This is a large subject, too large to be treated in any exhaustive fashion; too large indeed, to be comprehended. In Gaelic's remarks we must not understand that he is making any such attempt. He is trying, rather, to offer what he has somewhere described as a "fructifying glimpse." His opening sentence refers to the fact that a man we will call Miller was for the first time present at one of our experiments.
"Good evening to you," he greeted us.
"I have but the wee bit giftie this evening, more as an excuse for making a new acquaintance. I would have you take a broad view for the once of what you might call the state of the world. A pessimist is a man who takes a narrow view of things, and if things are dark there is always the sure remedy of extending the horizon. If the extension be sufficient, you will inevitably come upon clear skies.
"All things that live have an individual life, complete in its own circumference, however small. Each thing that lives has also a life as part of a larger organism of one sort or another. The very cells of your body exemplify this fact. Now the degree of quality of the individual, so to speak, must be in consonance with what we may call the corporeal demands of the larger body of which it is a part. The particular type of cell which makes up your human flesh is of a different degree of density, of physical constitution and of intelligence from the cells which make up as individuals the body of a fish or a tree or a living rock. The degree of quality which manifests itself in what you call physical matter is determined by the need, the constitution, and the degree of development of the more embrasive quality which is manifesting itself in the larger entity of which the first one is a part.
"Now if we have that principle in mind, let us consider a larger body of consciousness of which human consciousness is a cell. This is probably almost inconceivable; but exercise your constructive imagination for a purpose. I speak partly literal truth and partly figurative symbolism when I ask you to consider what you know of the human race as a body of consciousness consisting of many individuals. Now the embodiment of those individuals, not so much in material substance as in degree and quality of intelligence and awareness, is determined as in the case of the physical cell by the constitution and degree of development of the larger entity. The larger entity is passing through a progressive evolution as are all finite entities. You must not think of the human perception of spirituality as a degraded and retrogressive affair (i.e. the fall of man idea). It is, on the contrary an emerging affair. The greater body has passed through what we may call the rock period of absolute savagery. It has been passing through the hardy materialistic and mechanistic phase of its upward climb, and therefore men have been formed in outlook and perception of unchangeable materialistic and mechanistic outlook. As it refines, so do its constituent cells refine; and so must its constituent cells refine.
"Now the health of any body is of two-fold origin; it is an aggregate of perfect functioning of a myriad of individual units and it is also a direction of the aggregate intelligence, and it cannot exist without the cooperation of both. If sufficient of the cells of the body do not properly function, health fails. Health, however, in quantity of sufficient for progress, does not depend on perfect functioning of all constituents, fortunately. But those constituents which work in harmony with the laws of the being contribute automatically to the health of the whole, and by that very fact assure thus their own existence. And those that work in disharmony are assured of existence only by the fact that the majority of their fellows is great enough to assure what you may call an average of health.
"I speak now not of the mortality or immortality of the individual as an enduring thing. I speak of the life or death of one manifestation.
"If humanity as an entity in your present earth scheme is to continue healthy and alive, it must be because sufficient of its cells function in accordance with the law of its being to keep its average of health. Just as an individual human body and the cells of which it is made. If it lives in harmony, it is healthy. It is the duty of each to become healthy, thus adding to the weight of the majority. Only when a majority of the greater entity should become unhealthy, disharmonious, can the individual living in harmony be affected adversely, because then the whole entity is sick. I speak partly in parable: it is impossible to be literal. I seek to give a picture."
"I can understand universal substance, energy, oversoul - what you please - in which we all exist," objected Betty, "but this stuff tonight supposes lesser entities of varying degrees, of which we are all cells. I cannot conceive them. What are they?"
"If you could conceive it, you would be it," said Gaelic.
"I approach with extreme caution a subject which I cannot hope to make you see clearly," Gaelic continued next day. "You must be content with momentary half-guessed glimpses, as you see your own mountain peaks through the clouds. It is an inspirational picture I would draw for you rather than a plan.
"I must repeat one thing: you are capable of understanding only that to whose dimensions you have grown. Any creature is only so capable. You may feel intuitively momentarily, something beyond, but when you would fashion it into a shape, that shape will be your own. You may think this is not of universal application, and perhaps your thought may stray to your doggie, and you may think that he is looking up knowledgeably to what is above and beyond him when he looks up to his human master as a visible god. As a matter of fact, to him you are only another of his kind, not a doggie but an animal, greater, more powerful, of larger possession than himself, but an animal. I would not be surprised if at times he imagines he possesses a greater wisdom.
"With this thought clearly in mind, let us contemplate, not the nature of the form or the field of activity, but a few of the functions of the greater body of consciousness of which the individual human consciousness is one atom. The governing mind of the human body - and by that I mean as well the submerged portion that carries on the mechanical processes of digestion, of circulation that causes the heart to beat and the breath to intake with needed regularity, as well as the thinking portion that moves the hand or places your foot upon an appointed path - to that mind the health of the body is an importance and a care. Given an injury to one member, or a disintegration of tissue, the intelligence hurries to the point the armies of white corpuscles which shall beat back the invading armies of infection and shall finally restore to wonted health the inhabitant cells of the invaded territory. You have recently become aware of the extent and the great strength of this supervision - more fully aware, but far from completely aware. Your various excursions into auto-suggestion, mental healing, and all the other branches of the subject have given at least a hint of the reciprocal action toward maintaining health on the part of the larger entity in supplement to the contributions toward health made by the individual, and which we examined the other evening.
"There is not too remote an analogy in the infinitely larger and more complex body of consciousness of which we are speaking. It is self-aware to an extent of which your self-awareness is but a feeble and flickering shadow. It is the source of what you have been pleased variously to identify as instinct, intuition, inspiration, cosmic knowledge, whatever label you please. It is the intelligence or consciousness which answers when your need cries out to it, of whatever kind. It is that which supplements, which fills out, which is aware of the deficiency and the desire of its own atoms. It is that which sends by one means or another the meed of healing wisdom, of urge to process, of divine discontent; which complements the reaching of those atoms.
"Just as the human mind marshals its forces to repair disease, so this intelligence or consciousness floods toward the need of one or many of its creatures the influences most appropriate to the disharmony which has made itself manifest. In the human body - to go back to our original example - the reparatory forces are marshaled by the greater central consciousness only when through the nerves the report reaches that consciousness from the affected cells. On the purely voluntary side your mind instructs your hand to withdraw from the candle flame because your finger has reported through pain that its tissue is being destroyed, and begs for the assistance of a command to the muscles of the arm. Should you numb the nerves, or sever them, your finger would char unknown.
"In similar way does the greater consciousness of which we speak exercise its intelligence in aid when it is apprised of need. But when it is not so apprised the soul may char unknown.
"The mechanism of apprisal has been variously defined. Some of the definitions are outworn; some are even now in the process of being defined. In times past the openness of spirit has been called prayer. That is now too tainted with formalism. You have heard it called spiritual contact, permeability, porosity; you may search as you will for a word. I cannot find it for you in a sentence, but you have been told of it in many forms for the past four years. But know this; with the birth of free will what has been automatic process passes within individual control. It is as though one had in hand a switch by which one turned the current of his need into contact with the greater consciousness of which he is a part, or by which he can cut himself off.
"Now this is hardly a personal attention, of the sort the old Jews thought they obtained from their Jehovah. It is a turning of health-giving currents toward a needing part. By health giving currents I mean figuratively of all that is required of all that the greater consciousness contains; just as the blood is sent, to a certain member of the body. If the member in need of something is receptive, it flows within him and accomplishes. If he is tight-bound in his tension of impermeability, it washes by him, and but a trickle enters in.
"The personal side, which we fulfill, has been before described to you. We direct; we help you to receive; we place you, as it were, more into the current. We try to aid you to receive the impression. Sometimes we specify more or less that impression. There may be one or many of us. When you ask us, how can we give you a name? We might say with the old prophets that it is God who speaks from the mountains, and we would not be so far wrong.
"But remember what I said at first, and do not attempt to understand who this larger consciousness can be, or in what form it is embodied. You will merely be constructing a gigantic man to fill all space."
"I want to ask a question," proffered Betty. "How far along beyond us are you toward understanding this greater consciousness?"
Gaelic began a facetious comment on this question, but thought better of it.
"No, to be serious," he caught himself up, "I have somewhat extended beyond the limits of earth's consciousness. I comprehend somewhat more of cosmic relationships of harmony and disharmony, and of the sweep upward toward self-awareness of which progress and growth is made. I feel nearer, more in tune and harmony with the greater consciousness.
"But I do not understand!"