises on the Art of Love truly exist—and some (for the field they
cover) very good ones, like the _Ars Amatoria_ of Ovid or the
_Kama-sutra_ of Vatsayana; but they are concerned mainly or wholly with
the details and technicalities of the subject—with the conduct of
intrigues and amours, with times and seasons, positions and
preparations, unguents and influences. It is like instructions given to
a boatman on the minutiæ of his craft—how to contend with wind and
wave, how to use sail and oar, to steer, to tack, to luff to a breaker,
and so forth; all very good and necessary in their way, but who is there
to point us our course over the great Ocean, and the stars by which to
direct it? The later works on this great subject—though not despising
the more elementary aspects—will no doubt have to proceed much farther,
into the deep realms of psychology, biological science, and ultimately
of religion.[20]

As we have just said, Love is concerned with growth and evolution. It
is—though as yet hardly acknowledged in that connection—a root-factor
of ordinary human growth; for in so far as it is a hunger of the
individual, the satisfaction of that hunger is necessary for individual
growth—necessary (in its various forms) for physical, mental and
spiritual nourishment, for health, mental energy, large affectional
capacity, and so forth. And it is—though this too is not sufficiently
acknowledged—a root-factor of the Evolution process. For in so far as
it represents and gives rise to the union of two beings in a new form,
it plainly represents a step in Evolution, and plainly suggests that the
direction of that step will somehow depend upon the character and
quality of the love concerned. Thus the importance, the necessity, of
the study of the art of love is forced on our attention. It has to be no
longer a subterranean, unrecognized, and even rather disreputable cult,
but an openly acknowledged and honorable department of human life,
leading in its due time to broad and commonsense instructions and
initiations for the young.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Casting a glance back at the love-affairs of the Protozoa, as briefly
described in the preceding chapter, there certainly seems to be a kind
of naive charm about them. The simple and wholehearted way in which on
occasions they fuse with one another, losing or merging completely their
own separate individualities in the process; or again part from each
other after having exchanged essences in a kind of affectionate
cannibalism; the obvious and unconcealed relation between love and
hunger; the first beginnings of generation; and the matter-of-fact
manner in which one person, when he finds it convenient, divides in half
and becomes two persons, and after a time perhaps divides again and
becomes four persons, and again and again until he is many thousands or
millions—and yet it is impossible to decide (and he himself probably is
not quite clear) as to whether he is still one person or different
persons—all this cannot fail to excite our admiration and respect, nor
to give us, also, considerable food for thought.

One of the first things to strike us, and to suggest an application to
human life, is the importance of Love, among these little creatures, for
the health of the individual. The authors of _The Evolution of Sex_ say
in one passage (p. 178): “Without it [conjugation], the Protozoa, which
some have called ‘immortal,’ die a natural death. Conjugation is the
necessary condition of their eternal youth and immortality. Even at this
low level, only through the fire of love can the phœnix of the species
renew its youth.” And again, in another passage (p. 277), referring to
the conclusions of Maupas: “Already we have noted this important result,
that conjugation is essential to the health of the species.” Thus it
appears that, in these primitive stages, fusion more or less complete,
or interchange of essences, leads to Regeneration and renewal of
vitality—and this long before the distinct phenomena of sex appear. It
leads to Regeneration first, and so collaterally, and at a later period,
to Generation.

Somehow—though it is not quite clear how—this view of the importance
of love to personal health has been sadly obscured in later and
Christian times. The dominant Christian attitude converted love, from
being an expression and activity of the deepest human life and joy, into
being simply a vulgar necessity for the propagation of the species. A
violent effort was made to wrench apart the spiritual and corporeal
aspects of it. The one aspect was belauded, the other condemned. The
first was relegated to heaven, the second was given its _congé_ to
another place. Corporeal intercourse and the propagation of the race
were vile necessities. True affection dwelt in the skies and disdained
all earthly contacts. And yet all this was a vain effort to separate
what could not be separated. It was like trying to take the pigments out
of a picture; to call the picture “good,” but the stuff it was painted
with “bad.”

And so, owing to this denial, owing to this non-recognition of love (in
all its aspects) as necessary to personal health, thousands and
thousands of men and women through the centuries—some “for the kingdom
of heaven’s sake,” and some for the sake of the conventions of
society—have allowed their lives to be maimed and blighted, their
health and personal well-being ruined. The deep well-spring and source
of human activity and vitality has been desecrated and choked with
rubbish. That some sort of purpose, in the evolution of humanity, may
have been fulfilled by this strange negation, it would be idle to deny;
indeed some such purpose—in view of the wide prevalence of the
negation, and its long continuance during the civilization period—seems
probable. But this does not in any way controvert the fact that it has
in its time caused a disastrous crippling of human health and vitality.
Human progress takes place, no doubt, in sections—one foot forward at a
time, so to speak; but this does not mean that the other foot can be
permanently left in the rear. On the contrary, it means its all the more
decided advance when its turn arrives.

To-day we seem at the outset of a new era, and preparing in some way for
the rehabilitation of the Pagan conception of the world. The negative
Christian dispensation is rapidly approaching its close; the necessity
of love in its various forms, as part and parcel of a healthy life, is
compelling our attention. No one is so poor a physiognomist as not to
recognize the health-giving effects of successful courtship—the
heightened color, the brilliant eye, the elastic step; the active brain,
the prompt reflexes, the glad outlook on the world. Indeed the effect
upon all the tissues—their nourishment, growth, improvement in tone,
and so forth—is extraordinary; and yet—remembering what has been said
about Love and Hunger—quite natural. For, after all, we have seen that
every cell in the body is a _replica_ of the original cell from which it
sprang; and so the love which reaches one probably in some way reaches
all. And there is probably not only union and exchange (in actual
intercourse) between two special sex-cells; but there is also (_all
through_ the period of being “in love”) an etheric union and exchange
going on between the body-cells generally on each side; and a
nourishment of each other by the interchange of finest and subtlest

That this mutual exchange and nutrition may take place between the
general cells of two bodies is made all the more probable from the
experiments already alluded to with regard to chemical
fertilization—whereby it has been shown that some ova or egg-cells may
be started on a process of subdivision and growth by treatment with
certain chemicals, such as weak solutions of strychnine, or common salt,
apart from any fertilization by a spermatozoon.[21] Now since—when the
body is once fairly formed—its further growth and sustenance is
maintained by continued division and subdivision of the body-cells, this
stimulus to growth may easily (we may suppose) be supplied by the subtle
radiations and reactions from another body within whose sphere of
influence it comes—radiations and reactions sufficiently subtle to pass
through the tissues to the various cells, and of course sufficiently
characteristic and individual to be in some cases, as we have supposed,
highly vitalizing and stimulating—though in other cases of course they
may be poisonous and harmful. Of course, also, it is only love that
supplies and is the vitalizing relation.

So intense, at times, is this vitalizing force, and so ardent the need
of it, that the whole body leaps and throbs in pain. Plato, in his
poetic way, explains the scorching sensation in all the skin and tissues
by feigning that it is caused by the wing-feathers of the soul sprouting
everywhere (_i.e._ according to our view, in every little cell).
Nevertheless, his words on the subject are singularly pregnant with
meaning. For he says (in the _Phædrus_): “Whenever indeed by gazing on
the beauty of the beloved object, and _receiving from that beauty
particles which fall and flow in upon it_ (and which are therefore
called ‘desire’), the soul is watered and warmed, it is relieved from
its pain, and is glad; but as soon as it is parted from its love, and
for lack of that moisture is parched, the mouths of the outlets by which
the feathers start become so closed up by drought, that they obstruct
the shooting germs; and the germs being thus confined underneath, in
company of the desire which has been infused, leap like throbbing
arteries, and prick each at the outlet which is closed against it; so
that the soul, being stung all over, is frantic with pain.”[22]

This fusion of complementaries, then, which is the characteristic of
fertilization, takes place between the lovers—not only in respect of
their sex-cells, but probably also to a considerable degree in respect
of their body-cells. And though with any mortal lovers the complementary
nature of the fusion can hardly be so complete as to restore the full
glory of the race-life, yet very near to that point it sometimes comes,
filling them with mad and immortal-seeming ecstasies, and excusing them
indeed for seriously thinking that the wings of their souls have begun
to grow! In lesser degree this complementary fusion and exchange is
doubtless the explanation (or one explanation) of that very noticeable
point—the strange way in which lovers after some years come to resemble
each other—in form and feature, in facial expression, tone of voice,
carriage of body, handwriting, and all sorts of minute points.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I suppose at this point it will be necessary to explain that the
recognition of love (in all its aspects) as a general condition of human
health, does not mean a recommendation of wild indulgence in any and
every passion—necessary, because in these cases it seems to be
generally assumed that the proposer of a very simple thesis means a very
great deal more than he says! It is here that the necessity of education
comes in; for hitherto public instruction and discussion in these
matters have been so defective that folk have been unable to talk about
them except in a hysterical way—hysterical on the one side or the
other. The _positive_ value of love, its positive cultivation as a
gracious, superb, and necessary part of our lives has hardly (at least
in the Anglo-Saxon world) entered into people’s minds. To teach young
things to love, and how to love, to actually instruct and encourage them
in the art, has seemed something wicked and unspeakable. Says Havelock
Ellis:[23] “Whether or not Christianity is to be held responsible, it
cannot be doubted that throughout Christendom there has been a
lamentable failure to recognize the supreme importance, not only
erotically but morally, of the art of love. Even in the great revival of
sexual enlightenment now taking place around us there is rarely even the
faintest recognition that in sexual enlightenment the one thing
essentially necessary is a knowledge of the art of love. For the most
part sexual instruction, as at present understood, is purely negative, a
mere string of thou-shalt-nots. If that failure were due to the
conscious and deliberate recognition that while the art of love must be
based on physiological and psychological knowledge, it is far too subtle
too complex, too personal, to be formulated in lectures and manuals, it
would be reasonable and sound. But it seems to rest entirely on
ignorance, indifference, or worse.”

It is, I think, not unfair to suppose that it is this indifference or
vulgar Philistinism which is largely responsible for the sordid
commercialism of the good people of the last century. Finding the lute
and the lyre snatched from their hands they were fain to turn to a
greater activity with the muck-rake.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Love is a complex of human relations—physical, mental, emotional,
spiritual, and so forth—all more or less necessary. And though seldom
realized complete, it is felt, and feels itself, to be imperfect without
some representation of every side. To limit it to the expression of one
particular aspect would be totally inadequate, if not absurd and
impossible. A merely physical love, for instance, on the sexual plane,
is an absurdity, a dead letter—the enjoyment and fruition of the
physical depending so much on the _feeling_ expressed, that without the
latter there is next to no satisfaction. At best there is merely a
negative pleasure, a relief, arising from the solution of a previous
state of corporeal tension. And in such cases intercourse is easily
followed by depression and disappointment. For if there is not enough of
the more subtle and durable elements in love, to remain after the
physical has been satisfied, and to hold the two parties close together,
why, the last state may well be worse than the first!

But equally absurd is any attempt to limit, for instance, to the mental
plane, and to make love a matter of affectionate letter-writing merely,
or of concordant views on political economy; or again, to confine it to
the emotional plane, and the region of more or less sloppy sentiment; or
to the spiritual, with a somewhat lofty contempt of the material—in
which case it tends, as hinted before, to become too like trying to
paint a picture without the use of pigments. All the phases are
necessary, or at least desirable—even if, as already said, a quite
complete and all-round relation is seldom realized. The physical is
desirable, for many very obvious reasons—including corporeal needs and
health, and perhaps especially because it acts in the way of removal of
barriers, and _so opens the path_ to other intimacies. The mental is
desirable, to give form and outline to the relation; the emotional, to
provide the something to be expressed; and the spiritual to give
permanence and absolute solidity to the whole structure.

It is probably on account of this complex nature that for any big and
permanent relationship of this kind there has to be a rather slow and
gradual culmination. All the various elements have to be hunted up and
brought into line. Like all great ideas love has its two sides—its
instantaneous inner side, and its complex outer side of innumerable
detail. In _consciousness_ it tends to appear in a flash—simple,
unique, and unchangeable; but in _experience_ it has to be worked out
with much labor. _All the elements have to come into operation_, and to
contribute their respective quota to the total result. If we remember
what happens when the spermatozoon and the ovum coalesce (see ch. ii. p.
19)—the extraordinary changes and disturbances which are induced in the
chromatin elements of both nuclei, the fusion of the nuclei, and the
ultimate ranging of the chromosomes in a line (for the formation of the
new being) in such a way that every element is represented and
contributes its share to the process—we cannot but be struck by the
strange similarity to our own inner experience: how love searches the
heart, drags every element of the inner nature forward from its
lurking-place, gives it definition and shape, and somehow insists on it
being represented, and, so to speak, toeing the line. We shall return to
this point later. Here I only wish to insist on the complexity of the
process, in order to show that for any big relationship plenty of time
has to be allowed. Whichever side of the nature—mental, emotional,
physical, and so forth—may have happened to take the lead, it must not
and cannot monopolize the affair. It must drag the other sides in and
give them their place. And this means time, and temporary bewilderment
and confusion. It is curious how ‘falling in love’ has this very
effect—how it paralyzes for a time—inhibiting the mental part and even
the physical; how the smart talker becomes a dumb ass, and the man about
town a modest fool, and the person who always does the right thing seems
compelled to do everything wrong—as if a confusion were being created
in the mind, analogous to that which we have observed in the cells. When
we add to these considerations the extraordinary differences between
persons, and between the proportions in which the elements of their
characters are mixed, it is obvious how extremely complex the conditions
of any one decent love-relation must be, and what tact and patience in
the handling it may require.

The ignorance, therefore, which causes a young man, husband or lover, to
think that the hurried completion of the sexual act is at once the
initiation and the fulfilment of love, is fatal enough. It marks more
often the end than the beginning of the affair. For, contrariwise, time
and plenty of time has to be given in order to allow the central
radiation in each case to have its perfect work. Is it too fanciful to
suppose that the _centrosome_, which makes its appearance in the
protozoön on its approach to conjunction, and which seems to rule the
rearrangement of the chromatin elements within it, is the analogue of
the radiating force in human courtship which so strangely sifts out and
remoulds the elements of the lover’s personality? Does the magic of the
centrosome correspond in some sense to the glamour, so well known in
human affairs? And do they both proceed from some deep-hidden,
profoundly important manifestation of the life, the energy, the divinity
if you will, of the Race?

How strange is this matter of the glamour, and its decisiveness in
awakening love by its presence, or leaving it cold by absence! Here is a
story of a woman who, dreadfully disfigured in countenance by an
accident in the hunting-field, called her _fiancé_ to her, and nobly
offered him his freedom; and he ... accepted it! Accepted it, because,
quite really and truly, the destruction of her physical beauty had for
him shattered the Vision and the divinity. And here is another similar
story where, contrariwise, the man immediately confirmed his love and
devotion—because for _him_ the glory around her was more illumined by
her nobility of feeling than it could be darkened by her bodily defect.

Such glamour, working away in the hidden caverns of being, may at last,
like Bruno’s “fabro vulcano,” weld two souls into one, and bring to
light a real, a profound, and perhaps eternal union. It is after all
that inner union which is the real thing; which gives all its joys to
intercourse, and penetrating down into the world of sense, redeems that
world into a thing of glory and beauty. For the complete action of that
creative and organizing force plentiful time must be given; and the two
lovers must possess their souls in patience till it has had its full and
perfect work. Ovid in his _Ars Amatoria_ has many lines on this subject.
“Let the youth,” he says, “with tardy passion burn, like a damp torch”
... _“Non est Veneris properanda voluptas_” ... _“Quod datum ex facili
longum male nutrit amorem_” (Love easily granted may not long endure),
and so forth. And though these passages no doubt refer mainly to what
may be called the practical conduct of amours, yet they have also a very
pointed application to the more important aspects of the grand passion.
A long foreground of approach, time and tact, diffusion of magnetism,
mergence in one another, suffering, and even pain—all these must be
expected and allowed for—though the best after all, in this as in other
things, is often the unexpected and the unprepared.

And if the man has to allow time for all the elements of his nature
to come forward and take their part in the great mystery, all the
more is it true that he has to give the woman time for the fulfilling
of _her_ part. For in general it may be said (though of course with
exceptions) that love culminates more slowly in women than in men.
Men concentrate obviously on the definite part they have to play; but
in women love is more diffused and takes longer to reach the point
where it becomes an inspired and creative frenzy of the whole being.
Caresses, tendernesses, provocation, sacrifices, and a thousand
indirect influences have to gradually conspire to the working out of
this result; and not infrequently the situation so arising demands
great self-control on the part of the man. Yet these things are worth
while. “The real marriage,” says some one, “takes place when from their
intense love there comes to birth another soul—apart from each, and
invisible, yet joining them together, one hand ahold of each—a radiant
thing born of the sun and stars, which though tender and fragile at
first, grows just like a bodily child, and leads them on, and dances
with them.”

They are worth while, all these labors and troubles, and delays and
sacrifices, if only out of them can be forged a fair and infrangible
union. As in all the arts, so in the greatest of the arts, no lasting
result can be attained, without such labor. Nor indeed without some
degree of pain and suffering. Young folk and inexperienced may think it
is not so. They may think that by a lucky stroke and practically without
effort a man may write a “Blessed Damozel” or carve in marble a “Greek
Slave”; but all experience points differently, and shows that directly
or indirectly to such works have gone infinite labor and patience. And
so to the conceiving and shaping of a perfect alliance between a man and
a woman must always go much of suffering—for it is by suffering that
the souls of human beings are brought into form and carved to fitness
for each other.

Is it seriously—when one comes to think of it—possible to imagine love
without pain? Figure to yourself, O man, a courtship absolutely
undenied, from the first accepted, even encouraged, with complaisantly
unresisting bride, smiling parents, fair-weather prospects, and cash
unlimited! How awfully dull! Does not the stoutest heart quail at the
suggestion? Or if such a mating might be deemed pleasant as far as its
accessories and conditions were concerned, could it yet be termed Love?

For Love, if worth anything, seems to _demand_ pain and strain in order
to prove itself, and is not satisfied with an easy attainment. How
indeed should one know the great heights except by the rocks and
escarpments? And pain often in some strange way seems to be the measure
of love—the measure by which we are assured that love is true and real;
and so (which is one of the mysteries) it becomes transformed into a
great joy. Yes, if men could only understand, here is one of the most
precious of the mysteries, and the solving of a great riddle.

But that the course of true love does generally not run smooth is
understood, more or less, by every one. And it is woman’s strange and
imperious instinct—even though at considerable suffering to herself—to
see that it _doesn’t_ run smooth. Ellis practically bases[24] the whole
of the evolution of modesty on this instinct—reaching far down in the
animal kingdom—by which the female constantly throws difficulties and
obstacles in the way of courtship (by her coynesses, contrarieties,
changeable moods, and so forth); thus calling out in the male all his
ingenuity, his impetuosity, his energy, in overcoming them; rousing
dormant elements of his nature; delaying consummation and giving time
for his character and all his qualities to concentrate; and indirectly
having a like effect upon herself. So that ultimately by this method a
maximum of passion and agitation is produced, and in the case of the
human being love penetrates to the very deeps and hidden caverns of the
soul. Such is the genesis of Modesty—not by any means Nature’s _denial_
of love, but rather the crafty old dame’s method of rendering love, by
temporary obstacles, all the more insurgent and irresistible—her method
of making it less superficial, of deepening the channels and rendering
them more profound.

Practically, and as a matter of policy, a too easy consent to another’s
love is a mistake. The barb only sticks when the bait is withdrawn.
Ovid, it will be remembered, advises that “the lover should be admitted
by the _window_, even when the door is quite accessible, and really more
convenient”;[25] and most girls (though they have not read Ovid) know
instinctively that this is the right policy! Nothing is so hateful to a
real lover as an easy, accommodating, altruistic affection—thoroughly
Christian in sentiment, and with no more shape of its own than a pillow!
Romance flies at the mere mention of Christian altruism; and the essence
of love is romance.

Hence not only technical obstacles, but essential differences are
necessary to the growth of the passion. Differences of age, differences
of sex, differences of class, temperament, hereditary strain, learning,
accomplishment, and so forth—if not _too_ great—are all necessary and
valuable. They all mean romance, and contribute to that exchange of
essences which we saw was the primitive protozoic law. It is quite
probable that the abiding romance between the sexes—so much greater as
a rule than that between two of like sex—is due to the fact that the
man and the woman never really understand each other; each to the other
is a figure in cloudland, sometimes truly divine, sometimes alas! quite
the reverse; but never clear and obvious in outline, as a simple mortal
may be expected to be.

But to return to the subject of pain and suffering. There is something
more in their work than merely to reveal to the lover the extent or the
depth of his own love. They have something surely to do with the inner
realities of the affair, with the moulding or hammering or welding
process whereby union is effected and, in some sense, a new being
created. It seems as if when two naked souls approach, or come anywhere
near contact with each other, the one inevitably burns or scorches the
other. The intense chemistry of the psychic elements produces something
like an actual flame. A fresh combination is entered into, profound
transformations are effected, strange forces liberated, and a new
personality perhaps created; and the accomplishment and evidence of the
whole process is by no means only joy, but agony also, even as
childbirth is.

All one can reasonably do is to endure. It is no good _making a fuss_.
In affairs of the heart what we call suffering corresponds to what we
call labor or effort in affairs of the body. When you put your shoulder
to the cart-wheel you feel the pain and pressure of the effort, but that
assures you that you are exercising a force, that something is being
done; so suffering of the heart assures you that something is being done
in that other and less tangible world. To scold and scowl and blame your
loved one is the stupidest thing you can do. And worse than stupid, it
is useless. For it can only alienate. Probably that other one is
suffering as well as you—possibly more than you, possibly a good deal
less. What does it matter? The suffering is there and must be borne; the
work, whatever it is, is being done; the transformation is being
effected. Do you want your beloved to suffer instead of you, or simply
because you are suffering? Or is it Pity you desire rather than Love.

On the other hand, these things borne in silence have, I believe, an
extraordinary effect. They pull people to you by quite invisible cords.
As I have said, the fact of heart-strain and tension shows that there is
a pressure or pull being exerted somewhere. Though the cord be
invisible, there is someone at the other end (though not perhaps quite
the one you supposed) who responds.

Words anyhow, in matters of love, are rather foolish; they are worse
than foolish, they are useless; and again they are worse than useless,
for they are misleading. Love is an art. “It must be revealed by
_acts_,” says a Swiss writer, “and not _betrayed_ by words.” And
Havelock Ellis, speaking further of the mistake of relying on
declarations and asservations, says:[26] “This is scarcely realized by
those ill-advised lovers who consider that the first step in
courtship—and perhaps even the whole of courtship—is for a man to ask
a woman to be his wife. That is so far from being the case that it
constantly happens that the premature exhibition of so large a demand at
once and forever damns all the wooer’s chances.” And in another passage
he says:[27] “Love’s requests cannot be made in words, nor truthfully
answered in words: a fine divination is still needed as long as love

Love is an art. As no mere talk can convey the meaning of a piece of
music or a beautiful poem, so no verbal declaration can come anywhere
near expressing what the lover wants to say. And for one very good and
sufficient reason (among others)—namely, that he does not know himself!
Under these circumstances to say anything is almost certainly to say
something misleading or false. And the decent lover knows this and holds
his tongue. To talk about your devotion is to kill it—moreover, it is
to render it banal and suspect in the eyes of your beloved.

Nevertheless though he cannot describe or explain what he wants to say,
the lover can _feel_ it—is feeling it all the time; and this feeling,
like other feelings, he can express by indirections—by symbols, by
actions, by the alphabet of deed and gesture, and all the hieroglyphics
of Life and Art. Like the animals and the angels and all the blessed
creatures who don’t _talk_, he can communicate in the ancient, primeval,
universal language of all creation, in the language which is itself



“To talk about your devotion is to kill it.” Perhaps one ought even to
say that to talk at all is to kill it! One often thinks what divine and
beautiful creatures—men and women—there are all around, how loving and
lovable, how gracious in their charm, how grand in their destiny!—if
indeed they could only be persuaded to remain within that magic circle
of silence. And then alas! one of these divinities begins to talk—and
it is like the fair woman in the fable, out of whose mouth, whenever she
opened it, there jumped a _mouse_! The shock is almost more than one can
bear. Not that the shock proceeds from the ignorance displayed—for the
animals and even the angels are deliciously ignorant—but from the
revelations which speech unconsciously makes of certain states of the
soul—from the strange _falsity_ which is too often heard in the words,
and in the very tones of the voice.

But Love burns this falsity away. That is why love—even rude and
rampant and outrageous love—does more for the moralizing of poor
humanity than a hundred thousand Sunday schools. It cleans the little
human soul from the clustered lies in which it has nested itself—from
the petty conceits and deceits and cowardices and covert meannesses—and
all the things that fly from the tip of the tongue directly the mouth
opens. It burns and cleans them away, and leaves the lover
speechless—but approximately honest!

Love is an art, and the greatest of the Arts—and the truth of it cannot
be said in words; that is, in any direct use of words. You may write a
sonnet, of course, to your mistress’s eyebrow; but that is work, that is
doing something; it is or is trying to be, a work of Art—and anyhow
your mistress is not obliged to read it! Or you may take a more decisive
line to express your feelings—by slaying your rival, for instance, with
a sword. That is allowable. But to bore the lady with protestations, and
to demand definite replies (that is, to tell lies yourself, and to
compel her to tell lies), is both foolish and wicked.

The expression of Love is a great art, and it needs man’s highest
ingenuity and capacity to become skilled in it—but in the public mind
it is an art utterly neglected and despised, and it is only by a very
few (and those not always the most ‘respectable’) that it is really
cultivated. It is a great art, for the same reason that the expression
of Beauty is a great art—for the reason that Love itself (like Beauty)
belongs to another plane of existence than the plane of ordinary life
and speech.

Speech is man’s great prerogative, which differentiates him from the
other creatures, and of which he is, especially during the Civilization
period, so proud. The animals do not use it, because they have not
arrived at the need of it; the angels do not use it, because they
have passed beyond the need. It belongs to the second stage of human
consciousness, that which is founded on self-consciousness—on the
rooted consciousness of the self as something solitary, apart from
others, even antagonistic to them, the centre (strange contradiction
in terms!) even among millions of other centres, to which everything
has to be referred. The whole of ordinary speech proceeds, and has
proceeded, from this kind of self-consciousness—is generated from it,
describes it, analyzes it, pictures it forth and expresses it—and
in the upshot is just as muddled and illusive and unsatisfactory
as the thing it proceeds from. And _Love_, which is _not_ founded
on that kind of self-consciousness—which is in fact the denial of
self-centration—has no use for it. Love can only say what it wants by
the language of life, action, song, sacrifice, ravishment, death, and
the great panorama of creation.

Self-consciousness is fatal to love. The self-conscious lover never
‘arrives.’ The woman looks at him—and then she looks at something more
interesting. And so too the whole modern period of commercial
civilization and Christianity has been fatal to love; for both these
great movements have concentrated the thoughts of men on their own
individual salvation—Christianity on the salvation of their souls, and
commercialism on the salvation of their money-bags. They have bred the
self-regarding consciousness in the highest degree; and so—though they
may have had their uses and their parts to play in the history of
mankind, they have been fatal to the communal spirit in society, and
they have been fatal to the glad expression of the soul in private life.

Self-consciousness is fatal to love, which is the true expression of the
soul. And it is curious how (for some occult reason) the whole treatment
of the subject in our modern world drives it along this painful
mirror-lined ravine—how the child is brought up in ignorance and
darkness, amid averted faces and frowns, and always the thought of self
and its own wickedness is thrust upon it, and never the good and the
beauty of the loved one; how the same attitude continues into years of
maturity; how somehow self-forgetting heroisms for the sake of love are
made difficult in modern life; how even the act of intercourse itself,
instead of taking place in the open air—in touch with the great and
abounding life of Nature—is generally consummated in closed and stuffy
rooms, the symbols of mental darkness and morbidity, and the
breeding-ground of the pettier elements of human nature.[28]

We have said that for any lasting alliance, or really big and
satisfactory love-affair, plenty of _time_ should be given. Perhaps
it is a good rule (if any rule in such matters can be good) never to
act until one is practically compelled by one’s feelings to do so. At
any rate, the opposite policy—that of letting off steam, or giving
expression to one’s sentiments, at the slightest pressure—is an obvious
mistake. It gives no chance for the depths to be stirred, or the big
forces to come into play. Some degree, too, of self-repression and
holding back on the part of the man gives time, as we have said, for
the woman’s love-feelings to unfold and define themselves. But there
is a limit here, and even sympathy and consideration are not always in
place with love. There is something bigger—titanic, elemental—which
must also have its way. And, after all, Force (if only appropriately
used) is the greatest of compliments. I think every woman, in her heart
of hearts, _wishes_ to be ravished; but naturally it must be by the
right man. This is the compliment which is the most grateful of all to
receive, because it is most sincere; and this is the compliment which
is the most difficult of all to pay—because nothing but the finest
instinct can decide when it is appropriate; and if by chance it is
inappropriate the cause is _ipso facto_ ruined.

Nature prizes strength and power; and so likewise does love, which moves
in the heart of Nature and shares her secrets. To regard Love as a kind
of refined and delicate altruism is, as we have already hinted,
drivelling nonsense. To the lover in general violence is more endurable
than indifference; and many lovers are of such temperament that blows
and kicks (actual or metaphorical) stimulate and increase their ardor.
Even Ovid—who must have been something of a gay dog in his
day—says,"_non nisi læsus amo_.” There is a feeling that at all costs
one must come to close quarters with the beloved—if not in the mimic
battles of sex, then in quite serious and hostile encounters. To reach
the other one somehow, to leave one’s mark, one’s impress on the
beloved—or _vice versa_ to _be_ reached and to _feel_ the impress—is a
necessity. I sometimes think that this is the explanation of those
strange cases in which a man, mad with love, and unable to satisfy his
passion, _kills_ the girl he loves. I don’t think it is hypothetical
jealousy of a possible other lover. I think it is something much more
direct than that—the blind urge to reach her very actual self, even if
it be only with knife or bullet. I am sure that this is the explanation
of those many cases of unhappily married folk who everlastingly nag at
each other, and yet will not on any account part company. They cannot
love each other properly, and yet they cannot leave each other alone. A
strange madness urges them into continual contact and collision.

But yet possibly there is even something more in the whole thing, on and
beyond what is here indicated. In the extraordinary and often agonizing
experiences attending the matter of ‘falling in love,’ great changes, as
we have already suggested, are being wrought in the human being.
Astounding inner convulsions and conversions take place—rejections of
old habits, adoptions of new ones. The presence of the beloved exercises
this magical selective and reconstructive influence—and that
independently to a large degree of whether the relation is a happy and
‘successful’ one, or whether it is contrary and unsuccessful. The main
thing is contact, and the coming of one person into touch with the

We have seen, in the case of the Protozoa, the amazing fact of the
‘maturation-divisions’ and the ‘extrusion of polar bodies’ as a
preparation for conjugation—how, when the two cells which are about to
unite approach each other, changes take place already before they come
into contact, and half the chromatin elements from one cell are
expelled, and half the chromatin elements also from the other. What the
exact nature of this division and extrusion may be is a thing not yet
known, but there seems every reason to believe that it is of such a
character as to leave the residual elements on both sides complementary
to one another—so that when united they shall restore the total
attributes of the race-life, only perhaps in a new and unprecedented
combination. The Protozoa in fact ‘prepare’ themselves for conjugation
and realization of the race-life, by casting out certain elements which
would interfere with this realization. And we may well ask ourselves
whether in the case of Man the convulsions and conversions of which we
have spoken have not the same purpose and result, or something much
resembling it. Whatever really takes place in the unseen world in the
case of human Love, we cannot but be persuaded that it is something of
very far-reaching and long-lasting import; and to find that the process
should often involve great pain to the little mortals concerned seems
readily conceivable and by no means unnatural.

The complementary nature of love is a thing which has often been pointed
out—how the dark marries the fair, the tall the short, the active the
lethargic, and so forth. Schopenhauer, in his _Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung_, has made a special study of this subject. Plato, Darwin,
and others have alluded to it. It seems as if, in Love, the creature—to
use Dante Rossetti’s expression—feels a “poignant thirst and exquisite
hunger” for that other one who will supply the elements wanting in
himself, who will restore the balance, and fill up the round of the race
ideal. And as every one of us is eccentric and out of balance and
perfection on one side or another, so it almost seems as if for every
one there must be, on the other side, a complementary character to be
found—who needs _something_ at any rate of what we can supply. And this
consideration may yield us the motto—however painfully conscious we may
be of our own weaknesses and deficiencies and follies and vices and
general ungainliness—the motto of “Never despair!” Innocent folk, whose
studies of this subject have been chiefly perhaps derived from penny
novelettes—are sometimes inclined to think that love is a stereotyped
affair occurring in a certain pattern and under certain conditions
between the ages of 18 and 35; and that if you are not between these
ages and are not fortunate enough to have a good complexion and a nicely
formed aquiline nose, you may as well abandon hope! They suppose that
there is a certain thing called a Man, and another certain thing called
a Woman, and that the combination of these two forms a third quite
stereotyped thing called Marriage, _and there is an end of it_.

But by some kind of Providential arrangement it appears that the actual
facts are very different—that there are really hundreds of thousands of
different kinds of men, and hundreds of thousands of different kinds of
women, and consequently thousands of millions of different kinds of
marriage; that there are no limits of grace or comeliness, or of
character and accomplishment, or even of infirmity or age, within which
love is obliged to move; and that there is no defect, of body or mind,
which is of necessity a bar—which may not even (to some special other
person) become an object of attraction. Thus it is that the ugly and
deformed have no great difficulty in finding their mates—as a visit to
the seaside on a bank-holiday speedily convinces us; a squint may be a
positive attraction to some, as it is said to have been to the
philosopher Descartes, and marks of smallpox indispensable to
others;[29] while I have read of a case somewhere, where the man was
immediately stirred to romance by the sight of a wooden leg in a

But apart from these extreme instances which may be due to special
causes, the general principle of compensation through opposites is very
obvious and marked. The fluffy and absurd little woman is selected by a
tall and statuesque grenadier; the tall and statuesque lady is made love
to by a man who has to stand on a chair to kiss her; the society elegant
takes to a snuffy and preposterous professor; the bookish scholar (as in
_Jude the Obscure_) to a mere whore; the clever beauty (as in _L’homme
qui rit_) to a grinning clown; and of course the ‘wicked’ man is always
saved by the saintly woman. The masculine, virago-like woman, on the
other hand, finds a man who positively _likes_ being beaten with a
stick; and the miaowling, aimlessly amiable female gets a bully for a
husband (and one can only say, “Serve them both right”)... Finally, the
well-formed aquiline nose insists on marrying a pug nose—and this
apparently quite regardless of what the other bodily and mental parts
may be, or what they may want.

Everyone knows cases of quite young men who only love women of really
advanced age, beyond the limit of childbirth; and these are curious
because they seem to point to impelling forces in love beyond and
independent of generation and race-perpetuation, and therefore lying
outside of the Schopenhauerian explanations. And similarly we all know
cases of young girls who are deadly earnest in their affection for quite
old men, men who might well be their fathers or grandfathers, but
hardly, one would think, their husbands. In these cases it looks as if
the young thing needs and seeks a parent as well as a lover—the two in
one, combined. And where such love is returned, it is returned in a kind
of protective love, rather than an amative love—or at any rate as a
love in which the protective and amative characters are closely united.

Similarly there are numbers of cases in which mature or quite grown men
and women only love (passionately and devotedly) boys and girls of
immature age—their love for them ceasing from its ardor and intensity
when the objects of devotion reach the age, say, of twenty or
twenty-one. And in many of these cases the love is ardently returned.
Here, again, it is evidently not a case of generation or
race-perpetuation, but simply of compensation—the young thing requiring
the help and protection of the older, and the older requiring an outlet
for the protective instinct—a case of exchange of essences and
qualities which (if at all decently and sensibly managed) might well go
to the building up of a full and well-rounded life on either side.

In all these cases (and the above are of course only samples out of
thousands) we seem to see an effort of the race-life to restore its
total quality—to restore it through the operation of love—either by
completing and rounding out the life of the individuals concerned, or by
uniting some of their characteristics in the progeny. I say ‘seem to
see,’ because we cannot well suppose that this gives a _complete_
account of the matter, or that it explains the whole meaning of Love;
but it at any rate suggests an important aspect of the question. The
full quality of the race-life is always building itself up and restoring
itself in this manner. A process of Regeneration is always going on. And
this process, as suggested before, is more fundamental even than
Generation—or it is a process of which Generation is only one

Regeneration is the key to the meaning of love—to be in the first place
born again _in_ some one else or _through_ some one else; in the second
place only, to be born again through a child. As in the Protozoa, so
among human beings, generation alone can hardly be looked upon as the
primary object of conjugation; for, among the latter, out of myriads of
unions vast numbers are as a matter of fact infertile, and a
considerable percentage (as indicated above) are quite _necessarily_
infertile, and yet these infertile unions are quite as close, and the
love concerned in them quite as intense and penetrating, as in the case
of the fertile ones. “If a girl were free to choose according to her
inclinations,” says Florence Farr in an eloquent plea for the economic
independence of women,[31] “there is practically no doubt that she would
choose the right father for her child, however badly she might choose a
life-long companion for herself.” In this passage the authoress seems to
suggest (perhaps following Schopenhauer) that the generation of a
perfect child is the one main even though unconscious purpose of
love-union, and that the individual parent-lives may instinctively be
sacrificed for this object. And there no doubt is so far truth in this,
that the tremendous forces of love often pay little respect to the world
conveniences and compatibilities of the lovers themselves, and that
often (as indeed also among the Protozoa) the parent’s life is rudely
and ruthlessly sacrificed for the birth of the next generation. Still,
even so, I think the statement as put here is risky, both as a matter of
fact and as a matter of theory. Would it not be more correct or less
risky to say: “If a girl were free to choose, she would choose the man
who most completely compensated and rounded out her own qualities,
physical and mental (and _so_ would be likely to get her a fine babe),
even though he might not prove the best of companions?”

It is curious, as we have suggested before, how married folk often
quarrel to desperation on the surface, and yet seem to have a deep and
permanent hold on each other—returning together again even after
separation. It seems in these cases as if they mutually obtained a
stimulus from each other, even by their strife, which they could not get
elsewhere. _Iræ amantium redintegratio amoris._ The idea, too, that the
great and primal object of union is to be sought in _the next
generation_ has something unsatisfactory about it. Why not in _this_
generation? Why should the blessedness of mankind always be deferred to
posterity? It is not merely, I take it, the _perpetuation_ of the race
which is the purpose of love, but the perfection of the race, the
completeness and adequacy of its self-expression, which love may make
possible to-day just as well as to-morrow. Ellen Key, in that fine book,
_Liebe und Ehe_,[32] expresses this well when she says: “Love seeks
union, not only in connection with the creation of a new being, but also
because two beings _through one another_ may become a new being, and a
greater than either could be of itself alone.”

The complementary nature of sex-attraction was made much of by that
youthful genius Otto Weininger, who in his book, _Sex and
Character_,[33] has a chapter on the laws of Sexual Attractions in
which, in the true German manner, he not only gives an algebraic formula
for the different types of men and women, but a formula also for the
force of attraction between any two given individuals—which latter of
course becomes infinite when the two individuals are exactly
complementary to each other! Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, in his very
interesting work, _Die Transvestiten_,[34] goes even more into detail
than does Weininger on the subject of the variations of human type in
special regard to sex-characteristics. Sex-characteristics, he explains,
may be divided into four groups, of which two are physiological, namely
the primary characteristics (the sex organs and adjuncts) and the
secondary (the hair, the voice, the breasts, and so forth); and two are
psychological or related (like love-sentiment, mental habit, dress, and
so forth). Each of the four groups includes about four different
elements; so that altogether he tabulates sixteen elements in the human
being—each of which may vary independently of the other fifteen, and
take on at least three possible forms, either distinctly masculine,
distinctly feminine, or intermediate. Calculating up the number of
different types which these variations would thus give rise to, he
arrives at the figure 43,046,721!—which figure, I think we may say, we
need not analyze further, since it is certainly quite large enough for
all practical purposes! And really though we may mock a little at these
fanciful divisions and dissections of human nature, they do help us to
realize the enormous, the astounding number of varieties of which it is
susceptible. And if again we consider that among the supposed
forty-three millions each variety would have its counter type or
complementary individual, then we realize the enormous number of perfect
unions which would be theoretically possible, and the enormous number of
distinct and different ways in which the race-life could thus find
adequate and admirable expression for itself.

However, we are here getting into a somewhat abstract region. To return
to the practical, the complementary idea certainly seems to account for
much of human union; for though there are but few cases in which the
qualities of the uniting parties are really quite complementary to each
other, yet it is obvious that each person tends to seek and admire
attributes in the other which he himself possesses only in small degree.
At the same time, it must not be forgotten that _some_ common qualities
and common ground are necessary as a basis for affection, and that
sympathy and agreement in like interests and habits are at least as
powerful a bond as admiration of opposites. It sometimes happens that
there are immense romances between people of quite different classes and
habits of life, or of quite different race and color; and they see, for
the moment, flaming ideals and wonder-worlds in each other. But unions
in such cases are doubtful and dangerous, because so often the common
ground of sympathy and mutual understanding will be too limited; and
hereditary instincts and influences, deep-lying and deep-working, will
call the wanderers away, even from the star which they seek to follow.

Sympathy with and understanding of the person one lives with must be
cultivated to the last degree possible, because it is a condition of any
real and permanent alliance. And it may even go so far (and should go so
far) as a frank understanding and tolerance of such person’s _other_
loves. After all, it seldom happens, with any one who has more than one
or two great interests in life, that he finds a mate who can sympathize
with or understand them all. In that case a certain portion of his
personality is left out in the cold, as it were; and if this is an
important portion it seems perfectly natural for him to seek for a mate
or a lover on that side too. Two such loves are often perfectly
compatible and reconcilable—though naturally one will be the dominant
love, and the other subsidiary, and if such secondary loves are
good-humoredly tolerated and admitted, the effect will generally be to
confirm the first and original alliance all the more.

All this, however, does not mean that a man can well be ‘in love’ with
two women, for instance, at the same time. To love is a very different
thing from being ‘in love’; and the latter indicates a torrent-rush of
feeling which necessarily can only move towards one person at a time. (A
standing flood of water may embrace and surround several islands, but it
cannot very well _flow_ in more than one direction at once.) But this
torrent-rush does not last forever, and in due time it subsides into the
quiescent and lake-like stage—unless indeed it runs itself out and
disappears altogether.

Against this running out and disappearance it is part of the Art of Love
to be able to guard. It has sometimes been argued that familiarity is of
necessity fatal; and that it is useless to contend against this sinister
tendency implanted in the very nature of love itself. But this
contention contains only a very partial truth. It is true that in
physical love there is a certain physical polarity which, like electric
polarity, tends to equate itself by contact. The exchange of
essences—which we saw as a chief phenomenon of conjugation, from the
protozoa upwards—completes itself in any given case after a given time;
and after that becomes comparatively quiescent. The same with the
exchange of mental essences. Two people, after years, cease to exchange
their views and opinions with the same vitality as at first; they lose
their snap and crackle with regard to each other—and naturally, because
they now know each other’s minds perfectly, and have perhaps modified
them mutually to the point of likeness. But this only means, or should
mean in a healthy case, that their interest in each other has passed
into another plane, that the _venue_ of Love has been removed to another
court. If something has been lost in respect of the physical rush and
torrent, and something in respect of the mental breeze and sparkle,
great things have been gained in the ever-widening assurance and
confidence of spiritual unity, and a kind of lake-like calm which indeed
reflects the heavens. And under all, still in the depths, one may be
conscious of a subtle flow and interchange, yet going on between the two
personalities and relating itself to some deep and unseen movements far
down in the heart of Nature.

Of course for this continuance and permanence of love there must be a
certain amount of continence, not only physical, but on the emotional
plane as well. Anything like nausea, created by excess on either of
these planes, has to be avoided. New subjects of interest, and points of
contact, must be sought; temporary absences rather encouraged than
deprecated; and lesser loves, as we have already hinted, not turned into
gages of battle. Few things, in fact, endear one to a partner so much as
the sense that one can freely confide to him or her one’s _affaires de
cœur_; and when a man and wife have reached this point of confidence in
their relation to each other, it may fairly then be said (however
shocking this may sound to the orthodox) that their union is permanent
and assured.

Nothing can, in the longer enduring values of love, well take the place
of some such chivalrous mutual consideration which reaches the finest
fibres of the heart, and offers a perfect freedom even there. Ellen
Key—to quote her _Ueber Liebe und Ehe_[35] again—says, “Fidelity [in
love] can never be promised, but may be _won afresh_ every day;” and she
continues, “It is sad that this truth—which was clear enough to the
chivalrous sentiment of the old courts of Love—must still to-day be
insisted on. One of the reasons, in fact, which these courts gave, why
love was not compatible with Marriage, was ‘that the wife could never
expect from her husband the fine consideration that the Lover is bound
to exhibit, because the latter only receives as a favor what the husband
takes as his right.’” To preserve love through years and years with this
halo of romance still about it, and this tenderness of devotion which
means a daily renewed gift of freedom, is indeed a great Art. It is a
great and difficult Art, but one which is assuredly “worth while.”

The passion altogether, and in all its aspects, is a wonderful thing;
and perhaps, as remarked before, the less said about it, the better!
When people—I would say—come (not without clatter) and offer you their
hearts, do not pay _too_ much attention. What they offer may be genuine,
or it may not—they themselves probably do not know. Nor do _you_ also
fall into a like mistake, offering something which you have not the
power to give—or to withhold. Silence and Time alone avail. These
things lie on the knees of the gods; which place—though it may seem, as
someone has said, ‘rather cold and uncomfortable’—is perhaps the best
place for them.



We have suggested in the last paper that some day possibly we may arrive
at an intelligent handling of love and its problems, by which at length
the passion may cease to be the cause of endless shipwreck and despair
to mortals, and become a favorable and friendly divinity obedient to our
service. Somewhat thus has been man’s experience with all the great
powers of Nature—with fire and flood on the earth, with the winds and
lightning of heaven. With intelligent treatment they have become his
very ready helpers and allies. And, as indicated in the outset of this
book, we may fairly expect the same conclusion with regard to the great
natural event and process termed Death. The time has come when we are
really called upon to face up to the fact of our decease from the
present conditions of life, physical and mental; when we are called upon
to study and to understand this fact, and by understanding to become
masters of the change which it represents—and able to convert it to our
great use and advantage.

Hitherto—as I shall have occasion presently to point out—there has
been singularly little study of this science, either from the clinical,
the physiological, or the psychological points of view; and the art of
dying, for example (which is the subject of this chapter), seems to have
been entirely neglected.

No doubt it may be said that this is a difficult art—difficult to
study, and more difficult still to practise; yet, after all, that seems
only the more reason for approaching it. The art of _avoiding_ death
commands much attention, and there are hundreds and thousands of books
on that subject; yet since none can really avoid the experience and all
must sooner or later pass through it, it might be thought that the art
of meeting one’s end with discretion and presence of mind would at least
command as much attention.

There ought, one would say—and considering the continual presence of
this great ocean waiting to receive us—to be lessons on the subject of
its navigation free of charge, and available for all who wish, just as
there are lessons in swimming for sailors. And though it may be true
that since, as a rule, one cannot die more than once, it is difficult to
obtain the needed practice, yet even so one may with perseverance get
some approach to doing so. There are a good many recorded cases of
people who have apparently died, and after an interval of a few minutes
or a few hours have come to life again. I knew a married lady, some
years back, who after a long period of illness was given up by the
doctors, and gradually sank till to all appearances she passed away. The
medical man pronounced life to be extinct, and the relatives began to
make the usual arrangements for her funeral. However, being devoted to
her children, and anxious to see them through a critical period, she had
made up her mind _not_ to die, and being a woman of strong will she
clung to her resolution. Two or three hours elapsed, and then, to the
surprise and joy of her friends she returned from ‘the other
side’—after which she lived three or four years, sufficiently long to
carry out what was needed for her family. And though in this case she
had no very distinct experience to report of another state of existence,
yet the fact of her ‘will to live’ having persevered through the sleep
or apparent death of her body and upper mind, was sufficient to convince
her of survival of some sort on a deeper plane, and to disarm all fear
and hesitation when death finally came.

Probably, on the ordinary mental plane, death very much resembles sleep,
and its actual arrival is almost imperceptible; but, in the deeper
regions of the mind, there are not unfrequently signs or suggestions of
a great awakening. An expression of ecstasy often overspreads the
features; sometimes there are sudden apparent recognitions of friends
who have already passed away;[36] in many cases there seems to be a
great extension of memory and perception; and in not a few a distinct
sensation of flying or moving upwards.[37] To these and other similar
considerations I shall return later. At present I would prefer to keep
to the more physical aspects of the question; but even so far, one
cannot help feeling that—whatever collateral drawbacks there may be in
death—in the way of painful illness, parting with friends, disturbance
and abandonment of plans, and so forth—the experience itself must be
enormously interesting. Talk about starting on a journey; but what must
the longest sea-voyage be, compared with this one, with its wonderful
vista, and visions, and voices calling? And again, since it is an
experience that all must go through, and that countless millons of our
fellows _have_ gone through and are still continually going through, for
that very reason alone it has a fascination; and one feels that had one
the opportunity to avoid it one would hardly wish to do so.

As I have said, it is curious that there is next to no instruction or
guidance commonly provided or accessible in this matter. I mean
especially on the physical side. What are our medical folk doing? There
are lots of books on childbirth and the science of parturition, and the
best methods of making the transition easy; but when it comes to the end
of life and the event corresponding and complementary to birth, there is
little except silence and dismay.

The usual course of preparation for this most important event seems to
be (barring accidents) something as follows:—a physically unhealthy and
morally stupid life, which inevitably leads to degenerative tendencies
and ultimately to distinct disease; then one or two breakdowns, which
lead to panic, and the summoning of doctors; then partial recovery,
and a repetition _da capo_ of the whole series, without any of the
least improvement in the general style of life; then of course worse
breakdown and panic, leading at last to violent drugs, injections,
operations, and so forth, in the hope of prolonging existence a few
hours; and finally death arriving, not graciously, but in the sense of
a dismal defeat and rout to everybody concerned; and to the patient a
hurried, confused and embittered end, robbed of all decency and dignity.

Now this won’t do! When one thinks of the deaths of animals—so composed
on the whole—the calm, the quietude, the dignity even, and the absence
as a rule of very acute or obvious suffering; or when one thinks of the
very similar conditions of death among many savage peoples; one cannot
but ask, Why this difference? One cannot but say, It really _will not
do_ for us ‘the heirs of all the ages’ to go on behaving in this feeble
and foolish way—leading lives which utterly unfit us for the inevitable
end of life, and stricken with most incompetent panic and dismay when
the very thing arrives which we have foreseen and which we have had such
ample time to prepare for.

Death—from whatever point of view we look at it—seems to be a break-up
of the unity of the creature.[38] It is a dislocation and to some
degree a rending asunder. But such dislocation and break-up may be
of a healthy and normal type, or it may be unhealthy and of the
nature of disease. In the first case it may chiefly consist in the
getting rid or shedding off of an out-worn husk, which is simply left
behind—much in the same way as the chrysalis sheath of a moth or
other insect is left behind, or as the husks of a growing bud or bulb
are peeled off. Many an old person seems to die in this way—the body
being the scene of little or no disturbance or conflict, but simply
withering up, while often at the same time the spiritual nature of
the man becomes strangely luminous and penetrating. Here there is a
certain dislocation, but no painful rending asunder. The centre of
life seems merely to retire to a more inward and subtle region, where
it perchance nourishes an even brighter flame than before; and the
outer body is peeled off as a sort of outworn shell. But in other
cases death is undoubtedly very different. Instead of the one centre
simply withdrawing inward in the way indicated, while at the same
time preserving almost to the last a general unity of the creature,
rebellious and insubordinate centres spring up and introduce serious
conflict into the organism. These are of course diseases, or centres
of disease—either in the body, like tumors, alien growths, nests
of microbes, and so forth; or in the mind, like violent passions,
greeds, anxieties, fears, rigid habits. And forming thus independent
centres they tear and rend the body and mind between them till at last
death supervenes—not at all on account of the voluntary withdrawal
of the inner person to more ethereal regions, but simply through the
destruction of the organism in which that person functions.

It is evident (whatever view one may take of that inner person and its
perduration into other regions of existence) that the former mode of
death is the more normal, natural and desirable of the two, and the one
which we should encourage and cultivate; and that the latter is likely
to be painful, undignified, and even repulsive.

From this point of view, to strengthen the organizing, regulating power
of the body, as against local growths and insurgencies, seems (in
general terms) the best line to take—the best way of prolonging life,
and of rendering death fairly easy and negotiable. The outlying
centres—as represented by the various organs and faculties, both of the
body and of the mind—have to be kept during life in subordination to
the main centre, and as far as possible in decent harness and exercise,
so as to become neither too slack on the one hand, nor too rowdy and
insolent on the other. In this way, when the vital forces decay, these
organs and faculties remain still subservient to the central being, and
becoming comparatively quiescent make room for its further passage and
development. There are, indeed, some cases of death, in which the whole
inner spirit and consciousness of the man seems to pass on unchanged,
while the rabble rout of the body simply falls away, or is left behind,
like a disused garment or husk as we have said.

It should, however, be noted that the strengthening of the organizing
and regulating forces does not and must not mean the introduction of
rigid and quasi-tyrannical habits (however ‘good’ such habits may be
supposed to be). The interior Person—as we shall see later—is far too
great and free to be adequately represented by any such habits or
regulations, even the ‘best,’ and they really belong to the lower mind
or body. Their dominance leads to an ossifying or woodening and
valetudinarian tendency in the organism, which is as bad in its way as
the uncontrolled or inflammatory tendency.

To avoid these opposite pitfalls, and to live sanely and sensibly, in a
certain close touch with Nature and with the roots of human life, is no
doubt difficult, especially under the ordinary conditions of
civilization; yet it is surely well worth while—both for the sake of
life itself and for the termination of it. And to keep a certain command
of the situation during the mid-period of one’s day is probably the best
way toward commanding the situation at the end. But the ordinary medical
methods—with their drugs, their stimulants, their sleeping-draughts,
their operations, their injections of morphia, serums, and so forth, are
surely acting all the time in the opposite direction. Their tendency
surely is to confuse and weaken the central agency, while at the same
time they excite and sometimes madden the local centres—till not
unfrequently the patient dies, confused, unconscious, wrecked, and a
mass of disorders and corruption. The launching of a ship on the great
ocean is a thing that is prepared for, even during all the period when
the vessel is being built and perfected. I am not a professional; but
will no one write a manual on the subject, even from the medical and
physiological point of view—How to prepare for death.... How to go
through this great change with some degree of satisfaction, command, and
intelligence? Above all, may we have a truce to the so common and
unworthy conspiracies between doctors, nurses, and relatives, by which
for the sake of keeping the patient a few hours (or at most a few days)
longer alive, the unfortunate one—instead of being let alone and
allowed to die peacefully as far as may be, and as indeed in nine cases
out of ten he himself desires—is on the contrary tormented (defenceless
as he is) with operations, inoculations and medical insults of all kinds
up to the very last? The thing has become a positive scandal; and though
the ignorant importunities of lay relatives may sometimes be deplorable,
yet the prospect in one’s last moments of falling into the hands of
professionals is even worse, and adds a new terror to dissolution. It is
at any rate a consolation to know that whatever pains and torments of
illness may have preceded, they generally pass away before the end; and
notwithstanding such current expressions as ‘death-agonies,’ ‘last
struggle,’ and so forth, the hour of death itself is mercifully calm and
peaceful. Walt Whitman, who, in his hospital labors in the American
Civil War, must have been present at a vast number of deathbeds, has
recorded that in the great majority of cases the end comes quite simply,
as an ordinary event of the day, “like having your breakfast.” “Death is
no more painful than birth,” says Dr. Edward Clark in his book on
_Visions: a Study of False Sight_;[39] and most doctors will agree to
the general truth of this expression.

There is a certain sacredness in Death, which should surely be
respected. There is too, we may say, in most cases, a sure instinct
which comes to the patient of what is impending and of what is needed;
and every effort should be made to secure to the sufferer a quiet period
during which he may effect the passage, for himself, disturbed as little
as possible by the grief of friends or the interferences of attendants.


We may now discuss the subject in hand somewhat more from the psychical
side. Not that in these matters the physical and the psychical can ever
be completely dissociated, but that having in the preceding section
leaned more to the physical side it may be convenient now to lean rather
to the psychical.

And there is certainly an advantage here—namely, that from this side we
may not unreasonably say that the art of dying _can_ be practised: it is
really possible to approach or even perhaps to pass through Death on the
mental plane, by voluntary effort. Most people regard the loss of
ordinary consciousness (apart from sleep) with something like terror and
horror. The best way to dispel that fear is to walk through the gate
oneself every day—to divest oneself of that consciousness, and,
mentally speaking, to die from time to time. Then one may get accustomed
to it.

Of all the hard facts of Science: as that fire will burn, that water
will freeze, that the earth spins on its axis, and so forth, I know of
none more solid and fundamental than the fact that if you inhibit
thought (and persevere) you come at length to a region of consciousness
below or behind thought, and different from ordinary thought in its
nature and character—a consciousness of quasi-universal quality, and a
realization of an altogether vaster self than that to which we are
accustomed. And since the ordinary consciousness, with which we are
concerned in ordinary life, is before all things founded on the little
local self, and is in fact _self_-consciousness in the little local
sense, it follows that to pass out of that is to die to the ordinary
self and the ordinary world.

It is to die in the ordinary sense, but in another sense it is to wake
up and find that the ‘I,’ one’s real, most intimate self, pervades the
universe and all other beings—that the mountains and the sea and the
stars are a part of one’s body and that one’s soul is in touch with the
souls of all creatures. Yes, far closer than before. It is to be assured
of an indestructible immortal life and of a joy immense and
inexpressible—“to drink of the deep well of rest and joy, and sit with
all the Gods in Paradise.”

So great, so splendid is this experience, that it may be said that all
minor questions and doubts fall away in face of it; and certain it is
that in thousands and thousands of cases the fact of its having come
even once to a man has completely revolutionized his subsequent life and
outlook on the world.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Of exactly how this inhibition of Thought may be practised, and of all
its collateral results and implications it would be out of place to
speak now.[40] Sufficient at present to say that with the completion of
this inhibition, and the realization of the consequent change of
consciousness—even if it be only for a time—the ordinary mental self,
with all its worries, cares, limitations, imperfections, and so forth,
falls completely off, and lies (for the time) like a thing dead; while
the real man practically passes onward into another state of being.

To experience all this with any degree of fulness, is to know that you
have passed through Death; because whatever destruction physical death
may bring to your local senses and faculties, you know that it will not
affect that deeper Self. I mean that having already become aware of your
real self as pervading the life of other creatures, and moving in other
bodies than your so-called own, it clearly does not so very much matter
whether the one body remains or passes. It may make a difference
certainly, but not a fatal or insuperable difference. The vast ocean of
the consciousness into which you have been admitted will not be
profoundly affected, even by the abstraction of a pearl-shell from its

We have spoken of the Protozoa more than once in these connections; and
it has been said that the Protozoa have been considered immortal
because, though they divide into separate cells or organisms, the life
remains continuous; and because though some of the descendant cells may
die yet the life goes on—so that even in the hundredth generation the
self or ego of a particular cell may be identical with that of the first
parent. And in the case we are considering we have something similar,
for when the common life of souls is once recognized and experienced, it
is clear that nothing can destroy it. It simply passes from one form to
another. And we may perhaps say that as the Protozoa attain to a kind of
immortality _below_ death, or prior to its appearance in the world, so
the emancipated or freed soul attains to immortality above and beyond
death—passing _over_ death, in fact, as a mere detail in its career.

I say, this heart and kernel of a great and immortal self, this
consciousness of a powerful and continuing life within, _is_
there—however deeply it may be buried—within each person; and its
discovery is open to everyone who will truly and persistently seek for
it. And I say that I regard the discovery of this experience—with its
accompanying sense of rest, content, expansion, power, joy, and even
omniscience and immensity—as the most fundamental and important fact
hitherto of human knowledge and scientific inquiry, and one verified and
corroborated by thousands and even millions of human kind. Doubtless, as
already suggested, questions may arise and will arise as to the exact
nature of this continuing life, its exact relation to the local personal
consciousness, as well as to what is called the sublimal self—how far
definite personality and memory go with it, and so forth. These
questions we may return to later. At present let us simply rest on the
experience itself.

When Death is at hand, or its oncoming cannot long be delayed, there is
still _that_ to remember, to revert to, to cling to. And the more often
we have made the experience our very own, in life, the easier will it be
to hold on to at the close. Whatever physical death may bring—in the
way of pain or distress or dislocation of faculty—there still remains
that indefeasible fact, the certainty of the survival of the deepest,
most universal portion of our natures. In some cases this deepest
consciousness does itself remain so clear, so strong that—even through
all the obscurations of illness and bodily weakness—death practically
brings no break; the body is shed off, more or less like a husk or
chrysalis (with effort and struggle perhaps, but without anguish and
despair); and the human being passes on to realize under some other form
the divine life which he has already partially entered into. I think it
evident that this is the state of affairs which we ought to put before
ourselves as the goal of our endeavor. It would seem the only condition
which secures a sense of continuity in death, or which does not carry
with it some threat of failure or extinction. And it suggests to us that
our persistent and unremitted effort during ordinary life should be to
realize and lay hold of this immortal Thing, to conquer and make our own
this very Heart of the universe. It suggests that every magnanimous
deed, every self-forgetting enthusiasm, every great and passionate love,
every determined effort to get down into the heart and truth of things
and below the conventional crust, does really bring us nearer to that
attainment, and hasten the day when mankind at large shall indeed
finally obtain the victory; and the passage into and through death shall
appear natural and simple and clear of obstruction, and even in its due
time desirable.

It is clear, however, that in a great number of cases this deepest
consciousness, even if it has occasionally during life been reached by
the person concerned, has not been sufficiently firmly established to
endure through times of sickness, bodily weakness, and mental decay;
while again, perhaps in the vast majority of cases, the previous
realizations have been almost _nil_, or at most have been too few or too
slight to count for much. What are we to say in such cases as these?
Even if with the eye of faith or philosophy the bystander may seem to
see the immortal spark shining, what consolation or assistance is that
to the sufferer himself, who does not perceive or feel it? What is
likely to be his experience of dissolution? and what may he fairly
expect or look to as any sort of solution of the obscure problem?

To get any kind of answer to these questions and any clear idea of what
really happens in the great majority of cases—when the break-up which
we call dissolution arrives—it will be necessary to analyze roughly the
nature of Man. We shall then see what are the various elements of that
nature, and what their probable destination, respectively. And for the
purpose in hand I think we may divide the complete human being into four
sections—though remembering of course that the classification proposed,
or any such classification, can only be very rough and
tentative—namely, into (1) the eternal and immortal Self, of which we
have already spoken; (2) the inner personal ego or human soul; (3) the
outer personality or animal self; and (4) the actual body. Of these,
(1), the eternal Self, is the germ or root of the whole human being; and
I think we may even say that all the sections and elements of our human
nature are really manifestations or outgrowths from this root (though of
course in most cases unconscious of their real belonging or their real
source). Then (2), the inner personal self or human soul, includes the
finer and subtler elements of ‘character’—which we know so well in our
friends, yet find so difficult to describe, but which are roughly
denoted by such words as affection, courage, wit, sympathy, love of
beauty, sense of equality, freedom, self-reliance, determination, and so
forth; while (3), the outer personality or animal soul (not at all of
course to be despised), is concerned with the more terrestrial desires
and passions like pride, ambition, love of possession, jealousy, and
especially those that relate themselves directly to the body, _e.g._
desires of food, drink, sex, ease, sleep, and so forth; and finally,
(4), the body, includes all the material organs and parts. Other and
intermediate subdivisions may be and sometimes are made, but these four
will probably suffice for the present—remembering, as already said,
that they have only a rough value: hard and fast lines and divisions in
such matters being impossible, and the nature of man being really
continuous and not built in sections; remembering, too, with regard to
all four divisions, that the elements of them are not at all times
present in consciousness, but to a large degree remain conscious or
hidden or subliminal.



Allowing, then, that our human nature may be roughly divided as above
into four main constituents, the destiny of two of these at death seems
pretty clear. It is clear that (1) the central self remains (whether
“we” know it or not) the same as it ever was, and ever will be, eternal,
shining in glory and irradiating the world. It goes on, to be the
birth-source, may be, of numberless lives to come. On the other hand, it
is equally clear that (4) the actual visible tangible body dies,
perishes, and is broken up. Though it may return, in its elements and
through what we call Nature, into the great birth-source, it ceases as
an individual body to exist, and passes even before the eyes of
onlookers into other forms. The fate of these two portions of the human
entity can hardly be doubted—of the innermost central portion,
continuance, with but slow or secular change, if any; of the outermost
material shell, immediate decay and dissolution.

What, then, may we suppose is the destiny of the other two portions, the
human and the animal part? I think we may fairly suppose that they each
share to a considerable degree the destiny of that extreme to which they
are closest related. The outer personality or animal life, (3), is most
closely related to the body. Its passions and desires (though in
themselves psychical and mental entities) look always to the body for
their expression and satisfaction. It is difficult to suppose them
functioning _without_ the body. We cannot, for instance, very well
imagine the passion for drink without some kind of mouth or gullet
through which to work (though of course it may carry on a sort of
dream-activity by representing these channels to itself, or creating
mental images of them). And similarly of the passion of personal vanity,
or the passion of sex: they refer themselves always to the body, in some
degree or other.

It is clear then, I think, that when the body in death breaks up, these
psychic elements which function through it and correspond to the various
parts and organs—these passions and desires, and with them the whole
animal being—are to some extent involved in the ruin. They are (in most
cases) smitten with dire suffering and confusion. A terrible misgiving
and dismay assault them; and with the break-up and disruption of the
body they too experience the agonies of disruption, and foresee their
own dissolution and death.[41]

Yet to conclude from this that these elements do absolutely perish,
would, I think, be a mistake. For these passional entities and this
animal soul, though they seek the body and manifest themselves
through it, are not the same as the body. They have a creative power
within them.[42] The drunkard, as suggested, deprived of his liquor,
represents furiously to himself in imagination the act of drinking: he
dreams a gullet a yard long and an endless swallow—and in doing so he
actually moulds and modifies his swallowing apparatus. The vain man and
the sexual similarly mould and modify their bodies; they contribute to
the building of the shapes which they use. And this sort of process
going on through the ages has _created_ the forms of the animals and
mankind, and their respective members and organs.[43] All these things
are the expression and manifestation and output of the psychical
entities and passions and qualities underlying—which themselves are
implicit in the world-soul, which indeed have grown up and manifested
themselves out of the world-soul, and which still deeply though
hiddenly root back into it.

The most reasonable and obvious answer, then, to the question, What
becomes of the animal life and its satellite passions when the body
dies? seems to be that under normal conditions they die too—in the
sense that they cease to be manifest. They die, like the body, only with
this difference, that _being_ psychical—_i.e._ having a consciousness
and a self underlying, while the body dies back into earth and air, they
die back into the psychic roots from which they originally sprang—that
is, into that form of the Self or World-soul of which they are the
manifestation—as, for instance, in the case of the animals, into the
self or soul of the race; in the case of undeveloped man, partly into
the soul of the race and partly into the human soul which is affiliated
to the soul of the race; and in the case of perfected man, entirely into
the human soul or inner personality which, having now found and
established its union with the supreme and eternal Self, is no longer
dependent on the soul of the race, but has entered into a divine and
immortal life of its own.

Thus in entirely normal cases, both of animals and man, we should
conclude that the animal soul at the time of bodily death may return
perfectly calmly and naturally into its own roots (as fern-fronds die
back in winter), and the whole process may fulfil itself quite simply
and graciously and with a minimum of suffering. But this can only be
expected to happen in instances where instinctively (as in healthy
animals and primitive men) or intentionally (as among a few of mankind)
the perfect unity, physical and mental, of the organism has been
preserved. In such cases each desire and passion, standing in a close
and direct relationship to the spirit or self of the whole organism, is
easily and willingly indrawn again at the appointed time; and there is
little or no struggle or agony. But in the great masses of
mankind—especially in the domains of civilization—where this unity has
been lost, it is easily seen that many of the passional elements, loosed
from the true service of the informing spirit, carry on a mad and
violent career of their own; and to curb these or reduce them to orderly
acquiescence and subordination is almost impossible. On the contrary,
with the general weakening of the total organism they often break out
into greater activity. The ruling passions, “strong in death,” push
themselves to the fore and tyrannize over the failing or ageing man, and
render his actual dissolution stormy and painful; and not only so, but
they sometimes generate phantasmal embodiments of themselves which haunt
the dying man, or even become visible to outsiders.

Frederick Myers, dealing with this subject,[44] invents the term
_psychorrhagy_ for this tendency of portions of the _psyche_ under
certain conditions to break loose from the whole man; and thinks that
this process takes place not only at death, but that there are some folk
_born_ with what he calls a _psychorrhagic diathesis_, who are
consequently peculiarly apt for throwing off phantasms of one kind or
another. He says:[45]—“That which ‘breaks loose’ on my hypothesis is
not the whole principle of life in the organism; rather it is some
psychical element probably of very varying character, and definable
mainly by its power of producing a phantasm, perceptible by one or more
persons, in some portion or other of space. I hold that this
phantasmogenetic effect may be produced either on the mind, and
consequently on the brain of another person—in which case he may
discern the phantasm somewhere in his vicinity, according to his own
mental habit or prepossession—or else directly on a portion of space,
‘out in the open,’ in which case several persons may simultaneously
discern the phantasm in that actual spot.”

Myers then proceeds to give a great number of very interesting and
extremely well-attested cases of such phantasms, ranging from merely
momentary apparitions of persons during their life or at the hour of
their death to the persistent haunting of houses over a long period. And
I mention this in order to show that there is good authority now for
believing it possible not only that phantasms may be generated by the
disintegration of the diseased or dying organism, which will haunt the
patient himself; but that in cases the psychic elements generating these
phantasms may be powerful enough to create a ghostly body which may
endure, surviving the earth-body, and manifesting itself to outside
observers on occasions for a considerable time.[46]

So much for the fate of the outer personality or animal part. Now with
regard to (2), the inner personality or human soul, we may ask, What
becomes of that? And the answer particularly interests us, because it is
with this section that we—or at least the more thoughtful of mankind
generally—identify “ourselves.” It is probable that almost any reader
of these pages would credit his “I” or “self,” not to the one universal
Being (to union with whom he may nevertheless distantly aspire), nor to
the group of terrestrial desires and interests which we have termed the
animal being, but rather to that constellation of nobler character which
we have called the human soul. This, he will say, is the self that truly
interests, that most deeply represents, me. Tell me, what becomes of

I think it is obvious that in the hour of death there are only two
directions in which that human soul can turn, in which “we” can turn. We
can turn for help either outwards toward the region of the animal self,
or inwards toward the central universal self. And I think it equally
obvious that the latter direction can alone really supply our need. At
first no doubt it may be natural to seek outwards; but now alas! in the
hour of dissolution the man discovers that all that region of his
nature, in which indeed he has often found comfort before, is becoming
involved in the ruin above described. Large portions of his animal
faculties are already being torn away—or are sinking into lethargy and
sleep. His bodily organs are losing their vitality; some of them have
already become useless. His mental faculties—especially the more
concrete and external faculties, like the memory of events and
names—are becoming disintegrated. True, his general outlook may in
cases seem to become wider and more serene as death approaches, and his
inner character and personality to become more luminous and gracious;
but it is a perilous passage on which he is embarked and in general
threatening clouds gather round. The consciousness is painfully invaded
by the lesser mentalities which surround it; the ruling passions
domineer; silly little habits and tricks, of mind and body, obsess the
man; phantoms and delirium overpower, or seek to overpower, him; he is
astonished and perturbed to find himself on the fringe of a world in
which figures, half-strange, half-familiar, come and go, and force
themselves upon him with an odd persistence and a rather terrible kind
of intelligence. It requires all his presence of mind to gather himself
together, to hold his own, to suppress the rebel rout, and to find amid
all the flux something indomitable and sure to which to cling.

There is clearly only one thing to cling to—and this must be insisted
on—only that one great redeeming universal Self of which we have
spoken: only that superb omnipresent Life which we find in the very
central depth of our souls. (And fortunate he who has already so far
taken refuge in this, that the wreck and ruin of the visible world and
the mortal onset of Death cannot dislodge him!) That alone is fixed and
sure; and to that the personal man must turn.

And I think we may say that it is not merely the personal soul’s highest
duty and best welfare to turn in this direction; but that in a sense and
by the law of its nature it must do so. For even in those cases where
the man does not recognize this universal Being within, nor consciously
believe in and hold on to the same, still is it not true that
unconsciously he is very near and very closely related? For all the
great qualities which we have already described as characterizing the
most intimate human soul, are they not just those which must relate it
to the universal Self? I mean such things as Equality—the sense of
inner equality with all human and other creatures; Freedom—the sense of
freedom from local and material bonds; Indifference—indifference as to
fate and destiny; Magnanimity; abounding Charity and Love; dignity;
courage; power—all these things, are they not obviously the qualities
which dawn upon the personal soul and color it when it is coming into
touch with the universal? Are they not the natural ‘sign and symbol’ of
union or partial union with that Self? And more: are there not other
things belonging more distinctly to the unconscious and subliminal
region (which we shall deal with presently)—I mean such things as deep
memory, intuition, clairvoyance, telepathy, prophetic faculty, and so
forth—which point to the same conclusion?

The inner personal soul of man is surely already conjoined to the
universal, and must cling to it by its very nature. And though the man
may not exactly be conscious of this union; though he may hardly really
know the depth of his own nature; though, notwithstanding his own
splendid qualities of character, some thin film may yet divide him from
awareness of the all-redeeming Presence; yet none the less that Presence
is there; and is the core and centre of his being.

That being granted, it seems clear that in the disintegration of death
the inner personality (whether consciously or unconsciously) will cling
to the eternal self within it. And this seems to be the explanation of
the part played by Religion in the history of the world, and its close
connection with death. The different religions being lame attempts to
represent under various guises this one root-fact of the central
universal Life, men have at all times clung to the religious creeds and
rituals and ceremonials as symbolizing in some rude way the redemption
and fulfilment of their own most intimate natures—and this whether
consciously understanding the interpretations, or whether (as most
often) only doing so in an unconscious or quite subconscious way.

Happy, I say, is the man who has so far consciously taken refuge and
identified himself with the great life that the onset of death fails to
disturb or dislodge him. For him a wonderful passage is
prepared—amazing indeed and bewildering, baffling at times and
exhausting, yet by no means dismaying or terrifying. But for the
ordinary mortal who has not yet arrived at this—for whom the Presence
(beheld perhaps intermittently before) is now clouded and withdrawn from
his decisive reach—for such a man it would seem best and most natural
simply to gather and compact himself together as firmly as possible, and
detaching his mind as well as he can from its earthly entanglements and
hindrances, to launch forth boldly, and with such faith and confidence
as he can muster, on his strange journey. There is a plant of the Syrian
deserts—the Rose of Jericho—about the size of our common daisy plant,
and bearing a similar flower, which in dry seasons, when the earth about
its roots is turned into mere sand, has the presence of mind to detach
itself from its hold altogether and to roll itself into a mere
ball—flower, root and all. It is then blown along the plains by the
wind and travels away until it reaches some moist and sheltered spot,
when it expands again, takes hold on the ground, uplifts its head, and
merrily blooms once more. Like the little Rose of Jericho, the human
soul has at times to draw in its roots (which we may compare to the
animal part) and separate them from their earthly entanglement; even the
sun in heaven, which it knows distantly for the source of its life, may
be obscured; but compacting itself for the nonce into a sturdy ball, it
starts gaily on its far adventure.

May we presume at all to speculate on the soul’s actual passage out of
this world and its experiences on the way? No doubt there are queer
things to be encountered! I think it is obvious that if the soul passes
out of this terrestrial world of ours into another state of existence
(definite, but quite imperceptible to our present senses) there must be
a borderland region in which phenomena occur of an intermediate
character—faintly and fitfully perceptible by our present faculties,
but lacking in the solidity and regularity of our present world;
borderland phenomena in two senses, as being due (_a_) partly to the
break-up of our present senses and the present stage of existence, and
(_b_) partly to the glimmering perception of forms and figures belonging
to a farther stage.

With regard to (_a_), it is of course common for the mind to ‘wander,’
and for all sorts of phantoms and hallucinations to obsess and cloud it
in the last stages of illness; and these vagaries of the mind are no
doubt due to or connected with excess or deficiency of circulation in
the brain, and morbid physical conditions of one kind or another. But it
is possible that a wider and more general view than that may be taken
concerning them. I have already referred the reader to the Note at the
end of this chapter. All our desires and passions are psychical
entities, having a life and consciousness of their own, though
affiliated to the total soul within which they work. All our organs and
functions are carried on by intelligences, similarly affiliated yet in
degree independent. Under normal conditions “we” are unaware of these;
entities and intelligences—it is only when they rebel that they come
decisively to our notice. In disease, mental and physical, there is
rebellion. We become painfully conscious of the independent and often
undesired activity of our organs, and of our passions—and so,
unfortunately for them, do our friends! In morbid states of mind and
body certain functions, certain passions, take on an independent
vitality to such a degree that at last they endue a kind of personality
and give rise to strings of phantasms which we believe to be real. In
dreams, though there is not exactly rebellion, the higher powers of the
mental organism being at rest, the lesser functionaries similarly
display an extraordinary and impish activity and present us with amazing
masquerades of actual life.

What then, we may ask, does probably happen in the moment of death, when
the organism has become wasted and enfeebled by disease, and when the
nucleus of the man, the inner personality, has compacted itself together
into close compass in preparation for its long journey? What happens to
all those marginal desires which have chiefly occupied themselves with
the affairs of the body or lower mind—those innumerable little spirits
and imps which (as we discover in dreams, or by closely watching our
waking thoughts) are continually planning and scheming their own little
successes and gratifications? What happens to the thousand and one
intelligences which carry on the functions and processes of the
organism? and whose labors, now that the bodily life is coming to an
end, are no more needed? Is there not a danger—or at least a
likelihood—of this strange masquerade of dreamland, of these painful
obsessions of disease, being repeated with ever-increased intensity?
True, that if the organism has been kept so well in hand during life as
to cause all outlying passions and desires to weaken and become
quiescent simultaneously with the body—or at least to go back quietly
into the kennels of a long sleep—like a pack of hounds when the chase
is over—then these phantoms, these obsessions, may in that last hour be
conspicuous by their absence. But since in the vast majority of cases
this is not, and cannot be so, it seems more probable that as a rule the
departing soul will make its exit, not only through the perishing bodily
part, but through a mass of debris, as it may be called, of the mind
(chiefly though perhaps not entirely “the animal mind”), through a cloud
of tags and tatters of mentality, thrown off in the final crisis. It
seems probable that just as the actual body, bereft at death of its one
pervading vitality, breaks out in a mass of corruption or minute
multitudinous life, so there is a _tendency_, at any rate, for the lower
mind to break out into a strange ghostly rabble—a cloud of phantasms,
exhaled and projected from the dying person. Of these phantasms most, no
doubt, are only visible to the patient himself (though that does not
render them any more agreeable as visitors); others are discernible by
clairvoyants present; while others again are distinctly seen even by
persons at a distance in space or time—as in the numerous and
well-authenticated instances of “wraiths.” The picture is not altogether
pleasant, but it has a certain general congruity with admitted facts,
and with a fairly-accepted body of tradition and theory; and
provisionally I suppose we may accept it.

It seems likely, then, that the passage of the inner self, or human
soul, out of life and its delivery in another world, _the other side_ of
death, may very closely correspond to Birth—to the birth of a babe
under ordinary conditions _into_ this world. Just as the babe, when
being born, passes through the lower passages of the body, so the human
self at death is expelled inwardly through all the debris and litter of
the mind, into another less material and more subtle world than ours.
And just as the pangs of childbirth are bad—but they are so mainly
beforehand and in preparation, while the actual delivery is swift and a
vast relief—so, in cases, the pains and anguish in preparation for
death may be great (the squealing of demons torn from their hold on the
soul, the cries of intelligences cut off from their coöperative life and
source of sustenance in the body, the fears and distress of the animal
mind, the yellow fury of the passions, and the death-struggles of the
various organs!) yet the final passage itself may be calm and gracious
and friendly.

Anyhow, as in other cases of human experience, it would be a mistake to
depict this one as by any means uniform in its character. On the
contrary, it is probably susceptible of great variety. The Head of a
Department (if it becomes necessary for him to leave his post) may find,
in one case, that he is turned out, so to speak, with kicks—that he has
to run the gauntlet of the execrations of his subordinates; or in
another case he may leave amid the expression of every good wish, and
along a path made pleasant and easy for him; or again he may go
“trailing clouds of glory,” and with a retinue of followers behind him,
who refuse to remain now that their leader is departing. Some such
differences possibly, and we may say probably, present themselves in the
passage of death. The experience of childbirth varies to an
extraordinary degree. We hear of Indian tribeswomen who only go aside
for an hour while their people are on the march, and then rejoin them
again at the next halting-place. And who knows but what Death and the
preparation for it might be as easy—if only the doctors and the
sky-pilots would hurry up and tell us something really useful, instead
of spending their time in vivisecting the wretched animals, or in
mumbling over ancient creeds?

Now, with regard to the second kind of borderland phenomena, (_b_), the
glimmering perception in death of forms and figures or conditions of
being belonging to a farther stage of existence: I do not propose at
present to dwell upon this matter at any length. But with modern
psychical research there has come a good deal of evidence to show that
on deathbeds it not at all unfrequently happens that distinct and ardent
recognition of departed friends takes place; and though, no doubt, it
may seem possible to explain these as cases in which the simple _memory_
of a departed friend is very powerfully resuscitated, still this
explanation hardly covers a good many cases—such as those for instance
in which the dying person was unaware that the friend had died, and yet
apparently recognized him as a visitor from the beyond-world.[47] Also
of course, modern research has brought forward some amount of testimony
in favor of actual communications with the departed through the agency
of entranced mediums; so that, though this whole matter is still _sub
judice_, we may with fair reason suppose that both in trance-conditions
and in the hour of death there are not merely apparitions and phenomena
due to disintegrations on _this_ side of the border, but also some kind
of real communications and manifestations from the other side.

Anyhow, it is clear that each person’s experience of death is likely to
depend a good deal on the question as to where the centre of gravity of
his self-consciousness is placed; and that—as a part of the Art of
dying—the object of our endeavor should be to throw (during life) the
self-consciousness inward into that part of our being which is durable
and immortal in its nature, into that part in which we are united, and
feel our union, with other creatures, into that portion where the word
itself (self-consciousness) ceases to have a petty and sinister meaning
and becomes transformed with a glorious signification. In that case it
is indeed likely that the soul may be endowed beforehand with divine
vision. It must be our object, by throwing our consciousness always that
way, to strengthen the power of the inner soul over the outer
personality and all its functions, and at the same time to rivet more
and more the hold of that inner soul on the One Self (the source of all
vitality and centre of limitless power, if we only understand it so)—so
that ultimately the outer and animal personality (though always
beautiful in its nature and not to be despised) ceases largely to have
an independent and uncoördinated vitality of its own, or to be the scene
of uncontrolled activities and conflict, and becomes more the expression
and instrument of the inner self: to such a degree indeed that at the
dissolution of the body the animal soul, passing into slumber, easily
dies down to its deep roots in the human soul, there of course to await
its future reawakening, and thus leaving the latter liberated from
earth-entanglement and free to start (like the Syrian rose) on its long

In this freeing for the forward journey there must, one would think, be
a great sense of joy and satisfaction—even as there must be in the
freeing of a May-fly from its water-bred pupa into the glory of air and
sunshine. Just as it obviously is (notwithstanding some drawbacks) a joy
to the Babe to enter upon its new life, so it may well be that to the
dying person—notwithstanding the perils of the change, the fears of the
unknown, the parting with friends, the apparent rending of cherished
ties—there is a strange joy in shelling off the old husks, and in
getting rid of the accumulations and dead rubbish of a lifetime. A
thousand and one tiresome old infirmities and bonds of body and
mind—now for the first time realized in their true meaning—slip off;
and the ship of the soul, “to port and hawser’s tie no more returning,”
departs with a strange thrill and quiver upon its “endless cruise.”

The details of this launch and departure we cannot of course ordain. The
mode of death is not always within our sphere to determine. Accident may
decide, or some hereditary weakness for which the individual can hardly
be held responsible. Some diseases are by their nature hard upon the
patient; others are kindly in their course. In those that bring great
weakness of body there is sometimes an easy passage—the earthly and
corporeal part relaxing its hold, while the mind and character become
heavenly-clear. In others of an inflammatory nature, or where there is
great organic vitality, there may be severe and prolonged struggle.
Anyhow, one can imagine the relief when the process is complete. It is
not uncommon to experience a strange expansion of the spirit on
occasions when the body is seriously weakened by ordinary illness. What
must this expansion be when the body finally succumbs—this sense of
immensely enlarged life, this impression of sailing forth toward a new
and boundless ocean! How strange to stand a moment on the brink of
terrestrial mortality, and to be conscious of—to _see_, even with the
inner visual power—the shell one has left behind, with all its
commonplace and banal surroundings: concrete indeed and material enough,
but lying now outside oneself—something almost foreign to one and
indifferent, abandoned on the very margin and shore of real life; to
stand for a moment; and then to turn and pass inward into that subtle
and immense ethereal existence, now to be learnt and explored, which
lies within and informs and transfuses all our solid world, and
surpasses all its boundaries!


In order not to burden this already rather lengthy chapter with matter
which may not be needed, I append here some general considerations for
those who have not given much attention to the subject of the various
grades of consciousness in the body—considerations tending to show that
the various parts and passions of the body and mind have a life and
intelligence of their own, and that the whole human organism is a
hierarchy (not always perfectly harmonious) of psychic entities.

We generally allow of course that our central or dominant selves are
alive and conscious (though no doubt we use those epithets with a rather
sad vagueness). But having allowed that, the extraordinary phenomena of
variable and alternating personality compel us to admit that there may
be many such centres within one person, each of which though now buried
may in its turn become dominant and take conscious lead, and which must
therefore be credited with life and intelligence (even if an alien life
and intelligence to “our own”). Even the most ordinary brain-centres are
in the habit of carrying on whole departments of the bodily organization
with an independent intelligence of their own, and are sometimes liable
under the influence of some excitement (like drink, or religion, or some
enthusiasm) to take possession of the whole man and transform him into
another creature—exhibiting in doing so a strange degree of invasive
vitality and alertness. It is quite certain that the myriad microscopic
cells of the body are alive, each with its own little particular life;
and the more one studies these cells the more difficult it is not to
credit them each, in their degree, with a particular consciousness or
intelligence. And each body-organ again, composed of a congeries or
colony of body-cells, has a life of its own on and beyond that of its
component cells, and exhibits curious signs too of intelligence and
emotion, which often (especially in sickness) affect the moods and
thoughts of the entire man.

The whole of the subconscious world, in fact—that world which only
occasionally breaks through into the upper consciousness—must be
allowed to be alive, and in its various degrees methodical and
calculating. This is well seen in the phenomena of dreams and of
hypnotism, in both of which the most acute and diabolical ingenuity is
often shown—as of weird imps working in dark chambers of the brain
quite unbeknown to their supposed lord and master; or in the
extraordinary phenomena of trance and “automatic” speaking and writing;
or in telepathy and clairvoyance; or again in the craftiness of utter
lunatics; or in the strange evasions and mental dodgery which (as just
hinted) are induced by diseases of certain organs; or in the phenomena
of mental healing, where an appeal to the subconscious intelligence in
any and every corner of the body is often followed by extraordinary
response; or in the subtle instinctive knowledge and perception of
babes, and of animals, long before _self_-consciousness has developed;
or again, in the sly cunning of ancient dotards; or in the complex
bodily reflexes carried on perfectly unknown to ourselves during life;
or in the continued functioning of some of the organs after death. In
all these cases, and in scores of others not mentioned, it is clear that
the majority of the processes of the human system are carried on by
minor intelligences. They are indeed carried on by _crowds_ of minor
intelligences—to which we accord the epithet “automatic,” and which no
doubt we regard as mechanical, as long, that is, as they work smoothly
and without friction and opposition. But when they do not do so, when
pain, disease and lunacy cut in—when a violent burn sets the epithelial
cells screaming, and the scream comes into our consciousness as the
vibration of pain; when a diseased liver twists the events of life and
the faces of our friends into malignant shape and mien; when lust and
hypochondria people the mind with phantoms; and drink makes all the
functions mad—then we say we are “possessed with devils,” then we
recognize, if only on the dark side, the pervading intelligence or
intelligences of the body.

It is like the Head of a Department, as I have said, whose subordinate
officials are working under him agreeably and harmoniously. As long as
that is the case, he may have in his mind a general outline of the
working of the Department. He probably is ignorant of most of the
details; he certainly does not know personally many of his subordinates,
but he superintends the working of the whole. Presently, however, occurs
something of a strike or _émeute_; whereupon he discovers that vast
numbers of his men are intelligently discussing questions or problems of
whose existence he was almost ignorant; personalities appear before him
whom, before, he knew at most only by name; and they argue their case
with an acumen and vitality which surprises him. For the first time, in
this revolt of his department, he comes to realize the amount of
intelligent activity which is at work within it, beneath the surface. So
it is with us in the case of disease. In health we have no trouble,
unity prevails. As long as “we” are on top, and the intelligences which
carry on the body are working on friendly terms with us, their minds do
not intrude into our realm, and we are practically unaware of them. But
when through our mismanagement or other cause dissension breaks out,
then indeed we realize what kind of forces they are with which we have
to deal, and of what a wonderful hierarchy of intelligences the body is



In the last chapter Death was compared to Birth, and it was said that
probably the passage of the human soul into another world, _on the other
side of death_, exactly corresponded to Birth—to the birth of a babe
into this world. And certainly, seeing these apparent movements _into_
the visible and _away_ from it again, it is very natural to assume that
there _is_ such another and hidden world, and to speculate upon its

But it may fairly be asked, is there after all any reason for supposing
that there is a definite state of existence of any kind on that side? Is
it not quite likely that there is only vacancy and nothingness, or at
best a mere formless pulp (of ether and electrons, or whatever it may
be) out of which souls are born and into which they return again at
death? It is this question which I propose to discuss in the present

Historically speaking, we know of course that early and primitive folk,
letting their imaginations loose, peopled that ‘other side’ and rather
promiscuously, with all sorts of fairy beings and phantom processions.
Giant grizzly bears, divine jackals, elves, dwarfs, satans, holy ghosts,
lunar pitris, flaming sun-gods, and so forth, ruled and raged behind the
curtain—in front of which the shivering mortal stood. But as time went
on, the growing exactitude of thought and science made it more and more
impossible to idly accept these imaginings; and it may be said that
about the middle of last century these cosmogonies—for the more
thoughtful among the populations of the Western world—finally perished,
and gave place for the most part to a simple negative attitude. It was
allowed that intelligences and personalities (human and animal) moved on
_this_ side of the veil, and were plainly distinguishable as operating
in the actual world; but they, it was held, were more or less isolated
and probably accidental products of a mechanical universe. That
mechanical arrangement of atoms, and so forth, which we could now
largely map out and measure, and which doubtless in the future we should
be able completely to define—that was the universe, and somehow or
other included everything. One of its properties was that it would run
down like a clock, and would eventuate in time in a cold sun and a dead
earth—and there was an end of it! Any intelligent existence behind or
on the other side of this veil of mechanism was too problematical to be
worth discussing; in all probability on that side was mere nothingness
and vacancy.

Such, very roughly stated, was the attitude of the fairly intelligent
and educated man about fifty years ago, but since that time the
outgrowths of science and human inquiry have been so astounding as to
leave that position far behind. The obvious signs of intelligence in the
minutest cells, almost invisible to the naked eye, the very mysterious
arcana of growth in such cells (partly described in a former chapter),
the myriad action of similarly intelligent microbes, the strange
psychology of plants, and the equally strange psychic sensitiveness
(apparently) of _metals_, the sudden transformations and variations both
of plants and animals, the existence of the X and N rays of light, and
of countless other vibrations of which our ordinary senses render no
account, the phenomena of radium and radiant matter, the marvels of
wireless telegraphy, the mysterious facts connected with hypnotism and
the subliminal consciousness, and the certainty now that telepathic
communication can take place between human beings thousands of miles
apart—all these things have convinced us that the subtlest forces and
energies, totally unmeasurable by our instruments, and saturated or at
least suffused with intelligence, are at work all around us. They have
convinced us that gloomy phrases about cold suns and dead earths are
mere sentiment and nonsense. Cold worlds there may certainly be, but
nothing is more certain than that worlds on worlds, and spheres on
spheres, stretch behind and beyond the actually seen—spheres so
microscopic as to totally elude us, or so vast and cosmic as to elude,
spheres of vibration which elude, spheres of other senses than ours,
spheres aerial, ethereal, magnetic, mental, subliminal. The iris-veil of
our ordinary existence may truly be rent, but the visible world, the
world we know, is no longer now a film on the surface of an empty
bubble, but a curtain concealing a vast and teeming life, reaching down
endless, in layer on layer, into the very heart of the universe. And
whereas, in the former time of which I have been speaking, we might have
agreed that life could not well continue after the death of the body,
to-day we should, as a first guess, be inclined to think that life is
_more_ full and rich on the other side of death than on this side. “I do
not doubt,” says Whitman, “that from under the feet and beside the hands
and face I am cognizant of, are now looking faces I am not cognizant of,
calm and actual faces—I do not doubt interiors have their interiors,
and exteriors have their exteriors, and that the eyesight has another
eyesight, and the hearing another hearing, and the voice another voice.”

We come, then, to this problem of Death and Birth in a similarly
modified spirit, and with a predisposition to believe that they do
really indicate passages from one definite world or plane or region of
existence to another. And here is the place to point out, and to guard
ourselves against, a common error in the use of the word Death. Death is
not a _state_. There may be an after-death state; but death itself is
the _passage_ into that state, or—better—the passage out of the
present state. So Birth is not a state. There may be a pre-birth state;
but birth itself is the passage into the present state. Either we pass
through death into another life and condition of being; or else we are
extinguished. In the former case there is clearly no _state_ of death;
and in the latter case there is no such state—because there is no self
to _be_ dead or to know itself dead. As Lucretius says,[49] endeavoring
to disabuse man of the fear of the grave:—

   “So to be mortal fills his mind with dread,
      Forgetting that in real death can be
    No self, to mourn that other self as dead,
      Or stand and weep at death’s indignity.”

Birth and Death, then, we may look upon as two contrary movements, to
some degree complementary and balancing each other; and it is possible
that thus, from consideration of the one, we may be able to infer things
about the other. One such thing that we may be able to infer is that
Love presides over, or is intimately associated with, both movements.

The connection of Love with Birth is of course obvious. In some profound
yet hidden way, almost throughout creation, the birth or generation of
one creature is connected with the precedent love and sex-fusion of two
others. And the connection of Love with Death, though not so prominent,
can similarly almost everywhere be traced. The whole of poetry in
literature teems with this subject; and so does the poetry of Nature! If
we are to believe the Garden of Eden story, Love and Death came into the
world together; and it certainly is curious that in the age-long
evolution of animal forms the same thing seems to have happened. The
Protozoa at first, propagating by simple division, were endued with a
kind of immortality. But then came a period when a pair found they could
enter into a joint life of renewed fecundity by fusing with each other.
They literally died in each other, and rose again in a numerous progeny;
so that love and death were simultaneous and synonymous. Sometimes
parturition and death were simultaneous. The mother-cell perished in the
very act of giving birth to her brood. Then again came the aggregation
of cells into living groups—the formation of ‘colonial’ organisms; and
it was then that distinctive sex-differentiation and sex-organs
appeared, and with the capacity of sex also the capacity of death
through the disruption of the colony. Everywhere love is associated with
death. The expenditure of seed in the male animal is an incipient death;
the formation of the seed vessel, and the glory and color of the
flowering plant, are already the signs of its decay. “Both Weismann and
Goette,” say Geddes and Thomson,[50] “note how many insects (locusts,
butterflies, ephemerids, and so forth) die a few hours after the
production of ova. The exhaustion is fatal, and the males are also
involved. In fact, as we should expect from the katabolic temperament,
it is the males which are especially liable to exhaustion.... Every one
is familiar with the close association of love and death in the common
May-flies. Emergence into winged liberty, the love-dance, and the
process of fertilization, the deposition of eggs, and the death of both
parents, are often the crowded events of a few hours. In higher animals,
the fatality of the reproductive sacrifice has been greatly lessened,
yet death may tragically persist, even in human life, as the direct
Nemesis of love.”

George Macdonald, in one of his books (_Phantastes_, vol. i. p. 191),
feigns a race of beings, for whom death is not so much the ‘nemesis’ of
love, as its natural and inevitable outcome. Seized by a great love, too
great for mortal expression, “looking _too_ deep into each other’s
eyes,” they (with great presence of mind, it must be said!) breathe
their souls out in death, and so take their departure to another world.
Heine touches the same note in his poem, the “Asra”:—

                “Ich bin aus Jemen,
    Und mein stamm sind jene Asra,
    Welche sterben wenn sie lieben.”

And scores of scarcely noticed paragraphs in our daily papers, brief
tales of single or double suicide, present us with a dim outline of
how—even in the mean conditions and surroundings of our modern
days—every now and then there comes to one or other a longing, a
passion, and a revelation of a desire so intense, that, breaking the
bounds of a useless life, it demands swift utterance in death.

Some deep and profound suggestion there is in all this—some hint of a
life whose very form and nature is love, and which finds its deliverance
and nativity only through the abandonment of the body—even as our
ordinary life, conceived in love, finds its delivery into this world
through what we call birth. At the very least it suggests that Death may
have a great deal more to do with Love, and may be more deeply allied to
it than is generally supposed. And it may suggest that the two things,
being in some sense the most important occupations of the human race,
should be frankly recognized as such, and should both be accordingly
prepared for.

Another thing, about which we may be able to infer something from the
analogy between Birth and Death, is the fate of the soul at death. If we
can trace in any way the relation of the soul to the body at the time of
the first appearance of the latter, that may shed light on the relation
which will hold at its disappearance. We cannot certainly define very
strictly what we mean by the word ‘soul’; but we are all very well aware
that associated with our bodies, and in some sense pervading them with
its intelligence, is a conscious (as well as subconscious) being which
we call the self or soul; and we are all puzzled at times to understand
what is the relation between this and the body. Now we have seen (ch.
ii.) the genesis of the body from a single fertilized cell or germ
almost microscopic in size, and its growth by continual and myriadfold
division into, say, a human form; and we have seen that every cell in
the perfect and final form—every cell, of eye, or liver, or of any part
or organ—is there by linear descent or division from that first cell,
though variously adapted and differentiated during the process. We are
therefore almost compelled to conclude that that intelligent self
(conscious or subconscious) which we are so distinctly aware of as
associated with our mature bodies was there also, associated with the
first germ.[51] It may not truly have been outwardly manifest or
unfolded into evidence at that primitive stage. It could not well be.
But it was there, even in its totality, and unless it had been there, we
could not now be what we are. The conscious and subconscious self has
been within us all along, unfolding and manifesting itself with the
unfoldment and development of the body; and indeed to all appearances
guiding that development. And more, we may fairly say—having regard to
the mode of development of the tissue—that it dwells even in its
entirety within every normal and healthy cell of our present bodies, and
is the formative essence thereof.

Let me give an illustration. Sometimes in the morning you may see a bush
glittering all over with dewdrops; every leaf has such a tiny jewel
hanging from it. If now you look you will see in each dewdrop a
miniature picture of the far landscape. Or, to take a closer
illustration, some shrubs have, embedded in the very tissue of their
leaves, tiny transparent and lens-like glands which yield to close
scrutiny similar miniatures of the world beyond. Exactly, then, like
these plants, we may think of the whole human body as trembling in
light—each cell containing (if we could but see it!) a luminous image
of the presiding genius or self of the body.

The question is often asked: _Where_ is the self? does it reside in the
head, or in the heart, or perhaps in the liver? is it an aural halo
pervading and surrounding the body, or is it a single microscopic cell
far hidden in the interior, or is it an invisible atom? Here apparently
is the answer. It animates _every_ cell. It pervades the whole body, and
seeks expression in every part of it. Some cells, as we have said
before, are differentiated so as to express especially _this_ faculty,
others to express especially _that_; but the human soul or self stands
behind them all. Look at a baby’s face, and its growing sparkling
expression—an individual being coming newly into the world, obviously
seeking, feeling, tentatively finding its way forward—every morning a
thinnest veil falling from its features! Playing through the whole body,
is an intelligence, seeking expression. Helen Keller, the girl both deaf
and blind, describes most graphically her agonizing experiences at the
age of six or seven, when her growing powers of body and mind demanded
the expression which her physical disabilities so cruelly denied. “The
desire to express myself grew,”[52] she says; “the few signs I used
became less and less adequate, and my failures to make myself understood
were invariably followed by outbursts of passion. I felt as if invisible
hands were holding me, and I made frantic efforts to free myself.” And
then most touching, the description of her relief, “the thrill of
surprise, the joy of discovery,” when she at last, about the age of ten,
was able to utter her first intelligible words. In some degree like
Helen Keller’s is perhaps the experience of every babe that is born into
the world.

It seems to me, therefore, that each person is practically compelled to
think of his ‘self’ as moving behind or as associated with or animating
every cell in the healthy body; and as having been so associated with
the first germ of the same, even though that was a thing well-nigh
invisible to the naked eye. You were there, you are there now, at the
root of your bodily life. You may not, certainly, except at moments, be
distinctly conscious of this your complete relation to the body; but, as
we have already said, the term self must be held to include the large
subconscious tracts which occasionally flash up into consciousness, and
which, when they do so flash, almost always confirm this relation; nor
must we lose from sight the still more deeply buried physiological or
animal soul, whose operations we seem to be able to trace from earliest
days, guiding all the complex of organic growth and development, and
apparently conscious in its own way with a very wonderful sort of

All this compels us, I think, not only to picture to ourselves the
mental self or soul as associated with the body, and taking part in its
development from the first inception of the latter; but also to picture
that self as in its entirety considerably _greater_ and more extensive
than the ordinary conscious self, and even as greater than any bodily
expression or manifestation which it succeeds in gaining. We are
compelled, I think, to regard the real self as at all times only
_partially_ manifested.

I think this latter point is obvious; for when, and at what period in
life, is manifestation complete? Certainly not in babyhood, when the
faculties are only unfolding; certainly not in old age, when they are
decaying and falling away. Is it, then, in maturity and middle life? But
during all that period the output of expression and character in a man
is constantly changing; and which of all these changes of raiment is
completely representative? Do we not rather feel that to express our
real selves _every_ phase from childhood through maturity even into
extreme old age ought to be taken into account? Nay, more than that; for
have we not—perhaps most of us—a profound feeling and conviction that
there are elements deep down in our natures, which never have been
expressed, and never can or will be expressed in our present and actual
lives? Do we not all feel that our best is only a fraction of what we
want to say? And what must we think of the strange facts of multiple
personality? Do they not suggest that our real self has facets so
opposite, so divergent, that for a long time they may appear quite
disconnected with each other; until ultimately (as has happened in
actual cases) they have been visibly reconciled and harmonized in a new
and more perfect character?

With regard to this view that the real person is so much greater than
his visible manifestation, Frederick Myers and Oliver Lodge have used
the simile of a ship. And it is a fine one. A ship gliding through the
sea has a manifestation of its own, a very partial one, in the
waterworld below—a ponderous hull moving in the upper layers of that
world—a form encrusted with barnacles and sea-weed. But what denizen of
the deep could have any inkling or idea of the real life of that ship in
the aerial plane—the glory of sails and spars trimmed to the breeze and
glancing in the sun, the blue arch of heaven flecked with clouds, the
leaping waves and the boundless horizon around the ship as she speeds
onward, the ingenious provision for her voyage, the compass, the
helmsman and the captain directing her course? Surely (except in moments
of divination and inspiration) we have little idea of what we really
are! But there _are_ such moments—moments of profound grief, of
passionate love, of great and splendid angers and enthusiasms which dart
light back into the farthest recesses of our natures and astonish us
with the vision they disclose. And (perhaps more often) there are
moments which disclose the wonder-self in others. If we do not recognize
(which is naturally not easy!) our own divinity, it is certain that we
cannot really _love_ without discovering a divine being in the loved
one—a being remote, resplendent, inaccessible, who calls for and indeed
demands our devotion, but of whom the mortal form is most obviously a
mere symbol and disguise. There are times when this strange illumination
falls on people at large, and we see them as gods walking: when we look
even on the tired overworked mother in the slum, and her face is shining
like heaven; or on the ploughboy in the field with his team, and see the
mould and the material of ancient heroes. Yet of what is really nearest
to them all the time these folk say nothing, and we are astonished to
find them haggling over halfpence or seriously troubled about
wire-worms. It is as if a play, or some kind of deliberate
mystification, were being carried on—with disguises a little too thin.
We see, as plain as day—and nothing can contravene our conclusion—that
it is only a fraction of the real person that is concerned.

Your self, then, I say—covering by that word not only all that you and
your friends usually include in it, but probably a good deal
more—existed, with all its potentialities and capacities even in
association with the first primitive germ of your present body.[54] That
germ was microscopic in size, and its inner workings and transformations
were ultra-microscopic in character. We do not know whence they
originated; and whether we think of the soul which was associated with
them as ultra-microscopic in _its_ nature or as fourth-dimensional does
not much matter. We only perceive that it, the soul, must have been
there, in an unseen world of some kind, pushing forward toward its
manifestation in the visible.[55] I do not think we can well escape this

But if we conclude that the soul existed before Birth, or, more
properly, at or before conception, in some such invisible world, then
that it should so exist after Death is equally possible, nay, probable.
For after conception, by continual multiplication and differentiation of
cells, the soul framed for itself organs of expression and
manifestation, and thus gradually came into our world of sight and sense
and ordinary intelligence; and so, by some reverse process, we may
suppose that in decay and death the soul gradually loses these organs
and their coördination, and retires into the invisible. Whatever the
nature of this invisible may be—whether, as I say, a world of things
too minute for human perception, or too vast for the same, or whether a
world which eludes us by the simple artifice of everywhere and in
everything running parallel to the things of the world—only in another
dimension imperceptible to us—in any case it seems reasonable to
suppose that the soul is still _there_, fulfilling its nature and its
destiny, of which its earth-life has only been one episode.[56]

And if the apparent loss of consciousness (the loss of the ordinary
consciousness at any rate) which often takes place during the
death-change, seems to point to extinction and not to continuance, I
think that that need not disturb us. For in sleep, in our nightly sleep,
the same suspension of the ordinary consciousness takes place, as we
very well know; yet all the time the subconsciousness is functioning
away—sorting out sounds, bidding us wake for some, allowing us to sleep
through others, discriminating disturbances, carrying on the
physiologies of the body, posting sentinels in the reflexes—and
guarding us from harm—till untired in the morning it knits together
again the ravelled thread of the ordinary consciousness and renews our
waking activities. And if this happens in our ordinary and nightly
sleep, it seems at any rate possible that something similar may happen
in death. Indeed there is much evidence to show that while at the hour
of death the supraliminal consciousness often passes into a state of
quiescence or abeyance, the subliminal, or at any rate some portion of
the subliminal, becomes unusually active. Audition grows strangely
keen—so much so that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the
things heard have been apprehended by extension of the ordinary faculty
or whether by a species of clairaudience. Vision similarly passes into
clairvoyance, the patient becomes extraordinarily sensitive to
telepathic influences, and knows what is going on at a distance;[57] and
not only so, but he radiates influences _to_ a distance. All the
phenomena of wraiths and dying messages, now so well substantiated—of
apparitions and impressions projected with force at the moment of death
into the minds of distant friends—prove clearly the increased activity
and vitality (one may say) of the subliminal self at that time; and this
points, as I say, not to extinction and disorganization, but perhaps to
the transfer of consciousness more decisively into hidden regions of our
being. One hears sometimes of a dying person who, prevented from
departure by the tears and entreaties of surrounding friends, cries out
“Oh! _let_ me die!” and one remembers the case, above mentioned, of the
apparently dead mother who, so to speak, called herself back to life by
the thought of her orphaned children. Such cases as these do not look
like loss of continuity; rather they look as if a keen intelligence were
still there, well aware of its earth-life, but drawn onward by an
inevitable force, and passing into a new phase, of swifter subtler
activity in perhaps a more ethereal body.

That the human soul does pass through great transformations—moultings
and sloughings and metamorphoses—and so forward from one stage to
another, we know from the facts of life. Physiologically the body takes
on a new phase at birth, and another at weaning and teething, and
another at puberty, and another in age at the ‘change of life,’ and so
on; and transformations of the soul or inner life (some of them very
remarkable) are associated with these outer phases. The last great
bodily change is obviously accompanied—as we have just indicated—by
the development or extension of hidden psychic powers. What exactly that
final transformation may be, we can only at present speculate; but we
can see that, like the others, when it arrives it has already become
very necessary and inevitable. At every such former stage—whether it be
birth, or teething, or puberty, or what not—there has been constriction
or strangulation. The growing inner life has found its conditions too
limited for it, and has burst forth into new form and utterance. In this
final change the bodily conditions altogether seem to have grown too
limited. With an irresistible impulse and an agonizing joy of liberation
the soul sweeps out, or is fearfully swept, into its new sphere.
Sometimes doubtless the passage is one of pain and terror; far more
often, and in the great majority of cases, it is peaceful and calm, with
a deep sense of relief; occasionally it is radiant with ecstasy, as if
the new life already cast its splendor in advance.[58]

Yes, we cannot withhold the belief that there is an after-death state—a
state which in a sense is present with us, and has been present, all our
lives; but which—for reasons that at present we can only vaguely
apprehend—has been folded from our consciousness.



Allowing, then, the great probability of the existence of an after-death
state, and of a survival of some kind, the question further arises: Is
that survival in any sense personal or individual? or does it belong to
some, so to speak, formless region, either below or above personality?
It is conceivable of course that there may be survival of the outer and
beggarly elements of the mind, below personality; or it is conceivable
that the deepest and most central core of the man may survive, far
beyond and above personality; but in either case the _individual_
existence may not continue. The eternity of the All-soul or Self of the
universe is, I take it, a basic fact; it is from a certain point of view
obvious; we have already discussed it, and, as far as this book is
concerned, it is treated so much as an axiom that to argue further
without it would be useless. That being granted, it follows that if the
soul of each human being roots down ultimately into that All-self, the
core of each soul _must_ partake of the eternal nature. But as far as it
does so it _may_ be beyond all reach or remembrance or recognition of

Such a conclusion—whatever force of conviction may accompany it—is
certainly not altogether satisfactory. I remember that once—in the
course of conversation with a lady on this very subject—she remarked
that though she thought there would be a future life she did not
believe in the continuance of individuality. “What do you believe in,
then?” said I. “Oh,” she replied, “I think we shall be a sort of Happy
Mass!” And I have always since remembered that expression.

But though the idea of a happy mass has its charms, it does not, as I
say, quite satisfy either our feelings or our intelligence. There is a
desire for something more, and there is a perception that
Differentiation and Individuation represent a great law—a law so great
as probably to extend even to the ultimate modes of Being. And though a
vague generality of this kind cannot stand in the place of strict
reasoning or observation, it may make us feel that personal survival is
at any rate possible, and that a certain amount of speculation on the
subject is legitimate.

At the same time we have to bear in mind that the subject altogether is
a very complex one, and that we have to move only slowly, if we want to
move forward at all, and to avoid having to retrace our steps. We must
not too serenely assume, for instance, that we at all know what we are!
We have already (ch. v.) analyzed to some degree the constitution of the
human being, and found it complicated enough in its successive planes of
development. We have now to remember that—at least on the two middle
planes, those of the human soul and the animal soul—there is another
subdivision to be made, namely between that part which is conscious and
that which is only subconscious; so that further complications
inevitably arise. We may not only have to consider, as in the chapter
referred to, which of these planes may possibly carry survival with it,
but again whether such survival may be in the conscious region, or only
in the subliminal or subconscious. This chapter will be largely occupied
with a consideration of the subliminal or underlying portion of the
self, and it will be seen that that is probably of immense extent and
variety of content compared with the surface or conscious portion; but
it will also be seen that there is no strict line of demarcation between
the two, and that a continual interchange betwixt them is taking place,
so that for the present at any rate it is safest to give the word ‘self’
its widest scope and make it include both portions and every mental
faculty, rather than limit its application.

                 *        *        *        *        *

In attacking the subject, then, of the Survival of the Self, I suppose
our first question ought to be: What is the test of survival, what do we
mean by it? And to this, I imagine, the answer is, Continuity of
Consciousness. This would seem to be the only satisfying definition.
Consciousness is necessary in some form or other, as the base and
evidence of our existence; and continuity in some degree is also
necessary, in order to link our experiences together, as it were into
one chain. Continuity, however, need not be absolute. The chain of
consciousness may apparently be broken by sleep, or it may be broken by
a dose of chloroform, or by a blow on the head; but it may be re-knit
and resumed. It may pass from the supraliminal state to the subliminal,
and again emerge on the surface. It may even be discontinuous; but as
long as Memory bridges the intervals we get the _sense_ of continuity of
life or personality.[59] Supposing a body of memories—of life say in
some village of ancient Egypt—suddenly opened up in one’s mind, as
vivid and consistent and enduring as one’s ordinary memory of childhood
days, it would be natural to conclude that one really had pre-existed in
that village; it would be difficult not to make that inference. And
similarly if at some future time, and in far other than our present
surroundings, the memory of this one’s earth-life should emerge again,
vivid and personal as now, the being thus having that memory would, we
suppose, conclude that he had once lived this life here on earth.

Thus Memory would be the arbiter of survival and of the continuity (on
the whole) of consciousness. Frederick Myers, indeed, goes so far as to
define consciousness as that which is “potentially memorable”[60]—thus
suggesting that memory is a necessary accompaniment of any psychic state
to which we can venture to give the name of consciousness.

It may indeed seem precarious to rest our test of survival on so
notoriously fallible, and even at times fallacious, a thing as Memory;
but one does not see that there is anything better, or that there is any
alternative! The memory may not be continuously enduring and operative;
but if at any future time one should be persuaded of having survived
from this present life, it must, one would say, be by memory in some
form or other, _of_ this present life. And it must be remarked that
though memory is fitful and fallible, these epithets apply mainly to the
supraliminal memory, to that superficial memory which we make use of by
conscious effort, and which often fails us in the moment of need. Deep
below this we dimly perceive, and daily are becoming more persuaded of,
the existence of vast and permanent but latent stores, which from time
to time emerge into manifestation; and more and more our psychologists
are inclining to think that the supraliminal self gains its memories by
tapping these stores, and that its lapses and oblivions are more due to
failure in the tapping process than to any failure of the memory stores
themselves. Indeed not a few psychologists are now asking whether it is
not likely that _every_ psychic experience carries memory with it, and
so is preserved in the great storehouse.

I have already, in the last chapter, spoken of the so-called subliminal
self as, among other things, a wonderful storehouse of memory; and I
propose now to occupy a few pages with the more detailed consideration
of the nature of that self; because, as we are discussing the question
of survival, our discussion, as I have just said, ought obviously to
include the under as well as the upper strata of consciousness. We
cannot very well confine our meaning and our inquiry to the little
brain-self only, and leave out of consideration the great self of the
emotions and impulses—of genius, love, enthusiasm, and so forth.[61]
No, we must include both—the more intimate, though more hidden, self,
as well as the self of the façade and the front window.

This hidden self is indeed an astounding thing, whose extent and
complexity grows upon us as investigation proceeds. For when the term
‘subliminal’ was first used it had apparently a fairly simple
connotation—as of some _one_ obscure and unexplored chamber of the
mind; but now instead of a single chamber it would seem rather some vast
house or palace at whose door we stand, with many chambers and
corridors—some dark and underground, some spacious and well lighted and
furnished, some lofty with extensive outlook and open to the sky; and
the modern psychologists are puzzling themselves to find suitable names
for all these new domains—which indeed they cannot satisfactorily do,
seeing they know so little of their geography!

I can only attempt here—very roughly I am afraid, and
unsystematically—to point out _some_ of the properties and qualities of
the underlying or hidden or subconscious self—whichever term we may
like to use. In the first place, its memory appears to be little short
of perfect, and at any rate to our ordinary intelligence and estimate,
nothing short of marvellous. When a servant girl, who can neither read
nor write, reproduces, in her wandering speech during a nervous fever,
whole sentences of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, which she could not
possibly understand, and which had only fallen quite casually on her
ears years before from the lips of an old scholar (who used to recite
passages to himself as he walked up and down a room adjoining the
kitchen in which the girl at that time worked[62]); we perceive that the
under or latent memory _may_ catch and retain for a lengthy period, and
with strange accuracy, the most fleeting and apparently superficial
impressions. When Dr. Milne Bramwell instructs a hypnotized subject to
make a cross on a bit of paper exactly 20,180 minutes after the giving
of the order; and the patient, having of course emerged from the
hypnotic sleep, and gone about her daily work, and having no conscious
remembrance of the command, does nevertheless at the expiration of the
stated number of days and minutes take a piece of paper and make the
said cross upon it,[63] we can only marvel both at the persistence and
accuracy of memory which the subliminal being displays, and at the
strict command which this being may exercise in its silent way over the
actions of the supraliminal self. When we are repeatedly told that in
the moment of drowning, people remember every action and event of their
past life, though we may doubt the exact force of the word ‘every,’ we
cannot but be convinced that an enormous and astounding resurgence of
memory does take place,[64] and we cannot but suspect that the
memorization is somehow on a different plane of consciousness from the
usual one, being simultaneous and in mass instead of linear and
successive. Or when, again, a ‘calculating boy’ or prodigy of quite
tender years on being asked to find the cube-root of 31,855,013
instantly says 317, or being given the number 17,861 immediately remarks
that it consists of the factors 337 × 53,[65] we are reduced to the
alternative suppositions, either that the boy’s subconscious self works
out these sums with a perfectly amazing rapidity, or that it has access
to stores of memory and knowledge quite beyond the experience of the
life-time concerned. In all these cases, and hundreds and thousands of
others which have been observed, the memory of the subliminal
self—whether manifested through hypnotism, or in sleep or dreams, or in
other ways—seems to exceed in range and richness, as well as in
rapidity, the memory of the supraliminal self; and indeed Myers goes so
far as to say that the deeper down one penetrates below the
supraliminal, the more perfect is the remembrance: that, in cases where
one can reach various planes of memory in the same subject, “it is the
memory furthest from waking life whose span is the widest, whose grasp
of the organism’s upstored impressions is the most profound.”[66] This
is, I think, a very important conclusion, and one to which we may recur

But the hidden being within us does not show this extraordinary command
of mental processes merely in technical matters. Its powers extend far
deeper, into such regions as those of Genius and Prophecy. The wonderful
flashes of intuition, the complex combinations of ideas, which at times
leap fully formed and with a kind of authority into the field of man’s
waking consciousness, obviously proceed from a deep intelligence of some
kind, lying below, and are the product of an immensely extended and
rapid survey of things, brought to a sudden focus. They yield us the
finest flowers of Art; and some at any rate of the most remarkable
instances of Prediction. For though there may be—and probably is—a
purely clairvoyant prophetic gift, freed as it were from the obscuration
of Time, yet it cannot be doubted that much or most of prophecy is
simply very swift and conclusive inference derived from very extensive

These flashes and inspirations are clearly not the product of the
conscious brain; they are felt by the latter to come from beyond it.
They are, in the language of Myers, “uprushes from the subliminal self.”
And even beyond them there are things which come from the same
source—there are splendid enthusiasms, and overwhelming impulses of
self-sacrifice, as well as mad and dæmonic passions.

Yet again, it is not merely command of _mental_ processes that the
subconscious being displays, but of the bodily powers and processes too.
Intelligent itself to the marvellous degrees already indicated, it is
evident also that its intelligence penetrates and ordains the whole
body. Every one has heard of the _stigmata_ of the Crucifixion appearing
on the hands and feet of some religious devotee, as in the celebrated
case of Louise Lateau. Dr. Briggs of Lima once told a hypnotized patient
that “a red cross would appear on her chest every Friday during a period
of four months”—and obediently the mark appeared.[67] A whisper in such
cases is often sufficient; and the latent power swiftly but effectually
modifies all the complex activities and functions of the organism to
produce the desired result. What an extraordinary combination of
elaborate intelligence and detailed organizing power must here be at
work! And the same in the quite common yet very remarkable cases of
mental healing, with which we are all now familiar!

Sometimes again—quite apart from any oral suggestion or apparent
outside influence—we find the subjective being taking most decisive
command of a person’s faculties and actions. This happens, for instance,
in somnambulism, when the sleepwalker perhaps passes along the narrow
and perilous ridge of a roof or wall with perfect balance and sureness
of foot—adjusting a hundred muscles in the most delicate way, and yet
with total unconsciousness as far as the supraliminal self is concerned.
Or it happens sometimes—even more remarkably—to people in full
possession of their waking faculties, at some moment when extreme danger
threatens to overwhelm them. John Muir in his _The Mountains of
California_,[68] describes how when scaling the very precipitous face of
a cliff he found himself completely baffled, at a great height from the
ground, and unable to proceed either up or down. He was seized with
panic and a trembling in every limb, and was on the point of falling,
when suddenly a perfect calm and assurance took possession of him, and
somehow—he never quite knew how—with an astonishing agility and
sure-footedness he completed the ascent, and was saved. “I seemed
suddenly to become possessed of a new sense. The other Self—bygone
experiences, Instinct or Guardian Angel, call it what you will—came
forward and assumed control. My trembling muscles became firm again,
every rift and flaw in the rock was seen as through a microscope, and my
limbs moved with a positiveness and precision with which I seemed to
have nothing at all to do. Had I been borne aloft upon wings, my
deliverance could not have been more complete.”

Mæterlinck, in his chapter on “The Psychology of Accident” (in _Life and
Flowers_), describes how in the nerve-commotion of danger, Instinct, “a
rugged, brutal, naked, muscular figure,” rushes to the rescue. “With a
glance that is surer and swifter than the onrush of the peril, it takes
in the situation, then and there unravels all its details, issues and
possibilities, and in a trice affords a magnificent, an unforgettable
spectacle of strength, courage, precision, and will, in which
unconquered life flies at the throat of death.” And similar
instances—of instinctive presence of mind, and an almost miraculous
development of faculty in extreme danger—are within the knowledge of
most people. The subliminal being steps in quite decisively, and the
ordinary conscious mind _feels_ that another power is taking over the

But there is another faculty of the subjacent self which must not be
passed over, and which is very important—I mean the image-forming
power. This is one of the prime faculties of all intelligent beings,
lying at the very root of creation; and it is a faculty possessed to an
extreme and impressive degree by the self “behind the scenes.” I have
discussed this subject generally at some length in my book _The Art of
Creation_, and need not repeat the matter here, except to allude to a
few points. The image-forming faculty is a natural attribute of the
conscious mind, in all perhaps but the lowest grades of evolution; at
any rate it is difficult to think of a mind at all like ours _without_
this faculty. This faculty is most active when the mind is withdrawn
into itself, in quietude. In his study or when burning the midnight oil
the writer’s brain teems, or is supposed to teem, with images! But in
sleep the image-forming activity is even greater. It then shows itself
in the subconscious mind, in the world of dreams, whose bodiless
creations are more vivid and energetic than those of our waking hours,
and have a strange sense of _reality_ about them. But again, in the
deeper sleep of trance still more vivid images are produced. A young
student hypnotized imagines himself to be Napoleon, then to be
Garibaldi, then to be an old woman of ninety, then to be a mere child.
He acts the parts of these characters, imitates their handwriting, their
voices, issues proclamations to his soldiers in the name of the first
two, assumes the shaky penmanship of childhood and of old age; and all
in the course of half-an-hour or so.[69] The images thus formed in the
deep trance of the young man are so vivid, so powerful, so dramatic,
that they take possession of the organism and compel it to become the
means of their manifestation. In mediumistic trance the same thing
happens. There may be suggestion from outside, or there may not, but in
the depth of the medium’s mind images are formed which speak and act
through the entranced person, making use in doing so of the marvellous
stores of memory and knowledge which the inner mind has at command, and
sorely puzzling the spectators at times, as to whether the performance
is merely histrionic or whether by chance it indicates a _bona fide_
communication from the dead.[70]

This energetic dramatic quality of the image-forming faculty is
tremendously important. It has not been enough insisted upon; and it has
been greatly misunderstood and misrepresented. It is, as I say, a
root-property of creation. It is seen everywhere in the healthy activity
of the human mind, in its delight in romance and imagination, in the
play of children, the stage, literature, art, scientific invention—the
sheer joy of creation, going on everywhere and always. Lay the conscious
and controlling and selective power of the upper mind at rest, in the
trance-condition, and you have in the deeps of the subliminal self this
primal creative power exposed. Offer to it the lightest suggestion, and
there springs forth from that abyss a figure corresponding, or a dozen
figures, or a whole procession! The mere delight of creation calls them
forth. Could anything be more wonderful? What a strange glimpse it gives
us of the possibilities of Creation.

Some people seem to be quite shocked at the idea that this subliminal
mind, or whatever it is that possesses these marvellous powers, should
act these parts, and lend itself to unsubstantial and quasi-fraudulent
representations. But why accuse of deception? It is a game—the great
game we are all of us playing—the whole Creation romancing away; with
endless inexhaustible fertility throwing out images, ideas, new shapes
and forms forever. Those forms which hold their own, which substantiate
themselves, which fill a place, fulfil a need—they win their way into
the actual world and become the originals of the plants, the animals,
human beings, works of art, and so forth, which we know. Those which
cannot hold their own pass back again into the unseen. In the far depths
of the entranced medium’s mind we see this abysmal process going
on—this fountain-like production of images taking place—the very
beginnings of creation. It is the sheer joy of manifestation. As one
gives a musician a mere hint or clue—a theme of three or four
notes—and immediately he improvises a spirited piece of music; so is it
with the hypnotized person or with the medium. One gives him a
suggestion and he immediately creates the figures according. And so it
is for us, to direct this wonderful power, even in ourselves—not to
call it fraudulent, but to make use of it for splendid ends.

Doubtless it can be used for unworthy ends. It is easy to understand
that the mediumistic person, finding this wonderful dramatic and
creative faculty within himself or herself, is sometimes tempted to turn
it to personal advantage; and succumbs to the temptation. The dramatic
habit catches hold of the waking self, and renders the person tricky and
unreliable.[71] But below it all is creation, and the instinct of
creation—the power that gives to airy nothing a local habitation, the
genius of the dramatist, of the artist, of the inventor, and the _very
source of the visible and tangible world_.

For from the Under-self—as exposed in the state of trance, or in
extreme languor and exhaustion of the body, or in the moment of death,
or in dreams, or even in profound reverie—proceed (strange as it may
seem) Voices and Visions and Forms, things audible and visible and
tangible, things anyhow which are competent to impress the senses of
spectators so vividly as to be for the moment indistinguishable from the
phenomena, audible, visible and tangible, of our actual world. Amazing
as are the materializations connected with mediums—the figures which
appear, which speak, which touch and are touched, the faces, the
supernumerary feet and hands, the sounds, the lights, the movements of
objects—all in some way connected with the medium’s presence—these
phenomena are now far too well established and confirmed by careful and
scientific observation to admit (in the mass) of any reasonable
doubt.[72] And similarly with the wraiths, or phantoms which are
projected from dying or lately dead persons, the evidence for them in
general is much too abundant and well attested to allow of
disbelief.[73] What an extraordinary story, for instance, is that given
by Sir Oliver Lodge in his _Survival of Man_ (p. 101)—of a workman who
having drunk poison by mistake, appeared in the moment of death, with
blue and blotched face to his employer, to whom he was greatly attached,
and told him not to be deceived by the rumor that he (the workman) had
committed suicide! Yet the story is fully and authoritatively given in
the _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. iii. p.
97, and cannot well be set aside. But if such things happen in the hour
of death, so do they also happen in the dream-state.[74] The dreamer has
a vivid dream of visiting a certain person, and is accordingly and at
that time, seen by that person. And in the state of reverie the same. It
is at times sufficient to think profoundly of any one, or to let one’s
inner self go out toward that person in order to cause an image of
oneself to be seen by him.

It will of course be said, and often is said, that those phenomena are
only hallucinations, and have no objective existence. But the sufficient
answer to that is that the things also of our actual world are
hallucinations in their degree, and certainly have no full objective
existence. The daffodil in my garden is an hallucination in that degree
that with the smallest transposition of my senses, its color, its scent,
and even its form might be quite altered. What we call its objectivity
rests on the permanence of its relations—on its continued appearance in
one spot, its visibility to different people at one time, or to one
person at different times, and so forth. But if that is the definition
of objectivity, it is obvious that the forms which have been seen over
and over again, and under strict test-conditions, in connection with
certain mediums, have had in their degree an objective existence.

In America, in connection with Kate Fox (one of the earliest and most
spontaneous and natural of modern mediums), a certain Mr. Livermore—a
thoroughly capable business man of New York—came into communication as
it seemed with his deceased wife. She appeared to him—not in one house
only, but in several houses—over and over again; sometimes only the
head, sometimes the whole figure; her appearance was accompanied by
inexplicable sounds and lights; she communicated sometimes by raps,
sometimes by visibly writing on blank cards brought for the purpose; and
these phenomena extended over a period of six years and 388 recorded
sittings, and at many of the sittings were corroborated by independent
witnesses.[75] It is difficult to imagine hallucinations or deceit
maintained under such circumstances.

In England (in connection with the medium Florence Cook) the figure
“Katie King” appeared to Sir William Crookes a great number of times
during three years (1881–84) and was studied by him and Mr. C. F.
Varley, F.R.S., with the greatest scientific care. Her apparition often
spoke to those present, was touched by, and touched them, wrote, or
played with the children. It often came outside the cabinet, and three
times was seen by those present simultaneously with, and by the side of,
the entranced medium. The figure was taller than the medium and
different in feature; Crookes observed its pulse and found it making 75
beats a minute to the medium’s 90, and so forth.[76]

Professor Richet, the French scientist, examined with great care the
phantasm “Beni Boa,” which appeared to him some twenty times in
connection with the Algerian medium Aisha; he obtained several
photographs of it, and observed its pulse, its respiration, and so
forth.[77] Lombroso, the author of many scientific works, and a man who
to begin with was a complete sceptic on these matters, assures us that
at the sittings of Eusapia Paladino he saw his own mother (long dead) a
great number of times, and that she repeatedly kissed him.[78] In
connection with Mme. D’Espérance[79] the girlish figure of “Yolanda”
appeared and disappeared very frequently during a period of ten years,
and was well known to frequenters of her circle; and in 1896 a committee
formed by some twenty-five high officials and well-known persons in
Norway publicly attested the repeated appearance at her seances of a
very beautiful female figure who glided among the sitters, grasped their
hands, gave them messages, and so forth, and disappeared before their
eyes in a misty cloud.[80] Such evidence of the objectivity of seance
figures could be rather indefinitely multiplied. But the same may be
said, though perhaps less conclusively, of various ghosts and other
manifestations, whose relations to certain persons or places or houses
seem quite definite and well established—and not unfrequently steadily
recurrent under the same conditions.[81]

Without going into the vexed question of whether these and the like
manifestations are merely products or inventions of the trance-mind of
the medium or other person concerned, or whether some at least of them
are the work or evidence of separate ‘spirits’—leaving that question
open for the present—we may still say that all these things are actual
creations—creations of the hidden self of Man in some form or other;
not so assured, certainly, and not so permanent as the well-known shapes
of outer Nature; abortive creations, if you like, which come a little
way forward into manifestation, and then retreat again; but still
creations in the same sense as those more established ones; and
wonderfully revealing to us the secret of the generation and birth of
all the visible world.

                 *        *        *        *        *

That we should have, all of us, this magic source somewhere buried
within—this Aladdin’s lamp, this vase of the Djinns, this Pandora box
of evil as well as of good, is indeed astounding; and must cause us,
when we have once fully realized the fact, to envisage life quite
differently from what we have ever done before. It must cause us to feel
that our very ordinary and daily self—which we know so well (and which
sometimes we even get a little tired of) is only a fraction, only a flag
and a signal, of that great Presence which we really are, that great
Mass-man who lies unexplored behind the very visible and actual.
Difficult or impossible as this being may be to define, enormously
complex as it probably is, and far-reaching, and hard to gauge, yet we
see that it is _there_, undeniably there—a being that apparently
includes far extremes of faculty and character, running parallel to the
conscious self from low to high levels,[82] having in its range of
manifestation the most primitive desires and passions, and the highest
feats of intellect and enthusiasm; and while at times capable of
accepting the most frivolous suggestions and of behaving in a humorous
or merely capricious and irresponsible manner, at other times capable,
as we have seen, of taking most serious command and control of the whole
physical organism, and as far as the spiritual organism is concerned, of
rising to the greatest heights of prophecy and inspiration.[83]

I say, then, that we must include in this problem of survival both the
ordinary upper and conscious self and the deep-lying subjective and
subconscious (or superconscious) being. Just as the organizing power of
the Body includes the Cerebro-spinal system of nerves on the one hand,
and the Great-Sympathetic system on the other, so the organism of the
soul includes the supraliminal and subliminal portions. The two must be
taken together, and either alone could only represent a fraction of the
real person. The exact relation of these two selves to each other is a
matter which can only become clear with long time and study of this
difficult subject. It may be that the subliminal self is destined to
become conscious in our ordinary sense of the word. It may be, on the
other hand, that the conscious self is destined to rise into the much
wider consciousness of the subjective being. There is a great deal to
suggest that the supraliminal self is only the front as it were of the
great wave of life; and that the brain consciousness is only a very
special instrument for dealing with the surroundings and conditions of
our terrestrial existence—an instrument which will surrender much of
its value at death and on mergence with the larger and differently
constituted consciousness which underruns and sustains it. That the two
selves are in constant communication with each other, and that they are
both intelligent in some sense, is obvious from the facts of
_suggestion_, by which often the lightest whisper so to speak from the
upper is understood and attended to by the under self; while, on the
other hand, the under-self communicates with the upper, sometimes by
inner Voices heard and Visions seen, sometimes by automatic actions, as
in dream- or trance-writing, sometimes even by Sounds and Apparitions so
powerful as to _appear_ at least external.

So we cannot but think that the question of survival may ultimately
resolve itself very much into the question of the more complete and
effectual understanding between these different portions of the self.
When they come into clear relation with each other, when the unit-man
and the Mass-man merge into a perfect understanding and harmony, when
they both become conscious of their affiliation to the great Self of the
universe, then the problem will be solved—or we may perhaps say, the
problem will cease to exist.



It may seem rash or unbalanced to dwell, in the preceding chapters, on
trance and mediumistic phenomena as much as I have done, considering
that they are in some sense abnormal—that is, they are unusual, and
comparatively few people have an opportunity of verifying them; also
they may (it is said) be abnormal in the sense of being the products of
conditions so special or even so morbid that conclusions drawn from them
can have no general importance or value.

There is a certain fashion in such matters, and with large sections of
the public and during a long period it has no doubt been the habit
simply to dismiss all consideration of this subject, as for one reason
or another unadvisable. But now these phenomena in general (or enough of
them to constitute a solid body of observation) are so thoroughly
corroborated that it would be mere affectation to pass them by; and the
best science nowadays refuses to ignore exceptional happenings on
account of their exceptionality—recognizing that these very happenings
often afford the key to the explanation of more common events.

The phenomena connected with mediums and seances have been so amazing
and unexpected that they have often produced a kind of fear and dismay.
The religious people have been terrified at the prospect of having to
acknowledge miracles not connected with the Church; or of having to
confess to the resurrection of John Smith as well as of Jesus Christ.
The scientific folk (in many or most quarters) being always just on the
point of completing their pet scheme of the universe—whatever it may
happen to be at the time—have naturally been in no mood to admit new
facts which would totally disarrange their systems; and have, therefore,
with a few brilliant exceptions, consistently closed their eyes or
looked another way. And the general public, not without reason, has
feared to embark on a subject which might easily float it away from the
dry land of practical life, into one knows not what sea of doubt or even

But these difficulties attend at all times the introduction of a new
subject—or at least of one which is new to the generation concerned;
and can of course not be allowed to interfere with the candid and
impartial examination of the subject, or with the assimilation, as far
as feasible, of its message. It should certainly, I think, be admitted
that there are dangers attending the new science—or rather attending
the hasty and careless investigation of it—just as there are attending
any other science. There is no doubt that the phenomena connected with
it are so astounding that they in some cases unhinge people’s minds, or
at least for the time upset them; and what we have already said once or
twice of the frequent bodily exhaustion of the Medium, not to mention
the occasional exhaustion of the sitters, must convince us that the
greatest care should be exercised in connection with trance-conditions,
and that the whole subject should be studied with a view to discovering
its proper and best handling. It is clear—whatever view is taken of the
process—that a certain disintegration of the organism, and even of the
personality of the medium, is liable to occur, one portion of the
organism acting in a manner and under influences foreign to another
portion, and that such disintegration oft repeated or long continued may
be liable to produce a permanent degeneration of physique or even
possibly demoralization of character. If there is a danger in this
direction—and the extent of the danger should certainly be
gauged—equally certainly it ought to be minimized or averted by the
proper conditions. On the other hand, while noting this danger, we
should not leave out of mind that some evidence points in the other
direction—namely, to the favorable effects and influences of trance
when rightly conducted.[84] We may also in this connection allude to the
changed attitude of the general mind to-day toward Hypnotism—a subject
allied to that which we are considering. Fifty years ago the word had a
sinister sound, and hypnotism and mesmerism were thought to be
inventions of the devil and agencies of all evil. To-day they are
recognized as a great power for good, and in at least two hospitals (in
France) as the main instrument of healing. Naturally, when people are
ignorant of a subject, or only in the first stages of knowledge with
regard to it, they mishandle and misunderstand it. It may well happen
therefore that with better understanding of mediumship and
trance-conditions, some of their drawbacks or less favorable aspects may
pass out of sight.

Mediums and trance-phenomena—prophecy, second sight, speaking in
strange tongues, the appearance of flames and lights, and of figures
apparently from the dead—are things that have been known all down
history, and recognized almost as a matter of course, both among quite
primitive peoples like the Kaffirs, or the Aleuts or the Mongolians, or
among the more cultured like the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus,
Chinese, and so forth. The Bible teems with references to wizards and
“necromancers” (note the meaning of the word); and the story of the
Witch of Endor gives us a penetrating glimpse into what was evidently a
common practice of “consultation.” These phenomena have never been so
common as to break up and disorganize the routine of ordinary life, yet
they have always been there, and recognized, as on the fringe or
borderland—in somewhat the same way as the knowledge or recognition of
Death does not interfere with daily life or prevent us making
engagements; though we know it _may_ do so at any time. And beyond any
direct uses that trance-communication and manifestations may have now,
or may have had in the past (a matter on which no doubt there is a good
deal of difference of opinion), we may fairly suppose that as examples
of real things and of a real world lying just outside the sphere of our
ordinary and actual experience they may be of immense value—both as
delivering us from a cramped and petty belief that we have already
fathomed the possibilities of the universe, and as giving us just a hint
and a glimpse of directions in which we may fairly look for the future.
That we should for the present be limited for the most part to a
definite sphere of activity, or to a definite region of creation, seems
only natural. “One world, please, at a time!” said Thoreau when on his
deathbed he was plagued by some pious person about the future life; and
if _we_ in our daily life were entangled in the manifestations of two
very different planes of existence it might be greatly baffling. At the
same time, the occasional hint or message from another plane may be of
the greatest help.

Condensations and manifestations (as of beings from such other plane)
may be abnormal at present. They may be rare, they may occur under
unexpected and even unhealthy conditions, they may cause dislocations of
mind and of morals, they may be confused and confusing. All these things
we should indeed in some degree _expect_; and yet it may not follow that
these objections will continue. It is quite possible that in the future
they will disappear. As I have had occasion to say many times, every new
movement or manifestation of human activity, when unfamiliar to people’s
minds, is sure to be misrepresented and misunderstood. It appears in
humble guise, without backing or patronage, forcing its way to light in
the most unlikely places, “to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks
foolishness,” often distorted and out of shape owing to its very
birth-struggles, and for the very same reason diffident at first and
uncertain of its own mission. Possibly a time is coming when Mediumship,
instead of being left over (as not unfrequently now) to quite ignorant
and uncultured specimens of humanity, and being exercised in haphazard,
careless fashion, or for monetary gain, or personal vanity, will be
looked upon as a sacred and responsible office, worthy of and requiring
considerable preparation and instruction, demanding the respect of the
public, yet thoroughly criticized, both in method and result, by
intelligent examination and logic. Possibly a time is coming when
messages and manifestations from another plane than that of our daily
life will come to us under the most obviously healthy and sane
conditions, and will be fully recognized as having value and even, in
their way, authority.

                 *        *        *        *        *

For the present—allowing (as I do) the absolute genuineness of a great
body of “spiritualistic” phenomena—there still is (owing to various
causes already indicated) considerable doubt as to _who_ or _what_ the
manifesting beings or forces are. I suppose the main theories on the
subject may be gathered under the following heads: that the manifesting
powers are (1) Images, more or less unconsciously projected from the
Medium’s own mind; or, in case of raps, and so forth, emissions of force
from the medium’s body; (2) that they are the same projected from the
minds or bodies of other persons present; (3) that they are independent
Beings, making _use_ of the medium’s or other person’s organism for the
purpose of expression; or (4) that there is a blending of these actions.

I think everyone who has studied the matter practically admits the first
explanation in some degree; most people perhaps allow the second and
fourth; but a good many—though not all—exclude the third. With regard,
however, to this last theory (that there really are occasional messages
or manifestations from the dead—or from “the other side”) there
certainly seems to be a very considerable residuum of evidence which,
though not absolutely conclusive, is favorable to it; and there
certainly are a considerable number of eminent and responsible men—like
Myers, Lodge, Lombroso, and others—who, though not dogmatic, profess
themselves inclined to accept the theory, on the evidence so far
available. For myself—having so little personal and direct experience
in this field—I do not feel in a position to form a definite opinion,
and am content to leave the evidence to accumulate.



In the last chapter we pointed out that for any adequate understanding
of the subject before us the self must be taken to include the more
obscure and subconscious portion of the mind, as well as the specially
conscious portion with which we are most familiar. There is a constant
interaction and flow taking place between the two parts, and to draw a
strict line dividing them would be impossible. Indeed it would rather
appear that growth comes largely by their blending and throwing light on
each other. We also brought forward some considerations to show the
nature of the underlying or subconscious self—its immense extent, the
swiftness of its perceptions, and so forth. If then, to continue our
argument, there should come a time (in death) when the outer and more
obvious ego merges, or at least comes into closer relation, with the
under-self, it would seem likely that the surviving consciousness would
be greatly changed from its present form, and would take on something of
the instantaneous wide-reaching character of what has been called the
Cosmic Consciousness. And this is a conclusion much to be expected, and
surely also much to be desired. However one may envisage the matter, it
hardly seems possible to imagine an after-death consciousness quite on
the same plane as our present consciousness. (This, too—one may say in
passing—probably explains the difficulty we experience in holding
direct communication with the dead—the same sort of difficulty, in
fact, that the outer mind during life has in directly reaching the inner
mind.) Myers[85] speaks of our supraliminal life as merely a special
phase of our whole personality, and suggests that there are good reasons
for thinking that there is a relation—“obscure but
indisputable—between the subliminal and the surviving self.” Under
these circumstances it would seem natural to inquire what definite
reasons there may be for thinking that the subliminal self survives; and
I shall occupy this chapter largely with that question.

(1) In the first place, from the observed process of the generation and
growth of the body from a microscopic origin, we have already argued
(chapter vii.) the probability of the pre-existence in a sub-atomic or
fourth-dimensional state of the being which is manifested in the body,
and therefore the probability of the continuance of that being after the
dissolution of the body. And this argument must include the Under-self,
which is responsible for so much of the organization and growth and
sustentation of the body, as well as the Upper; and may well lead us to
infer that both upper and under selves continue after death—only
conjoined in some way, and with some added experience gained during

(2) In the second place, we are struck by the fact that continuous
Memory—which we decided to be the very necessary condition of
survival—is just the thing which is so strong in the subjective being
and so characteristic of it. The huge stores of memory—and of quite
_personal and individual_ memory—which this being has at command, their
long dormancy and their extraordinary resurgence at times when
conditions call them forth, are a marvel to the investigator, and make
us feel that it is hardly probable that they are all swept away at
death. Even if dormant _at_ the time of death, it seems not unlikely
that here again later conditions may awake them once more to life.

But (3), we have a great deal of evidence to show that, as a matter of
fact, the underlying self is especially _active_ at the moment of death.
The whole phenomenon of ‘wraiths’—now in the mass so amply
proved[86]—the projection of phantasms sometimes to an immense
distance,[87] by persons _in articulo mortis_—goes to show its intense
energy and _vitality_ (if one may use the word) at that moment. And the
vivid resurgences of memory at the same moment (or in any hour of
danger) point in the same direction. T. J. Hudson, and others, insist
that the subjective mind _never sleeps_—that whatever drowsiness, or
faintness, or languor may overpower the upper or self-conscious mind,
the under mind is still acutely awake and operant, and if this is (as it
appears) true with regard to sleep, it may well also be so even with
regard to death.

Again (4), the Telæsthetic faculty of the under-self (I mean during
life)—its power of clairvoyantly perceiving things and events at a
distance, even in minutest details—is a very wonderful fact—a fact
that is amply established, and one that must give us pause. Here are
vision and perception at work without eyes or ears, or any of the usual
bodily end-organs[88]—and acting in such a way as to suggest or
practically to prove that the soul has other channels or instruments of
perception than those connected with the well-known outer body. Every
one has heard of cases of this kind. They are common on the borderland
of sleep, or in dreams, and—what especially appeals to us here—they
are very common in the hour of death. If the soul (as is evidently the
case) can perceive without the intermediation of mortal eye or ear;
then—though we may conclude that these special organs have been
fashioned or developed for special terrene use—we may also conclude
that, without them, it would still continue to exercise perception,
developing sight and hearing and other faculties along lines with which
at present we are but slightly acquainted. These faculties spring
inevitably deep down out of ourselves, and will recur again doubtless
wherever we are.... “Were your eyes destroyed, still the faculty of
sight were not destroyed; out of the same roots again as before would
another optic apparatus spring.”[89]

And the same may be said, (5), about the telepathic faculty—that is,
the power (not of perceiving, but) of _sending_ impressions or messages
to a distance. This power which the under-self has of communicating with
the under-selves of other persons, and often at a great distance, is one
of the best-established facts in the new psychology; and again, it is
very pregnant with inference. It shows us the soul acting vividly along
certain lines independent as far as we can see of the known body,
certainly along lines independent of the known organs of expression. It
compels us to conclude a possible and even probable activity quite apart
from that body. With this telepathic power, or as an extension of it,
may be classed the image-projecting faculty, which we have already seen
to be peculiarly active in death. And it may be appropriate here to
notice that in quite a number of the cases of wraiths or phantasms
projected (in forty cases out of three hundred and sixteen as given by
Edmund Gurney in _Proceedings S.P.R._ vol. v. p. 408) the apparition was
seen after the death had occurred—though within twenty-four hours
after. This may directly indicate an after-death activity of the person
who projected the image, or it _may_ merely indicate a relay of the
telepathic impression on its way, or in the subconscious mind of the
recipient, previous to emerging in the latter’s _conscious_ mind.[90]

All these things are strongly indicative. They do not give the
impression that at death the underlying self is in the act of perishing.
On the contrary, they point to its continuance, and if anything
_increased_ activity; while at the same time the strongly _personal_
character of many of the phenomena referred to—the wonderfully distinct
personal memories, the very personal images or phantasms projected, the
telepathic appeal to nearest and dearest friends—all suggest that the
continuing activity does not merely tail off into an abstract life-force
or vague stream of tendency, but is of a distinctly personal or
individual character.

There is another consideration, (6), on which I may dwell for a moment
here. The passion of Love, whether considered in its physical or in its
psychical and emotional aspects, is notably a matter of the subjective
or subliminal life. The little self-conscious, logical, argumentative
personality is completely routed by this passion, which seems to spring
from the great depths of being with Titanic force, full-armed in its own
convictions, and overturning all established orders and conventions. It
surely must give us a deep insight into the nature of that hidden self
from which it springs. Yet nothing is more noticeable about the passion
than its recklessness of mortal life—nothing more noticeable than its
willingness to sacrifice all worldly prospects and the body itself in
the pursuit of its ends. Even the most physical love, as we have said
already (chapter vi.), has a strange relation to Death, and often slays
the very object of its desire:—

   “For each man kills the thing he loves,
    Though each man does not die.”

While the more emotional form of the passion almost rejoices in its
contempt of life and its willingness to face dangers and death for the
sake of the beloved. It says as plain as words:—“I can fulfil myself
and my purposes all right, even without this mortal part which you hold
so dear”; and unless we think that the hidden being who thus speaks is a
perfect fool, we must conclude that it is _aware_ of a life surpassing
that of the body.

Such a continuing life we no doubt have evidence of, and indeed commonly
admit to exist, in the Race-life; and as a first approximation it seems
natural and obvious to interpret the underlying or subliminal self as
being simply the Race-self. In the case of the lower and less developed
forms of creation, perhaps this is the wisest thing to do. In default of
more detailed and perfect knowledge, we may easily assume that in a
shoal of several million herrings or in a ‘culture’ of several billion
microbes the underlying self of each particular herring or microbe is
practically identical with the self of the race concerned. But in the
case of man and some of the higher animals it is not so easy to do this.
We find a strongly individual element in his subconscious mind, which
must also be accounted for. I have already alluded to the stores of
individual memory which this mind retains, thus differentiating it from
others; and I have alluded to the intensely individual phantasms which
it projects. And now again we are brought face to face with the greatly
individual character of its love-passion. However much the love-passion
may be symbolical of the life of the race, and deeply implicated in the
same (and both of these it certainly is), still—except in its lower
forms—there is nothing vague and general and undifferentiated about
that passion; on the contrary, it is most strongly personal and sharply
outlined. Why is it that out of the hundred thousand people that a man
may meet only _one_ will arouse this tremendous response? Why is it that
every great love in its depth seems different from every other? Do not
these things suggest a profound difference of outline in the
subconscious beings themselves from whom these loves proceed? These
beings are manifestations and organic expressions of the Race—yes. But
they are also deeply individual and different—each one from the other.

And here we seem to come upon the first emergence of the solution of the
problem before us. The self of which we are in search _has_—especially
through its subconscious part—a vast continuing life, affiliated to the
life of the race and beyond that to the cosmic life of the All; but it
also has a strongly individual outline and character. Nursed in the womb
of the Race during countless ages, like a babe within its mother,
passing through numberless reincarnations in a kind of collective way,
and in more or less unconsciousness of its supreme and separate destiny,
it at last in Man attains to the clear sense of individuality, and
(through much suffering) is set free to an independent existence; being
finally exhaled from earth-mortality into a cosmic life under other
conditions of space and time than ours.

Difficult as this conception of a continued individual existence may be
to hold to in view of the terrible and external flux of general Nature,
and difficult as it may be to understand in all detail; yet, as I say,
it is Love which compels us to the insight of its truth. It is Love
which has the clear conception of the uniqueness of the beloved, it is
love which positively refuses to believe in her (or his) annihilation,
it is love alone which in the hour of loss can face the awful midnight
sky, and dare to sing:—

    “Sleep sweetly, tender heart, in peace,
      Sleep, holy Spirit, blessed soul!
    _While the stars burn, the moons increase,_
      _And the great ages onward roll._”

And it is in the meeting of lovers that the heavens open, allowing them
to see—if only for a moment—the eternities to which they both belong.

There are no doubt other considerations—I mean those connected with
mediumistic and so-called spiritualistic phenomena—which point toward
the conclusion of an individual survival of some kind after death; but
although this kind of evidence is likely to prove in the end of immense
value, it is possible that the time has not yet quite come when it can
be completely substantiated, tabulated, and effectively utilized; at any
rate I do not feel myself in a position to so deal with it. It has also
to be said that a great deal of this evidence (relating to actual
communications from the dead) is necessarily of so very personal a
character that it can only appeal to the individual persons concerned,
and however convincing it may be to them does naturally not carry the
same conviction to the world at large. I shall therefore for the present
pass these considerations by, and, on the strength of the arguments
already brought forward, assume the general truth of man’s survival.

The course of the argument has been somewhat as follows. In the first
place, we have urged the enormous possibilities (disclosed by modern
investigation) of other life than that which we know—thus enlarging the
bounds of the likely, and weakening the argument from improbability.
In the second place, we have pointed out that continuance of _memory_
seems the best test of survival; that even in our law courts (as in
a Tichborne case) it is not so much the facts of feature and form as
the facts of memory which are relied on to prove identity. Thirdly, we
have argued that not only the supraliminal but also the subliminal self
must be considered in this matter, and that probably the surviving self
will arise from a harmony or conjunction between these two. Fourthly,
we have shown that in respect of memory and many other matters the
subliminal self shows a quite remarkable activity even in the hour of
bodily death—which does not certainly suggest its decease and cessation
from existence. Fifthly, we have seen that all through life the soul
has faculties (of clairvoyance, transposition of senses, and so forth)
which point to its independence of the material body. Sixthly, that
through _love_ it reaches a deep conviction of its own duration beyond
the life of the body. And, seventhly, we have suggested that it is
largely through the supraliminal and self-conscious life that the
sense of identity and individuality is educed and finally established.

Proceeding, then, further along these lines, the next and obvious
question which arises is, In what sort of body is this continuing life
manifested? That it must be manifested in some sort of body is, I
think, clear. If we had only arrived at the conclusion that at death
the human being merged in the All-soul, or became an indistinguishable
portion of the ‘Happy Mass’—that his individual memory flowed out
into the great ocean of the world-memory and became lost in it, and
that his power of individual action or perception passed away in like
manner—why then the question of a continuing body could not well arise,
or at farthest stretch such body could only be thought of as something
indistinguishable from the entire universe. But if there is any truth
in the idea of an individual survival, then it seems clear that there
must be some kind of _form_, to mark the bounds of the individual, and
to give outline to his relations to other individuals—whether those
relations be active and invasive or passive and receptive; there must
be some surface of resistance and separation.

With this question I shall deal in the next chapter. Before, however,
going into any definite theory of this ‘soul-body,’ it may be useful to
dwell for a moment on general considerations. In the first place, it is
clear that if the individual survives, he does not do so in any fixed
and unchanging form. The form of the individual is not fixed in this
earth-life; nor can we expect or wish it to be so in any other life. As
long as there is a continuous stream of experience and memory, going on
from this life to another life, and from that perchance to others—that
is all we can expect to find. There may, indeed, be a fixed and
transcendent Individuality, an aspect of the Universal, at the root of
all these experiences, but with that we are hardly concerned at this
moment—only with the stream of personal manifestations which proceed
from it—everchanging yet linked together from hour to hour. In the
second place, though we have dwelt upon and emphasized the idea of
separateness and differentiation, in the surviving self, in
contra-distinction to the idea of fusion in a formless aggregate, yet it
is clear here too that the common life and bonds must hold individuals
together, just as much as, if not more than, in the earth-life. The
salient facts of telepathy, sympathy, clairvoyance, and so forth
convince us that souls, freed to some extent from their grosser present
envelopes, will react upon each other in the future, or in that farther
world, more swiftly and more intimately than they do now. And as they
progress from stage to stage, developing individualities and differences
always on a grander and grander scale, so they will also develop through
love their organic union with each other. It seems possible, indeed,
that growth will largely take place _through_ love-fusion; till at
length, rising into the highest ranges of combined Individuality and
Universality, the transformed consciousness of each soul will take on
its true quality—“that of space itself—which is at rest everywhere.”



In order to form a conception of what kind of body the surviving Self
may have, it seems best for the moment to go back to the genesis of our
present body. We saw (chapter vii.) that we were compelled to suppose,
even in the first germ of our actual body an intelligent form of some
kind at work, which while gathering up and representing race-memories of
the past, presided over and directed their rehabilitation in the
present, thus building up the present body according to a certain
pattern—(though subject of course to modification by outer difficulties
and obstacles). From the very first, the exceeding complexity and
delicacy of the movements within the germ-cells, combined with the
decisiveness of their divisions and differentiations, and the perfection
and adaptation of the bodily structures and organs ultimately produced,
all point in the suggested direction.[91] At the same time, we were
compelled to conclude that this form, whose first manifestations in the
tiny germ-cell evidently originate from quite ultra-microscopic
movements, was itself invisible, invisible through belonging either to
an ultra-microscopic world, or to a world of a fourth-dimensional or
other order of existence. I think, therefore, that for the present we
may accept that conclusion, and fairly suppose that some such invisible
form underlies the genesis of each of our bodies.

But at the same time the conclusion of invisibility must not be supposed
to carry with it the conclusion of immateriality. Quite the contrary. A
creature living in the two-dimensional world formed by the water-film on
the surface of a pond might have no conception of the water-world below
or the air-world above—both of which might be quite invisible to it;
all the same a fish or a bird breaking through the surface would
instantly cause some very powerful and very material phenomena there!
And again, though atoms and electrons individually may be quite
invisible, it is only a question of their number and the force of their
electric charges, as to how far they intrude upon what we call the
material world. Also, we must remember that invisibility or
imperceptibility does not by any means imply non-occupation of space. On
the contrary again. For four-dimensional existence carries with it an
occupation of space which is quite miraculous to us—as, for instance,
the power of appearing in two places at the same time; while a number of
ultra-microscopic atoms, by their electrostatic attractions and
repulsions, may maintain definite relations of distance from each other,
and may altogether constitute a cloud of considerable size and complex
organization—quite imperceptible as a rule, yet occupying a definite
area and fully capable of affecting material things.

It may be a question, then, whether it is not some such invisible
cloud—perhaps of quite human size and measurement—which at conception
begins to enter the fertilized germ-cell, stimulating it to division,
and penetrating further and further into the newly-formed body-cells, as
by thousands and millions they divide and multiply to form the growing
organism. Whatever it is, it is something of infinitely subtle
organization and constitution, representing the inmost vitality of the
body, and not that inmost vitality in a merely general sense, but the
vitality of every portion and section of the body. It establishes itself
within the gross body (or it builds that body round itself) and becomes
the organizer and provider of its life; maintains its form and structure
during life, fortifies it against change and disease, and wards off as
long as it can the arrival of death.

What, then, of Death? Why, granted so much as we have supposed, it seems
easy to suppose that at death this inner body passes away again. It just
leaves the gross body behind and passes out of it. For a
fourth-dimensional being this must be easy to do! But not to presume too
much on other-dimensional conditions, if we only assume the inner body
to be such a cloud of atoms or electrons as already mentioned, the
passage of such atoms through the tissues of the gross body would be
entirely in accordance with the well-known facts of _osmose_ and the
diffusion of liquids and gases, and would present no exceptional or
impossible problem. Through cell-walls and muscular and other tissues
such atoms would pass, conceivably maintaining still their relative
‘form’ and organization with regard to each other, and forming a cloud
similar to that which entered the germ and other cells at conception
(though of course so far modified by the life-experience), and leaving
now the gross body devitalized, and doomed to slow corruption and to
serve only as material for lower forms.

                 *        *        *        *        *

One would not, of course, venture on conjectures so speculative as the
above, if it were not that long tradition and history, and even modern
experience, so singularly confirm or favor their general truth. The
conception of a cloud-like ghost—sometimes visible, sometimes
invisible[92]—leaving the body at death, roaming through the fields of
Hades or some hidden world, and from time to time revisiting the
glimpses of the moon and the gaze of wondering mortals—penetrates all
literature and tradition. Among all primitive peoples it seems to be
accepted as a matter of course; it informs the legends and the drama and
the philosophies of the more cultivated; it claims detailed historical
instances and proofs[93] (as in the case of Field-marshal von Grumbkoff,
to whom the wraith of King Frederick Augustus announced his own
death—which had just occurred; or in the case of the poet Petrarch, to
whom Bishop Colonna made a similar announcement); and in modern times it
has met with extraordinary and in many quarters quite unexpected
confirmation at the hands of scientific investigation.

To this evidence of general probability that at death a vital and subtle
yet substantial inner body is withdrawn from every part and portion of
the gross body, we may add the evidence, such as it is, from actual
_sensation_ and _experience_. In the hour of death and in allied
physical changes sensations are experienced corresponding to such a
conclusion. Though necessarily there is little quite direct evidence,
for the actual moment of death, yet in the just preceding stage, of
extreme weakness, the sensation of depletion in every part of the body,
and of withdrawal, as of a hand being drawn out of a glove, is very
noticeable. (And it may be remarked that clairvoyants not unfrequently
observe, at death itself, a luminous cloud of the general outline and
shape of the dying person being slowly distilled, head first, from his
or her head.) Furthermore, in the state of _ecstasy_—which is closely
allied to death—the same sensation of withdrawal is experienced. The
person seems to himself to stand outside and a little beyond his own
body—and doubtless this experience is denoted in the very etymology of
the word. In trance the same: the medium experiences the extreme of
exhaustion while some portion of her vital being is functioning (as it
appears) outside. Under anæsthetics it is a common experience to dream
that one has left the body and is flying through space. (See _The Art of
Creation_, p. 18.) And again, in the case of love—whose close relation
to death we have several times already noted—whether it be in the
strain of emotional desire or the stress of the physical orgasm this
‘hand from the glove’ sensation is often most acute and seems to suggest
that every portion of the body is contributing its part to the process
in hand; which indeed in this case of love may very fairly be supposed
to consist in a transfer of the cloud-like organism (or a large part of
it) to the other person concerned.

There are cases, too, where in a kind of dream-consciousness the
sensation of the self passing out through walls and other obstacles is
so powerful as to leave an impress on the mind ever after. Such is the
case already alluded to (chapter viii. p. 148, _supra_) from _Footfalls
on the Boundary of Another World_, where a lady half waking from sleep
“felt herself carried to the wall of her room, with a feeling that it
must arrest her further progress. But no; she seemed to pass through it
into the open air. Outside the house was a tree; and this also she
appeared to traverse as if it interposed no obstacle.” She thus passed
to the house of a lady friend, held a conversation with her, and in her
dream returned. But afterward the friend reported that she had _seen_
the apparition that night and conversed with it. Similarly a young
friend of mine, dreaming one night that his mother (in the same house)
was ill, was intensely conscious of dashing—not along corridors and
through doorways but _through the partition walls of two rooms_—into
the chamber where his mother slept, when finding her all right he
returned; and the experience was so vivid that it remained with him for
days afterward.

Taking all these considerations together, we may say that there is a
strong general probability in favor of the proposition put forward. And
it is interesting and important to find that at this juncture modern
science is coming out from her old haunts and beginning seriously to
tackle a question which she has hitherto for the most part evaded or
ignored. The whole of the psychology and even physiology of Death have
(as I have previously remarked) been sadly neglected; but now and of
late quite a number of books on this subject have been published,[94]
and a good deal of scientific activity is moving in that direction.

Professor Fournier d’Albe, in his book _New Light on Immortality_,[95]
has made some very interesting suggestions—which though they may not as
yet be accounted more than suggestions, seem to be in the right
direction, and certainly acquire some authority from his intimate
command of the modern discoveries in Physics as well as in the field of
Psychical Research. His view is that every one of the twenty-five
thousand million million cells which constitute say the human body has
probably some ‘centrosome’ or other vital point within it, which is in
fact the governing and organizing power of that cell. Such point or
collection of points, though ‘material,’ may likely weigh only a
ten-thousandth part of the cell-weight. Hence if this ‘soul’ was
abstracted from each cell, the total weight of the twenty-five thousand
billion souls resulting would be only a ten-thousandth part of the body
weight, or about a fifth of an ounce! But these soul-fragments or
_psychomeres_ as he calls them, would together make up the total soul of
the man, and—as already explained—might not only by their negative and
positive charges maintain certain spatial relations and organization
with regard to each other, but would, owing to their extreme minuteness,
easily pass through the tissues and liberate themselves from the gross
body. Thus a human soul, weighing a fraction only of an ounce, but of
like shape and size to the human body, and of intense vitality and
subtlety, might disengage itself at death, to begin a fresh career and
to enter into a new life—leaving the existing body to fall to ruin and
decay. Further, Professor Fournier d’Albe, greatly bold in speculation,
surmises that such a spiritual body, discharging the atmosphere from its
interior frame, might quite naturally rise in the air till it attained
its position of equilibrium at a great height up—say in a region 35–80
miles over the earth, which would thus become the (first) abode of the

Whatever may be said about the details of this theory, and whatever
difficulties they may present, the main outlines—as I have already
indicated—seem quite feasible and probable, and in line with world-old
belief and tradition. And certain details (which we shall return to
again) are powerfully corroborated by modern observation.

Meanwhile it is interesting to find, in corroboration of the general
theory, that some experiments lately carried out, in weighing the body
before and after death, have apparently yielded the result of a decided
loss of weight at or very shortly after, the moment of Death. Dr. Duncan
M‘Dougall, experimenting with considerable care, found that one of his
patients lost ¾ ounce precisely at death;[96] another lost ½ ounce, with
an additional loss of 1 ounce during the next few minutes, after which
no further loss took place; another yielded very nearly the same result;
and so on. Thus we have the old Egyptian idea of the weighing of the
soul after death resuscitated in a very practical form in modern
times—only with the medical practitioner in the place of Thoth, the
great assessor of the Underworld! And it would be satisfactory to know
how far modern observation of a normal soul weight corresponds with
ancient speculation in the matter. It is curious anyhow to find that
Fournier d’Albe’s estimates are so nearly corroborated by Dr. M‘Dougall;
and we must await with interest further and perhaps more detailed
observations along the same line.

Another line along which something seems to have been done by hard and
fast science to corroborate the general theory of the extrusion of a
cloud-like spirit form from the body at death, is in the matter of
photography. Dr. Baraduc, in his book, _Mes Morts: leurs manifestations_
(1908), gives an account of photographs which he took of his wife’s body
within an hour after death and of his son’s body (in the coffin) nine
hours after death. When developed the plates all showed cloud-like
emanations hovering over the corpses, not certainly having definite
human outline, but apparently shot through by lines and streaks of
light. And though here again the experiments are not conclusive, they so
far are corroborative, and may be taken to indicate a direction for
further inquiry.

This last I think we are especially entitled to say, on account of what
has been already done in the way of photographing the cloud-figures
(some of them very definite in outline) which are found to emanate on
occasions from mediums in the state of trance. For notwithstanding the
doubt which has commonly been cast on all such photographs and
notwithstanding the very obvious ease with which cameras can be
manipulated and shadow-figures of some kind fraudulently produced, the
evidence for the genuineness of some such ‘spirit’ photographs is—to
any one who really studies it—beyond question. The celebrated “Katie
King,” who appeared at seances in connection with the medium Florence
Cook, and during a period of two years or more was seen by some hundreds
of people—and especially studied by Sir William Crookes—was
photographed several times under test conditions.[97] Professor Charles
Richet, who when he first heard of Crookes’ conclusions was convulsed
with laughter over their supposed absurdity, afterward confessed his
error,[98] for time after time he not only saw a phantasm (“Beni Boa”)
in connection with the Algerian medium Aisha, but obtained photographs
of the same.[99] Dr. A. R. Wallace, in a long note, pp. 190, 191 of his
book, _Miracles and Modern Spiritualism_, gives a careful description of
his own experiments in this line. Several different figures were at
different times photographed in connection with Mme. D’Espérance; and
the very detailed account, with illustrations, which she gives of these
phenomena in ch. xxvii. of her book, _Shadowland_, must give the
unbeliever pause. And so on.[100] The evidence is so abundant, and so on
the whole so well confirmed, that we are practically now compelled to
admit (and this is the point in hand) that cloud-like forms of human
outline emanating from a medium’s or other person’s living body may at
times be caught by the photographic plate. And this is important because
it removes the phenomenon from the region of the fanciful or imaginative
and gives it automatic and objective registration.

That these forms occurring and occasionally photographed in connection
with mediums are independent ‘spirits’ or souls is of course in no way
assumed. They may be such, or (what seems more likely) they may be
simply extensions of the spiritual or inner body of the medium. The
point that interests us here is that their appearance in either case
points to the actual existence of such an inner body, capable of
becoming extruded from the gross body, and of becoming the seat and
manifestation of intelligence. Further than that we need not go at

But it will be objected, if the inner or spiritual body is, as has just
been supposed, of such a subtle and tenuous nature as to be in itself
quite invisible, what connection can this have with phantoms that can be
photographed, or that can be seen, or that can be actually touched and
handled? This question—the question as to how an excessively rare and
tenuous and invisible being may gradually condense and materialize so as
to come first within the region of photographic activity, and then
within the region of normal visibility, and so on into audible and
tangible and material existence and operation, I shall discuss more at
length in the next chapter. Suffice it here to point out that the
general consensus of thoughtful opinion on this subject at the present
time points to a probable condensation of some kind, and utilization of
such suitable materials as may be to hand, by which the subtle inner
body gradually clothes itself in an outer and denser garment. Whether
with Fournier d’Albe we suppose a soul-like core to every single cell,
or whether we take a more diffused and general view, in any case we seem
compelled to believe that our actual bodies are carried on by organizing
powers distributed in centres throughout the body.[101] If by any means
these vital centres were separated from the gross body, it would still
seem natural for them to continue their organizing activity whenever
they were surrounded with suitable material. And if, as seems likely, in
the case of mediums and seances, a considerable quantity of loose
floating organic material is commonly evolved from the bodies of those
present, such effluences might be quickly caught up and condensed by any
such vital centres present into more or less visible forms and figures.

If, by way of illustration, we were to suppose an army-corps to
represent a gross body, then the officers, from corporals to general,
would represent the inner or organizing soul; and all these officers
together, though really being a ‘body,’ would constitute a mass so small
and so scattered compared with the mass-body of the army, that in
comparison they would be invisible, and might easily all pass out and
away from the army without being observed. They might pass out and
conceivably organize another army-corps elsewhere; but the result on
that left behind (of which they were really the soul) would soon be seen
in its complete disintegration and collapse. Now suppose further that in
a neighboring nation, across the frontier, there was a great deal of
disaffection existing—that large masses of the people there were out of
touch with their own Government (the case of a medium in trance), and
waiting for some one to come and organize them. Then it is easy to
imagine the small group of officers aforesaid passing across the
frontier (quite unseen and unobserved) and immediately on doing so
finding ready to their hands a quantity of material just suitable for
their activity. In a wonderfully short time the various officers would
begin to organize the various departments of a new army-corps; the
people would flock to their standard. Even in a day or two the faint
outline of a new political form or movement would show itself; and in a
week this might become substantial enough to exhibit serious
manifestations of force!

The general application of this to the question in hand is obvious
enough. But there is another point which it illustrates—a point which
we have raised before. I am convinced that science will never yield any
very fruitful understanding of the world, until it recognizes that
_life_ and _intelligence_ (of course in the broadest signification)
pervade all the phenomena of Nature. It is perfectly useless to try to
explain human development, human destiny, mental activity, the forces of
nature, and so forth, in terms of dead matter. No explanation of such a
kind could possibly be satisfying. And more and more it is becoming
clear that even what we call the inorganic world is as subtle and swift
in its responses as what we call the organic. Many difficulties must
inevitably arise in any attempted solution of the problem before
us—that problem which is generally denoted by “the nature of the soul
and its relation to the body”; but we shall never arrive at any
harmonious view of the whole question until we are persuaded, and
practically assume, that life and intelligence in some degree are
characteristic of all that we call ‘matter’ as well as of all we call
mind, and pervade the whole structure of the universe. We shall then see
that the forces, for instance, which organize and direct the human body,
even down to its minutest parts, are probably just as individual and
intelligent in their action as those (to take the example just given)
which organize and direct an army-corps.



I have suggested more than once, in preceding chapters of this book, and
in _The Art of Creation_ and elsewhere, that in the ordinary evolution
of thought, in dreams, in trance and in other psychic states, we are
witness of a process which is continually and eternally going on, by
which the faintest invisible forms and outlines, the nearest
cloud-currents of the inner soul, gradually condense themselves, pass
into visibility, tangibility, and so forth, and (if the process is
continued) ultimately take their place among the substantial things of
the outer world.

Hitherto this thought has been applied in certain departments of
inquiry, but I am of impression that its considerable and world-wide
significance has been missed. Freud, in his _Traumdeutung_, insists that
behind the dream, and inspiring its action and symbolism there always
lurks an emotion, a desire, a wish. And Havelock Ellis (though with due
caution) corroborates this. He speaks[102] of “the controlling power of
emotion on dream-ideas,” and says, “the fundamental source of our
dream-life may be said to be emotion.” That is, an emotion (from
whatever source) arises in the mind. Vague and cloudlike at first, it
presently takes form, and (if in sleep) clothes itself with the imagery
of a dream, which becomes at last vivid and dramatic and _real_, to a
degree which astounds us. But dream-life is only a paraphrase, so to
speak, of waking life—a phase largely corresponding to the waking life
of children[103] and animals; and in waking life the same thing happens.
A wish or desire appears in the background of the mind; it moves forward
and becomes a definite thought and a plan; then it moves forward again
and becomes an action; the action creates a result; and the desire
finally establishes itself or its image in the actual world. These
emotions and desires and the images which sprung from them have a
certain vitality and growth-power of their own. The figures in dreams
move of themselves and concatenate with each other of their own
accord—much as the figures do in a drama, as Coleridge long ago
observed—and as the waking thoughts of all of us do, when we leave them
a little to themselves and to go with loose rein. More than that; in
some cases waking thoughts or passions become powerful enough to take
possession of the whole man and embody themselves in his
deeds—sometimes to heroic, sometimes to criminal ends. Or, taking
possession of _portions_ of the man, they precipitate conflict within
him. The dramatic quality of dreams is evidently due to the different
figures or incidents of the dream being inspired by different qualities
or experiences of the dreamer; and in the waking man the same process
may lead to tragic struggles and disintegrations of personality. In
hysteric patients, where the central controlling power is weak, the very
thought or fear of a disease may seize upon a certain centre in the body
and stimulate there all the symptoms of that disease; or a mental image
may seize upon a certain portion of the brain, and break up the
personality with strange new manifestations.

In all these cases, and scores of others which we cannot consider now,
the same action is taking place—by which invisible psychic and
spiritual forces, for good or evil, are ever pressing forward into the
manifest, and condensing themselves into visible and even tangible
forms, or taking possession of existing forms for the purpose of
expression and manifestation. And here we have (as I think will be seen
one day) the whole rationale of Creation—we have the conception which
brings into line the phenomena of the visible and material world and
their genesis, with the genesis of thoughts in our own minds, and
_their_ passage into visibility and expression; we have the conception
which unites the mental and material, and which makes the whole Creation
luminous with meaning. Especially is this obvious to-day, when the
theory of electrons is introducing us to a world as far finer and
subtler than the atom, as the atom is finer and subtler than the
tangible world of our experience; and is suggesting that these finest
states of matter are of the nature of electrical charges, which, again,
are quite analogous to mental states.[104] Thus we have, almost forced
upon us as the key to the creation of visible forms, the conception, of
a process of condensation by which the most subtle thought and emotion
does in course of time (brief or lengthy) tend to manifest itself in
material shape, and may ultimately take on the most persistent and
quasi-indestructible forms.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Reverting, then, to the subject of last chapter, we see that a
‘spiritual’ body—that is, a material body of a texture so fine and so
swiftly plastic as to be the analogue of thought—is a conception quite
in line with the conclusions of modern science; and that granted the
existence of such a thing, it is quite in line also to conclude that it
would tend toward condensation and manifestation in grosser and more
visible form. I gave in that chapter some general outline of how such
condensation might take place. I now propose to consider this process
more in detail, and to give some evidence as to its actually taking

There is something perhaps a little comic about the idea of spirit
photography—something which has thus helped to retard its acceptance.
The busy photographer with his camera is so banal, and sometimes so
obnoxious, a figure, that to think of him photographing a ghost, or the
spirit of a dead relation, verges on bathos or the burlesque.
Nevertheless, Nature does not attend to our canons in such matters, and
in reality the thing is perfectly feasible and in order. It is well
known that the photographic plate is most sensitive to the violet end of
the spectrum—that it is this end which has the actinic quality.
Moreover, it is known that the actinic quality extends _beyond_ this
end, and that there are ultra-violet rays which we cannot see, and which
yet are photographically powerful. But the violet rays, as is also well
known, are those whose light-waves are smallest—being only about half
the size of the red waves;[105] and the ultra-violet rays are still
smaller. Consequently, by means of the violet end of the spectrum,
information can be got about small objects and infinitesimal details
which would elude the more ordinary light. A particle, in fact, may be
so small that it would reflect the violet waves, while it would be
unable to reflect the red—just as a boat floating on the water will
reflect and turn back tiny ripples, while it will simply be tossed about
by good-sized waves. Advantage has been taken of this in microscopy, and
by ingenious arrangements photographs of objects under the microscope
can now be taken by ultra-violet light, so as to show the very minutest

The application of this to the question before us is clear. If there be
a spiritual body, composed of particles so infinitesimal as to be—to
begin with—far beyond the limits of visibility, yet gradually
condensing and accreting to themselves other and subsidiary particles,
there might come a time when such a cloud-form would approach the limit
of visibility—the molecules of which it was composed having grown so
far. It would be perfectly natural, then, for a body composed of such
molecules to come into the region of possible photography in the camera
through the ultra-violet rays _before_ it came into the region of
visibility to the human eye by means of ordinary light. And thus the
seeming paradox may be accounted for—of the appearance of spirit-forms,
or even thought-forms, on the photographic plate which are not yet
discernible by the eye. At a later stage of materialization the form may
of course yield an image both to the eye and to the camera.[106]

Again, in this connection, it is often urged against the reality of
spirit-forms, ghosts, and so forth, that they cannot bear a strong
light; and this is held to dispose of all their claims for
consideration. But what has just been said shows that on the contrary
such an effect is just what might be expected. The delicate growing
structure, whose particles were just large enough to reflect the smaller
light-waves, might easily be broken up and quite disintegrated by the
larger and more powerful weaves of a strong glare—just as, in fact,
_our_ forms, which can endure light, are broken up and disintegrated by
the still larger waves of intense _heat_. Katie King, who, as before
mentioned, appeared so many times in connection with the medium Florence
Cook, was frequently seen to fade away if the light was too strong. “At
the earlier seances she could only come out of the cabinet for a few
seconds at a time, once or twice during the seance; she had to go back
quickly into the cabinet to gather fresh power from her medium, saying
that the strong and unaccustomed brilliancy of the light made her ‘melt
quite away.’”[107] And Nepenthes, that finely formed and beautiful
figure which appeared in connection with Mme. D’Espérance, was more than
once seen, by a large company assembled, to walk by the side of the
medium up to the open French window at the end of the room and then to
disappear as she came into the full daylight.[108]

Photographs, it may be noticed, of forms appearing at seances, or in
connection with sitters, vary from mere cloudlike masses without or
almost without shape to very distinct human figures with much detail of
feature and dress,[109]—the same figure being often recognized in
various stages of clearness and definition. And this is interesting
because it entirely corroborates the observations made in hundreds of
seances, and in other cases, in which a form is first distinguished by
the eye as a faintly luminous cloud, and gradually grows in distinctness
and definition till it becomes visible in all detail, and even tangible.
Mme. D’Espérance, whose book, _Shadowland_, should be read on account of
its intelligent handling and obvious sincerity, as well as on account of
the remarkable phenomena reported, describes (p. 151) the first occasion
on which a ‘materialization’ appeared to her:—“One evening, for some
reason or other, we were sitting without a lighted lamp. The daylight
had not faded when we commenced the sitting, but though it grew dark no
one suggested making a light. Happening to glance over to the part of
the room where the shadows were deepest it seemed to me that there was a
curious cloudy luminosity standing out distinct and clear from the
darkness. I watched it for a minute or two without saying anything,
wondering where it came from and how it was caused. I thought it must be
a reflection from the street lamps outside, though I had never seen it
like that before. While I watched, the luminous cloud seemed to
concentrate itself, become substantial, and form itself into a figure of
a child, illuminated as it were by daylight that did not shine on it
but, somehow, from within it—the darkness of the room seeming to act as
a background, throwing up by contrast every curve of the form and every
feature into strong relief.” And in another passage she says:—“As soon
as I have entered the mediumistic cabinet my first impression is of
being covered with spider webs. Then I feel that the air is filled with
substance, and a kind of white and vaporous mass, quasi-luminous, like
the steam from a locomotive, is formed in front of the abdomen. After
this mass has been tossed and agitated in every way for some minutes,
sometimes even for half-an-hour, it suddenly stops, and then out of it
is born a living being close by me.”[110]

Another figure—that of Yolande (a young woman)—is mentioned in the
same book (p. 254) as appearing again and again out of such a filmy
cloudy patch on the floor. Similarly, Professor Richet noticed over and
over again the outgrowth of a figure (Beni Boa) from a white cloud.
“Near the cabinet we could see, betwixt the curtain and the table, a
whitish globe forming, luminous, and rotating on the floor; from this
globe Beni Boa sprang.” The figure would then walk round the room and
disappear again; but after a time the white cloud would again form and
Beni Boa reappear. And Professor Lombroso, alluding to this,
says:[111]—“This observation is of great importance, since it is not
possible to attribute to fraud the formation of a luminous patch on the
floor which transforms itself into a living being.” Further, Lombroso
says:—“Five photographs were obtained at these sittings by magnesium
and chlorate of potash light, with a Kodak and with a Richard
stereoscopic apparatus simultaneously, which fact excludes the
possibility of photographic fraud; and all the plates were developed in
Algeria by an optician who was unaware of what had preceded. On the
plates appeared a tall figure wrapped in a white mantle” (and similar to
the figure which the seven sitters present at the seances had seen).

I have alluded to this cloud-formation before as characteristic of an
early stage of the appearance of these figures, and as suggesting a
process of condensation going on. Lombroso, from various considerations
which he brings forward (p. 185),[112] seems convinced that the
phenomena of these forms are largely connected with radio-activity. He
says:—“It would seem that these bodies belong to that further state of
matter, the radiant state, which now at last has established a firm
footing in science—and which thus offers the only hypothesis which can
reconcile the ancient and universal belief in the persistence of some
form of life after death with the postulates of science which maintain
that without organ there can be no function.” This radio-active
condition of matter is of course that finest and most active state
represented by the electrons—in which each electron is excessively
minute,[113] yet moves at enormous speed, and carries with it an
electric charge. It connects itself with condensation in this way, that
“an electric charge assists vapor to condense,” and “where ions (_i.e._
positively or negatively charged particles) are present in considerable
numbers a thick mist will form whenever the space is saturated with
vapor.”[114] And Fournier d’Albe says:[115]—“In the physical theory of
ionization and condensation we have become familiar with the fact that
the smallest charged particles are the most effective promoters of
condensation. In fact, it would suffice to extract a very small
proportion of the innumerable electrons within the body to bring about a
vigorous condensation in the moist air around it.”

Thus it is quite probable that the cloud-formation, which in general
precedes the manifestation of distinct figures, is due to condensation,
and in part at any rate to a condensation of water-vapor on the
accreting particles of the spirit-body. And this is made the more
probable by the strong sensation of _cold_ which so frequently
accompanies these appearances, and which is a common accompaniment of
condensation. Crookes, in his _Researches_, emphasizes this in
connection with almost all the phenomena, and says[116] they “are
generally preceded by a peculiar cold air, sometimes amounting to a
decided wind. I have had sheets of paper blown about by it, and a
thermometer lowered several degrees. On some occasions ... the cold has
been so intense that I could only compare it to that felt when the hand
has been within a few inches of frozen mercury.” Some such sensation
seems to be quite a common experience, and the authoress of
_Shadowland_, speaking of her earlier sittings (p. 228), says:—“It was
not long before the same strange disturbances in the air began as on the
previous occasion. I felt my hair blown and lifted by currents of air,
and cool breezes played about my face and hands.”

Thus (with the corroborating evidence of Crookes’ thermometer) we may
suppose that, after all, the cold airs and shivering sensations which
seem so often to accompany apparitions may not be merely subjective to
the observer, but may be real phenomena due to physical condensations
taking place in his immediate proximity. Moreover, it has to be noted
that the condensations may not be merely of water-vapor, but of other
substances as well, namely (according to an opinion now gaining ground),
of fine matter or effluences provided by the bodies of the sitters
present (or some of them) as well as by the body of the medium. The
passage last quoted from _Shadowland_ continues: “then began a strange
sensation, which I had sometimes felt at seances. Frequently I have
heard it described by others as of cobwebs being passed over the face,
but to me, who watched it curiously, it seemed that I could feel fine
threads being drawn out of the pores of my skin.” And in another
passage[117] the same writer describes the cloud which precedes a
materialization as “a slightly luminous haze” which often appears “about
the head, shoulders, elbows and sometimes the knees and feet (of the
medium). Frequently it gathers slowly at the fingers, increasing in
density till it resembles a slight transparent film of slightly luminous
cotton wool.” Further, she explains that it goes on condensing till it
becomes cobwebby and perceptible to touch. The evidence generally seems
to show that these clouds are of the nature of effluences from the
medium or other person present; and the above quotation affords
corroboration of that view and makes easily intelligible the great
exhaustion from which mediums often suffer on these occasions. It
suggests also that the condensation is by no means of water-vapor only,
but of other substances drawn from the interior vitality of the persons
concerned, and necessary for the building up of the apparitional form.

It is difficult in the case, for instance, of “Katie King,” who, as
already said, appeared hundreds of times during two or three years, or
of Estella Martha, who appeared to her husband during five years and in
380 or more seances in connection with the medium Kate Fox,[118] not to
believe that such figures are (as we should say) _really_ the
individuals they profess to be, and not mere thought-forms or images
projected from the medium’s under-mind. But whichever view we take, it
is obvious that they are centres in some degree, of intelligent force or
vitality, centres which, though in their essence rare and tenuous as
thought or feeling, succeed in clothing themselves with a certain grade
of corporeality by the use of the materials at hand, and in so coming
into visible manifestation. And this general view is confirmed by the
fact, so often observed, that when the same figure appears repeatedly,
it does, as time goes on, acquire skill and adroitness in carrying out
the process of condensation or whatever it is, which is concerned, and
consequently comes into manifestation and activity more quickly and
decisively. Also, it may be noted, and has often been observed (as in
the case of the said Estella Martha and many others), that by practice
the figure attains the power of enduring strong light—that is, its
state of condensation reaches a point of solidity almost comparable with
that of _our_ tissues, which are not as a rule disintegrated by light.

The radio-activity of the ‘inner being’ also helps to explain the
extraordinary manifestations of sheer physical force in these
connections. Some of these manifestations have been so astonishing, that
the fact alone has caused them to be disbelieved; but though, of course,
fraud has played a part in such phenomena, and has to be guarded
against, it is now quite evident that in a multitude of cases fraud does
not enter at all.

Eusapia Paladino, for instance—though capable of little
fraudulences—was obviously the seat of extraordinary powers not to be
explained by these. Mr. Carrington, who made a special study of this
medium, and who (as I have said before) has also made a special study of
fraudulent methods in so-called spiritualism, vouches most strongly for
the great exhibitions of inexplicable _force_ in her
vicinity—especially perhaps in the way of _levitations_. He
says:—“Every one who has studied Eusapia’s phenomena knows that
practically every seance (for some reason) commences with
table-levitations—this, whether they are wanted or not! It seems the
necessary programme, and it is almost invariably carried out. Seeing
them time after time, one can obtain a very fair idea of their nature
and reality. And I may say that I now consider levitations as well
established as any other physical facts. They are not open to the
objection to which most psychical phenomena are subjected—that they
cannot be repeated or induced and studied experimentally, as one would
study other physical facts—for they can be induced and studied in just
this laboratory manner. I have probably seen several hundreds of these
levitations now, under every conceivable condition and in _excellent
light_, and I consider them so far established that, as Count Solovovo
said, “the burden of proof is now on the man who asserts that they are
_not_ real, not upon the man who asserts that they _are_.” These are
pretty strong words, and by a very responsible observer! And then Mr.
Carrington proceeds with a detailed account of these and other physical

Some years ago, the reports and accounts of such phenomena were
generally at once dismissed as absurd and incredible; but by a
remarkable coincidence the last few years have seen the wonderful
development of the science of radio-activity—dating from the
epoch-making experiments of Crookes, in 1879 and earlier. These
experiments, curiously enough, were worked out during much of the same
period as Crookes’ researches into spiritualistic phenomena, and have
led to the shedding of much light upon the latter. For the new science
developed from them, and already more or less popularized,[120] compels
us to suppose that the most enormous forces lurk all around, within the
very structure of the atom itself—which of course is totally invisible
to our eyes. The new facts observed, with regard to radium and other
such substances, seem to compel the supposition that each atom is
composed of an immense number (say 100,000) of highly charged electrical
particles moving each with huge velocity—a velocity at any rate
comparable to that of light. The dissociation of such atoms and the
liberation of their constituent particles develops a fabulous energy.
When it is calculated that one gramme or fifteen grains of matter (say
the weight of thirty postage stamps) moving with the speed of light,
would have energy enough to lift the British Navy to the top of Ben
Nevis (Crookes); or that one milligramme (say the sixty-sixth part of a
grain of wheat) at the same speed would represent the energy of fifteen
million foot-tons (Lodge); or when, according to J. J. Thomson, the
combined speed and mass of the electrons within such a milligramme of
matter would total up to the work represented by a hundred million
kilogram-metres;[121] then we can at any rate see—whatever small
variations there may be in the estimates—how immense are the
potentialities of the tiniest points of matter; how each minutest atom
comprehends, as Shelley says, “a world of loves and hatreds” (_i.e._
positive and negative electric charges); we realize that no
manifestations of unexpected power are _per se_ incredible; and we are
indeed rather inclined to wonder how it is that these great inter-atomic
energies do not more often force themselves on our attention!

It is evident that any such condition of being as we have supposed in
the case of the ‘inner’ or ‘spiritual’ body, might afford means for the
liberation—even from a single atom—of forces amply sufficient for the
most ‘miraculous’ phenomena; and we are led to wonder and to ask whether
it may not be the case that, after all, our gross bodies are really a
hindrance rather than a help—whether it may not be true that the powers
we could exert _without_ them and independently of muscles and sinews
and hands and feet would be far greater than those we actually do exert
by means of these organs and appendages; whether, in fact, our gross
bodies do not exercise a _limiting_ effect, confining our activities to
certain very clearly specified directions, and within certain very
definite bounds? At any rate, this point of view is worth considering.

Certainly the well-established facts of telepathy, and the equally
well-established facts of the projection of phantoms from persons dying,
or passing through great danger, to friends even at a great distance,
seem to show that the inner self of one person can send out rays or in
some way impress itself on the inner self of another far-off
person;[122] and this, under the theory of electrons moving at
prodigious speed, seems not impossible. For though there is a difficulty
in supposing ordinary physical vibrations or radiations to reach
effectively from one person to another (say a thousand miles away) on
account of the law of space itself, which makes such radiations diminish
in intensity as the square of the distance increases, yet in the case of
electrical radiations it seems possible to suppose two people related to
each other as positive and negative poles—in which case the radiations
of electric charges would pass along lines connecting the two, and with
comparatively little loss of intensity. Our present rather crude and
lumbering bodies probably impede these subtle exertions of force; and
the fact (already noted once or twice) of the greater activity of people
in the telepathic or phantasmogenetic directions, when they are
themselves outwardly in a dying or exhausted condition, seems to point
to a considerable liberation of these powers after death.

On the other hand, the well-established facts of perceptivity at a great
distance, or without the mediation of the gross body and the usual
end-organs, point in the same direction. Considerable investigations
have been made in this subject; and not only is the evidence for
occasional clairvoyance at a distance well established, but there are
curious cases in which the faculty of sight or of hearing seems to be
transferred from its natural organ to some other part of the body, as of
seeing with the knee, or the stomach, or the finger-tips. Myers gives
considerable attention to this subject, and thinks that Professor
Fontan’s experiments[123] “cannot lightly be set aside”; while Lombroso
quotes an hysterical patient of his own, a girl of fourteen, who lost
the sight of her eyes, but was able to read perfectly with the lobe of
her left ear! Later on, in the same patient, the sense of smell
concentrated itself in the heel of her foot! Mrs. Piper, as is well
known, commonly raises her _hand_ for the sitter to speak into, as if it
were her ear. And in cases of somnambulism the sleepwalker will
sometimes move securely through difficult or dangerous places with eyes
absolutely closed. All these things seem to point to an aboriginal power
of perception independent of the end-organs. It is obvious that if in
the course of evolution our present faculties of sight, hearing, and so
forth have been developed from the diffused sensitivity of an amœba or
some such creature, then those faculties must have existed, in their
undifferentiated state, in the amœba; or, to put the matter another way,
the faculty of sight clearly does not reside in the cornea of the eye,
or in the crystalline lens, or even in the retina itself; which are
merely an apparatus evolved for dealing with the details of the matter.
The retina catches the light-disturbance, and the optic nerve conveys it
to the brain, and the brain-cells are agitated by it; but where does
_sight_ come in? At some point, doubtless, the agitations of the
brain-cells or of their internal molecules are _seen_ and interpreted;
but the being that sees and interprets them may (we had almost said
_must_) be capable of directly seeing and interpreting similar
agitations in the outer world—that is, it may or must by its nature be
capable of seeing the events of the outer world without the mediation of
the end-organs or the brain. Frederick Myers, dealing with this subject,
says:—“I start from the thesis that the perceptive power within us
precedes and is independent of the specialized sense-organs, which it
has developed for earthly use. ‘It is the mind that sees and the mind
that hears, the other things are blind and deaf.’”[124] He thinks that
in the development or unfolding of life on our planet “certain
sensibilities got themselves defined and stereotyped upon the organism
by the evolution of end-organs. Others failed to get thus externalized;
but may, for aught we know, persist nevertheless in the central
organs.”[125] It is evident—however we may explain the matter—that
activities and sensibilities do persist and manifest themselves in the
human organism quite independent of the ordinary and stereotyped
end-organs, and this fact must go far to persuade us, not only that
there is an inner, a more subtle, and a more durable body than that
which we usually recognize, but that in some respects this latter body
is a limitation and a hindrance to the activity of the former, and to
the swiftness and range of the perceptions of the soul.

                 *        *        *        *        *

What, then, it will naturally be asked, is the object or purpose or use
of our incarnation in this grosser body?—why, if there is such an
ethereal or spiritual frame within, should it thus tend to accrete
denser particles upon itself and ultimately to clothe itself in a
vesture of so opaque and material a nature? It would be rash to attempt
to answer so profound a question offhand—off one’s own bat as it were;
and still more rash perhaps to accept any of the ready-made answers
which are offered in such profusion, and in so many different jargons
and lingos, by the sects and schools, from the Gnostics and Theosophists
to the most philistine of the chapels and churches. Yet if one may
venture a suggestion, it would seem rather likely that the object and
purpose and use of this process by which the soul is entangled in
matter, and its operation and perception so strangely hampered and
limited, is—limitation; that _limitation_ itself and even _hindrance_
are part and parcel of the great scheme of the soul’s deliverance. But
the further consideration of this I will defer to a later chapter.[126]



There is a good deal of talk indulged in, on the subject of
Reincarnation—talk of a rather cheap character. One does not quite see
what is the use of saying that the _ego_ will be reincarnated again some
day, unless one has some sort of idea what one means by the _ego_, and
unless one has some understanding of the sense in which the word
“reincarnation” is used. If it is meant that your local and external
self, approximately as you and your friends know it to-day—including
dress, facial outline, professional skill, accomplishments, habits of
mind and body, interests and enthusiasms—is going to repeat itself
again in five or five hundred years, or has already appeared in this
form in the past; one can only say “impossible!” and “I trust not!” For
all these things depend on date, locality, heredity, surrounding
institutions, social habits, current morality, and so forth,
which—though they have certainly played their part in the spirit’s
growth—must infallibly be different at any other period (short of the
whole universe repeating itself). And anyhow to have them repeated again
_da capo_ at some future time would be terribly dull. But if you say “Of
course I don’t mean anything so silly as _that_,” it becomes incumbent
on you to say what you do mean.

Supposing, for instance, you had been planked down a baby in the Arabian
desert, and grown up to maturity or middle age there, instead of where
you are, would any of your present-day friends recognize you? Where
would be your charming piano-playing, your excellent cricket, your
rather sloppy water-color painting, your up-to-dateness in the
theatrical world? Where your morality (with three wives of course) or
your religion (something about “Christian dogs”), or where your British
_sang froid_ and impeccability? And if it is obvious that in such a case
as this you would, owing to the changed conditions, be changed out of
all recognition, much more—one might say—would this be the case if you
had been born five hundred years ago, or were to be born again five
hundred years hence. Your whole outlook on life, and its whole impress
on you, would be different.

Of course I am not meaning, by these remarks, to say that reincarnation
is in itself impossible or absurd; that would be prejudging the
question. All I mean at present is that if we are going to study this
subject, or theorize upon it, it is really necessary to define in some
degree the terms which we use. I do not say that you, the reader, might
not be reincarnated, but I think it is clear that if you were, we should
have a good deal of trouble in following and finding you! It is clear
that the _you_, so reappearing, would not be your well-known local and
external self, but some deep nucleus, difficult perhaps for your best
friend to recognize, and possibly even unknown or unrecognized by
yourself at present. And similarly of some friend that you love for a
thousand little tricks and ways. We all have such friends, and at times
cherish a sentimental romance of their being restored to us in some
future æon habited in their old guise and with their well-worn frocks
and coats. But surely it is no good playing at hide-and-seek like that.
The common difficulties about the conventional heaven—the difficulty
about meeting your old friend who used to be so good at after-dinner
stories, about meeting him with a harp in his hand and sitting on a damp
cloud—is no whit the less a difficulty whatever future world may be the
_rendezvous_. He would be changed (externally) and we should be changed,
and it might well happen that if we did seem to recall any former
intimacy we should both feel like strangers, and be as shy and tentative
in our approaches to each other as school-children.

What do we mean by the letter “I”? and what do we mean by the word
Reincarnation? These two questions wait for a reply.

The first is a terribly difficult question. It lies (though neglected by
the philosophers themselves) at the root of all philosophy. Perhaps
really all life and experience are nothing but an immense search for the
answer. What do we mean by the Ego? It is a sort of fundamental
question, which it might be supposed would precede all other questions,
but which as a matter of fact seems to be postponed to all others, and
is the last to be solved. All we can at the outset be sure of in the way
of answer is the enormous extent and depth of the being we are setting
out to define. We sometimes think of the _ego_ as a mere point of
consciousness, or we think of the ordinary self of daily life as a
fragile and ephemeral entity bounded by a few bodily tissues and a few
mental views and habits. But even the slight discussion of the subject
in former chapters of this book (chapters vi., vii., and so forth) has
revealed to us the vast underlying stores and faculties which must be
included—the wonderful powers of memory, the subtle capacities of
perception at a distance, or without the usual organs of sight and
hearing, the power of creating images out of the depths of one’s mind,
and of impressing them telepathically upon others, the faculty of
clairvoyance in past and future time, and so forth. The more we try to
fathom this ego, with which we supposed ourselves so familiar, the more
we are amazed at its labyrinthine profundity, and the more we are
astonished to think that we should ever have ventured to limit it to
such a petty formula and conventional symbol as we commonly do—not only
in our judgment of friends, but even in our estimate of ourselves.

Reincarnation, as we have already said, can hardly be the reappearance,
in a new life on earth (or even in some other sphere), of the very local
and superficial traits which we know so well in ourselves and our
friends—which are mainly a response to local and superficial
conditions, and which mainly constitute what we call our personalities.
If reincarnation does occur, it must obviously consist in the
reappearance or remanifestation of some such very interior self as we
have just spoken of—some deep individuality (as opposed to
personality), some divine æonian soul, some offshoot perhaps of an
age-long enduring Race-soul, or World-self—and in that sort of sense
only shall I use the word in future.

In that sense the idea is feasible and illuminative. It explains the
obvious limitations and localism of our personalities, as being more or
less passing and temporary embodiments of our true selves; and it
represents the latter as immense storehouses of experience from all
manner of places and times, and similarly as centres of world-activity
operating in different fields of time and space. At the same time, it
presents various difficulties. For one thing, it poses the difficulty
that for each of us this vast interior being is, as a rule, so deeply
buried that both oneself and one’s friends are only faintly
conscious—if at all—of its true outline. And if one does not recognize
this being, of what use is it to us? It is true that we sometimes meet
people who at first sight give us a strong impression of far-back
intimacy; but this is only a vague impression and hardly sufficient to
afford proof of pre-existence. The only way of meeting this difficulty
seems to be to suppose, as residing in this inner being or true self,
another order of consciousness, faint intimations of which we even now
have, and by which, as it grows and develops, we may some day clearly
recognize our true selves and true nature.

Another difficulty is that (as already said) for any satisfactory sense
of survival continuity of memory is needed; and we should have to
suppose that the memory of each earth-life was continued into and stored
up in this deeper soul or æonian self. Memory would not normally pass
from one embodiment or incarnation to another, but each stream would
flow into the central self and there be stored. And I think we may admit
that this is by no means impossible. Indeed there are not a few facts
(some already mentioned) with regard to the recovery of memory which
make the mater probable. Though any given earth-life in a given form
could not be repeated, the _memory_ of such an earth-life, fresh and
clear, may survive for an indefinite time in the crystal mirror of the
deeper consciousness.[127] And it is perhaps allowable to suppose that
in this way, and with the lifting of the opaque veil of our present
consciousness, we may some day come clearly into the presence of friends
we have lost.

Here again, however, one has to be on one’s guard. The mere fact of
remembering (or thinking one remembers), in this our terrestrial life
and with our terrestrial consciousness, some detail or other of a
previous terrestrial life proves little—for, for aught we know, quite
apart from our psychic selves, a streak of memory of more physical
origin from some ancestor may have come down even several generations,
and may be surviving in one’s brain.[128] Indeed it is extremely
probable that all organic matter carries memory with it, and not
unlikely that inorganic matter does so too. If you thought, for
instance, that you remembered seeing Charles the First beheaded—if you
had a rather distinct picture in your mind of the scene at Whitehall,
which you afterwards found by investigation to be corroborated in its
details, you might at first jump to the conclusion that you had really
lived at that time, and witnessed the scene. But after all it might
merely be that an ancestor of yours had been there, and that the vividly
impressed picture had somehow persevered in some subterranean channel of
memory and emerged again in your mind. Even then you might contend that,
since it was _your_ memory, _you_ must have been there—or at any rate
some fraction of yourself in the ancestor, which now has become
incorporated in your personality. There are a good many stories of this
kind going about, which point to the possibility of the transmission of
shreds of remembrance through hereditary channels, and suggest the idea
of an active Race-memory, or Earth-memory, in itself continuous—a
storehouse of experiences, but fed continually by the individuals of the
race, and coruscating forth again in other individuals.[129] Indeed one
can hardly withhold belief in the existence of such a larger life, or
identity, ‘reincarnated’ if one likes to use the expression, in
thousands or millions of individuals; but to be satisfactorily assured
of the reincarnation of one distinct and individual person is another
thing, and would almost demand that there should be forthcoming not only
shreds and streaks of remembrance, but a pretty continuous and
consistent memory of a whole former life.

Thus the whole question which we are discussing is baffled and rendered
the more complex by the doubt as to what is meant by the word “I.” It is
clear, from what we have already said, that one person may use it to
indicate (1) the quite local and superficial self; while another may
have in mind (2) a much profounder being (the underlying self) whose
depths and qualities we have by no means fathomed; while others, again,
may be thinking (3) of the self of the Race or the Earth, or (4) the
All-self of the universe.

I present these questions and doubts, not—as I have said—for the
purpose of discrediting the possibility of Reincarnation, but by way of
showing how complex and difficult the problem is, and how much _some_
exact thought and definition is needed in dealing with it. At the same
time, in pleading for exact thought I would also urge that in avoiding
the whirlpools of sentimentalism we should be careful not to fall upon
the rocks of a dry and barren formalism. Systems of hard and fast
doctrines on these subjects—even though issued with all the authority
of ancient tradition, and enunciated in a long-dead jargon—are the most
unfruitful and uninspiring of things. They seem to contain no germ of
vitality and are liable to paralyze the mind that feeds upon them.
Besides the drawback—as I have pointed out before—that all such
systems are inevitably false. Nature does not, in any department, work
upon a cut-and-dried system; and while at the outset of an investigation
we often seem to discern something of that kind, further study
invariably discloses an astounding variety of order and method. It may
be well therefore to be prepared to find a general principle of
Reincarnation in operation in the world, but worked out, in actual fact,
in a great variety of ways.

Certainly there comes into our minds, at a certain grade of their
development, a deep persuasion of the truth, in _some_ sense, of
reincarnation—that “the Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
hath had elsewhere its setting.” It blossoms, this persuasion, in a
curious way, in the very depths of the mind; and in moments of inner
illumination, or deep feeling, is discerned in a way that seems to
leave no room for doubt. At the same time, it not only has this
intuitive sanction, but it commends itself also to the intellect,
because at a certain stage we perceive very clearly both how vast is
the whole curve of progress which the soul has to cover from its first
birth to its final liberation, and how tiny is the arc represented by
a single lifetime—the two thoughts almost compelling us to believe
in a succession of lives as the only explanation or solution. We are
compelled towards a practical belief in Reincarnation, and yet (as
above) we have to confess that our conception of what it really is,
or what we mean by it, is only vague. This, however, is no more than
what happens in a hundred other cases. The young bird starts building
a nest for the first time, driven by some strange instinct to do so,
and yet it can only have a very dim notion of the meaning and uses
the nest will subserve when finished. And _we_ found our lives on
deep intuitions—of social solidarity, of personal responsibility, of
free will, and so forth—and yet it is only later and by degrees that
we learn what these things actually mean.

Referring, then, to the four alternative forms of the self given two
or three pages back, and taking the last first, we may say definitely,
I think, that as far as the self of each one of us is identified (4)
with the All-self of the universe, its reincarnation is assured.
Its reincarnation indeed is perpetual, inexhaustible, multitudinous
beyond words, filling all space and time. Though the consciousness
of this self is deeply buried, yet it is there, in each one of us.
Occasionally—if even only for a moment—it rises to the surface,
bringing a sense of splendor and of joy indescribable—the absolute
freedom and password of all creation, the recognition of oneself
everywhere and in all forms. But this phase of the self—I need hardly
say—is for the most part hidden; and more common is it perhaps for the
Race-self (3) to rise into our consciousness with more or less distinct
assurance that we live again and are re-embodied in other members of
the race to which we belong. The common life of the race carries us
away and overmasters us with a strange sense of identity and community
of being. Heroisms and devotions—as of men dying for their country,
or bees for their hive—spring from this; and superb intoxications of
joy. The whole of the life of primitive races and tribes, and the life
of the animals and insects, illustrates it—in warfares, migrations,
crusades, frantic enthusiasms, mad festivals—the genius of the race
rushing on from point to point, inspiring its children, incarnating
itself without end in successive individuals.

It is not so uncommon, I say, for us to be able to identify ourselves
with this great Race-self, and to feel its thrill and pulse within
our veins. And it might well be thought that, with these two forms of
reincarnation (3) and (4) and the immense joy they bring, we should
be content: even as all the tribes of the animals and the angels are

But it seems that man—when the civilization-period sets in, and after
that—is not content. The little individual soul, now first coming to
the consciousness of its own separateness, sets up a claim for an
immortality and a reincarnation of its very own—apart from the
Race-self, apart even from the Divine self. It demands that its _ego_
should continue indefinitely into the farthest fields of Time—a
separate entity, perpetually re-embodied. Can such a claim—in the light
of what has been said above—be possibly conceded?

Certainly not. We have seen the absurdity of supposing that the local
and superficial self (1) can ever recur again or be re-embodied in that
form, except as a mere matter of memory (or possibly of a repetition of
the whole universal order). And as to the underlying self (2), whatever
exactly it may be, there are a thousand reasons for seeing that _as a
wholly separate entity_ the same must be true of that. I may refer the
reader to _The Art of Creation_, the whole argument of which is to show
that even the mere attempt to _think_ of itself as a separate entity
involves the human soul in hopeless confusion and disintegration; and I
may remind the reader that we know nothing in the whole universe which
is thus separate and apart, and that the conception, whether from a
physical point of view or a psychological point of view, is impossible
to maintain. That being so, there remains only to consider the
possibility of the underlying self or individual soul being
re-embodied—not as an absolutely separate entity, but as affiliated to
some greater Life which shall afford the basis of successive
incarnations. The problem is narrowed down, practically to the question
whether the individual may not obtain some kind of individual
reincarnation through the Race-self, or possibly through the All-self of
the universe.

And here I will state what I personally think and believe about this
problem, leaving the reasons for the present to commend themselves. I
think that in the early stages—in animal and primitive human life—the
Race-self is paramount; that each individual self proceeds from it, in
much the same way as a bud proceeds from the stem of a growing plant, or
even as a single cell forms part of the tissue of the stem; and is
absorbed into it again at death. There are no individual and
death-surviving souls produced, apart from the Race-soul. In the great
race or family of bunny-rabbits, for instance—though there are
certainly individual differences of character—just as there are
differentiations of tissue-cells in the stem of a plant—it is difficult
to believe that there are individual and immortal souls. Each little
self springs from the race, and is an embodiment of it, representing in
various degree its characteristics; and at death—in some way which we
do not yet quite understand[130]—returns thither, yielding its
experiences to the stores of the race-experience. The same is probably
true of the great mass of the higher animals, even up to the primitive
and earliest Man. The Race-self in all these cases moves onward,
upgathering the experiences of the individuals, wise with their united
knowledge, and rich with their countless memories. And these tracts
again, of experience, knowledge and memory, largely in a vague and
generalized form, but sometimes in sharp, individualized and detailed
form, are transmitted from the Race-self to its later individuals and
offshots. Thus a kind of broken reincarnation occurs, by which streaks
of memory and habit pass down time from one individual to another, and
by which perhaps—in us later races—the persistent ‘intimations of
immortality’ and persuasions of having lived before are accounted for.

I think that this process, of mixed and broken reincarnation, may go on
for countless generations—the animal or animal-human souls so
differentiated from the race-soul returning continually to the latter at
death. But that a period may come when the Race-self (illustrated by the
growing plant-stem) may exhibit distinct _buds_—the embryos, as it
were, of independent souls—which will not return and be lost again in
the race-soul, but will persevere for a long period and continually
attain to more differentiation and internal coherence and sense of
identity. In such cases any reincarnations that occur connected with
these buds—though mingled with the race-life—will become much less
broken than before, and more distinctly individual; till at last a phase
is reached when such a soul-bud, almost detached from the race-life, may
be reincarnated (or let us say ‘re-embodied’) as a separate entity, with
a kind of immortality of its own.

It must be at this stage that the characteristic human soul of the
Civilization-period is evolved—which coheres quite firmly round itself,
which protests and revolts against death, which even largely throws off
its allegiance to the race-soul, and to the laws and solidarities of the
race-life, and which has an enormous and overweening sense of identity
and self-importance, claiming for itself, as I have just said, a kind of
separate persistence. Here ensues, as may be imagined, a terrible period
of confusion and trouble—the whole period of competitive civilization.
The splendid claim of identity and immortality is made; but for the time
being it is spoiled by what we call ‘selfishness,’ the mirror is cracked
through ignorance. The Soul has disowned her allegiance to mere instinct
and the race-self, and has yet not found a firm footing beyond—is only
floundering in the bogs of self-consciousness and anxiety. What kind of
Re-embodiment may belong to this period we shall best perhaps see when
we have considered the further course of the argument.

For at last the process of transition completes itself. The human soul
tossed about beyond endurance at length discovers within itself a divine
Nucleus—a nucleus of growth and life and refuge and security, apart
from its own fragility, quite apart from the race-life, independent of
all the latter’s laws and conventions and sanctions and traditions,
independent of caste or color, of world-period or locality; and from
that moment it (the soul) rests; it ceases (like the little rose of
Jericho) from its desert wanderings; it radiates itself and begins to
grow from a new centre; it is born again; it becomes the beginning of
what may be called a Divine Soul. The man becomes conscious of an
ethereal body forming within, unassailable or at least undestroyable by
Death; and it is probable that, during this period, the subtle organism
which we have already termed the Inner or Spiritual Body (ch. x.) _is_
actually forming and defining and, so to speak, consolidating itself.
The subtle body of a more perfect being is forming—a body which can
pass unharmed through walls, fire, water, which can navigate the air and
the planetary spaces, and which is built on the basis of the ether,
itself the all-pervading life-substance of creation. A divine soul is
coming to expression, an _ego_ indeed, marvellously different and
distinct from all other _egos_, and ever more majestic and unique
growing; but rooted deep in the universal self, and ever from that root
expanding and sharing the life of that self and of all its children.

With the formation of this divine soul, re-embodiment in its complete
and adequate sense commences. The spiritual or subtle body formed within
the gross body retains its characteristics after the death of the latter
(many of which characteristics no doubt hardly gained expression in the
one life just ended)—and passes on to other spheres, there to assume
more or less definitely material bodies according to the sphere and the
conditions in which it may need to move. It may seek re-embodiment on
earth through ordinary heredity and childbirth—in which case presumably
it enters into the growing germ, and moulds the development of the
latter to an adequate, if not to a quite perfect and unsullied,
expression of itself. If the reincarnation is to be into ordinary human
and terrestrial life, this is probably the only available method. And it
would seem that some advanced and well-nigh perfect souls do adopt this
method, appearing as infants with a kind of divinity about them, and a
germinal purity so great as to seem to proceed from an ‘immaculate

But to most, in this stage, the toil and tedium of passing through
embryonic life and physical birth and infancy may well appear
intolerable; and since by now they have developed the subtle or
spiritual body and the powers belonging to it, this ordeal is no longer
necessary. The subtle body can—as we have gathered from former
chapters—by a process of condensation clothe itself in a visible or
even tangible vesture,[131] and may function, at any rate for a time, in
such outer or apparitional form without going through all the
_abracadabra_ of birth. If on the earth, such functioning can only be
very temporary, owing to the difficulty here of the conditions, and of
the supply of the necessary condensation-material; but in other and less
ponderous spheres the difficulty is probably much less, and the
formation of suitable bodies comparatively easy. Anyhow, it will be seen
that reincarnation of this second kind is unitary and single in
character instead of being divided or fragmentary; it is unalloyed
instead of being broken and mixed;[132] and a vision rises before us, in
connection with it, of ever-growing forms and more perfect
life-embodiments carrying out, one after another in long succession, the
evolution and expression of each divine soul or separate ray of
universal being.

Thus in answer to query two, on an early page of this chapter, we may
say that there are two kinds of reincarnation proper—quite different
from each other:—(1) That of the race-self in which the individual
members of the race share only in a streaky fashion, each going back at
death into the race-soul, and emptying its memories and experiences into
that soul for general sporadic inheritance, but not for transmission in
mass to any one later individual; and (2) that of the individual who has
found his divine soul and evolved his inner body to a point where it
cannot be broken up again; and who is thus reincarnated or re-embodied
complete through successive materializations or condensations, in other
spheres and without again undergoing the ordinary race-birth and death.

But though these two represent the normal forms of reincarnation, a
third kind should be added which represents the transition from one to
the other, and which is important for us because it mainly covers the
period in which we now are—the great period of civilization. We saw how
the soul of the animal is so close to the race-self, and so little
differentiated from it, that it probably returns quite easily into the
race-self at death; and this is likely to be the same with very early or
primitive man. But when the distinctly human soul begins to form and to
shape itself, it does not so easily forget its individuality and
obliterate itself in that from which it sprang. And so we have the
tentative, half-formed human soul, by no means well assured of itself,
or certain of its own powers, and by no means perfect or contented, but
much persuaded of its own importance and anxiously seeking reincarnation
as a separate entity—and seeking this by the only means available to
it, _i.e._ through heredity and birth as a member of the race.

It is a painful situation and experience. The soul, as human and not
animal soul, is longing to separate itself from the race, to mark its
distinction and independence—yet it has not, so far, found the divine
nucleus which alone can give it real independence; and it can only gain
expression and manifestation through the race-self and the ordinary
paraphernalia of birth and death. It has learned no other way. Moreover,
it is not yet completely differentiated from the race-self. It thus
arrives at what can only be a very mingled and broken expression. Some
father-stream and some mother-stream uniting, as it were, in the
psychological neighborhood of this half-formed soul give it the desired
opportunity; and blending itself with them it comes down into the
world—a being of triple nature, embryonic and incompletely formed in
itself, and utilizing as best it can the diverse elements of its
maternal and paternal sources. Its career, consequently, and its life on
earth are marked by a continual inner struggle and conflict—both
physiological and psychological (due to the effort of the soul to bend
the race-life and the elements of corporeal heredity to its own uses),
and in strange contrast both with the hardihood and calm insouciance of
the animals, in whom the race-life is untampered, and with the
transparent health and serenity of those other beings in whom the divine
soul has finally established its sovereignty.

Such, briefly described, are I believe the outlines of the reincarnation
story. To put it in a few words, the whole process by which the
race-self evolves and finally gives birth to myriads of free,
independent and deathless individuals curiously resembles and may well
be illustrated by a certain biological phenomenon common both in the
vegetable and the animal worlds. Some growing stem or portion of tissue,
perhaps of a plant, perhaps of a sponge or higher organism, is at first
of a simple homogeneous character, fairly uniform and undifferentiated:
but after a time it exhibits knobs and inequalities, which presently
define themselves in a sort of _botryoidal_ or clustered bud-like growth
(as, for instance, in the spadix of an arum or the ovary of a mammal);
finally these knobs or buds become entirely distinct and fully formed,
and are thrown off ‘free,’ as seeds (in the case of plants and animals),
or gemmules (in the case of sponges), or spores (in ferns and mosses),
or as fresh and complete individuals in many aquatic creatures—in any
case to enter on the beginnings of a free and independent life of their
own. This kind of process, anyhow, is found in every department of
biology, and it may well be that it extends upward even into the highest
domains. The growing stem—proliferating cells without number, which are
born and die in a kind of even uniformity within the limits of the
stem—corresponds to the race-self in its early stages; the formation of
knobs and buds in various degrees of clustered development corresponds
to the partial growth of human souls out of the race-soul; and the
liberation of the buds and germs corresponds to the liberation of the
human souls into the freedom of a universal life.



The liberation of buds and germs, as in the biological processes alluded
to in the last chapter, is in general connected with sex, and brought
about by its operation. And, similarly, I think we may say that the
liberation of human souls and their disengagement from the race-matrix
is brought about by love. I have already pointed out (ch. ix.) the
intensely personal and individualizing character of human love. If one
can imagine a love-relation going on between two members of a race—two
portions, as it were, of the race-soul—at present only slightly
individualized, one can see how the attraction to each other, the
drawing away from their surroundings, the excitement, the agitation, all
tend to further their growth as individuals—to give them form, apart
from the matrix in which they are embedded, and definition and
character. Of course all experience does this, but most of all and most
deeply does love. It breeds souls out of the Race-self, and finally
brings them away to an independent life. “It is for this that the body
exercises its tremendous attraction—that mortal love torments and tears
asunder the successive generations of mankind—That underneath and after
all the true men and women may appear, by long experience emancipated.”

As said in an early chapter, in love, though we do not know exactly what
is happening, we are persuaded that something very profound and
far-reaching is working itself out. And one such thing, I am sure, is
the liberation of the soul of the lover—and, in less degree, the soul
of the loved one. The tremendous experiences and convulsions, the
profound stirrings, and the wrenchings from old ties and associations,
do at last not only build the soul up into a distinct individuality, but
they dig it up from its roots in the race and plant it out in the great
Eden garden of emancipated humanity—the beginning of a new career.[133]

Another thing that I think is happening is that when love is strongly
reciprocated the elements (as we have seen several times already),
whether physical or psychical, pass over from one to the other and are
interchanged—regenerating and immensely enlarging the life and capacity
of each individual. This happens, I believe, in all grades of the
universal life, from the Protozoa upwards. Two individuals drawn
together interchange some elements of their being, and grow thereby into
a larger and grander life; or may even in cases fuse completely into one
individual person. As Swedenborg says somewhere:—“Those who are truly
married on earth are in heaven one Angel.”

Thirdly, I think that the reciprocated love of two sometimes creates a
_new soul_. We are familiar with the idea that the love (sexual) of two
bodies commonly creates a new body; and there is an age-long tradition
that the same is true in the world of souls. There is in that world
also, not only regeneration but generation. “Love is the desire of
generation in the beautiful, both _with relation to the soul and the
body_,” says Plato;[134] and Ellen Key, in a passage already quoted
above (ch. iv., p. 61), says that “two beings _through_ one another may
become a new being, and a greater than either could be of itself alone.”
By love a new soul is sometimes generated which takes possession of both
persons, and which suggests—as in the Swedenborg phrase above—that in
some other sphere they really become one. And by love, we may also
think, between man and wife, a new soul or soul-bud is sometimes
created, which may descend into and vivify the physical germ of their
future child.

To consider this last point a moment. The connection between heredity
and the individual self is very mysterious. We acknowledge our descent,
and what we owe, both mentally and bodily, to our parentage; but we are
fain to think of our _ego_ as something apart, something not to be
confused with parents, and by no means merely derivative from them.
Sometimes indeed there is great harmony between this _ego_ and the
parental inheritance, sometimes much the reverse; sometimes the line
between the two is doubtful and uncertain. What is the explanation of
all this? and what are the true facts of the relationship?

Does it not seem likely that, in the intense organic excitement which
attends sexual union, this excitement—especially if strong love be also
present—reaches right down into the soul-depths of each person,
stirring these also, and the race oversoul at that point, most
profoundly? So that, at the same moment that the germ of a bodily child
is being fertilized, there is formed in the race-soul a soul-bud
corresponding, which consequently descends into the physical germ and
becomes its organizing life—the soul-bud thus being related to the
souls of the parents, somewhat as the physical germ is related to their
bodies? It springs, in fact, from a related portion of the

Or again, does it not seem likely that in some cases, instead of a quite
new bud being formed, the profound stirring of the race-life in that
vicinity causes some older and more developed soul-bud—which has
perhaps already had some earth-experiences—to wake into activity and
take possession of the germ? In the first case mentioned the child born
will be singularly like the parents, and in nature harmonious with them,
with very little extraneous in its character, and with the fair prospect
before it of a smooth and even career. But in this latter case, though
the child will be harmonious with the parents it will have great depths
beside, of authentic character of its own which will show out as time
goes on.

And again, if deep love be absent, and consequently there is no special
birth or awakening of souls in that region where they should be related
to the body which is being born—what is likely to happen? Is it not
likely that some other soul-bud, or soul which chance or other
indication of destiny may bring that way, may enter in and possess the
developing organism? And is it not likely, then, that strife and
conflict and doubt may also enter in, causing a character of mixed
elements, possibly leading to heroic developments, but also probably to
a broken or tragic life-story?

                 *        *        *        *        *

As in the earliest and most primitive developments of life, so in the
latest and most exalted, the soul is born through love, and through love
it grows and expands. It may indeed be asked whether any other way is
possible. Oppositions and conflicts may give form to the growing thing,
and help to carve its outlines; but this gives it expansion. Every
profound attachment necessarily modifies and enlarges the man. It pulls
him out of his little orbit into a wider path—even if for the moment
with some amount of eccentricity. Something is incorporated in his life
which was not part of it before—something possibly which he did not
before appreciate or understand. What we now are—whether mentally or
physically—is an epitome of multitudinous loves in the past. The very
cell-alliances which constitute our bodies are the records of endless
heart-yearnings and romances (dating from far-back ages, and even now
enduring) among a tiny people to us well-nigh invisible. And we may ask
ourselves whether in the regions above and beyond our present life there
may not be soul-alliances and even soul-fusions, by which we humans in
our turn build up the very life of the gods? Plato in his _Symposium_,
speaking of the strange desire of lovers for each other, makes
Aristophanes say:[135]—“But the soul of each manifestly thirsts for,
from the other, something which there are no words to describe, and
divines that which it seeks, and traces obscurely the footsteps of its
obscure desire. If Vulcan should say to persons thus affected, ‘My good
people, what is it that you want with one another?’ And if, while they
were hesitating what to answer, he should proceed to ask—‘Do you not
desire the closest union and singleness to exist between you, so that
you may never be divided night or day? If so, I will melt you together,
and make you grow into one, so that both in life and death ye may be
undivided. Consider, is this what you desire? Will it content you if you
become that which I propose?’—We all know that no one would refuse such
an offer, but would at once feel that this was what he had ever sought;
and intimately to mix and melt and to be melted together with his
beloved, so that one should be made out of two.” And we may
think—though this strange and intimate longing is never fulfilled, as
we know, in the actual earth-life—that it still may possibly be an
indication (as happens in other cases) of something which really is
working itself out in the unseen world.

It was suggested, in the end of chapter xi. above, that limitation and
hindrance are a part of the cosmic scheme of the creation of souls, and
that there is a purpose in these things in regard to this mortal life.
It was also suggested that the profound soul-stuff of which we are made
is capable of infinitely swifter and more extended perceptions than
those of which we are usually aware; and that there is a good deal of
evidence to show that perceptive powers of this kind—quite independent
of the usual end-organs of sight, hearing, taste, and so forth, still
linger buried deep down within us. The question then naturally arises,
If this limitation of faculty really exists as a fundamental fact of our
mortal life, what purpose does it subserve?—And the answer to this is,
I think, very clear.

It subserves the evolution of Self-consciousness and of the sense of
Identity. It is obvious that diffused faculties and perceptions, however
swift and powerful, could never have brought these gifts with them. It
was only by pinning sensitiveness down to a point in space and time, by
means of a body, and _limiting_ its perceptions by means of bodily
end-organs, that these new values could be added to creation—the local
self and the sense of Identity. All the variety of human and animal
nature, all the endless differences of points of view, all diversity and
charm of form and character and temperament must be credited to this
principle; and whatever vagaries and delusions the consequent growth of
self-consciousness and selfness may have caused, it is incontestable
that through the development of Identity mankind and all creation must
ultimately rise to a height of glory and splendor otherwise

And not only limitation but also hindrance. These things give an
intensity and passion to life, and a power and decisiveness to
individuality, the absence of which would indeed be sad. As a
water-conduit by limiting the spread of the stream and confining it in a
close channel gives it velocity and force to drive the mill, so
limitation and hindrance in human life give the individualized energy
from which, for good or evil, all our world-activities spring. As the
Lord says in Goethe’s Prologue to _Faust_:—

   “Of all the spirits of denial
    The mischief-maker I most tolerate,
    For man’s activity doth all too soon unravel;
    Of slumber he seems never satiate;
    Therefore I gladly hand him to a mate
    Who’ll plague and prick, and play in fact the Devil.”

Over a long period in this cosmic process this action, we may think,
goes on. The vast and pervasive soul-stuff of the universe, in its
hidden way omniscient and omnipresent, suffers an obscuration and a
limitation, and is condensed into a bodily prison in a point of space
and time; but with a consequent explosive energy incalculable. The
Devil—_diabolos_ the slanderer and the sunderer, the principle of
division—reigns. To him, the ‘milk and water’ heaven of universal but
vague benevolence is detestable. He builds up the actual, fascinating,
tragic, indispensable world that we know. Selfishness and ignorance, the
two great Powers of discord and separation, are his ministers; the earth
is his theatre of convulsive hatreds and soul-racking passion; and our
mortal life, instead of being the fair channel of cosmic activities,
becomes a “stricture knot,” as Whitman calls it, and a symbol of

But this diabolonian process is only one segment of the whole. After the
long descent and condensation and imprisonment of the spirit in its most
limited and inert and self-regarding forms, after its saturation in
matter, and its banishment in the world of death and suffering, the
rising curve of liberation sets in, and the long process of its return.
It is through love mainly, as we have seen, that this second process
works itself out. From point to point through unison with others, by
absorbing something from their experience, by sharing a wider life, the
spirit’s manifestation grows. By this the great tree of organic life
spreads upon the earth; by this each race-stem multiplies its tissues
and expands; by this the buds of human souls are formed; and by this the
souls themselves are freed to independent life, and ultimately to circle
again “dancing and sporting” as Plutarch says, “like joyous satellites
round about their sun in heaven.” There is continual Transformation; but
there is also continuity from end to end. For every being there is
continuance, but continuance only by change. Each soul is a gradual
rising to consciousness of the All-soul; a gradual liberation and
self-discovery of the divine germ within it. First the race-soul rising
toward this consciousness, and then the individual souls thrown off,
rising each independently toward the same. It is when the latter are
moving over from their (instinctive and so to speak organic) community
with the race-soul to a distinct and separate knowledge of and
allegiance to the divine germ now declaring within themselves, that all
this period of confusion and dismay, naturally enough, occurs—this that
we have called the period of Civilization and the Fall of man—the
period in which indeed we are now so fatefully involved. But it is in
this period too that ‘divine souls’ are formed, and their feet first set
upon the path of splendor.

Love indicates immortality. No sooner does the human being perceive
this divine nucleus within himself than he knows his eternal destiny.
Plunged in matter and the gross body he has learned the lesson of
identity and separateness. All that the devil can teach him he has
faithfully absorbed. Now he has to expand that identity, for ever
unique, into ever vaster spheres of activity—to become finally a
complete and finished aspect of the One.



We have seen that there is some reason for believing that,
simultaneously with the birth or coming to consciousness of what we have
called the divine soul, there occurs within us the formation of a
‘spiritual’ or very subtly material body. This body, if only composed of
atoms, may easily be so fine and subtle as to pass practically unchanged
through ordinary gross matter—the walls, for instance, and other
obstacles that surround us. (At this moment there is an astronomical
theory current that the stellar universe consists of two vast
star-systems which are passing in nearly opposite directions right
_through each other_.) If composed of electrons its subtlety and
pervasive powers must be much greater. Moreover, its fineness and
subtlety would make it difficult of destruction. The ordinary agents of
death—physical violence, water, fire, and so forth—would, as already
pointed out, hardly reach it; and it is easy to suppose that it might
continue onwards and perdure in stability and activity for thousands of
years. Even the Atom of matter, which is now regarded as a complex
system of electrons, is supposed to have an immensely extended
lifetime—nearly two thousand years in the case of Radium, and much
longer in the case of all other substances; and if two thousand years or
thereabouts is the minimum lifetime of an atom, it is not difficult to
suppose that the lifetime of a subtle body composed as above described
may be equally or much more extended.

During its lifetime, the radio-active atom, slowly disintegrating, pours
out a prodigious amount of energy; and in the process apparently is
transformed and takes on other characters and qualities. Radium for
instance, or rather some products of its disintegration, are thought to
take on the characters of Helium and of Lead. And similarly we have
every reason to believe that the subtle body of Man is continually
pouring out energy on all sides, radiating like a sun—pouring out
mental states, sensible forms, influences of all kinds, even images of
itself, and so continually entering into a wider life and touch with
others, and undergoing a slow transformation of its outer form. At the
same time—and leading to the same results—it is continually storing up
in its recesses impressions and memories for the seed of future
expression and development.

It may be imagined that the gross terrestrial body—though splendidly
necessary for the localizing of the Self, and the establishment of the
sense of identity, and for the electric accumulation of stores of
emotion and passion, and so forth—acts on the whole in such a way as to
greatly hamper and limit the activities of the inner body; and we can
imagine that (as at death and under other special conditions) the
liberation from the gross body is naturally accompanied by an enormous
extension of faculty. The soul in its new and subtler form passes out
into an immensely wider sphere of action and perception—so much so,
indeed, as to make direct converse between the two worlds (the new world
it is in, and the old one it has left) difficult to establish and very
difficult permanently to maintain. The author of _Interwoven_ says (p.
221) that the first body and the second body differ greatly in their
chemical particles, “and so the same degree of sight and hearing is not
possible.... _We_ have just as much trouble to see the outsides of
things as mortals have to see the insides.”

Nor can we place a necessary limit to the birth of finer bodies. There
may be a succession of such things. The electron brings us very near to
a _mental_ state; for whereas an Atom—conceived as similar to the speck
of dust which one can roll between one’s fingers, only much more
minute—seems to have no relation to mentality, a tiny electric charge,
capable of conveying a _shock_, comes very close! And at that stage the
truth becomes apparent that the inner intelligent being in all things is
the core, and the body is only the surface of contact—the surface, in
fact, along which one intelligence administers shocks to another! With
liberation from the gross body that surface may grow enormously
extended, and it may become possible to _touch_ or _see_, or to render
oneself visible or tangible, to others far beyond all ordinary
possibilities of contact or perception.

The succession of finer bodies may exist in any gradation, from what we
call gross matter to the subtlest ether of emotion. At any rate we can
see that at every stage there will be a finer body which is _more_ of
the nature of thought, and an outer and coarser which is less so. As the
gifted author of _The Science of Peace_, Bhagavan Das, says:—“At each
stage the Jiva-core (_i.e._ the core of the living individual) consists
of matter of the inner plane, while its outer upâdhi (or sheath)
consists of matter of the outer plane; and when a person says, I think,
I act, it means that the matter of the inner core, which is the I, for
the time being, is actually, positively, modified by, or is itself
modifying in a certain manner, the outer real world.” The inner film of
matter (or mind), as he says, “is posing and masquerading, for the time
being, as the truly immaterial self.”

This central Self we can never _wholly_ reach, but the movement of each
divine soul is toward it; and the assurance and salvation of each soul
is in the growing sense of union with it. The personal self can only
‘survive’ by ever fading and changing toward the universal. Our inner
identity is fixed, but our outward identity we can only preserve by, as
it were, forever losing it.

After life’s fitful fever—after the insurgence and resurgence of
passions; after the heart-breaking struggles which are forced upon
some for the sake of a mere material footing upon the earth; after the
deadly sufferings which others must undergo in order to gain scantiest
allowance and expression of their inner and spiritual selves; after the
mortal conflict and irreconcilableness of material and mental needs;
the battles with opponents, the betrayal of friends, the fading and
souring of pleasures, and the dissipation of ideals—the consent of
mankind goes to affirm and confirm the conclusion that sleep is well,
sleep is desirable. As after a hard day’s labor, when the sinews are
torn and the mind is racked, Nature’s soft nurse commends a period of
rest and healing—so it would seem fitting that a similar period should
follow, for the human soul, on the toil and the dislocation of life.

It seems indeed probable—and a long tradition confirms the idea—that
the human soul at death does at first pass, with its cloud-vesture of
memories and qualities, into some intermediate region, _astral_ rather
than _celestial_ (if we may use words which we do not understand), some
Purgatory or Hades, rather than Paradise or Olympus; and for a long
period does remain there quiescent, surveying its past, recovering from
the shocks and outrages of mortal experience, knitting up and smoothing
out the broken and tangled threads, trying hard to understand the
pattern. It seems probable that there is a long period of such digestion
and reconcilement and slow brooding over the new life which has to be
formed. Indeed when one comes to think of it, it seems difficult—if
there is to be continuance at all—to imagine anything else. When one
thinks of the strange contradictions of our mortal life, the hopelessly
antagonistic elements, the warring of passions, the shattering of
ideals, the stupor of monotony: the soul like a bird shut in a cage, or
with bright wings draggled in the mire; the horrible sense of sin which
torments some people, the mad impulses which tyrannize over others; the
alternations of one’s own personality on different days, or at different
depths and planes of consciousness; the supraliminal and the subliminal;
the smug Upper-self with its petty satisfactions and its precise and
precious logic, and the great Under-self now rising (in the hour of
death) like some vast shadowy figure or genius, out of the abyss of
being—when one thinks of all this one feels that if there is to be any
sanity or sequence in the conclusion, it must mean a long period of
brooding and reconciliation, and of readjustment, and even of sleep.

At first it may well be a troubled period, of nightmare-like confusion;
but at last there must come a time when harmony is restored. The past
lifetime is spread out like a map before one—all its events fall into
their places, composed and clear. The genius, rising from the depths,
throws a strange light upon them. “This was necessary. That could not
have been otherwise. And that again which seemed so fatal, do you not
now see its profound meaning?” The soul surveying gradually redeems the
past. It comes to understand. _Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner._
It beholds, far down, the little fugitive among the shadows, pursued by
the hideous and imbecile mask—the sense of Sin—and, recognizing a
fleeting embodiment of itself, it smiles: for that mask has been seen
through and is useless any longer. It beholds another—or is it the
same?—pursued by the Terror of Death; and again it smiles: for _that_
shadow—like the vast moonshadow in a total eclipse of the sun, which
seemed so solid and all-devouring, has swept by; it has been passed
through, and it was only a shadow.

And it may well be also that this whole process of reconciliation and
adjustment and the building up of diverse elements into one harmonious
being may occupy more than one such interval between two lifetimes; it
may require several periods of incubation, so to speak. Looking at the
matter from the physical side, and seeing how the inner and subtle body
has probably to be formed during all this time—as in a chrysalis—and
differentiated into an independent life, it seems likely that several
intervals of outer rest and inner growth may be needed, and a series of
successive moultings! But in the end, when the string of earth-lives is
finished, and the reconciliation is complete, then the essential, the
divine, self has become manifest, and is ready for a whole new world, a
new order of experience, even to the farthest confines of the universe.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I have suggested in a former chapter that Memory—that very wonderful
faculty—is probably our best test of Identity, our best test of
Survival. If we apply this canon to the evolution of the independent
soul out of the race-life, it may help us. When an animal dies, the
group of memories, which is its life’s-experience, probably passes back
and is transmitted in a more or less diffused way into the general
race-life or soul.[136] In the case of some higher animals it is
possible that the memory-group thus returning may cohere for a time or
to a certain degree, and not be immediately diffused. In the case of the
higher types of _Man_ it is probable that such group may cohere for a
long time and rather persistently; and though embedded in the general
race-life and memory, and much mingled with and modified by these, it
may still form to some degree an independent centre of intelligence and
organization (something like a nerve-plexus in the brain or body). It
will form, in fact, what I have already called a soul-bud or budding
soul, and will be capable of that mixed or partial reincarnation of
which I have spoken—in which some truly individual streaks of memory
will be mixed with general memories of race-life.

But after each successive reincarnation the group of memories
returning—and allying themselves to the former groups—will necessarily
give more and more definition to such budding soul, till at last the
time will come when its individuality will be complete; its severance
from the race-life will follow as a matter of course; and it will float
out into the sea of the all-pervading and divine consciousness.

During this budding period of the human soul, which generally speaking
may be said to coincide with the civilization-period of human history,
the memory of each earth-life will go back into the race-soul there to
swell the nucleus of the individual soul which is being brought to
birth; but it will not generally revive into _evidence_ in the next
earth-life, for, being so deeply buried within, it will be too much
overlaid by external layers and happenings to come distinctly into
consciousness. It is not probably till the completion of the whole
series of its earth-lives that the soul will resume all these memories
and come into its complete heritage. Then, at some deep stage or state
all its incarnations (clarified and comprehended) will become manifest
to it—a glorious kingdom beyond the imagination of man at present to
conceive. All its various lives it may live over again; but with as much
difference in its understanding of their meaning as there is between an
accomplished player’s rendering of a piece of music, and a child’s first
stumbling performance of the same.

It will perceive that, in a sense, it has _pre-existed_ from eternity.
For though certainly there was a time when it first sprang as a bud from
the Race, and entered into a gradually evolving and self-defining series
of personal lives, yet that first bud was itself but a particular
limitation and condensation of the Race-self; and _that_ again, far back
and beyond, a limitation through many intermediate stages of the
All-self. It (the human-divine soul) will perceive that it pre-existed
from eternity as the All-self; that it suffered in its time the
necessary obscurations and limitations; that it abdicated the high
prerogative of universal consciousness; and that it was born again as a
tiny Cinderella-spark; destined to rise through all the circles of
personal and individual life, and the enacting of the great drama of
Love and Death—the great cycle of Evolution and Transfiguration—once
more to the eternal Throne.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The glory of that Heaven where the All-self dwells radiant as the Sun,
and each lesser or partial soul knows itself as a ray conveying the
whole light, but in a direction of its own—we need not dwell on or
attempt to portray. As the emancipated soul, just described, may include
the personalities of many earth-lives and bodies, so there may
be—probably are—larger inclusive selves, special gods, having troops
of souls united to them in the bonds of love and devotion. Telepathic
radiations, travelling as it were on lines of light, and with the
velocity and directness of light, bring each unit into possible touch
with every other, and over an enormous field. As the modern theory of
electricity supposes that every electric charge, however small, or
associated with the smallest atom, is connected by lines of force with
some other and complementary charge _somewhere_—even perhaps at a
practically infinite distance—negative with positive, and positive with
negative; so the idea is suggested that in the free world of the spirit
every need felt by one atom of personality anywhere is felt also and
answered to by some complementary impulse and personality _somewhere_.
In the bringing together of these needs and affections, in the recovery
and the building up and the presentation in sensible form of all the
worlds of memory, slumber infinite possibilities, and the outlines of
endless situations and developments. The individual is clearly not lost
in any ‘Happy Mass’; but may contribute to the formation of such a thing
in the sense that he comes into such wide and extended touch with others
as to have a practically unlimited range of experience, memory,
knowledge, creative power, and so forth, to draw on.

Nor is there any call to think of a _bodiless_ heaven or bodiless state
of being in any plane of existence. The body in any stage or state is, I
repeat, a surface of contact. Wherever one intelligent being comes into
touch with another—whether actively, by impressing itself on the other,
or passively by being impressed—there immediately arises a body. There
arises the sense of matter, which is in fact the _impression_ made by
one being upon another. The external senses, of sight, hearing and the
rest, are modifications or limitations of more extended inner faculties,
of vision, audition, and so forth. The actual world of Nature which we
know, in the bodies of the woods and streams, and of animals and men, is
built up out of the material of our senses; out of the kind of
impressionability of which our senses are susceptible; but if these
materials, of our sight and hearing and touch and taste, were altered
but slightly in their range, the whole world would be different. They
would create for us another world. And so, if these present end-organs
of sense were destroyed, the soul, furnished with the inner faculties
corresponding, would create another world of sense and of Nature, which
would become the medium of expression and communication on that new
plane, and the material of its bodily manifestation there. At present,
owing to entanglement in the grosser senses, life is certainly in the
main a matter of food and drink, of sex, of money-making, and the
exercise of rather rude recreations and arts. With a finer range of
sense, there would still remain the roots and realities of these things;
the need of sustenance would still survive in the finer body, and the
need of interchange and the indrawing of vitality; the hunger of union
and of intercourse would remain—to be expressed in some shape or other;
the delight in music and in beauty of form would be no less, though
sounds and colors might be different from those we know; and all the
faculties that we have—and others too that are now only embryonic with
us—would demand their exercise and expression. Out of such demands and
needs would arise a corresponding world.

I have suggested above (ch. xi.) how, deep in the subliminal self, there
lies a marvellous faculty of producing visible and audible
phenomena—Visions and Voices and Forms. Out of the depths of being
these can be evoked, and bodied forth into the actual world.[137] In
other words, each such Self, in its moods of power, can call forth its
own thoughts and mental images with such force as to impress them
irresistibly on others within its range—with such force, in fact, as to
give them a material vesture and location. What we have said of the
vastness and range of the human Under-self, of its swift interrelation
with others, of the immensity of its memory extending far back into the
deeps of time, must convince us that its powers of creation must be
correspondingly wonderful. The phenomena exhibited by entranced mediums,
and by hypnotized subjects, are only a sample of these powers; but they
hint dimly to us that when we understand ourselves, and what we are, and
when we understand others, and what they are, Time and Space and
Estrangement will no longer avail against us; they will no longer hinder
us from recognition of each other, nor hold us back from the spheres to
which we truly belong, and the fulfilment of our real needs and desires.

Man is the Magician who whether in dreams or in trance or in actual life
can, if he wills it, raise up and give reality to the forms of his
desire and his love. It is not necessary for us feverishly to pursue our
loved ones through all the fading and dissolving outlines of their
future or their past embodiments. They are ours already, in the deepest
sense—and one day we shall wake up to know we can call them at any
moment to our side; we shall wake up to know that they are ever present
and able to manifest themselves to us out of the unseen.



It will have been noticed that throughout this book there has been a
tendency to return again and again to the question of what we mean by
the Self. As I have said before (see ch. xii., _supra_), one might very
naturally suppose that as the _ego_ underruns all experience, and we
cannot make any observation of the world at all except through its
activity, the general problem of the nature of the ego would be the
first to be attacked, and the very first to be solved; whereas,
curiously enough, it seems to be the last! Only towards the conclusion
of philosophical speculation does the importance of this problem force
itself on men’s minds. Nevertheless, I think we may say that in the
department of philosophy it is the great main problem which lies before
this age for solution; and that one of the greatest services a man can
do is—by psychologic study and manifold experience, by poetical
expression, especially in lyrical form, and by philosophic thought and
investigation—to make clear to himself and the world what he means by
the letter ‘I,’ what he means by his ‘self.’

To the unthinking person nothing seems simpler, more obvious, than his
own existence—and hardly needing definition. Yet the least thought
shows how complex and elusive this ‘self’ is. It is one of those cases
with which the world teems—a juggle of the open daylight—in which an
object _appears_ so perfectly simple, frank, innocent, and without
concealment, and yet is really profoundly complex, deliberate, and

The most elementary considerations easily illustrate what I mean.[138]
When we speak of the ego, do we mean the self of to-day, or of
yesterday, or of some years back—or possibly some years in the future
when we shall have found the expression now unhappily denied us? Do we
mean the self of boyhood, or even of babyhood? or do we mean that of
maturity, or of old age? Do we mean the self indicated by the mind
alone, or by the spirit, apart from the body? or do we mean that
indicated specially by the body, or even (as some folk seem to consider)
by the _clothes_? It would be very puzzling to be asked to place one’s
finger, so to speak, on any one of these manifestations as really and
completely representative. Rather perhaps we should be inclined, if
pressed, to say that our real self was something underrunning _all_
these forms—that it required all the expressions, from infancy, through
maturity, even to old age, and all the apparatus of body and mind, in
order to convey its meaning; and that to pin it down to any particular
moment of time, or to any particular phase of the material or spiritual,
would be to do it a great injustice.

If so, we seem at once compelled to think of the Self as something
greatly larger than any ordinary form of it that we know, as something
perhaps on a different plane of being—underrunning, and therefore in a
sense beyond, Time; and similarly underrunning, and therefore in a sense
beyond, both body and mind. And this all the more, because, as I have
said on an earlier page, we all feel that at best much of our real
selves remains in life-long defect of expression; and that there are
great deeps of the Under-self (as in chapter viii.) which, though
organically related to our ordinary consciousness, are still for the
most part hidden and unexplored. All, in fact, points to the existence
within us of a very profound self, which so far we may justifiably
conclude to be much greater than any one known manifestation of it;
which requires for its expression the forms of a lifetime; and still
stretches on and beyond; which perhaps belongs to another sphere of
being—as the ship in the air and the sunlight belongs to another sphere
than the hull buried deep in the water.

But we may go further in our exploration of the “abysmal deeps.” We have
once or twice in the foregoing chapters alluded to the possibility of
the self dividing into two personalities, or even more. We have
supposed, for instance, that at death the psychic organism may possibly
split up—some more terrestrial portion remaining operant and active on
the earth-plane, and some other portion removing to a subtler and more
ethereal region. Are we—we may ask—and those others who propound the
same ideas talking nonsense in doing so? Is it anyhow possible for a
self to be active in two bodies or in two places at the same time? It
may indeed seem impossible and absurd—until we envisage the actual
facts; but when we do so, when we study the facts of the alternation of
personalities, so much in evidence at the present time, when we find
that two or more personalities, or coherent bodies of consciousness, may
not only succeed each other in one human organism, but may
_simultaneously_ be active in the same,[139] when we find that there is
such a thing as ‘bilocation,’ and that the apparition of a person may
come and deliver a message while the original person is far away and
otherwise engaged, when we notice carefully our own internal psychology
and find that we not unfrequently “talk to ourselves” and in other ways
behave as two persons in one body—we see that the absurdity or
unlikelihood of the suggestion may not by any means be so great as
supposed, and that we may after all be forced to largely remodel our
conception of what Personality is.[140]

That one Personality should divide into two or more may seem to be
foreign to our habitual views; yet we must remember that worms,
annelids, and molluscs of various kinds commonly so divide; and
though it is puzzling to think what becomes of the ‘I’ or ‘self’ of
a sea-anemone when the latter is cut in twain and each part goes its
way as a new creature, we must not therefore refuse to envisage the
fact and the problem thus flowing from it. As to the Protozoa, which
certainly exhibit signs of considerable intelligence, _fission_ of one
cell into two or more is one of the most normal and frequent events of
their lives. The same, of course, is true of the elementary cells of
the human body; the fission even of whole organs of the body is not
uncommon, though more pathological in character; and the fission of the
personality, as just mentioned, is quite frequent; and in some cases—as
in the well-known case of Sally Beauchamp—very striking, on account
of the furious apparent opposition developed between one portion and

The conception therefore of Personality must, it would seem, include the
thought of possible bilocation—that is, of possible manifestation in
two places at the same time; and it must not refuse the thought of
inclusion—_i.e._ of one personality being possibly included within
another—as of living and intelligent cells within the body.[142]
Furthermore, we must not only allow _division_ of self as one of the
attributes of personality, but also, apparently, _fusion_ with other
selves. This may seem far-fetched and unreasonable at first, but on
consideration we cannot but see that in one degree or another it is
quite in the order of Nature. The Protozoa, of course, quite frequently
combine with each other, and so make a new start in life; in the higher
organisms the sperm-cell and germ-cell fuse completely for the
conception of the offspring, and the organisms themselves fuse partially
and interchange elements during the process of conjunction; and in the
psychology of love among human beings we notice a similar fusion, and
sometimes also almost a confusion, of personalities.

The little self-conscious mind (of the civilized man) no doubt protests
against all this. It desires to think of itself as a separate and
definite entity, distinct from (and perhaps superior to) all others; and
it finds any theories of possible fission or fusion of personalities
quite baffling and impracticable. Yet in the light of the All-self—the
key-thought of this book—the whole thing is obvious, and there is
really no difficulty, except perhaps in the linking up (through memory)
of the continuity of each lesser self.

What we said in the last chapter, namely that “the personal
self-consciousness can only survive by ever fading and changing toward
the universal,” must be borne in mind. Continual _expansion_ is a normal
condition of consciousness. Time is an integral element of it.[143]
Consciousness must continually grow. Through memory it preserves the
past, through the present it adds to its stores. The author of _The
Science of Peace_ illustrates the subject (p. 303) by asking us to
consider the spheres of consciousness of various officials in a country
whose departments more or less overlap each other: “There are
administrative officers in charge of each department, whose
consciousness may be said to include the consciousness of their
subordinates in that department, to exclude those of their compeers, and
to be in turn included in those of their superiors. The more complicated
the machinery of the government, the better the illustration will be of
inclusions and exclusions and partial or complete coincidences, and
overlappings and communions of consciousness. At last we come to the
head of the government, whose consciousness may be said to include the
consciousnesses, whose knowledge and power include the knowledges and
powers of all the public servants in the land, and whose consciousness
is so expanded as to enable him to be in touch with them all and feel
and act through them all constantly. An officer promoted through the
grades of such an administration would clearly pass through expansions
of consciousness.... Such expansion of consciousness, then, is not in
its nature more mysterious and recondite than any other item in the
world-process, but a thing of daily and hourly occurrence. In terms of
metaphysic it is the coming of an individual Self into relation with a
larger and larger not-self.”

In the light of the All-self, I say, the difficulties disappear. It is
the question of Memory (explicit or implicit) which seems to decide the
limits of personalities and their survival. The One Self is experiencing
in all forms, but the stores of experience and memory are kept separate.
Here is a man who has a Town house and a Country house and an Italian
villa. When he changes his abode from one to the other he becomes to a
great extent a different person. His surroundings and associations, his
pursuits and occupations, his dress and habits, his language may be, are
changed. It may even happen that each of his three lives goes on growing
and expanding after its own pattern, and becoming more and more
different from the two others; and yet the ultimate person behind them
all remains the same. Is it not possible that the lives of us human
beings may go on expanding and growing each according to its own law,
and yet the ultimate individual or Being behind them all may remain the

If a worm be supposed to have memory (and worms no doubt have memory in
some degree), then it might well be supposed that, if divided in two,
each of the parts would inherit the said memory complete. But from that
moment the experiences of the two portions, moving in different
directions, would bifurcate, and the future stores of memory would be
different. Thus we should have a bifurcation of the stream of memory,
and a bifurcation of personality—until ultimately, as time went on, and
the common memory faded into the background, the two new personalities
would begin to feel themselves almost quite separate. Is not this again
something like what may have happened to ourselves from Creation’s
birth? The stream of life has bifurcated and bifurcated till we have
lost our common memory and have become convinced of the absolute
separation of our personalities one from the other.

On the other hand, the conjunction and fusion of two streams of memory
in one is as probable and intelligible as the bifurcation of one into
two. Two protozoa fuse; but the race-self in one is the same as in the
other, and in reality the process is only a fusion of organic memories
and experiences. A man who had been in the habit of changing every year
from his Town to his Country house might some day find it convenient to
combine his establishments in one suburban residence. Certainly if he
had so far forgot _himself_ that in changing houses he had always
_quite_ changed his memories, then it would seem impossible to him to
combine the two lives in one. Otherwise there would be no difficulty in
the process. The stores of one establishment, with their associations
and memories would after a time (and not without some
maturation-divisions and extrusions!) be got into relation with the
stores of the other establishment; and the two bodies of memory and
association would settle down together.

                 *        *        *        *        *

All this seems to suggest to us that our conception of personality must
be considerably altered from its ordinary form, and rendered more
fluent, in order to tally with the real facts. There is no such thing as
a fixed and limited personality, of definite content and character,
which we can credit to our account, or to the account of our friends.
All is in flux and change, the consciousness ever enlarging, the _ego_
which is at the root of that consciousness ever growing in the knowledge
of itself as a vital portion of the All-self. That last alone is fixed;
that alone as the ‘universal witness’ is permanent. But the streams of
memory and experience, by which from all sides that central fact and
consciousness is reached, are infinite in number and variety. It is in
the continuity of a stream of memory that what we call personality must
be supposed to consist; and when this continuity covers not only a
single life, but extends from life to life, then we must find a new name
for the persistent being and call him not a personality, but, if we
will, an _individuality_. Such individualities must exist by millions
and billions; they must be as numerous as all the possible lines of
experience (and these are quasi-infinite in number) by which the soul
may grow from its birth in the simplest speck of matter to its
realization of divine and universal life. The author (Bhagavan Das) of
_The Science of Peace_ illustrates this infinitude of individualities,
and how they are all contained in the All-self, and each in a sense as
an aspect of the One, by the simile of a museum or gallery. “If a
spectator,” he says (p. 289), “wondered unrestingly through the halls of
a vast museum or great art gallery, at the dead of night, with a single
small lamp in one hand, each of the natural objects, the pictured
scenes, the statues, the portraits, would be illumined by that lamp in
succession for a single moment, while all the rest were in darkness, and
after that single moment would fall into darkness again. Let there now
be not one but countless such spectators, as many in endless numbers as
the objects of sight within the place, each spectator wandering in and
out incessantly through the great crowd of all the others, each lamp
bringing momentarily into light one object, and for only that spectator
who holds that lamp.” Then he goes on to say that each line or
succession of experiences might represent an individuality; each
individuality in the end would reach the totality of experience, but in
a different order and in a different manner from any other; and all the
individualities would all the time—though changing themselves—remain
within the unchanging intelligence of the absolute, and would only be
exploring that intelligence each in a different order. “For,” he again
says (p. 317), “an individuality can no otherwise be described,
discriminated and fixed, than by enumerating the experiences of that
individual, by narrating its biography.”

We may also illustrate the matter by the conception of a Tree. A single
leaf at the end of a twig may seem to have a little separate self of its
own; but it is very ephemeral. It perishes with the season and another
leaf takes its place. There is a deeper self, in the twig, which
endures, and from which new leaves spring. And again the twig springs
from a small spray, which is the source of other twigs and leaves.
Should the leaf desire to trace its complete and total self it would
have to follow its life-line through the twig and the spray, to the
branch, and so right down to the central trunk. It could not stop at any
halfway point, and say, This is my final self. But on its way to the
trunk, at different points, it would find that its sap or life was
flowing into other twigs and leaves, as well as the twig and leaf first
mentioned. It would come into relation, so to speak, with other bodies
beside the first. If we were to call the first leaf and twig a
personality we should have to call some deeper self involving many twigs
and leaves an Individuality, and so on to the All-self of the tree. The
self of every leaf would approach the main trunk along a different line,
and through various ranges of individuality; but all would ultimately
participate in one whole.

I think some such view is clearly the most satisfactory way of looking
at the matter. We are all essentially one; our differentiation from
each other does not consist in differences in the central ego, but in
the different lines of experience and memory. We can none of us boast,
at any point, of a rounded, definite and stationary self, apart from
all others; but we are all approaching the universal from different
sides. Yet, also, it is perfectly true that consciousness is born in us
first _through_ our very limitations. Through the very obstacles that
surround us, and through the things that seem to divide us from others,
first simple consciousness and then self-consciousness are born. Then
comes a time when the limitations and the barriers become intolerable.
The soul that at first gloried in them comes to find the burden of
self-consciousness too great. Why should it be forever John Smith? As
Mrs. Stetson says:—

   “What an exceeding rest ’twill be
    When I can leave off being Me!...
    Done with the varying distress
    Of retroactive consciousness!...
    Why should I long to have John Smith
    Eternally to struggle with?”

When the consciousness arises of this fact, that we need not be tied to
John Smith forever—that our real self is far vaster, and essentially
one with others, then in each of us the Divine Soul is born; a vista of
glory and splendor opens in front, and on all sides the barriers fall to
the ground. On the way to this supreme conclusion the stream of memories
which one calls oneself may of course take on form after form; it may
bifurcate, or it may fuse with other streams. That does not very much
matter. The real identity, once established, can hardly be lost. For
every leaf there is a channel of sap which connects it with the main
trunk. Personality is real, but it yields itself up in the greater
Individual of which it is the expression; and the individual or divine
soul is real—enduring perhaps many thousands of years—but it yields
itself up ultimately in the All. Finally, in that union, Memory itself,
in its mortal form, ceases, for it is swallowed up in actual
realization, in the power of actual presence in all space and time. The
divine soul which has thus completed its union needs memory no more. It
is there wherever it desires to be. As the author of _Siderische Geburt_
(Berlin, 1910) says, “We mortals are separated from the divine
all-embracing universal Vision; and Memory is only a first glimmering
reawakening—a beginning of renewed seraphic life and a coming into
relation with all that lies beyond the little world-corner of our

                 *        *        *        *        *

At first sight, and to one who does not yet realize the inner unity of
being, these views on the nature of Personality and Individuality may
appear strange and even painful. For such a person the thought of the
dissociation of his ‘self,’ of its separation into two or more
parts—either in life or in death—and the divergence of the two parts
from each other, must be grotesque and terrible, and verging even
towards madness. And so also must be the thought of the possible
dissociation of the personalities of his friends. And yet it may be
necessary for us at length and by degrees to understand and assimilate
such a view. Certain it is that, as we come to understand it, we shall
see that any dissociation that may occur can only be of the superficial
elements—something of the nature of a divergence of the chains of
memory; and that dissociation of the real and intimate self is a thing
quite impossible. We shall see that by degrees the self may learn to
deal with such dissociations, and to express itself in various guises,
and in more than one personality at a time. If, for instance, there does
occur at death a certain break-up of the psychic organism—if the animal
soul, and the human soul, and the divine soul do to a certain extent
part from each other and go along different ways, we may see that it is
quite possible that the personal stream of memory may correspondingly
branch in different directions. One portion of the consciousness, having
always been animal and terrestrial in character, may identify itself
mainly with the animal vitality of the residue and its corresponding
memories—and may persevere for some time as a wandering passional
centre, liable to attach itself to the organisms of living folk, or to
figure as a ‘ghost’ of very limited activities and occupied with eternal
repetitions of the same action; another portion, more distinctly human,
may linger in some intermediate state, partly in touch with the
earth-life and the souls of mortal friends, yet partly drawn onward into
wider spheres; and may function on for a long time in a kind of
dreamland—creating perhaps the objects of its own consumption till it
wearies of them, or building up imaginative worlds of occupations and
activities similar to our own, as in “the happy hunting grounds” of
Indians, or the worlds described from time to time by mediumistic
‘controls.’ And again a third portion may pass into that far wider and
grander state of being which we have described—that of the ‘divine’
soul which recognizes its equality and unity with all others, and its
freedom of the whole universe. In all these cases the main stream of
memory, branching, must pour itself into the section of life which
follows, and render the latter quite continuous with the former—though
naturally with some differences, both in the memories transmitted, and
in the degrees of community, in each case.

We may apply these considerations to the question of the messages and
apparitions from the unseen world which have been alluded to in former
chapters. How far or in what special way these communications really
represent the active and continuing consciousness of our departed
friends is a question which is generally admitted to be most doubtful
and difficult. And its difficulty is not lessened, I think, by our
conclusions (so far) on the nature of Personality. If the stream of a
man’s earth-life memory may diverge at death into two or more streams,
then it must remain difficult for us to say whether the communication
which is coming to us proceeds from a mere overflow of that stream,
which has eddied itself, so to speak, into the brain of the medium; or
from some ‘astral’ shell of the departed one, which has already begun
decaying and dissipating, in our atmosphere; or again from the true soul
of the man which is pushing forward into the world beyond. Probably we
do not yet know enough about the matter to form decisive judgments. In
either case the memory exhibited may be surprisingly perfect. And it
seems to me that in most cases nothing but personal evidence and
personal detail, even down to the minutest points, can decide—and even
then not in such a way as to decide for others. And perhaps it is best
and most natural so. In our world of ordinary life it is so. If an
apparent stranger turns up from the other side of the earth and claims a
far-back acquaintance; if another makes the same claim over the
telephone; if a known friend behaves strangely, and we are in doubt
whether to attribute his conduct to _bona fides_ or to incipient
madness; in these and a thousand other cases, personal relationship and
personal understanding (though by no means unerring) count for more than
all science and legal proof. And perhaps this is the healthiest way to
take the subject: not to be over-curious or speculative or sentimental,
but where solid help and a permanent and useful relationship seems to be
gained, there to accept the communications as so far commending and
justifying themselves.

If, as I have just said, there is something a little disquieting and
even terrible in the thought that our personality may thus be subject to
rupture or dissociation into two or more portions, that matter after all
depends upon how we look upon it—whether from below, as it were, or
from above. There is nothing particularly terrible in the thought that
our bodily organs and parts—our “Little Marys,” and so forth—may have
(probably do have) very distinct personalities of their own. We look
down upon them, so to speak, and include them. And we shall one day no
doubt, and in the realization of our greater selves, have the splendid
experience of including two (or more) bodies—of having them at our
service, and available for command and expression. Even now we are
sometimes conscious of having one envelope of a more ethereal and
intense nature, swift and far-reaching both in movement and perception
in the innermost regions, and another more local body, in touch with
terrestrial life. And there would be nothing surprising or dreadful in
finding, after death, that an ethereal and a terrestrial body were both
still at our command—though both perhaps more developed and more
differentiated from each other than at present;—or even that we might
be capable of inhabiting several such bodies.

It is of course puzzling, under our ordinary conceptions of Space and
Time, to imagine how it could be possible to deal with several bodies at
the same time; but in reality it is no more puzzling than the problem
which we habitually solve every day and every hour of our lives. How do
we, for instance, deal with and dispose the activities of our hands and
our feet and our eyes and our brain, with simultaneous care, say, in
walking through the streets? We inhabit these separate organs, these
distinct personalities, simultaneously, and ordain their movements and
gather in their perceptions by the act of _attention_. Attention in the
world of the spirit corresponds to _extension_ in the physical world.
Whatever your spirit attends to, that some physical radiation from
yourself extends to. And similarly if you had bodies in different worlds
and regions, by the simple act of attention your spirit would reach
them. Nevertheless—to return to the one body and the various organs,
like hands and feet and eyes, which we seem to have under control—it is
clear that our minds could not possibly overlook all the details of
their management, unless there were some general ordaining spirit in the
body which was in close touch and sympathy, and ready to act with and
aid us; and similarly it is clear that we could not ordain and organize
any movement of a secondary body at a distance—even though ‘belonging’
to us—unless there were a spirit, in that body and the intervening
spaces, in touch and sympathy with ours. It is the knowledge that there
is such a community of life, such an abounding Self, which gives the
‘divine’ soul its great joy and its great power—“for whatever he
desires, that he obtains from the Self.” He who knows has indeed the
freedom of the universe, and of all its powers—who knows that the
Spirit of the whole _is_ his own.

It is natural therefore to suppose that that portion of the
consciousness which has circled and centred very definitely and
conclusively round the All-self—or such aspect of the same as specially
belongs to it; or (what perhaps comes to the same thing) has circled
very definitely round the divine soul of a loved one; will pass through
death easily and without much loss of continuity. It will with its
attendant memories pass easily and continuously into the inmost sphere;
or (to put the matter in another way) _remaining_ in that sphere it will
simply become aware that a mass of husks have been shed off, which
clouded it. It will become aware of the glorious state of being to which
it has always implicitly belonged, and of its connection with not one
only but many bodies.

It may be—and I think one almost feels that it must be—that the most
intimate self of any of us cannot be realized short of externalization
in a vast number of separate manifestations or lives. One has the
impression with regard to one’s body, that “this is one of my bodies”;
or that “this body represents a portion of myself”; but one does _not_
feel “this body represents my total, complete and final self.” And as we
have just suggested that in a more intimate state of being we may become
distinctly aware of having relation to several bodies simultaneously, so
the world-old doctrine of reincarnation in its general form has long
suggested that our most intimate selves are related to a great number of
bodies in _succession_ to each other in Time. The higher or inner
Individual—of agelong and æonian life—is reincarnated (it is said)
thousands of times; thus to embody that aspect of the Divine which it

These embodiments may be in forms by no means resembling each
other—though doubtless there will be a thread of similarity running
through; and one embodiment may have little idea (except in moments of
inspiration) of its relation to the others, or of any continuity of
memory between itself and the others. Yet the memories of these lives
and embodiments passing into the inner sphere are ultimately gathered
together and drawn up to constitute that most glorious world of each
Being of which we have spoken—a world in which each overlooks and
ordains its various lives and manifestations as from a mountain-top.
These are indeed “the ageless immortal gods who seek ever to come in the
forms of men”—whom we ever and anon seem to feel and hear knocking at
the inner door of our little local selves, as though they would gain
admittance and acknowledgment.



And so we seem to find—in the farthest and loftiest reaches of life, as
in its first beginnings—Love and Death strangely linked and strangely
related. Changing their form but not their essence they accompany us to
the last; and we forebode them, in the final account, as no longer the
tyrannous and often terrible over-lords of our mortal days, but rather
our most indispensable companions without whom life in its higher ranges
could not well be maintained.

For a time, certainly, we cling to our limited and tiny self-life and
consciousness; and deem that all good resides in the careful guarding of
the same. But again there comes a time when the bounds of personality
confine and chafe beyond endurance, when an immense rage sweeps us far
out into the great ocean; when to save our lives we deliberately lose
them; when Death becomes a passion even as Love is.

The mystery of mortal life clears, or dissolves away, by our passing in
a sense beyond personality; and the hour arrives when we look down on
these local days, these self-limitations, as phases—phases of some far
vaster state of being. Death is the necessary door by which we pass from
one such phase to another; and Love is even a similar door.

Growing silently within there emerges at last something which has its
home in the great spaces, which dives under and through Death, and is
the companion of Titanic and Cosmic beings; something strangely
surpassing all barriers and limits, and strangely finding identity by
fusing and losing it in the life of others; something which at times
seems almost mockingly to abandon its own identity and rise creative in
new forms—sporting in the great ocean; and yet can somehow instantly
recall its past and the tiny limits from which it first sprang—trailing
forever with it the wonderful cloud-wreaths of earth-memory and
association, and the myriad fragrance of personal remembrance. “What are
thou then?” says the poet, addressing his departed friend:—

   “What art thou then?—I cannot guess;
      But tho’ I seem in star and flower
      To feel thee some diffusive power
    I do not therefore love thee less.”

Even in the farthest spheres the poignant syllables ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ will
surely still be heard; and a thousand deaths shall not avail to exhaust
their meaning or to make of Love a pale and cold abstraction.

The memory of the earth-life and of personal identity is never lost; but
it passes out into that far greater form, the memory and resumption into
a coherent Whole of many lives, and the sense of an Individuality which
has value because it is merged in and is an expression of the All.
Memory indeed changes from being the faint dream-shadow that we know, of
things in the past, to being the things _themselves_, actual and ever
present at our command; and with this finding of the inner soul and
heart’s core of all beings it becomes possible to live over again with
them the days gone by, in all detail and with ever deeper understanding
of their true meaning.

The supra-liminal returns into harmony with the subliminal; the
individual life and the mass-life are reunited. With the overpassing of
the local and terrestrial self we are liberated into a fluid region
where a thousand personalities yield their secrets and their
co-operation into our hands. With the releasing of our attention from
personal objects and terrestrial gains, materials and people
correspondingly cease to obstruct. They find nothing which they _can_
obstruct! The body moves freely about the world; life ceases to be the
‘obstacle race’ and the queer perpetual vista of barricades which it
mostly now is; and _a fortiori_ the soul moves freely, because truly for
the redeemed soul it is possible to feel that all things and creatures
are friendly, all beings a part of itself. These and many other such
realizations are indeed possible now—even in our present terrestrial
state—under those rare conditions when the divine creature which is
within the mortal body achieves a momentary deliverance, and under which
we sometimes pass out of our little mundane dream into that other land
where the great Voices sound and Visions dwell.



1. Every kind of cell or other organism has a natural limit of size
(dependent partly on the relation between surface and volume).

2. When that limit is reached, superfluity of nutrition and growth tends
to bring about Reproduction.

3. Reproduction begins with simple division or budding.

4. Conjugation in its primitive form (as among protozoa where there is
no distinction of sex) takes place between similars, and is an exchange
to some degree of cell-contents.

5. It apparently affords a superior nutrition, and is a kind of
Regeneration, essential to the continued health of the species, and
favorable to reproduction.

6. Hunger and Love are thus related at this stage.

7. Later, conjugation takes place between dissimilars (of the same
species); and the distinct phenomena of sex appear—of male and female.

8. Reproduction by simple division or budding leads to a kind of
‘immortality,’ since each descendant cell is continuous, in a sense,
with the original one.

9. This simple division or virgin-birth process may go on to many
generations—even to hundreds among the Protozoa.

10. But since at some time or other conjugation is apparently necessary
in order to restore vitality, the immortality at this point ceases to be
an individual immortality, and becomes rather a joint or racial

11. The main thing in conjugation would appear to be that the two
factors should be complementary to each other, however differentiated,
so that in their union the whole race-life should be restored, and the
Regeneration therefore be complete.

12. The special sex-differentiation called male and female depends on
the separation of the active from the sessile qualities (and other
qualities respectively related to each) into two great branches.

13. Since the female takes the sessile part she appears sometimes as the
goal and object of conjugation, and the more important factor; but
actual observation so far shows each factor, male and female, to be
equally important.

14. In the fertilized ovum there are an equal number of chromosomes
derived from each parent; and if the female provides the shrine in which
the new development takes place, the male (centrosome) appears as the
organizing genius of the process.

15. This process, by which a fertilized germ-cell divides and redivides,
and so builds up a “body,” is quite similar to that by which a protozoön
divides and redivides to form a numerous colony.

16. A ‘body’ indeed _is_ such a colony, coöperatively associated in
definite form, of which all the millions of cells are practically
continuous with the original fertilized germ, and one with it.

17. Every cell in such a body has apparently the same nuclear elements
as the original cell, equally derived from both parents; but is
differentiated so far as to be able to fulfil its special part in the

18. The process of division of these microscopic cells is strangely
exact and complex; and the various elements of the nucleus seem to be
themselves divided into two, on each occasion, with strange preciseness.

19. The constituent cells of each race of animals have always a certain
number of nuclear threads or chromosomes—fixed for that particular

20. When, therefore, a sperm-cell and germ-cell unite, they each first
extrude or expel half the number of their chromosomes, so that after
union the joint cell is provided again with the precise number of
chromosomes characteristic of the race.

21. The exact nature of these ‘maturation’ divisions and expulsions is
far from clear; but it would seem that they are carried out in such a
way as, while retaining always the basic elements of the Race, to secure
a continual and endless sorting of these into new combinations.

22. These complex evolutions occurring, as described, in the interior of
the most primitive cells, look as much like the last results of some far
antecedent or invisible operations (of which we know nothing) as like
the first commencement of the visible organic world with which we are


[1] “In November 1885, M. Maupas isolated an infusorian (_Stylonichia
pustulata_), and observed its generations till March 1886. By that
time there had been 215 generations produced by ordinary division,
and since these lowly organisms do not conjugate with near relatives,
there had of course been no sexual union.—What was the result? At the
date referred to, the family was observed to have exhausted itself.
The members, though not exactly old, were being born old. The sexual
division came to a standstill, and the powers of nutrition were also
lost” (_Evolution of Sex_, Geddes and Thomson, 1901, p. 177).

[2] See, however, _Evolution of Sex_, p. 178, where a case is
recorded of 458 generations of another infusorian apparently without
degeneration. See also _The Cell_, by Dr. Oscar Hertwig (Sonnenschein,
1909), p. 292.

[3] The _exchange_ of life-elements between two individuals is well
illustrated in the case of the infusorian _Noctiluca_. Two Noctilucas,
A and B, [Illustration: small diagram of conjunction of A and B]
coalesce; and then later divide again along a plane (indicated
by dotted line) at right angles to the plane of contact. Two new
individuals are thus formed, and each Noctiluca has absorbed half of
the other. Their activities are regenerated and they begin a new life.

[4] As in Volvox; see _Evolution of Sex_, p. 138.

[5] And we may say also here that it is even supposable that the
special differentiation which we call male and female is only one
out of many possible sex-differentiations—the important and main
condition being that the differentiations, whatever they are, should
be complementary to each other, and should together make up the total
qualities and character of the race.

[6] As sixteen for a human being, twelve for a grasshopper, twenty-four
for a lily, and so forth.

[7] For diagram and illustration of this whole process, see Appendix,
_infra_, p. 289. Also see August Forel’s _The Sexual Question_ (English
translation; Rebman, 1908), pp. 6 and 11; _The World of Life_, by A.
R. Wallace, ch. xvii, p. 343; _The Plant Cell_, by H. A. Haig (Griffin,
1910), ch. viii; and other books.

[8] Stephane Leduc, in his _Théorie Physico-chémique de la vie_ (Paris,
1910), endeavors to trace all the above phenomena to the simple
action of diffusion and osmose (see ch. viii, on _Karyokinesis_)
but though the resemblance of some of the forms above described to
diffusion-figures is interesting—as also is their resemblance to the
forms of magnetic fields—this does not prove their genesis either
from diffusion or magnetism. It only makes probable that some of
the phenomena in question are related to the very obscure forces of
diffusion or magnetism—a thing which, of course, is already admitted
and recognized. With regard to all this the reader should study the
astonishing resurrection of the mature blow-fly from the mere milky pap
which is all that the pupa at a certain stage consists of. (See _The
Biology of the Seasons_, by J. Arthur Thomson, 1911.)

[9] “In every known case an essential phenomenon of fertilization is
the union of a sperm nucleus of paternal origin with an egg nucleus
of maternal origin, to form the primary nucleus of the embryo. This
nucleus ... gives rise by division to all the nuclei of the body, and
hence every nucleus of the child may contain nuclear substance derived
from both parents” (_The Cell in Development and Inheritance_, by E. B.
Wilson, Macmillan Co., 1904, p. 182).

[10] The latter, of course, being just discernible by the naked eye.

[11] _Parallel Paths_, by T. W. Rolleston (Duckworth, 1908), p. 53.

[12] _Parallel Paths_, p. 52. See also, for further accounts, _The
Evolution of Sex_, pp. 112–14; _The Plant Cell_, by H. A. Haig, pp.
121, 123 _et seq._; Die Vererbung, by Dr. E. Teichmann (Stuttgart,
1908), pp. 39, 40, &c. Throughout it must be remembered that these
‘maturation’ processes in the generative cells are not only exceedingly
complex, but also very various in the various plants and animals; and
the reader should be warned against too easily accepting ready-made
descriptions and generalizations supposed to fit all cases.

[13] Here and elsewhere in his book Professor Wilson uses “germ-cells”
to include “sperm-cells”; and I have indicated this by the bracket.

[14] _The Cell_, p. 285.

[15] It appears that in the ordinary conjugation of Protozoa a quite
similar process is observable.

[16] “Nowhere in the history of the cell do we find so unmistakable and
striking an adaptation of means to ends or one of so marked a prophetic
character, since maturation looks not to the present but to the future
of the germ [and sperm] cells” (_The Cell_, p. 233).

[17] It might be said that, notwithstanding this, the female obviously
has the greater sway, on account of the conjunction taking place within
the body of the mother, and subject to all her influences. But there is
a curious compensation to this in the fact that while after conjugation
the centrosome of the germ-cell disappears, the male centrosome is
retained and becomes the organ of division for the new cell, and
consequently for the whole future body. (See _Parallel Paths_, p. 56;
also Professor E. B. Wilson in _The Cell_, p. 171.)

[18] “That a cell can carry with it the sum total of the heritage of
the species, that it can in the course of a few days or weeks give rise
to a mollusk or a man, is the greatest marvel of biological science”
(_The Cell_, p. 396).

[19] For summary of the conclusions of this chapter, see Appendix,
_infra_, p. 289.

[20] Havelock Ellis’s very fine essay on “The Art of Love” (see
his _Studies in the Psychology of Sex_, vol. vi, ch. xi) must also
be mentioned, as including much of the subject matter of the above
treatises, but having a very much wider scope and outlook.

[21] See _The Cell_, by E. B. Wilson, p. 391; _Das Leben_, by Jacques
Loeb (Leipzig, 1911), pp. 10–20, &c. It seems also to be thought that
gall-formations on plants, tumors on animal bodies, &c., are instances
of such chemical or indirect fertilization.

[22] Translation by J. Wright, M.A., _Golden Treasury Series_, p. 57.

[23] _Psychology of Sex_, vol. vi. p. 517.

[24] _Studies in the Psychology of Sex_, vol. i.

[25] _Ars. Am._ iii. 605.

[26] _Psychology of Sex_, vol. vi. p. 542.

[27] _Ibid._, p. 544.

[28] “The disgrace which has overtaken the sexual act, and rendered it
a deed of darkness, is doubtless largely responsible for the fact that
the chief time for its consummation among modern civilized peoples is
the darkness of the early night in stuffy bedrooms when the fatigue of
the day’s labors is struggling with the artificial stimulation produced
by heavy meals and alcoholic drinks. This habit is partly responsible
for the indifference or even disgust with which women sometimes view
coitus” (H. Ellis, _Studies in the Psychology of Sex_, vol. vi. p.

[29] See H. Ellis, vol. v. pp. 11 and 12.

[30] See also Kraft-Ebing, _Psychopathia sexualis_, 7th edition, p. 165.

[31] _Modern Woman: Her Intentions_, p. 30.

[32] English edition; Heinemann, 1906.

[33] Fischer, Berlin, p. 192.

[34] Berlin, 1910, p. 290.

[35] Berlin, 1905, p. 332. English translation, _Love and Marriage_;
Putnam’s, 1911.

[36] See chapter on “Visions of the Dying” in _Death: its Causes and
Phenomena_, by Carrington and Meader (1911); also _infra_, ch. vi. p.

[37] See H. Pieron, “Contribution à la Psychologie des Mourants,” in
_Revue Philosophique_, Dec., 1902.

[38] See _Civilization: its Cause and Cure_ (George Allen, 2s. 6d.),
pp. 11–21.

[39] See Carrington and Meader on _Death: its Causes and Phenomena_, p.

[40] Reference may be made to the _Upanishads_ (“Sacred books of the
East,” vols. i. and xv.); to the _Bhagavat Gita_; to R. M. Bucke’s
_Cosmic Consciousness_ (Purdy Publishing Co., Chicago); to the _Raja
Yoga Lectures_, by Vivekananda (New York, 1899); to the _Ancient
Wisdom_, by Annie Besant; _The Art of Creation_, and _A Visit to a
Gnani_, by E. Carpenter; and to many other works, of course.

[41] If I seem here to personify unduly these psychic elements and to
ascribe to them too much in the way of consciousness and intelligence,
I must refer for explanation to the Note at the end of this chapter.

[42] See ch. vii., _infra_, p. 119.

[43] See _The Art of Creation_, ch, xii. pp. 209, 210.

[44] _Human Personality_, &c., ch. vi.

[45] _Ibid._ p. 196, edition 1909, edited by L. H. Myers.

[46] For evidence on the subject of Phantasms, Wraiths, Haunted Houses,
and so forth, see _Phantoms of the Living_, by Gurney, Myers, and
Podmore; and _The Report on the Census of Hallucinations_, Proceedings
of the Psychical Research Society, vol. x.; also _L’inconnu et les
problems psychiques_, by Camille Flammarion; and Lombroso’s chapter
on Haunted Houses, in his book _Fenomeni Ipnotici e Spiritici_ (Turin,
1909), ch. xii.; also ch. viii. of the present book, _infra_.

[47] See Carrington and Meader, _op. cit._ pp. 318–27.

[48] Dr. Morton Prince’s study, _The Dissolution of a Personality_
(Longmans, 1906), should be read, as going deeply into the whole
subject. He suggests (p. 530) the use of the word “co-consciousness,”
to indicate the secondary chains of mental operation which coexist side
by side with or beneath the primary. Dr. R. Assagioli, in his pamphlet
_Il Subcosciente_ (Florence, 1911), also follows the same line.

[49] _De Rerum Natura_, iii. 890, translated by Mr. H. S. Salt.

[50] See Geddes and Thomson, _Evolution of Sex_ (1901), p. 275.

[51] See ch. ii. p. 18, _supra_; also, for amplification of this view,
Myers’s _Human Personality_, _op. cit._, edition 1909, pp. 90, 91.

[52] _The Story of My Life_, by Helen Keller (1908), p. 17.

[53] For a further account of the subliminal or underlying self, see
next chapter.

[54] The only alternative to this seems to be to suppose that the
“soul” comes into association with the body, not at the very first
inception of the latter, but at some later pre-natal or post-natal
stage, when the body is already partially or wholly built up by the
primitive process of cell-division—that the soul then takes possession
of the organism so formed, and makes use of it for self-expression;
and finally at death discards it. This theory—though it seems a
possible one, and in accordance with the apparent “possession” and
control of the bodies of trance mediums by independent spirits—presents
some difficulties. One difficulty is the absence of any obvious or
acknowledged period when such entry of the soul takes place; another
is the difficulty of seeing how a real and effective harmony could be
permanently established between a body already formed and organized on
hereditary lines, and an independent soul entering on its own errand
at a later date. These (and other) difficulties, however, are not
insuperable, and it may well be, in the great variety of Nature, that
the process of incarnation actually does take place in both ways—_i.e._
in the way outlined in this note, as well as (more generally) in the
way mentioned in the text.

[55] See _The Art of Creation_, 1908, p. 82 _et seq._ Compare also
Bergson’s “elan vital,” in _L’Évolution Créatrice_, p. 100 _et seq._

[56] The _Upanishads_, whose authority on these subjects is surely
great, seem often to try to express the other-dimensional nature of
the soul by a paradox of opposites. “The self, smaller than small (or
more subtle than subtle), greater than great, is hidden in the heart of
each creature” (Katha-Up. I. Adh. 2 valli. 20; also Svetasvatara-Up.
III. Adh. 20)—or again, “The embodied soul is to be thought like the
hundredth part of the point of a hair, divided into a hundred parts;
he is to be thought infinite” (Svet.-Up. v. 9). And the last quoted
passage continues: “He is not woman, he is not man, nor hermaphrodite;
whatever body he assumes, with that he is joined (only); and as by the
use of food and drink the body grows, so the individual soul, by means
of thoughts, touching, seeing and the passions, assumes successively in
various places various forms in accordance with his deeds.”

[57] See Myers, _op. cit._ p. 233, on Clairvoyance of the Dying.

[58] Even on the battlefield, after the battle, faces of the dead have
been observed with this expression upon them.

[59] It is, of course, quite possible that our ordinary consciousness
is discontinuous, even down to its minutest elements, and that it
is only made up of successive and separate sensations which, as in
a cinematograph, follow each with lightning speed. But even this
almost compels us to the assumption of another and profounder and more
continuous consciousness beneath, which is the means of the synthesis
and comparison of these sensations.

[60] _Human Personality_, _op. cit._ p. 29.

[61] See _The Art of Creation_, pp. 105–8.

[62] This well-known case, given by Coleridge in his _Biographia
Literaria_, is amply confirmed by scores of similar cases which have
been carefully examined into and described by modern research.

[63] See _Proceedings S.P.R._ vol. xii, pp. 176–203; quoted by
Frederick Myers, _Human Personality_, ch. v.

[64] This is contested by H. Ellis in his _World of Dreams_, p. 215,
but not very successfully, I think.

[65] See Myers, _op. cit._ ch. iii. p. 66; also T. J. Hudson’s
interesting account of Zerah Colburn, in _Psychic Phenomena_ (1893), p.

[66] _Op. cit._ p. 100. De Quincey, it will be remembered, in a
well-known passage of his _Confessions_, says: “Of this at least I
feel assured, that there is no such thing as _forgetting_ possible to
the mind; a thousand accidents may and will interpose a veil between
our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind;
accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but alike,
whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains forever.”

[67] See _Journal S.P.R._, vol. iii. p. 100; also T. J. Hudson, _op.
cit._, p. 153.

[68] New York, 1903, p. 64.

[69] See Lombroso, _Fenomeni ipnotici e spiritici_, Turin, 1909, pp.

[70] I leave the question of the possibility of the latter open for the
present. See Note at end of this chapter.

[71] This was no doubt, for instance, the case with Eusapia
Paladino—as admitted by her warmest supporters. But it does not
contravene the fact, proved by most abundant evidence and experiment,
of the astounding physical phenomena which from her early childhood
accompanied her, and in some strange way exhaled from her.

[72] It is impossible, for instance, to read slowly and in detail such
works as A. R. Wallace’s _Miracles and Modern Spiritualism_, William
Crookes’ _Researches into Spiritualism_, C. Lombroso’s _Fenomeni
ipnotici e spiritici_, and to note the care and exactness with which
in each case experiments were conducted, tests devised, and results
recorded, without being persuaded that in the mass the conclusions
(confirmed in the first two instances by the authors themselves after
an interval of twenty or thirty years) are correct. Already a long list
of scientific and responsible men, like Charles Richet (professor of
physiology at Paris), Camille Flammarion (the well-known astronomer),
Professor Zöllner of the Observatory at Leipzig, C. F. Varley the
electrician, Sir Oliver Lodge of Birmingham, have made important
contributions to the evidence; while others, like Professor De Morgan
the mathematician, Professor Challis the astronomer, Sergeant Cox the
lawyer, and Professor William James the psychologist, have signified
their general adhesion.

[73] For references see _supra_, ch. vi. p. 92, footnote.

[74] See _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 289, also the
experience of Mrs. A., given in _Footfalls on the Boundary of Another
World_, by R. Dale Owen, 1881, p. 256 _et seq._ This latter book, which
is a mine of well-authenticated information, has suffered somewhat
from its rather sensational title. The author, however, was an able,
distinguished, and reliable man, son of Robert Owen of Lanark, Member
of Congress in the United States, and U. S. Minister at Naples.

[75] See R. Dale Owen, _The Debatable Land_ (1871), pp. 385–400.

[76] See Crookes’ _Researches in Spiritualism_, pp. 104 _et seq._ See
also the book _New Light on Immortality_, by Fournier d’Albe, pp. 218
_et seq._, where the evidence is given in great detail.

[77] See _Phénomènes de la Ville Carmen, avec documents nouveaux_;
Paris, 1902.

[78] C. Lombroso, _Fenomeni ipnotici e spiritici_, p. 193.

[79] See _Shadow-land_ (1906).

[80] See pamphlet _Materializations, by Mme. D’Espérance_ (Light
Publishing Co.).

[81] See, for instance, the account of the haunted mill at Willington,
given at some length by Mr. W. T. Stead in the _Review of Reviews_
for Jan., 1892; also the _Memoirs of the Wesley Family_, vol. i, pp.
253–60; and Whitehead’s _Lives of the Wesleys_, vol. ii, pp. 120–66;
also _Footfalls_, b; R. Dale Owen, book iii, ch. ii.

[82] See Myers, _op cit._, p. 154. As many writers have remarked,
the term “superconscious” might often be more applicable than

[83] With regard to this question of hypnotism and crime, T. J. Hudson
says (_Psychic Phenomena_, p. 129) that it is almost impossible to
persuade a hypnotic to do what he firmly believes to be wrong. And
Myers maintains that whatever the subliminal being may be, it is
never malignant. “In dealing with automatic script, for instance, we
shall have to wonder whence come the occasional vulgar jokes or silly
mystifications. We shall discuss whether they are a kind of dream
of the automatist’s own, or whether they indicate the existence of
unembodied intelligences on the level of the dog or the ape. But,
on the other hand, all that world-old conception of Evil Spirits,
of malevolent powers, which has been the basis of so much of actual
devil-worship and so much more of vague supernatural fear—all this
insensibly melts from the mind as we study the evidence before us.”
(_Op. cit._, p. 252.)

[84] See _Mediumship_, by James B. Tetlow (Keighley, 1910), price 6d.

[85] _Op cit._, pp. 168–69.

[86] See a long chapter on “Manifestations de Mourants” in C.
Flammarion’s _L’Inconnu_.

[87] As in the case of a man drowning in a storm off the island of
Tristan d’Acunha, who was seen at the same hour in a Norfolk farmhouse.
_Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 52.

[88] See further on this subject ch. xi. _infra_, p. 211.

[89] _Towards Democracy_, p. 490.

[90] For a discussion of this question, see Myers, _op. cit._, ch. vii.
on _Phantasms of the Dead_.

[91] See _supra_, ch. ii. p. 15; also _The World of Life_, by A. R.
Wallace, ch. xvii. “The Mystery of the Cell.”

[92] Of the conditions which may cause the invisible cloud to become
visible we shall speak farther on.

[93] See, for a list of these, Flammarion’s _L’Inconnu_, pp. 565–69;
also Lombroso’s _Fenomeni ipnotici_, &c., p. 199. The numerous
quasi-historical records of the appearance after death of the saints
(generally in a cloud-like form) must also not be passed over; though,
on account of these records being connected with the various churches,
they are necessarily subject to suspicion!

[94] We may mention _Death: Its Causes and Phenomena_, Carrington &
Meader (London, 1911); and the list of works quoted in the same book,
p. 540 _et seq._

[95] Longmans, 1908.

[96] “At the end of three hours and forty minutes he expired, and
suddenly, coincident with death, the beam end of the scale dropped with
an audible stroke, hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining
there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of
an ounce.” See reference given by Carrington and Meader, _op. cit._, p.
373. The reports of the experiments are apparently given in the annals
of the American Society for Psychical Research for June, 1907.

[97] See a long account in the _Spiritualist_ for 15th May, 1873; also
given by F. d’Albe, _op. cit._, p. 220, _et seq._

[98] See R. J. Thompson’s _Proofs of Life after Death_ (1906).

[99] See _Phénomènes de la Villa Carmen_, by Charles Richet, Paris,
1902; also Lombroso, _op. cit._, pp. 194–96.

[100] Mr. H. Carrington, in his _Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism_,
has described in detail fraudulent methods of photography with which he
is well acquainted. Nevertheless he seems to believe that some cases
of “spirit photography” are genuine, and gives instances; see his
book already quoted _Death_, &c., pp. 359, _et seq._ See also Mr. E.
T. Bennett’s book on _Spiritualism_, with introduction by Sir Oliver
Lodge, pp. 113–20.

[101] See _The Art of Creation_, ch. vi.

[102] _The World of Dreams_ (Constable, 1911), p. 107.

[103] _The World of Dreams_, p. 190.

[104] See _Electrons_, by Sir Oliver Lodge (George Bell, 1910).

[105] Say, in millionths of an inch, fifteen millionths for the violet
(at the dark line A), and twenty-seven millionths for the red (at B).

[106] See, for examples, ch. x. pp. 186–7, _supra_.

[107] See document signed by five responsible witnesses and published
in the _Spiritualist_ of 15th May, 1873.

[108] See _Materializations_, by Mme. D’Espérance, a lecture given in
1903 in London (Light Publishing Co.).

[109] See illustrations in _Shadowland_, _passim_.

[110] The cobwebby sensation alluded to above is often mentioned
by other writers. Dr. J. Maxwell, in his _Metaphysical Phenomena_
(Duckworth, 1905), p. 329, describes a case in which the radiation
of force from the fingers of a medium was great enough to move a
small statuette five or six inches distant, and absolutely without
contact; but the phenomenon was accompanied by a “Spider-web or
cobwebby sensation in the hands.” The author of that interesting book
_Interwoven_ (Boston, 1905, copyright by S. L. Ford), speaks of “the
protoplasmic vapor of the inner man,” and says (p. 15): “It is this
frail vapor which comes out at death and tries to form into spiritual
body”; and again (p. 19): “I notice at death that nature draws or
relieves the fire of the ganglia first and all the lines of sensation
in light which were running down the nerves. It looks like white
seaweed, very light and airy and fragile ... a veil of shining which is
scarcely substance because of its white fire.”

[111] _Fenomeni ipnotici_, &c., p. 195.

[112] Namely, the highly charged electrostatic condition of mediums,
the luminous clouds floating near them, the stars and rays of light in
their vicinity, the photographic activity of their emanations, and so

[113] So much smaller than the atom that “if the earth represented an
electron, an atom would occupy a sphere with the sun as centre and four
times the distance of the earth as radius.” See _Electrons_, by Oliver
Lodge, p. 98.

[114] _Ibid._, pp. 82, 83.

[115] _Immortality_, p. 148.

[116] _Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism_ (Burns, 1874), p.

[117] _Materializations_, p. 12.

[118] R. Dale Owen, _The Debatable Land_, p. 399.

[119] See _Annals of Psychical Science_, Report 1910–11.

[120] See Gustave Le Bon’s _Evolution of Matter_ (Walter Scott
Publishing Co., 1907).

[121] See Le Bon, p. 45.

[122] For cases of hypnotic trance induced in one person by the
telepathic action of another person at a distance, see Myers, _op.
cit._, p. 160.

[123] _Revue Philosophique_, August, 1887.

[124] Myers, _op. cit._, p. 149.

[125] _Ibid._, p. 144. See also Henri Bergson’s _L’Évolution
Créatrice_, p. 102, on the _canalization_ of the senses.

[126] See chapter xiii. p. 243.

[127] It seems probable, from many considerations, that at a certain
depth within us—in the region of what has been called the cosmic
consciousness—memory does in nowise fade, and the past is always
present, but, as Bergson says, the ordinary conscious intellect tends
to only select from this mass what is needed for impending action, and
has consequently become limited by this tendency.

[128] See the work of Richard Semon on the _mneme_ as a main factor
of organic life (_Die Mneme als erhaltendes Prinzip im Wechsel des
organischen Geschehens_, Leipzig, 1904); also quoted by Auguste Forel,
_The Sexual Question_ (English edition, Rebman, 1908), pp. 14–17.

[129] See _An Adventure_, Macmillan & Co., 1911.

[130] See _infra_, ch. xiv. p. 255; also E. B. Wilson, _The Cell_, p.

[131] Though this process, it would appear, requires _practice_, and is
not learned at once.

[132] See the frequent description of the unusual beauty and radiancy
of the forms seen in connection with trance-mediums and circles.

[133] It may easily be understood, I think, that the process by
which the distinct soul is thus built up may last several lifetimes.
That is, there may be a long period during which the budding soul
still entangled in the race-life may be reincarnated jointly with
the race-soul in a kind of mixed way—family and race-characteristics
mingling with and obscuring its expression—though these incarnations
would become ever less mixed and more individual in character till the
day of the soul’s final disentanglement.

[134] In the _Symposium_—Shelley’s translation.

[135] Shelley’s translation.

[136] What the _physical_ medium of this transmission may be—whether
the germ-plasm of Weismann, or some subtle _aura_ which connects the
members of a race together, or anything else—is a question to which the
answer at present is not very clear.

[137] And not only out of the abysmal deeps of Man, but also out of the
hidden soul of the Earth, and other cosmic beings.

[138] See _supra_, ch. vii. p. 122.

[139] See note at end of chapter vi.

[140] See, for instance, Homer’s _Odyssey_, bk. xi., lines 601 _et
seq._, where Odysseus speaks with the ghost of Hercules in Hades; but
it is explained that Hercules himself is in Heaven:

   “Then in his might I beheld huge Hercules, phantom terrific,
    Phantom I say, for the hero himself is among the immortals.”

[141] In this case, described by Dr. Morton Prince in his _Dissociation
of a Personality_ (see note to ch. vi., _supra_), at least four or five
distinct personalities were recognizable in the one woman.

[142] See _The Art of Creation_, pp. 80, 81.

[143] See Bergson’s _L’Évolution Créatrice_ throughout.

[144] “Der Beginn des erneuten seraphischen Lebens und Einbeziehung
alles dessen, was ausser der Gegenwartsenge liegt.”

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