THE THIRD CANON OF THOUGHT
A KEY TO THE ENIGMAS OF THE WORLD
Occultism and love. Love and death. Different attitudes to problems of death and problems of love. What is lacking in our understanding of love? Love as an everyday and a psychological phenomenon. Possibility of a religious understanding of love. The creative force of love. The negation of love. Running away from love. Love and mysticism. The 'miraculous' in love. Nietzsche and Edward Carpenter on love.
There is no side of life which does not reveal to us an infinity of the new and the unexpected if we approach it with the knowledge that it is not exhausted by its visible side, that behind this visible side there lies a whole world of the 'invisible', a whole world of new and incomprehensible forces and relations. The knowledge of the existence of the invisible world is the first key to it.
Especially many new things are revealed to us in the most mysterious aspects of our existence, in those aspects through which we come into direct contact with eternity -in Love and in Death. And in Hindu mythology Love and Death are the two faces of one deity. Shiva, the god of the reproductive force in nature, is at the same time the god of violent death, murder and destruction. His wife Parvati is the goddess of beauty, love and happiness, and she is also Kali or Durga - the goddess of evil, misfortune, sickness and death. And Shiva and Kali together are gods of wisdom, gods of the knowledge of good and evil.
In the beginning of his book The Drama of Love and Death, Edward Carpenter defines very well our relation to those profoundly incomprehensible and mysterious aspects of being: 'Love and Death move through this world of ours like things apart underrunning it truly, and everywhere present, yet seeming to belong to some other mode of existence.' And further:
These figures. Love and Death, move through the world, like closest friends indeed, never far separate, and together dominating it in a kind of triumphant superiority; and yet like bitterest enemies, dogging each other's footsteps, undoing each other's work, fighting for the bodies and souls of mankind.*
* Edward Carpenter, The Drama of Love and Death, London, George Allen, 1912.
These few words reveal the depths of the mystery which faces us, envelops us, creates us and destroys us. But men's relationship to the two sides of this mystery is not the same. Strange as it may seem, the face of death has had a greater attraction for the mystical imagination of men, than the face of love. There has always been a great urge to understand and define the hidden meaning of death; all religions, all creeds begin by giving man one or another view of death. It is impossible to build any philosophy of life without one or another definition of death. And a great many philosophies of life, as for instance the modern spiritualism, consist entirely of 'views on death', of a doctrine about death and life after death. (In one of his articles V. V. Rosanoff says that, on the whole, all religions are teachings about death.)
But the problem of love is usually accepted in modern philosophies of life as something given, something already understood and known. Different systems introduce comparatively few differences into the understanding of love. And, although in reality love is for us as great a mystery as death, for some reason we notice it much less forcibly. We have evolved a series of stereotyped views on love, and men meekly accept one or another of these stereotyped views. Art, which from its very nature should have much to say on the subject, pays great attention to love; love has perhaps always been and is the principal subject of art. But even an limits itself, on the whole, to mere descriptions and a psychological analysis of love, rarely touching the depths of love, that contact with the eternal and the infinite which it holds for man.
In reality love is a cosmic phenomenon, in which people, mankind, are merely accidental; a cosmic phenomenon as little concerned with either the lives or the souls of men as the sun is concerned in shining so that, by its light, men may go about their trivial affairs and use it for their own ends. If men could understand this, be it only with one pan of their consciousness, a new world would open up before them and it would become very strange for them to look at life from all the usual angles.
They would understand then that love is something quite different, and of a different order from the small events of earthly life.
Perhaps it is a world of special spirits which at times take possession of men, subjugating them, making tools of them for the accomplishment of their own incomprehensible aims. Maybe it is some particular region of the inner world, which the souls of men happen to enter at times and where, in that case, they live according to the laws of that world, while their bodies remain on earth, bound by the laws of the terrestrial world. Perhaps it is the alchemical work of the Great Master, in which the souls and bodies of men play the part of elements out of which is evolved the philosopher's stone or the elixir of life, or some special electricity, necessary to someone for some mysterious purposes.
Love, in relation to our life, is a Deity, now stern, now benevolent, but never submitting to us, never consenting to serve our aims. Men strive to subjugate love to themselves, to force it to serve their aims, both spiritual and material. But love cannot be subjugated to anything and it wreaks merciless vengeance on the puny mortals who strive to subjugate God to serve their own ends. It confuses all their calculations and makes them do what they have never expected. It forces them to serve it, to do what it wants.
Mistaken about the origin of love, men are mistaken about its result. Both positivist and spiritualist morality equally admit only one possible result of love -children, the propagation of species. But this objective result, which may or may not happen, is in any case only the result of the external, objective side of love, of the material fact of impregnation. If one does not see in love anything beyond the material fact and the desire for it, this is how it should be. But in reality love does not in any way consist of the material fact, and results of love, apart from the material, may manifest themselves on quite a different plane. This different plane in which love operates, and the ignored, hidden results of love are not difficult to understand even from a strictlypositivist, scientific point of view.
For science, studying life, as if apart from it, the purpose of love consists in the continuation of life. To be more exact, love is a link in the chain of facts which maintain the uninterrupted flow of life. And the force which mutually attracts the two sexes acts in the interests of the propagation of species and is created by the very forms of the propagation of species. But if we regard love from this standpoint, we shall have to admit that there is more of this force than is necessary. It is precisely in this that lies the key to the true essence of love. There is more of this force than is necessary, infinitely more. In reality,for the purposes of the propagation of species only a small fraction of one per cent of this force of love inherent in humanity is utilized. Where, then, does the main part of the force go?
We know that nothing can disappear. If energy exists, it must pass into something. And if only a negligible fraction of energy goes towards the creation of the future by means of birth, the remaining pan must also gotowards the creation of the future, but by other means. We know in the physical world many instances when the direct func-tion is fulfilled by an extremely small fraction of the energy expended, while the greater part of this energy seems to be uselessly wasted. But of course this greater part of energy does not disappear, does not vanish, but produces other results, quite distinct from the direct function.
Let us take an ordinary candle. It should give light. But it gives much more heat than light. Light is the direct function of the candle, heat is the indirect function, but there is more heat than light. A candle is a furnace adapted for lighting. In order to give light, the candle must burn. Burning is the necessarycondition for obtaining light from a candle; burning cannot be done awaywith. But this same burning produces heat. It seems, at the first glance, that the heat, produced by a candle, is wasted unproductively and is at times even superfluous, unpleasant and hindering: if a room is lighted by candles it becomes too hot. But the fact of the matter is that light is obtained from a candle only owing to its burning -the evolution of heat and the incandescence of the gases evolved. The same applies to love. We say that only an insignificant part of the energy of love goes to create progeny, the greater part seems to be spent by fathers and mothers on their personal emotions. But that is how it should be. Without this expenditure the principal thing could not be obtained. Only because of these, at first sight, collateral results of love, because of all this whirl of emotions, feelings, agitations, desires, thoughts, fantasies, inner creations, only because of the beauty which creates, can love fulfil its direct function.
Moreover, and this perhaps is most important of all, superfluous energy is not in any way wasted but passed into other forms of energy. And we are able to trace which they are. Generally speaking, the significance of indirect results may often be much more important than the significance of direct results. And we can trace how the energy of love passes into instincts, into the power of ideas, into creative force on different planes of life, into imagesof art, into songs, sounds, music, poetry. And we can easily imagine the same energy passing into intuition of a higher order, into higher consciousness which will open up for us a mysterious and miraculous world.
In all living nature (and maybe even in that which we regard as dead) love is a force inciting creative activity in the most varied directions.
In springtime, with the first awakening of the emotions of love, birds begin to sing and to build nests. Naturally, a positivist will try to find a simple explanation for all that; singing is to attract the females or the males and so on. But even a positivist will not be able to deny that there is much more of this singing than is necessary for 'the propagation of species'. Of course, for a positivist 'singing' is only 'accidental', only a 'by-product'. But in reality this singing may be the main function of the given species, the meaning of its existence, the purpose which nature had in view in creating this species. And this singing is needed not to attract the females, but for some general harmony of nature we only sometimes vaguelyfeel.
Thus we see that what appears as a collateral function of love, from the point of view of an individual, may serve as a principal function of the species.
To go on: the young birds are not there yet, there is not even a hint of them. Yet 'houses' are already being prepared for them. Love has evoked a thirst for activity. Instinct governs this thirst for activity, because it is expedient from the point of view of the species. At the first awakening of love - work starts. And one and the same desire creates both a new generation and the conditions in which this new generation is to live. One and the same desire awakes creative activity in all directions, brings about mating for the birth of the new generation and makes them build and create for the future generation.
We see the same thing in men. Love is a creative force. And the creative force of love manifests itself not in one but in many varied directions. Perhaps it is precisely by this force of love, Eros, than mankind is incited to fulfil its main function, which we do not know and only sometimes dimly feel.
But even without touching upon the purpose of mankind's existence, within the limits of what we can know, we must admit that all the creative activity of mankind is the outcome of love. Our whole world turns around love as its centre.
Love opens up in man sides he was not aware of in himself. There is much in love of the stone age and also of the witches' sabbath. Many men cannot be pushed by anything but love to crime, to treason; only love can bring forth in them deeply hidden feelings which they considered long extinct in themselves. In love there is concealed a tremendous amount of egotism, vanity and self-pride. Love is a great force that tears off all masks. And people who run away from love, run away in order to keep their masks.
If creation, the birth of ideas, is the light which comes from love, then this light comes from a great flame. In this everlasting flame, in which all mankind and the whole of the world are burning, all the forces of the human spirit and genius are developed and refined; and perhaps it is precisely from this flame, or with the help of it, that a new force will spring into being which will lead those who follow it away from the shackles of matter.
Without using any allegories it can be said that love, as the strongest of all emotions, reveals in the soul of man all its manifest and hidden qualities, and it can disclose those new qualities which now are the subject of occultism and mysticism and are so deeply hidden that, in most cases, men even refuse to admit the possibility of their existence.
Voluptuousness -to all hair-shined despisers of the body a thorn and a stake -cursed as 'the world' by all other worldlings: for it mocketh and befooleth all teachers of confusion and error.
Voluptuousness - to the rabble the slow fire whereon it roasteth; to all worm-eaten wood, to all stinking rags, an ever-ready oven of lust and lechery. Voluptuousness -to free hearts, innocent and free, the garden-joy of the earth, the overflowing gratefulness of the future to the present. Voluptuousness -sweet poison only to the withered, but a grand cordial to the lion-willed and a reverently stored king of wines. Voluptuousness -the happy prototype of a higher happiness and of the highest hope. For to many an one marriage is promised, and more than marriage -To many an one that is more strange to himself than are man and woman -and who comprehendedeth wholly how strange are man and woman to one another?*
I have dwelt so long on the question of the understanding of love, because it is of the most vital importance; for to the majority of people approaching the threshold of the mystery, it is precisely from this side that much becomes opened or closed and because for many precisely this question constitutes the greatest obstacle.
The most important thing in love is that which is not, which is completely nonexistent from an ordinary everyday materialistic point of view.
In this sensing of that which is not, and in the contact thus reached with the world of the miraculous, i.e. the truly real, lies the principal meaning of love in human life.
It is a well-known psychological fact that at moments of very intense experience, great joy or great suffering, everything happening around seems to a man unreal, a dream. This is the beginning of the awakening of the soul. When a man begins to be aware, in a dream, that he is asleep and that what he sees is a dream, he awakes. In the same way a soul, when it begins to realize that all visible life is but a
* F. W. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, 'Of The Three Evils', trs. A. Tille, Everyman's Library, J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1933 and Modern Library, New York, 1966.
dream, approaches awakening. And the stronger, the more vivid the experiences of a man, the quicker may come the moment of consciousness of the unreality of life.
It is very interesting to examine love and men's attitude to love, using the same method and the same analogies as those applied to the comparative study of different dimensions.
We should again imagine a world of plane-beings, examining phenomena which come to their plane from another unknown world (such as the change of the colour of lines on the plane which are actually due to the rotation of a wheel with multi-coloured spokes passing through the plane). The plane-beings suppose that these phenomena originate on their plane from causes also lying on the plane, and that they also end there. And all similar phenomena are for them identical, such as the two circles which actually belong to quite different objects.* On this basis they build their theories and their ethics. And yet, if they were bold enough to abandon their 'two-dimensional' psychology and to understand the true nature of these phenomena, then with the help of these very phenomena and by means of them they would be able to tear themselves away from their plane, to rise, to soar above it and to see a vast unknown world.
The question of love occupies exactly the same place in our life.
Only he who is able to see far beyond the facts and who can view the facts themselves in the light of what is concealed behind them, only he can see the true depth of the question.
Whoever is capable of seeing beyond 'facts' begins to see many new things precisely in love and through love.
I shall quote here a poem in prose by Edward Carpenter (from his book Towards Democracy).
The Ocean of Sex To hold in continence the great sea, the great ocean of sex, within one, With flux and reflux pressing on the bounds of the body, the beloved genitals, Vibrating, swaying emotional to the star-glint of the eyes of all human beings, Reflecting Heaven and all Creatures, How wonderful!
Scarcely a figure, male or female, approaches, but a tremor travels across it.
* See pp. 53 and 119.
As when on the cliff which bounds the edge of a pond someone
moves, then in the bowels of the water also there is a mirrored
movement So on the edge of this Ocean The glory of the human form, even faintly outlined under the trees
or by the shore, convulses it with far reminiscences; (Yet strong and solid the sea-banks, not lightly to be overpassed;) Till maybe to the touch, to the approach, to the incantation of the
eyes of one, It bursts forth, uncontrollable 0 wonderful Ocean of Sex,
Ocean of millions and millions of tiny seed-like human forms
contained (if they be truly contained) within each person Mirrors of the very universe, Sacred temple and innermost shrine of each body, Oceanriver flowing ever on through the great trunk and branches of Humanity,From which after all the individual only springs like a leaf-bud' Ocean which we so wonderfully contain (if indeed we do contain
thee), and yet who containest us! Sometimes when I feel and know thee within, and identify myself with thee, Do I understand that I also am of the dateless brood of Heaven and Eternity.*
Returning to that from which I started, to the relationship between the two fundamental laws of our existence, love and death, the true correlation of which remains for us mysterious and incomprehensible, I shall only recall the words by which Schopenhauer ends his Counsels and Maxims
I should point out how Beginning and End meet together, and how closely and intimately Eros is connected with Death, how Orcus, or Amenthus, as the Egyptians called him, is not only the receiver but the giver of all things Death is the great reservoir of Life Everything comes from Orcus, - everything that is alive now was once there Could we but understand the great trick by which that is done, all would be clear'**
* Edward Carpenter, Towards Democracy, London, George Allen & Unwin and New York, Folcroft, 1931
**'Counsels and Maxims', being the second part of A Schopenhauer's 'Aphonsmen zur Lebensweisheit, trs T Bailey Saunders, London, Swan Sonnenshein, 1899