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Lecture 6. The Infinite in Nature in Man and in the Self.

Lecture 6.
The Infinite in Nature in Man and in the Self.
Positivist Objections.
WHEN it has been my chief endeavour to show that religion did not begin with abstract concepts and a belief in purely extra-mundane beings but that its deepest roots can be traced back to the universal stratum of sensuous perception it is somewhat hard to be told that ‘I must necessarily admit an extra-mundane Logos in man and derive mythology and religion from extra-mundane causes’ (Gruppe p. 218). Still more extraordinary does it seem that the ground on which this charge is founded should be my holding in some modified form the opinion of Schleiermacher Wuttke Hellwald and others that ‘the infinite can be known in the finite only and that it should be known here always and everywhere.’

Again I am told (p. 222) that if I trace the concept of the infinite back to the most primitive percepts of not quite finite things I must mean by the infinite ‘a potentia of the infinite the infinitely infinite the infinite per se the absolute.’ If these words have any meaning at all they would show a complete misapprehension of my position. I spoke of the sensuous pressure of the infinite which is contained in the simplest perceptions of our senses while I represented the pure concept of the infinite to say nothing of the absolute as the very last result of a long historical process of intellectual evolution. To fix the exact time when the indications of the infinite which are latent in all sensuous perceptions became recognised either in mythology or religion and lastly in philosophy is completely beyond our power. It is enough if we can show that the rudiments of later mythological religious and philosophical expressions were present in what I call the early pressure of the infinite upon our senses. I do not object if from another point of view this may be called an intellectual pressure1 also; but what is really important is to understand that mankind did not begin with the abstract concepts of infinity still less of the absolute whatever that may mean but with the simplest perceptions which in addition to their finite contents implied likewise something beyond the finite.

The question again whether this evolution of thought beginning with the simplest perceptions and ending with the highest abstractions was teleological or not—whether it was purposed whether it was meant to lead us on to a higher conception of the world—does not concern us at present. It is enough for us that it was real that it is strictly historical and that it is at the same time intelligible. Whether it was meant or intended by whom it was intended and for what it was intended these are questions which need not disturb our equanimity. So far as I can see the evidence for and against a teleological interpretation is equally feeble but at all events it need not disquiet those who are only concerned with the establishment of facts and with a suggestion of their possible origin.
Historical Evolution.
My principal object has always been to discover an historical evolution or a continuous growth in religion as well as in language. It seems strange therefore that while in England some Darwinians though not Darwin himself have attacked me for not being a thorough-going evolutionist Professor Gruppe should try so very hard to prove that I am an evolutionist and that therefore I am behind the time as time is understood in certain quarters. Evolution we are told (pp. 233 235) is but the disguised sister of Hegelian speculation. We ought to be transformationists and no longer evolutionists. I do not know what transformations may still await us but for the present I certainly am and mean to remain an evolutionist in the study of language mythology and religion—that is to say I shall always try to discover in them an intelligible historical growth. That I have not ascribed any evolutionary power to ideas or concepts by themselves apart from the persons by whom they are held and uninfluenced by the objective world by which they are determined I need hardly attempt to prove considering that I have always adopted as the foundation of all philosophy Kant's well-known principle that concepts without intuitions are empty intuitions without concepts are blind. There are misapprehensions against which it is difficult to defend oneself because it seems incredible that they should ever have been raised.
Positivist Point of View.
Nor do I believe that Professor Gruppe or anybody else really thinks me capable of believing in self-evolving Hegelian ideas floating about in metaphysical air or blown into our face like soap bubbles by an extra-mundane Logos. On the contrary he knows and he says so himself that my starting-point is from a positivist point of view impregnable2 and it is exactly this impregnable character of the position I have taken that has roused so much anger among positivist philosophers.
But now comes the strangest of all arguments. The premisses from which I start are admitted to be impregnable but as the facts in the history of religion are against them it follows that after all my premisses positivist though they may be must be wrong.
It is generally supposed that when we come to facts all controversy must end but we shall see that facts as well as fictions require careful handling.
I had taken some of my facts from the Rig-veda not because I consider that these hymns can bring us near to the very cradle of religious concepts but simply because we possess no literary documents so far as I know that can bring us nearer to it at least on Aryan ground. I maintained that when the Vedic Rishis celebrated the rivers the dawn the sky or Indra the god of the sky they did not simply mean the objects which they saw but also something beyond call it unknown indefinite infinite or divine.
Here I am flatly contradicted. ‘The Hindu of the older Rig-veda’ we are told (p. 221) ‘does not adore the Infinite which lies within or behind the dawn but the dawn herself whosoever that may be.’ Yes ‘whosoever that may be’ ὅστιςποτ᾽ ἐστίν and this ‘whosoever that may be’ is exactly what I mean by the invisible the unknown or the infinite behind the mere splendour of the morning rays. Who ever maintained that the Hindu adored the Infinite in its abstract form or the Infinite by itself as lying within or behind the dawn? All I said was that in choosing the dawn as a recipient of his praises the Vedic poet whether he was as yet conscious of it or not meant something more than the definite dawn the reflected splendour of the sun that lasted for a short time every day and then vanished for ever. He meant something within or behind the dawn which did not vanish which came again day after day which manifested itself to his senses but could never be fully grasped by them. This is so clear and so undeniable that nothing but the weakest objections could be raised against it.
We are assured that ‘nothing was further from the thoughts of the ancient poets than to try to comprehend or actually to grasp the incomprehensible and ungraspable to fly up to the solar bird and there to see the eternal miracle face to face.’ Who ever suggested such wild flights of fancy for the Vedic poets? It is wonderful enough that in their conception of one of their deities of Aditi the concept of the infinite should have found so early an expression though here too probably at first under the image of the dawn or what lies beyond the dawn3. We can see again and again how the germs of the infinite which are latent in such concepts as that of the dawn from the very beginning burst out under different forms in the hymns of the Rig-veda.
The Dawn.
One of the salient features of the dawn was its wide-spreading splendour. All the other luminaries had their small circumscribed spheres. The dawn however was always called the far-reaching reaching to the very ends of heaven and earth. Thus we read ‘The Dawns adorn themselves with splendours in the ends of the sky4.’
End and Endless.
This end and the ends of heaven and earth are often mentioned as the limit of everything that can be seen. We hear of the enemies of Indra who could not reach the end of heaven and earth5 and of the birds which at the time of dawn come forth from the ends of heavens6. Then we meet with questions as to where the end of the waters in heaven may be. In one passage the poet says; ‘Where is the highest point where is their lowest O waters (of heaven) where is your middle where your end7?’ This is how ideas sprout and grow and this is how the idea of the endless and infinite opens slowly and quietly before our very eyes.
Heaven and earth are called at first wide and broad afterwards dûre-ante with distant ends (I. 185 7). Then the roads are mentioned on which day and night wander across heaven and earth and these roads are distinctly called ananta or endless. Thus we read ‘The same road of the two sisters that is of day and night is endless8.’ Again ‘Wide and endless roads go round heaven and earth on all sides9.’ After this there was but a small step before the light of the sun could be called endless (I. 115 5) before heaven was called endless (I. 130 3; IV. 1 7) and before the power of several of the gods received the same name. Thus we read ‘The end of thy power O Indra cannot be reached10.’ The same is said of the might of the Maruts the storms (I.167 9; I.64 10); and of Vishnu (VII. 992); and at last even of the power of the rivers Sarasvatî and Sindhu (VI. 61 8; X. 75 3).
Endless in the Avesta.
The same intellectual process which in the Veda is carried on before our eyes in all its completeness can be watched though in a more fragmentary form only in the Avesta also. There too we read for instance in the XIII Yast (I. 2) the Yast of the Farvardîn (i.e. the Fravashis):
‘Through their brightness and glory O Zarathustra I (Ahura Mazda) maintain that sky there above shining and seen afar and encompassing this earth all around.
It looks like a palace that stands built of a heavenly substance firmly established with ends that lie far apart shining in its body of ruby over the three-thirds (of the earth); it is like a garment inlaid with stars made of a heavenly substance that Mazda puts on along with Mithra and Rashnu and Spenta-Ârmaiti and on no side can the eye perceive the end of it.’
This is what I meant when I said that the infinite was perceived in the finite phenomena of nature till those phenomena themselves were conceived and named as endless beings.
Theogonic Elements.
Every one of our perceptions comprises a multitude of ingredients though we are not aware of them till we call them by a name. We think of the dawn and of heaven and earth at first neither as finite nor infinite; but as soon as our attention is called to their character we speak of them and conceive them as either finite or infinite. Not every object however of our sensuous perception can be thus called and conceived. A stone is not infinite nor a shell nor an apple nor a dog and hence they have no theogonic capacity. But a river or a mountain and still more the sky and the dawn possess theogonic capacity because they have in themselves from the beginning something going beyond the limits of sensuous perception something which for want of a better word I must continue to call infinite.
All this Professor Gruppe if he had read with a willing and unprejudiced mind would easily have discovered in my former explanations instead of assuring me and other Vedic scholars ‘that Vedic poets do not fly up to the solar bird.’ It is painful to see a real scholar condescend to such unscholarlike manœuvres.
How the Perception of the Infinite led to Religions Ideas.
If then we have clearly established the fact that our experience or our states of consciousness or our Ego-knowledge whatever you like to call it consists of perceptions of the finite and with it at the same time of the infinite we may now go on to divide off that portion in the perceptions of the finite and the infinite which constitutes the proper domain of religion; and we have to show how these perceptions are worked up into religious concepts and names.
It may no doubt be said that the perception of the infinite is in itself a perception of something negative only of something which is not the finite such as we perceive it in all its variety and of which therefore we can predicate nothing except that it is. We know that the infinite is but we do not know what it is because it always begins where our finite knowledge seems to end.
This is perfectly true logically but it is not true psychologically. The human mind in discovering the infinite behind the finite does not separate the two. We can never draw a line where the finite ends and the infinite begins. The sky for instance was perceived as blue or grey it had its horizon and so far it was perceived as finite; but it was at the same time the infinite sky because it was felt that beyond what was seen of the sky there is and must be an infinite complement which no eye could see. The infinite per se as a mere negative would have had no interest for primitive man; but as the background as the support as the subject or the cause of the finite in its many manifestations it came in from the earliest period of human thought. There were in fact few finite things which were conceived without some infinite complement.
Tangible Semi-tangible Intangible Objects.
Let us see how this arose. It might seem as if our five senses delivered to us nothing but objects complete in themselves which we can touch and handle all round which we can smell taste see and hear. But is that so?
It is true11 no doubt of such objects as stones bones shells flowers berries logs of wood. All these are complete in themselves and no one would suspect anything in them beyond what we can see and touch.
But very soon our surroundings accustom us to other objects which seem indeed perfect in themselves but which do not lie completely within the grasp of our senses. Without being aware of it we are made familiar with objects which we treat as if we knew them as well as a stone or a bone or a shell but which if we examine them more closely contain more or less of an unknown residuum. I call this first class of objects those which we know all round tangible objects and I distinguish them from semi-tangible and intangible objects which we shall now have to examine.
Trees mountains rivers and the earth seem all very tangible and completely perceptible objects but are they so? We may stand beneath a tree touch it look up to it but our senses can never take in the whole of it. Its deepest roots are beyond our reach its highest branches tower high above our head. Besides there is something in the tree which for want of a better name we call its life and which to an unscientific and possibly to a scientific generation likewise is something mysterious something beyond the reach of our senses and it may be of our understanding also. A tree therefore has something intangible something unknowable something infinite in it. It combines as I said the finite and the infinite or it presents to us something infinite under a finite appearance12.
The same applies to mountains. The early settlers of this earth when standing at the foot of a mountain and looking up to where its head vanishes in the clouds could not help feeling overawed by these stupendous giants. We take all those things for granted and we have learnt to know what is beyond these mountains; nay how they were made and how they can be unmade. But to the early people a mountain-range marked the end of their little world. They saw the dawn the sun the moon and the stars rising above the mountain-tops the very sky seemed to rest on them; but what was beyond or beneath or above no one could guess. In later times the highest mountains were often believed to be the seats of the gods and the highest points were often chosen as the most appropriate for building temples to the gods. And let us think not of our own small valleys and wooded hills only but of that country where the Vedic hymns were first uttered and where Dr. Hooker saw from one point twenty snow-peaks each over 20000 feet high supporting the blue dome of an horizon that stretched over one-hundred-and-sixty degrees. We shall then more easily understand how the view of a temple resting on such columns might call out a feeling of the presence of the infinite even in the most simple-minded spectator.
Next to mountains come rivers and waterfalls. Here too we see indeed the mass of water which daily passes before our eyes but we never see the whole river we never see the same river. Without thinking of all the benefits which rivers confer on those who settle on their banks by fertilising their fields feeding their flocks and defending them better than any fortress against the assaults of their enemies; without thinking also of the fearful destruction that can be wrought by an angry river or of the sudden death of those who sink into its waves the mere sight of a torrent coming they know not whence and going they know not whither must have called forth a feeling in the heart of man that he stood in the presence of powers which were to him invisible and infinite and which he afterwards called divine.
Nothing again may seem to us more simple and real than the earth on which we stand. But if we want to speak of it as something complete in itself like a stone or a shell or an apple our senses fail us and we can trust to our imagination only. What corresponds to the name earth is not something of which we can see the horizon not something finite but something extending far beyond our sensuous horizon something visible to a very small extent only and beyond that again undefined unknown or infinite.
In the perception of these so-called semi-tangible objects we see the steps supplied by nature herself on which the human mind advanced almost unconsciously from the finite to the not altogether finite and at last to the infinite. It is important to observe that these steps were not the result of reasoning; they were advances almost inevitable in the slow discovery and conquest of the world by which man was surrounded.
But besides these semi-tangible objects our experience supplies us with others which are altogether intangible.
Clouds Stars Moon Sun Sky.
Strange as it may seem there are many things which we can see but which we cannot touch. The clouds are visible but generally not tangible. But even if we reckoned the clouds among our semi-tangible percepts there is the sky there are the stars and the moon and the sun none of which can ever be touched. In all these percepts the infinite preponderates over the finite and the mind of man is driven whether he likes it or not to admit something beyond the finite. When from some high mountain-peak our eye travels as far as it can watching the clouds and the sky and the setting sun and the rising stars it is not by any process of conscious reasoning that we conclude there is something infinite beyond the sky beyond the sun beyond the stars. It might truly be said that we are actually brought in sensuous contact with it; we see and feel it. In feeling the limit we cannot help feeling also what is beyond the limit; we are in the actual presence of a visible infinite.
Demi-Gods and Great Gods.
If then we look at these three classes of tangible semi-tangible and intangible objects we shall see at once that while the first class lent itself to no religious development—for fetishism or the worship of stones and bones is a retrogressive not a progressive religious development—the second class has supplied ample material for what we call demi-gods while the third class contains the germs of most of the great gods of the ancient world. What Hesiod called the first-born gods were mostly identical with semi-tangible manifestations. ‘Tell us’ he says ‘how at first gods and the earth arose and the rivers and the endless sea with swollen waves and the bright stars and the wide sky above; and those who arose hence the gods the givers of good things13.’
What we call spirits of the trees or Dryades spirits of the brooks or Nymphs were likewise originally semi-tangible percepts. Seneca in one of his letters says: ‘We contemplate with awe the heads or sources of the great rivers. We erect altars to a rivulet which suddenly and vigorously breaks forth from the dark. We worship the springs of hot water and certain lakes are sacred to us on account of their darkness and unfathomable depth.’ Here we have a recognition of the sense of the infinite as the source of religious imagination and worship.
Intangible objects grow mostly into great gods and when Ennius exclaims
Adspice hoc sublime candens quem invocant omnes Iovem14
we see how to him the sublime light in the highest heaven was the first manifestation of the highest god.
The Infinite in Man as an Object.
But the infinite was not discovered behind the veil of nature only though its manifestation in physical phenomena was no doubt as we shall see the most primitive and the most fertile source of mythological and religious ideas. There were two more manifestations of the infinite and the unknown which must not be neglected if we wish to gain a complete insight into the theogonic process through which the human mind had to pass from its earliest days. The infinite disclosed itself not only in nature but likewise in man looked upon as an object and lastly in man looked upon as a subject.
The Something behind Man.
Man looked upon as an object as a living thing was felt to be more than a mere part of nature more than a river or a tree or an animal. There was something in man whether it was called breath or spirit or soul or mind which was perceived and yet not perceived which was behind the veil of the body and from a very early time was believed to remain free from decay even when illness and death had destroyed the body in which it seemed to dwell. There was nothing to force even the simplest peasant to believe that because he saw his father dead and his body decaying therefore what was known as the man himself call it his soul or his mind or his person had vanished altogether out of existence. A philosopher may arrive at such an idea but a man of ordinary understanding though terrified by the aspect of death would rather be inclined to believe that what he had known and loved and called his father or mother must be somewhere though no longer in the body.
We need not here inquire into the logical correctness of the argument on which a belief in the continuance of a personal existence is based. These questions belong to a much later time. All we have to do is to understand how natural the supposition was that there was such a continuance. It is perhaps too much to say that such a belief was universal; but it certainly was widely spread and is still very widely spread. In fact it constitutes a very large portion of religion and religious worship and has been very fully examined of late by students of Natural Theology.
The Infinite behind Man.
If I call the recognition of an immortal element in man a perception of the infinite I am well aware that I stretch the meaning of infinite beyond its usual limits. But I look in vain for another term equally comprehensive and less liable to ambiguity. The perception of something beyond the grasp of our senses is always perception of something infinite though in this case the infinite would have to be further defined as immortal.
Religions Ideas springing from it.
How religious ideas could spring from the perception of something infinite or immortal in our parents grand-parents and ancestors we can see even at the present day. Among the Zulus for instance Unkulunkulu or Ukulukulu which means the great-great-grandfather has become the name of god. It is true that each family has its own Unkulunkulu and that his name varies accordingly15. But there is also an Unkulunkulu of all men (unkulunkulu wabantu bonke) and he comes very near to being a father of all men. Here also we can watch a very natural process of reasoning. A son would look upon his father as his progenitor; he would remember his father's father possibly his father's grandfather. But beyond that his own experience could hardly go and therefore the father of his own great-grandfather of whom he might have heard but whom he had never seen would naturally assume the character of a distant unknown being; and if the human mind ascended still further it would almost by necessity be driven to a father of all fathers that is to a creator of mankind if not of the world.
It is difficult to find a proper name for this belief in and worship of our fathers. It has been called Animism but this has proved so misleading a name that hardly any scholar now likes to employ it. In itself that name would not be objectionable but unfortunately the same name has also been used for a totally different phase of religious thought namely for the recognition of an active living or even personal element in trees rivers mountains and other parts of nature. As the German expression Naturbeseelung was wrongly rendered in English by Animism we have had two Animism to deal with and there have not been wanting attempts to show that the two sprang from the same source.
This is of course thoroughly misleading. The belief in and worship of ancestral spirits is called in German Seelencult16 but to make confusion worse confounded Animism has been chosen by Lippert the most powerful advocate of this theory as a subdivision of Seelencult. Nay worse still from the idea prevalent in some popular superstitions that the soul of a deceased person may not only haunt his former abode but may enter into anything that happens to be in the way a stone or a shell or a log of wood Fetishism has been identified with Animism and has been defined as ‘the capability of the soul to take possession of any thing whatsoever17.’ And as if this were not yet sufficiently chaotic the ancient worship of nature-gods has been explained by one of these ancestral souls having been raised to the state of a fetish and taking possession of heaven and earth of sun moon and stars and all the rest. Thus we are told Jupiter himself was but a fetish and a belief in him was due to fetishism which was evolved from animism which was a belief in our ancestors. If one considers what fetishism really is18 namely the very last stage in the downward course of religion this attempt to make a little-understood superstition of some modern Negro tribes the key to the religion of Greeks and Romans nay of most of the civilised nations of the world is perfectly marvellous.
Of course a philosopher is at liberty to define his words as he pleases and if any one chooses to call the belief in ‘the capability of the soul to take possession of anything whatever’ fetishism or any other ism he cannot easily be restrained. Only it should be clearly understood that the poor Negroes are not responsible for this confusion of language and thought and that if we continue to call a portion of their religion fetishism that fetishism has hardly anything in common with the fetishism of modern philosophers.
Strange Names. Totemism.
There seems to be a peculiar fascination in strange names. They sound learned and mysterious and seem to be above definition. Like fetishism totemism has a perfectly legitimate and well understood meaning among the Red Indians. We shall have to treat of Totemism very fully when we come to treat of customs and their relation to religious ideas. But the real meaning of Totemism has been so much watered down that almost anything in the shape of a sign of recognition or emblem can now be baptised a totem. The British Lion has scarcely escaped being christened a totem and the rose shamrock and thistle particularly the last stand in equal danger of losing their good name. And thus it has really come to pass that certain philosophers after satisfying themselves that the human mind must everywhere pass through the stages of animism and fetishism have landed us finally in totemism. Professor Gruppe tells us (p. 241) that if a sky-fetish or a star-fetish becomes a totem new ideas spring up in the human mind leading to a belief in ‘sons of heaven’ or ‘children of the sun;’ so that in the end every religion whether ancient or modern not excluding Christianity can be fully accounted for by Animism Fetishism and Totemism.
In order to secure clearness of thought and honesty of reasoning in the study of religion I am afraid these three terms ought to be sent into exile. They have become dangerous and if they are to be restored to their citizenship it can only be on condition that they should be confined to their proper and accurately defined sphere Animism as the name of a belief and worship of ancestral spirits; Fetishism as the name of a belief in chance objects being possessed of miraculous powers common among certain Negro tribes; and Totemism as the name of a custom widely spread among Red Indians and other tribes who have chosen some emblem as the token of their family or tribe and who pay reverence to it or regard it even as their ancestor whether human or superhuman.
If we keep these three terms properly defined and separate it will be clear that it is from what we call Animism from the wide-spread belief and worship of ancestors that the simplest and most primitive ideas of immortality arose in the human heart. This imparts the highest importance to the second branch of our subject the study of the infinite as perceived in man.
The Infinite in Man as a Subject.
The third and last manifestation behind which it was possible to discover something infinite something unknown and yet real was what I call the Self that is man himself looked upon not objectively as another but subjectively as the self. Little as we may suspect it self-consciousness or the consciousness of self has given rise from the earliest times to as rich a mythology as the intuition of nature and the love of our parents and ancestors. That mythology has really survived longer than any other for we still live in it and speak of spirit and soul and mind and intellect and genius and many smaller psychological deities as so many independent beings or powers or faculties just as the Greeks spoke of their Zeus Apollo and Athene. But what our genius or our mind or our soul really is what they are made of what they are substantially we know as little as the Greeks knew what Zeus Apollo and Athene were made of.
Psychological Deities.
We are quite willing to admit that there never was a Zeus or an Apollo or an Athene and that these are but names for physical phenomena personified or of the various activities of an unknown agent behind nature. But to be asked to admit that there is no such thing as spirit mind understanding intellect or reason within us and that all these are but names for certain activities of our sentient self seems intolerable as yet though thinkers brought up in the strict scholastic training of the middle ages and independent thinkers also such as Spinoza19 for instance never hesitated on that point. But even from a purely historical point of view it is clear that by spirit was meant at first nothing but the air which is drawn in by our lungs and given out again as breath. And as with the cessation of this breathing all bodily activity came to an end spiritus came naturally to be used as a synonym for life or rather it meant life before there was this more abstract name of life. Again as with the extinction of life all mental activity also became extinguished spirit came likewise to be used as a synonym for mental life. That mental life consisted as we saw in sensation20 perception conception and naming and in accordance with this four agencies if not agents were imagined called respectively sense imagination intellect and language or logos.
Sense Imagination Intellect Language.
With regard to sense there was some excuse because the organs of sense the eyes the ears the nose the tongue and the skin were actually there. But when the power of changing percepts into concepts was ascribed to the faculty of imagination and the power of naming concepts to the faculty of language; when lastly the process of adding and subtracting concepts and names was ascribed to a new faculty that of reason there arose a whole Olympus of unseen deities. No doubt as Ennius said ‘Look at that sublime light which all people invoke as Jupiter’ the believer in these mental deities also might say ‘Look at that sublime light within you which all people call Reason.’ But as we have ceased to believe in Jupiter we shall also have to surrender our belief in Reason as an independent agency or faculty or power and translate the old poetry of mythology into the sober prose of psychology.
We shall continue to reason all the same though we do not profess to have Reason just as we continue to be patient though we do not possess a something called Patience. The change is not so violent as it seems. We mean much the same when we say It rains as what the Greeks meant when they said that Zeus rained; and we shall continue to reason just the same though we no longer say that we are guided by reason or fall down to worship a goddess of Reason. The facts remain only we conceive them more correctly.
It may sound strange to call these faculties deities but in India that name devatâ was actually used from a very early period from the period of the Upanishads and they formed from a very early time subjects not indeed of adoration but of meditation. This led to a philosophy which is contained in the Upanishads treatises found at the end of the different Vedas and therefore called Vedânta.
And in the same way as behind the various gods of nature one supreme deity was at last discovered in India the Brâhmans imagined that they perceived behind these different manifestations of feeling thought and will also a supreme power which they called Âtma or self and of which these intellectual powers or faculties were but the outward manifestations. This led to a philosophy which took the place of religion and recognised in the self the only true being the unborn and therefore immortal element in man. A step further led to the recognition of the original identity of the subjective Self in man and the objective Self in nature and thus from an Indian point of view to a solution of all the riddles of the world. The first commandment of all philosophy ‘Know thyself’ became in the philosophy of the Upanishads ‘Know thy self as the Self’ or as it was translated into religious language ‘Know that we live and move and have our being in God’ (Acts xvii. 28).
Historically this Vedânta philosophy supplied the life-spring of the Buddhist religion in its philosophical aspect and will therefore supply the last and perhaps the most important chapter in our study of Natural Theology.
Natural Religion.
We have thus surveyed the whole field of Natural Religion and discovered the three great divisions into which it naturally falls. Nature Man and Self are the three great manifestations in which the infinite in some shape or other has been perceived and every one of these perceptions has in its historical development contributed to what may be called religion.
Physical Anthropological Psychological Religion.
I shall distinguish these three divisions as Physical Religion Anthropological Religion and Psychological Religion and if my life is spared I hope to make these three the subject of my courses of lectures illustrated by such evidence as language myth custom and sacred literature supply. The subject I know is enormous and I cannot promise you more than an outline but such an outline I hope as may be filled by others who come after us and whose knowledge I have no doubt will shed light on many a dark passage in the history of the human mind which we must leave but faintly illuminated by the information at present without our reach.

  • 1.

    ‘Aber dieser Druck ist ein intellectueller.’ Gruppe, p. 225.

  • 2.

    Gruppe, p. 222, ‘Der Ausgangspunkt ist vom positivistischen Standpunkt aus unanfechtbar.’

  • 3.

    ‘Aditi, an ancient god or goddess, is in reality the earliest name to express the Infinite; not the Infinite as the result of a long process of abstract reasoning, but the visible Infinite, visible by the naked eye, the endless expanse beyond the earth, beyond the clouds, beyond the sky. That was called A-diti, the un-bound, the un-bounded; one might almost say, but for fear of misunderstandings, the Absolute. Aditi is a name for the distant East, but Aditi is more than the dawn. Aditi is beyond the dawn, and in one place (1. 113, 19) the dawn is called the face of Aditi.’ (M. M., Hymns to the Maruts, 1869, pp. 230–231. See also Lectures on the Science of Language, 1864, ii. 547.)

  • 4.

    Ví añgate diváh ánteshu aktû´n—ushásah. Rv. VII. 79, 2.

  • 5.

    Ná yé diváh prithivyâ´h ántam âpúh. Rv. I. 33, 10.

  • 6.

    Diváh ántebhyah pári. Rv. I. 49, 3.

  • 7.

    Kvà svit ágram kvã budhnáh âsâm â´pah mádhyam kvã vah nûnám ántah. Rv. X. 111, 8.

  • 8.

    Samânáh ádhvâ svásroh anantáh. Rv. I. 113, 3.

  • 9.

    Anantâ´sah urávah visvátah sim pári dyâ´vâprithivî´ yanti pánthâh. Rv. V. 47, 2.

  • 10.

    Nahí to ántah sávasah parináse. Rv. I.54,1; see also I.100,15; VI. 29, 5.

  • 11.

    See Hibbert Lectures, p. 180 seq.

  • 12.

    See Hibbert Lectures by John Rhys, p. 216.

  • 13.

    Hesiod, Theog. i. 108:
    Εἴπατϵ δ᾽ ὡς τὰ πρω̑τα θϵοὶ καὶ γαι̑α γένοτο, καὶ ποταμοὶ καὶ πόντος ἀπϵίριτος, οἴδματι θύων, ἄστρα τϵ λαμπϵτόωντα καὶ οὐρανὸς ϵὐρὺς ὕπϵρθϵν, οἵ τ᾽ ἐκ τω̑ν ἐγένοντο θϵοὶ, δωτη̑ρϵς ἐάων.

  • 14.

    Cic. N. D. ii. 25, 65.

  • 15.

    Callaway, Unkulunkulu, p. 103.

  • 16.

    J. Lippert, Der Seelencult in seinen Beziehungen zur althebräischen Religion. 1881; Die Reiigionen der europäischen Culturvölker, 1881; Allgemeine Geschichte des Priestertums, 1883, 1884.

  • 17.

    Gruppe, p. 241.

  • 18.

    Hibbert Lectures, p. 54, ‘Is Fetishism a Primitive Form of Religion?’

  • 19.

    ‘Mens certus et determinatus modus cogitandi est, adeoque suarum actionum non potest esse causa libera.’ Ethica, ii. 48, Demonstr. ‘Eodem hoc modo demonstratur in mente nullam dari facultatem absolutam intelligendi, cupiendi, amandi, etc. Unde sequitur, has et similes facultates vel prorsus fictitias vel nihil esse praeter entia metaphysica sive universalia, quae ex particularibus formare solemus. Adeo ut intellectus et voluntas ad hanc et illam ideam vel ad hanc et illam volitionem eodem modo sese habeant ac lapideitas ad hunt et illum lapidem, vel ut homo ad Petrum et Paulum.’ Eth. ii. 48, Schol. See also Caird, Spinoza, p. 195.

  • 20.

    Science of Thought, p. 20.

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