The Spirit of Man
Maybe I am all wrong about it, yet I cannot help believing that the
spirit of man will live again in a better world than ours. Fenelon says:
"Justice demands another life to make good the inequalities of this."
Astronomers prophesy the existence of stars long before they can see
them. They know where they ought to be, and training their telescopes in
that direction they wait, knowing they shall find them.
Materially, no one can imagine anything more beautiful than this earth,
for the simple reason that we cannot imagine anything we have not seen;
we may make new combinations, but the whole is made up of parts of
things with which we are familiar. This great green earth out of which
we have sprung, of which we are a part, that supports our bodies which
must return to it to repay the loan, is very, very beautiful.
But the spirit of man is not fully at home here; as we grow in soul and
intellect, we hear, and hear again, a voice which says: "Arise and get
thee hence, for this is not thy rest." And the greater and nobler and
more sublime the spirit, the more constant is the discontent. Discontent
may come from various causes, so it will not do to assume that the
discontented ones are always the pure in heart, but it is a fact that
the wise and excellent have all known the meaning of world-weariness.
The more you study and appreciate this life, the more sure you are that
this is not all. You pillow your head upon Mother Earth, listen to her
heart-throb, and even as your spirit is filled with the love of her,
your gladness is half pain and there comes to you a joy that hurts. To
look upon the most exalted forms of beauty, such as sunset at sea, the
coming of a storm on the prairie, or the sublime majesty of the
mountains, begets a sense of sadness, an increasing loneliness. It is
not enough to say that man encroaches on man so that we are really
deprived of our freedom, that civilization is caused by a bacillus, and
that from a natural condition we have gotten into a hurly-burly where
rivalry is rife--all this may be true, but beyond and outside of all
this there is no physical environment in way of plenty which earth can
supply, that will give the tired soul peace. They are the happiest who
have the least; and the fable of the stricken king and the shirtless
beggar contains the germ of truth. The wise hold all earthly ties very
lightly--they are stripping for eternity.
World-weariness is only a desire for a better spiritual condition. There
is more to be written on this subject of world-pain--to exhaust the
theme would require a book. And certain it is that I have no wish to say
the final word on any topic. The gentle reader has certain rights, and
among these is the privilege of summing up the case.
But the fact holds that world-pain is a form of desire. All desires are
just, proper and right; and their gratification is the means by which
nature supplies us that which we need.
Desire not only causes us to seek that which we need, but is a form of
attraction by which the good is brought to us, just as the amoebae
create a swirl in the waters that brings their food within reach.
Every desire in nature has a fixed and definite purpose in the Divine
Economy, and every desire has its proper gratification. If we desire the
close friendship of a certain person, it is because that person has
certain soul-qualities that we do not possess, and which complement
Through desire do we come into possession of our own; by submitting to
its beckonings we add cubits to our stature; and we also give out to
others our own attributes, without becoming poorer, for soul is not
limited. All nature is a symbol of spirit, and so I am forced to believe
that somewhere there must be a proper gratification for this mysterious
nostalgia of the soul.
The Valhalla of the Norseman, the Nirvana of the Hindu, the Heaven of
the Christian are natural hopes of beings whose cares and
disappointments here are softened by belief that somewhere, Thor, Brahma
or God gives compensation.
The Eternal Unities require a condition where men and women shall be
permitted to love and not to sorrow; where the tyranny of things hated
shall not prevail, nor that for which the heart yearns turn to ashes at