Men mutually repel or attract each other. There are invisible bonds between them which unite members of the same community like a network. It is thought which has transformed the terrestrial world and the conditions of life. We know, too, that the possession of this spiritual energy constitutes our peculiar character. It essentially differentiates us from our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom, the anthropoid apes and, in particular, the chimpanzees. Spirit appears in living matter when the brain and the endocrine glands attain a certain degree of perfection. Like the phosphorescence of the glowworm, it is a kind of light emitted by living tissues.
What is the structure of thought? Do there exist psychons analogous to the photons of a sunbeam or to the electrons and protons of electric fluid? Or are we dealing with a completely new world which our present concepts are impotent to describe? The study of consciousness undoubtedly reserves still greater surprises for the biologists of the future than those which the exploration of the interatomic world has provided for the physiologists.
The spirit forms part of the body and is, therefore, situated in the physical continuum. But it escapes from the four dimensions of space and time just as the light does not remain imprisoned in the bulb of a lamp. Spiritual energy presents characteristics which vary according to individuals. These characteristics are transmitted hereditarily. There are factors in the genes which determine, though in what measure we do not yet know, the quality of the spirit. The spirit, like the secretion of the gastric juices of thyroxin, depends, therefore, on the activity of certain groups of cells and yet it does not belong to the same world as these cells. Is it the smoke produced by the burning wood or is it the cloud which hovers for a moment in the pine forest on the side of the mountain?
We are neither spirit nor body, for spirit and body only constitute complementary aspects of ourselves. The structure of our senses does not permit us to apprehend both these aspects simultaneously. No mental activity is ever produced without the corresponding organic activity.
Spirit, as we know, presents different types in different individuals. There are, for example, intellectual, affective and intuitive types. Each of these types is characterized by the predominance of one or other of the physicomental activities.
The human person is constituted, first and foremost, by consciousness. But consciousness is simultaneously linked to the brain, the blood, the endocrine glands, the sympathetic nervous system and the heart. The unity of the eye, like the unity of the organism, consists of multiple elements. We are intelligence, feeling and intuition just as much as we are pituitary, suprarenal, thyroid and sexual glands, cerebral cortex and hypothalamus. It is an error to believe that the brain is the seat of the intelligence. The truth is, we think with all our organs but it is probable that the power of understanding, remembering and associating ideas depends on the number of nerve cells, the perfection of their structure and the complexity of their system of association. The intellect uses the information which the sense organs give it about the external world and prepares our action on this world. Thanks to its inventions, it has enormously increased the acuteness of our preceptions and the power of our hands. It has constructed the gigantic telescopes of California and Mount Wilson which can reach universes situated several million light years from our Milky Way. It has also invented the electronic microscope which is strong enough to let us penetrate into the world of molecules. It has given us the means of acting on the greatest as well as the smallest objects; of destroying in a few minutes monuments which were the glory of our civilization; of performing surgical operations on isolated cells or of splitting the nucleus of the atom. The intellect is the creator of science and philosophy. When it is well balanced, it constitutes a sure guide to conduct but it gives us neither the sense of life nor the strength to live. It is only one of the activities of the spirit If it developes in isolation, unaccompanied by feeling, it separates an individual from other individuals and dehumanizes him.
Feeling depends more on the endocrine glands, the sympathetic nervous system and the heart than on the brain. Enthusiasm, courage, love and hate impel us to the action which the intelligence has planned. It is fear, anger, the passion to discover and to dare which act, through the medium of the sympathetic nerves, on the glands whose secretions put the organism in a state to act, to defend itself, to run away or to attack. The pituitary, thyroid, sexual and suprarenal glands render love, hate, enthusiasm and faith possible. It is only thanks to these organs that human associations can exist. Reason alone is impotent to unite individuals. It is capable neither of loving nor hating. The Christian virtues are more difficult to practice when our endocrine glands are deficient.
Feeling apprehends reality in a more direct way than does intelligence. Intelligence considers life from the outside; feeling dwells in the inmost core of life. The heart has its reasons which reason does not know, as Pascal said. It is these nonintellectual activities of the spirit which give an individual the power to come out of himself, to make contact with others, to love them and to sacrifice himself for them.
Perhaps artistic inspiration, religious inspiration and love favor the development of intuition. The poet apprehends reality in a deeper way than the scientist. Intuition comes very close to clairvoyance; it appears to be the extrasensorial perception of reality. "All great men are gifted with intuition. They know without reasoning or analysis, what they need to know." 4
It is probable that the difference between intuition and clairvoyance is quantitative and qualitative. "Clairvoyance and telepathy are immediate data of observation. Those who have this power grasp the secret thoughts of other individuals without using their sense organs. They also perceive events which are more or less distant in space or time." This gift is far from being exceptional. In his researches on the students of Duke University, Rhine frequently observed the existence of extrasensorial perception. The prophets of the Old Testament knew the future. In the eleventh century, the Arabs defined extrasensorial perception as the fourth degree of mental development. The doctrine of Yoga teaches that the transmission of thought from one person to another is possible. Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer and von Hauptman admitted the concept of extrasensorial perception. Strangely enough, Aristotle rejected divination, for this phenomenon seemed to him inexplicable. Descartes and the eighteenth century philosophers also believed that nothing can penetrate to the intelligence except through the senses.
Thus, since the Renaissance, man has been arbitrarily imprisoned within the frontiers of his five senses. Today we know many undeniable cases of telepathy. The nature of telepathy, of the vision of the past and of the prediction of the future, remains as unknown as in Aristotle's time. But we do know that we must never deny the reality of a phenomenon simply because this phenomenon is inexplicable and difficult to observe.
It is certain that the spirit can communicate with the external world and with other spirits through some other 4Ibid.
channel than the sense organs. Undoubtedly intuition is far from being as solid as intellect. Its use is frequently dangerous. But this extrasensorial perception greatly increases our spirit's power of penetration for it allows us to grasp things beyond the reach of our senses in space and time and even perhaps beyond them both.
Man is thus constructed in such a way as to be aware of purely spiritual influences, whether it is a question of the unexpressed thought of another man or of the grace of God. Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes and his disciples have made the existence of all revealed religion conceivable. There are, in fact, far wider contacts between ourselves and external or internal reality than classical philosophy and science recognize. We live at once in space and time and outside these dimensions of the physical universe. We have at our disposition, not only the force of the intellect but that of intuition or clairvoyance. The intellect gives us knowledge and mastery of the material world. Intuition penetrates deeper than intelligence into reality and unites us directly with tilings. It is above all due to these nonintellectual activities that the spirit can escape beyond the material world. This property of the physicomental substance of being able to inhabit simultaneously the physical universe and a universe inaccessible, at any rate for the moment, to reason and science, makes the human being an object different from anything else which exists in the terrestrial world. That is what we are.