Chapter 3

W e come now to consider the mental apparatus which is at the disposal of
the self: to ask what it can tell us of the method by which she may escape
from the prison of the sense-world, transcend its rhythm, and attain
knowledge of—or conscious contact with—a supra-sensible Reality. We have
seen the normal self shut within that prison, and making, by the help of
science and of philosophy, a survey of the premises and furniture: testing
the thickness of the walls and speculating on the possibility of trustworthy
news from without penetrating to her cell. Shut with her in that cell, two
forces, the desire to know more and the desire to love more, are ceaselessly
at work. Where the first of these cravings predominates, we call the result
a philosophical or a scientific temperament; where it is overpowered by the
ardour of unsatisfied love, the self’s reaction upon things becomes poetic,
artistic, and characteristically—though not always explicitly—religious.

We have seen further that a certain number of persons declare that they have
escaped from the prison. Have they done so, it can only be in order to
satisfy these two hungry desires, for these, and these only, make that a
prison which might otherwise be a comfortable hotel; and since, in varying
degrees, these desires are in all of us, active or latent, it is clearly
worth while to discover, if we can, the weak point in the walls, and method
of achieving this one possible way of escape.

Before we try to define in psychological language the way in which the
mystic slips the fetters of sense, sets out upon his journey towards home,
it seems well to examine the machinery which is at the disposal of the
normal, conscious self: the creature, or part of a creature, which we
recognize as “ourselves.” The older psychologists were accustomed to say
that the messages from the outer world awaken in that self three main forms
of activity. (1) They arouse movements of attraction or repulsion, of desire
or distaste; which vary in intensity from the semi-conscious cravings of the
hungry infant to the passions of the lover, artist, or fanatic. (2) They
stimulate a sort of digestive process, in which she combines and cogitates
upon the material presented to her; finally absorbing a certain number of
the resulting concepts and making them part of herself or of her world, (3)
The movements of desire, or the action of reason, or both in varying
combinations, awaken in her a determination by which percept and concept
issue in action; bodily, mental, or spiritual. Hence, the main aspects of
the self were classified as Emotion, Intellect, and Will: and the individual
temperament was regarded as emotional, intellectual, or volitional,
according to whether feeling, thought, or will assumed the reins.

Modern psychologists have moved away from this diagrammatic conception, and
incline more and more to dwell upon the unity of the psyche—that
hypothetical self which none have ever seen—and on some aspect of its
energetic desire, its libido, or “hormic drive” as the ruling factor of its
life. These conceptions are useful to the student of mysticism, though they
cannot be accepted uncritically or regarded as complete.

Now the unsatisfied psyche in her emotional aspect wants, as we have said,
to love more; her curious intellect wants to know more. The awakened human
creature suspects that both appetites are being kept on a low diet; that
there really is more to love, and more to know, somewhere in the mysterious
world without, and further that its powers of affection and understanding
are worthy of some greater and more durable objective than that provided by
the illusions of sense. Urged therefore by the cravings of feeling or of
thought, consciousness is always trying to run out to the encounter of the
Absolute, and always being forced to return. The neat philosophical system,
the diagrams of science, the “sunset-touch,” are tried in turn. Art and
life, the accidents of our humanity, may foster an emotional outlook; till
the moment in which the neglected intellect arises and pronounces such an
outlook to have no validity. Metaphysics and science seem to offer to the
intellect an open window towards truth; till the heart looks out and
declares this landscape to be a chill desert in which she can find no
nourishment. These diverse aspects of things must be either fused or
transcended if the whole self is to be satisfied; for the reality which she
seeks has got to meet both claims and pay in full.

When Dionysius the Areopagite divided those angels who stand nearest God
into the Seraphs who are aflame with perfect love, and the Cherubs who are
filled with perfect knowledge, he only gave expression to the two most
intense aspirations of the human soul, and described under an image the
two-fold condition of that Beatific Vision which is her goal. [57]

There is a sense in which it may be said, that the desire of knowledge is a
part of the desire of perfect love: since one aspect of that all inclusive
passion is clearly a longing to know, in the deepest, fullest, closest
sense, the thing adored. Love’s characteristic activity—for Love, all wings,
is inherently active, and “cannot be lazy,” as the mystics say—is a quest,
an outgoing towards an object desired, which only when possessed will be
fully known, and only when fully known can be perfectly adored. [58]
Intimate communion, no less than worship, is of its essence. Joyous fruition
is its proper end. This is true of all Love’s quests, whether the Beloved be
human or divine—the bride, the Grail, the Mystic Rose, the Plenitude of God.
But there is no sense in which it can be said that the desire of love is
merely a part of the desire of perfect knowledge: for that strictly
intellectual ambition includes no adoration, no self-spending, no
reciprocity of feeling between Knower and Known. Mere knowledge, taken
alone, is a matter of receiving, not of acting: of eyes, not wings: a dead
alive business at the best. There is thus a sharp distinction to be drawn
between these two great expressions of life: the energetic love, the passive
knowledge. One is related to the eager, outgoing activity, the dynamic
impulse to do somewhat, physical, mental, or spiritual, which is inherent in
all living things and which psychologists call conation: the other to the
indwelling consciousness, the passive knowing somewhat, which they call

Now “conation” is almost wholly the business of will, but of will stimulated
by emotion: for wilful action of every kind, however intellectual it may
seem, is always the result of interest, and interest involves feeling. We
act because we feel we want to; feel we must. Whether the inspiring force be
a mere preference or an overwhelming urge, our impulse to “do” is a
synthesis of determination and desire. All man’s achievements are the result
of conation, never of mere thought. “The intellect by itself moves
nothing,” said Aristotle, and modern psychology has but affirmed this law.
Hence his quest of Reality is never caused, though it may be greatly
assisted, by the intellectual aspect of his consciousness; for the reasoning
powers as such have little initiative. Their province is analytic, not
exploratory. They stay at home, dissecting and arranging matter that comes
to hand; and do not adventure beyond their own region in search of food.
Thought does not penetrate far into an object in which the self feels no
interest— i.e. , towards which she does not experience a “conative” movement
of attraction, of desire—for interest is the only method known to us of
arousing the will, and securing the fixity of attention necessary to any
intellectual process. None think for long about anything for which they do
not care; that is to say, which does not touch some aspect of their
emotional life. They may hate it, love it, fear it, want it; but they must
have some feeling about it. Feeling is the tentacle we stretch out to the
world of things.

Here the lesson of psychology is the same as that which Dante brought back
from his pilgrimage; the supreme importance and harmonious movement of il
desiro and il velle. Si come rota ch’egualmente è mossa , [59] these move
together to fulfil the Cosmic Plan. In all human life, in so far as it is
not merely a condition of passive “awareness,” the law which he found
implicit in the universe is the law of the individual mind. Not logic, not
“common sense,”but l’amor che move il sole e le altre stelle the motive
force of the spirit of man: in the inventors, the philosophers, and the
artists, no less than in the heroes and in the saints.

The vindication of the importance of feeling in our life, and in particular
its primacy over reason in all that has to do with man’s contact with the
transcendental world, has been one of the great achievements of modern
psychology. In the sphere of religion it is now acknowledged that “God known
of the heart” gives a better account of the character of our spiritual
experience than “God guessed at by the brain”; that the loving intuition is
more fruitful and more trustworthy than the dialectic proof. One by one the
commonplaces of mysticism are thus rediscovered by official science, and
given their proper place in the psychology of the spiritual life. Thus
Leuba, hardly a friendly witness, is found to agree with the Fourth
Evangelist that “Life, more life, a larger, richer, more satisfying life, is
in the last analysis the end of religion,” [60] and we have seen that life,
as we know it, has the character of a purposive striving, more directly
dependent on will and feeling then on thought. Of this drive, this urge,
thought indeed is but the servant; a skilled and often arrogant servant,
with a constant tendency to usurpation. Some form of feeling—interest,
desire, fear, appetite—must supply the motive power. Without this, the will
would be dormant, and the intellect lapse into a calculating machine.

Further, “the heart has its reasons which the mind knows not of.” It is a
matter of experience that in our moments of deep emotion, transitory though
they be, we plunge deeper into the reality of things than we can hope to do
in hours of the most brilliant argument. At the touch of passion doors fly
open which logic has battered on in vain: for passion rouses to activity not
merely the mind, but the whole vitality of man. It is the lover, the poet,
the mourner, the convert, who shares for a moment the mystic’s privilege of
lifting that Veil of Isis which science handles so helplessly, leaving only
her dirty fingermarks behind. The heart, eager and restless, goes out into
the unknown, and brings home, literally and actually, “fresh food for
thought.” Hence those who “feel to think” are likely to possess a richer,
more real, if less orderly, experience than those who “think to feel.”

This psychological law, easily proved in regard to earthly matters, holds
good also upon the supersensual plane. It was expressed once for all by the
author of “The Cloud of Unknowing” when he said of God, “By love He may be
gotten and holden, but by thought of understanding, never.” [61] That
exalted feeling, that “secret blind love pressing,” not the neat deductions
of logic, the apologist’s “proofs” of the existence of the Absolute, unseals
the eyes to things unseen before. “Therefore,” says the same mystic “what
time that thou purposest thee to this work, and feelest by grace that thou
art called of God, lift then up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of
love; and mean God that made thee and bought thee, and that graciously hath
called thee to thy degree and receive none other thought of God. And yet not
all these but if thou list; for it sufficeth thee enough, a naked intent
direct unto God without any other cause than Himself.” [62] Here we see
emotion at its proper work; the movement of desire passing over at once into
the act of concentration, the gathering up of all the powers of the self
into a state of determined attention, which is the business of the Will.
“This driving and drawing,” says Ruysbroeck, “we feel in the heart and in
the unity of all our bodily powers, and especially in the desirous
powers.” [63] This act of perfect concentration, the passionate focussing of
the self upon one point, when it is applied “with a naked intent” to real
and transcendental things, constitutes in the technical language of
mysticism the state of recollection: [64] a condition which is peculiarly
characteristic of the mystical consciousness, and is the necessary prelude
of pure contemplation, that state in which the mystic enters into communion
with Reality.

We have then arrived so far in our description of the mechanism of the
mystic. Possessed like other men of powers of feeling, thought, and will, it
is essential that his love and his determination, even more than his
thought, should be set upon Transcendent Reality. He must feel a strong
emotional attraction toward the supersensual Object of his quest: that love
which scholastic philosophy defined as the force or power which causes every
creature to follow out the trend of its own nature. Of this must be born the
will to attain communion with that Absolute Object. This will, this burning
and active desire, must crystallize into and express itself by that definite
and conscious concentration of the whole self upon the Object, which
precedes the contemplative state. We see already how far astray are those
who look upon the mystical temperament as passive in type.

Our next concern, then, would seem to be with this condition of
contemplation: what it does and whither it leads. What is (a) its
psychological explanation and (b) its empirical value? Now, in dealing with
this, and other rare mental conditions, we are of course trying to describe
from without that which can only adequately be described from within; which
is as much as to say that only mystics can really write about mysticism.
Fortunately, many mystics have so written; and we, from their experiences
and from the explorations of psychology upon another plane, are able to make
certain elementary deductions. It appears generally from these that the act
of contemplation is for the mystic a psychic gateway; a method of going from
one level of consciousness to another. In technical language it is the
condition under which he shifts his “field of perception” and obtains his
characteristic outlook on the universe. That there is such a characteristic
outlook, peculiar to no creed or race, is proved by the history of
mysticism; which demonstrates plainly enough that in some men another sort
of consciousness, another “sense,” may be liberated beyond the normal powers
we have discussed. This “sense” has attachments at each point to emotion, to
intellect, and to will. It can express itself under each of the aspects
which these terms connote. Yet it differs from and transcends the emotional,
intellectual, and volitional life of ordinary men. It was recognized by
Plato as that consciousness which could apprehend the real world of the
Ideas. Its development is the final object of that education which his
“Republic” describes. It is called by Plotinus “Another intellect, different
from that which reasons and is denominated rational.” [65] Its business, he
says, is the perception of the supersensual—or, in Neoplatonic language, the
intelligible world. It is the sense which, in the words of the “Theologia
Germanica,” has “the power of seeing into eternity,” [66] the “mysterious
eye of the soul” by which St. Augustine saw “the light that never
changes.” [67] It is, says Al Ghazzali, a Persian mystic of the eleventh
century, “like an immediate perception, as if one touched its object with
one’s hand.” [68] In the words of his great Christian successor, St.
Bernard, “it may be defined as the soul’s true unerring intuition, the
unhesitating apprehension of truth”: [69] which “simple vision of truth,”
says St. Thomas Aquinas, “ends in a movement of desire.” [70]

It is infused with burning love, for it seems to its possessors to be
primarily a movement of the heart: with intellectual subtlety, for its
ardour is wholly spent upon the most sublime object of thought: with
unflinching will, for its adventures are undertaken in the teeth of the
natural doubts, prejudices, languors, and self-indulgence of man. These
adventures, looked upon by those who stay at home as a form of the Higher
Laziness, are in reality the last and most arduous labours which the human
spirit is called to perform. They are the only known methods by which we can
come into conscious possession of all our powers; and, rising from the lower
to the higher levels of consciousness, become aware of that larger life in
which we are immersed, attain communion with the transcendent Personality in
Whom that life is resumed.

Mary has chosen the better, not the idler part; for her gaze is directed
towards those First Principles without which the activity of Martha would
have no meaning at all. In vain does sardonic common sense, confronted with
the contemplative type, reiterate the sneer of Mucius, “Encore sont-ils
heureux que la pauvre Marthe leur fasse la cuisine.” It remains a paradox of
the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state
of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great
creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself
to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power
which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest
pitch of efficiency.

“This restful travail,” said Walter Hilton, “is full far from fleshly
idleness and from blind security. It is full of ghostly work but it is
called rest, for grace looseth the heavy yoke of fleshly love from the soul
and maketh it mighty and free through the gift of the holy ghostly love for
to work gladly, softly, and delectably. . . . Therefore is it called an holy
idleness and a rest most busy; and so is it in stillness from the great
crying and the beastly noise of fleshly desires.” [71]

If those who have cultivated this latent power be correct in their
statements, the self was mistaken in supposing herself to be entirely shut
off from the true external universe. She has, it seems certain tentacles
which, once she learns to uncurl them, will stretch sensitive fingers far
beyond that limiting envelope in which her normal consciousness is
contained, and give her news of a higher reality than that which can be
deduced from the reports of the senses. The fully developed and completely
conscious human soul can open as an anemone does, and know the ocean in
which she is bathed. This act, this condition of consciousness, in which
barriers are obliterated, the Absolute flows in on us, and we, rushing out
to its embrace, “find and feel the Infinite above all reason and above all
knowledge,” [72] is the true “mystical state.” The value of contemplation is
that it tends to produce this state, release this transcendental sense; and
so turns the “lower servitude” in which the natural man lives under the sway
of his earthly environment to the “higher servitude” of fully conscious
dependence on that Reality “in Whom we live and move and have our being.”

What then, we ask, is the nature of this special sense—this transcendental
consciousness—and how does contemplation liberate it?

Any attempt to answer this question brings upon the scene another aspect of
man’s psychic life: an aspect of paramount importance to the student of the
mystic type. We have reviewed the chief ways in which our surface
consciousness reacts upon experience: a surface consciousness which has been
trained through long ages to deal with the universe of sense. We know,
however, that the personality of man is a far deeper and more mysterious
thing than the sum of his conscious feeling, thought and will: that this
superficial self—this Ego of which each of us is aware—hardly counts in
comparison with the deeps of being which it hides. “There is a root or depth
in thee,” says Law, “from whence all these faculties come forth as lines
from a centre, or as branches from the body of a tree. This depth is called
the centre, the fund, or bottom, of the soul. This depth is the unity, the
Eternity, I had almost said the infinity of thy soul, for it is so infinite
that nothing can satisfy it, or give it any rest, but the infinity of
God.” [73]

Since normal man is utterly unable to set up relations with spiritual
reality by means of his feeling, thought, and will, it is clearly in this
depth of being—in these unplumbed levels of personality—that we must search,
if we would find the organ, the power, by which he is to achieve the mystic
quest. That alteration of consciousness which takes place in contemplation
can only mean the emergence from this “fund or bottom of the soul” of some
faculty which diurnal life keeps hidden “in the deeps.”

Modern psychology, in its doctrine of the unconscious or subliminal
personality, has acknowledged this fact of a range of psychic life lying
below and beyond the conscious field. Indeed, it has so dwelt upon and
defined this shadowy region—which is really less a “region” than a useful
name—that it sometimes seems to know more about the unconscious than about
the conscious life of man. There it finds, side by side, the sources of his
most animal instincts, his least explicable powers, his most spiritual
intuitions: the “ape and tiger,” and the “soul.” Genius and prophecy,
insomnia and infatuation, clairvoyance, hypnotism, hysteria, and
“Christian” science—all are explained by the “unconscious mind.” In his
destructive moods the psychologist has little apparent difficulty in
reducing the chief phenomena of religious and mystical experience to
activities of the “unconscious,” seeking an oblique satisfaction of
repressed desires. Where he undertakes the more dangerous duties of
apologetic, he explains the same phenomena by saying that “God speaks to man
in the subconsciousness,” [74] by which he can only mean that our
apprehensions of the eternal have the character of intuition rather than of
thought. Yet the “unconscious” after all is merely a convenient name for the
aggregate of those powers, parts, or qualities of the whole self which at
any given moment are not conscious, or that the Ego is not conscious of.
Included in the unconscious region of an average healthy man are all those
automatic activities by which the life of the body is carried on: all those
“uncivilized” instincts and vices, those remains of the ancestral savage,
which education has forced out of the stream of consciousness and which now
only send their messages to the surface in a carefully disguised form. There
too work in the hiddenness those longings for which the busy life of the
world leaves no place; and there lies that deep pool, that heart of
personality, from which in moments of lucidity a message may reach the
conscious field. Hence in normal men the best and worst, most savage and
most spiritual parts of character, are bottled up “below the threshold.”
Often the partisans of the “unconscious” forget to mention this.

It follows, then, that whilst we may find it convenient and indeed necessary
to avail ourselves of the symbols and diagrams of psychology in tracking out
the mystic way, we must not forget the large and vague significance which
attaches to these symbols, and the hypothetical character of many of the
entities they represent. Nor must we allow ourselves to use the
“unconscious” as the equivalent of man’s transcendental sense. Here the
mystics have surely displayed a more scientific spirit, a more delicate
power of analysis, than the psychologists. They, too, were aware that in
normal men the spiritual sense lies below the threshold of consciousness.
Though they had not at their command the spatial metaphors of the modern
school, and could not describe man’s ascent toward God in those picturesque
terms of levels and uprushes, margins and fields, projection, repression,
and sublimation, which now come so naturally to investigators of the
spiritual life, they leave us in no doubt as to their view of the facts.
Further, man’s spiritual history primarily meant for them, as it means for
us, the emergence of this transcendental sense; its capture of the field of
consciousness, and the opening up of those paths which permit the inflow of
a larger spiritual life, the perception of a higher reality. This, in so far
as it was an isolated act, was “contemplation.” When it was part of the
general life process, and had permanent results, they called it the New
Birth, which “maketh alive.” The faculty or personality concerned in the
“New Birth”—the “spiritual man,” capable of the spiritual vision and life,
which was dissociated from the “earthly man” adapted only to the natural
life—was always sharply distinguished by them from the total personality,
conscious or unconscious. It was something definite; a bit or spot of man
which, belonging not to Time but to Eternity, was different in kind from the
rest of his human nature, framed in all respects to meet the demands of the
merely natural world. [75] The business of the mystic in the eyes of these
old specialists was to remake, transmute, his total personality in the
interest of his spiritual self; to bring it out of the hiddenness, and unify
himself about it as a centre, thus “putting on divine humanity.”

The divine nucleus, the point of contact between man’s life and the divine
life in which it is immersed and sustained, has been given many names in
course of the development of mystical doctrine. All clearly mean the same
thing, though emphasizing different aspects of its life. Sometimes it is
called the Synteresis, [76] the keeper or preserver of his being: sometimes
the Spark of the Soul, the Fünklein of the German mystics: sometimes its
Apex the point at which it touches the heavens. Then, with a sudden flight
to the other end of the symbolic scale, and in order to emphasize its
participation in pure Being, rather than its difference from mere nature, it
is called the Ground of the Soul, the foundation or basal stuff indwelt by
God, whence springs all spiritual life. Clearly all these guesses and
suggestions aim at one goal and are all to be understood in a symbolic
sense; for, as Malaval observed in answer to his disciples’ anxious
inquiries on this subject, “since the soul of man is a spiritual thing and
thus cannot have divisions or parts, consequently it cannot have height or
depth, summit or surface. But because we judge spiritual things by the help
of material things, since we know these better and they are more familiar to
us, we call the highest of all forms of conception the summit, and the
easier way of comprehending things the surface, of the understanding.” [77]

Here at any rate, whatever name we may choose to give it, is the organ of
man’s spiritual consciousness; the place where he meets the Absolute, the
germ of his real life. Here is the seat of that deep “Transcendental
Feeling,” the “beginning and end of metaphysics” which is, says Professor
Stewart, “at once the solemn sense of Timeless Being—of ‘That which was and
is and ever shall be’ overshadowing us—and the conviction that Life is
good.” “I hold,” says the same writer, “that it is in Transcendental
Feeling, manifested normally as Faith in the Value of Life, and ecstatically
as sense of Timeless Being, and not in Thought proceeding by way of
speculative construction, that Consciousness comes nearest to the object of
metaphysics, Ultimate Reality.” [78]

The existence of such a “sense,” such an integral part or function of the
complete human being, has been affirmed and dwelt upon not only by the
mystics, but by seers and teachers of all times and creeds: by Egypt,
Greece, and India, the poets, the fakirs, the philosophers, and the saints.
A belief in its actuality is the pivot of the Christian position; indeed of
every religion worthy of the name. It is the justification of mysticism,
asceticism, the whole machinery of the self-renouncing life. That there is
an extreme point at which man’s nature touches the Absolute: that his
ground, or substance, his true being, is penetrated by the Divine Life which
constitutes the underlying reality of things; this is the basis on which the
whole mystic claim of possible union with God must rest. Here, they say, is
our link with reality; and in this place alone can be celebrated the
“marriage from which the Lord comes.” [79]

To use another of their diagrams, it is thanks to the existence within him
of this immortal spark from the central fire, that man is implicitly a
“child of the infinite.” The mystic way must therefore be a life, a
discipline, which will so alter the constituents of his mental life as to
include this spark within the conscious field; bring it out of the
hiddenness, from those deep levels where it sustains and guides his normal
existence, and make it the dominant element round which his personality is

It is clear that under ordinary conditions, and save for sudden gusts of
“Transcendental Feeling” induced by some saving madness such as Religion,
Art, or Love, the superficial self knows nothing of the attitude of this
silent watcher—this “Dweller in the Innermost”—towards the incoming messages
of the external world: nor of the activities which they awake in it.
Concentrated on the sense-world, and the messages she receives from it, she
knows nothing of the relations which exist between this subject and the
unattainable Object of all thought. But by a deliberate inattention to the
messages of the senses, such as that which is induced by contemplation, the
mystic can bring the ground of the soul, the seat of “Transcendental
Feeling,” within the area of consciousness: making it amenable to the
activity of the will. Thus becoming unaware of his usual and largely
fictitious “external world,” another and more substantial set of
perceptions, which never have their chance under normal conditions, rise to
the surface. Sometimes these unite with the normal reasoning faculties. More
often, they supersede them. Some such exchange, such “losing to find,”
appears to be necessary, if man’s transcendental powers are to have their
full chance.

“The two eyes of the soul of man,” says the “Theologia Germanica,” here
developing a profound Platonic image, “cannot both perform their work at
once: but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the
left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it
were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward outward
things, that is holding converse with time and the creatures; then must the
right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contemplation.
Therefore, whosoever will have the one must let the other go; for ‘no man
can serve two masters.’“ [80]

There is within us an immense capacity for perception, for the receiving of
messages from outside; and a very little consciousness which deals with
them. It is as if one telegraph operator were placed in charge of a
multitude of lines: all may be in action, but he can only attend to one at a
time. In popular language, there is not enough consciousness to go round.
Even upon the sensual plane, no one can be aware of more than a few things
at once. These fill the centre of our field of consciousness: as the object
on which we happen to have focussed our vision dominates our field of sight.
The other matters within that field retreat to the margin. We know, dimly,
that they are there; but we pay them no attention and should hardly miss
them if they ceased to exist.

Transcendental matters are, for most of us, always beyond the margin;
because most of us have given up our whole consciousness to the occupation
of the senses, and permitted them to construct there a universe in which we
are contented to remain. Only in certain states—recollection, contemplation,
ecstasy and their allied conditions—does the self contrive to turn out the
usual tenants, shut the “gateways of the flesh,” and let those submerged
powers which are capable of picking up messages from another plane of being
have their turn. Then it is the sense-world which retreats beyond the
margin, and another landscape that rushes in. At last, then, we begin to see
something of what contemplation does for its initiates. It is one of the
many names applied to that chain of processes which have for their object
this alteration of the mental equilibrium: the putting to sleep of that
“Normal Self” which usually wakes, and the awakening of that “Transcendental
Self” which usually sleeps. To man, “meeting-point of various stages of
reality,” is given—though he seldom considers it—this unique power of
choosing his universe.

The phenomenon known as double or disintegrated personality may perhaps give
us a hint as to the mechanical nature of the change which contemplation
effects. In this psychic malady the total character of the patient is split
up; a certain group of qualities are, as it were, abstracted from the
surface-consciousness and so closely associated as to form in themselves a
complete “character” or “personality”—necessarily poles asunder from the
“character” which the self usually shows to the world, since it consists
exclusively of those elements which are omitted from it. Thus in the
classical case of Miss Beauchamp, the investigator, Dr. Morton Prince,
called the three chief “personalities,” from their ruling characteristics,
“the Saint,” “the Woman,” and “the Devil.” [81] The totality of character
which composed the “real Miss Beauchamp” had split up into these contrasting
types; each of which was excessive, because withdrawn from the control of
the rest. When, voluntarily or involuntarily, the personality which had
possession of the field of consciousness was lulled to sleep, one of the
others emerged. Hypnotism was one of the means which most easily effected
this change.

Now in persons of mystical genius, the qualities which the stress of normal
life tends to keep below the threshold of consciousness are of enormous
strength. In these natural explorers of Eternity the “transcendental
faculty,” the “eye of the soul,” is not merely present in embryo, but is
highly developed; and is combined with great emotional and volitional power.
The result of the segregation of such qualities below the threshold of
consciousness is to remove from them the friction of those counterbalancing
traits in the surface mind with which they might collide. They are “in the
hiddenness,” as Jacob Boehme would say. There they develop unchecked, until
a point is reached at which their strength is such that they break their
bounds and emerge into the conscious field: either temporarily dominating
the subject as in ecstasy, or permanently transmuting the old self, as in
the “unitive life.” The attainment of this point may be accelerated by
processes which have always been known and valued by the mystics; and which
tend to produce a state of consciousness classed by psychologists with
dreams, reverie, and the results of hypnosis. In all these the normal
surface-consciousness is deliberately or involuntarily lulled, the images
and ideas connected with normal life are excluded, and images or faculties
from “beyond the threshold” are able to take their place.

Of course these images or faculties may or may not be more valuable than
those already present in the surface-consciousness. In the ordinary subject,
often enough, they are but the odds and ends for which the superficial mind
has found no use. In the mystic, they are of a very different order: and
this fact justifies the means which he instinctively employs to secure their
emergence. Indian mysticism founds its external system almost wholly on ( a
) Asceticism, the domination of the senses, and ( b ) the deliberate
practice of self-hypnotization; either by fixing the eyes on a near object,
or by the rhythmic repetition of the mantra or sacred word. By these
complementary forms of discipline, the pull of the phenomenal world is
diminished and the mind is placed at the disposal of the subconscious
powers. Dancing, music, and other exaggerations of natural rhythm have been
pressed into the same service by the Greek initiates of Dionysus, by the
Gnostics, by innumerable other mystic cults. That these proceedings do
effect a remarkable change in the human consciousness is proved by
experience: though how and why they do it is as yet little understood. Such
artificial and deliberate production of ecstasy is against the whole
instinct of the Christian contemplatives; but here and there amongst them
also we find instances in which ecstatic trance or lucidity, the liberation
of the “transcendental sense,” was inadvertently produced by purely physical
means. Thus Jacob Boehme, the “Teutonic theosopher,” having one day as he
sat in his room “gazed fixedly upon a burnished pewter dish which reflected
the sunshine with great brilliance,” fell into an inward ecstasy, and it
seemed to him as if he could look into the principles and deepest
foundations of things. [82] The contemplation of running water had the same
effect on St. Ignatius Loyola. Sitting on the bank of a river one day, and
facing the stream, which was running deep, “the eyes of his mind were
opened, not so as to see any kind of vision, but so as to understand and
comprehend spiritual things . . . and this with such clearness that for him
all these things were made new.” [83] This method of attaining to mental
lucidity by a narrowing and simplification of the conscious field, finds an
apt parallel in the practice of Immanuel Kant, who “found that he could
better engage in philosophical thought while gazing steadily at a
neighbouring church steeple.” [84]

It need hardly be said that rationalistic writers, ignoring the parallels
offered by the artistic and philosophic temperaments, have seized eagerly
upon the evidence afforded by such instances of apparent mono-ideism and
self-hypnotization in the lives of the mystics, and by the physical
disturbances which accompany the ecstatic trance, and sought by its
application to attribute all the abnormal perceptions of contemplative
genius to hysteria or other disease. They have not hesitated to call St.
Paul an epileptic. St. Teresa the “patron saint of hysterics”; and have
found room for most of their spiritual kindred in various departments of the
pathological museum. They have been helped in this grateful task by the
acknowledged fact that the great contemplatives, though almost always
persons of robust intelligence and marked practical or intellectual
ability—Plotinus, St. Bernard, the two Ss. Catherine, St. Teresa, St. John
of the Cross, and the Sufi poets Jàmi and Jalalu ‘ddin are cases in
point—have often suffered from bad physical health. More, their mystical
activities have generally reacted upon their bodies in a definite and
special way; producing in several cases a particular kind of illness and of
physical disability, accompanied by pains and functional disturbances for
which no organic cause could be discovered, unless that cause were the
immense strain which exalted spirit puts upon a body which is adapted to a
very different form of life.

It is certain that the abnormal and highly sensitized type of mind which we
call mystical does frequently, but not always, produce or accompany strange
and inexplicable modifications of the physical organism with which it is
linked. The supernatural is not here in question, except in so far as we are
inclined to give that name to natural phenomena which we do not understand.
Such instances of psycho-physical parallelism as the stigmatizations of the
saints—and indeed of other suggestible subjects hardly to be ranked as
saints—will occur to anyone. [85] I here offer to the reader another less
discussed and more extraordinary example of the modifying influence of the
spirit on the supposed “laws” of bodily life.

We know, as a historical fact, unusually well attested by contemporary
evidence and quite outside the sphere of hagiographic romance, that both St.
Catherine of Siena and her namesake St. Catherine of Genoa—active women as
well as ecstatics, the first a philanthropist, reformer, and politician, the
second an original theologian and for many years the highly efficient matron
of a large hospital—lived, in the first case for years, in the second for
constantly repeated periods of many weeks, without other food than the
consecrated Host which they received at Holy Communion. They did this, not
by way of difficult obedience to a pious vow, but because they could not
live in any other way. Whilst fasting, they were well and active, capable of
dealing with the innumerable responsibilities which filled their lives. But
the attempt to eat even a few mouthfuls—and this attempt was constantly
repeated, for, like all true saints, they detested eccentricity [86] —at
once made them ill and had to be abandoned as useless. [87]

In spite of the researches of Murisier, [88] Janet, [89] Ribot, [90] and
other psychologists, and their persevering attempts to find a pathological
explanation which will fit all mystic facts, this and other marked physical
peculiarities which accompany the mystical temperament belong as yet to the
unsolved problems of humanity. They need to be removed both from the sphere
of marvel and from that of disease—into which enthusiastic friends and foes
force them by turn—to the sphere of pure psychology; and there studied
dispassionately with the attention which we so willingly bestow on the less
interesting eccentricities of degeneracy and vice. Their existence no more
discredits the sanity of mysticism or the validity of its results than the
unstable nervous condition usually noticed in artists—who share to some
extent the mystic’s apprehension of the Real—discredits art. “In such cases
as Kant and Beethoven,” says Von Hügel justly, “a classifier of humanity
according to its psycho-physical phenomena alone would put these great
discoverers and creators, without hesitation, amongst hopeless and useless
hypochondriacs.” [91]

In the case of the mystics the disease of hysteria, with its astounding
variety of mental symptoms, its strange power of disintegrating, rearranging
and enhancing the elements of consciousness, its tendencies to automatism
and ecstasy, has been most often invoked to provide an explanation of the
observed phenomena. This is as if one sought the source of the genius of
Taglioni in the symptoms of St. Vitus’s dance. Both the art and the disease
have to do with bodily movements. So too both mysticism and hysteria have to
do with the domination of consciousness by one fixed and intense idea or
intuition, which rules the life and is able to produce amazing physical and
psychical results. In the hysteric patient this idea is often trivial or
morbid [92] but has become—thanks to the self’s unstable mental condition—an
obsession. In the mystic the dominant idea is a great one: so great in fact,
that when it is received in its completeness by the human consciousness,
almost of necessity it ousts all else. It is nothing less than the idea or
perception of the transcendent reality and presence of God. Hence the
mono-ideism of the mystic is rational, whilst that of the hysteric patient
is invariably irrational.

On the whole then, whilst psycho-physical relations remain so little
understood, it would seem more prudent, and certainly more scientific, to
withhold our judgment on the meaning of the psychophysical phenomena which
accompany the mystic life; instead of basing destructive criticism on facts
which are avowedly mysterious and at least capable of more than one
interpretation. To deduce the nature of a compound from the character of its
byproducts is notoriously unsafe.

Our bodies are animal things, made for animal activities. When a spirit of
unusual ardour insists on using its nerve-cells for other activities, they
kick against the pricks; and inflict, as the mystics themselves acknowledge,
the penalty of “mystical ill-health.” “Believe me, children,” says Tauler,
“one who would know much about these high matters would often have to keep
his bed, for his bodily frame could not support it.” [93] “I cause thee
extreme pain of body,” says the voice of Love to Mechthild of Magdeburg. “If
I gave myself to thee as often as thou wouldst have me, I should deprive
myself of the sweet shelter I have of thee in this world, for a thousand
bodies could not protect a loving soul from her desire. Therefore the higher
the love the greater the pain.” [94]

On the other hand the exalted personality of the mystic—his self-discipline,
his heroic acceptance of labour and suffering, and his inflexible
will—raises to a higher term that normal power of mind over body which all
possess. Also the contemplative state—like the hypnotic state in a healthy
person—seems to enhance life by throwing open deeper levels of personality.
The self then drinks at a fountain which is fed by the Universal Life. True
ecstasy is notoriously life-enhancing. In it a bracing contact with Reality
seems to take place, and as a result the subject is himself more real.
Often, says St. Teresa, even the sick come forth from ecstasy healthy and
with new strength; for something great is then given to the soul. [95]
Contact has been set up with levels of being which the daily routine of
existence leaves untouched. Hence the extraordinary powers of endurance, and
independence of external conditions, which the great ecstatics so often

If we see in the mystics, as some have done, the sporadic beginning of a
power, a higher consciousness, towards which the race slowly tends; then it
seems likely enough that where it appears nerves and organs should suffer
under a stress to which they have not yet become adapted, and that a spirit
more highly organized than its bodily home should be able to impose strange
conditions on the flesh. When man first stood upright, a body long
accustomed to go on all fours, legs which had adjusted themselves to bearing
but half his weight, must have rebelled against this unnatural proceeding;
inflicting upon its author much pain and discomfort if not absolute illness.
It is at least permissible to look upon the strange “psycho-physical” state
common amongst the mystics as just such a rebellion on the part of a normal
nervous and vascular system against the exigencies of a way of life to which
it has not yet adjusted itself. [96]

In spite of such rebellion, and of the tortures to which it has subjected
them, the mystics, oddly enough, are a long-lived race: an awkward fact for
critics of the physiological school. To take only a few instances from
amongst marked ecstatics, St. Hildegarde lived to be eighty-one, Mechthild
of Magdeburg to eighty-seven, Ruysbroeck to eighty-eight, Suso to seventy,
St. Teresa to sixty-seven, St. Catherine of Genoa and St. Peter of Alcantara
to sixty-three. It seems as though that enhanced life which is the reward of
mystical surrender enabled them to triumph over their bodily disabilities:
and to live and do the work demanded of them under conditions which would
have incapacitated ordinary men.

Such triumphs, which take heroic rank in the history of the human mind, have
been accomplished as a rule in the same way. Like all intuitive persons, all
possessors of genius, all potential artists—with whom in fact they are
closely related—the mystics have, in psychological language, “thresholds of
exceptional mobility.” That is to say, a slight effort, a slight departure
from normal conditions, will permit their latent or “subliminal” powers to
emerge and occupy the mental field. A “mobile threshold” may make a man a
genius, a lunatic, or a saint. All depends upon the character of the
emerging powers. In the great mystic, these powers, these tracts of
personality lying below the level of normal consciousness, are of unusual
richness; and cannot be accounted for in terms of pathology. “If it be
true,” says Delacroix, “that the great mystics have not wholly escaped those
nervous blemishes which mark nearly all exceptional organizations, there is
in them a vital and creative power, a constructive logic, an extended scale
of realization—in a word, a genius—which is, in truth, their essential
quality. . . . The great mystics, creators and inventors who have found a
new form of life and have justified it . . . join, upon the highest summits
of the human spirit, the great simplifiers of the world.” [97]

The truth, then, so far as we know it at present, seems to be that those
powers which are in contact with the Transcendental Order, and which
constitute at the lowest estimate half the self, are dormant in ordinary
men; whose time and interest are wholly occupied in responding to the
stimuli of the world of sense. With those latent powers sleeps the landscape
which they alone can apprehend. In mystics none of the self is always
dormant. They have roused the Dweller in the Innermost from its slumbers,
and round it have unified their life. Heart, Reason, Will are there in full
action, drawing their incentive not from the shadow-show of sense, but from
the deeps of true Being; where a lamp is lit, and a consciousness awake, of
which the sleepy crowd remains oblivious. He who says the mystic is but half
a man, states the exact opposite of the truth. Only the mystic can be called
a whole man, since in others half the powers of the self always sleep. This
wholeness of experience is much insisted on by the mystics. Thus the Divine
Voice says to St. Catherine of Siena, “I have also shown thee the Bridge and
the three general steps, placed there for the three powers of the soul; and
I have told thee how no one can attain to the life of grace unless he has
mounted all three steps, that is, gathered together all the three powers of
the soul in My Name.” [98]

In those abnormal types of personality to which we give the name of genius,
we seem to detect a hint of the relations which may exist between these deep
levels of being and the crust of consciousness. In the poet, the musician,
the great mathematician or inventor, powers lying below the threshold, and
hardly controllable by their owner’s conscious will, clearly take a major
part in the business of perception and conception. In all creative acts, the
larger share of the work is done subconsciously: its emergence is in a sense
automatic. This is equally true of mystics, artists, philosophers,
discoverers, and rulers of men. The great religion, invention, work of art,
always owes its inception to some sudden uprush of intuitions or ideas for
which the superficial self cannot account; its execution to powers so far
beyond the control of that self, that they seem, as their owner sometimes
says, to “come from beyond.” This is “inspiration”; the opening of the
sluices, so that those waters of truth in which all life is bathed may rise
to the level of consciousness.

The great teacher, poet, artist, inventor, never aims deliberately at his
effects. He obtains them he knows not how: perhaps from a contact of which
he is unconscious with that creative plane of being which the Sufis call the
Constructive Spirit, and the Kabalists Yesod, and which both postulate as
lying next behind the world of sense. “Sometimes,” said the great
Alexandrian Jew Philo, “when I have come to my work empty, I have suddenly
become full; ideas being in an invisible manner showered upon me, and
implanted in me from on high; so that through the influence of divine
inspiration, I have become greatly excited, and have known neither the place
in which I was, nor those who were present, nor myself, nor what I was
saying, nor what I was writing; for then I have been conscious of a richness
of interpretation, an enjoyment of light, a most penetrating insight, a most
manifest energy in all that was to be done; having such an effect on my mind
as the clearest ocular demonstration would have on the eyes.” [99] This is a
true creative ecstasy, strictly parallel to the state in which the mystic
performs his mighty works.

To let oneself go, be quiet, receptive, appears to be the condition under
which such contact with the Cosmic Life may be obtained. “I have noticed
that when one paints one should think of nothing: everything then comes
better,” says the young Raphael to Leonardo da Vinci. [100] The superficial
self must here acknowledge its own insufficiency, must become the humble
servant of a more profound and vital consciousness. The mystics are of the
same opinion. “Let the will quietly and wisely understand,” says St. Teresa,
“that it is not by dint of labour on our part that we can converse to any
good purpose with God.” [101] “The best and noblest way in which thou mayst
come into this Life,” says Eckhart, “is by keeping silence and letting God
work and speak. Where all the powers are withdrawn from their work and
images, there is this word spoken . . . the more thou canst draw in all thy
powers and forget the creature the nearer art thou to this, and the more
receptive.” [102]

Thus Boehme says to the neophyte, [103] “When both thy intellect and will
are quiet and passive to the expressions of the eternal Word and Spirit, and
when thy soul is winged up above that which is temporal, the outward senses
and the imagination being locked up by holy abstraction, then the eternal
Hearing, Seeing, and Speaking will be revealed in thee. Blessed art thou
therefore if thou canst stand still from self thinking and self willing, and
canst stop the wheel of thy imagination and senses.” Then, the conscious
mind being passive, the more divine mind below the threshold—organ of our
free creative life—can emerge and present its reports. In the words of an
older mystic, “The soul, leaving all things and forgetting herself, is
immersed in the ocean of Divine Splendour, and illuminated by the Sublime
Abyss of the Unfathomable Wisdom.” [104]

The “passivity” of contemplation, then, is a necessary preliminary of
spiritual energy: an essential clearing of the ground. It withdraws the tide
of consciousness from the shores of sense, stops the “wheel of the
imagination.” “The Soul,” says Eckhart again, “is created in a place between
Time and Eternity: with its highest powers it touches Eternity, with its
lower Time.” [105] These, the worlds of Being and Becoming, are the two
“stages of reality” which meet in the spirit of man. By cutting us off from
the temporal plane, the lower kind of reality, Contemplation gives the
eternal plane, and the powers which can communicate with that plane, their
chance. In the born mystic these powers are great, and lie very near the
normal threshold of consciousness. He has a genius for transcendental—or as
he would say, divine—discovery in much the same way as his cousins, the born
musician and poet, have a genius for musical or poetic discovery. In all
three cases, the emergence of these higher powers is mysterious, and not
least so to those who experience it. Psychology on the one hand, theology on
the other, may offer us diagrams and theories of this proceeding: of the
strange oscillations of the developing consciousness, the fitful visitations
of a lucidity and creative power over which the self has little or no
control, the raptures and griefs of a vision by turns granted and withdrawn.
But the secret of genius still eludes us, as the secret of life eludes the

The utmost we can say of such persons is, that reality presents itself to
them under abnormal conditions and in abnormal terms, and that subject to
these conditions and in these terms they are bound to deal with it. Thanks
to their peculiar mental make up, one aspect of the universe is for them
focussed so sharply that in comparison with it all other images are blurred,
vague, and unreal. Hence the sacrifice which men of genius—mystics, artists,
inventors—make of their whole lives to this one Object, this one vision of
truth, is not self-denial, but rather self-fulfilment. They gather
themselves up from the unreal, in order to concentrate on the real. The
whole personality then absorbs or enters into communion with certain rhythms
or harmonies existent in the universe, which the receiving apparatus of
other selves cannot take up. “Here is the finger of God, a flash of the Will
that can!” exclaims Abt Vogler, as the sounds grow under his hand. “The
numbers came!“ says the poet. He knows not how, certainly not by deliberate

So it is with the mystic. Madame Guyon states in her autobiography, that
when she was composing her works she would experience a sudden and
irresistible inclination to take up her pen; though feeling wholly incapable
of literary composition, and not even knowing the subject on which she would
be impelled to write. If she resisted this impulse it was at the cost of the
most intense discomfort. She would then begin to write with extraordinary
swiftness; words, elaborate arguments, and appropriate quotations coming to
her without reflection, and so quickly that one of her longest books was
written in one and a half days. “In writing I saw that I was writing of
things which I had never seen: and during the time of this manifestation, I
was given light to perceive that I had in me treasures of knowledge and
understanding which I did not know that I possessed.” [106]

Similar statements are made of St. Teresa, who declared that in writing her
books she was powerless to set down anything but that which her Master put
into her mind. [107] So Blake said of “Milton” and “Jerusalem,” “I have
written the poems from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty or
thirty lines at a time, without premeditation and even against my will. The
time it has taken in writing was thus rendered non-existent, and an immense
poem exists which seems to be the labour of a long life, all produced
without labour or study.” [108]

These are, of course, extreme forms of that strange power of automatic
composition, in which words and characters arrive and arrange themselves in
defiance of their authors’ will, of which most poets and novelists possess a
trace. Such composition is probably related to the automatic writing of
“mediums” and other sensitives; in which the often disorderly and incoherent
subliminal mind seizes upon this channel of expression. The subliminal mind
of the great mystic, however, is not disorderly. It is abnormally sensitive,
richly endowed and keenly observant—a treasure house, not a lumber room—and
becomes in the course of its education, a highly disciplined and skilled
instrument of knowledge. When, therefore, its contents emerge, and are
presented to the normal consciousness in the form of lucidity,
“auditions,” visions, automatic writing, or any other translations of the
supersensible into the terms of sensible perception, they cannot be
discredited because the worthless unconscious region of feebler natures
sometimes manifests itself in the same way. Idiots are often voluble: but
many orators are sane.

Now, to sum up: what are the chief characteristics which we have found to
concern us in this sketch-map of the mental life of man?

(1) We have divided that life, arbitrarily enough, along the fluctuating
line which psychologists call the “threshold of his consciousness” into the
surface life and the unconscious deeps.

(2) In the surface life, though we recognized its essential wholeness, we
distinguished three outstanding and ever-present aspects: the Trinity in
Unity of feeling, thought, and will. Amongst these we were obliged to give
the primacy to feeling, as the power which set the machinery of thought and
will to work.

(3) We have seen that the expression of this life takes the two
complementary forms of conation, or outgoing action and cognition, or
indwelling knowledge; and that the first, which is dynamic in type, is
largely the work of the will stimulated by the emotions; whilst the second,
which is passive in type, is the business of the intellect. They answer to
the two main aspects which man discerns in the universal life: Being and

(4) Neither conation nor cognition—action nor thought—as performed by this
surface mind, concerned as it is with natural existence and dominated by
spatial conceptions, is able to set up any relations with the Absolute or
transcendental world. Such action and thought deal wholly with material
supplied directly or indirectly by the world of sense. The testimony of the
mystics, however, and of all persons possessing an “instinct for the
Absolute,” points to the existence of a further faculty—indeed, a deeper
self—in man; a self which the circumstances of diurnal life usually keep
“below the threshold” of his consciousness, and which thus becomes one of
the factors of his “subliminal life.” This hidden self is the primary agent
of mysticism, and lives a “substantial” life in touch with the real or
transcendental world. [109]

(5) Certain processes, of which contemplation has been taken as a type, can
so alter the state of consciousness as to permit the emergence of this
deeper self; which, according as it enters more or less into the conscious
life, makes man more or less a mystic.

The mystic life, therefore, involves the emergence from deep levels of
man’s transcendental self; its capture of the field of consciousness; and
the “conversion” or rearrangement of his feeling, thought, and will—his
character—about this new centre of life.

We state, then, as the conclusion of this chapter, that the object of the
mystic’s adventure, seen from within, is the apprehension of, or direct
communion with, that transcendental Reality which we tried in the last
section to define from without. Here, as in the fulfilment of the highest
earthly love, knowledge and communion are the same thing; we must be “oned
with bliss” if we are to be aware of it. That aspect of our being by which
we may attain this communion—that “marrow of the Soul,” as Ruysbroeck calls
it—usually lies below the threshold of our consciousness; but in certain
natures of abnormal richness and vitality, and under certain favourable
conditions, it may be liberated by various devices, such as contemplation.
Once it has emerged, however, it takes up, to help it in the work, aspects
of the conscious self. The surface must co-operate with the deeps, and at
last merge with those deeps to produce that unification of consciousness
upon high levels which alone can put a term to man’s unrest. The heart that
longs for the All, the mind that conceives it, the will that concentrates
the whole self upon it, must all be called into play. The self must be
surrendered: but it must not be annihilated, as some Quietists have
supposed. It only dies that it may live again. Supreme success,—the
permanent assurance of the mystic that “we are more verily in heaven than in
earth,”—says the Lady Julian, in a passage which anticipates the
classification of modern psychology, “cometh of the natural Love of our
soul, and of the clear light of our Reason, and of the steadfast Mind.”

But what is the order of precedence which these three activities are to
assume in the work which is one ?All, as we have seen, must do their part;
for we are concerned with the response of man in his wholeness to the
overwhelming attraction of God. But which shall predominate? The ultimate
nature of the self’s experience of reality will depend on the answer she
gives to this question. What, here, are the relative values of Mind and
Heart? Which will bring her closest to the Thought of God; the real life in
which she is bathed? Which, fostered and made dominant, is most likely to
put her in harmony with the Absolute? The Love of God, which is ever in the
heart and often on the lips of the Saints, is the passionate desire for this
harmony; the “malady of thought” is its intellectual equivalent. Though we
may seem to escape God, we cannot escape some form of this craving; except
at the price of utter stagnation. We go back, therefore, to the statement
with which this chapter opened: that of the two governing desires which
share the prison of the self. We see them now as representing the cravings
of the intellect and the emotions for the only end of all quests. The
disciplined will—the “conative power”—with all the dormant faculties which
it can wake and utilize, can come to the assistance of one of them. Which?
The question is a crucial one, for the destiny of the self depends on the
partner which the will selects.

[57] The wise Cherubs, according to the beautiful imagery of Dionysius, are
“all eyes,” but the loving Seraphs are “all wings.” Whilst the Seraphs, the
figure of intensest Love, “ move perpetually towards things divine,” ardour
and energy being their characteristics, the characteristic of the Cherubs is
receptiveness their power of absorbing the rays of the Supernal Light.
(Dionysius the Areopagite, “De Caelesti Ierarchia,” vi. 2, and vii. 1.)

[58] So Récéjac says of the mystics, they desire to know, only that they may
love; and their desire for union with the principle of things in God, Who is
the sum of them all, is founded on a feeling which is neither curiosity nor
self-interest” (“Fondements de la Connaissance Mystique,” p. 50).

[59] Par. xxxiii. 143.

[60] The Monist , July, 1901, p. 572.

[61] “The Cloud of Unknowing,” cap. vi.

[62] Op. cit., cap. vii.

[63] “De Ornatu Spiritalium Nuptiarum,” I. ii. cap. v.

[64] See below, Pt. II. Cap. VI.

[65] Plotinus, Ennead vi. 9.

[66] “Theologia Germanica,” cap. vii. (trans. Winkworth).

[67] Aug. Conf., bk. vii. cap. x.

[68] A. Schmölders, “Essai sur les Écoles Philosophique chez les Arabes,” p.

[69] “De Consideration,” bk. ii. cap. ii.

[70] “Summa Theologica,” ii. ii. q. clxxx, art. 3. eds. 1 and 3.

[71] Walter Hilton, “The Scale of Perfection,” bk. ii. cap. xl.

[72] Ruysbroeck, “De Septem Gradibus Amoris,” cap. xiv.

[73] “The Spirit of Prayer” (“Liberal and Mystical Writings of William
Law,” p, 14). So too St. François de Sales says: “This root is the depth of
the spirit, Mens , which others call the Kingdom of God.” The same doctrine
appears, under various symbols, in all the Christian Mystics.

[74] Cutten, “Psychological Phenomena of Christianity,” p. 18. James,
“Varieties of Religious Experience,” p. 155. For a temperate and balanced
discussion, see Pratt: “The Religious Consciousness.”

[75] Note to the 12th Edition. During the eighteen years which have elapsed
since this chapter was written, much work has been done on the psychology of
mysticism. After suffering severely at the hands of the “new
psychologists” the contemplative faculty is once more taken seriously; and
there is even some disposition to accept or restate the account of it given
by the mystics. Thus Bremond (“Prière et Poésie” and “Introduction à la
Philosophie de la Prière”) insists on the capital distinction between the
surface-mind, capable of rational knowledge, and the deeper mind, organ of
mystical knowledge, and operative in varying degrees in religion poetic, and
Esthetic apprehensions.

[76] An interesting discussion of the term “Synteresis” will be found in Dr.
Inge’s “Christian Mysticism,” Appendix C, pp. 359, 360.

[77] “La Pratique de la Vraye Theologie Mystique,” vol. 1. p. 204.

[78] J. A. Stewart, ‘*The Myths of Plato,” pp. 41, 43. Perhaps I may point
out that this Transcendental Feeling—the ultimate material alike of prayer
and of poetry—has, like the mystic consciousness, a dual perception of
Reality: static being and dynamic life. See above, p. 42.

[79] Tauler, Sermon on St. Augustine (“The Inner Way,” p. 162).

[80] “Theologia Germanica,” cap. vii. Compare “De Imitatione Christi,” 1.
iii. cap. 38.

[81] Morton Prince, “The Dissociation of a Personality,” p. 16.

[82] Martensen, “Jacob Boehme,” p. 7.

[83] Testament, cap. iii.

[84] Starbuck, “The Psychology of Religion,” p. 388.

[85] See, for instances, Cutten, ‘The Psychological Phenomena of
Christianity,” cap. viii.

[86] “Singularity,” says Gertrude More, “is a vice which Thou extremely
hatest.” (‘The Spiritual Exercises of the most vertuous and religious Dame
Gertrude More,” p. 40). All the best and sanest of the mystics are of the
same opinion.

[87] See E. Gardner, “St. Catherine of Siena,” pp. 12and 48; and E. von
Hügel, “The Mystical Element of Religion,” vol. i. p. 135.

[88] “Les Maladies des Sentiments Religieux.”

[89] “L’État Mentale des Hysteriques,” and “Une Extatique” ( Bulletin de
l’Institut Psychologique , 1901).

[90] “La Psychologie des Sentiment,” 1896.

[91] Op. cit ., vol. ii. p. 42.

[92] For examples consult Pierre Janet, op. cit.

[93] Sermon for First Sunday after Easter (Winkworth, p. 302).

[94] “Das Fliessende Licht der Gottheit,” pt. ii. cap. xxv.

[95] Vida, cap. xx. sect. 29.

[96] Boyce Gibson (“God with Us,” cap. iii.) has drawn a striking parallel
between the ferment and “interior uproar” of adolescence and the profound
disturbances which mark man’s entry into a conscious spiritual life. His
remarks are even more applicable to the drastic rearrangement of personality
which takes place in the case of the mystic, whose spiritual life is more
intense than that of other men.

[97] Delacroix, “Études sur le Mysticisme,” p. iii.

[98] Dialogo, cap. lxxxvi.

[99] Quoted by James (“Varieties of Religious Experience,” p. 481) from
Clissold’s “The Prophetic Spirit in Genius and Madness,” p. 67.

[100] “Mérejkowsky, “Le Roman do Leonard de Vinci,” p. 638.

[101] Vida, cap. xv. 9.

[102] Meister Eckhart, Pred. i. (“Mystische Schriften,” p. 18).

[103] “Three Dialogues of the Supersensual Life,” p. 14.

[104] Dionysius the Areopagite, “De Divinis Nominibus,” vii. 3.

[105] Pred. xxiii. Eckhart obtained this image from St. Thomas Aquinas,
“Summa Contra Gentiles,” I. iii. cap. lxi. “The intellectual soul is created
on the confines of eternity and time.”

[106] Vie, t. ii. pp. 120, 223, 229. It might reasonably be objected that
Madame Guyon does not rank high among the mystics and her later history
includes some unfortunate incidents. This is true. Nevertheless she exhibit
such a profusion of mystical phenomena and is so candid in her
self-disclosures, that she provides much valuable material for the student.

[107] G. Cunninghame Graham, “Santa Teresa,” vol. i. p. 202.

[108] “Letters of William Blake,” April 25, 1803.

[109] This insistence on the twofold character of human personality is
implicit in the mystics. “It is” says Bremond, “the fundamental dogma of
mystical psychology—the distinction between the two selves: Animus, the
surface self; Anima , the deep self; Animus , rational knowledge; and Anima
, mystical or poetic knowledge . . . the I, who feeds on notions and words,
and enchants himself by doing so; the Me, who is united to realities”
(Bremond “Prière et Poésie,” cap. xii.).

[110] Julian of Norwich, “Revelations of Divine Love,” cap, lv.