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  • The Perfect Whole

    i

  • The Perfect Whole ii

  • The Perfect WholeAn Essay on the Conduct and Meaning of Life

    Horatio W. Dresser

    YogeBooks: Hollister, MO

    iii

  • YogeBooks by Roger L. Cole, Hollister, MO 65672 2015 YogeBooks by Roger L. ColeAll rights reserved. Electronic edition published 2015isbn: 978-1-61183-278-52015:05:30:08:27:27www.yogebooks.com

    The text of this ebook is in the public domain, but this ebook is not. Please do not distribute it without authorization.

    The Perfect Whole iv

  • Beauty through my senses stole;I yielded myself to the perfect whole

    Emerson

    v

  • The Perfect Whole vi

  • Preface

    The author claims no originality for this essay. Where so many have gleaned before, there is little opportunity for strict originality of thought; and he would indeed be short-sighted, who should not take full advantage of the best that has been thought and said in the past. Yet the emphasis of personal experience lends fresh value to the age-long problem of problems, and perhaps there is nothing so much needed in this age of doubt as a full and frank expression of individual conviction. Indeed, it is the highest privilege of our human brotherhood to convey to another some measure of that priceless wisdom which has taught one the secret of a peaceful and happy life.

    Life is wonderfully simple. One efficient energy or Spirit permeates all that exists. A few universal habits or laws characterize this energy in all phases of its infinitely varied manifestation. To feel this Spirit as a living reality within, to understand these simple laws and reduce life to wise obedience to them without, this it is to possess such peace, such happiness, and such power of doing good as the world in general knows not of. The entire secret could be told in a few words; that is, so far as this great inner joy can be described by human speech. To cease the restless activity and pursuit which causes the unhappiness of finite life, and recognize that which is eternally with us, is, in

    Preface vii

  • a word, the method whereby the great secret may be learned. But all this requires time. The intellect is not easily convinced of the supremacy and sufficiency of the Spirit. One must approach the heart of life by degrees, since otherwise ones development will not be harmonious. This book is accordingly designed to exercise this rare privilege by conveying in its unpretentious way the inmost essence of a wisely conducted and useful life. It approaches the subject from many points of view, in order to meet all classes of minds. The author has borne in mind many problems which are barely touched on here, since the aim has been to rid this treatise of as much extraneous material as possible, and to leave the more technical problems of philosophy for consideration at some future time. So far as he has laid down principles of conduct, the author has drawn largely upon personal experience; and he advocates no doctrine which he is himself unwilling to practise. Every practical suggestion offered has, in fact, borne the test of continued application. Indeed, the book errsin so far as it fails in its purposeby being largely an individual interpretation of that which by definition includes all finite thought. The reader should therefore make full allowance for the personal equation, and turn from this mere fragment of the great world-problem to its larger exemplification in human society. Only in this way can an individual interpretation of life hope to play its part in the development of sound universal philosophy.

    Thus, broadly defined, the purpose of this book is threefold,psychological, metaphysical, and practical. As a psychological analysis, it is especially concerned with the higher or spiritual nature of man. As a philosophical discussion, it aims to develop a generally sound view of reality by a consideration of materialism, agnosticism, and mysticism, in the light of their shortcomings when compared with the demands both of reason and the spiritual sense. It points out many important distinctions essential to a just view of life, and indicates the dangers of pantheism and of all one-sided conceptions of the universe. In its practical aspect it urges the same need of breadth and discrimination which it finds essential to a sound doctrine of

    The Perfect Whole viii

  • reality. It is an urgent appeal to life, a plea for the realization of ethics, and the application of spiritual law in every moment of existence. But its threefold purpose and its individual confessions of faith are alike subservient to the one central idea for which it stands,the unity of all that exists in an ultimate spiritual reality. In ways we know not, and in moments when we least expect it, the Spirit makes its presence known in the soul. If the reader discovers these traces of a living reality amidst the finite approximations and shows of truth, the book will have served its purpose as a stepping-stone to the higher life.

    H. W. D.19 Blagden Street, Boston, Mass.,September, 1896.

    Preface ix

  • The Philosophy of the Perfect Whole x

  • Contents

    Preface viiSynopsis. 3I. Experience. 5II. A Study of Self-Consciousness. 21III. The Basis of Belief in a Spiritual Reality. 39IV. Mysticism. 63V. Intuition. 81VI. Fate. 99VII. Error and Evil. 117VIII. The Ethical Life. 131IX. The Eternal Now. 147Bibliography 161

    Contents xi

  • The Philosophy of the Perfect Whole xii

  • The Philosophy of the Perfect Whole

  • The Philosophy of the Perfect Whole 2

  • Synopsis.

    There is and could be but one ultimate, omnipresent, and eternal Reality, the beginning, substance, and completion of all that exists, absolute, omniscient, and self-subsistent,the living God.

    From this ultimate source, yet still within and never independent of it, all beings and things proceed.

    The one Reality is eternally made known as both itself,pure wisdom and perfect love, free, spaceless, timeless, and self-caused, completely self-knowing, and possessing a character which is the sufficient ground of our world,and as the varied universe of its own consciousness, of finite life and natural law, of appearance and imperfection; aspiring, incomplete, dependent, yet ever partaking of the life and contributing to the beauty of the boundless Whole.

    Man, the individualized manifestation of the perfect Life, is thus in reality part of a Whole whence he derives all that he is, all that he thinks and feels. The slightest thought, the most mysterious experience, and the hardest task therefore bear some relation to the perfect life of the All.

    Human experience is everywhere twofold: development proceeds through the interaction of opposites, conflict is the price of peace, and all knowledge is gained through contrast.

    Synopsis. 3

  • There is no absolute error, no unmixed evil, and no unknowable Thing-in-itself; for whatever exists bears some reference to the one Reality, and is therefore intelligible.

    In knowing himself and the universe, man thus far knows the eternal Reality whose wisdom transcends, yet includes his own.

    In the interpretation of experience every detail, every experience, and all the products both of intuition and of reason are essential: their unity is to be found in the Spirit out of which all diversities grow.

    The one great essential in human life is to become deeply conscious of this eternal relationship, to learn its individual meaning, to co-operate with the uplifting Spirit within, to attain peace, equanimity, and health through willing service and obedience, through comprehensive thinking and many-sided development.

    The Whole, as discovered in nature, is the object of completed physical science.

    The Whole, as found in human society and studied as an interdependent moral organism, constitutes universal ethics and sociology.

    The Whole, as revealed by the spiritual sense, shorn of all extraneous forms and creeds, is the basis of universal religion.

    The Whole, as found and interpreted in the total universe, as a rational system and an ultimate reality, is the foundation of universal philosophy.

    The Philosophy of the Perfect Whole 4

  • I. Experience.

    All are needed by each one;Nothing is fair or good alone.

    At some time in life the reflective mind awakes to the consciousness that it desires to know the origin and meaning of things. It can hardly tell how it came by that longing, or why so many facts have been passed by without awakening a desire to know their ultimate value. The mind simply discovers itself existing,expectant, wondering, and awe-inspired,a critical spectator of things, beings, and events without, and of a continuous stream of thought within. Anterior to the moment of discovery an endless current of events stretches backward over the years of thought that can never be recalled. The moment of thought which brought the discovery prominently forward as a turning-point in life is gone almost before one is aware. And onward from the ever-advancing moment one contemplates the approaching rush of ideas and the great spectacle of varying physical phenomena, in which one can only seize now and then a thought or register an impression amid the great whole whose wealth of relations is endless.

    If we confine our attention to the inner or mental aspect of this great flux of events, a single analysis gives but little satisfaction. Sensations of light,

    I. Experience. 5

  • pleasant sounds caused by the ebb and flow of the surf upon the shore, the whispering of the wind in the tree-tops or the singing of birds, impressions of heat and cold, of touch and taste, are brought in upon the consc