Home

 

The Seven Purposes by Margaret Cameron 1867 - 1947

 

XIII

 

TALKING about the Lessons one day, Mr. Kendal mentioned his impression that Zoroaster had said something approaching the first one in theory, and then asked, a whimsical gleam in his eye:

 

"Mary, has Professor James said anything about Zoroaster in this connection?"

 

"Manzie, Mr. James has no philosophical library here to refer to," was the prompt retort. She told us, however, that he would soon come himself to talk to this former pupil of his, adding a characteristic glint of humor in the assurance that he would then give "a demonstration of a philosopher simplified to a force."

 

A night or two afterward (May 13th), she announced: "Manzie, here is Mr. James."

 

There was a brief delay, and when the pencil moved again, it was with a changed application of force and a new movement, the first words being personal. Referring to an early period in his own investigation of psychic phenomena, he said:


 

297

THE SEVEN PURPOSES

 

"Youth, in its nearness to inspiration, sometimes sees more clearly than age, with its academic dependence upon theory and precedent and what men call the wisdom of experience. When this wisdom is based on perception, conscious or otherwise, of eternal purpose, it transcends the vision of youth. But when it is based on perception of physical phenomena and the accumulated theories of other men, youth has an inspiration and a faith that leads it, all unknowing, to the brink of great mysteries." This was followed by an allusion to those "befogged in precedent, physical phenomena, and intellectual theory, who were "unable to follow where they should have led."

 

"There has seemed to be a good deal of genuine feeling underlying the humorous persiflage through the pencil about the scientific state of mind, "Mr. Kendal suggested. "Hasn't the time come when we can reach the scientific type of mind? And isn't it worth while to do so? And if so, what is the best psychological line of attack?"

 

"The scientist is not by any means hopeless, but like many men in your plane, he is overbalanced and therefore unbalanced by physical considerations. Physical phenomena are of vital importance in your life, and their study


 

298

THE SEVEN PURPOSES

 

and analysis has led to a degree of material progress which would have been incredible to the third—and all but incredible to the second—generation back. It is only because scientists have persisted in the study of physical phenomena that you are enabled to understand in some part what is now being given you. The misapprehension has been that physical phenomena alone could be recognized. Those who have believed that have denied the existence of the greatest and most persistent of all forces. Attempts to explain spiritual phenomena by physical formulae have been found unsuccessful by every one save those who took refuge in denial of the thing that moved them to deny, the eternal and indestructible purpose.

 

"When to their laboratories scientists bring perception of spiritual phenomena exceeding any material manifestation known to man in strength and significance, then they may hope to discover and develop a force beside which all known forces are insignificant. Science is the ladder by which life may quickly ascend, but until science recognizes a spiritual force as the one essential force, of which all other forces are incidental phenomena, progress must be limited."

 

"Then, generally speaking," Mr. Kendal


 

299

THE SEVEN PURPOSES

 

said, "perhaps the most effective appeal to scientists would be the appeal to scientific ambition."

 

"Always the most effective means to win any man to anything is to appeal to his purpose. If it be personal, appeal to his vanity. If it be progressive, appeal to his eagerness. If it be intellectual, pique his curiosity. Scientists, like others, are divided in purpose."

 

"We have been much interested in the decisive definiteness with which our friends on that plane have been able to classify the purposes of persons here," Mr. Kendal mentioned. "Is this as clear to you as physical characteristics are to us, and as quickly determined?"

 

"Yes, and in much the same way. We see motive and intention and their variations as you see physical appearance, vitality and its variations. We see disintegrating moral factors more clearly than you see physical ills. We judge of purpose by its vitality and persistence under strain, precisely as you judge of physical health by its vitality under strain and by its persistence in spite of occasional disease."

 

"Then you see disintegrating force as the scientist sees germs?" Cass inquired. "As disease?"

 

No, we see them as foes. I speak here


 

300

THE SEVEN PURPOSES

 

only of the way we judge purpose. There is no diseased purpose. There may be struggle between more or less intelligent forces, but in using the simile of physical health, I did it in a limited sense."

 

"Is there an inherent reason for the different types of philosophies?" Mr. Kendal now questioned. "That is, the Nirvana­oblivion type in the Orient, as contrasted with the hell-fire-and­brimstone type in the Occident. If inherent, is its cause geographical, intellectual, biological, or what?"

 

"A little of all of them. Philosophies are the outgrowth of conditions, physical, moral and geographical—and therefore to some extent biological—to a much greater degree than is generally recognized. It has been said that food makes the man. To a greater degree, environment makes the philosopher."

 

"May we publish this as coming from you?" Certainly. I am here for that purpose.

 

Light and Progress are my purposes, and teaching still my work."

 

After a few lines of purely personal significance, this was signed: "William James."

 

PART - 14