Historical Reprints Life of the Spirit & Life of Today

Life of the Spirit & Life of Today

Life of the Spirit & Life of Today
Catalog # SKU1021
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.50 lbs
Author Name Evelyn Underhill


Life of the Spirit
Life of To-Day

Evelyn Underhill

This book has been called "The Life of the Spirit and the Life of To-day" in order to emphasize as much as possible the practical, here-and-now nature of its subject; and specially to combat the idea that the spiritual life-or the mystic life, as its more intense manifestations are sometimes called-is to be regarded as primarily a matter of history. It is not. It is a matter of biology.


On lower levels, and through the inspiration of lesser teachers, history shows us the phenomena of primitive Christianity repeated again and again; both within and without the Christian circle of ideas.

Every religion looks for, and most have possessed, some revealer of the Spirit; some Prophet, Buddha, Mahdi, or Messiah. In all, the characteristic demonstrations of the human power of transcendence-a supernatural life which can be lived by us-have begun in one person, who has become a creative centre mediating new life to his fellow-men: as were Buddha and Mohammed for the faiths which they founded. Such lives as those of St. Paul, St. Benedict, St. Francis, Fox, Wesley, Booth are outstanding examples of the operation of this law. The parable of the leaven is in fact an exact description of the way in which the spiritual consciousness-the supernatural urge-is observed to spread in human society.

It is characteristic of the regenerate type, that he should as it were overflow his own boundaries and energize other souls: for the gift of a real and harmonized life pours out inevitably from those who possess it to other men. We notice that the great mystics recognize again and again such a fertilizing and creative power, as a mark of the soul's full vitality. It is not the personal rapture of the spiritual marriage, but rather the "divine fecundity" of one who is a parent of spiritual children; which seems to them the goal of human transcendence, and evidence of a life truly lived on eternal levels, in real union with God. "In the fourth and last degree of love the soul brings forth its children," says Richard of St. Victor.[53] "The last perfection to supervene upon a thing," says Aquinas, "is its becoming the cause of other things."[54] In a word, it is creative. And the spiritual life as we see it in history is thus creative; the cause of other things.

History is full of examples of this law: that the man or woman of the spirit is, fundamentally, a life-giver; and all corporate achievement of the life of the spirit flows from some great apostle or initiator, is the fruit of discipleship. Such corporate achievement is a form of group consciousness, brought into being through the power and attraction of a fully harmonized life, infecting others with its own sharp sense of Divine reality. Poets and artists thus infect in a measure all those who yield to their influence. The active mystic, who is the poet of Eternal Life, does it in a supreme degree. Such a relation of master and disciples is conspicuous in every true spiritual revival; and is the link between the personal and corporate aspects of regeneration.

We see it in the little flock that followed Christ, the Little Poor Men who followed Francis, the Friends of Fox, the army of General Booth. Not Christianity alone, but Hindu and Moslem history testify to this necessity. The Hindu who is drawn to the spiritual life must find a guru who can not only teach its laws but also give its atmosphere; and must accept his discipline in a spirit of obedience. The Sufi neophyte is directed to place himself in the hands of his sheikh "as a corpse in the hands of the washer"; and all the great saints of Islam have been the inspiring centres of more or less organized groups.

Paperback, 5 x 8, 235+ pages


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