THEOSOPHY, Vol. 27, No. 11, September, 1939 (Pages 492-495; Size: 12K)
THE SILENT PARTNER
WHAT are the enduring factors in the evolution of Nature and of all natures?
Many indeed are the answers given and accepted, but none can be regarded as satisfactory because none of them explains or ever can explain the mysteries of being. Beneath the authoritative finalities of theological dogma one can easily perceive that the priest in the pulpit is no more at home than the parishioners in the pews. Hence the constant succession of sects, the ever-shifting congregations of believers in some revealer and his revelation.
Perhaps in this universally evident fact lies the first of the keys -- the key of Paradox or duality. Observe, say, the Determinism of the mechanistic thinkers of every age, the Will of a God or Gods of the religious-minded, or the Free-Will of man as wrestled with by the philosophers. The fact that three such antipathetic and fundamentally irreconcilable views of evolution as these persist in the face of the same phenomena of human existence should show the adherents of each of these three systems that there is something lacking in them all -- which in the end forces each to vacate or repair his premises of thought. When we trace the growth of the tree of knowledge in any leader or follower it will be found that the trunk of each system is rooted in the other two. The Materialist of today was the Theologian of yesterday, is striving with all his mental might in the direction of the Philosopher of tomorrow, even though he knows it not. All three of the main streams of thought trace back to a common source -- Mind in different states or stages of unfoldment.
This common source is not perceived, cannot be perceived, by those whose voyage is still outward bound. Whatever the current on which anyone is embarked, he has to reverse the direction of his thought if he would ever find the source, the point of departure. Religion, Science, Philosophy, stand to each other in the psychological world as solid, liquid, gas, stand to each other in the physical universe. In both extremes what is actually perceived and assumed to be the "reality" is merely "phenomenal." In both worlds they do but represent states -- states continually in process of transformation, the one into the other. These transformations are produced or induced in an unending and unbroken sequence. "Law," or "Karma," or "God," are all attempts to picture to oneself or another the invisible counterpart of visible changes -- the presence of a Principle that is infinite and invariable in the midst of the finite and the transitory.
This Principle of Continuity is what is to be sought for, in oneself and in all that we perceive and in which we participate. The search at once removes the power of perception from the contemplation of the phenomena of the physical world -- if one is a Materialist. Equally it transfers the same power in the religious man from the phenomena which in their totality constitute the psychological universe. And likewise the mind of the philosopher is by the same inquiry transported from the consideration of the phenomenal self to the contemplation of the possible nature of the Self which is aware of the enduring in the midst of the evanescent. In either case the actual resultant is that the Mind in man becomes the object of attention, where hitherto it has been employed as if it were itself the subject. Those who have experienced this essay, this flight of the Self or Soul from the "gravitational field" of religion, science, philosophy -- these need no proof or evidence of the sublime Verity of which all human utterance is but the echo.
Few extricate their thoughts from the antennae of the senses so as to ask themselves, What is the actual nature of this world in which I live and in which my mind is the prisoner of its impressions? Here and there, in the career of the greatest of the materialistic scientists, their own recorded statements show them interrupted in their habitual pursuit, unconsciously to themselves, to the point where they could but ask themselves questions that all their knowledge of the world of physical phenomena could only obtrude, not answer. Thus thrust alive out of their world of life, these great scientists became for the moment "as a little child." One has but to read, say, the occasional truly autobiographical utterances of such men as Spencer, Huxley, Tyndall, of the generation immediately preceding our own, or of Bertrand Russell, Julian Huxley, Jeans, Bohr, Einstein, Millikan and many, many other shining lights of the science of today. One and all, though their whole consciousness is centered in "science" as they travel its crystal mazes, they find themselves ever and anon forced to recognize, if but for an instant, that all their facts and all their hard-earned knowledge, all their speculative energies, have merely multiplied the already more than encompassing labyrinths of thought. Each has glimpsed at furthest end only a cul-de-sac for the future as for the past. Who could sanely hope to live a purposive existence in an aimless world? Who can doubt that the world of Materialism is confessedly a meaningless world?
It is so, because the senses afford no spectral glimpse of anything but objects -- objects which afford no clue to their entrance or their exit. This word "objects" is itself but a name for the mass of sense-impressions. Thrust for a moment outside and beyond the periphery of the senses, the scientist is hopelessly homeless on the plains of space. He has no longer any orbit of thought. Like a child, he hastens to resume the only relation, the only round of action with which he is familiar. Yet in that perilous instant when, out of one world, he might enter another, it is possible for anyone to take note that the synthetic value of all sense-impressions is, simply, resident in non-sense perception. There is no physical world, no chemical, electrical, inorganic or organic world, no world of atoms, protons, neutrons, what not. These in their turn are but mere words, mere names for reflections in the labyrinth of mind from the crystal mirrors of the five senses. The Mind is a non-sense world in itself, as the world of sense-impressions is in itself devoid of substantiality. The "three-dimensional" world is not a sense-world. The senses offer evidence only of a formless or of a two-dimensional universe. They testify to nothing but the actuality of a certain mode of perception which includes the appearance, presence, disappearance and reappearance of dimensions in a dimensionless space.
Matter, force, energy, are terms by means of which we endeavor to translate and transform sense-impressions into mental perceptions of such a nature as to enable us to re-create the world of sense-objects. We are doing this all the time subjectively, i.e., mentally, using what we call memory, imagination, thought, the world of inner "objects" -- doing it with such intensity of absorption that we utterly fail to observe the correlative nature of Mind and Sense. Thus we study neither for what it is, a mere "gravitational field" of self. Whether "objects" of sense or "subjects" of mind, self is the silent partner in both transactions -- a partner who makes of himself at best but a mere accountant, hoping some day to be "taken into the firm," instead of recognizing that he is in truth being "taken in" all the time by his own entries in his Life-Ledger. Just as in accounting, so in human existence -- every debit has its corresponding and correlative credit. Mind and sense are the double-entry records of one and the same items which in their totality constitute the business of life -- as we live it.
What applies to the sense-world applies equally to the psychological. If the sense-world is what so many imagine and believe it to be, the only tangible inventory of values, then any ideas apart from it must necessarily appear as intangibles, mere "good will" assets. If the world of psychic impressions is taken to be the "reality," then the testimony of the physical senses can only seem to be the evidence of false witnesses. Either position is an impossible one, as becomes clear from the fact that the attorneys of each are continually upsetting and being upset upon cross-examination.
The philosopher observes this as a silent partner in the outcome of the litigation, and so, concerns himself not only with the testimony, but with the "law in the case." This third attitude of mind enables him to see, in part at least, that the difficulty inheres in the opposing points of view, not in the "hard facts." Behind the phenomena of the senses and the mind are Mind and Sense themselves. Are these possible of examination, and if so, by what means?
To this question modern science no more affords an answer than does any of the religions, and the best of our philosophers find themselves in a formless universe as intangible to the psychic as to the physical senses. It is as if one were asleep and still awake; as though one were dead, yet alive. Like the materialist and the religionist, the would-be philosopher makes haste to retreat within the confines of one or the other of the orbits of human consciousness. Yet at least he has experienced the awe-inspiring fact that his consciousness is not contingent upon the phenomenal universe of either the senses or the mind.
Why does the materialist cling to the world of sense-perception, the spiritualist to the psychic, the philosopher to both? Why do not all alike recognize that self is the silent partner in every subject and object? This is the great Paradox of human existence, that men fear to face Life as each knows that he must in the end face Death; that so few men will to live naked, as they know that they were born and as they know they will die. Yet every man has in him the capacity for self-knowledge by virtue of the fact that he is self-conscious. Each is capable of the refinement of his power of perception till he sees and knows for himself that he is the silent partner of all humanity, Humanity itself with all the other Kingdoms in Nature. There is no detriment or loss in this pursuit, no sense of separateness or isolation. The illusions of mind and sense dissolve and disappear -- disappear as Darkness disappears on the coming of the Light. The Divine SELF is recognized as the Silent Partner in human life, and the uttered words of all the sages and saviors of the race are heard for what they are -- The Voice of the Silence.
"In those for whom knowledge of the true Self has dispersed ignorance, the Supreme as if lighted by the sun, is revealed."
Things Common to Christianity and Theosophy