During this walk across Spain, I had much leisure for meditation. I was pledged to do my work in the world, and that meant my becoming a public character and one sure to arouse controversy. I thought out my plan of campaign during this walk. I decided first of all, that the most important point was never to forget that I was a gentleman and keep my honour the more spotless that I was assuming a position whose professors were rarely well born, more rarely well bred, hardly ever sincere, and still less frequently honest even in the most ordinary sense of the word.
It seemed to me that my first duty was to prove to the world that I was not teaching Magick for money. I promised myself always to publish my books on an actual loss on the cost of production --- never to accept a farthing for any form of instruction, giving advice, or any other service whose performance depended on my magical attainments. I regarded myself as having sacrificed my career and my fortune for initiation, and that the reward was so stupendous that it made the price pitifully mean, save that, like the widow's mite, it was all I had. I was therefore the wealthiest man in the world, and the least I could do was to bestow the inestimable treasure upon my poverty-stricken fellow men.
I made it also a point of absolute honour never to commit myself to any statement that I could not prove in the same sense as a chemist can prove the law of combining weights. Not only would I be careful to avoid deceiving people, but I would do all in my power to prevent them deceiving themselves. This meant my declaring war on the spiritualists and even the theosophists, though I agreed with much of Blavatsky's teachings, as uncompromisingly as I had done on Christianity.
I further resolved to uphold the dignity of Magick by pressing into its service science and philosophy, as well as the noblest English that I could command, and to present it in such a form as would of itself command respect and attention. I would do nothing cheap: I would be content with nothing second rate.
I thought it also a point of honesty not to pretend to be "better" than I was. I would avoid concealing my faults and foibles. I would have no one accept me on false pretences. I would not compromise with conventionality; even in cases where as an ordinary man of the world, it would have been natural to do so. In this connection there was also the point that I was anxious to prove that spiritual progress did not depend on religious or moral codes,
but was like any other science. Magick would yield its secrets to the infidel and the libertine, just as one does not have to be a churchwarden in order to discover a new kind of orchid. There are, of course, certain virtues necessary to the Magician; but they are of the same order as those which make a successful chemist. Idleness, carelessness, drunkenness; the like interfere with success in any serious business, but sound theology and adherence to the code of Hampstead as against that of Hyderabad are only important if the man's body may suffer if his views are erroneous or his conscience reliable.
The conclusion of my meditations was that I ought to make a Magical Retirement as soon as the walk was over. I owed it to myself and to mankind to prove formally that the formulae of initiation would work at will. I could not ask people to experiment with my methods until I had assured myself that they were sufficient. When I looked back on my career, I found it hard to estimate the importance of the part played by such circumstances as solitude and constant communication with nature. I resolved to see whether by application of my methods, purged from all inessentials and understood in the light of common-sense physiology, psychology and anthropology, I could achieve in a place like Paris, within the period of the average man's annual holiday, what ad come as the climax of so many years of adventure. I also felt it proper to fit myself for the task which I had undertaken in publishing The Equinox, by fortifying myself with as much magical force as I might be able to invoke. The result of this resolve will appear in its proper place.
Our short spell of rest at Burgo de Osma sufficed me to collect in my mind the numberless conclusions of the very varied trains of thought which had occupied my mind during our fortnight's tramp. They shaped themselves into a conscious purpose. I knew myself to be on the brink of resuming my creative work in a way that I had never yet done. Till now I had written what was given me by the Holy Ghost. Everything I did was sui generis and had no conscious connection with any other outburst of my genius; but I understood that from this time on I should find myself writing with a sense of responsibility, that my work would be coherent, each item (however complete in itself) an essential part of a pyramid, a monument whose orientation and proportions should proclaim my purpose. I should do nothing in future that was not as definitely directed to the execution of my true will as every step through Spain was taken with the object of reaching Madrid; and I reflected that many such steps must seem wasted, many leading away from the beeline, that I did not know the road and had no idea what Madrid would be like when I reached it. All I could do was to take each step steadily, fearlessly, firmly and determinedly, trusting to the scanty information to be gathered from signposts and strangers, to keep more or less on the right road,
and to take my chance of being satisfied with the unknown city which I had chosen as my goal with no reason beyond my personal whim.
This I made our march symbolize life. There were other analogies. We had to endure every kind of hardship heartily and to take our fun where we found it without being dainty. We learnt to enjoy every incident, to find something to love in every strange face, to admire even the dreariest wilderness of sunburnt scrub. We knew that nothing really mattered so long as we got to Madrid. The world went on very well without us and its fortunes were none of our business. The only thing that could annoy us was interference with out intention to get to Madrid, though we didn't want to go there except insofar as we had taken it into our heads to set our faces towards it.
All these lessons would be of value when I got to London. I meant to tell mankind to aspire to a new state about which I could tell them little or nothing, to teach them to tread a long and lonely path which might or might not lead thither, to bid them dare to encounter all possible perils of nature unknown, to abandon all their settled manners of living and cut themselves off from their past and their environment, and to attempt a quixotic adventure with no resources beyond their native strength and sagacity. I had done it myself and found not only that the pearl of great price was worth far more than I possessed, but that the very perils and privations of the Quest were themselves my dearest memories. I was certain of this at least: that nothing in the world except this was worth doing. We turned our steps from Burgo de Osma. It would have been pleasant to halt, but there was nothing to keep us. We were glad to rest and glad to go on. The march to Madrid was the only thing that mattered. So should it be with my life. Success should not stay my footsteps. Whatever I attained should restore my energies and spur me to more strenuous strides.
We marched steadily to Aranda de Duero, Milagros, and many another village which (to itself the centre of the world) was to me, even then, but a milestone, and is now no more than a forgotten name which I exhume from my diary. The only impressions of this part of the march to Madrid are "Big Stone Bivouac" where we tried to shelter from a bitter wind, sleeping till the cold awoke us, and then trying to warm ourselves by exercise until fatigue sent us once more to sleep. An alternation of discomforts, which was repeated half a dozen times during the night. The memory is delightful. All the unpleasant incidents of the period have passed into oblivion.
About fifty kilometres from Madrid we passed a magnificent range of rocks. The smiling fertile valley does not count; it is the naked rugged aspiration of the grim granite that leaves its marks in the mind. It was for the peasants to think of their fields and see nothing of the universe but their crops and the coins which they hoarded at harvest, only to pass into the
pouch of the priest and pay for a parcel of earth in which they might conceal their carcases from the eye of the vulture.
On August the second, we found ourselves in Madrid and turned wearily into the first hotel we came to in Puerto del Sol. Neuburg was by this time a pretty sick man. He could not stand the rough food and the fatigue and the exposure, though he stuck to it with the utmost gameness. He had the passive patient courage of the Jew in its fullest development. However, there was no need for any further display of this virtue, and I put him to bed and told him to stay there and repair his ravaged intestines on delicate food until they were strong enough to support him through the next ordeal. As for myself, I was as fit as I had ever been in my life, and appreciating the extreme barbarism of the wilderness was the best possible preparation for swinging over to the other extreme and feeding my soul on the refinements of art.
As a critic of art I have curious qualifications. My early life left me ignorant of the existence of anything of the sort beyond Landseer's "Dignity and Impudence". I suppose I ought to have deduced the existence of art from this alone had I been an ideal logician. Such horrors imply their opposites. However, even in my emancipation I never discovered art as I did literature. It never occurred to me that there might be a plastic language as well as a spoken and written one. I had no conception that ideas could be conveyed through this medium. To me, as to the multitude, art meant nothing more than literature.
The first picture that awakened me was Manet's wonder "Olympe", enthusiastically demonstrated by Gerald Kelly to be the greatest picture ever painted. I could see nothing but bad drawing and bad taste; and yet something told me that I was making a mistake. When I reached Rodin shortly afterwards I understood him at once, because the sculpture and architecture of the East had prepared me. I knew that they were the expression of certain religious enthusiasms, and it was easy for me to make the connection and say, "Rodin's sculpture gives the impression of elemental energy." Yet this was subconscious. In my poems I have treated Rodin from a purely literary standpoint.
As time passed my interest in the arts increased. I was still careful to avoid contemporary literature lest it should influence my thought or style. But I saw no harm in making friends with painters and learning to see the world through their eyes. Having already seen it through my own in the course of my wanderings, I was the better able to observe clearly and judge impartially. Perhaps this circumstance itself had biased me. It is at least the case that I have no use for artists who have lost touch with tradition and see nature secondhand. I think I have kept my head pretty square on my shoulders in the turmoil of the recent revolutions. I find myself able to distinguish between
the artist whose eccentricities and heresies interpret his individual peculiarities and the self-advertising quack who tries to be original by outdoing the most outrageous heresiarch of the moment.
In the galleries of the Prado there is no occasion to trouble about such matters. The place fills one with uttermost peace; one goes there to worship Velasquez and Goya, not to argue. Perhaps I was still to ingenuous to appreciate Goya to the full. On the other hand, there may be something in my impression that he is badly represented at Madrid. Much of his work struck me as the mechanical masterpieces of the clever court painter. Possibly, moreover, there was no room for him in my spirit, seduced, as it was, by the vivid variety of Velasquez. "Las Meninas" is worshipped in a room consecrated solely to itself, and I spent more of my mornings in that room and let it soak in. I decided then, and might concur still had I not learnt the absurdity of trying to ascribe an order to things which are each unique and absolute, that "Las Meninas" is the greatest picture in the world. It certainly taught me to know the one thing that I care to learn about painting: that the subject of a picture is merely an excuse for arranging forms and colours in such a way as to express the inmost self of the artist.
I had made several experiments with hashish since my return from China, always with excessive precaution. Some of these had been somewhat unexpectedly successful. I found that my habit of analysing and controlling my mind enabled me to turn the effect of the drug to the best account. Instead of getting intoxicated, I became quite abnormally able to push introspection to the limit. The result of these experiments had been slowly sorted out and interpreted in the course of months. I found a striking analogy between this toxic excitement and the more legitimate methods of mental development, but each threw light on the other. I sat up all one night embodying the essence of my knowledge in an essay, "The Psychology of Hashish", of which I have already given some account.
Neuburg was well enough to get about after two or three days in bed, but it was clear that he was in no state to encounter new hardships. We gave up the idea of walking to Gibraltar and on August 28th left Madrid for Granada. I had kept the promise of "La Gitana" and the city kept its promise to me. But it is not safe to stay too long on the summit of happiness. Two days later we went on to Ronda, almost the only interesting thing about which is its physical geography, which twenty-four hours allows one to absorb easily. We went on the next day to Gibraltar. It did not take us long to find out that we had left freedom behind us. It was hot; the Levanter was blowing and taking all the marrow out of one's bones. I was utterly tired: I sat down. I was perceived by a rock scorpion (as they call the natives of the
fortress, a detestable and despicable breed, which reminds one quite unreasonably of the Eurasian) who saw a chance to sting somebody. He began by hectoring me and ended by arresting me. When we got to the police station, and the sergeant found that we were staying at the best hotel in the town, and inspected our papers, we received the proper apologies; but I didn't forget that if I hadn't been a privileged person I might have been sent to prison for sitting down when I was tired and ill. This is part of the price we pay for the privilege of paying exorbitant taxes to support a swarm of useless jacks in office.
Of course I may be looking at this incident in a totally wrong light. The policeman may have mistaken my act as symbolic of a wish to linger in Gibraltar and deduced that I must be dangerously insane. Next to Avon, it is probably the most ghastly place on the globe. In a previous incarnation I either insulted a Buddha, or wounded a universal Holy King, or killed my father and mother --- at least I can suggest no better an hypothesis to explain my having been held up sometimes as much a four days at a time waiting for a steamer. The only way to keep from acute delirious melancholia is to indulge furiously in the only two articles purchasable in the place which even promise to palliate one's pangs. One can buy cheap editions of fearful and wonderful fiction and packets of the best butterscotch. By exhibiting these two drugs continuously, one can produce in oneself a kind of coma which takes one through the tedium.
We crossed to Tangiers without delay and I revelled once more and rejoiced to feel myself back among the only people on earth with whom I have ever felt any human affinity. My spiritual self is at home in China, but my heart and my hand are pledged to the Arab.
I had begun to train Neuburg seriously in Magick and mysticism. The first point was, of course, to get rid of any prejudices and superstitions. This was not too difficult, he being a professed agnostic. But the second point was to train him in the technique. This was well enough as far as Magick was concerned, for he naturally possessed the poetic and dramatic instincts, the sense of the fitness of gesture, and so on: and, more important than all, it came natural to him to arouse in himself the right kind of enthusiastic energy in the right way.
In addition, he possessed a peculiar faculty which I have only found in anything like the same degree in one other man in my life. He was a materializing medium in the strictest sense; that is, he could condense ideas into sensible forms. He could not do it at all by himself, because he lacked the power to collect at one point all the available material of the required kind, as may be done by concentrated will, and thereby to create such a state of strain in the atmosphere that the evoked forces must relieve it, if they possibly can, by a change of state. Just so carbon dioxide, if forced into a closed cylinder
below the critical temperature, relieves the intolerable pressure by liquefying. Here the carbon dioxide corresponds to the invisible forces in the magical atmosphere, separated from its other components, collected in one place, confined and directed by the Magician. The critical temperature corresponds to such magical conditions as quiet and inviolability; the cylinder to the constraint imposed by the Magician to prevent the dissipation of his invoked ideas.
Such indeed is an outline of the theory of calling forth spirits to visible appearance (by "visible" we always intend audible --- too dangerously often tangible, and too unpleasantly often capable of producing impressions of the olfactory nerves). In practice, however, there is something lacking to success.
Neuburg supplied the missing link, as I might have expedited from his personal resemblance to that Darwinian desideratum. There was some substance in him which was on the borderland between the manifest world of matter and the astral world of sensation. In his presence I found it quite easy to produce phenomenal phantasms of almost any idea, from gods to demons, which I happened to need at the moment. I had of course a very wide experience of so-called material manifestations; but for the most part these had been independent of my will and often contrary to it. I have already mentioned a number of such phenomena in connection with the Abramelin Operation. I had succeeded in suppressing them by preventing my magical force from leaking away. A miracle annoyed me as it annoys an electrician to find that his current is escaping, perhaps giving shocks to people who have strayed in its path. His first thought is to detect and correct the imperfection of his insulation. Years had passed without my magical energy breaking loose: I had persuaded it to work through the proper channels.
Carelessness showed itself once more in Shanghai. I was invoking certain forces with Soror F. in her circle. After I had constrained them to come, I proceeded to make a circumambulation with the object of giving them the desired direction, and when I came to the west of the circle, I noticed that Soror F. had profanely left her slippers inside it. These, not being consecrated objects, had no business there; so I pushed them gently over the frontier with my foot. They were seized and flung furiously to the ceiling with such force that they broke off some of the plaster. There was no possibility that my foot had supplied the motive power, even had I kicked them away in a rage instead of pushing them as quietly as I could --- which I naturally did, to diminish the disturbance. There had been several other minor incidents of the same sort on subsequent occasions; but I took measures, as before, to suppress them.
The manifestations which Neuburg helped to produce were of an entirely different character; they occurred in conformity with my will. I was able to
work more by sight and less by faith than I had ever done before. Even the use of the proper material bases for manifestation, such as the incense of Abra-Melin, Dittany of Crete, and blood, had rarely resulted in more than "half formed faces", partial and hesitating presentations of the desired phantom whose substance seemed to hover on the frontier of the worlds (rather like the Cheshire cat!). The clouds of incense used to grow denser in such wise as rather to suggest a shape than to show one. I could never be sure, even when my physical eyes told me that a form was present, whether my imagination and my desire were not playing tricks with my optical apparatus. Such shapes almost always vanished when I fixed my gaze upon them, and there was no means of saying whether this act, by releasing them from the constraint of my will, had enabled them to escape, or whether intelligent inspection had not simply dissipated an illusion.
With Neuburg, on the contrary, there would be no doubt whatever as to the physical character of the beings which we evoked. On one occasion the god came to us in human form (we were working in a locked temple) and remained with us, perfectly perceptible to all our senses, for the best part of an hour, only vanishing when we were physically exhausted by the ecstasy of intimate contact with his divine person. We sank into a sort of sublime stupor; when we came to ourselves, he was gone.
Again, at Victoria Street, a number of us were dancing round the altar with linked hands and faces turned outwards. The temple was dimly lighted and thick with incense. Somehow the circle broke and we kept on dancing, each for himself. Then we became aware of the presence of a stranger. Some of us counted the men present and found there was one too many. One of the weaker brethren got scared, or one of the stronger brethren remembered his duty to science --- I don't know which --- and switched on the light. No stranger was to be seen. We asked Brother Lucifer --- as I may call him! --- why he had broken the spell and each of us independently confirmed his story. We all agreed about the appearance of the visitor. We had all been impressed with the same feeling that he did not belong to the human species.
I have mentioned two only of a very many experiences of the same kind, choosing those which seem the most convincing and complete. More often we kept the manifestation at a decorous distance. There is, of course, extreme danger in coming into contact with a demon of a malignant or unintelligent nature. It should, however, be said that such demons only exist for imperfectly initiated Magicians. The adept ought to be able to identify himself absolutely with all beings alike. Invocations should always insist on identification. If this be dully done no harm can ensue, just as lightning cannot hurt lightning.
I must confess to pride and pleasure in these performances. I had practically abandoned the attempt to obtain material manifestations. It was difficult to
do, dangerous in the doing, and dubious when done. I had learnt to compel a spirit to carry out my commands or instruct me on any matter of which I was ignorant, without being at the pains to demonstrate his presence to my senses, just as I telegraph instructions to my solicitor or write to some scholar for information, in full faith that the results will be as reliable as if I had taken the trouble to arrange a personal interview. I am inclined to think that my work with Neuburg was rather a retrogression. It made me hanker after phenomena, tempted me to distrust the subtler modes of realization.
After he had left me, I felt myself rather lost for a little while, and I had to learn the lesson all over again that the finer forms of manifestation are not less but more actual than the grosser; that the intangible ideas and ineffable intelligences of the most ethereal empires of the empyrean are stronger and more solid the less palpable they are to the lower modes of apprehension. It is hard to explain, and harder to learn, that truth abides in the inmost sanctuary of the soul and may not be told, either by speech or by silence; yet all attempts to interpret it distort it progressively as they adapt themselves to the perceptions of the mind, and become sheer caricatures by the time they are translated into terms of bodily sensation. Now the reality of things depends on their truth, and thus it is that it is not a philosophical paradox but a matter of experience that the search for truth teaches us to distrust appearances exactly in proportion as they are positive. Physical facts betray their hallucinatory nature by their consistent refusal to comply with the requirements of reason, and thought admits its transparent falsity by violating its own laws at every turn.
Materialists claim that the senses are the sole source of knowledge. Good! Then the most absurd and impossible idea of a madman or a metaphysician must be derived from sensory impressions no less than a brick. We habitually use our mental faculties to criticize and correct our sensory impressions. At what point, then, does our judgment cease to be reliable! Which is more real; the brick, the facts indirectly learnt from the brick, such as its chemical and electrical properties, the laws of nature which I deduce from the sum of such facts, or the mystical moonshine which meditation on all these evokes?
In my great initiation in the Sahara, I was told in one vision, "Above the Abyss" (that is, to that intelligible intuition between which and the intellect there is a great gulf fixed), "a thing is only true in so far as it contains its own contradiction in itself." The initiate must learn to use this faculty. Its first advantage is to deliver one from the dilemma set forth above. We need no longer doubt that white is white, because that proposition implicitly asserts what white is black. Our new instrument assures us that the whiteness of white depends on the fact of its blackness. This statement sounds more than absurd; it is a meaningless assertion. But we have already seen that the axioms of the intellect involve absurdity. They only impose upon us at first because
they happen to be our personal property. The intuitions of the Neschamah are guaranteed by interior certainty, and then cannot be criticized for the simple reason that they have themselves completed the work of criticism of the most destructive kind before presenting themselves at all. Buddhist psychology has analysed many of these characteristics of super-consciousness and even arranged them in an order corresponding with spiritual development.
I may say that I have toiled for many years to express ideas of this order in terms intelligible to the normal consciousness and susceptible of apprehension by the normal intellect. Success has scarcely been complete; only on rare occasions has the flash fixed itself on the film when the lens was in focus and the exposure correct. I am acutely aware that many of my most arduous and ardent attempts to interpret mystical experience have resulted in blurred images, sometimes perhaps grandiose and suggestive --- but that is no compensation for obscurity and vagueness. May I present one effort which I myself am able to hold more or less clearly in my ordinary consciousness?
The Buddhists describe the closest approximation to true observation of anything by saying that it is seen in the four-fold formless state, which they define in the following terms: Any proposition about an object is simultaneously perceived as being both true and false, but also neither true nor false. To perceive an object in this manner implies that the observer has attained the last possible degree of spiritual development which permits any positive point of view soever. Such a man is but one step from the threshold of Arahatship. He has only to destroy this conception of things, as is done in this four-fold formless state, to attain the trance Nerodha-Sammapatti, in which all being and form is absolutely annihilated, so much so that the trance is only distinguishable from Nibbana by the fact that one comes out of it.
It was on October 2nd, 1919 that I first attained to this Pisgah-sight of the promised land, Pari-Nibbana. I was spending the night in Fleischmann's Turkish Baths in New York. It was my custom in all such places to practise the tenth clause of my vow as a Master of the Temple, "To interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with my soul", by forcing advertisements and other public announcements to yield some spiritual significance. I would either apply the Cabbala to the words and manipulate the numbers so as to reach a state of mind in which some truth might suddenly spring in the silence, or I would play upon the words as if they were oracles, or else force the filthy falsehoods of fraudulent dollar-dervishes to transfigure themselves at the touch of my talisman into mysterious messages from the Masters.
I had awakened at dawn and meditated a while upon this four-fold formless state. I was merely trying to make out what could possibly be meant by
piling contradiction on contradiction as the definition did. I did not understand it in the least, and I had not the slightest intention of trying to reach realization of it. At that time all such meditation was entirely out of my line, but accidents will happen even in the best regulated magical circles and the following extraordinary experience knocked me sideways.
I quote verbatim my Magical Record:
I was putting on my bath-robe after weighing, and turning a sleeve inside out, when my masseur, an holy man positively trembling on the brink of Arahatship, cried to me that both sides of it were inside, and both outside. I replied humbly that I was seeking for a side that neither inside nor outside --- and then like a flash I saw that I had it! Oh Glory Ineffable of Realization! (Oh Right Thinking!) For either side is both inside and outside because I can use it as such, and it is neither inside nor outside with regard to the discrimination which might be made by an uninitiate between any one thing an any other thing.
Now this quality is not in the robe, which has two sides easily distinguishable by hemmings, machining, etc., to say nothing of orientation in space, but in me, and arises from my positive determination not to notice whether my back reads "Stolen from the Fleischmann Baths" or no. Now I am not indifferent to comfort. I notice whether the robe is thick or thin; its observed qualities depend upon a weakness in me. All qualities soever in the robe must therefore disappear as soon as I am strong enough to ignore them; and thus any self-sufficiency or "attainment" destroys my consciousness of any separate existence.
I sincerely believe that I have adequately described a state of mind, in itself utterly incompatible with ordinary intellectual apprehension, in the above account, and correctly observed and intelligibly expressed its characteristics in such a way as to give at least some rudimentary idea of one type of intuition with whose laws those of the reason have nothing whatever in common.
I do not wish to press the point. In these "lonesome latter days" there are people in the world who can scarcely define the difference between Dedekindian and Cantorian cuts, and whose nights are not disturbed by anxiety about the truth of Fermat's last theorem. A fortiori, we had better swoop on the Straits of Gibraltar and tell a tale of Tangiers. (I will confine myself to mentioning that I got a charming letter from my exquisite Dorothy, to which I replied by the poem "Telepathy" in The Winged Beetle.)
In point of fact, we may not be much better off even here. Most true tales worth telling are either incredible, improper or both. One of the reforms which I introduced into the A.'. A.'. was the abolition of all obligations of secrecy. They were never useful except as temptations to people to break
them. The secret knowledge has quite adequate warders. I have learnt that I have only to tell the truth about almost anything to be set down at once as a liar. It is far better to throw dust in the eyes of the animals whose faces are turned to the ground, by casual frankness. If you have a secret, it is always dangerous to let people suspect that you have something to hide.
So much for Neuburg's capacities in Magick. In mysticism he was fatally handicapped by his congenital dislike of discipline, order, punctuality and every moral quality that goes with science. I started him on Yoga about this time. One incident is instructive. His daily hour for practising Asana arrived one day when we were crossing to Europe on the steamer. He refused to do his work; he could not bear to attract the attention of the other people on board and appear ridiculous. (Neuburg! Ridiculous! O all ye gods and little fishes!) I, being responsible for him as his holy guru, performed the practice in his stead. He experienced remorse and shame, which did him good; but several other incidents determined me to impose on him a Vow of Holy Obedience.
I must point out the virtue of this practice. Technically it is identical with that in vogue in the Society of Jesus. The pupil must obey his teacher, perinde ac cadaver. But the moral implication is wholly antagonistic. The Jesuit is taught that obedience to his superior and humility before him are virtues in themselves pleasing to God. In the A.'. A.'. the superior is, so to speak, the sparring partner of the pupil. His function is to discover the prejudices, fears and other manifestations of tendency which limit the pupil, by observing the instinctive reactions which may follow any order. The pupil discovers his own weaknesses, which he then proceeds to destroy by analysing them, somewhat as Freud has recently suggested --- science is always discovering odd scraps of magical wisdom and making a tremendous fuss about its cleverness! --- as well as to master them by habitually ignoring their inhibition. If the superior is anything of a psychologist, he should be able to teach the average weakling fairly perfect self-control in three months at the outside. Neuburg improved enormously in consequence of the practice, and his final breakdown was due to a strain of racial congenital cowardice too deeply seated for eradication. He at least gained this: that he was brought face to face with this fundamental moral deficiency in his character. For the rest of his life he must expiate his infirmity, that his suffering may teach him the necessity of tackling it from the beginning in his next incarnation.
It was time for me to get back to England. Neuburg was to join his relations at San Sebastian, and as soon as he was gone, I wrote The Soldier and the Hunchback, ! and ? on the thirteenth of December. Two days later I left Plymouth by the Marlborough.
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