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The Soul and its Mechanism - Foreword

"It is easy to show that in the interaction between body and soul there lies no greater riddle than in any other example of causation, and that only the false conceit that we understand something of the one case, excites our astonishment that we understand nothing of the other."
- Rudolf Hermann Lotze

"The meaning which descends from the central hope of the self envelops the body; it becomes a city of meanings, and not merely a city of cells. Its organs are no mere facts, but symbols, perilous and profound. It becomes as a whole an object of value, of beauty or deformity, of grace and mechanism, of an implicit philosophy; and attitudes of pride and shame, the infinite interest of art, the versatile significance of the dance, all become intelligible. Posture, gesture, and a million subtle expressive changes of color and tension become the immediate indeliberate manifestations of an inner play. Poetry and morality, religion and logic, regain their seat in our members as well as in our minds, and the world recovers the concrete unity of which our analyses threatened to despoil us."
- Wm. E. Hocking, Self, Its Body and Freedom, p. 97.

Our attitude toward the philosophical and psychological thought of the East is, for the most part, one either of undiscriminating awe or of equally undiscriminating distrust. It is a pity that this is so. The worshippers are as bad as the distrusters. Neither advance us toward a fair appraisal of that large body of Eastern thinking which is so curiously different from our own and yet, as one discovers after a while, is so fundamentally the same in its essential quest.

It is this undiscriminating attitude which is no doubt to blame for the well nigh entire omission of Eastern thought from our philosophical and psychological books, - this, and another thing. The East has its own idioms which are difficult for the West to understand. Untranslated, they make Eastern writing seem a strange jargon either of confused poetizing or of self-mystification.

Mrs. Bailey, in this book, has done the great service of bringing a critical mind to bear upon Eastern thought, a mind ready to recognize that Eastern, precisely like Western thought, can lay no claim to a finality of wisdom. She does not come with awe-inspiring garb and gesture, bidding the Westerner relinquish his crude inadequacies to embrace a mysterious doctrine all the more wonderful because, to him, it may seem absurd. She says, in effect: "This Eastern thought [10] has the significance of a research into the deeper problems of existence. It is not necessarily better than the Western. It is different. It starts from another angle of approach. Both East and West have specialized in their thinking. Each, therefore, has the virtue of its own sincerity and its own peculiar penetration. But specialization has its value only as it leads to an ultimate integration. Is not the time ripe for bringing East and West together in this profoundest region of the life of each of them, the region, namely, of their philosophical and psychological thinking?"

If for no other reason, this book is significant as an attempt, not only to interpret East to West and West to East, but to bring the two trains of thinking into the harmony of a single point of view. Whether she has successfully achieved the integration remains for the reader to decide. But the attempt is a notable one and should bear fruit in a more intelligent approach to both types of thought.

What gives this book its especial significance, however, is the unique comparison which the author makes between the Western study of the glands and the Eastern study of the "centers." The Western philosopher, Spinoza, long ago noted the indisseverable parallelism of what he called body and mind in the life of the Absolute and in the life of those expressions of the Absolute that we call individuals. If such a parallelism exists, one will expect to find, for every outer manifestation, the inner, or psychic force that thus manifests [11] itself. Hitherto we have taken that assumption of inner and outer only in the most general way. This book, by centering, in the main, on the study of the glands, that are the pace-makers, so to speak, of our personality, presents the body-mind relation not only in a way unexpectedly rich in suggestion for a more adequate training of the individual, but in a way that opens up fascinating possibilities of further research. In the West, we speak of the thyroid or the adrenals altogether in terms of their physiological behavior. Is there likewise a psychic counterpart of this behavior? It seems a queer question to ask and one that at first blush would be scoffed at by the physiological scientists. And yet, unless we are hardened dogmatists who have not yet emerged from the darkness of nineteenth century materialism, we do speak of the psychic counterpart of that physiological organ we call the brain. Why not, then, the psychic counterparts of the thyroid, adrenals, and the rest?

If we pursue this question to its logical end, we shall doubtless learn to extend our thought of what the psychic life of the individual is far beyond the rather naive intellectualistic point which regards that life as centering solely in the brain.

I am holding no brief for the tentative conclusions reached by the author of the book. The particular conclusions may need modification or even rejection. But that the author has opened up new possibilities which may eventually lead to physiological and psychological research that will be of [12] profound significance I have no doubt whatever. The book is not only challenging but singularly illuminating. It will come as a surprise to the Western mind, but with the surprise will, I think, be mingled a very real admiration for processes of Eastern thinking with which we, in the West, are altogether too unfamiliar.


New York City, May 1930 [13]

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