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Full text of "A talk with Edwin Markham"

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
AT LOS ANGELES 




ROBERT ERNEST COWAN 



A TALK 

WITH 

EDWIN MARKHAM 

By Fred Loctyey 



OUTWITTED 

He drew a circle that shut me out 
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. 
But Love and I had the wit to win: 
We drew a circle and took him in! 



EDWIN MARKHAM'S religion is 
one of service. He has a passion for 
the common welfare. He believes we 
should live for one another and not 
on one another. He believes that only by for- 
getfulness of self can we attain true happi- 
ness. He believes in a world where each 
works for all and all for each. He would 
have a world of wisdom and love. We spent 
an hour together recently and he told me of 
the unveiled mystery of life and the veiled 
mystery of death. Without attempting to 
quote him exactly, here is the spirit of what 
he said: 



ask me about the pathetic mystery 
of our world, and if our loved ones live, 
and if so, where is their abode and how fares 
it with them. We do not leave our dear ones 
at the grave. They are invisible to us, and so 
we think of them as unreal ; yet the invisible 
is not the unreal. Almost all of our great 
forces are invisible. The all-compelling law 
of gravitation cannot be seen. When we look 
at the rainbow we think we can distinguish all 
of the colors, yet there are rays of light below 



272275 



the red that are invisible to the physical eye, 
just as there are rays above the violet that are 
also invisible; yet science tells us that they 
exist, and we believe it. We see colors from 
red to violet in the spectrum, and then our 
eye suddenly fails us and the colors disappear 
to nothingness; yet we know that they are 
there. There are sounds too high for the 
human ear; there are sounds that are too low 
to register with us. We are surrounded by 
invisible realms and invisible forces. It be- 
hooves us to be very humble in the presence 
of the universe. We do not know enough to 
be dogmatic and to deny the facts we cannot 
prove. 



"/"""NNCE I stood on the summit of the 

^^ Rockies in Colorado looking by turns 
to the west and to the east. Looking down 
toward my feet I saw a crevice in the rocks. 
It was about two feet long, two or three 
inches wide at the bottom, and possibly six 
inches wide at the top. At one end was a 
smooth, round stone as large as one's doubled 
fist; at the other end was a smooth wall. In 



the bottom of the crevice was a worm. He 
crawled to the end where the smooth round 
stone was and tried to climb up it, but each 
time he fell back. After repeated efforts he 
crawled to the other end of the crevice and 
tried to climb the wall there. He would 
mount an inch or two and fall back. Finally 
he crawled midway of the crevice and paused 
and pondered for this worm was a philoso- 
pher. He said to himself: 'One end of my 
world is a smooth round stone; at the other 
end is a vertical cliff. Directly above is a 
patch of blue. This is all there is to the world. 
I know, because I have investigated.' Science 
has gone but an inch deep in a mystery that is 
miles in extent; yet we say we know it all 
we have investigated. Compare with this 
worm's tiny world all the glory, the mystery, 
the majesty and the wonder of the world be- 
yond that tiny crevice and you have a com- 
parison of the invisible realms of which man 
knows nothing. 'If there is another world,' 
you ask, 'where is it?' There is another 
world that world will set this sad world 
right. Paul says, 'There are two substances, 
the material and the spiritual.' Science says 



that matter is only a mass of whirling atoms. 
Science knows no other world than the world 
it can see, can feel, can weigh and can prove ; 
yet the material world is the lower reality. 
Spirit is the real substance. Every day our 
scientific beliefs are overturned. We believe 
the eye cannot see through solid substance, 
and along comes the X-ray and we see the 
bones, the pulsing heart and a world of which 
we little dreamed. There are two worlds 
here-^-the material world and the spiritual 
world. We have two bodies the material 
body and the spiritual body. The spiritual 
eye sees through the physical eye as the spirit- 
ual ear uses the organ of flesh for its purpose. 
The envelope in which the spirit is clothed is 
ever changing, is subject to the mutations of 
time, to change and decay, to injury; but the 
real ego, the real you that inhabits this en- 
velope of flesh, is the one that lives after the 
earthly envelope has gone back to its original 
elements. The spirit life is the only life. The 
universe is alive; the world is alive; all 
forces are spiritual; the soul is an organism; 
the spirit is the substance that thinks. Spirit 
is the man; the spirit builds the body. In 



this physical land exists the spirit land. 
Though we feel through the physical hand, 
though we see through the physical eye, 
though we think through the physical brain, 
yet it is the spirit back of it all that is domi- 
nant. 



"\\ 7 HEN the sculptor removes the scaf- 
VV folding, he reveals the completed 
image in its perfection. Death takes down 
the scaffolding and reveals the soul. We 
cannot through our physical eye see the 
spiritual body, so that when death takes down 
the scaffolding of mortality the spirit man 
becomes invisible. You ask, 'Where does 
spirit man go?' He doesn't go anywhere. 
He has no spiritual world to enter. There is 
no far country in the skies or deep in the 
earth to which the spirit goes. He stays right 
here in this world. He merely becomes con- 
scious of the spirit world that, during what we 
term life, has been invisible to his earthly 
eyes, which his earthly senses have been un- 
able to comprehend. As the baby passes from 
the placental life to the earth life, so the 



earthborn casts off the husk of mortality 
and becomes a spirit. The spirit world is 
within this dead material world. It is the 
soul of the globe j it is the earth's inward 
world of living substance. All life proceeds 
from that inward spiritual world. It is the 
spirit of life that causes the acorn to become 
a tree. All forces are spiritual forces. 



T~N a like manner, at death the soul of a 
*- man passes on into the spiritual world. 
He shells off his physical body, and as he 
does so the physical world drops away from 
his consciousness and the spirit man, which is 
the real man, becomes a citizen of the spiritual 
world, the real world. It is as natural as 
breathing. This spiritual world is a counter- 
part of the world we know, except that it is 
more vital than the material world j it is more 
beautiful and nearer to the divine center of 
radiant life. We pass into the spiritual world 
retaining qualities we develop here, and that 
is why it is important to develop character 
here. 'Their deeds do follow them,' we are 
told. Are we cultivating honor and nobility 



here: We shall not be sexless creatures in the 
world to come. We shall not carry our in- 
firmities with us, but in the spirit world we 
shall know as we are known. Sex is a part 
of the identity of the human soul, and we 
cannot retain our individuality without re- 
taining our sex. 



"' I ' HIS is a dream world we are in, a world 
*- that has gone sadly astray, a world of 
wrong and injustice, a world of defeat and 
disappointment, a world of sorrow and frus- 
trated plans. But, remember, this is not the 
real world 5 the spiritual is the real world. 
Here we struggle upward and fall back ; we 
battle with evil. The social chaos of this 
world brings our best endeavors to naught, 
but in the next world, in the invisible world 
beyond us, we shall see the fruition of our 
dearest desires and the development of our 
dormant powers. We could make heaven here 
on earth if we could make the law of love 
universal. The unselfish life is the heroic 
life. In heaven there will be no square pegs 
in round holes. 



"*\/*OU ask me what will be the conditions 
A. in the spiritual world. I believe the 
forces that exist in this world will persist in 
the spiritual world. Men will be drawn to- 
gether, there as here, by spiritual affinities; 
each one will go to the realm of his own 
choosing. A world of unselfishness would be 
a hell to a self-seeking, wicked man. Here 
on earth we create our own heavens and hells. 
We choose wisdom or ignorance. We choose 
love or hatred. Heaven will be where the 
loving dwell. The present is the seed of the 
future. In the old days men taught their chil- 
dren of a God of what they called justice, 
but which was really a God of vengeance. 
They threatened their little ones with the 
terrors of hell fire. The only fires of hell 
will be the fires of remorse and the fires of 
regret and the pangs of conscience for the 
deeds committed or omitted in this life. They 
pictured God to their children as an old God, 
a God with gray hair and flowing white 
beard. They told their children to fear God 
and keep his commandments. Their God was 
a man-made and earth-born conception. They 
did not get it from the Bible. Just as the 



creative force is young, so our God is an 
heroic God, a God of virility, a God of youth, 
a God of love, a God that will not grow old. 
We can choose here whether we wish to live 
the selfish life or the brotherhood life. We 
have three needs here, needs that must be 
gratified bread, beauty and brotherhood. 
In the old sense of the word, there is no hell 
in the hereafter. Heaven is the abode of the 
noble and the unselfish. What shall we find 
there: We shall meet and greet our friends 
there. There will be no longer tears and 
sorrow there. 



"TT IS no misfortune for the good to die. 
* Our gospel should be a gospel of joy. 
The passage of time in the hereafter does not 
make us grow old, and those whom we term 
old here enter into eternal youth. The law of 
life in heaven is service and youth and doing 
the will of the God of heaven, for God is 
youth and the universe is young. We speak 
of the romance of life, and we think that 
with death life's romance is ended, but after 



the romance of life comes the romance of 
death and the romance of life eternal, lived 
with kindred spirits and with a God of love, 
of youth, and of infinite power." 




UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES 

THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 



JAN 3 1945 

EB 1 9 1945 
Vi&Y 1 3 1952 
12 1953 

flfiOV 1 7 195^ 

MAR 13 1951 
OCT 241950 



LD-URt 



FEB251970 



MAY14197 



MAR 171958 

APR 2 3 1959 
0V 3 1960 



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