The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
In considering the underlying and causative principles governing the two factors that give power, the one, the "Reason," or the intellect, and the other, the sentiment that we call "Religion," we necessarily enter an unknown realm, for mind must study its causethe stream must rise to its fountain.
Therefore in order to study the causes underlying mental phenomena, we must reach out and inspire from the fountains of mind. We read that when Jesus was speaking to the people of his day who failed to understand the meaning of his words, he said to them, "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." (John viii. 47.) He here intimated the possibility of touching a sphere of mind lying beyond that which is normal to the human faculties. And, after all these centuries of the growth and the development of the race and of the influence of the Christian Religion, have we not a right to believe that there is a large body of men and women in the world that have incorporated within themselves a
quality of mind transcendently above the mere human mind, or, shall we say, the animal mind?
In view of these facts, we shall attempt to search into some of the fountains from which come those faculties ultiinating in what we term "Reason" and "Religion." Because the realm is an unexplored one and there are no ready-made terms in which to express the thought, we ask our readers to help us by studying themselves introspectively.
To begin with the investigation of the reasoning faculties: Why is it that you cannot always use these faculties with equal facility? There are times when, strive as you may to reason out a problem, the mind does not seem to be in tune for its work. Under such circumstances we ask you to turn within and carefully to seek the cause there. Do you not find that there is some disturbance of the vital-currents? Can you reason to advantage when there are inharmonies and combative conditions that you are compelled to meet? Combativeness and anger confuse the mind and prevent clear, logical reasoning. On the other hand, when surrounded by loving friends, kind thoughts, genial associations, your mind works freely and there is no trouble to reason clearly, positively, and correctly. Does not this at least suggest that there is something behind the phenomenon of what we call the reasoning mind? The sick man is not capable of deep reasoning. The man engaged in research and deep thought finds it necessary to keep the life-currents
the health and vigor of the bodyin the best condition in order to do his best work.
Another suggestive fact is, that intense concentration of thought and close reasoning, exhaust the body even more rapidly than physical labor. The thought seems to partake of and to use up the life of the body, suggesting that, in some way, mind is directly connected with life.
Let us inquire into how we think, not into the methods applied to bring thought into form, but into that which precedes, the means by which we approach those activities which produce the actual thought.
There is first a desire and a will to do, followed by the turning of the mind and the centralizing of it upon the subject that we wish to consider. The question here arises as to what is meant when we say that we have turned the mind to the consideration of a subject. Does it not mean that we have turned the consciousness in a given direction? and is not the life within us that which produces consciousness? What is this within the human organism that makes us conscious when there is no special interest, thought, or effort in any direction? This consciousness that we are seems to carry forward the beating of the heart, the circulating of the blood, the digesting of the food, and all the processes of life without any apparent effort or annoyance on our part. The child lives, grows, plays, and amuses itself while this something that we call
life is carrying on the work of building and developing the child into the man.
If, however, the slightest derangement occurs in the internal workings of the body, pain is the result, and the peace and joy in the consciousness of being is disturbed. As this consciousness controls the body in its work of self-building and self-maintenance in the child as well as the man, may it not be called vital-thought?
In the consideration of intuition, in the preceding chapter, we referred to the law in accordance with which we were brought into being, in accordance with which the life is gathered from God the Creative Source, ensphered and bound for the uses of the organism. Now this life has within itself all qualities. There is the life that organizes and forms the bird, the cat-life, that forms the cat, the horse-life, that forms the horseeach one of the different qualities of life forms an organism suitable for the expression of its own kind or quality. Even if we do not admit that God is the Creator of all things, we must admit that there is a fountain from which all creative-life springs and multiplies its kind. We know also that the study of living creatures shows that some live, grow, and are normal and happy under conditions which would be destructive to others, again showing the great variety in the quality of life. And whether these various forms of animate existence think or not, they certainly act in many respects as man acts
when he thinks. So that we cannot avoid the suggestion that the kind or quality of life is the kind of thought, desire, and consequently, action.
When we turn our attention to the human family, we recognize there also a great diversity of thought, desire, sympathy, and feature. No two men look alike nor do they think alike. It is a fact well understood in our courts that two or three men viewing the same scene, see it so differently that a disinterested person listening to their testimony cannot but feel that some one is perjuring himself. Apparently, two sets of factors come into action to produce this diversity of mind and consciousness:
First, the quality of life from which the thought is formed. Second, the beliefs of the person.
But, in reality, the quality of life, that is, the character of the consciousnessor vital-thought just definedis determined by the beliefs of the person according to his sphere of use; for the beliefs govern the inspirations which in turn give quality to the life. The plant gathers to itself the elements for use in its growth and preservation; but the human mind, being more highly developed, may gather as wide a diversity of qualities as it has diversity of desire, that is, it may gather any quality that it believes to be useful.
The consciousness of the individual, being an aggregate of qualities of universal consciousness, bound or ensphered for a purpose, for use, the individual is acting under a law which enables him
to gather within himself, ensphere as an added consciousness, the element of any vital-thought that he believes to be useful.
It is intimated in the early portion of this chapter, and we believe it is generally admitted, that the activities of the reasoning mind spring from this inner selfhood, that which we have termed the vital-thought. Why could not our ancestors in the early stages of the race reason so clearly as we of modern times? Were they not drawing and living from the same great fountains from which we live?Certainly they were, but experience had not matured more perfect brain organs, broader beliefs, and wider sympathies and desires. It has been well said by one of the ancients that "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
At this point we meet the coincidence of reason and religion. Can we divorce them? Are they not a dual manifestation of the same underlying principle?They are, most unquestionably. Religion has as a base love, desire. Reason is the phenomenon of love. The difference is that religion opens up the life toward its Cause, and reason directs life into the active phenomena of forming, or, better still, of being formed into images of which the sensory nerves of the brain take cognizance, when they become conscious thought. But the quality of the thought, as well as the quality of the love, depends upon the quality of the life, and all these depend upon the underlying phenomena
of the foundation belief. Why did Jesus the Christ hold so firmly and continuously before the people the importance of belief, and of right belief? Not only so, but he insisted upon the fact that belief without a doubt would give power to control physical nature around one. So extreme was his utterance as to claim that by the means of this belief mountains could be removed from their place. A careful investigator may experiment in the everyday walks of life upon this power of belief in its control of the inspirations of the person.
There are a people among us denominated Spiritualists. The major part of these people are the legitimate outcome of religious devotion on the part of their parents. Spiritualistic mediums are such by organic structure, which leads them to open up their life-centers to the psychic currents around them. In order to be mediums they must be perfectly passive to these influences. Now do not say that mediums are frauds. It is true that some of them are, but many of them are working with forces of which they have no understanding.
If you wish to experiment in this direction, sit before a medium and call into activity some point of belief that is latent within you. The medium will probably go into a trance, bring up the subject most active in your mind and begin to ingather and present evidences of the truth of that in which you believe. It matters not whether it is true or not, the medium will inspire, formulate and give
you evidences of its truth. Have you not observed the fact that the more a man thinks on a subject of his belief, the more firmly convinced is he of its truth, so that nothing short of the most absolute proof can shake his confidence? Usually this proof must be so overwhelming as to carry conviction to every sense of his entire nature.
Because of this law governing human mind and consciousness, religion should be based upon the conclusions of the clearest reason, in which case belief, the principle underlying the two, will be correctnot specific belief, but belief in its relation to general principles. But to be sure of reliable conclusions, reason must be able to command reliable premises. For what to the world have been the centuries of scientific investigation, the vast resources spent in scientific appliances, if not to discover facts and laws upon which Reason may base correct conclusions? Thus giving Reason and Religion the sure foundation of correct beliefs upon which to rest. Truly, he who neglects to improve the wealth of opportunity, born of such labor and expenditure of means, is remiss in the duty he owes to himself and to his fellow men.
Because of the enlightenment of the race, Reason and Religion must hereafter go forth hand in hand, must stand bosom to bosom, as most lovingly devoted counterparts.
Religion is the outflowing, the opening up, of the love toward an object which is believed to be the
most desirable, and when man has learned intelligently to open the soul toward its Cause, he will then find the fountains of all knowledge. And he has that in him which enables him to draw ininspireand cause to act upon the sensorium of his brain the very essence of all there is. When the fundamental principle of belief is properly laid, then the reasoning brain will take these essences and form them into images, and these images will become living-stones in the construction of that temple of knowledge in which will dwell God, formed as the immortal soul, and manthe knowing intelligence.