The Subtilties of Friendship
Not best with speaking lip. or soulful eye,
The Relations of the Human Brain to Spiritual Phenomena
Col. H. S. Olcott,—
The science of the brain is, therefore, the coterminous science of Psychology, and, indeed, cerebral science in its fullest sense embraces Psychology—for the science of the brain is the science of Man. since all his conscious life is in the brain, and all his unconscious life is subordinate to the powers located in the brain. Cerebral science, therefore. is nearly synonymous with Anthropology; and as the science of man—of his conscious or true life—cannot be limited to its physiological career, if there be also a higher career, it follows that cerebral science, or Anthropology in its full development includes Psychology.
But this is a department of knowledge which scientists (biologists) have studiously neglected to cultivate, and is not embraced in the scope of any scientific association. The great majority of physiologists to-day know little or nothing of the brain as a psychic organ, but hold its psychic functions as matters of little interest, while they look only for physical operations and physical causes, as it this world were but an evolution of matter, and force; the conscious existence, for which all this mechanism exists, being the very thing which they have almost excluded from science. The masterly revelation of cerebral anatomy, by Gall, compelled the more liberal and enlightened portion of the profession to take an interest in his psychic discoveries; but that interest has been almost lost in the rage for pathology, chemistry, and the microscope. Medical investigations are thus confined to laying a foundation for the science of man, leaving posterity to erect the science.
With this humble conception of medical and physiological science I have never been satisfied. It seemed to much like the labors of the humble creature that builds coral reefs in the ocean for future centuries to cover with vegetation, life, and beauty.
You know that for nearly forty years I have been acting upon a different theory of the junction of the physiologist—that I have carried out the experimental demonstration of the psychic functions of the brain and organ organized a system of Anthropology, which includes all the higher phenomena of life. As a professor of physiology, I did not deem it my duty to withhold from my pupils the exposition of the conscious and emotional life of man, or to conceal my discovery that there were organs in the brain which were the source ot all the wonders of the human soul, its singular manifestations in animal magnetism, trance, ecstacy, clairvoyance, somnambulism, spiritualism, dreaming, vision, suspended animation, &c. With this experimental knowledge of the brain I was fully prepared with the physiological rationale of all the historic marvels and the still greater marvels of the last thirty years. Your letters testify to the wonderful fact—the grandest fact in all the progress of science—that spiritual beings nave not yet lost their hold on earth, and control over the invisible atoms of matter, but can summon them from the invisible and organize such bodies as they desire, hold them together for such time as they choose, and then dissolve the wierd vision of ponderable substance into its original invisibility.
Absorbed as you have teen with the question of ignorant skepticism and the critical inspection of details, I doubt whether you have yet fully realized the majestic grandeur of the facts which you announce! Do you not see that in these facts is contained the grand secret of Creation, for which the wise men of all ages, from the rapt seers of India and Egypt, to the materialistic scientists of to-day, have been searching in vain from the Zenith to the Nadir of Speculation? From the mystic notions of the elements; the Pythagonian theories of the potency of numbers; the Platonic conception of absolute and eternal Ideas; the Hegelian conception of Being, Non-Being, and the Immanent Absolute; the reveries of the Alchemist, and the dogmas of the theologian; to the cosmic scheme of nebulous matter organizing in fiery orbs cooling down to the possibility of seas and continents, and beginning, in the invisible organization of potoplasm, the germs of animal life which millions of years of development have brought to our present zoological and human perfection—from all this and much more of restless, aspiring thought, grasping ambitiously at the secrets of the Infinite and Divine, humanity turns, as restless and as eager as ever, tor an answer to the problem of the Infinite.
Vainly have we sought the answer in physical science! Matter or spirit is the paramount and primal cause. If matter, then the presence of intelligence, design, and benevolence is utterly inexplicable—for by no possible legerdemain of thought can we rise from matter to mind. If spirit be the paramount and primal cause, then all is explained, and the benevolent purpose of the universe shines out again, while all the deep intuitions of humanity, which tell of a God and a Heaven, are vindicated as profound and true! To this vindication of religion, this verification of hope, this elucidation of Infinite mystery is requisite but one thing—the plain and positive demonstration of the ability of the spirit power not only to control matter, but to create and destroy. When this great result is attained we may well say “Eureka,” and rejoice that we have lived to witness the grandest Scientific revelation of the ages.
From the accumulated testimony of many in Europe and America, we can draw no other conclusion than that the mystery is solved, and that legions of spiritual beings possess the power of creating at will substantial forms, not only of human beings, but of flowers, plants, minerals—animal and vegetable life! Not only of creating but of destroying—for ponderable bodies utterly disappear—and not only of disorganizing their own productions, but of dissipating forever the substances of which they take hold—substances composed of elements as ancient as the globe.
I will not speculate upon the mighty consequences in practical life which this discovery promises—consequences which tax imagination, and elevate hope to the zenith as the true prophet of humanity. I look simply at its intellectual grandeur, which reminds us of the Biblical sublimity “God said let there be light: and there was light.” The sudden light which bursts upon us in this demonstration of creative power, dissipates infinite darkness and falsehood. The boasted doctrine of Spencer, the high priest of materialistic development, that both the creation and the destruction of i matter are utterly ‘‘unthinkable” propositions, is swept into the abyss of primitive, delusions, along with the polytheisms, of Asia and Africa.
We are living in the presence, not of an “Unknowable” alone, nor of dead matter alone, but of an infinite realm of light, intelligence, and love, which continually surrounds us—-a realm that is peopled by our own beloved and the good and wise of all ages, who dwell in the midst of that benevolent and unbounded Power which governs all and cherishes all with an infinite benignity.
Grand as the conceptions are, their humble beginning now is in harmony with their magnificent destiny in the future. Ephemeral life is as perfect in the hour of its birth as it ever becomes, but the highest organism (man) is born in the most pitiable weakness, and the grandest system of religion dates from a Jewish stable.
It is not necessary that the world should rush in to surround the cradle which bears the commencement of an era. Let the world travel on its highway, while wise heads and loving hearts cherish and develop tie promise of the great future.
The service you have rendered mankind by your recent investigation is greatly enhanced in its value by the fact that <... continues on page 1-35 >
- * Originally intended for H.S.Olcott’s “People from the Other World” but crowded out.