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{Life within Life}


Let not the merely seeming irreverence of this idea frighten our souls from that cool exercise of consciousness – from that deep tranquillity of selfinspection – through which alone we can hope to attain the presence of this, the most sublime of truths, and look it leisurely in the face.

The phænomena on which our conclusions must at this point depend, are merely spiritual shadows, but not the less thoroughly substantial.

We walk about, amid the destinies of our worldexistence, encompassed by dim but ever present Memories of a Destiny more vast – very distant in the bygone time, and infinitely awful.

We live out a Youth peculiarly haunted by such dreams; yet never mistaking them for dreams. As Memories we know them. During our Youth the distinction is too clear to deceive us even for a moment.

So long as this Youth endures, the feeling that we exist, is the most natural of all feelings. We understand it thoroughly. That there was a period at which we did not exist – or, that it might so have happened that we never had existed at all – are the considerations, indeed, which during this youth, we find difficulty in understanding. Why we should not exist, is, up to the epoch of our Manhood, of all queries the most unanswerable. Existence – selfexistence – existence from all Time and to all Eternity – seems, up to the epoch of Manhood, a normal and unquestionable condition: – seems, because it is.

But now comes the period at which a conventional World-Reason awakens us from the truth of our dream. Doubt, Surprise and Incomprehensibility arrive at the same moment. They say: – »You live and the time was when you lived not. You have been created. An Intelligence exists greater than your own; and it is only through this Intelligence you live at all.« These things we struggle to comprehend and cannot: – cannot, because these things, being untrue, are thus, of necessity, incomprehensible.

No thinking being lives who, at some luminous point of his life of thought, has not felt himself lost amid the surges of futile efforts at understanding, or believing, that anything exists greater than his own soul. The utter impossibility of any one's soul feeling itself inferior to another; the intense, overwhelming dissatisfaction and rebellion at the thought; – these, with the omniprevalent aspirations at perfection, are but the spiritual, coincident with the material, struggles towards the original Unity – are, to my mind at least, a species of proof far surpassing what Man terms demonstration, that no one soul is inferior to another – that nothing is, or can be, superior to any one soul – that each soul is, in part, its own God – its own Creator: – in a word, that God – the material and spiritual God – now exists solely in the diffused Matter and Spirit of the Universe; and that the regathering of this diffused Matter and Spirit will be but the re-constitution of the purely Spiritual and Individual God.

In this view, and in this view alone, we comprehend the riddles of Divine Injustice – of Inexorable Fate. In this view alone the existence of Evil becomes intelligible; but in this view it becomes more – it becomes endurable. Our souls no longer rebel at a Sorrow which we ourselves have imposed upon ourselves, in furtherance of our own purposes – with a view – if even with a futile view – to the extension of our own Joy.

I have spoken of Memories that haunt us during our youth. They sometimes pursue us even in our Manhood: – assume gradually less and less indefinite shapes: – now and then speak to us with low voices, saying:

»There was an epoch in the Night of Time, when a still-existent Being existed – one of an absolutely infinite number of similar Beings that people the absolutely infinite domains of the absolutely infinite space.«11 It was not and is not in the power of this Being – any more than it is in your own – to extend, by actual increase, the joy of his Existence; but just as it is in your power to expand or to concentrate your pleasures (the absolute amount of happiness remaining always the same) so did and does a similar capability appertain to this Divine Being, who thus passes his Eternity in perpetual variation of Concentrated Self and almost Infinite Self-Diffusion. What you call The Universe is but his present expansive existence. He now feels his life through an infinity of imperfect pleasures – the partial and pain-intertangled pleasures of those inconceivably numerous things which you designate as his creatures, but which are really but infinite individualizations of Himself. All these creatures – all – those which you term animate, as well as those to whom you deny life for no better reason than that you do not behold it in operation – all these creatures have, in a greater or less degree, a capacity for pleasure and for pain: – but the general sum of their sensations is precisely that amount of Happiness which appertains by right to the Divine Being when concentrated within Himself. These creatures are all too, more or less conscious Intelligences; conscious, first, of a proper identity; conscious, secondly and by faint indeterminate glimpses, of an identity with the Divine Being of whom we speak – of an identity with God. Of the two classes of consciousness, fancy that the former will grow weaker, the latter stronger, during the long succession of ages which must elapse before these myriads of individual Intelligences become blended – when the bright stars become blended – into One. Think that the sense of individual identity will be gradually merged in the general consciousness – that Man, for example, ceasing imperceptibly to feel himself Man, will at length attain that awfully triumphant epoch when he shall recognize his existence as that of Jehovah. In the meantime bear in mind that all is Life – Life – Life within Life – the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine.

 

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11 See page 276, Paragraph commencing »I reply that the right,« and ending »proper and particular God.«

 


 &c; textlog.de 2004 • 16.12.2017 13:49:20 •
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