[This is taken from Charles G. Leland's The Mystic Will.]
That our ordinary consciousness or Waking Intellect, and what is generally recognized as Mind or Soul, includes whatever has been taken in by sensation and reflection and assimilated to daily wants, or shows itself in bad or good memories and thought, is evident. Not less clear is it that there is another hidden Self a power which, recognizing much which is evil in the Mind, would fain reject, or rule, or subdue it. This latent, inner Intelligence calls into action the Will. All of this is vague, and, it may be, unscientific. It is more rational to believe in many faculties or functions, but the classification here suggested may serve as a basis. It is effectively that of GRASSNER, or of all who have recognized the power of the Will to work "miracles," guided by a higher morality. And it is very curious that PARACELSUS based his whole system of nervous cure, at least, on this theory. Thus, in the Liber Entium Morborum, de Ente Spirituali, chap, iii, he writes:
"As we have shown that there are two Subjecta, this will we assume as our ground. Ye know that there is in the Body a Soul. (Geist.) Now reflect, to what purpose? Just that it may sustain life, even as the air keeps animals from dying for want of breath. So we know what the soul is. This soul in Man is actually clear, intelligible and sensible to the other soul, and, classing them, they are to be regarded as allied, even as bodies are. I have a soul the other hath also one."
PARACELSUS is here very obscure, but he manifestly means by "the other," the Body. To resume:
"The Souls know one another as 'I,' and 'the other.' They converse together in their language, not by necessity according to our thoughts, but what they will. And note, too, that there may be anger between them, and one may belittle or injure the other; this injury is in the Soul, the Soul in the body. Then the body suffers and is ill not materially or from a material Ens, but from the Soul. For this we need spiritual remedy. Ye are two who are dear unto one another; great in affinity. The cause is not in the body, nor is it from without; it comes from your souls (Geisten), who are allied. The same pair may become inimical, or remain so. And that ye may understand a cause for this, note that the Spirit (Geist) of the Reasoning Faculty (Vernunft) is not born, save from the Will, therefore the Will and the Reason are separate. What exists and acts according to the Will lives in the Spirit; what only according to the Reason lives against the Spirit. For the Reason brings forth no spirit, only the Soul (Seel) is born of it from Will comes the Spirit, the essence of which we describe and let the Soul be."
In this grandly conceived but most carelessly written passage the author, in the beginning thereof, makes such confusion in expressing both Soul and Spirit with the one word, Geist, that his real meaning could not be intelligible to the reader who had not already mastered the theory. But, in fact, the whole conception is marvelous, and closely agreeing with the latest discoveries in Science, while ignoring all the old psychological system.
Very significant is what PARACELSUS declares in his Fragmenta Medicina de Morbis Somnii, that so many evils beset us, "caused by the coarseness of our ignorance, because we know not what is born in us." That is to say, if we knew our mental power, or what we are capable of, we could cure or control all bodily infirmities. And how to rule and form this power, and make it obey the Geist or Will which PARACELSUS believed was born of the common conscious Soul that is the question.
For PARACELSUS truly believed that out of this common Soul, the result of Sensation and Reflection, and all we pick up by Experience and Observation (and such as makes all that there is of Life for most people), there is born, or results, a perception of Ideas, of right and wrong, of mutual interests; a certain subtle, moral conscience or higher knowledge. "The Souls may become inimical;" that is, the Conscience, or Spirit, may differ or disagree with the Soul, as a son may be at variance with his father. So the flower or fruit may oft despise the root. The Will is allied to Conscience or a perception of the Ideal. When a man finds out that he knows more or better than he has hitherto done: as, for instance, when a thief learns that it is wrong to steal, and feels it deeply, he endeavors to reform, although he feels all the time old desires and temptations to rob. Now, if he resolutely subdue these, his Will is born. "The spirit of the Reasoning faculty is not born, save of the Will. . . . what exists and acts according to the Will lives in the spirit." The perception of ideals is the bud, Conscience the flower, and the Will the fruit. A pure Will must be moral, for it is the result of the perception of Ideals, or a Conscience. The world in general regards Will as mere blind force, applicable to good or bad indifferently. But the more truly and fully it is developed, or as Orson is raised to Valentine, the more moral and optimistic does it become. Will in its perfection is Genius, spontaneous originality, that is Voluntary; not merely a power to lift a weight, or push a load, or force others to yield, but the Thought itself which suggests the deed and finds a reason for it. Now the merely unscrupulous use of Opportunity and Advantage, or Crime, is popularly regarded as having a strong Will; but this, as compared to a Will with a conscience, is as the craft of the fox compared to that of the dragon, and that of the dragon to Siegfried.
And here it may be observed as a subtle and strange thing, approaching to magic apparently, as understood by HARTMANN and his school, that the Will sometimes, when much developed, actually manifests something like an independent personality, or at least seems to do so, to an acute observer. And what is more remarkable, it can have this freedom of action and invention delegated to it, and will act on it.
Thus, in conversation with HERKOMER, the Artist, and Dr. W. W. BALDWIN, Nov. 2d, 1878, the former explained to me that when he would execute a work of art, he just determined it with care or Forethought in his mind, and gave it a rest, as by sleep, during which time it unconsciously fructified or germinated, even as a seed when planted in the ground at last grows upward into the light and air. Now, that the entire work should not be too much finished or quite completed, and to leave room for after-thoughts or possible improvements, he was wont, as he said, to give the Will some leeway, or freedom; which is the same thing as if, before going to sleep, we Will or determine that on the following day our Imagination, or Creative Force, or Inventive Genius, shall be unusually active, which will come to pass after some small practice and a few repetitions, as all may find for themselves. Truly, it will be according to conditions, for if there be but little in a man, either he will bring but little out, or else he must wait until he can increase what he hath. And in this the Will seems to act like an independent person, ingeniously, yet withal obedient. And the same also characterizes images in dreams, which sometimes appear to be so real that it is no wonder many think they are spirits from another world, as is true of many haunting thoughts which come unbidden. However, this is all mere Thaumaturgy, which has been so deadly to Truth in the old à priori psychology, and still works mischief, albeit it has its value in suggesting very often in Poetry what Science afterwards proves in Prose.
To return to PARACELSUS, HEINE complains that his German is harder to understand than his Latin. However, I think that in the following passages he shows distinctly a familiarity with hypnotism, or certainly, passes by hand and suggestion. Thus, chap, x, de Ente Spirituali, in which the Will is described, begins as follows: "Now shall ye mark that the Spirits rule their subjects. And I have shown intelligibly how the Ens Spirituale, or Spiritual Being, rules so mightily the body that many disorders may be ascribed to it. Therefore unto these ye should not apply ordinary medicine, but heal the spirit therein lies the disorder."
PARACELSUS clearly states that by the power of Foresight he uses the exact word, Fürsicht Man may, aided by Sleep, attain to knowledge past, present or future and achieve Telepathy, or communion at a distance. In the Fragmenta, Caput de Morbis Somnii he writes:
"Therefore learn, that by Foresight man can know future things; and, from experience, the past and present. Thereby is man so highly gifted in Nature that he knows or perceives (sicht), as he goes, his neighbor or friend in a distant land. Yet, on waking, he knows nothing of all this. For God has given to us all Art, Wisdom, Reason to know the future, and what passes in distant lands; but we know it not, for we fools, busied in common things, sleep away, as it were, what is in us. Thus, seeing one who is a better artist than thou art, do not say that he has more gift or grace than thou; for thou hast it also, but hast not tried, and so is it with all things. What Adam and Moses did was to try, and they succeeded, and it came neither from the Devil nor from Spirits, but from the Light of Nature, which they developed in themselves. But we do not seek for what is in us, therefore we remain nothing, and are nothing."
Here the author very obscurely, yet vigorously, declares that we can do or learn what we will, but it must be achieved by foresight, will, and the aid of sleep.
It seems very evident, after careful study of the text, that here, as in many other places, our author indicates familiarity with the method of developing mental action in its subtlest and most powerful forms. Firstly, by determined Foresight, and, secondly, by the aid of sleep, corresponding to the bringing a seed to rest a while, and thereby cause it to germinate; the which admirable simile he himself uses in a passage which I have not cited.
PARACELSUS was the most original thinker and the worst writer of a wondrous age, when all wrote badly and thought badly. There is in his German writings hardly one sentence which is not ungrammatical, confused, or clumsy; nor one without a vigorous idea, which shows the mind or character of the man.
As a curious instance of the poetic originality of PARACELSUS we may take the following:
"It is an error to suppose that chiromancy is limited to the hand, for there are significant lines (indicating character), all over the body. And it is so in vegetable life. For in a plant every leaf is a hand. Man hath two; a tree many, and every one reveals its anatomy a hand-anatomy. Now ye shall understand that in double form the lines are masculine or feminine. And there are as many differences in these lines on leaves as in human hands."
GOETHE has the credit that he reformed or advanced the Science of Botany, by reducing the plant to the leaf as the germ or type; and this is now further reduced to the cell, but the step was a great one. Did not PARACELSUS, however, give the idea?
"The theory of signatures," says VAUGHAN, in his Hours with the Mystics, "proceeded on the supposition that every creatures bears in some part of its structure . . . the indication of the character or virtue inherent in it the representation, in fact, of its ideal or soul. . . . The student of sympathies thus essayed to read the character of plants by signs in their organization, as the professor of palmistry announced that of men by lines in the hand." Thus, to a degree which is very little understood, PARACELSUS took a great step towards modern science. He disclaimed Magic and Sorcery, with ceremonies, and endeavored to base all cure on human will. The name of PARACELSUS is now synonymous with Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, Elementary Spirits and Theurgy, when, in fact, he was in his time a bold reformer, who cast aside an immense amount of old superstition, and advanced into what his age regarded as terribly free thought. He was compared to LUTHER, and the doing so greatly pleased him; he dwells on it at length in one of his works.
What PARACELSUS really believed in at heart was nothing more or less than an unfathomable Nature, a Natura naturans of infinite resource, connected with which, as a microcosm, is man, who has also within him infinite powers, which he can learn to master by cultivating the will, which must be begun at least by the aid of sleep, or letting the resolve ripen, as it were, in the mind, apart from Consciousness.
I had written every line of my work on the same subject and principles long before I was aware that I had unconsciously followed exactly in the footprints of the great Master; for though I had made many other discoveries in his books, I knew nothing of this.
Copyright © World Spirituality · All Rights Reserved