Sorrow And Adversity Essential To Growth In Consciousness
( Originally Published 1916 )
" NOR YET ON THEE SHALL BURST THE FUTURE, AS SUCCESSIVE ZONES OF SEVERAL WONDER OPEN ON SOME SPIRIT FLYING SECURE AND GLAD FROM HEAVEN TO HEAVEN ; BUT THOU SHALT PAINFULLY ATTAIN TO JOY, WHILE HOPE AND FEAR AND LOVE SHALL KEEP THEE MAN!"
Those who know but little of mathematics may take comfort to themselves that mathematicians as a class are seemingly as far from hyper-space perception as the rest of mankind. And since comparatively few persons have any real knowledge of the spatial laws underlying our three-dimensional sense-realm, we may assume that the attainment of a four-way world is not contingent upon the understanding of its mathematical structure. If then it be true that the greater insight is not a matter of technical training, the humblest may hope to discover in the deep well of life's experience some star of this new firmament.
We have to note that maladjustment has ever been the spur toward a larger consciousness even from the beginning of things. So long as a creature's internal and external worlds are in harmonious relation each to the other, sensations come and go and life is complete for that particular level of experience.
If, however, the interaction is imperfect, the impression holds over and links itself with the following one, and the creature rises to a consciousness of a beyond. With this consciousness come new impulses and desires. These in turn give rise to memory. The organism learns to discriminate between the old and the new, the desirable and the undesirable. Pleasure and pain, with their concomitants, good and evil, come into being. The creature now has a purpose, the maintenance of the good the established ; the avoidance of the evil the inexperienced.
Mr. Bernard found as characteristic of the structural unit a high degree of plasticity, rendering it most sensitive to outward influences, and also great activity which gave it more and more profound perception into the nature of the environment. While the survival of the organism was contingent upon the concentration of its powers of reaction and response, its involutionary growth came through an active storming of the environment. Hence in his potentiality for the mastery of a progressively widening environment lies the foundation of the higher life for man. But when we stop to think that with the actual conquest of the environment goes an equilibration that lowers the vitality of the organism, the solution is not so simple as it would appear. Harmonious adjustment, a sense of peace, may mean death,not an enlarged, uplifting unification.
As all progress for the non-moral creature has been occasioned by a certain lack of adjustment between the internal and external conditions, likewise all progress for the moral one must come through suffering. " Deep tragedy," said Napoleon, " is the school of great men." Bitter failure and cruel disappointment; sorrow and death; ay, these are movements into an unexplored space ! And if such are not vouchsafed us as individuals, we have to attain them through others hence the significance of love for the unfolding of personality. And it is clear that the greater the number of elements which enter into one's personal equation, the more difficult will be the solution.
It is a matter of common observation that the growth of the higher perceptive faculty is strangely concomitant with adversity. The intuitive person is a person who has suffered. When conditions press sufficiently hard, a new table of distribution may be the only means for survival. Thus we proceed to make a virtue of necessity and so come to the recognition of other values which we denominate spiritual because we have not as yet spatialised them. The caterpillar has to mount the twig to find the tender green that is his food, but he is solaced for the journey by thinking himself a creature of the light. Mr. Carpenter, in an interesting study of what he calls
Intermediate Types, shows that the seers and spiritually minded came to be such because they found them-selves differing in some wise from their fellows, and dwelling on that difference, had their minds turned inward. Progress in thought and imagination naturally followed, with the result that these were lifted above the majority and attained thereby to larger vision.
Only in the height and depth of the soul's experience is to be found the spiritual reach, the fourth dimension for which we seek.
" So fear not grief, fear not anguish, thou,
" TO KNOW RATHER CONSISTS IN OPENING OUT A WAY WHENCE THE IMPRISONED SPLENDOUR MAY ESCAPE, THAN IN EFFECTING ENTRY FOR A LIGHT SUPPOSED TO BE WITHOUT. THEREFORE, SET FREE THE SOUL ALIKE IN ALL, DISCOVERING THE TRUE LAWS BY WHICH THE FLESH ACCLOYS THE SPIRIT! "
In view of recent investigation, one may safely assert that the logic of philosophy has a mathematical basis, but to suggest that the Hegelian dialectic admits of geometrical demonstration is venturing far into the borderland of the bizarre.
However, I believe to have discovered therein a four-dimensional solution of life's problems. For our three-way vision, reality is divided into two parts. Now it is the one that seems illusion, now the other, as the light chances to fall. The human mind has laboured in vain with the problem of opposites for the very want of the higher synthesis afforded by the four-dimension concept. And so it has gone on from century to century alternating between monism and dualism according as it saw fit to sacrifice opposition to unity or unity to opposition.
But Hegelianism rejects neither; rather does it preserve both in the synthesis of a third. Unity for it is a matter of congruence such as we have in plane geometry when two triangles which are alike except for a reverse order of parts are brought into coincidence. Wherever we find symmetry of structure, there is a dualism of opposites and symmetry is, as we have seen, a fourth-dimensional phenomenon. Is not the turning of an object into its mirror image a coincidence of opposites? Yet such a rotation about a plane in the fourth dimension is the mere analogue of the rotation in our three-dimensional space about a line.
When we have learned to think those states of consciousness that we denominate love, hatred, joy, sorrow, and so forth, in terms of space, we shall know to harmonise them. Though the opposites are opposed to each other, out of their congruence comes that unity which is reality. The process whereby the congruence is effected constitutes development life as we know it. This raising of consciousness to a higher power here designated involution Hegel, with a seeming prescience of its geometrical nature, called " overcoming."
The objection sometimes urged that the " concrete universal " is not a pure logical concept for the reason that it involves a sense element, goes to confirm the hypothesis of its spatial dependence. But the ideal form of reality holds here as in all of our thinking, inasmuch as the identical process does not admit of coincidence in a figure chosen at random ; it re-quires the one at right angles to the plane of being. The Absolute as thus represented is no indifference of subject and object. Here is a logical form which is the form of the real in its integrity.
In the two processes of evolution and involution as they affect our lives we have all true opposites con-fronting each other, as it were, in phalanxes. The dialectic is our only spiritual hope in the strife of these opposing forces. In such logical doctrine alone do we find a one that is not beyond the many; but that is the many.