Besides, there are many good reasons why the study of magic, except in its broad philosophy, is nearly impracticable in Europe and America. Magic being what it is, the most difficult of all sciences to learn experimentally — its acquisition is practically beyond the reach of the majority of white-skinned people; and that, whether their effort is made at home or in the East. Probably not more than one man in a million of European blood is fitted — either physically, morally, or psychologically — to become a practical magician, and not one in ten millions would be found endowed with all these three qualifications as required for the work. Civilized nations lack the phenomenal powers of endurance, both mental and physical, of the Easterns; the favoring temperamental idiosyncrasies of the Orientals are utterly wanting in them. In the Hindu, the Arabian, the Thibetan, an intuitive perception of the possibilities of occult natural forces in subjection to human will, comes by inheritance; and in them, the physical senses as well as the spiritual are far more finely developed than in the Western races. Notwithstanding the notable difference of thickness between the skulls of a European and a Southern Hindu, this difference, being a purely climatic result, due to the intensity of the sun's rays, involves no psychological principles. Furthermore, there would be tremendous difficulties in the way of training, if we can so express it. Contaminated by centuries of dogmatic superstition, by an ineradicable — though quite unwarranted — sense of superiority over those whom the English term so contemptuously "niggers," the white European would hardly submit himself to the practical tuition of either Kopt, Brahman, or Lama. To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic — most imperative of mistresses — brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulai without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry.
Those best prepared to appreciate occultism are the spiritualists, although, through prejudice, until now they have been the bitterest opponents to its introduction to public notice. Despite all foolish negations and denunciations, their phenomena are real. Despite, also, their own assertions they are wholly misunderstood by themselves. The totally insufficient theory of the constant agency of disembodied human spirits in their production has been the bane of the Cause. A thousand mortifying rebuffs have failed to open their reason or intuition to the truth. Ignoring the teachings of the past, they have discovered no substitute. We offer them philosophical deduction instead of unverifiable hypothesis, scientific analysis and demonstration instead of undiscriminating faith. Occult philosophy gives them the means of meeting the reasonable requirements of science, and frees them from the humiliating necessity to accept the oracular teachings of "intelligences," which as a rule have less intelligence than a child at school. So based and so strengthened, modern phenomena would be in a position to command the attention and enforce the respect of those who carry with them public opinion. Without invoking such help, spiritualism must continue to vegetate, equally repulsed — not without cause — both by scientists and theologians. In its modern aspect, it is neither a science, a religion, nor a philosophy.
Are we unjust; does any intelligent spiritualist complain that we have misstated the case? To what can he point us but to a confusion of theories, a tangle of hypotheses mutually contradictory? Can he affirm that spiritualism, even with its thirty years of phenomena, has any defensible philosophy; nay, that there is anything like an established method that is generally accepted and followed by its recognized representatives?
And yet, there are many thoughtful, scholarly, earnest writers among the spiritualists, scattered the world over. There are men who, in addition to a scientific mental training and a reasoned faith in the phenomena per se, possess all the requisites of leaders of the movement. How is it then, that, except throwing off an isolated volume or so, or occasional contributions to journalism, they all refrain from taking any active part in the formation of a system of philosophy? This is from no lack of moral courage, as their writings well show. Nor because of indifference, for enthusiasm abounds, and they are sure of their facts. Nor is it from lack of capacity, because many are men of mark, the peers of our best minds. It is simply for the reason that, almost without exception, they are bewildered by the contradictions they encounter, and wait for their tentative hypotheses to be verified by further experience. Doubtless this is the part of wisdom. It is that adopted by Newton, who, with the heroism of an honest, unselfish heart, withheld for seventeen years the promulgation of his theory of gravitation, only because he had not verified it to his own satisfaction.
Spiritualism, whose aspect is rather that of aggression than of defense, has tended toward iconoclasm, and so far has done well. But, in pulling down, it does not rebuild. Every really substantial truth it erects is soon buried under an avalanche of chimeras, until all are in one confused ruin. At every step of advance, at the acquisition of every new vantage-ground of FACT, some cataclysm, either in the shape of fraud and exposure, or of premeditated treachery, occurs, and throws the spiritualists back powerless because they cannot and their invisible friends will not (or perchance can, less than themselves) make good their claims. Their fatal weakness is that they have but one theory to offer in explanation of their challenged facts — the agency of human disembodied spirits, and the medium's complete subjection to them. They will attack those who differ in views with them with a vehemence only warranted by a better cause; they will regard every argument contradicting their theory as an imputation upon their common sense and powers of observation; and they will positively refuse even to argue the question.
How, then, can spiritualism be ever elevated to the distinction of a science? This, as Professor Tyndall shows, includes three absolutely necessary elements: observation of facts; induction of laws from these facts; and verification of those laws by constant practical experience. What experienced observer will maintain that spiritualism presents either one of these three elements? The medium is not uniformly surrounded by such test conditions that we may be sure of the facts; the inductions from the supposed facts are unwarranted in the absence of such verification; and, as a corollary, there has been no sufficient verification of those hypotheses by experience. In short, the prime element of accuracy has, as a rule, been lacking.
That we may not be charged with desire to misrepresent the position of spiritualism, at the date of this present writing, or accused of withholding credit for advances actually made, we will cite a few passages from the London Spiritualist of March 2, 1877. At the fortnightly meeting, held February 19, a debate occurred upon the subject of "Ancient Thought and Modern Spiritualism." Some of the most intelligent Spiritualists of England participated. Among these was Mr. W. Stainton Moses, M. A., who has recently given some attention to the relation between ancient and modern phenomena. He said: "Popular spiritualism is not scientific; it does very little in the way of scientific verification. Moreover, exoteric spiritualism is, to a large extent, devoted to presumed communion with personal friends, or to the gratification of curiosity, or the mere evolution of marvels. . . . The truly esoteric science of spiritualism is very rare, and not more rare than valuable. To it we must look to the origination of knowledge which may be developed exoterically. . . . We proceed too much on the lines of the physicists; our tests are crude, and often illusory; we know too little of the Protean power of spirit. Here the ancients were far ahead of us, and can teach us much. We have not introduced any certainty into the conditions — a necessary prerequisite for true scientific experiment. This is largely owing to the fact that our circles are constructed on no principle. . . . We have not even mastered the elementary truths which the ancients knew and acted on, e.g., the isolation of mediums. We have been so occupied with wonder-hunting that we have hardly tabulated the phenomena, or propounded one theory to account for the production of the simplest of them. . . . We have never faced the question: What is the intelligence? This is the great blot, the most frequent source of error, and here we might learn with advantage from the ancients. There is the strongest disinclination among spiritualists to admit the possibility of the truth of occultism. In this respect they are as hard to convince as is the outer world of spiritualism. Spiritualists start with a fallacy, viz.: that all phenomena are caused by the action of departed human spirits; they have not looked into the powers of the human spirit; they do not know the extent to which spirit acts, how far it reaches, what it underlies."
Our position could not be better defined. If Spiritualism has a future, it is in the keeping of such men as Mr. Stainton Moses.
Our work is done — would that it were better done! But, despite our inexperience in the art of book-making, and the serious difficulty of writing in a foreign tongue, we hope we have succeeded in saying some things that will remain in the minds of the thoughtful. The enemies of truth have been all counted, and all passed in review. Modern science, powerless to satisfy the aspirations of the race, makes the future a void, and bereaves man of hope. In one sense, it is like the Baital Pachisi, the Hindu vampire of popular fancy, which lives in dead bodies, and feeds but on the rottenness of matter. The theology of Christendom has been rubbed threadbare by the most serious minds of the day. It is found to be, on the whole, subversive, rather than promotive of spirituality and good morals. Instead of expounding the rules of divine law and justice, it teaches but itself. In place of an ever-living Deity, it preaches the Evil One, and makes him indistinguishable from God Himself! "Lead us not into temptation" is the aspiration of Christians. Who, then, is the tempter? Satan? No; the prayer is not addressed to him. It is that tutelar genius who hardened the heart of Pharaoh, put an evil spirit into Saul, sent lying messengers to the prophets, and tempted David to sin; it is — the Bible-God of Israel!
Our examination of the multitudinous religious faiths that mankind, early and late, have professed, most assuredly indicates that they have all been derived from one primitive source. It would seem as if they were all but different modes of expressing the yearning of the imprisoned human soul for intercourse with supernal spheres. As the white ray of light is decomposed by the prism into the various colors of the solar spectrum, so the beam of divine truth, in passing through the three-sided prism of man's nature, has been broken up into vari-colored fragments called Religions. And, as the rays of the spectrum, by imperceptible shadings, merge into each other, so the great theologies that have appeared at different degrees of divergence from the original source, have been connected by minor schisms, schools, and off-shoots from the one side or the other. Combined, their aggregate represents one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of human error and the signs of imperfection. The worship of the Vedic pitris is fast becoming the worship of the spiritual portion of mankind. It but needs the right perception of things objective to finally discover that the only world of reality is the subjective.
What has been contemptuously termed Paganism, was ancient wisdom replete with Deity; and Judaism and its offspring, Christianity and Islamism, derived whatever of inspiration they contained from this ethnic parent. Pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism are the double source from which all religions sprung; Nirvana is the ocean to which all tend.
For the purposes of a philosophical analysis, we need not take account of the enormities which have blackened the record of many of the world's religions. True faith is the embodiment of divine charity; those who minister at its altars, are but human. As we turn the blood-stained pages of ecclesiastical history, we find that, whoever may have been the hero, and whatever costumes the actors may have worn, the plot of the tragedy has ever been the same. But the Eternal Night was in and behind all, and we pass from what we see to that which is invisible to the eye of sense. Our fervent wish has been to show true souls how they may lift aside the curtain, and, in the brightness of that Night made Day, look with undazzled gaze upon the Unveiled Truth.
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