We can make it a hovel or a mansion; we can make it even a pig-sty or a temple, according as the soul, the real self, chooses to function through it. We should make it servant, but through ignorance of the real powers within, we can permit it to become master. " Know ye not," said the Great Apostle to the Gentiles, " that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
The soul is the self, the soul made in the image of Eternal Divine Life, which, as Jesus said, is Spirit. The essential reality of the soul is Spirit. Spirit- Being- is one and indivisible, manifesting itself, however, in individual forms in existence. Divine Being and the human soul are therefore in essence the same, the same in quality. Their difference, which, however, is very great- though less in some cases than in others- is a difference in degree.
Divine Being is the cosmic force, the essential essence, the Life therefore of all there is in existence. The soul is individual personal existence. The soul while in this form of existence manifests, functions through the channel of a material body. It is the mind that relates the two. It is through the medium of the mind that the two must be coordinated. The soul, the self, while in this form of existence, must have a body through which to function. The body, on the other hand, to reach and to maintain its highest state, must be continually infused with the life force of the soul. The life force of the soul is Spirit. If spirit, then essentially one with Infinite Divine Spirit, for spirit, Being, is one.
The embodied soul finds itself the tenant of a material body in a material universe, and according to a plan as yet, at least, beyond our human understanding, whatever may be our thoughts, our theories regarding it. The whole order of life as we see it, all the world of Nature about us, and we must believe the order of human life, is a gradual evolving from the lower to the higher, from the cruder to the finer. The purpose of life is unquestionably unfoldment, growth, advancement- likewise the evolving from the lower and the coarser to the higher and the finer.
The higher insights and powers of the soul, always potential within, become of value only as they are realised and used. Evolution implies always involution. The substance of all we shall ever attain or be, is within us now, waiting for realisation and thereby expression. The soul carries its own keys to all wisdom and to all valuable and usable power.
It was that highly illumined seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, who said: " Every created thing is in itself inanimate and dead, but it is animated and caused to live by this, that the Divine is in it and that it exists in and from the Divine." Again: " The universal end of creation is that there should be an external union of the Creator with the created universe; and this would not be possible unless there were beings in whom His Divine might be present as if in itself; thus in whom it might dwell and abide. To be His abode, they must receive His love and wisdom by a power which seems to be their own; thus, must lift themselves up to the Creator as if by their own power, and unite themselves with Him. Without this mutual action no union would be possible." And again: " Every one who duly considers the matter may know that the body does not think, because it is material, but the soul, because it is spiritual. All the rational life, therefore, which appears in the body belongs to the spirit, for the matter of the body is annexed, and, as it were, joined to the spirit, in order that the latter may live and perform uses in the natural world. . . . Since everything which lives in the body, and acts and feels by virtue of that life, belongs to the spirit alone, it follows that the spirit is the real man; or, what comes to the same thing, man himself is a spirit, in a form similar to that of his body."
Spirit being the real man, it follows that the great, central fact of all experience, of all human life, is the coming into a conscious, vital realisation of our source, of our real being, in other words, of our essential oneness with the spirit of Infinite Life and Power- the source of all life and all power. We need not look for outside help when we have within us waiting to be realised, and thereby actual-ised, this Divine birthright.
Browning was prophet as well as poet when in " Paracelsus " he said:
Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise From outward things, whate'er you may believe. There is an inmost centre in us all, Where truth abides in fulness; and around Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, This perfect, clear perception- which is truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it, and makes all error: and, to know Rather consists in opening out a way Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape, Than in effecting entry for a light Supposed to be without.
How strangely similar in meaning it seems to that saying of an earlier prophet, Isaiah:
"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left."
All great educators are men of great vision. It was Dr. Hiram Corson who said: " It is what man draws up from his sub-self which is of prime importance in his true education, not what is put into him. It is the occasional uprising of our sub-selves that causes us, at times, to feel that we are greater than we know." A new psychology, spiritual science, a more commonsense interpretation of the great revelation of the Christ of Nazareth, all combine to enable us to make this occasional uprising our natural and normal state.
No man has probably influenced the educational thought and practice of the entire world more than Friedrich Froebel. In that great book of his, " The Education of Man," he bases his entire system upon the following, which constitutes the opening of its first chapter: " In all things there lives and reigns an eternal law. This all-controlling law is necessarily based on an all-pervading, energetic, living, self-conscious, and hence eternal, Unity. . . . This Unity is God. All things have come from the Divine Unity, from God, and have their origin in the Divine Unity, in God alone. God is the sole source of all things. All things live and have their being in and through the Divine Unity, in and through God. All things are only through the divine effluence that lives in them. The divine effluence that lives in each thing is the essence of each thing.
"It is the destiny and life work of all things to unfold their essence, hence their divine being, and, therefore, the Divine Unity itself - to reveal God in their external and transient being. It is the special destiny and life work of man, as an intelligent and rational being, to become fully, vividly, conscious of this essence of the divine effluence in him, and therefore of God.