The Life Within
A Study in Mysticism
William Arthur Dunn
The advances made in scientific knowledge in recent years, especially those growing out of the momentous discovery that radio-activity is universally present in matter, independent of external sunlight, will inevitably lead to the removal of prevailing scepticism as to the permanent presence of a divine light and of an invincible creative energy which permeate the inner nature of man.
The humiliating notion that the arena of active life is restricted to the material objects associated with the physical senses, must in no long time give way before the vast array of discovered facts which prove man to be intimately associated, throughout the many octaves of his inner spiritual being, with every possible aspect of universal life, from an all-permeating spiritual radiance down to the last analysis of minute physical cell, and outward association of cells in various forms of organized matter.
The doctrine of evolution, in that phase of its application that traces but a few selected lines of individual development (like unaccompanied melodies in music) must be amplified so as to include the powers that
supervise the correlations between all evolving entities, like that demonstrated in the harmonious association of many melodies woven into an orchestral symphony. Melody is simply a line of single notes
successively extended through time. Harmony is the association of many melodies welded into a stream of mass chords organically related.
The keynote and scale of evolution, which is usually thought of as progressing through long periods of history, must be associated with the truth that on either side of the process we happen to be aware of,
countless other lines of special evolution are also active, the interweaving of which with our lives makes man the complex being that he is. As a further illustration of this, consider the phenomena of time. We think of time as proceeding in successive moments, throughout the days and years. Yet this view is but a relative one, bound up with the geographical location we personally occupy on the surface of the globe.
Thinking of time as it appears from the center of the earth or the sun, all time-units appear as m11tltalry coexisting in a larger unity. Hence " divisions of time," as we each perceive them, are
rhythmic currents that mark our journeyings over the ocean of life when the heart-center is lived from as at one with the Heart-center of Humanity, all " time divisions " of past, present, and future, must appear as coexisting in the present harmony of the spiritual consciousness. From a similar point of view all forms of evolution mutually coexist in the total organism of Humanity, their correlations as between nation and nation, man and man, being evidenced in the events of history.
Within the adult human body the evolutionary processes of nature, in their totality, are simultaneously active from germ cell up to perfected organism. All stages of life from birth to death -and from death to birth -never cease to operate in some "corner " of our being. The dim light of the lower mind merely reveals the objects of thought relating to the geographical station We occupy, or to the plane of consciousness to which we are attuned -just as unthinking minds will tacitly accept the religious creed that prevails in the place where they are born. Hence the separation between the ordinary local consciousness
and the all-inclusive consciousness of the spiritual self is a mere delusion, just as our notions of " time divisions " cannot be thought of as actually existing in Nature.
The vital principle of life, the energies ever active within blood corpuscles, the manifold functions and qualities of the bodily organs, the endless streams of sensation and feeling, the electrical rivers coursing
through the nerve fibers, the digestion and assimilation of food, the organic relations and adjustments to heat, light, and other etheric forces, the marvelous processes of thought that proceed in orderly sequence
as well as in structural complexity, the tremendous power in polarized energy and intelligence -are all processes simultaneously active and correlated in the bodily and mental organisms (in tune, or in confusion, as the case may be), and are largely independent of the restricted intelligence that surveys and controls a few local interests. All these bodily activities bear a strong family resemblance to the so called
" external " forces of nature and give rise to the irresistible conviction that nature within humanity is in very truth the soul of the world that gives birth and life to the external aspect which is the arena of ordinary scientific research. Hence the inner and outer aspects of life are hut two poles of one supreme all-enveloping consciousness ; and no possible restriction can be imposed on the mind that resolves to break down its local prison walls and establish association with all other powers at work within and without human nature. The antagonisms of those who believe that the present era is at the prow-point of evolution cannot disturb the true testimony of the ages that innumerable paths lead to the mountain-tops of life and have been traversed by countless feet in ancient as well as in modern times.
The thoughtful mind will ask in amazement : " How is it possible for man, whose body, mind, and soul are inextricably interwoven with universal nature, to be removed from a radiant essence that is the living principle of the very air he breathes and of the food he assimilates? " Radiant matter can no longer be thought of as a far off metaphysical theory, but as an ever-present, all-penetrating life essence that perpetually bombards every cell of our being. It is now known that every particle of matter is a living world in itself, as luminous and as harmonious as the solar system. Though but one unit to the outer perception, its correlated forces represent every degree of substance from primordial matter down to its molecular constitution.
Within each molecule are congregated the atoms known to science. The atoms themselves have their internal constitution of electrical corpuscles, which obey fixed laws of relationship as infallibly as those which govern chemical affinities. A celebrated scientist has computed that with every breath we breathe, we take in enough energy imprisoned within the particles of air sufficient to run the machinery
of the world, if it could be released and utilized.
It is small wonder, therefore, that earnest-minded men and women, who have lived in obedience to the higher laws of life, should speak of the actual revelation to them of the Light Within. The power to assimilate the deeper and purer elements of the life in which we exist, whether through food, air, thought, or feeling, must surely be possible of growth and expansion as self-conscious power and efficient knowledge is obtained through assertion of the divine energy that exists at the summit of all our faculties and attributes. Like the chemist at work upon crude material, an active application of superior knowledge
is necessary to unfold the divine properties locked up in the grosser aspects of our lives. The discovery of radium and other radio-active substances is perhaps the most important ever known to chemical science.
Their properties are so startling as to demand a reconstruction of all theories as to the construction of matter. Radioactivity is known to be diffused throughout substances that hitherto were thought of as " dead." Yet this radium is more intensely living than the energies attributed to all other elements. Sh:::tll we exclude man alone from these radiant forces of life? Is it utopian to believe that within the depths of his thought and feeling an unfading radiance is present that is hidden from physical sight ?
History demonstrates that such a light does exist. The spiritual teachers of all time have proved themselves as transmitters of that Light, which was manifestly as clear to them as sunlight to the eyes. Reflection will convey to any earnest and sincere mind that within the entangled elements of commonplace human life the higher properties of spiritual existence must somewhere be present ; and that a process of readjustment and purification will surely lead to that condition in which the light stands revealed.
History presents many examples of thoughtful men who have sensed the spiritual light that overshadows the race. They all speak of the same truth, and corroborate to the fullest the teachings of Theosophy. To take a few modern instances :
Alfred Tennyson, the poet, speaking of his own experiences, says :
Individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being ; and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility -the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life.
The American poet James Russell Lowell wrote in one of his letters:
I had a revelation last Friday evening. . . . . . Mr. Putnam entered into an argument with me on spiritual matters. As I was speaking, the whole system rose up before me like a vague destiny looming from the abyss. I never before so clearly felt the spirit of Goel in me and around me. . . . . . I spoke with the calmness and clearness of a prophet.
From Professor Starbuck's collection the following is taken :
I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hillside, where my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite ; and there was a rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer. It was deep calling unto deep -the deep that my own struggle had opened up within being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars. I stood alone with Him who had made me. . . . . . I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect unison of my spirit with His. The ordinary sense of things around me faded. For the moment nothing but an ineffable joy and exaltation remained. It is impossible fully to describe the experience. It was like the effect of some great orchestra when all the separate notes have melted into one swelling harmony that leaves the listener conscious of nothing save that his soul is being wafted upwards.
J. Trevor, in his book My Quest for God, writes :
Suddenly, without warning, I felt that I was in heaven -an inward state of peace and joy and assurance indescribably intense, accompanied with a sense of being bathed in a warm glow of light, as though the external condition had brought about the internal effect -a feeling of having passed beyond the body, though the scene around me stood out more clearly and as if nearer to me than before, by reason of the illumination in the midst of which I seemed to be placed ..... . The spiritual life justifies itself to those who live it.
J. A. Symonds, the English poet, states :
My soul became aware of God, who was manifestly dealing with me in an intense present reality. I felt Him streaming in like light upon me. I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt.
In another letter Symonds writes :
Suddenly, in company or when reading, I felt the approach of the mood. Irresistibly it took possession of my mind and will. . . . . . It consisted in a gradual but swiftly progressive obliteration of ... ..the multitudinous factors of experience which seem to qualify what we are pleased to call our self. In proportion as these conditions of ordinary consciousness were subtracted the sense of an underlying or essential consciousness acquired intensity.
These .modern instances, that bear witness to the reality of " The inner light," are substantially similar to references made by ancient writers. In the ancient Hindu writings this Light is described as
Daiviprakriti, the Light of the Logos, a conscious power and energy whose presence is the condition of all life. In the Egyptian Book of Hermes it is written :
I am that Light, the mind, thy God, who am before the moist nature that appeared out of darkness, and that bright lightfol word is the Son of God .... . . God and the Father. is Light and Life, of which man is made. If therefore thou learn and know thyself to be of the Light and Life, thou shalt again pass into Life. Shining stedfastly upon and around the whole mind, it enlighteneth the Soul, and loosening it from the bodily senses and motions it draweth it from the body and changeth it wholly into the essence of God. For it is possible, O Son, to be deified while yet it lodgeth in the body of man, if it contemplate on the
beauty of God.
A famous Chinaman who lived seven hundred years ago, wrote :
There is in the universe an Aura which permeates all things and makes them what they are ; below, it shapes forth land and water ; above, the sun and the stars. In man it is called spirit, and there is nowhere where it is not. In times of national tranquillity this spirit lies dormant in the harmony which prevails, only at some great crisis is it manifested widely abroad.
From the Life of Dr. Henry 1Vlore, published in 1710, the following extracts are taken :
I say that a free, divine, universalized Spirit is worth all. How lovely, how magnificent a state is the soul of man in, when the Life of God, in actuating her, shoots her along with Himself through Heaven and Earth ; makes her unite with, and after a sort feel herself animate the whole world. . . . . . This is to become
Deiform, to be thus suspended, not by imagination, but by union of Life, joining centers with God, and by a sensible touch to be held up from the dotty, dark personality of this compacted body. Here is love, here is freedom, here is justice and equity, in the superessential causes of them. He that is here, looks upon all
things as one ; and on himself, if he can then mind himself, as a part of the whole. . . . . . Nor am I out of my wits ..... for God ..... converseth with me as a friend, and speaks to me in such a dialect as I understand fully, and can make others understand that have not made shipwreck of the faculties the God hath given them, by superstition and sensuality. . . . . . For God hath permitted to me all these things, and I have it under the Broad Seal of Heaven. . . . . . He hath made me full Lord of the four elements. . . . . . All these things are true in a sober sense. . . . . . 'vVe may reach to the participation in the Divine nature, which is a simple, mild, benign light that seeks nothing for itself as self. .....
The whole life of man upon earth, day and night, is but a slumber and a dream, in comparison of that awaking of the soul that happens in the recovery of her etherial or celestial body. . . . . . I profess I stand amazed while I consider the ineffable advantage of a mind thus submitted to the Divine Will. How calm, how comprehensive, how quick and sensible she is, how free, how sagacious. . . . . .
There is a kind of sanctity of Soul and Body, that is of more efficacy for the receiving and retaining of Divine truths, than the greatest pretenses to discussive demonstration.
In the fourth volume of Lucifer, Madame Blavatsky gives the following extract from the teachings of Iamblichus :
There is a faculty of the human mind which is superior to all which is born or begotten. Through it we are enabled to attain union with the superior intelligences, of being transported beyond the scenes and arrangements of this world, and of partaking of the higher life and peculiar powers of the heavenly ones.
By this faculty we are made free from the dominations of Fate [Karma] and are made, so to speak, the arbiters of our own destinies. For, when the most excellent parts of us become filled with Energy, and the Soul is elevated to natures loftier than itself, it becomes separated from those conditions which keep it under the dominion of the present everyday life of the world, exchanges the present for another life, and abandons the conventional habits belonging to the external order of things, to give and mingle itself with that order which pertains to higher life.
Many long centuries separate the ancient author just quoted and our modern poet Walt Whitman, yet that they would be brothers-inarms and fellow-students in life's mysteries could they meet face to face, is evidenced from the follovving, taken from Walt Whitman's Specimen Days and Collect:
There is ..... in the make-up of every superior human identity, a wonderful something that realizes without argument, frequently without what is called education (though I think it the goal of and apex of all education deserving the name) an intuition of the absolute balance, in time and space, of the whole of
this multifariousness, this revel of fools and incredible make-believes and general unsettledness we call the world; a soul-sight of that divine clue and unseen thread which holds the whole congeries of things, all history and time, and all events, however trivial, however momentous, like a leashed dog in the hands of the hunter. Of such soul-sight and root-center for the mind mere optimism explains only the surface.
Considered apart from the different styles of literary expression peculiar to ancient and modern Teachers, there is an undoubted identity between them as regards the subject matter they treat of. It is a far cry between Hermes Trismegistus and Iamblichus, Dr. Henry More and Walt Whitman, yet upon consideration of their writings side by side, who can doubt the identity of fundamental thought and
feeling that exists between them? This remarkable identity of thought common to the Teachers of every race and age, is an intuition of the Wisdom-Religion from which all exoteric creeds and sects have sprung.
More or less hidden from age to age by the rise and fall of ecclesiasticism and exclusive dogma, its unbroken perpetuation is demonstrated in the lives of the pure in heart, who have purified their minds to such a pitch as to be at one with the higher laws of life.
No one would suspect the Enclopaedia Britannica of partiality towards the teachings of Theosophy, yet under the heads of Mysticism and Neoplatonism it gives the following testimony as to the religious
philosophy taught in the early centuries of the Christian era :
By Plotinus, the One is explicitly exalted above the void, and the ideas ; it transcends existence altogether, and is not cognizable by reason. Remaining itself in repose, it rays forth, as it were, from its own fullness, an image of itself which is called void, and the soul of its motion begets corporeal matter. The Soul thus
faces two ways -towards the void from which it springs and towards life which is its own product. . . . . . On the practical side mysticism maintains the possibility of direct intercourse with the Being of beings. . . . . .
God ceases to be an object to him and becomes an experience. . . . . . The thought that is most
intensely present with the mystic is a supreme, all-pervading and indwelling power, in whom all things are one. . . . . . The mystic is animated not merely by the desire of intellectual harmony ; he seeks the deepest ground of his own being, in order that he may cast aside whatever separates him from the true life
The writer in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, after stating, "It is undeniable that the very noblest and choicest minds of the 4th century are to be found in the ranks of the Neoplatonists” proceeds :
Neoplatonism seizes on the aspiration of the human soul after a higher life, and treats this psychological fact as the key to the interpretation of the universe. Hence the existing religions, after being refined and spiritualized, were made the basis of philosophy. The doctrine of Plotinus ..... consists of two main
divisions. The first or theoretical part deals with the high origin of the human soul, and shows how it has departed from its first estate. In the second, or practical part, the way is pointed out by which the soul may again return to the Eternal and Supreme. . . . . . Along the same road by which it descended, the Soul must retrace its steps back to the Supreme Good. It must first of all return to itself. This is accomplished by the practice of Virtue, which aims at likeness to God, and leads up to God. . . . . . The lowest stage is that of the civil virtues, then follow the purifying, and last of all the divine virtues. The civil virtues merely
adorn the life, without elevating the soul. That is the office of the purifying virtues, by which the Soul is freed from sensuality, and led back to itself, and thence to the uouV . But there is a still higher attainment ; it is not enough to be sinless. . . . . . This is reached through contemplation of the Primeval Being, the One. . . . . . Then it may see God, the fountain of life, the source of Being, the origin of all Good, the root of the soul. In that state it enjoys the highest indescribable bliss ; it is as it were, swallowed up of Divinity, bathed in the Light of Eternity.
How inspiring, how profoundly true and sincere must have been the lives of those early Theosophists, is evidenced by the fact that a representative modern scholar should write so impressively of the spirit that animated them. And what a glowing contrast they present with the ecclesiastical discord that prevailed in the early Christian Church. This " inner " and " outer " aspect of Religion have moved side by
side throughout all history -the " inner " aspect ever remaining constant because true to Life ; the " outer " rising and falling with changing material conditions and sectarian love of dogmatic power. The same thought is to be found in the teaching of Jakob Bohme when he wrote :
Within myself will be the paradise. All that God the Father has and is, is to appear in me as in his own image. I am to be myself a revelation of the Spiritual divine world.
Professor William James of
Mystical states when well developed, usually are, and have a right to be, absolutely authoritative over the individuals to whom they come. . . . . . They break down the authority of the non-mystical or rationalistic consciousness based upon the understanding and the senses alone. They open out the possibility of other
orders of Truth, in which, so far as anything in us vitally responds to them, we may freely continue to have faith ...... 'fhe mystic is, in short, invulnerable . . . . . . I repeat once more, the existence of mystical states absolutely overthrows the pretension of non-mystical states to be the sole and ultimate dictators of what
we may believe. . . . . . It must always remain an open question whether mystical states may not possibly be such superior points of view, windows through which the mind looks out upon a more extensive and inclusive world .... . .
The counting in of that wider world of meanings, and the serious dealing with it might, in spite of all the perplexity, be indispensable stages in our approach to the final fulness of the Truth. . . . . . They tell of the supremacy of the Ideal, of vastness, of union, of safety, and of rest.
The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant taught, in the interpretation given by Josiah Royce, a sometime colleague of Professor James at Harvard :
Your world is ..... glorious ..... if only you actively make it so. Its spirituality is your own creation, or else it is nothing. Awake, arise, be willing, endure, struggle, defy evil, cleave to good, strive, be strenuous, be devoted, throw into the face of evil and depression your brave cry of resistance, and then this dark
universe of destiny will glow with a divine light. Then you will commune with the Eternal. For you have no relations with the Eternal world save such as you make for yourself. . . . . . This determination of ours it is that seizes hold upon God, then, just as the courage of the manly soul makes life good, introduces into
life something that is there only for the activity of the hero, finds God because the Soul has wrestled for His blessing, and then has found after aII that the wrestling is the blessing. God is with us because we choose to serve our ideal of Him as if he were present to our sense. His kingdom exists because we are
resolved that it shall come. This is the victory that overcometh the world, not our intuition, not our sentimental faith, but our living, our moral, our creative faith.
Equally inspiring are the words of Fichte, a German philosopher who lived a short time after Kant. Professor Royce thus interprets him :
The true self . . . . . is something infinite. . . . . . Each one of us is a partial embodiment, an instrument of the moral law, and our very consciousness tells us that this law is the expression of an infinite world life. . . . . . All we human selves are thus one true organic Self, in so far as we work together..... . With you I stand in the presence of the divinest of mysteries, the communion of all the spirits in the one Self whose free act is the very heart's blood of our Spiritual Being. . . . . . We and our world exist together. Our world is the expression of our character. As a man thinketh, so is he -as a man is, so thinks he ..... no one can exist unless he is ready to act. My life, my existence, is in work. I toil for self-consciousness, and without toil, no consciousness. . . . . . My deeper self produces a new world, and then bids me win my place therein.
Extracts similar to those given above could be multiplied ad infinitum as indicating the undying persistence of the aspiration of the human heart throughout the whole extent of history. The living
threads laid down by its votaries may be traced through every age and in every race as the palpitating nerve fibers from which all external formal creeds have received the vitality they may have possessed.
All advance of civilization, all religious institutions, have existed, and still exist, because of the life-giving currents that unseen and unannounced, proceeded from those who ever labor for the evolution and
upliftment of humanity. Their influence upon the thought of the world has been certain and authoritative.
Under the former Leadership of H. P. Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge, and now of Katherine Tingley, the modern Theosophical movement is a serious effort to establish conditions of life and thought that will
draw the attention of the world, through a process of true education and effort, to the absolute Presence of the Wisdom-Religion in our midst and in our hearts. There is no human being who does not carry
some germ of spiritual life within his heart that will awaken into activity through effort in the right direction. Whatever the law of spiritual existence may be, it cannot act except under conditions that
are inviolable. It is our power to establish those conditions, and they have been stated times without number by Teachers of all times. Theosophy is the embodiment of all such teaching, and no sincere truthseeker can fail to find in its philosophy the instruction and aid he hungers for.
In The Secret Doctrine Madame Blavatsky states that :
It is the
Spiritual evolution of the Inner, immortal man that forms the fundamental tenet
in the Occult Science. To realize even distantly such a process, the student
has to believe (a) in the
With every effort of Will towards purification and unity with that Self-God, one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supersedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the One and highest beam of the Parent-Sun.2
No one will deny that the human being is possessed of various forces : magnetic, sympathetic, antipathetic, nervous, dynamical, occult, mechanical, mental every kind of force ; and that the physical forces are all biological in their essence, seeing that they intermingle with, and often merge into. those forces that we have named intellectual and moral -the first being vehicles, so to say, the uphadi, of the second. No one, who does not deny Soul in man, would hesitate in saying that their presence and commingling are the very essence of our being ; that they constitute the Ego in man, in fact.3
William Q. Judge says, in Lucifer, Vol. VII :
Just as muscular strength comes from physical training, and is perfected by exercise, even so with strength of character and moral force ; these come only by effort at self-conquest. . . . . . In no single instance ..... is man master of the plane above him. Nothing less than experience and conquest determine power .
. . . . . Can there be any question as to what constitutes strength of character ? It is the struggle of a strong man against all his foes. . . . . . He recognizes no enemy without, all are within -and having conquered these he is master of the field ..... at one with Nature without and God within. Here is the true meaning of Life.
Under the Leadership of Madame Katherine Tingley, the Theosophical movement has presented the practical application of the teachings of Theosophy in daily life and in education. The phenomenal
success of this work has attracted the attention of truth-seekers in every country because of its sincerity and truth to nature and to the Laws of life. The spirit which animates this work is beautifully suggested
in these words of Madame Tingley :
O my Divinity, thou dost blend with the earth and fashion for thyself temples of might power ! O my Divinity, thou dwellest in the heart-life of all things and dost radiate a golden light that shineth forever and doth illumine even the darkest corners of the earth. O my Divinity, blend thou with me, that from the corruptible I may become Incorruptible, that from imperfection I may become Perfection, that from darkness I may go forth in Light !
1. Point Loma edition,
2. Vol. I, p. 634. 2, Ibid., p. 639.
3. 3. Ibid., p, 669,
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