It is in middle age, when physiological activities have become less intense, that consciousness tends to become deeper, wider, more purified. Intellect, esthetic activity, moral strength and the religious sense continue to develop even in old age. It was when Dante was complaining of decrepitude that he wrote the most sublime lines of the Paradiso. But it is only in those who have served it faithfully all their lives that spirit continues to soar till the very end.

Most men do not realize that they are the makers of their spiritual destiny. Furthermore, they take no heed of this destiny. We know already that the development of mind in the individual is far from being inevitable as it has been in the race. In the course of the evolution of innumerable animal species, consciousness has hesitated, groped about and come up against a barrier which has permanently arrested it This has happened, for example, in the case of ants and bees. It often happens in the same way in the individual. Consciousness cannot achieve its finest development without education and effort of will. By a strange aberration civilized man is not concerned about the progress of his soul A large section of the population never advances beyond the psychological age of twelve or thirteen. We do not know the exact causes of this disastrous arrested development. Generally speaking, mental infantilism is to be observed in the descendants of drunkards, syphilitics, and mental and moral defectives. However, it is not always hereditary; it can be due to defective nutrition, to the action of toxic substances, to bad physical habits or to the attacks of certain viruses. Among those whose intelligence develops further, many are still incapable of attaining full mental maturity. These could, nevertheless, use the leisure given them by the progress of machinery to improve themselves both physically and spiritually.

Instead of doing so, they waste their free time in drinking, card-playing, going to the movies or the dance hall or reading novels on their own mental level. They are victims at once of their education and of the habits of modern life,

Nevertheless, the defects of our time do not invalidate the law of the development of the mind and spirit. The existence of disease does not imply that health is an illusion. In all ages the most highly evolved human beings have applied their will to improve their minds. Unfortunately, in modern society this effort is ill-directed; it has divorced intellect from feeling. Frequently it creates the desire for knowledge and the powers of observation, criticism, imagination and discovery but hardly ever does it deal with the nonintellectual activities of the human spirit. It neglects almost entirely such things as courage, audacity, self-sacrifice, heroism and love.

Maeterlinck once wrote: "To see without loving is to stare into darkness." By its emphasis on the exclusive development of reason, modern education arrests the development of the spirit. The preparation for nearly every examination forms the memory without forming the intelligence and, moreover, its spiritual value is null. Nevertheless, the interest of the community demands a profound intellectual culture. We need engineers, historians, physicists, mathematicians and philosophers. Only intellectual specialists are capable of advancing knowledge. Specialization is a necessary evil but its penalty is the narrowing of the spirit. The atmosphere of libraries, lecture rooms and laboratories is dangerous to those who shut themselves up in them too long. It separates us from reality like a fog. Without Gretchen, Faust would never have realized that the secret of life is not to be found in books.

The secret of life is to be found in life itself; in the full organic, intellectual and spiritual activities of our body. This secret can never be discovered by considering any of these three orders of activity in isolation. When the spirit rises in us under the impulse of will, like the sap in the tree under the impulse of spring, it appears simultaneously as intelligence, judgment, self-mastery and moral beauty. It becomes that intellectual light brimming with love of which Dante speaks in the Paradiso. It is wisdom; that wisdom which is refused to abstract philosophers and scientists. For scientists and philosophers consider things which cannot be expressed in words as unreal. Neither Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Auguste Comte nor Claude Bernard were truly wise. It is often among the anonymous and humble that one meets the true elect of the spirit. In other days they were to be found among the men and women who tilled their fields along with their children and servants; also among that small rural aristocracy who lived almost like peasants. This luminous yet inarticulate wisdom still exists in some rural families, in certain old country doctors, in humble priests and in unknown heroes of selflessness and charity. Yet it has also been found in emperors and kings. Was the spirit of Marcus Aurelius or St Louis less noble than that of Socrates or Epictetus? The path which leads to the mountain summit is equally rough and magnificent for all. There is no spiritual ascent without sacrifice: sacrifice of fortune or reputation; sacrifice of life for love of one's friends, one's country or a great ideal It is implicit in the soldier who goes willingly into the horrors of a modern battle; in Noguchi, frail, alone and ill, leaving his laboratory in the Rockefeller Institute to go and die of yellow fever in Africa; in those who have a passion for beauty and truth, who reach out with all their strength toward God, who give their lives that justice and love may reign on earth. It is not reason but feeling which leads man to the height of his destiny. The spirit rises by suffering and desire rather than by intellect; at a certain point of the journey it leaves the intellect, whose weight is too heavy, behind it. It reduces itself to the essence of the soul which is love. Alone, in the midst of this dark night of the reason, it escapes from time and space and, by a process which the great mystics themselves have never been able to describe, it unites itself to the ineffable substratum of all things. Perhaps this union with God is the secret goal toward which the individual strives from the moment when the fertilized ovule begins its division and growth in the mother's womb.

Only a very few people achieve spiritual evolution for it demands a persistent effort of will, a certain state of the tissues, a sense of the heroic and a purification of the senses and the mind. It also demands other conditions which we only dimly understand; in particular that psychophysiological condition which the Church calls Grace. But all can set out on this path which, though it must be followed through clouds, leads to the radiance of the heights. We can also, if we choose, instead of obeying the governing idea of individual evolution, live only for the satisfaction of our physical appetites, like our cousins the apes. Most civilized people are still so near the animal kingdom that they are only occupied with material values. Actually their existence is far lower than that of the animals for only spiritual values can bring us light and joy. At a given moment of his life everyone must choose between the material and the human. He must refuse or accept obedience to the law of the development of the spirit. It is just as dangerous to remain undecided as to refuse altogether. "Because thou art neither hot nor cold I will spew thee out of my mouth," it is written in the Apocalypse. Though, in most people, consciousness arrests its development early, its natural tendency is to grow steadily from birth to death. The uprising of the spirit in the course of the evolution of every individual is more than a fundamental law of human life; it is its distinctive characteristic.