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19. ‘The Mind calls for Clear Statement’

Are you prompting me once more in my mind? Yes, you are saying, 'You have not yet told yourself clearly and without embellishment what it is that you have seen of me. Only the precise vision, purged of fantasy, can temper the heart for action in this age that so mistrusts mere faith.'

Anxiously I scrutinize my vision of you.

You remain for ever beyond description. Everything that I can say of you is fatally false to you, false even to my own faint glimmer of you.

But at the very least you are that spirit, that fair temper of living, which has haunted the groping hearts of men since man first was man.

You are that way of life, that form of awareness and action, in which the soul (but what is that?) yearns outwards from itself to meet, and to salute and serve the reality confronting it. You are that in us all in virtue of which we strive to be aware more sensitively and intelligently of the dark-bright world; and to feel more precisely and delicately about the world's impact on us; and to act with such integrity and courage and creative power as the world itself for its own .fulfilment demands of us.

Because you are all this, you are the way of love, the way of wisdom, the way of creating.

What more you are, I have not wit to say. Whether you are fundamental to the cosmos, or a casual and lovely glint here and there within it, we in our littleness can never know. Perhaps you are indeed, as all the prophets declare, the heart of the cosmos; perhaps even its first cause and constant mover. Or perhaps you are nothing more than a little wild uncherished flower doomed to vanish when the cosmical cold, or intervening fire, kills the last lone, world. Perhaps, and far more likely, your status is wholly beyond human ken.

But this we do know, and it is enough. Wherever, in all the worlds throughout every galaxy, creatures have awakened to be at least humanly self-aware and aware of each other, there you are the mind's star, the heart's heart. Those who have glimpsed you cannot but salute you, and strive to manifest you.

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20. ‘The Heart demands Examples’

Suddenly, laughingly, in my heart you protest, 'You have knitted an ample net to catch me, and you have succeeded in casting it around me. But the mesh is far too wide. See how I slip through at every hole! I am no school of salmon; I am a shoal of innumerable little sprats and minnows and fish with glistening scales. Try with a bent pin and a line to land one and then another and another of my members. So, you will capture the form of me more easily than with all your far-flung phrases.'

Dumbly, doubtfully, I prepare fresh tackle.

"Yes! Whenever I made my small choices, not often with courage, but sometimes with resolution, you were the choosing; and, in the choosing, you remade me. Whenever, in comrade- ship with others more resolute, I chose to make a stand against some cruelty or some lie, the act was you; and you were the courage and devotion of the comrades.

But also, when I have broken away from an ambiguous crusade, you were the breaking. My loyalty is to you, not to the partisan vision of the comrades.

When I cleave wood with an axe, you are the skilled stroke, and the neat falling apart of the block. When I am on the high fells, you are my accord with mist and crags. And you are that in them which, not of my making, confronts me.

When my hand settles on a woman's breast, you are not merely the tender softness; you are the small act's great meaning. You are the venture, the home-coming, the apotheosis of friendliness, the mutual acceptance of lovers; whether for a night only, or for a life-time.

You are the sparkle of wit, tender and bawdy, flickering between lovers newly-intimate. You are that which looks from the eyes of well-proved lovers when death or parting threatens them. You are their mutual cherishing, their mutual moulding and increase, their inspired community, their little 'we', their comradeship in child-rearing and in service beyond the home.

When I have had occasion to drive reason through to my utmost reach of clarity, you were the thinking; and the seeming truth revealed was you. I recall how, after long bewilderment, I gained an inkling of relativity-theory. You were the insight; and in the glimpsed subtlety of the universe you confronted me.

Pursuing philosophy, I pursued you as the phantom truth that beckons through jungles of verbiage. Again and again I glimpsed you; yet it was never you, but significant nonsense half-revealing you. And when at last I saw that reason, though of you, must ever belie you, again I glimpsed you, in the all-pervading mystery. My glimpsing was you, and you shine through the mystery.

You are our rare creative acts of imagination, great and small. You were in my friend’s poetic art, when with a single phrase or the counterpoint of a whole poem she opened up new vistas. And in a lesser way you were my halting steps as I followed her. You are also the wordless but eloquent communication of high music, and of forms in paint and stone. Merely to grasp these, with quickened imagination, is to be creative at least within one's own experience; and so, to participate in you.

Long ago (it was while I was scrambling on a rugged coast, where great waves broke in blossom on the rocks) I had a sudden fantasy of man's whole future, aeon upon aeon of strange vicissitudes and gallant endeavours in world after world, seeking a glory never clearly conceived, often betrayed, but little by little revealed. The seeing was you, and the glory was you. Since then, year after year, 1 have tried to create in words symbols of that vision. The labour was you; and you were the splendour which those crude symbols failed to manifest.

Today, living in a world of storm but on a raft of safety, I seem to have seen what is now at stake on our planet. Again, the seeing, though still unclear, is you. And what is at stake is the whole future of man as your terrestrial instrument. Can he serve you still, or must he fail you, and be rejected? For surely mans' office today is to found at last a little province of your cosmical kingdom here on this fair starlet.

If he fails, let him perish. Let the instrument be broken. Let other races in other worlds serve more faithfully the spirit that all awakened beings cannot but adore.

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21. ‘In All Worlds the Way is Identical’

Scornfully in my heart you scold me. 'Arrogant and unfeeling creature! To serve me without humility is to betray me. What are you, that you should dictate to the race of men, and condemn them if they serve other Gods than yours? The self-righteousness of inquisitors and commissars is a cruel infliction on my peoples.'

Again I am struck to silence.

And in my mind, now, you taunt me. 'How can you know that beings in remote worlds, the flower of alien soil and of nature inhuman, cannot but salute the same divinity as men? Even on earth, while some praise love, others admire only ruthless power; while some glorify reason, others spurn it. Then how much deeper must be the gulf between the human and the non-human! Why should they have anything at all in common? And how should man presume to speak for beings of superhuman attainment in worlds mature and wise?'

The argument strikes home. But no! You are merely testing me. Out of very loyalty to you, spirit of reason and of love, I scorn your plea. To be a person in whatever body and whatever world, is to be at heart the twin of all other persons. And to be a person is to be aware of a universe which at heart is the same universe as confronts all other persons throughout all galaxies, no matter how the idiosyncrasy of diverse worlds distorts it. To be a person at all is to be sensitive and intelligent in sufficient degree to be self-aware and other-aware, and even obscurely world-aware. And all the beauties which the awakened heart cannot but salute are beauties which the actual world of things and selves press upon it for free espousal.

No person (how well I know it!) can perceive the world in all its beauty and horror clearly and without distortion. Weak- ness of vision and narrowness of circumstance confuse us all, so that we often mistake some minor, irrelevant excellence for the whole of excellence; as Hitler, dazzled by power, was blind to love. But such madness, flagrant in Hitler and subtly at work in all of us, is indeed perversion from the true Way of growing awareness. ,

To be a person at all, whether great or lowly, is to be torn in conflict between beauties familiar and facile and beauties strange and difficult, which intrude upon the self from some as yet unhomely but loftier, lovelier sphere. Sin is to reject the intruder; salvation, to welcome it, surrendering even the homely citadel of the self.

And so, in all worlds, however alien, the spirit's face, though lovely with infinite diversity of expression, is yet also identical.

To be fully awake is surely to pursue, through the spirit's infinite diversity, its ultimate identity.

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22. ‘Beyond the Way’

In my heart now, you strangely, darkly speak. 'The sceptic in the mind is answered in the mind. But see! If you would be true to me, you must go beyond me. For I go beyond myself. I who am the light of the world, am ensphered in darkness. A little I penetrate that darkness; but soon I die into it. Gladly, at my furthest reach, I die into the dark, even I who am the world's light and life and glory. I am indeed the Way, the holy Way that beckons all waking hearts; but at the Way's end lies no discernible bright heaven. I am a road broken across, and hanging above a black abyss. Few can reach that place, and very few can pass beyond it. Yet for those few who love me rightly, with passion yet with dispassion, with loyalty unswerving yet unservile, I do project beyond my broken end a frail, an almost invisibly faint, shaft of my dying light. It is the Way that goes beyond the Way, outward into the dark. My true lovers must dare to walk that plank, leading beyond me, none knows whither.'

Dismayed, I search my heart for insight into the enigma that you have spoken in it.

I know that on every plane of ascending awareness the plane beyond must needs be enigmatic. An infant cannot conceive a lover's passion; nor children high poetry. And to the human the superhuman must remain inconceivable. Yet between the child and the adult there is no sudden break of the way. And though the child cannot imagine maturity, the adult, looking back, perceives a seamless growth from childhood; perceives also that what to the child was inconceivable is after all the flowering of the child's own unopened bud. Then why, oh why should you, my heart's heart, you beckoning star for all awakened beings, reach a dead end in mystery? For us, your instruments, it must indeed be that you, the unattainable star, outreach our insight and our power; but having set our course by you, may we not at least have reasonable faith that always you will guide us. What is this fantasy that before the end you will fail us, that we must pass beyond even the star?

In my mind I hear you subtly saying, 'I am indeed the Way for all finite beings, while they are still cramped by their finitude; but, if they would be true to me, they must in the end espouse the infinite. And in so doing they must go beyond me, who am the Way. The infinite needs no Way, for it comprises eternally both the end and all the beginnings. How should it side with the bright against the dark, since these are foils to each other; how cherish good, rejecting evil, since both are its features? How should it need the mutual yearning and coming together that is love? Within it, all separates are eternally together. How should it need reason's faithful scrutiny of data, since to it all is eternally manifest? How should it be "I" apprehending an "other", since for it the Whole is I? No! At the Way's end the pilgrim must indeed pass beyond me. As a little finite creature he must indeed step off into the abyss of annihilation, knowing not whether he shall wake at last to be, and to have eternally been, the infinite; or whether annihilation is absolute, for himself and for all his kind and for all finite vessels of the spirit in all worlds; absolute also for me, who have perhaps no footing anywhere save in my finite vessels. Loving me truly, the pilgrim must in the end be reconciled, and gladly, to outranging me. For it is of my very nature that I am the Way, pointing beyond myself.'

Thus in my mind, though with sublime nonsense, merely, you prepare me. Thus you contrive, though with frail human language merely, and while my halting steps are scarcely as yet upon the Way's beginning, to hint the Way's dread end.

But strange! When I myself first seemed to glimpse you as the dark-bright of the world, you in my heart upbraided me for betraying you. Outraged at my complacency, you hotly bore down on me with the huge weight of the suffering of all the worlds. Yet now you declare to me that even love, that even charity, must in the end be left behind. This hateful lesson my quickened heart now loathes to learn.

Once more, but in my heart, I hear you, saying, 'Yes, I upbraided you; for then, then, you had not yet opened all your windows and doors to the suffering of the worlds. Your resignation sprang only from the comfortable surrender of your own self-cherishing, and from relish of a cosmical drama played by phantoms merely, not by sensitive beings, loved and loving, and doomed to suffering. But now, the vivid horror of compassion has broken down your heart's defences. Your friend's suffering has enlightened you. Through her, the cosmical agony has touched at last the quick of your heart. And so at last, with compassion scorching into you, you may be helped to feel the outrage of this sacrifice even of love. It is of all lessons the hardest. But it must be learnt.'

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23. ‘Clinging to Love’

Suddenly in my heart I scorn you, I abhor you; whom I have trusted and adored.

Traitor to love, surely it was you yourself that first wakened me to love's absolute sanctity. And now you belittle it. Then or now, surely you have lied to me; you, my heart's heart! But no, if you speak against love you cannot be you at all. You must be some other, some subtle deceiver. Or is my heart's very heart insanely divided against itself, at once intransigent for love and love-abandoning?

Lead me no longer, lead me no longer astray, with subtleties of intellect and perverse extravagances of feeling. Either leave me alone, I implore you, or else in my own heart expose to me those reasons, that reason knows not of, why God must be, and why God must love.

My star, my strength, do not now fail me! Without you, I am lost. But if you slander love's divinity, how can I not reject you?

It cannot have been falsely, no not falsely, that the great teacher declared, and our own waking souls confirm, that love is God; some say, not God almighty, but surely God excelling, and most to be adored.

It is not that I, for my own sake, demand to dwell eternally in exquisite union with deity; nor even with my human darling.

If I but know that God is love, then (strange paradox) I can freely, gladly renounce all share in eternity, if God so wills it; assured that God knows best. But indeed, how dare I claim, how dare I hope, how can I even desire, friendly union with so great a lover?

Then with my darling? That sweet community, that keen lightning that leaps from lover to lover, transporting each to nest in the other, is dearer far than all else of this world. Without it, heaven is empty. Long-mated lovers, blithely ingrown into each other (not without pain and conflict, but with all-healing love), their minds and hearts close-knit for mutual support and joy and quickening, facing the world together—well may they long for union everlasting. Well may they, in their own loving, find the true flavour of deity.

The flavour, yes! But even that long-grown-togetherness has not, I know, the full substance of eternity.

Then, let it go, let it go, if need be; but still let God be love.

Not for our own comfort, merely, but to claim our worship, God must be loving, must be tender and friendly to all beings. Even if, when his little creatures die, he puts an end to them, I it must be mercy that prompts him. They are too weak, perhaps, too tender, to suffer gladly the piercing brilliance of eternity. I must, I will, believe that, whether he destroys or saves, love is his purpose. For love is our own highest glory, though frail and not far-reaching; and so, God, to whom our blind hearts turn, needs must be love's perfection; or else, not worshipful.

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24. ‘The Inner Voice and the Church’

Strange, equivocal daimon! Even while I loathe you, I adore you. Rejecting you, I fearfully respect you. Your silence in my mind and heart menaces me.

Interior and exterior, you showed yourself first to me as my own heart's heart and as the world's dark-brightness. But I dared not see you as God; and your own voice, by me misheard, seemed to deny your Godhead.

Yet I followed you trustfully and far; till you demanded of me, or seemed to demand of me in my mishearing, treason against love, and a leap into bottomless inanity.

How could I not spurn your frosty infinite? How could I not, with my newly quickened heart, give myself wholly to the God who is love?

And surely you, who have spoken to me, though equivocally, are in fact identical with him; though by me so shamefully misconceived, misheard. Let me believe, I implore you, let me believe that you are he! Say clearly in my heart that you are he!

You keep silent within me.

Well, I have chosen. I will be loyal to love even without your word.

What follows? If God is indeed, as at last I seem to know, the divine lover, then surely those who have so well and bravely borne witness to him along the centuries are teachers worthy of all trust. Henceforth I will listen to them; and in the light of their teaching I will humbly reconceive you, my mind's star, my heart's heart. I will trust no more the uninterpreted, the self-proud and protestant voice within; your voice misheard. I will re-hear that voice in conformity with the momentous elucidation of the saints. I will attend once more and with child-like innocence, to the ancient and the sacred wisdom of the Church.

But speak to me again, oh speak to me inwardly again; so that at last I may hear you without mishearing.

Still, you are silent.

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25. ‘The Pleading of the Church’

The saints, the priests and all good Christians whom I meet, confirm that you who speak to me are indeed the very God, all-loving and almighty; though by me misheard.

Smilingly but urgently they assure me that all is well, since in eternity those who have loved God on earth are saved, and even those who have derided him are somehow remade to love him and be saved.

They say that you created men as immortal spirits and as free choosers of good or evil; and that we have allowed ourselves to be trapped by the gross baits of the flesh and the self. Thus, they declare, all men have earned damnation. But you, of your boundless love, have yearned to save us. We, by our own power, cannot save ourselves, for inveterate sinfulness has made us weak and blind. But you, and you alone, by your divine grace, can save us from our self-damning. And this, they say, was your purpose when you, the all-loving and almighty creator of all things, took human form, so that you might suffer with us and for us, and make it clear to us that God almighty is indeed God all-loving. The vision, they say, of your high act of love can touch the stoniest heart, and fire it with love of its creator, who is also its martyred saviour.

Surely, then, even my own cold heart will burn.

They declare that at a certain moment of man's history you made a woman conceive divinely; and that the issue was a child called Jesus, who was God Incarnate, and grew up to be the perfect man.

As Jesus, you loved all men. And you grieved for their self-crippling betrayal of love. You told them the true way of life, which is the way of love; the way till then unclear to men. You showed men love in action. You helped the unfortunate, cured the sick, were friendly and cleansing to sinners. You spoke out fiercely against the priests and the rulers and all the bosses. In the end, because you were a nuisance to the authorities, you were nailed hand and foot, and killed.

True or false, it is indeed a potent, a heart-quickening story.

Yet my heart is not quickened. Why, oh why does my heart stay cold?

All this you did, so Christians declare, not only as God, stooping from high heaven to save his lowly creatures, but also as a man, cramped within mere human nature, crippled by human littleness and blindness; but gloriously self-transcending, living wholly for love, and at last for love's sake choosing to die. This great suffering you freely chose because it was the one way to touch our hearts and save us. Nothing, they say, can break through our callousness but contemplation of the divine man, who lived at Nazareth, walked in the fields eating grains of corn, was well-met in the pubs, cursed the money-lenders, and in his last moment of manhood cried out despairingly from the Cross.

Great indeed was Jesus, the seer, the hero, the friend of all men, martyred for love. But if he was God also, if he was indeed you, eternal heart of all hearts, surely his sacrifice was mere play-acting.

They tell me that it is a mystery; and that it is vain to pry into its mechanism. They tell me that if only I will let the story of Jesus possess me, I shall be transported by love for him, and so I shall easily believe in his Godhead and find salvation.

But what is salvation? Bliss everlasting beyond the grave? Assurance here and now of eternal union with God? Such comfort, seductive still to the self-tender child in me, is not what I, the true, the painfully awakening I, at heart desire.

But when they affirm that love of Christ brings death to self-love, death to the worldly self, and birth of a purer self, that wills solely and gladly the will of God, and that this second birth is salvation, then they speak helpfully; for I long to be a self wholly obedient to your voice in my heart, to your voice made clear by the wise teaching of the Church.

If love of Christ leads there, I pray for vision to love him. I implore you, my heart's heart, you inward God, for vision to love you as the God-man who died to save us.

The still-born prayer stirs no wing to fly.

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26. ‘Yearning for Communion, vainly’

They say that the Christian has inner peace and outward strength such as no other can have. He can accept, so they say, and joyfully triumph over, all adversity, and even shattering pain; for he knows that suffering is given us not through divine malice but through divine love. Only in suffering can the soul be tempered for eternal life. This world, this valley of the shadow, is but the way of suffering where souls may travel toward eternity. This world is not for our pleasure merely, though pleasures in plenty may be innocently plucked like wayside flowers. Nor is this world, they say, a place for self-display or empire-making. No, it is one thing only, a place of soul-making.

I can see that this is true; in some sense. Every situation that we face should be an occasion of soul-tempering. Yes, but of much else besides. If we attend only to our souls, caring only for their saving, and not for the situation's own claims upon us, we surely deserve damnation. But let it be that soul-making is in a sense our goal. Let it be that all the homes, all the schools and colleges, all the toils and triumphs and disasters of life, all politics arid planning, should have as their end the facilitation of soul-making. Then, what is it all for? Is it that each soul may at death be eternally preserved, pierced with a pin and mounted in the cabinet of eternity, for the delight of the divine collector? Or do souls, here-tempered, serve here alone, as instruments in the cosmical music? Or do they, after death, take part in some post-mortal orchestra, that plays more difficult, more brilliant music, inconceivable to I man? Or is the truth of it wholly different from every possibility that we can imagine?

Whatever the issue, it should not be beyond us, those of us whom you have blessed with your presence, to accept gladly whatever you give us.

I launch at last a strong-winged prayer to you, still silent in my heart and mind, whom I salute as God, 'Do with me, do with all mankind, wholly as you will. It is indeed enough that we are yours. It is enough to be your instruments, whether here only, or here and hereafter.'

Such prayer is scorned, is ridiculed by Christians. They declare that without assurance of immortality it is unreasonable, it is impossible, to love God and be constant in his service. But why? If I demand immortality of the God who is love, it is not for immortality's sake, but because, if he withholds it, he seems to our blind hearts not to be the God who is love.

Christians declare that the true Christian's faith in immortality shines from him in all his conduct, so that he is a light and a warmth to all his fellows. With courage unfailing he opposes the enemies of love, striving to build here and now the City of God; and yet even against love's enemies he is never ruthless, for he knows that even in their perversity they are his brothers in Christ, and therefore immortal, and of eternal worth, and never to be treated as vermin. The good Christian is very sure that love in the end will conquer; and from that conviction springs all his Christian conduct.

I have seen the good Christian at work; defeating power with gentleness, lies with honesty, fear with faith. I have seen \ men turn to him as flowers toward the sun. And the ground of all his fortitude and his peace is his conviction that Jesus died to save us. .

Then why is my own dull heart not won to his faith? If to be like him I must believe whatever he believes, then indeed I will, I must believe.

Christians earnestly declare that, in this latter day, Christ alone can save our world from ruin. For today men have lost faith in love, or never known it. The powerful care only for power, the weak for vengeance. Power, novel and frightful, is in the hands of power-cherishing leaders; power to enslave or destroy mankind, power to break down the individual soul's integrity with well-placed lies or shattering torture, power to blot out for ever the hard-won tradition that was gathered on man's long pilgrimage, power to turn all men into spiritless brutes, power even to end for ever the long adventure of living things on this planet.

It is true. Everywhere the machine, power-primed, or the state, power-primed, or the mechanized, the power-intoxicated intelligence, destroys man's humanity.

How reasonable, then to declare with the Christians that Christ alone can save us. Only in him, they say, can men find strength for the miracle that alone can break the grip of the machine, and save mankind.

Oh Christian friends, sometimes I long to be with you, to be banded with you in the great crusade for love. And then I long for your faith. I long to be with you in communion with your great master, Christ. I long to be given wholly to his work in this grieved world.

I long; and yet my heart stays cold.

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27. ‘Causes of the Soul's Exclusion’

What is my fault? What makes my soul stay cold to Christ? Why cannot I, with the faithful, share in his peace, his joy, his power? Why cannot I lose myself. in him? I salute him gladly as the great prophet; chief, perhaps, of all your instruments on this planet. But I cannot love him. And when his adorers vaunt his godhead, I suppress a yawn.

What is my fault? Am I deaf to the divine? Am I too coarse- grained to sense divinity, and to respond to it?

Or is it that you, my mind's forsaken star, still secretly control me? Is it that you, my heart's unplumbed heart, still reject him?

Yet Christ, they say, is love. And I, disobedient to your voice in me, have given my allegiance wholly to love.

But have I? Or am I perhaps unwittingly self-loving still?

The Church demands of me a faith beyond my believing. When Christians affirm that every individual soul is eternal and of eternal worth, I find myself shocked at their brazen, their impious assurance, or frivolously amused by their cock- sureness. Maybe we are indeed in some dark sense eternal, but how can we know it? They say that if I had not been so coarsened by fleshly indulgence and by self-loving evasions of God's law, and so complacent to the unholy climate of our age, .I should perceive indubitably in my own soul itself that its nature is eternal and free, and that I am responsible to God for all my conduct. Our evil choices, they insist, deaden us. And so, when it is revealed that the great God himself grieves for us, that he became a man to save us, that he has assumed the burden of our sins, and has redeemed us on the Cross, we are not moved.

I cannot refute them. But I remain unkindled.

Intellectually I can see that the old story may be, in some dark sense, true. No scientist can disprove it, no atomizing philosopher denature it. And deep truth is very apt to be incredible. But what positive and cogent reason have I to believe the story? None at all; unless with the Christians I feel the universe to be worthless if the myth of God's sacrifice is not literally true. And this I do not feel.

And what clear meaning, anyhow, can I grasp in the high- sounding affirmations of Christian faith? Noble indeed as myth, and pregnant as symbols for deep-ranging poetry, they offer me, in my modem sophistication, no firm ground at all for the building of a temple fit to be the house of God.

Must it then be that I am damned beyond all saving?

But if I am, what matter? God's universe is so great and populous and pregnant, and I so small, so barren, so unworthy of eternity.

Yet indeed it does matter. If God is love, he demands of me that I travel on the way of love. Christ or no Christ, that way claims my footsteps. If I err far from it, and am damned, let me at least applaud my own damnation.

Yes, but the way of love, though it demands of me a life of love, demands no faith in Christ's divinity.

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28. ‘Christ as Fact and Christ as Symbol’

Tell me, Christians! Is it that in each world of all the myriad earth-like worlds blossoming throughout the galaxy and the whole cosmos of galaxies, God incarnates himself as a local Jesus, to save his erring creatures? Or is it that once only, and on our unique planet, the supreme miracle happens; and that from this chosen world alone the gospel must radiate through- out the cosmos? By rocket space-ship, travelling at half the speed of light shall some future Paul spread the good news among the Transgalactic gentiles? It is not inconceivable. For those who need Jesus to be God, either possibility is believable.

But I, though yearning for communion, am shut out from faith in Christ.

Christians exhort me, 'Give your heart wholly to Christ, and your mind will surely follow. Possessed by his loveliness, you cannot but believe in his divinity. No longer will you boggle at the incredible. Rather you will welcome it for your faith's testing. You will believe in the impossible because, because it is impossible. Better, you will become as a little child who believes his father's teaching thoughtless of doubt. So, you will accept the whole wise teaching of the Church. But not till you have stripped yourself of all human knowledge, all pretentious fictions of the mechanical, of the atomic, the super-galactic, the evolutionary, not till you have learnt that all human knowing, far from revealing, blacks out the truth; not till you have surrendered yourself to profound unknowing, will you begin at last to see. And what you will see is God. And seeing him you will gladly, triumphantly soar beyond the low flights of understanding. Unknowing man's truth, you will perceive with certainty the truth of God.

Christians, you mistake my trouble. Readily I can believe that all man's truth is half-truth, if not wholly falsehood. But why should I believe that the truth expounded by the Church is unique, is no mere man's-truth but the very truth of God; no doubt by man distorted, but at heart the vital truth of God?

Christians, you answer me so confidently, even perhaps a little arrogantly. All depends, you say and say again, on the first step, on the glad abandonment of mere understanding, and on the unconditional surrender to Christ's manifest divinity.

And that first step I cannot take. I both crave it and reject it. Not to take it shames me; yet strangely I feel myself inwardly forbidden to take it.

But why? The life of Jesus, whether fact or fiction, is a mighty symbol. It has brought light to countless hearts. It has shown multitudes the Way. This it has done, whether fiction or fact, as a concrete and a human symbol of love's divinity. What matter, then, whether I believe or disbelieve that the man, Jesus, was himself the very God; so long as I perceive through the life of Jesus that God is love?

Christians, I hear your prompt reply. 'Those multitudes whom Jesus wakes are touched to life by no mere symbol but by stark fact. The supreme fact of the universe bears down on them and possesses them. They respond to no mere fantasy but to the call of an actual, a perfect and a martyred man, who was also God.'

Then damned I must surely be, for such faith is not given to me. Nor do I desire it.

The symbol, I reverently accept, since I accept the Way, and acknowledge love as all-excelling, and as the ground of all. This I believe, I must believe, or drown in darkness. But when the Church's lore of God self-sacrificing, martyred for his creatures, claims truth to fact, it stirs me not. It wearies, it bores; it chills, not warms, my heart.

Then what is it that is wrong with me? What is it within me that restrains 'me, so that I stay for ever on the threshold, merely, of the Church?

Almost I could pray, 'Oh Christ save me!'

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29. ‘On the Threshold of the Church’

On the threshold of the Church I am spending my life in doubt. I can neither go in with the faithful nor boldly turn my back to join the triumphant forces of the God-less, whose faith is in science, that modern wisdom which man today misuses.

Why do you not again speak in my heart and mind? To have pledged myself to the God of love is surely no sin. Then why have you forsaken me?

The faithful protest that with Christ they can face all their troubles with inner certainty and peace. I have them not, save when you confront me and speak to me. And now that I have disobeyed you, you abandon me.

The faithful! But what real faith have they? These are not saints, nor even common soldiers of the Cross. In action they are indistinguishable from other men.

And yet there is perhaps not one of them wholly untouched by the great symbol of Christ and the well-proved tradition of Christ's Church.

These faithful, or most of them, keep faith merely by thoughtless habit, or for mere decency, or for sheer togetherness with their kind. They are no more given to Christ than I. While they take part in the ritual, their minds easily wander from the symbol's significance, and dream instead of week-day interests. Yet surely at least some echo of God's word, by-passing their attention, sinks deeply into their hearts. Without that dream-like sway they would perhaps be even more erring than they are.

No doubt the Church harbours, along with the true faithful, many gross hypocrites; who on Sunday and in their best clothes pay social calls on God, but through all the week they ignore and betray him.. And even the Church Itself, this latter- day Church, is stultified by hypocrisy. Preaching love's gospel, it acquiesces in tyranny. It is today a safe Church, very respectable, shunning all vulgar martyrdom, hostile to revolution, to the world-wide and heart-tormenting revolution which Jesus himself, if he were with us, would surely demand of us. But instead this momentous revolution in institutions and in hearts is led by Stalin, the arch-unbeliever, resolute, ruthless.

The ancient Church is tired, debauched by worldliness and politics. Yet it remains the heir-in-chief of all the Christian 1" ages, the formal custodian, in the West, of all deepest wisdom and superhuman aspiration.

And among the dwindling faithful some few conceive at least an inkling of that wisdom, and share for a while in the cleansing fire that is worship. These latter-day saints must face a desperate task. They must fight on two fronts: against the ungodly who, to serve their lust of power, would capture and poison the revolution, and against the sham-godly, who in God's name would buttress the crumbling walls of ancient tyranny.

But have the saints of a tired Church the strength to rouse if the faithful and re-arm their Church? Or is the dead hand too heavy upon them? Has Christ's Church already too deeply betrayed its trust, so that never again can it be God's chief instrument on earth?

To you, in my heart and mind, I submit my questions.

Your answer still is silence.

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30. ‘Prayer for a Second Coming’

If it is you within me who still secretly control me, forbidding me the Church, then, I implore you, at least speak to me again. Now, I have neither the Church nor you to guide me. I dare not move.

But why, pledged to the God who is love, why should I not serve him from within his Church? The ancient doctrines, true or false as fact, I gladly accept as potent symbols of the spirit. And surely it is by this device that many who count themselves among the faithful contrive to stay within the fold, for peace and power.

How can I not crave the communal worship, the sanctified brotherhood, the mutual fortifying that a Church confers? And today no power in the world save the Church of Christ bears witness to love's divinity, and proclaims the Way that Jesus lived. Today men's hearts are leaderless, or led to devilish acts. If at last we are to make a stand, surely we must stand together under some tried faith and discipline. And today what is there but the Church?

I implore you, if it is indeed you who restrain me, let go your grip on me. Or tell me at last that you, my inwardly heard though often misheard guide, are one with God; and that you accept me for your Church.

God in my heart, in all hearts, inscrutable heart of the universe! I pray to you out of the misery and terror of a race insane and doomed. I pray, make clear to us again that you .are love. Come down from your inconceivable heaven once ..more. Walk in our streets again as a man, as the God-man, commanding, perfect for leadership. Save us from ourselves, and from our monstrous tools. Restore amongst us the young Church that Jesus founded, that we have ruined.

I listen for you in vain. My prayer falls back to me, unwinged.

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31. ‘Love is not God’

My heart is dried up and withered. You, the sap, are withdrawn from it again. You are a mere remembered phantom. Nothingness is my heart.

I must surely have been asleep, seduced by the Christian dream, I have been deceiving myself, and I have been false to you, my phantom God.

I prayed to the God of the Christians, and there was no answer. In a dream world, I prayed to a dream God. But I could not dream the answer.

Now, perhaps I am awake. I have awakened not to daylight but to dark night. I dreamt that love, because all-excelling, must be almighty. I dreamt that the world was the loved creature of almighty love. It was a pretty dream, so long as the eyes were sealed in sleep. But awake, even its prettiness palls.

This world of suffering undeserved and unredeemed and mostly unredeeming, was not conceived by love. The trapped rabbit screams vainly. The tortured mouse crawls in vain from the cat. My friend, who suffered and died, was mouse to God; if God there be.

Some have pretended that all human suffering is caused by man. Thus they excuse their God. But man was not responsible for my friend's torment; nor for plagues and floods and famines and the thousand natural ills. And if he were responsible, man did not make himself to be the ignorant, the short-sighted, the unfeeling thing he is. If God were love, he could not have made men such that they might freely torture each other and freely damn themselves. In each phase of history the historically fated folly of sincere and kindly men, equipped with power but lacking the data for wise action in novel circumstances, has doomed their fellows to misery. The Inquisitors were kindly men, and Christians. If God indeed gave men freedom to use their powers disastrously, he is no better than a human father who gives his child a bomb. Freedom, if indeed we have it, has proved a murderous gift. The cost in suffering has been beyond reckoning.

Christians have pleaded that even this huge cost is justified by the purchase of eternal bliss, and union with God. But they give no cogent reason for their conviction that in eternity all's well.

No! Love is not God. Blind cosmical powers alone have made us what we are. To deny this is no gallant act of faith. To think wishfully without reason is folly, and is cowardly.

Though the Christian dream has served men well in the age that is past, today, if we do not wake from it, we are false.

False to what? False to you, strange phantom God within us, who imperiously demand not only that we should love one another but also that we should be honest, and refuse to be persuaded that, because love is all-excelling, it is therefore almighty.

But what obligation can we possibly owe to you, you mere phantom, you figment of our own minds?

When you do not inwardly but actually confront me, when you are a mere memory, a mere shadow of a memory, then the darkness within me blackens the universe. Without you in my heart, I search blindly for you among the things outside me, among stars and electrons and the antics of men. And I find you nowhere.

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32. ‘The Heavens Declare— Nothing’

On this moonless and star-brilliant night, I have come out on to the hill yearning to find you, if not in my heart, then in the heavens. But in my heart and mind you are silent, and the constellations are not your features. The heavens declare nothing. The human lights of the town beneath me tell me nothing. Beyond the houses the sea is nothing but a flat darkness.

Overhead a flight of geese, unseen but vocal, momentarily eclipse one star.

To the eye of imagination, the great earth has become visibly a sphere; now great, but now a granule in the huge void. Bright Jupiter lies far afield. The vault of the sky, no longer a pricked black tent, is expanded to be depth beyond depth of empty darkness, with here and there a sun, reduced by distance to a mere punctual star. The Milky Way, that vague over-arching stain, is seen now as a tenuous dust of suns, extending outwards disc-wise, far afield beyond the constellations. The blackness around the pole is deep beyond all sounding, is space boundless; wherein the immense galaxy itself is but a mote, a minute wisp of stars. Within that darkness, for imagination’s eye, the swarming galaxies drift like snowflakes; each flake a host of suns, numerous as the sand; each flake the matrix of a million earth-like worlds. The whole unnumbered multitude of the galaxies, so some astronomers say, bursts ever apart, the more remote of them racing away faster than light’s own speed; inaccessible, therefore, to vision.

Some surmise that the boundless throng of many million galaxies is finite. Space itself, though boundless, they say, is finite, and mysteriously re-entrant upon itself. Imagination, they say, cannot picture this truth, which mathematics alone, with its exact symbols, can precisely figure. In this view, the galaxies, stars, worlds, and even the very electrons, are numerable. There are just so many of them and no more. Long ago there was a single creative and explosive act, first cause of this expanding universe. Long hence, all the energies of that creation will be dissipated, and death will be universal. By then, perhaps the purpose of the cosmos (if purpose there be, which seems unlikely) will have been achieved; and with the ceasing of all change, time itself will cease.

But others, rejecting this strange boundless finitude, prefer another fantasy, no less unimaginable to man. They declare that between the ever-separating, ever-dying galaxies, a new sparse dust of matter is ever being created, here and there a lonely atom; and that the new matter gathers slowly into nebulae, which mature into galaxies, each with its million earth-like worlds where man-like beings may emerge from brutishness. Thus in the infinite host of the galaxies the worlds are infinitely many. Imagination overstrains and collapses. And for ever, within the interstices and ever-wider-yawning chasms of the ever-dying, ever-infinitely-expanding universe, an infinite sequence of fresh universes is for ever being created, in turn to mature and die. If purpose has indeed determined this strange, this seemingly crazy scheme, it must surely be a purpose infinitely alien to man’s desires.

Whichever of the two modern cosmical pictures is the less false to the fads, man’s understanding is defeated. Truth slips between the fingers of the exploring mind.

Yet some such picture we must accept. Gone for ever is the East’s great elephant that supports the world and is supported by a greater tortoise. Gone for ever are the celestial spheres, that box of boxes, which Dante described, Hell-centred, God-surrounded. Gone too the sun-centred universe within the sphere of the fixed stars. Gone the uniquenes of the sun’s system, the uniqueness of our earth, the uniqueness of man.

Instead, we must conceive, as best we may, at least a host, perhaps an infinity of habitable earth-like worlds, each housing its own human or parahuman race.

Yet well it may be, it must be, that both the new pictures of the cosmos, these latest, proudest feats of terrestrial observation and intelligence, are but a very little nearer to the truth than the East’s elephant and tortoise.

Yes, but for us today they have authority. Some such explosion of ever-receding galaxies, each with its scattered population of earths, is now the background of all human life.

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33. ‘The Many Worlds and Beings’

Upon those other earth-like worlds, those probable millions of millions, those possibly infinite millions, scattered throughout all space, each world a possible home for man-like beings, present or past or still to come, what fate have the living things?

Does life in each world emerge from the subvital and breed, generation after generation, some few subtler kinds? Are there on all those worlds creatures which, though in detail different from terrestrial forms, are yet in general nature familiar? Are there worms and fishes, reptiles and mammals, apes, and at last a recognizably human kind?

And do the manlike beings on those other earths, as here on man's earth, frustrate and torment each other and themselves? Or are some few of those manlike races more sane than man, and thereby blessed?

Whenever a proud intelligent kind wakes from the brute, and conquers its world, is it doomed, as man perhaps is doomed, to internecine warfare, through half-brutish blindness of mind and heart? Is man everywhere against man, class against class, Church against Church, people against people? Is each people knit together less by intelligent brotherhood than by mere herd-feeling or identity of self-interest? Must every man-like species perhaps in the end inevitably destroy itself, and sterilize its earth of life through cunningly stupid monkeying with atomic power?

Star-gazing on this terrestrial hill, I wonder how many of those visible, though punctual, suns shine upon broods of planets; and in those broods how many are the earth-like worlds, and how many, though unearth-like, support intelligence though not in manlike beings; and how many of the earths, through some small fatality, some oddity perhaps of climate or of evolutionary misfiring, are barren of intelligent beings; and how many are even now labouring through the subhuman to the human; how many, like our own earth, are homes of half-awakened hearts and minds, that strive, generation after self-torturing generation, from savagery to civilization and to science, and through science to a new savagery, from the witch-doctor to the Buddha and the Jesus and thence to Hitler, from arrows to atomic bombs.

And how many of those earths, confronting us in the visible dome of the sky though hidden from sight, how many, if indeed any, have won through to harmony and decency of living, such as seems to us for ever unattainable; and how many are even climbing slowly beyond our topmost reach toward ways of living and of experiencing wholly beyond us; and how many have already blundered into self-destruction.

And further, how many of those unseen inhabited worlds, hidden among those visible stars, are homes not of manlike beings, not of bisexual bipeds, but of intelligent creatures of inhuman form, birdlike or fishlike or arthropod. For here and there might not some freak of circumstance breed intelligence in strange evolutionary stocks?

But now fantasy, uncurbed, careers through stranger possibilities. What if, among the incandescent and the turbulent substance of the very stars themselves, intelligent flamelike beings, nourished on radiant energy welling from the star's deep core, live out their fiery loves and aspirations?

What if each star itself is minded, nourished by its own radiant flesh, until, its calories all consumed, it starves and dies? What if the very stars talk to each other in interstellar speech beyond our ken? What if each galaxy is itself a living creature, and minded; and the whole cosmos of galaxies is the ultimate and supreme individual?

Or are these wild thoughts all false? Is there, after all, but one single world of all those myriads that is the home of mind, and that one ours? And shall we soon destroy ourselves, leaving the whole cosmos sterile?

One thing, I swear, is certain. From whatever diverse beginnings intelligence wakens, whether from subhuman mammal, from arthropod or salamander, from star or galaxy, or in the sentient cosmic individual, all its ways, all its possible tributaries, needs must converge toward one ultimate desire. The lucid intelligence and the heart emancipated at last from all individual whims and parochial prejudices, cannot but freely press forward along the one great Way, the way of sensitive awareness of the world and of the beings in it, the way of understanding and of love and of ever more venturesome creating; the way of loyalty to your dictates, you strange inner phantom divinity, now withdrawn from me in silence.

It must surely be so; for we ourselves, when we are lucidly aware of you, freely will the Way. Knowing what it is to be awake and to see you, we can be sure that all awakened beings needs must freely give themselves to you.

And this Way of all waking is the way of espousing ever wider and deeper spheres of the confronting real, the way upon which there is no halt, no rest, no respite, short of the ultimate espousal of the Whole.

Is it not so? Describing it so, am I not true to you, phantom deity, adorable figment of all waking hearts?

Are you still silent? How can you keep silent within me still?

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34. ‘Men are Animals’

Fool! To conceive a mere figment and then to mistake it for reality! Why cannot I restrain myself from the pretence that you are something more than a splinter from my own self, that you are divine?

You are indeed, in a way, more than I, since you are a figment common to all minds, or potential in all human minds; bred in all of us by our conditioning. But you are no super-human divinity. I have seen clearly, though I lack the courage to remember constantly, that you are a mere creature of man's own conceiving.

Praying to the phantom, I pray only to myself, or at most to the exalted human tradition that has been imposed on me.

In each world throughout the cosmos unique circumstance forms, no doubt, in the local beings, little by little, a tradition special to that world; and what is common to all is no identical intimation from an objective deity but some vague and insignificant identity of conditioning.

Star-gazing, I have neglected the earth on which my feet are planted. Those dreams of other worlds are frailest tissues woven of random fibres which my jackdaw mind has plucked from this world's texture. Such far-reaching fantasies are but crazy extrapolations from the here and now. In a few decades our vaunted new cosmology will look as silly as the East's world-supporting elephant. All that is sure is this one world, and man, its creature.

Man, creature of history, creature of blind evolution, is no creature of any discernible God, no instrument of universal spirit. He is himself alone, and a law unto himself.

We are mere animals, though human animals. That, surely, is the bed-rock of modem wisdom. On that firm basis alone we must build a more fully human world.

As animals, we cannot but crave to use those poor animal powers that have been bred in us by our terrestrial environment, generation by generation. Through evolutionary pressure and ancestral conditioning alone, our planet has blindly moulded us to fit the special niche wherein our lot has fallen.

Because we have hands, we crave to manipulate; because genitals, to copulate; because eyes and ears, to see and hear as skilfully as may be; because fore-brains (those latest tools) we sometimes, but how rarely, crave to think. Because our ancestors, and we ourselves in our turn, were brought up in , families and by parents, we crave a father-God or a divine mother. Because our ancestors lived in groups, we crave proximity with our kind; and dominance over our fellows; but also submission, whether to a leader or to a tribe or to a fantasised God. Generation by generation the peculiar circumstances of each tribe, each nation, have imposed upon its members an appropriate tradition, a network of customs, values and ideas. Thus man has secured survival; and accidentally, here and there, a halting advancement in percipience and intelligence.

What need is there to look further for the explanation?

Parsons may preach of God and of his loving guidance, urging us to listen more closely to the phantom voice within, calling it God's voice; but in this modern age man begins at last to face his cosmical solitude, and to be faithful to his humanity alone.

And you, revered phantom, you are indeed the voice of his humanity, speaking in each mind and heart.

But alas, even as I say this, I hear seemingly your laughter. Ineffable fiction, you have become more real to me even than my humanity.

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35. ‘The Voice within is the Voice of Humanity’

You, who have spoken to me with power and are now silent, I implore you at least confirm that I have at last conceived you rightly, conceiving you as the presence of humanity in each mind and heart.

I am still faithful to you. When I mistook you for the God who is love, you abandoned me; but now that I have learnt to reject your illusory divinity, surely I am faithful to you. And you will speak to me.

Denying your Godhead, I accept, though I must still reinterpret, your guidance. For you direct me on the Way. And now I see that the ancient Way of love and self-transcendence is scientifically justified, is indeed the way of advancement for our species. When you speak to me with seemingly divine ii. authority, I shall henceforth recognize that yours is indeed the voice of awakening humanity within me, the combined and personified teaching of all mankind's most lucid prophets. I will listen reverently, and obey your promptings, re-interpreting only in such manner as our modern thought demands.

Then speak to me again, I implore you. Without your heard voice in my mind and heart, even though I know that it is but an echo of great men's voices, I am a lamp unlit.

Though you are a figment, you are conceived in me through impregnation by the most noble human tradition. Without you I am barren, I am an instrument discarded, a broken reed.

Your silence is my death.

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36. ‘Evolution and the Way’

What has come over me, that I should be fatally spellbound by an illusion? Why do I still crave the fictitious consolation of an inner presence? Why do adolescent fantasies of a heavenly father still obsess me?

We are indeed mere creatures of environment. The nursery determines our heart's needs until we die. All our longings for the Way are but distortions of those old cravings.

No doubt, in every generation of every living kind some inner aimless energy is the source of action; but the environment alone directs it hither and thither, as gulleys and valleys direct, and dams control, the flood. In the long-run, clearly, those impulses and those organs that serve the kind's survival are maintained while those that hinder it vanish.

Clearly, each biological kind is moulded by some convenient niche of the environment generation by generation, it breeds, and is ever more finely adapted to its niche; until at last some too drastic change of circumstance compel it to change its habit drastically, or destroys it. It is as simple as that. Or so we are told.

Thus of the fishy kinds one, long ago, was forced on to the land, there to grow legs and lungs. Much later, among the mammals, a certain kind was driven into the trees, to develop hands and superior eyes and brains. And of these creatures, one kind was driven back to the ground, to become in the fulness of time man.

Of all the kinds at every level most have stayed in their snug niches, changeless through the ages. Worms are as ancient as the hills. But some few kinds, here and there, were forced to gain new powers to cope with new conditions. And settling into new snug niches, they too sank into stagnation. Ants and bees were ants and bees before ever there were mammals. And long before the first half-men flung stones, the birds were perfected. Some small ancient reptile kind, they say, was driven to leap and glide and fly. In due season its offspring because the warm-blooded and feathered birds, perfect for flight in the atmosphere of this planet. But by their specialized perfection for aerial life, the kind was doomed to advance no further. By perfecting wings, it deprived itself for ever of hands.

One sole kind, it seems, was driven by circumstance endlessly upward, to become man, the specialist only in unspecialized versatility, the cunningest adapter and tool-maker, the venturer into new worlds.

Today when we review the story, how clearly the main theme appears! Our kind has triumphed, if triumph it is to rule one planetary grain among the stars, by prowess in discriminate perceiving and intelligent response for the fulfilling of its needs. And its needs themselves have developed under pressure from its world. From crude bodily hungers it has awakened to the hungers that are distinctively human, hungers for personal love, for civil and subtilized intercourse, for intellectual adventure, and for the creation of heart-stirring symbols, in speech and pure sound, and coloured form.

Thus, from those more subtle hungers which its world has imposed on it, our kind at last haltingly conceives the Way. It is the Way for no mere beast but for man, with man's native power and man's conditioning. It is the Way for beings aware not merely of the beasts' world but of the world of persons. It is the Way that the prophets have proclaimed, each in his own style. It is the Way of percipience and intelligence and constant heart-purifying, the Way of individual integrity and of loyal community, the Way of ever-exfoliating love and wisdom. It is in fact the Way of life which our much-harassed kind painfully, gropingly, conceives, and falteringly begins to follow.

It is the Way, surely, of advancement for our kind and for each human individual. But if we conceive it as in some sense right absolutely, and fundamental to the cosmos, or as implanted in us by the direct fiat of God, we falsely dignify it, and we betray our own human integrity.

Thus man gives meaning to his planet, perhaps even to his galaxy, perhaps (who knows?) to the whole Cosmos.

But even as I say this, I ridicule it; for what is man, that he should give meaning to the Cosmos?

Your remembered presence within me and beyond me convicts me of impious pride in man. Silent within me, you silently condemn me.

For indeed man is no more than a little fleck of foam on the torrent of existence. The torrent's course is utterly beyond our apprehension. It springs from beyond our ken; its remote issue is utterly beyond our ken. Its significance escapes our minds, transcends our hearts.

Again, again I yearn for you, august withdrawn presence.

Stoop to me again, confront me again! Speak once more in my mind and in my heart! Restore to me the vision which alone gives depth and meaning to human knowledge.

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