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Love And Will
Meditation And Recollection
The First Form Of Contemplation
The Mystical Life
The Preparation Of The Mystic
The Second Form Of Contemplation
The Third Form Of Contemplation
The World Of Reality
What Is Mysticism?
Anaximenes And The Air
Animism, Ancient And Modern
Brooks And Streams
Development And Discipline Of Intuition
Earth, Mountains, And Plains
Fire And The Sun
Heracleitus And The Cosmic Fire
Light And Darkness
Man And Nature
Mystic Intuition And Reason
Mystic Receptivity
Nature Mysticism And The Race
Nature Not Symbolic
Nature, And The Absolute
Poetry And Nature Mysticism
Rivers And Death
Rivers And Life
Seasons, Vegetation, Animals
Springs And Wells
Still Waters
The Beautiful And The Ugly
The Charge Of Anthropomorphism
The Expanse Of Heaven--colour
The Immanent Idea
The Moon--a Special Problem
The Ocean
The Waters Under The Earth
Will And Consciousness In Nature
Winds And Clouds


A wave of Mysticism is passing over the civilised nations. It is
welcomed by many: by more it is mistrusted. Even the minds to
which it would naturally appeal are often restrained from
sympathy by fears of vague speculative driftings and of
transcendental emotionalism. Nor can it be doubted that such an
attitude of aloofness is at once reasonable and inevitable. For a
systematic exaltation of formless ecstasies, at the expense of
sense and intellect, has a tendency to become an infirmity if it
does not always betoken loss of mental balance. In order,
therefore, to disarm natural prejudice, let an opening chapter be
devoted to general exposition of aims and principles.

The subject is Nature Mysticism. The phenomena of "nature"
are to be studied in their mystical aspects. The wide term
Mysticism is used because, in spite of many misleading
associations, it is hard to replace. "Love of nature" is too
general: "cosmic emotion" is too specialised. But let it at once
be understood that the Mysticism here contemplated is neither
of the popular nor of the esoteric sort. In other words, it is not
loosely synonymous with the magical or supernatural; nor is it a
name for peculiar forms of ecstatic experience which claim to
break away from the spheres of the senses and the intellect. It
will simply be taken to cover the causes and the effects involved
in that wide range of intuitions and emotions which nature
stimulates without definite appeal to conscious reasoning
processes. Mystic intuition and mystic emotion will thus be
regarded, not as antagonistic to sense impression, but as
dependent on it--not as scornful of reason, but merely as more
basic and primitive.

Science describes nature, but it cannot _feel_ nature; still less
can it account for that sense of kinship with nature which is so
characteristic of many of the foremost thinkers of the day. For
life is more and more declaring itself to be something fuller
than a blind play of physical forces, however complex and
sublimated their interactions. It reveals a ceaseless striving--an
_elan vital_ (as Bergson calls it) to expand and enrich the forms
of experience--a reaching forward to fuller beauty and more
perfect order.

A certain amount of metaphysical discussion will be necessary;
but it will be reduced to the minimum compatible with
coherency. Fortunately, Nature Mysticism can be at home with
diverse world-views. There is, however, one exception--the
world-view which is based on the concept of an Unconditioned
Absolute. This will be unhesitatingly rejected as subversive of
any genuine "communion" with nature. So also Symbolism will
be repudiated on the ground that it furnishes a quite inadequate
account of the relation of natural phenomena to the human
mind. The only metaphysical theory adopted, as a generalised
working basis, is that known as Ideal-Realism. It assumes three
spheres of existence--that which in a peculiar sense is _within_
the individual mind: that which in a peculiar sense is _without_
(external to) the individual mind: and that in which these two
are fused or come into living contact. It will be maintained, as a
thesis fundamental to Nature Mysticism, that the world of
external objects must be essentially of the same essence as the
perceiving minds. The bearing of these condensed statements
will become plain as the phenomena of nature are passed in
review. Of formal theology there will be none.

The more certain conclusions of modern science, including the
broader generalisations of the hypothesis of evolution, will be
assumed. Lowell, in one of his sonnets, says:

"I grieve not that ripe knowledge takes away
The charm that nature to my childhood wore
For, with that insight cometh, day by day,
A greater bliss than wonder was before:
The real doth not clip the poet's wings;
To win the secret of a weed's plain heart
Reveals some clue to spiritual things,
And stumbling guess becomes firm-rooted art."

Admirable--as far as it goes! But the modern nature-mystic
cannot rest content with the last line. The aim of nature-insight
is not art, however firm-rooted; for art is, so to speak, a
secondary product, a reflection. The goal of the nature-mystic is
actual living communion with the Real, in and through its
sensuous manifestations.

Nature Mysticism, as thus conceived, does not seek to glorify
itself above other modes of experience and psychic activity. The
partisanship of the theological or of the transcendental type is
here condemned. Nor will there be an appeal to any ecstatic
faculty which can only be the vaunted appanage of the few. The
appeal will lie to faculties which are shared in some degree by
all normal human beings, though they are too often neglected, if
not disparaged. Rightly developed, the capacity for entering into
communion with nature is not only a source of the purest
pleasure, but a subtle and powerful agent in aiding men to
realise some of the noblest potentialities of their being.

When treating of specific natural phenomena, the exposition
demands proof and illustration. In certain chapters, therefore,
quotations from the prose and poetry of those ancients and
moderns who, avowedly or unavowedly, rank as nature-mystics,
are freely introduced. These extracts form an integral part of the
study, because they afford direct evidence of the reality, and of
the continuity, of the mystical faculty as above defined.

The usual method of procedure will be to trace the influence of
certain selected natural phenomena on the human mind, first in
the animistic stage, then in the mythological stage, and lastly in
the present, with a view to showing that there has been
a genuine and living development of deep-seated nature
intuitions. But this method will not be too strictly followed.
Special subjects will meet with special treatment, and needless
repetition will be carefully avoided. The various chapters, as far
as may be, will not only present new themes, but will approach
the subject at different angles.

It is obvious that severe limitations must be imposed in the
selection from so vast a mass of material. Accordingly, the
phenomena of Water, Air, and Fire have received the fullest
attention--the first of the triad getting the lion's share; but
other marked features of the physical universe have not been
altogether passed by. The realm of organic life--vegetable and
animal--does not properly fall within the limits of this study.
For where organised life reveals itself, men find it less difficult
to realise their kinship with existences other than human. The
curious, and still obscure, history of totemism supplies abundant
evidence on this point; and not less so that modern sympathy
with all living things, which is largely based on what may be
termed the new totemism of the Darwinian theory. But while
attention will thus be focussed on the sphere of the inorganic,
seemingly so remote from human modes of experience, some
attempt will nevertheless be made to suggest the inner
harmonies which link together all modes of existence. A further
limitation to be noted is that "nature" will be taken to cover only
such natural objects as remain in what is generally called their
"natural" condition--that is, which are independent of, and
unaffected by, human activities.

Let Goethe, in his Faust hymn, tell what is the heart and essence
of Nature Mysticism as here to be expounded and defended.

"Rears not the heaven its arch above?
Doth not the firm-set earth beneath us lie?
And with the tender gaze of love
Climb not the everlasting stars on high?
Do I not gaze upon thee, eye to eye?
And all the world of sight and sense and sound,
Bears it not in upon thy heart and brain,
And mystically weave around
Thy being influences that never wane?"

Next: Nature, And The Absolute

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