by Thomas Troward
It may seem a truism to say that the whole is made up of its parts; but all the same, we often lose sight of this in our outlook on life.
The reason we do so is because we are apt to take too narrow a view of the whole; and also because we do not sufficiently consider that it is not the mere arithmetical sum of the parts that makes the whole, but also the harmonious agreement of each part with all the other parts. The extent of the whole and the harmony of the parts is what we have to look out for, and also its objective; this is a universal rule, whatever the whole in question may be.
Take, for instance, the case of the artist. He must start by having a definite objective, what in studio phrase is called a "motif" something that has given him a certain impression which he wants to convey to others, but which cannot be stated as an isolated fact without any surroundings. Then the surroundings must be painted so as to have a natural relation to the main motif; they must lead up to it, but at the same time they must not compete with it. There must be only one definite interest in the picture, and minor details must not be allowed to interfere with it. They are there only because of the main motif, to help express it. Yet they are not to be treated in a slovenly manner. As much as is seen of them must be drawn with an accuracy that correctly suggests their individual character; but they must not be accentuated in such a way as to emphasise details to the detriment of the breadth of the picture. This is the artistic principle of unity, and the same principle applies to everything else.
What, then, is the "Motif" of Life? Surely it must be to express its own Livingness. Then in the True Order, all modes of life and energy must converge towards this end, and it is only our short-sightedness that prevents us from seeing this from seeing that the greater the harmony of the whole Life, the greater will be the inflow of that Life in each of the parts that are giving it expression. This is what we want to learn with regard to ourselves, whether as individuals, classes, or nations.
We have seen the cosmic workings of the Law of Wholeness in the discovery of the planet Neptune. Another planet was absolutely necessary to complete the unity of our solar system, and it was found that there is such a planet; and similarly in other branches of natural science. The Law of Unity is the basic law of Life, and it is our ignorant or wilful infraction of this Law that is the root of all our troubles.
If we take this Law of Unity as the basis of our Thought, we shall be surprised to find how far it will carry us. Each part is a complete whole in itself. Each inconceivably minute particle revolves round the centre of the atom in its own orbit. On its own scale it is complete in itself and, by co-operation with thousands of others, forms the atom. The atom again is a complete whole, but it must combine with other atoms to form a molecule, and so on. But if the atom be imperfect as an atom, how could it combine with other atoms?
Thus we see that however infinitesimal any part may be as compared with the whole, it must also be a complete whole on its own scale if the greater whole is to be built up. On the same principle, our recognition that our personality is an infinitesimal fraction of an inconceivably greater Life does not mean that it is at all insignificant in itself, or that our individuality becomes submerged in an indistinguishable mass; on the contrary, our own wholeness is an essential factor towards the building up of the greater whole; so that as long as we keep before us the building up of the Great Whole as the "main motif", we need never fear the expansion of our own individuality. The more we expand, the more effective units we shall become.
We must not, however, suppose that Unity means Uniformity. St Paul puts this very clearly when he says, if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? etc. (1 Cor. 12:14-26). How could you paint a picture without distinction of form, colour, or tone? Diversity in Unity is the necessity for any sort of expression, and if it be the case in our own bodies, as St Paul points out, how much more so in the expressing of the Eternal Life through endless ages and limitless space!
Once we grasp this idea of the unity and progressiveness of Life going on ad infinitum, what boundless vistas of possibility open before us. It would be enough to stagger the imagination were it not for our old friends, the Law and the Word. But these will always accompany us, and we may rely upon them in all worlds and under all conditions.
This Law of Unity is what in natural science is known as the Law of Continuity, and the Ancient Wisdom has embodied it in the Hermetic [so called after Hermes Trismegistus Ed.] Axiom Sicut superius, sicut inferius; sicut inferius, sicut superius "As above, so below; as below, so above". It leads us on from stage to stage, unfolding as it goes; and to this unfolding there is no end, for it is the Eternal Life finding ever fuller expression as it can find more and more suitable channels through which to express itself. It can no more come to an end than numbers can come to an end.
But it must find suitable channels. Let there be no mistake about this. Perhaps someone may say: Cannot it make suitable channels for any sort of expression that it needs? The answer is that it can, and it does so up to a certain point. As we have seen, the Word, Thought, or Initial Impulse of the Ever-Living Spirit starts a centre of cosmic activity in which the mathematical element of Law at once asserts itself; thenceforward everything goes on according to certain broad principles of sequence.
This is the Generic Creation creation according to genera, or classes, like the "archetypal ideas" of Plato. This creation is governed by a Law of Averages, and the legal maxim De minimis non curat lex "the Law cannot trouble about minorities" applies to it. This generic law keeps the class going, and slowly advancing, simply as a class; but its can take no notice of individuals as such. As Tennyson puts it in "In Memoriam", speaking of Nature:
This mode of creation reaches its highest level, at any rate in our world, in Genus Homo the human race. We also, as a race, are under the Law of Averages. The race continues to exist, but from the moment of birth the individual life is liable to be cut short in a hundred different ways. In producing man, however, Generic Creation has produced a type having a mental and physical constitution capable of perceiving the underlying principle of all creation that is, of seeing the relation between the Word and the Law.
We cannot conceive creation by type going further than this. By the nature of this type, every human being has the potential of a further evolution, which will set it free from bondage to an impersonal Law of Averages by specialising it through the Power of the Word that is, by bringing the Personal Factor to bear upon the Impersonal factor, and so unfolding the possibilities which can be achieved by their united activities.
We have the power of using the Word so as to specialise the action of the Law not by altering the Law, which is impossible, but by realising its principle and enabling it to work under conditions which are not spontaneously provided by Nature but are provided by our own selection. The capacity for this exists in all human beings, but the practical application of this capacity depends on our recognition of the principles involved; and it is for this reason that I commenced this book by citing instances of the combined working of Law and Personality in purely physical science. I wanted first to convince the reader from well-ascertained facts that the Law contains infinite possibilities, but that this can only be brought out through the operation of the mind of man.
It is here that we find the value of the maxim "Nature unaided fails". The more we consider this maxim and the principle of Unity and Continuity, the clearer it will become that Limitation is no part of the Law itself but results only from our own limited comprehension of it, and that St James uses no meaningless phrase but is stating a logical and scientific truth when he speaks of "The perfect Law of Liberty" (Jas. 1:25). What we have to do is to follow this up, not by petulant self-assertion but by quietly considering the why and wherefore of the whole thing. In doing so, we can fortify ourselves with another maxim, that "Principle is not limited by Precedent".
When we spread the wings of Thought and speculate as to future possibilities, our conventionally minded friends may say we are talking bosh; but if you ask them why they say so, they can only reply that the past experience of the whole human race is against you. They do not speak like this in the matter of flying-machines or carriages that go without horses; they say these are scientific discoveries. But when it comes to the possibilities of our own souls, they at once set a limit to the expansion of ideas and do not see that the scientific principle of discovery is not confined to laboratory experiments. Therefore, we must not let ourselves be discouraged by such arguments. If our friends doubt our sanity, let them doubt it. The sanity of such men as Galileo and George Stephenson [1781-1848, English inventor of a steam-driven railway engine Ed.] was doubted by their contemporaries, so we are in good company.
At the same time, we must not neglect to look after our own sanity. We must know some intelligible reason for our conclusions and realise that, however unexpected, they are the logical carrying out of principles which we can recognise in the Creation around us. If we do this, we need not fear to spread the wings of fancy, even though some may not be able to accompany us; only we must remember that we are using wings.
Fancy, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, has really no wings; it is like a balloon that just floats wherever any passing current of air may drive it. The possession of wings implies power to direct our flight, and fancy must be converted into trained Imagination, just as the helpless balloon has been superseded by navigable aircraft. It must be the "scientific imagination"; and the "scientific imagination", carried into the world of spiritual causation, becomes the Word of Power, and its Power is derived from the fact that it is always working according to Law.
Then we may go on confidently, because we are following the same universal principles by which all creation has been evolved, only now we are specialising its action from the standpoint of our own individuality according to the ancient teaching that Man, the Microcosm, repeats in himself all the laws of the Macrocosm, or great world, around him.
As we begin to see the truth of these things, we begin to transcend the simply generic stage. That first stage is necessary to provide a starting-point for the next. The first stage is that of Bondage to Law. It could not be otherwise, for the simple reason that you must learn the law before you can use it. Then from the stage of Generic Creation we emerge into that of individual Creation, in which we attain liberty through Knowledge of the Law of our own Being; so that it is not a mere theological myth to talk of a New Creation, but it is the logical outcome of what we now are if, to our recognition of the Power of the Law, we add the recognition of the Power of the Word.