THE MISCARRIAGE OF LIFE IN THE WEST.
P. RAMANATHAN, C. M. G., K. C.,
H. M. Solicitor-General, Ceylon.
How interesting to every thoughtful person is the problem whether his life is carrying him to the proper goal or not? The mind that runs indiscreetly with the senses, as they go a-hunting for sights, sound, smell, touches and tastes, is much too occupied with external things to grasp the importance of this issue. When the senses get wearied of their respective works, they fall asleep and rise freshened for the hunt again. At a later stage of existence, when the evils of self-indulgence have been repeatedly felt and much pain caused thereby to the mind, it refuses to run promiscuously with the senses, and the senses, deprived of the willing support of the mind, remain proportionately undrawn by sense objects. It is at this period of comparative peace that the mind comes to know its separateness from the senses and its capacity for righteous work by control of the senses formation of sound thoughts, and correlation of them in the way that leads to the discovery of what lies under the surface of things. What is the first deep truth learnt in this manner, as the result or fruit of worldly experience, by the analytic mind which refuses to be in bondage to the senses? It is this – the beauty of things perceived by the senses turns into ugliness and the joys arising from them change into sorrows. The more clearly one sees that the attractions from a contemplation of them, are as perishable as quick-sand heaps in a flowing river, the more urgent to him becomes the solution of the problem whether his life is carrying him to the proper destination or not. For if the mind is convinced that it is folly to be wedded too deeply to things perceivable by the senses, owing to the certainty of their decay and disappearance, it will assuredly turn from such passing shows and look eagerly for something more real in the world to occupy itself with, and delight in, without the interruptions of sorrow, anger and hate. Such is the experience of men and women on whom the truth has dawned that beautiful forms and sensuous pleasures wither like the grass of the filed. It is to this class of persons that the question of the miscarriage of life will be of interest.
We have next to consider what life means in such expressions as "the miscarriage of life," "the right use of life," and "is life worth caring for?" In regard to these phrases, which, be it noted, rise instinctively to the lips of those who are not too fond of sensuous enjoyments, it will not do to think of life as a round of pleasures, or as joys mixed with sorrows, or as animate existence with its phases of growth and decay. None of these meanings will help us to answer rightly the question raised, for in it is involved the profound truth, little known to the sensuous-minded, but universally attested by sanctified as an incontrovertible fact, that souls have been endowed with instruments of breath, knowledge, and action, as well as different spheres of training (such as home, school and profession, married life and society, Government and politics, industry and amusement), for the beneficent purpose of emancipating themselves from corruption; and therefore, unless "life" is taken to mean the aggregate of those ministers of the soul who labor for it, the question whether one's "life" is "carrying" one to his destination or not, cannot be answered properly.
The truth that "life," in one of its deeper senses, means the ministers of the soul, has been recognized by thoughtful men in the West. About thirty years ago, when the views of Schopenhauer and Hartmann began to prevail and the question "Is life worth living?" became the topic of the day, it was conceded that "life" was a mystery in all forms, vegetable, animal and human and various were the solutions offered in the monthly magazines of the period. Speaking of human life, St. George Mivart said: "An inevitable instinct impels us all to seek our own happiness and to gratify our passions and desires, though we are by no means compelled always in all cases to choose whatever we most like. Yet, however we may suffer ourselves to be borne passively along the pleasure seeking current, our reason can even while we are so borne along, ask the question: Are we rational if we acquiesce in happiness as the supreme and deliberate aim of our life? The answer of reason to itself must surely be that the rational end of life is that which should be its end i.e., which ought to be its end; and 'ought' is meaningless without the conception "duty." He came to the conclusion that "life" meant fulfillment of duty; for such fulfillment the will should be exercised in accordance with reason and apart from the pleasures of the moment; and that the exercise of the will in this manner was the highest act of which we are capable, and that to which all our lower passions and faculties minister (art. on "The Meaning of Life," in the Nineteenth Century, March, 1879).
Reason and will are, indeed, most important parts of life. But life is more than reason and will, for the "life" of a man is said to be extinct when his "breath" ceases to function in the body. What is this "breath"? It is not a passing breeze chased away by another which follows it. The breath of life, that is, the "breath" called "life" (as in the expression "the continent of Europe," which means the continent called Europe) is not a passing gust, but an aerially-constituted power which expires and inspires in a settled rhythmic manner, while located in the body, and which in the act of inspiring draws the atmospheric air into the channels of the body, and in the act of expiring expels it in regular succession, and which further makes many other delicate adjustments conducive to the safety and proper working of the mind and body. It is called prana in Sanskrit, or life, or the principle of breath, or the breather, because, say the sages, it is not only powerful but also intelligent in its own way, and accommodates itself to every conceivable position, and keeps order among other aerially-constituted powers within us, when disarrangements takes place. Sages skilled in pranayama yoga, or the art of breath-control, and their apt pupils, are equally certain that the prana (or the breath named life) in the body permeates every other instrument of the soul, and imparts to them both initiatory movement and endurance in their respective works. Hence the word prana, or life, is often used to include all its colleagues.
The greatest of these colleagues is the mind (manas), the thinker, or the intelligent and powerful entity which makes thought out of sense-percepts, and correlates them in the most wonderful manner. In the Bhagavad Gita is declared the truth that the mind is the instrument by which the resurrection of the soul or spirit is affected. "The uplifting of the soul (atma uddharanam) from corruption has to be done by the mind. Since mind only is the ally of the soul, and mind only the enemy of the soul, the mind should not be made impure by letting it run on sensuous things" (vi. 5). A mind that capers about indiscreetly with the senses becomes quite useless for the edification of the soul. It cannot build it up in love and light. If the ministers of the soul do not assiduously keep themselves clear of the pollutions of worldliness, which is another name for that element of corruption in man which implies him to be selfish and to indulge freely in the grosser forms of sensuous enjoyments, they will not be able to guide or carry the soul to its proper haven of Light and Love. Overcome by the wild fancies of ignorance and haste, they will drift further and further away from that glorious port with their precious charge. This drifting away of the mind into sensuous planes, and its inability to serve the spirit as it should, is the meaning of the life miscarrying." It must be carefully remembered that we are now concerned with inner not outward things; that the Light and Love to be reached, as well as the soul and its guides or carriers, are housed in the body; that the journey of life does not mean the movement of the body from one place to another in the objective world but the turning of the mind from things worldly to things godly, and the awakening of the soul to a knowledge of God, and that unless the mind and the other ministers of the soul are cultured and strengthened, under the direction of the apt teachers, for lawful and loveful works, they cannot quicken the soul, i.e., make the soul to recognize its fallen condition and rise to its own spiritual state so as to know (as only it can know) and be and one with God, the Eternal Being, who is in all, through all, and above all, who is imperceptible to the senses and unthinkable by the mind, but who is knowable by the purified soul. It is positively true that the awakening of the soul to God does not take place till the interest of its ministers turns from the things of the spirit (soul). The moment the mind's attention or gaze is fixed steadily inwards, the soul awakens, like the lotus-bud in the morning sun, and gives all its energy to the study of itself and its relationship with God and the subjective and objective worlds.
The solution of the problem of the miscarriage of life thus necessitates a careful examination and ascertainment of
(1) The being and properties of the soul;
(2) The nature of the corrupt power which holds the soul in bondage;
(3) The being and ways of God, who mercifully emancipation the soul and takes if back, when purified, to be in constant fellowship with Him;
(4) The nature and function of the different instruments with which the soul is endowed for the attainment of spiritual freedom;
(5) The spheres of training ordained for the culture and purification of the instruments of the soul; and
(6) The special methods by which the soul may be sanctified, that is, isolated from all the entanglements of corruption.
This is a severe course of study and training which will tax one's powers to the utmost, but it is fully worth the trouble, because it is the very kind of education which, when combined with experience in godliness, leads to actual knowledge of God and to a complete emancipation from sorrow, anger, fear and hate.
Supposing we have students qualified in mind and body to hear and understand the truths relating to spiritual life, our first duty to them is to free them from the vain convictions to which they have been bred from their infancy – to disentangle them from the bonds of common mistake as well as of learned ignorance. Every land and age has its own obstructions to the comprehension and practice of the principles of true life. The difficulties which beset the seeker in India at the present day, for instance, are different from those of the seeker in Europe. A consideration of the main causes of the miscarriage of life in India – such as, firstly, the corporeal caste system which has all but strangled the intellectual caste system taught by sages under the name of Varnasrama Dharma, for the practical advancement of all who would be spiritual in every part of the globe; and, secondly, the utter forgetfulness of the truth that the works section of the Vedas and Agamas was designed only for awakening the spirit to a knowledge of itself and of God – is not called for in this paper. For the present we must concern ourselves with the obstacles in Christendom to spiritual progress.
In Western lands there is little effort made to distinguish between the kernel and the shell – the essence and the excrescences – of religion. Notwithstanding the assurance of Christ Jesus that His doctrines existed from the foundation of the world, those who call themselves Christians attach the greatest importance to the history of verbal controversies in the different centuries following His era. More than thirty years ago, Mr. Gladstone bewailed "the singularly multiform and confused aspect of religious thought in Christendom," and said: "At every point there start into action multitudes of aimless or erratic forces, crossing and jostling one another, and refusing not only to be governed, but even to be classified. Any attempt to group them, however slightly and however roughly, if not hopeless, is daring" (art. on 1876). The numerous controversies which have arisen in and out of Christian councils are due to the literary ability as well as the spiritual ignorance of those learned in the words of the Bible. Not being delivered from "the oldness of the letter," as observed by St. Paul, which corresponds to the purva paksham of Indian epistemology, they have been too prone to differentiate and too contentious, and this attitude of the mind is fatal to the religious life itself. Such persons know not what religion truly is, and are therefore addicted to the habit of attaching needless importance to unessential growths in Christian belief. Narrow in mind, they seek to monopolize God, though He is everywhere, and has manifested Himself from the remotest times, a eons before Jesus was sanctified and sent into Judaea, up to the present day, to everyone who has renounced at heart the deceptive attractions of the world and longed for grace. How few in Christendom know that religion does not consist in words, professions, and ceremonies, but in heartfelt longing for the Imperishable Substrate of all things! The names and forms, ideals and practices of every creed, are intended only to create a love for God, a bond of union between God and man. Religion, from religare, to bind, is the love-bond which unites man to God. This love of God is the essence of religion. When it has arisen in the heart, it is destined to grow fuller and fuller by association with godly men and by frequent meditation on things spiritual, and to enter into union with Love Infinite, even as a river fed by perennial streams is bound to join the ocean, howsoever distant. Articles of faith and dogmatic teachings, being only methods for causing the love of God to spring in the heart, are not religion in the highest sense of the term, for the religious man is he who lives for god through love of God. He is not controversial, defiant, or monopolizing. He is not jealous that God has manifested Himself beyond the bounds of his own sect. He welcomes with joy the tidings of divine grace where so ever shown, for he knows that his God lives and reigns far beyond his own little neighbourhood.
Another grand difficulty in the West is the triumvirate of theology, philosophy, and science, which have made skeptics and agnostics of seekers by thousands. For fifteen centuries after the days of Jesus, the people implicitly believed the bishops and clergy of the Church. But when the fierce controversies of the Reformations arose, and the current of thought initiated by Bacon, Descrates, Locke and others began to flow steadily, widened by the discoveries of physical science and astronomy, the intelligent among the faithful were dismayed to find that the authorities of the Church were not, in the words of St. Paul, "apt to teach or convince the gainsayers." Their faith was shaken when the increasing sense of law produced by the study of physical sciences forced them "more and more to attribute all the phenomena that meet them in actual life or history to normal, rather than to abnormal, agencies" (Lecky's History of Raionalism in Europe ch. iii). They could not believe in abnormal revelations and miracles, nor accept the usual interpretations of the hard sayings of the Bible. The ancient claim of theology to speak with authority on all subjects of inquiry was rejected, and indeed relinquished. "It restricts itself to the region of faith, and leaves to philosophy and science the region of inquiry" (History of Philosophy, Prolog. 1). In this field of free investigation, science deals with demonstrable or verifiable facts only, and philosophy consists of the interpretations of such facts and their possible causes, as also of purely speculative thought respecting things that transcend the senses. The West is ruled by this strange coalition. But there is no cohesion or consistency in it. The standpoints of view of the theologian, the philosopher, and the scientist are different from each other. The theologian proclaims God as the goal of life, believing the testimony of the Biblical sages. The philosopher and the scientist have no such belief or goal, being prepared to go wherever the imaginative or hypothetical reasoning of the one, or the matter-of-fact experiment (on bodies perceivable by the senses) of the other, takes them. "We have scanned the heavens and the earth but we have no evidence of God's existence; we do not know Him," say they. It is thus not difficult to see that the so-called triumvirate is a house divided against itself. The three powers confound and unsettle each other, and everyone else, by their discordant notes. Hence, it is usual in the West to say "Science declares so and so, philosophy so and so, and theology so and so; and now what do you say?" And the reply is: "I don't know, I am sure, but I think it is so and so." What progress is possible in this unsettled state of knowledge, in this reign of controversy?
Nevertheless, the West is firmly persuaded that it is progressing satisfactorily. It is proud of its "success" in industry, science, and politics, and claims to have created, and to live in, an age of progress. "Fifty years of ever-broadening commerce, fifty years of ever-brightening science, and fifty years of ever-widening empire," represents the cry of those who are satisfied with material prosperity, even though its silver lines are set on a background of invalid poverty and lawless schemes of revolution. Are we really living in an age of progress, or is it only a flattering fancy which obstructs a true perspective of life and lulls people to slumber in error, in imminent peril of losing a life's opportunity? The subject is worthy of careful analysis.
What is the true position of Western nations in regard to what is called industrial progress?
Industry is the diligent employment of the mind, hand, and eye (or any other sense) on the production of something that is useful or ornamental; and industrial progress is the constant exercise of the creative talent upon the production of things for sensuous enjoyment. To the producer his occupation brings some money by the sale of his work, so that he is able to supply himself and those whom he loves with the needs and comforts of the body. A more enduring return to the steadfast worker is the improvement of his mind. When it is set upin industrial work regularly, it becomes steady, sharp, and discriminating, and therefore thinks straight and sees clear especially if it is literate and law-abiding. It then becomes reflective. During this stage of introspection it discovers signs of the spirit within, and its interest in matters concerning the spirit grows to be keen. Even as in days gone by the mind stood united to the things of the flesh, it now prefers union with the spirit. Once carnally minded and therefore disturbed easily, given to hate, wanting in restfulness and crass inn understanding, it is now spiritually-minded, and therefore forgiving, charitable, peaceful, and enlightened. This is the history of the mind set on industrial work. That work, done ably and with a law-abiding heart, is indeed the way to the goal called spiritual-mindedness, or that state of the mind wherein it does not allow itself to be drawn this way or that way by the likes and dislikes of the body, but remains true to the spirit, which is love and light.
Two classes of benefits flow from industrial work, one external and the other internal. The external benefits are the supplying of increased comforts and conveniences to the body and the embellishing of houses and cities. But these are all perishable. Taught to make bubbles out of soap and water, a boy gave his mind to that work, blew the bubbles through his tube, and contemplated them as they floated gaily in the air. The hand that worked to produce the glittering effect rested, as the mind and eye watched the vainglorious thing fading in the distance. The boy felt happy, but that happiness was as fleeting as the bubble itself. In a similar way did Alexander the Great and Napoleon the First project empires, which rose and burst even as they were looking on. The external benefits of work, industrial or political, are comparatively of little value to the worker himself. To him, far more important is the internal benefit accruing to the mind which has done its work ably and justly. Such a mind, being cleansed and strengthened, becomes qualified for the higher work of calm reflection and meditation, by which alone the spirit within may be found. If men, individually or collectively, rest content with the external benefits of industrial work, without striving hard for the internal benefits also, the chief end of industrial work will be missed.
The expansion of the industrial arts at home and the attainment of commercial supremacy abroad are not commendable if they stand divorced from spirituality. The spread of perishable wares for the convenience and adornment of perishable bodies is vain if the producers and carriers of them do not know how to save their souls from wreck and rain in the vide seas of sensuousness and mean competition, and if the consumers of the goods do not take care to buy only what they really need and so prevent the pampering of the senses, which promotes the growth of emotion, irreverence, and frivolity. The industry and commerce of England, which are said to be the "foundation of her pride," are, in the absence of love for the welfare of the spirit, like fuel to the fire of sensuousness, which, alas! has been burning in the people for some centuries, and slowly withering what is holy and beautiful in them. If the artisans and traders of the country live for the spirit, while working hard for the maintenance of the body and the improvement of the cities, they will be a shining light and perpetual source of joy to their brethren at home and to everyone else abroad.
Next comes this question – How does the West stand in truth in regard to what is called scientific progress?
With the microscope, telescope, and the chemical-tube the man of Western science assays all things perceivable by the senses turns into horse power the manifestations of nature, called of old "flesh" and utilizes its brute forces either for the more rapid production and transport of commodities, or for the destruction of enemies by novel implements of warfare. The scope of Western science is thus limited, as in the case of the industrial arts, to that which relates to the body. Its methods of inquiry prevent it from the study of the invisible spirit. Though it recognizes the fact that the visible came from the invisible, it declines to predicate anything of the invisible. It says nothing of the spirit, or of the bondage of the spirit to darkness, or of the extrication of the spirit there from. It has no spiritual discernment. Indeed, it does not know what that expression means. It has not heard of, much less experienced, the fact that there are three kinds of knowledge available; firstly, what the spirit knows through the senses; secondly, what it knows through the deductions of the mind; and thirdly, what it knows directly, without the intervention of the senses or the mind. Western science is ignorant of the distinction between worldly knowledge and godly knowledge. Worldly knowledge consists of the reports of the senses and the inferences of the mind; and godly knowledge consists of what the soul only can know when it stands isolate – as most assuredly it can be due culture – from the senses and the mind. Western science is wholly ignorant of this isolation or alone becoming of the soul, so well-known to sanctified sages, and called by them in Sanskrit Kaivalyam, Santi, Ekatvam, and in Greek Monogeneia. Ignorant of the absolute existence of the invisible spirit and of its capacity to know God during isolation, and to know the world in combination with the senses and the mind, and obliged by the particular methods of inquiry which Western science has imposed upon itself, it disowns the spirit, the most real thing in the universe. There is no justification in truth for remaining in this state of agnosticism and continuing to be an ally of atheism. If it would only step out of its narrow sense-plane and study under proper guidance the deep-lying truths of the larger soul-plane, called the kingdom of the spirit, as assiduously as it has studied the secrets of the kingdom of nature, what a change would there be in the heart of all Europe! It should pass from carnal-mindedness, and that bondage of the intellect to the senses which is complacently called rationalism, to spiritual-mindedness, poise, and love of God. Its cities would be abodes of righteousness and peace, and not of selfishness, strife, and gnawing desire. Then, indeed, should we speak of the glories of scientific progress.
And now of political progress.
In the East the populace admit that, owing to want of means and leisure, they are obliged to forego the advantages of learning and culture save in exceptional cases. Respecting the law as the doctrine of neighborly love enforced by the government of the country, they mind their own business, and rely patiently and trustfully on the guidance of their spiritual teachers and the consideration of the wealthy and the learned who are themselves not unmindful of the spirit. This ideal of living in the world, not for the pampering of the senses but for the purification of the spirit and for its development in love and true knowledge, necessarily involves not only a genuine obedience to the law and to every constituted authority, such as parent, teacher, employer, magistrate, and other rulers of the people, but also a constant desire to practice forbearance on the part of both the rulers and the ruled. In these circumstances the word "Government" does not mean one body of people domineering over another body, but all classes of minds governing themselves by the dictates of neighborly love as interpreted by time honored customs.
The early history of man proves that social relationships originally rested on consanguinity, common language, and common worship, and that any new question which did not come within the purview of an existing custom had to be decided by the unanimous consent of all the heads of families which formed the brotherhood. In the West also this rule of unanimity prevailed in ancient times in the settlement of public questions, and a survival of it in the present day may be seen in trial by jury. But the ties of blood, language, and worship, which conduce to unity of sentiment and action, become ineffective for that end when foreign ideals have been allowed to take root in the minds of the people. The introduction of strange principles in a homogeneous community leads to the suppression or modification of established modes of thought and the espousal of new opinions. In this conflict of thought it is impossible to determine questions affecting the welfare of the mixed people by the rule of unanimity, which is founded on love. A new rule was necessary for the adjustment of differences arising in a polity composed of heterogeneous masses and interests, and the rough and ready rule of majority, based on the force of members, was chosen. The two rules are different in kind. Unanimity involves mutual concession, but the majority in agreement means the rejection of the wishes of the minority. The former rule gives satisfaction all round and broadens love in the heart; but the latter quenches love and breeds resentment in the party defeated. To persons who prize the spiritual qualities of self-effacement, patience, and forbearance, the rule of majority is positively unholy, desecrating; but it looks natural to those who are not spiritual-minded, and to those who have backslidden from spirituality to secularity. And what is meant by the secularization of politics? A polity which lives for this world only, and is ever in a hurry to wield power and secure for itself the perishable things of sensuous life by short cuts, esteeming it a virtue to be self-assertive, and to bawl, and smash in order to have its own way against the cherished desires and needs of others, is said to be "secularized."
Political progress in the West means nothing more than the victories of majorities over minorities in parliament, diet, or senate. It does not mean a series of well-chosen measures for the development of righteousness and the expansion of love in the individual. Many of the triumphs of majorities have indeed abated or suppressed tyranny and other forms of abuse of political power, but who can tell how many blessings have been lost to the world by the defeat of minorities? It is usual to speak highly of the Reform Act of 1832, but for some years past it has been seen to be the means by which the government of the empire is passing into the hands of common laborers', and the cause of many a coming storm in the sea of socialism. Some fifty years earlier than the Reform Act happened the French Revolution, which secured for the masses with it called "political equality." The true meaning of this expression is little known. It denotes the idea that one human body is as good as another, that the body of a prime minister is no better than that of his coachman or footman. It ignores the deeper truth that minds in human bodies are really of different orders of intelligence and ability, and that therefore it is wrong, in the nature of things, to invest one order of minus with the work which is suitable only to another order. In a family it is the parents who must rule, because their minds see further and are less influenced by currents of selfishness or other disturbing factors than the minds of their children. Even so, in the Government of a polity, it is the most enlightened and capable minds that should be entrusted with the power of directing its affairs. It is ruinous in the highest degree to invite the unlearned, the fickle, the impatient, and the irascible, who form the majority of the world, either to rule the country or to elect representatives for that purpose. Only those who are behind the scenes know the ingenious, costly, and difficult contrivances by which the evils and dangers of popular government are sought to be minimized or averted – by which the enfranchised populace are attempted to be "snared and taken" by a comparatively small body of men who are actuated by public spirit, or who believe themselves to be fit to guide the people and represent their interests in parliament. The work of teaching the people the nature of the public questions as they rise from time to time, and the work of carrying them safely to the poll, involve most anxious thought, strenuous labor and heavy expenditure of money on the part of this small body of men, who employ thousands of agents to go along, and convert, the people. Thus arises the enthralling game of politics in the West. The aim of each player is to make his party take up his cry, and the aim of each party is to make the majority of the people take up that cry. When that is achieved, the ruling ministers who form the Government are expected to give effect to the wishes of the majority by legislative enactment or executive order; and if they do not, they should resign office and make room for another ministry. In this wise is maintained the never-ending political drama. It is exciting, and often amusing and is commonly believed to be a struggle for the liberty of the people.
"The great characteristic of modern politics," said Mr. W. E. H. Lecky, "is the struggle for political liberty in its widest sense – the desire to make the will of the people the basis of the Government – the conviction that a nation has a right to alter a government that oppose its sentiment." But surely the will of the people is not the will of a little more than half its number; nor can the liberty of the majority, which involves the slavery of the minority, be justly called political liberty. It is this strange medley of freedom and bondage which stands proudly in the West for political progress. One of its worst features is that the middle and the cultured classes, who form the most sensible part of the nation, are without political power owing to their smallness in number. "They have as little power now," said Mr. Walter Bagehot," as they had before 1832; and the only difference is that before 1832 they were ruled by those richer than themselves, and now they are ruled by those poorer." If they desire for legislative or Municipal power, they must woo and win the populace in the way the latter like, and that way is the profane way that sickens the gentle and the righteous.
It is not difficult now to see true meaning of the saying that we are living in an age of progress. It simply means we are living in an age which, for want of proper judgment and poise, believes in change of any kind as a sure remedy for the tedium of work and idleness, and whose appetite is therefore keenly set on all those mechanical improvements which have been invented from day to day for facilitating business or amusement. Such an age, having no adequate conception of the evils of luxury or of the greatness of work for its own sake, takes no pains to restrain the senses when they distract the mind, or to abate the play of the imagination as a means of conserving one's energy. It does not know the truth that sensuousness unfits the mind for its proper work of uplifting the soul. It claims to make us better today than we were yesterday, and to make us better tomorrow than we are today but that is only better in food, raiment, wealth, household furniture, equipage, social position, and rank, - to be better in all that relates to the glorification of the perishable body, but not in anything that conduces to the purity of the eternal spirit. In this betterment of the body, the poor are striving hard to keep pace with the middle classes, the middle classes with the richer classes, the rich man with the millionaire, and the millionaire with the multi-millionaire. This feverish desire to earn more and spend more on the feeding and dressing of the body, and supplying it and the senses with every object of gratification, is robbing all classes of the people, from the highest to the lowest, of that peace of mind and poise which are essential to the safety of the body, as well as of the spirit. The nervous restlessness which characterizes life in Western cities is not the mark of true progress or sound civilization. This is felt to be so by the cultured few in those very cities, who are puzzled and amazed at the "up-t-date" craze, which is slowly but surely quenching the spirit, and so ruining the most valuable asset alike of the individual and the nation.
It is folly to call this wide expansion of sensuousness and worldliness an Age of Progress. Sages declare that cities get filled with the rural population when love of finery and amusement dominate the minds of the people. The flight of the peasantry from agricultural holdings into towns, known already to be too full of the unemployed and unemployable, is like the rush of insects into a bonfire lit in a tropical night, and affords positive proof that the spread of sensuous ideals is breaking up the very foundations of society. The steady backsliding of every class into deeper depths of worldliness, irreligion, and frivolity, is utterly inconsistent with true progress of true civilization by which is meant the ideas and practices which consciously uplift a nation from the corruption of sensuousness and unrighteousness to a higher plane of live, where reverence for the spirit and its careful extrication from the mazes of worldliness are the chief aims of human existence.