"For twelve leagues, Ananda, around the Sala-Grove, there is no spot in size even as the pricking of the point of the tip of a hair, which is not pervaded by powerful spirits." - The Book Of the Great Decease.


The truth that ancestor-worship, in various unobtrusive forms, still survives in some of the most highly civilized countries of Europe, is not so widely known as to preclude the idea that any non-Aryan race actually practicing so primitive a cult must necessarily remain in the primitive stage of religious thought. Critics of Japan have pronounced this hasty judgment; and have professed themselves unable to reconcile the facts of her scientific progress, and the success of her advanced educational system, with the continuance of her ancestor-worship. How can the beliefs of Shinto coexist with the knowledge of modern science? How can the men who win distinction as scientific specialists still respect the household shrine or do reverence before the Shinto parish-temple? Can all this mean more than the ordered conservation of forms after the departure of faith? Is it not certain that with the further progress of education, Shinto, even as ceremonialism, must cease to exist?

Those who put such questions appear to forget that similar questions might be asked about the continuance of any Western faith, and similar doubts expressed as to the possibility of its survival for another century. Really the doctrines of Shinto are not in the least degree more irreconcilable with modern science than are the doctrines of Orthodox Christianity. Examined with perfect impartiality, I would even venture to say that they are less irreconcilable in more respects than one. They conflict less with our human ideas of justice; and, like the Buddhist doctrine of karma, they offer some very striking analogies with the scientific facts of heredity, - analogies which prove Shinto to contain an element of truth as profound as any single element of truth in any of the world's great religions. Stated in the simplest possible form, the peculiar element of truth in Shinto is the belief that the world of the living is directly governed by the world of the dead.

That every impulse or act of man is the work of a god, and that all the dead become gods, are the basic ideas of the cult. It must be remembered, however, that the term Kami, although translated by the term deity, divinity, or god, has really no such meaning as that which belongs to the English words: it has not even the meaning of those words as referring to the antique beliefs of Greece and Rome. It signifies that which is "above," "superior," "upper," "eminent," in the non-religious sense; in the religious sense it signifies a human spirit having obtained supernatural power after death. The dead are the "powers above," the "upper ones," - the Kami. We have here a conception resembling very strongly the modern Spiritualistic notion of ghosts, only that the Shinto idea is in no true sense democratic. The Kami are ghosts of greatly varying dignity and power, - belonging to spiritual hierarchies like the hierarchies of ancient Japanese society. Although essentially superior to the living in certain respects, the living are, nevertheless, able to give them pleasure or displeasure, to gratify or to offend them, - even sometimes to ameliorate their spiritual condition. Wherefore posthumous honors are never mockeries, but realities, to the Japanese mind. During the present year(1), for example, several distinguished statesmen and soldiers were raised to higher rank immediately after their death; and I read only the other day, in the official gazette, that "His Majesty has been pleased to posthumously confer the Second Class of the Order of the Rising Sun upon Major-General Baron Yamane, who lately died in Formosa." Such imperial acts must not be regarded only as formalities intended to honor the memory of brave and patriotic men; neither should they be thought of as intended merely to confer distinction upon the family of the dead. They are essentially of Shinto, and exemplify that intimate sense of relation between the visible and invisible worlds which is the special religious characteristic of Japan among all civilized countries. To Japanese thought the dead are not less real than the living. They take part in the daily life of the people, - sharing the humblest sorrows and the humblest joys. They attend the family repasts, watch over the well-being of the household, assist and rejoice in the prosperity of their descendants. They are present at the public pageants, at all the sacred festivals of Shinto, at the military games, and at all the entertainments especially provided for them. And they are universally thought of as finding pleasure in the offerings made to them or the honors conferred upon them.

For the purpose of this little essay, it will be sufficient to consider the Kami as the spirits of the dead, - without making any attempt to distinguish such Kami from those primal deities believed to have created the land. With this general interpretation of the term Kami, we return, then, to the great Shinto idea that all the dead still dwell in the world and rule it; influencing not only the thoughts and the acts of men, but the conditions of nature. "They direct," wrote Motowori, "the changes of the seasons, the wind and the rain, the good and the bad fortunes of states and of individual men." They are, in short, the viewless forces behind all phenomena.

(1) Written in September, 1896.


The most interesting sub-theory of this ancient spiritualism is that which explains the impulses and acts of men as due to the influence of the dead. This hypothesis no modern thinker can declare irrational, since it can claim justification from the scientific doctrine of psychological evolution, according to which each living brain represents the structural work of innumerable dead lives, - each character a more or less imperfectly balanced sum of countless dead experiences with good and evil. Unless we deny psychological heredity, we cannot honestly deny that our impulses and feelings, and the higher capacities evolved through the feelings, have literally been shaped by the dead, and bequeathed to us by the dead; and even that the general direction of our mental activities has been determined by the power of the special tendencies bequeathed to us. In such a sense the dead are indeed our Kami and all our actions are truly influenced by them. Figuratively we may say that every mind is a world of ghosts, - ghosts incomparably more numerous than the acknowledged millions of the higher Shinto Kami and that the spectral population of one grain of brain-matter more than realizes the wildest fancies of the medieval schoolmen about the number of angels able to stand on the point of a needle. Scientifically we know that within one tiny living cell may be stored up the whole life of a race, - the sum of all the past sensation of millions of years; perhaps even (who knows?) of millions of dead planets.

But devils would not be inferior to angels in the mere power of congregating upon the point of a needle. What, of bad men and of bad acts in this theory of Shinto? Motowori made answer; "Whenever anything goes wrong in the world, it is to be attributed to the action of the evil gods called the Gods of Crookedness, whose power is so great that the Sun-Goddess and the Creator-God are sometimes powerless to restrain them; much less are human beings always able to resist their influence. The prosperity of the wicked, and the misfortunes of the good, which seem opposed to ordinary justice, are thus explained." All bad acts are due to the influence of evil deities; and evil men may become evil Kami. There are no self-contradictions in this simplest of cults(1), - nothing complicated or hard to be understood. It is not certain that all men guilty of bad actions necessarily become "gods of crookedness," for reasons hereafter to be seen; but all men, good or bad, become Kami, or influences. And all evil acts are the results of evil influences.

Now this teaching is in accord with certain facts of heredity. Our best faculties are certainly bequests from the best of our ancestors; our evil qualities are inherited from natures in which evil, or that which we now call evil, once predominated. The ethical knowledge evolved within us by civilization demands that we strengthen the high powers bequeathed us by the best experience of our dead, and diminish the force of the baser tendencies we inherit. We are under obligation to reverence and to obey our good Kami, and to strive against our gods of crookedness. The knowledge of the existence of both is old as human reason. In some form or other, the doctrine of evil and of good spirits in personal attendance upon every soul is common to most of the great religions. Our own mediaeval faith developed the idea to a degree which must leave an impress on our language for all time; yet the faith in guardian angels and tempting demons evolutionarily represents only the development of a cult once simple as the religion of the Kami. And this theory of mediaeval faith is likewise pregnant with truth. The white-winged form that whispered good into the right ear, the black shape that murmured evil into the left, do not indeed walk beside the man of the nineteenth century, but they dwell within his brain; and he knows their voices and feels their urging as well and as often as did his ancestors of the Middle Ages.

The modern ethical objection to Shinto is that both good and evil Kami are to be respected. "Just as the Mikado worshiped the gods of heaven and of earth, so his people prayed to the good gods in order to obtain blessings, and performed rites in honor of the bad gods to avert their displeasure.... As there are bad as well as good gods, it is necessary to propitiate them with offerings of agreeable food, with the playing of harps and the blowing of flutes, with singing and dancing, and with whatever else is likely to put them in good-humor(2)." As a matter of fact, in modern Japan, the evil Kami appear to receive few offerings or honors, notwithstanding this express declaration that they are to be propitiated. But it will now be obvious why the early missionaries characterized such a cult as devil-worship, - although, to Shinto imagination, the idea of a devil, in the Western meaning of the word, never took shape. The seeming weakness of the doctrine is in the teaching that evil spirits are not to be warred upon, - a teaching essentially repellent to Roman Catholic feeling. But between the evil spirits of Christian and of Shinto belief there is a vast difference. The evil Kami is only the ghost of a dead man, and is not believed to be altogether evil, - since propitiation is possible. The conception of absolute, unmixed evil is not of the Far East. Absolute evil is certainly foreign to human nature, and therefore impossible in human ghosts. The evil Kami are not devils. They are simply ghosts, who influence the passions of men; and only in this sense the deities of the passions. Now Shinto is of all religions the most natural, and therefore in certain respects the most rational. It does not consider the passions necessarily evil in themselves, but evil only according to cause, conditions, and degrees of their indulgence. Being ghosts, the gods are altogether human, - having the various good and bad qualities of men in varying proportions. The majority are good, and the sum of the influence of all is toward good rather than evil. To appreciate the rationality of this view requires a tolerably high opinion of mankind, - such an opinion as the conditions of the old society of Japan might have justified. No pessimist could profess pure Shintoism. The doctrine is optimistic; and whoever has a generous faith in humanity will have no fault to find with the absence of the idea of implacable evil from its teaching.

Now it is just in the recognition of the necessity for propitiating the evil ghosts that the ethically rational character of Shinto reveals itself. Ancient experience and modern knowledge unite in warning us against the deadly error of trying to extirpate or to paralyze certain tendencies in human nature, - tendencies which, if morbidly cultivated or freed from all restraint, lead to folly, to crime, and to countless social evils. The animal passions, the ape-and-tiger impulses, antedate human society, and are the accessories to nearly all crimes committed against it. But they cannot be killed; and they cannot be safely starved. Any attempt to extirpate them would signify also an effort to destroy some of the very highest emotional faculties with which they remain inseparably blended. The primitive impulses cannot even be numbed save at the cost of intellectual and emotional powers which give to human life all its beauty and all its tenderness, but which are, nevertheless, deeply rooted in the archaic soil of passion. The highest in us had its beginnings in the lowest. Asceticism, by warring against the natural feelings, has created monsters. Theological legislation, irrationally directed against human weaknesses, has only aggravated social disorders; and laws against pleasure have only provoked debaucheries. The history of morals teaches very plainly indeed that our bad Kami require some propitiation. The passions still remain more powerful than the reason in man, because they are incomparably older, - because they were once all-essential to self-preservation,-because they made that primal stratum of consciousness, out of which the nobler sentiments have slowly grown. Never can they be suffered to rule; but woe to whosoever would deny their immemorial rights!

(1) I am considering only the pure Shinto belief as expounded by Shinto scholars. But it may be necessary to remind the reader that both Buddhism and Shintoism are blended in Japan, not only with each other, but with Chinese ideas of various kinds. It is doubtful whether the pure Shinto ideas now exist in their original form in popular belief. We are not quite clear as to the doctrine of multiple souls in Shinto, - whether the psychical combination was originally thought of as dissolved by death. My own opinion, the result of investigation in different parts of Japan, is that the multiple soul was formerly believed to remain multiple after death.

(2) Motowori, translated by Satow.


Out of these primitive, but - as may now be perceived - not irrational beliefs about the dead, there have been evolved moral sentiments unknown to Western civilization. These are well worth considering, as they will prove in harmony with the most advanced conception of ethics, - and especially with that immense though yet indefinite expansion of the sense of duty which has followed upon the understanding of evolution. I do not know that we have any reason to congratulate ourselves upon the absence from our lives of the sentiments in question; - I am even inclined to think that we may yet find it morally necessary to cultivate sentiments of the same kind. One of the surprises of our future will certainly be a return to beliefs and ideas long ago abandoned upon the mere assumption that they contained no truth, - belief still called barbarous, pagan, mediaeval, by those who condemn them out of traditional habit. Year after year the researches of science afford us new proof that the savage, the barbarian, the idolater, the monk, each and all have arrived, by different paths, as near to some one point of eternal truth as any thinker of the nineteenth century. We are now learning, also, that the theories of the astrologers and of the alchemists were but partially, not totally, wrong. We have reason even to suppose that no dream of the invisible world has ever been dreamed, - that no hypothesis of the unseen has ever been imagined, - which future science will not prove to have contained some germ of reality.

Foremost among the moral sentiments of Shinto is that of loving gratitude to the past, - a sentiment having no real correspondence in our own emotional life. We know our past better than the Japanese know theirs; - we have myriads of books recording or considering its every incident and condition: but we cannot in any sense be said to love it or to feel grateful to it. Critical recognitions of its merits and of its defects; - some rare enthusiasms excited by its beauties; many strong denunciations of its mistakes: these represent the sum of our thoughts and feelings about it. The attitude of our scholarship in reviewing it is necessarily cold; that of our art, often more than generous; that of our religion, condemnatory for the most part. Whatever the point of view from which we study it, our attention is mainly directed to the work of the dead, - either the visible work that makes our hearts beat a little faster than usual while looking at it, or the results of their thoughts and deeds in relation to the society of their time. Of past humanity as unity, - of the millions long-buried as real kindred, - we either think not at all, or think only with the same sort of curiosity that we give to the subject of extinct races. We do indeed find interest in the record of some individual lives that have left large marks in history; - our emotions re stirred by the memories of great captains, statesmen, discoverers, reformers, - but only because the magnitude of that which they accomplished appeals to our own ambitions, desires, egotisms, and not at all to our altruistic sentiments in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. The nameless dead to whom we owe most we do not trouble ourselves about, - we feel no gratitude, no love to them. We even find it difficult to persuade ourselves that the love of ancestors can possibly be a real, powerful, penetrating, life-moulding, religious emotion in any form of human society, - which it certainly is in Japan. The mere idea is utterly foreign to our ways of thinking, feeling, acting. A partial reason for this, of course, is that we have no common faith in the existence of an active spiritual relation between our ancestors and ourselves. If we happen to be irreligious, we do not believe in ghosts. If we are profoundly religious, we think of the dead as removed from us by judgment, - as absolutely separated from us during the period of our lives. It is true that among the peasantry of Roman Catholic countries there still exists a belief that the dead are permitted to return to earth once a year, - on the night of All Souls. But even according to this belief they are not considered as related to the living by any stronger bond than memory; and they are thought of, - as our collections of folk-lore bear witness, - rather with fear than love.

In Japan the feeling toward the dead is utterly different. It is a feeling of grateful and reverential love. It is probably the most profound and powerful of the emotions of the race, - that which especially directs national life and shapes national character. Patriotism belongs to it. Filial piety depends upon it. Family love is rooted in it. Loyalty is based upon it. The soldier who, to make a path for his comrades through the battle, deliberately flings away his life with a shout of "Teikoku manzai!" - the son or daughter who unmurmuring sacrifices all the happiness of existence for the sake, perhaps, of an undeserving or even cruel, parent; the partisan who gives up friends, family, and fortune, rather than break the verbal promise made in other years to a now poverty-stricken master; the wife who ceremoniously robes herself in white, utters a prayer, and thrusts a sword into her throat to atone for a wrong done to strangers by her husband, - all these obey the will and hear the approval of invisible witnesses. Even among the skeptical students of the new generation, this feeling survives many wrecks of faith, and the old sentiments are still uttered: "Never must we cause shame to our ancestors;" "it is our duty to give honor to our ancestors." During my former engagement as a teacher of English, it happened more than once that ignorance of the real meaning behind such phrases prompted me to change them in written composition. I would suggest, for example, that the expression, "to do honor to the memory of our ancestors," was more correct than the phrase given. I remember one day even attempting to explain why we ought not to speak of ancestors exactly as if they were living parents! Perhaps my pupils suspected me of trying to meddle with their beliefs; for the Japanese never think of an ancestor as having become "only a memory": their dead are alive.

Were there suddenly to arise within us the absolute certainty that our dead are still with us, - seeing every act, knowing our every thought, hearing each word we utter, able to feel sympathy with us or anger against us, able to help us and delighted to receive our help, able to love us and greatly needing our love, - it is quite certain that our conceptions of life and duty would be vastly changed. We should have to recognize our obligations to the past in a very solemn way. Now, with the man of the Far East, the constant presence of the dead has been a matter of conviction for thousands of years: he speaks to them daily; he tries to give them happiness; and, unless a professional criminal he never quite forgets his duty towards them. No one, says Hirata, who constantly discharges that duty, will ever be disrespectful to the gods or to his living parents. "Such a man will also be loyal to his friends, and kind and gentle with his wife and children; for the essence of this devotion is in truth filial piety." And it is in this sentiment that the secret of much strange feeling in Japanese character must be sought. Far more foreign to our world of sentiment than the splendid courage with which death is faced, or the equanimity with which the most trying sacrifices are made, is the simple deep emotion of the boy who, in the presence of a Shinto shrine never seen before, suddenly feels the tears spring to his eyes. He is conscious in that moment of what we never emotionally recognize, - the prodigious debt of the present to the past, and the duty of love to the dead.


If we think a little about our position as debtors, and our way of accepting that position, one striking difference between Western and Far-Eastern moral sentiment will become manifest.

There is nothing more awful than the mere fact of life as mystery when that fact first rushes fully into consciousness. Out of unknown darkness we rise a moment into sun-light, look about us, rejoice and suffer, pass on the vibration of our being to other beings, and fall back again into darkness. So a wave rises, catches the light, transmits its motion, and sinks back into sea. So a plant ascends from clay, unfolds its leaves to light and air, flowers, seeds, and becomes clay again. Only, the wave has no knowledge; the plant has no perceptions. Each human life seems no more than a parabolic curve of motion out of earth and back to earth; but in that brief interval of change it perceives the universe. The awfulness of the phenomenon is that nobody knows anything about it No mortal can explain this most common, yet moat incomprehensible of all facts, - life in itself; yet every mortal who can think has been obliged betimes, to think about it in relation to self.

I come out of mystery; - I see the sky and the land, men and women and their works; and I know that I must return to mystery; - and merely what this means not even the greatest of philosophers - not even Mr. Herbert Spencer - can tell me. We are all of us riddles to ourselves and riddles to each other; and space and motion and time are riddles; and matter is a riddle. About the before and the after neither the newly-born nor the dead have any message for us. The child is dumb; the skull only grins. Nature has no consolation for us. Out of her formlessness issue forms which return to formlessness, - that is all. The plant becomes clay; the clay becomes a plant. When the plant turns to clay, what becomes of the vibration which was its life? Does it go on existing viewlessly, like the forces that shape spectres of frondage in the frost upon a window-pane?

Within the horizon-circle of the infinite enigma, countless lesser enigmas, old as the world, awaited the coming of man. Oedipus had to face one Sphinx; humanity, thousands of thousands, - all crouching among bones along the path of Time, and each with a deeper and a harder riddle. All the sphinxes have not been satisfied; myriads line the way of the future to devour lives yet unborn; but millions have been answered. We are now able to exist without perpetual horror because of the relative knowledge that guides us, the knowledge won out of the jaws of destruction.

All our knowledge is bequeathed knowledge. The dead have left us record of all they were able to learn about themselves and the world, - about the laws of death and life, - about things to be acquired and things to be avoided, - about ways of making existence less painful than Nature willed it, - about right and wrong and sorrow and happiness, - about the error of selfishness, the wisdom of kindness, the obligation of sacrifice. They left us information of everything they could find out concerning climates and seasons and places, - the sun and moon and stars, - the motions and the composition of the universe. They bequeathed us also their delusions which long served the good purpose of saving us from falling into greater ones. They left us the story of their errors and efforts, their triumphs and failures, their pains and joys, their loves and hates, - for warning or example. They expected our sympathy, because they toiled with the kindest wishes and hopes for us, and because they made our world. They cleared the land; they extirpated monsters; they tamed and taught the animals most useful to us. "The mother of Kullervo awoke within her tomb, and from the deeps of the dust she cried to him, - 'I have left thee the Dog, tied to a tree, that thou mayest go with him to the chase.'(1)" They domesticated likewise the useful trees and plants; and they discovered the places and the powers of the metals. Later they created all that we call civilization, - trusting us to correct such mistakes as they could not help making. The sum of their toil is incalculable; and all that they have given us ought surely to be very sacred, very precious, if only by reason of the infinite pain and thought which it cost. Yet what Occidental dreams of saying daily, like the Shinto believer: - "Ye forefathers of the generations, and of our families, and of our kindred, - unto you, the founders of our homes, we utter the gladness of our thanks"?

None. It is not only because we think the dead cannot hear, but because we have not been trained for generations to exercise our powers of sympathetic mental representation except within a very narrow circle, - the family circle. The Occidental family circle is a very small affair indeed compared with the Oriental family circle. In this nineteenth century the Occidental family is almost disintegrated; - it practically means little more than husband, wife, and children well under age. The Oriental family means not only parents and their blood-kindred, but grandparents and their kindred, and great-grandparents, and all the dead behind them, This idea of the family cultivates sympathetic representation to such a degree that the range of the emotion belonging to such representation may extend, as in Japan, to many groups and sub-groups of living families, and even, in time of national peril, to the whole nation as one great family: a feeling much deeper than what we call patriotism. As a religious emotion the feeling is infinitely extended to all the past; the blended sense of love, of loyalty, and of gratitude is not less real, though necessarily more vague, than the feeling to living kindred.

In the West, after the destruction of antique society, no such feeling could remain. The beliefs that condemned the ancients to hell, and forbade the praise of their works, - the doctrine that trained us to return thanks for everything to the God of the Hebrews, - created habits of thought and habits of thoughtlessness, both inimical to every feeling of gratitude to the past. Then, with the decay of theology and the dawn of larger knowledge, came the teaching that the dead had no choice in their work, - they had obeyed necessity, and we had only received from them of necessity the results of necessity. And to-day we still fail to recognize that the necessity itself ought to compel our sympathies with those who obeyed it, and that its bequeathed results are as pathetic as they are precious. Such thoughts rarely occur to us even in regard to the work of the living who serve us. We consider the cost of a thing purchased or obtained to ourselves; - about its cost in effort to the producer we do not allow ourselves to think: indeed, we should be laughed at for any exhibition of conscience on the subject. And our equal insensibility to the pathetic meaning of the work of the past, and to that of the work of the present, largely explains the wastefulness of our civilization, - the reckless consumption by luxury of the labor of years in the pleasure of an hour, - the inhumanity of the thousands of unthinking rich, each of whom dissipates yearly in the gratification of totally unnecessary wants the price of a hundred human lives. The cannibals of civilization are unconsciously more cruel than those of savagery, and require much more flesh. The deeper humanity, - the cosmic emotion of humanity, - is essentially the enemy of useless luxury, and essentially opposed to any form of society which places no restraints upon the gratifications of sense or the pleasures of egotism.

In the Far East, on the other hand, the moral duty of simplicity of life has been taught from very ancient times, because ancestor-worship had developed and cultivated this cosmic emotion of humanity which we lack, but which we shall certainly be obliged to acquire at a later day, simply to save our selves from extermination, Two sayings of Iyeyasu exemplify the Oriental sentiment. When virtually master of the empire, this greatest of Japanese soldiers and statesmen was seen one day cleaning and smoothing with his own hands an old dusty pair of silk hakama or trousers. "What you see me do," he said to a retainer, "I am not doing because I think of the worth of the garment in itself, but because I think of what it needed to produce it. It is the result of the toil of a poor woman; and that is why I value it. If we do not think, while using things, of the time and effort required to make them, - then our want of consideration puts us on a level with the beasts." Again, in the days of his greatest wealth, we hear of him rebuking his wife for wishing to furnish him too often with new clothing. "When I think," he protested, "of the multitudes around me, and of the generations to come after me, I feel it my duty to be very sparing, for their sake, of the goods in my possession." Nor has this spirit of simplicity yet departed from Japan. Even the Emperor and Empress, in the privacy of their own apartments, continue to live as simply as their subjects, and devote most of their revenue to the alleviation of public distress.

(1) Kalevala; thirty-sixth Rune.


It is through the teachings of evolution that there will ultimately be developed in the West a moral recognition of duty to the past like that which ancestor-worship created in the Far East. For even to-day whoever has mastered the first principles of the new philosophy cannot look at the commonest product of man's handiwork without perceiving something of its evolutional history. The most ordinary utensil will appear to him not the mere product of individual capacity on the part of carpenter or potter, smith or cutler, but the product of experiment continued through thousands of years with methods, with materials, and with forms. Nor will it be possible for him to consider the vast time and toil necessitated in the evolution, of any mechanical appliance, and yet experience no generous sentiment. Coming generations must think of the material bequests of the past in relation to dead humanity.

But in the development of this "cosmic emotion" of humanity, a much more powerful factor than recognition of our material indebtedness to the past will be the recognition of our psychical indebtedness. For we owe to the dead our immaterial world also, - the world that lives within us, - the world of all that is lovable in impulse, emotion, thought. Whosoever understands scientifically what human goodness is, and the terrible cost of making it, can find in the commonest phases of the humblest lives that beauty, which is divine, and can feel that in one sense our dead are truly gods.

So long as we supposed the woman soul one in itself, - a something specially created to fit one particular physical being, - the beauty and the wonder of mother-love could never be fully revealed to us. But with deeper knowledge we must perceive that the inherited love of myriads of millions of dead mothers has been treasured up in one life; - that only thus can be interpreted the infinite sweetness of the speech which the infant hears, - the infinite tenderness of the look of caress which meets its gaze. Unhappy the mortal who has not known these; yet what mortal can adequately speak of them! Truly is mother-love divine; for everything by human recognition called divine is summed up in that love; and every woman uttering and transmitting its highest expression is more than the mother of man: she is the Mater Dei.

Needless to speak here about the ghostliness of first love, sexual love, which is illusion, - because the passion and the beauty of the dead revive in it, to dazzle, to delude; and to bewitch. It is very, very wonderful; but it is not all good, because it is not all true. The real charm of woman in herself is that which comes later, - when all the illusions fade away to reveal a reality, lovelier than any illusion, which has been evolving behind the phantom-curtain of them. What is the divine magic of the woman thus perceived? Only the affection, the sweetness, the faith, the unselfishness, the intuitions of millions of buried hearts. All live again;-all throb anew, in every fresh warm beat of her own.

Certain amazing faculties exhibited in the highest social life tell in another way the story of soul structure built up by dead lives. Wonderful is the man who can really "be all things to all men," or the woman who can make herself twenty, fifty, a hundred different women, - comprehending all, penetrating all, unerring to estimate all others; - seeming to have no individual self, but only selves innumerable; - able to meet each varying personality with a soul exactly toned to the tone of that to be encountered. Rare these characters are, but not so rare that the traveler is unlikely to meet one or two of them in any cultivated society which he has a chance of studying. They are essentially multiple beings, - so visibly multiple that even those who think of the Ego as single have to describe them as "highly complex." Nevertheless this manifestation of forty or fifty different characters in the same person is a phenomenon so remarkable (especially remarkable because it is commonly manifested in youth long before relative experience could possibly account for it) that I cannot but wonder how few persons frankly realize its signification.

So likewise with what have been termed the "intuitions" of some forms of genius, - particularly those which relate to the representation of the emotions. A Shakespeare would always remain incomprehensible on the ancient soul-theory. Taine attempted to explain him by the phrase, "a perfect imagination;" - and the phrase reaches far in the truth. But what is the meaning of a perfect imagination? Enormous multiplicity of soul-life, - countless past existences revived in one. Nothing else can explain it.... It is not however, in the world of pure intellect that the story of psychical complexity is most admirable: it is in the world which speaks to our simplest emotions of love honor, sympathy, heroism.

"But by such a theory," some critic may observe, "the source of impulses to heroism is also the source of the impulses that people jails. Both are of the dead." This is true. We inherited evil as well as good. Being composites only, - still evolving, still becoming, - we inherit imperfections. But the survival of the fittest in impulses is certainly proven by the average moral condition of humanity, - using the word "fittest" in its ethical sense. In spite of all the misery and vice and crime, nowhere so terribly developed as under our own so-called Christian civilization, the fact must be patent to any one who has lived much, traveled much, and thought much, that the mass of humanity is good, and therefore that the vast majority of impulses bequeathed us by past humanity is good. Also it is certain that the more normal a social condition, the better its humanity. Through all the past the good Kami have always managed to keep the bad Kami from controlling the world. And with the acceptation of this truth, our future ideas of wrong and of right must take immense expansion. Just as a heroism, or any act of pure goodness for a noble end, must assume a preciousness heretofore unsuspected, - so a real crime must come to be regarded as a crime less against the existing individual or society, than against the sum of human experience, and the whole past struggle of ethical aspiration. Real goodness will, therefore, be more prized, and real crime less leniently judged. And the early Shinto teaching, that no code of ethics is necessary, - that the right rule of human conduct can always be known by consulting the heart, - is a teaching which will doubtless be accepted by a more perfect humanity than that of the present.


"Evolution" the reader may say, "does indeed show through its doctrine of heredity that the living are in one sense really controlled by the dead. But it also shows that the dead are within us, not without us. They are part of us; - there is no proof that they have any existence which is not our own. Gratitude to the past would, therefore, be gratitude to ourselves; love of the dead would be self-love. So that your attempt at analogy ends in the absurd."

No. Ancestor-worship in its primitive form may be a symbol only of truth. It may be an index or foreshadowing only of the new moral duty which larger knowledge must force upon as: the duty of reverence and obedience to the sacrificial past of human ethical experience. But it may also be much more. The facts of heredity can never afford but half an explanation of the facts of psychology. A plant produces ten, twenty, a hundred plants without yielding up its own life in the process. An animal gives birth to many young, yet lives on with all its physical capacities and its small powers of thought undiminished. Children are born; and the parents survive them. Inherited the mental life certainly is, not less than the physical; yet the reproductive cells, the least specialized of all cells, whether in plant or in animal, never take away, but only repeat the parental being. Continually multiplying, each conveys and transmits the whole experience of a race; yet leaves the whole experience of the race behind it. Here is the marvel inexplicable: the self-multiplication of physical and psychical being, - life after life thrown off from the parent life, each to become complete and reproductive. Were all the parental life given to the offspring, heredity might be said to favor the doctrine of materialism. But like the deities of Hindoo legend, the Self multiplies and still remains the same, with full capacities for continued multiplication. Shinto has its doctrine of souls multiplying by fission; but the facts of psychological emanation are infinitely more wonderful than any theory.

The great religions have recognized that heredity could not explain the whole question of self,-could not account for the fate of the original residual self. So they have generally united in holding the inner independent of the outer being. Science can no more fully decide the issues they have raised than it can decide the nature of Reality-in-itself. Again we may vainly ask, What becomes of the forces which constituted the vitality of a dead plant? Much more difficult the question, What becomes of the sensations which formed the psychical life of a dead man?-since nobody can explain the simplest sensation. We know only that during life certain active forces within the body of the plant or the body of the man adjusted themselves continually to outer forces; and that after the interior forces could no longer respond to the pressure of the exterior forces, - then the body in which the former were stored was dissolved into the elements out of which it had been built up. We know nothing more of the ultimate nature of those elements than we know of the ultimate nature of the tendencies which united them. But we have more right to believe the ultimates of life persist after the dissolution of the forms they created, than to believe they cease. The theory of spontaneous generation (misnamed, for only in a qualified sense can the term "spontaneous" be applied to the theory of the beginnings of mundane life) is a theory which the evolutionist must accept, and which can frighten none aware of the evidence of chemistry that matter itself is in evolution. The real theory (not the theory of organized life beginning in bottled infusions, but of the life primordial arising upon a planetary surface) has enormous - nay, infinite - spiritual significance. It requires the belief that all potentialities of life and thought and emotion pass from nebula to universe, from system to system, from star to planet or moon, and again back to cyclonic storms of atomicity; it means that tendencies survive sunburnings, - survive all cosmic evolutions and disintegrations. The elements are evolutionary products only; and the difference of universe from universe must be the creation of tendencies, - of a form of heredity too vast and complex for imagination. There is no chance. There is only law. Each fresh evolution must be influenced by previous evolutions, - just as each individual human life is influenced by the experience of all the lives in its ancestral chain. Must not the tendencies even of the ancestral forms of matter be inherited by the forms of matter to come; and may not the acts and thoughts of men even now be helping to shape the character of future worlds? No longer is it possible to say that the dreams of the Alchemists were absurdities. And no longer can we even assert that all material phenomena are not determined, as in the thought of the ancient East, by soul- polarities.

Whether our dead do or do not continue to dwell without us as well as within us, - a question not to be decided in our present undeveloped state of comparative blindness, - certain it is that the testimony of cosmic facts accords with one weird belief of Shinto: the belief that all things are determined by the dead, - whether by ghosts of men or ghosts of worlds. Even as our personal lives are ruled by the now viewless lives of the past, so doubtless the life of our Earth, and of the system to which it belongs, is ruled by ghosts of spheres innumerable: dead universes, - dead suns and planets and moons, - as forms long since dissolved into the night, but as forces immortal and eternally working.

Back to the Sun, indeed, like the Shintoist, we can trace our descent; yet we know that even there the beginning of us was not. Infinitely more remote in time than a million sun-lives was that beginning, - if it can truly be said there was a beginning. The teaching of Evolution is that we are one with that unknown Ultimate, of which matter and human mind are but ever-changing manifestations. The teaching of Evolution is also that each of us is many, yet that all of us are still one with each other and with the cosmos; - that we must know all past humanity not only in ourselves, but likewise in the preciousness and beauty of every fellow-life; - that we can best love ourselves in others; - that we shall best serve ourselves in others; - that forms are but veils and phantoms; - and that to the formless Infinite alone really belong all human emotions, whether of the living or the dead.