Universal Brotherhood – April 1898

LIFE'S PIONEERS — James M. Pryse

Having willed, he gave birth to us by a Logos of Truth, for us to be a sort of first-offering of his embodied beings. — James, 1.18.

It is a teaching archaic and true that all beings and all things are embodied souls, that there is nothing inanimate or dead, but that Life is vibrant in every minutest particle of the boundless whole; and that the soul of man, will-born of God in the World of the True, is Life's Pioneer in all worlds imaged in Space by the Thought Divine. Man is himself the Logos, the uttered Thought of God; he is the pattern of all things that come into existence, Life's messenger, the archetype of all Ideas, the model of all forms. This universe of palpitating Life, with all its ever-shifting states of joy and sorrow, its radiant heavens and its murky hells, is the sacrifice offered up by God unto himself; and Man is the first offering laid upon the altar. It is the tragedy of the Crucified, for Man is God sacrificed, himself unto himself; and without that sacrifice there could be no universe of existing things.

Thomas Taylor, whom Emerson calls "a Greek born out of time," in his "Creed of the Platonic Philosopher," has this article: "I believe that the human soul essentially contains all knowledge, and that whatever knowledge she acquires in the present life is nothing more than a recovery of what she once possessed, and which discipline evocates from its dormant retreats."

For he held with Platon that "when the winged powers of the soul are perfect and plumed for flight, she dwells on high, and in conjunction with divine natures governs the world," and that "it is the province of our soul to collect things into one by a reasoning process, and to possess a reminiscence of those trancendent spectacles which we once beheld when governing the universe in conjunction with divinity." It is only by using the free and unfettered power of thought that man can know Truth and return to the realm of true being. He who clings to some petty religious creed, and fears to investigate any fact in nature or to think out any problem of life, is not only cowardly, but lacking in faith. Religious "faith" is usually the worst form of unfaith, in that it fetters mind and soul, and by limiting man to the narrow confines of a formulated creed, practically denies his innate divinity, refuses him his true place as an instrument of God's will in fashioning the worlds, and arrests the inflow of ideas emanating from that infinite Mind which is the only source of inspiration and revelation. It is want of faith that causes men to wall themselves about with religious "beliefs" and execrate as a heretic every one who levels down as useless obstructions whatever limits freedom of thought or hinders the soul from exercising its divine powers. The world's saviours have therefore ever been accounted heretics. He who treads only the well-beaten paths, who accepts unquestioningly the religion inherited from his ancestors, needs neither faith nor courage; but the heretic, as a pioneer in thought-regions, must have faith and be fearless.

There was a time when men believed the earth was flat, and mariners dared not venture far from the coast for fear they might sail off into space. The world of Truth, in the current religious belief, is likewise flat, with a perilous rim projecting over a bottomless abyss. Now, Truth is God's own self, and no one ever found God save through seeking Truth. The interior mind, which is the real Self of man, mirrors the whole universe, and is as boundless as Deity. No man who bravely thinks for himself, exploring the vastness of his own inner being, can possibly go astray from Truth, for he is treading Truth's own realm. But this holds good only of one who thinks independently, relying solely upon the resources of his own supersensible consciousness; it does not hold true of one who merely reasons about the things perceived by the senses, or of the mere student of books who makes his mind a museum of thought-images, or of the religionist who feeds on the stale scraps of faith his forefathers have bequeathed him. Sorting out and rearranging other men's opinions is not thinking; nor will the mere investigation of the phenomena of existence ever lead to perception of the noumena of being. Only when a man has for the time closed the avenues of the senses, and has forgotten that there ever were any books or any religions, does he really begin to think, and devotion kindle his soul. Then out of the Eternal he draws Thought unto himself.

The interior mind should be kept unsullied by the things of sense. Of it the Sibylline Oracle says:

"Do not drag it down into this muddy world,
Into its deep gulfs, its sad and black kingdoms,
Sombre hideous hells, entirely peopled with phantoms."

The outer life of man has become degraded; the inner life has to be kept distinct from it to escape being polluted. The only home of the soul is the Eternal; in the world of change and time, it can have no fixed abiding place. All formal religions, rigid systems of philosophy, categorical statements of belief, and forms of organization, are necessarily impermanent; they are more often traps for the mind and prisons for the soul than anything else. At best they are but resting-places for feeble souls, for minds in which the divine light is dimmed by the smoke of desire. The fanaticism with which men cling to religious dogmas is born of weakness and blindness; and "orthodoxy" is a sort of soul-death. The soul requires the breath of freedom, and the price of mental freedom is perpetual heresy.

Still blinder is the devout adherence to particular forms of organization, as if there were something sacred about churches, societies, or schools. Form is subservient to Life, and must change constantly to be expressive of the varying phases of Life. Whether democratic or despotic, it will have its peculiar defects, and is never more than a temporary adaptation of conditions so as to reach a desired end; for every form of organization is arbitrary, and does not rest upon principles, but is of the nature of a compromise with principles necessitated by the conflict of individual interests and the discord of the whole. A perfected humanity would need no organization, for it would be like a living organism, having harmonious interaction among all its members. The Gods and Heroes are not elected to their positions, but hold them by divine right. In electing a ruler, men only try to select and put in his right place the man who by virtue of his abilities and qualifications naturally should be the ruler. In an age when men have lost the insight necessary for an unerring selection, they inevitably have to endure misrule; and the expedient of giving their rulers only short terms of office safeguards them to a small extent against their own lack of discernment, though it prevents their enjoying the wiser rule and broader freedom to be had under a "benevolent despot." If the spirit of justice and the love of liberty animate the breasts of the subjects and their ruler, the form of government is of small consequence. The measure of freedom is the ability to discern Truth; for only the Truth can make men free.

Universal Brotherhood