Every Life-Form Manifests a Soul
To expand man’s conception of the universe has been accomplished with the utmost difficulty. It has even been accomplished at great peril to those audacious enough to question the accuracy of prevalent opinion. Galileo, Copernicus, and their followers had a ratherrough time of it when they endeavored to induce people to abandon the idea that the earth was flat and the center of the universe.
That the earth is merely a revolving planet moving about the sun attacked man’s most cherished
asset, his colossal egotism. It is this same colossal egotism which makes it impossible for a
certain type of spirit medium to receive messages from just ordinary people who have passed to
the next life. The messages, to satisfy the inflated ego, must come from some historically
important individual, and with some mediums with delusions of grandeur, the sense of
importance requires that the messages must come from no less than Jesus Christ, Himself.
Analytical psychology proves that man will relinquish the requirements of any other urge sooner
than the urge of self-esteem. His egotism holds fast to the last. He clings tenaciously to the idea
that the earth is the center about which cosmic life revolves, and that the physical plane is the one
place where anything of value can be learned or expressed; because this makes him feel of
consequence. He lives on the physical plane, and on the earth; therefore, to prevent a collapse of
his sense of superiority, he likes to believe that this material planet is the one place of supreme
importance in existence.
To tell him that astronomers now recognize a million other universes, that our universe embraces
some two billion suns, and that our earth is a second-rate planet revolving about a second-rate sun
may dazzle, but makes no deep impress upon him. This is hearsay evidence. What he actually
sees and contacts is a portion of the surface of the earth, and these vaster conceptions, while
interesting enough in a vague sort of way, have no concrete meaning in his life. He knows, from
actual experience, something about a portion of the earth; and anything beyond this seems
nebulous and unreal.
The radio, furthermore, illustrates how vibratory levels become real to those who are tuned in on
such levels; and carefully conducted experiments in physical research by men of great
accomplishment in other lines prove that life, thought and personality exists, not merely upon the
low-velocity physical plane, but also upon many vibratory levels of the high-velocity inner
planes. Chapter 1, in Course 20, The Next Life, goes into the details of this, and the balance
of Course 20, describes existence on some of these next-life levels. But the ordinary man finds it
just as hard to think of any other place than the physical for life to function, as he does to
comprehend how really insignificant the planet earth is in the astronomical scheme. His egotism,
in spite of the evidence of other realms, insists because he lives here, that the physical plane must
be tremendously important.
And so we find an orthodox conception in the Occident, and an orthodox conception in the
Orient, both springing into existence from the narrow view of life that earth is the one place of
tremendous importance in the general scheme of things. And because of the limited knowledge
of Nature at the command of those propounding these conceptions, they are essentially static.
Everything we observe in Nature is in a state of change, even the dissolution of one body being
but the prelude to its materials being used in some other body. All is moving forward from the less
complex to the more complex. Yet those of the Far East who formulated the doctrine of Nirvana,
and those of the Near East who propounded the doctrine of Heaven and Hell, conceived of things
as soon reaching a point where they were stationary.
In either version, the earth is the place of tremendous significance. According to the orthodox
Occident, one lives on earth according to the demands of convention and the Church and on
passing to the next life exists eternally in a harp-playing heaven; or one transgresses the demands
of convention and the Church and on passing to the next life blisters in hell, forever and forever.
According to the orthodox Orient, one lives on earth according to the demands of convention and
the Church, and again returns to earth to enjoy wealth and position; or one transgresses the
demands of convention and the Church, and again returns to earth, this time to undergo suffering.
By and by, after enough births in human form, according to this conception, and enough living
according to priestly dictates, one is liberated from the wheel of rebirth.
In such narrowed conceptions of existence there is no place where one sins, or where one can
perform meritorious deeds, other than the earth. The physical plane is so important–egotism
censors any less myopic view–that deeds of kindness or deeds of vileness are limited to it. We
need a new Galileo, this time not to show us the true place of the earth in the firmament, but to
demonstrate the insignificance of the whole material universe in comparison with the unlimited
number of vibratory-levels of the high-velocity realms, on each of which life can function, and on
most of which it can function in a manner far superior to that possible in matter, where
opportunities are hampered and curtailed by low velocity, which is the chief characteristic of that
which is physical.Such a new Galileo, however, would meet with just as much intolerance, and with just as
vigorous efforts at suppression, as did the Galileo who in 1616 was haled before the tribunal of
Rome and made to deny that the earth moves, and commanded: “That you should neither teach it
to others, defend it, nor say anything concerning it; and that if you should not submit to this order,
you should be put in jail.
“Today, even as in that time, there are two powerful groups of people who hold positions of special
privilege because they are looked up to as the final authority in their particular domain. Many in
both of these groups are willing to resort to almost any unfair practice to prevent people being
presented with facts which, by proving those in these groups are in error in the doctrines they
teach, would destroy their prestige and, in the long run, tend to deprive them of the financial,
social and other special privileges which they enjoy.
One of these groups embraces certain academic individuals who pose before the world as the
final and infallible authority on everything scientific. They realize that proof that there is an
inner-plane on which personality functions after the dissolution of the material body, or proof
that there are inner-plane energies that affect human life and destiny such as those which
astrology implies, destroys the materialistic scheme of the universe which they have so
painstakingly constructed, and upon which all the doctrines they teach, as well as their own
The other of these groups embraces certain leaders of the orthodox churches. By them, it has been
held to be the exclusive province of church dignitaries to report on that which is not physical. As
these dignitaries are ignorant of inner-plane energies which influence human life, they are
unwilling to jeopardize their reputation for infallibility by admitting such energies exist as those
emanating from the planets. Furthermore, they have taught that life is of a certain kind and amid
conditions determined by adherence or non-adherence to the code of their particular church. But
extra-sensory perception, while confirming their teaching that conscious life persists after
physical death, fails to confirm the conditions of that life as taught for many hundreds of years by
such church dignitaries. And the fact that almost anyone who takes the pains can develop enough
extra-sensory perception to learn first hand something, at least, of after-death conditions, attacks
their Drive for Significance.
These two intolerant groups, whose position of supreme authority either in the field of science or
in the field of religion, is attacked by the facts of astrology and the facts of extra-sensory
perception, have at the present time succeeded in getting laws passed in some communities not
merely prohibiting the practice of astrology but, in spite of our vaunted freedom of speech,
prohibiting the teaching of astrology.
Also, they have succeeded in some communities, in spite of our supposed freedom of worship, in
getting laws passed prohibiting any demonstration that those who have passed from the physical
still persist and can communicate with those yet in the flesh.
Not only do the two mentioned intolerant groups strive cunningly to maintain their prestige, but
the desire of others to seem important denied to Mohammedan women the possession of souls.
And in the slavery days of the United States it was debated from the pulpit whether or not Negroes
had souls. His ego causes man to wish to be unique. Your good churchman, right now, will claim
to have a soul, but will deny his horse or his cow has one. He thinks, because he is ignorant of
biology, that he is different in kind from the animals about him; when in truth he differs only in
It is true that he possesses a type of intelligence– self-consciousness–not possessed in any
measure by other physical creatures. It is true that he is the most highly developed creature
occupying material form on the earth. But the soul is not a matter of brain power, for the brain
disintegrates at death. The soul is the sum total of intelligence which resides in the finer bodies;
that which is known to modern psychology as the unconscious mind.
Lesser Creatures Have Souls
–All life-forms possess an unconscious mind. The unconscious mind, or soul, directs all the
activities and life processes not consciously determined by reason. And even where man is
concerned, only a minute number of his total activities are determined by reason. Reason,
however, does not comprise the soul, character, or unconscious mind. Reason is merely one type
of intelligence displayed by the soul when it has reached a stage of development where it is able to
build about it, and function through, the form of man. Souls lower in the scale of evolution
display less developed forms of intelligence; but intelligence, nevertheless.
And such an intelligence, no matter what the level of its expression, is derived from the
experiences of an entity. This entity, whether of the astral plane solely, or occupying and
functioning through a physical form, because it expresses intelligence, is a soul. In fact, the sum
total of the experiences it has had, which are retained as states of consciousness within its finer
forms, not only constitutes the source of whatever intelligence it expresses, but constitutes its
It will be a great shock to the colossal egotism of some to learn that even an amoebae has a soul. If
it did not have a soul it could not move over, ingest and assimilate the bacteria which are its prey. I
am not suggesting that the soul of an amoebae is as important as the soul of a man. But I am
pointing out that biologically, psychologically, and as watched by clairvoyant vision, the
difference is that of complexity and degree of development, rather than of kind.
Where intelligence finds expression, there you may find a soul; for intelligence is the
manifestation of those states of consciousness which, whether numerous or few, nevertheless,
constitute a soul.
–Furthermore, once radiated from the Divine Mind, the scintillating sparks of potentiality,
numerous as photons of light, which collect experiences and thus develop souls, never come to
rest, never are blotted out, never cease their endeavors. Such a potentiality, that ever moves on
collecting experiences, we term the ego.
Back of even the lowly soul of a single-celled amoebae is an ego. Back of the soul of every living
cell in your body is a spark of Divinity, an ego. And these egos, like your own, are collecting
experiences. They are moving forward in their own development paths, as you are moving in
yours. They use your body for certain experiences they need, as you use their bodies to help you
gain the experiences you need. But except for this temporary association of mutual advantage,
you are independent of them and they of you.
I am not trying to convey the idea that souls are the same; for as a matter of fact, two souls not
having had just the same experiences, cannot be just alike. Because the states of consciousness
which constitute souls have been derived from widely diversified experiences, the souls
themselves are widely different. The soul of an amoebae is a very simple one compared to the
soul of a man. Yet they possess much in common: They express some degree of intelligence. This
intelligence, which even on earth really resides in the astral counterpart, continues to live in the
astral form after the dissolution of the physical. And whether on the physical or in the astral, the
impulse of the Divine Mind which we call the ego continues to impel the soul to struggle for new
experiences and greater perfection.
When man deflates himself enough to recognize that every life-form is an expression of
intelligence, and that this intelligence implies a soul, which like his own may ultimately arrive at
a state where it is immortal, he will have taken a long step in his mental liberation from
conceptions forced upon the race by those completely ignorant of biology. After which, to
complete his enfranchisement, he needs to realize, what accumulating evidence proves, that the
physical realm is the bottom, and except as a starting point the least important region, of a
universe which extends, inner-plane level upon inner-plane level even higher than the gaze of
seer has seen.
When he has thus freed himself from traditional authority–a traditional authority which came
into existence among those who believed the earth to be flat and the center of the universe, and
who knew nothing of the processes of life within the human body, and looked upon other forms of
life than man as insensate–let him look about him with the eyes of one interested in other than
Problems Common to All Life-Forms
–He will find that their lives differ in degree, but not in kind, from his own. He will find the same
variations in prosperity, the same variations in suffering, the same struggles, obstacles, problems,
and vicissitudes which cause men’s lives to differ one from another, in almost every species of
plant and animal with which he becomes familiar.
Every species or individual of life upon the earth has its problems and its difficulties. The
problem of securing adequate nourishment, of securing protection from enemies and protection
from the inclemencies of the environment, the problem of finding a suitable mate, or suitable
conditions for the propagation of the species, the problem of providing for the needs of the
offspring, and all the other vital problems are shared alike by man, by beast, by insect, and by
plant, and by every one of the multitudinous species of these. The problems which the various
forms of life upon the earth must face vary in their details, but in their essentials they are the same
for all. Man is not some vastly different creature.
Consider the microscopic diatoms, for instance, which in Chapter 1 I mentioned as
the source of the oil deposits in California. They are single-celled vegetables,
floating on the water. But the food supply where one of them may live, due to salt water currents
and the of a river, may be vastly superior to the food supply where another one floats about. One
diatom spends its life surrounded by wealth, and another is so poverty stricken that it dies from
mal-nourishment long before the common span of diatomic life has been encompassed.
Chemical elements in the water, and other environmental circumstances, may hasten, may retard,
or even prevent, the propagation of its race. One diatom is successful, due to favorable conditions
about it, in perpetuating its kind; while another diatom, differently situated, is compelled to be
sterile. In its family relations one of these minute vegetables is a marked success and another is a
dismal failure; and between these two extremes are other individual diatoms who have various
degrees of success and various degrees of failure, where family life is concerned.
Diatoms, like other plants and like animals, may be healthy or may suffer illness. One may be
robust and strong, and another sickly and weak. The names for the various types of illness may
not number so many as in the human race, but there is similar latitude in the gradation of their
One diatom, through no effort of his own, lives to a hearty old age. His neighbor diatom, who
seems to be quite as moral in his conduct, at least in so far as the present life is concerned, is
gulped down by a minute passing crustacean. These diatoms form the basic food supply of the
fishes in the sea, tiny fish eating the minute crustaceans which feed upon the diatoms, and larger
fish preying upon the tiny ones.
Soon after birth some diatoms meet a tragic end, others live to middle life, and still others are
devoured in old age. Yet, as the oil supply suggests, myriads of them here in California met no
tragic end; and in the past of Virginia untold other millions died a natural death, as attested by the
fact that the city of Richmond is built upon a fossiliferous bed of them which measures some
twenty to eighty feet in depth and several miles in length.
Fish also are known to die of starvation. The waters where some abound have an abundant supply
of smaller fry upon which they feed. But in other localities such smaller fry become exterminated
through the over demand for them, or through many other causes. Some fish spend their lives
amid abundance, some alternately are rich and poor, and others eke out a poverty stricken
existence for a time and then die of starvation.
Watch the salmon at spawning time, or any other species of fish, and you will soon become
convinced that some meet the problem of perpetuating the race successfully and that others do
not. Of the hordes of salmon which fight their way upstream toward the gravelly shallows in the
high mountains where they lay their eggs, and where the male must fertilize them, only a portion
reach their destination. And of these, the eggs of one may be fertilized and nearly all bring forth
young, while the eggs of another, except perhaps half a dozen, are devoured by hungry trout
before they have opportunity to hatch. Some fish are successful in family life, and others are a
Some fish live in good health and some suffer prolonged illness. Any angler will tell you of
catching fish covered with sores, of fish that evidently were unhealthy, of those the prey of
parasites. Were these ills the result of moral transgressions?
And the large trout that lives in the deep hole, where the shadow of the over-hanging ledge falls,
and year after year has refused to take the angler’s fly! Why has he so long outlived his
tragic-fated brethren? Fish seem to continue growing as long as they live. But some come to an
untimely end as food for the larger fishes, and others reach the frying pan before their prime, due
to a vestigial trait of present-day man.
–For thousands of years, in order to survive, man strove for skill in fishing and in the chase. In a
bygone day he either caught fish and killed game or went without food. And it was thus quite
natural that he should develop a delight in the capture of that which kept him alive.
In a day still further gone, migratory birds took circuitous routes south to avoid mountains, and in
other parts of their semi-annual journey followed the courses of streams. These ancient
mountains have long since been worn to level plains, and these ancient water courses have long
since dried up. But, although the need no longer exists, so strong is the force of a habit which has
become instinctive, that present-day birds follow, greatly to their detriment, the path from north
to south and from south to north that their ancestors did. They continue to dodge mountain ranges
and to follow streams that have an existence only in their racial memory.
And the man now, who finds delight in fishing, in hunting, or in killing anything, is just as surely
getting his pleasure through the exercises of tastes which no longer necessary, are an inheritance
from savage ancestors. To delight in the suffering of any living thing is foreign to the tastes of true
civilization. It is an atavistic trait, an instinct which throws back to stark savagery. And he who
indulges it, even though his relation to his human associates seems kind and gentle, in this respect
is expressing the bestiality of the tiger.
Birds sometimes die of starvation; although when food becomes so scarce that they are greatly
weakened, and unable to preserve their usual alertness, they usually fall prey to other creatures
before this slower process can bring about their demise. Some birds, due to the locality in which
they live, even though they keep alive, must labor early and late for a mere subsistence. Yet in my
back yard I keep a bird table, where other birds of the same species feed to repletion without
effort, every day. That is, in the material things of life, some birds are poverty stricken and others
Most birds are successful in finding mates, but some fail in this and, perforce, must go through the
breeding season without the joys of connubial association.
One year, two pairs of jays nested in my back yard. One pair nested in an arbor vitae and the other
pair in a pepper tree. A prowling cat found and devoured all the young from the nest in the arbor
vitae, and a few mornings later I found the feathers where this cat, or some other, had also killed
one of the parent birds.
The pair which nested in the pepper tree raised three lusty youngsters; and became a great
nuisance with their early morning ranting at stray cats, and the bawling out they customarily gave
any human whom they spied. They fought other birds from the feeding table, and stuffed their
babies with food. And ultimately, as the season advanced, the whole five flew away to some spot
less adjacent to suspicious acting humans; much to the relief of the towhees, linnets and mocking
In my wanderings through woods and field I have picked up birds which have died of disease, and
in the marshes of Playa del Rey one can any day find sickly shore birds, which droop, and are not
permitted to associate with others of their kind.
That some birds meet tragic ends early, and some at an advanced age, and that some do not, needs
no illustration. But birds also, as well as many species of mammals, are sometimes subject to the
persecution of their kind. I have witnessed, for instance, a willet which had a slight injury to its
wing, try to join a flock of its fellows. But because it acted slightly different from them, they set
upon it with wing and beak and mauled it almost into insensibility. In fact, among most
gregarious birds it fares ill with any individual who departs markedly from the conventional
standard of conduct.
The Morals of a Lilac
–One summer I spent my vacation in Lassen Volcanic National Park. During the days I
wandered about the volcano, and at night slept on the ground amid the friendly yellow pines. I
wanted no tent over me, because I wished to awaken at times and look up at the white stars and
feel their nearness to me.
A little creek flowed down from the mountain past the spot where I camped. The underbrush on
both sides of this little creek was chiefly a species of ceanothus, commonly called wild lilac. To
the north of the creek this ceanothus was healthy and strong, and the little capsules containing the
seeds were filled to plumpness. But, except for here and there a shrub which miraculously had
escaped, the bushes to the south of the creek had almost completely been defoliated by a black
caterpillar. Among acres and acres of it, hardly a dozen shrubs could be seen which had not been
devastated. Whether these shrubs whose leaves had all provided forage for hungry caterpillars
would die I do not know; but I do know, from investigation, that they were able to produce no
seeds that year.
As I walked amid these wand-like branches bare of leaves, I speculated on why these should have
been punished, and their brethren to the north of the little creek permitted to flourish. And I
thought how like the time of Pharaoh, when he thwarted Moses and was visited by a plague of
locusts; only I could not imagine just how the shrubs to the north of the creek had come into God’s
favor and how those to the south had gained his displeasure. But for that matter, after reading their
history I never could perceive either, why God should have been so partial to the bloodthirsty
1. This refers to the fact that the Jewish Religion was born during the Age for Aries.
And I thought also of the dozen righteous bushes, still standing with full foliage of
green-varnished leaves, amid the multitude of those in desolation. What had this dozen done, that
they, of all the thousands of their fellows to the south of the little creek, should have been saved? I
couldn’t help thinking of the one-hundred and forty-four thousand who, according to Revelation
and certain men of gospel knowledge, are to be saved, while the rest of us must perish. I couldn’t
see, from my shortsighted station of human life, that they had lived in greater righteousness than
their fellows. Perhaps, however, they had lived exemplary lives in a previous incarnation. But
whatever the explanation, luck was certainly with them.
Butterflies, reddish above with black markings, and like black velvet beneath, were everywhere
They had fed as caterpillars on the ceanothus leaves; had passed through the chrysalis stage, and
now were migrating from the brush patch up the side of the mountain. There were countless
thousands of them, and as I watched, a western chipping sparrow dropped from a low branch of a
pine, captured one, daintily plucked off its wings and legs, and carried it off, no doubt to feed its
young in a nest nearby.
But what sin had this particular butterfly committed, either in this life or in a past one, to merit
having its limbs plucked from its body so ruthlessly? Why, of the countless thousands in sight,
was it singled out to suffer such a terrible death?
Pondering this, I returned to the healthy shrubs to the north of the little stream, to observe their life
more closely. And as I moved among them I found that some grew on loose and fertile ground, in
a soil rich and nourishing; while in other spots the ground gave way to rock, and the little shrubs
growing here had a terrific struggle against that universal foe of life, poverty.
Next day I climbed the mountain. And as I ascended, the vegetation grew smaller, hugging the
ground. Up here, a great part of the year there were icy blasts of a ferocity to tear from its
moorings any tree or shrub which dared to rear its head from the mountain slope. And for nine
months, or more, a blanket of snow, yards in depth, bore down upon every growing thing. And I
wondered why those struggling forms of life must put up with almost unendurable hardships,
while members of the same species two thousand feet below live a life of comparative ease and
luxury. And I compared them, in the meagerness of their advantages and the bleakness of their
surroundings, to some of the fisher folk of New Foundland.
And right at the edge of the timberline I found a hemlock of greater size than his fellows. His
trunk, hugging the ground to keep from being swept away, was some eight inches in diameter. At
no point was any branch or twig more than three feet from the sloping ground. A rough estimate,
judged by counting the rings of a smaller one lower down, where it had been cut by those who
built the trail, placed its age at around a hundred years.
Down below, at the mountain’s base, I could see its fellow hemlocks standing straight and proud,
each protected by the others, and all a thriving prosperous colony, the finest hemlock forest in the
United States, according to John Muir. But this fellow was a pioneer. Not only had he taken root
higher than any of his compatriots, but he had held on for perhaps a hundred years. He had battled
with the poverty of the soil. Valiantly he had resisted terrific winds. The long imprisonment by
snow had not broken his spirit.
On almost every mountain high enough, such pioneers will be found. But in addition to these
tremendous afflictions, time and again he had been scorched by the blasts of the volcano in
eruption. He held fast on a patch of southern slope which in recent years had not been a crater and
had not been blanketed with erupted material. Just around the corner to the left, so recently that no
trees, but only shrubs have as yet taken root there, the west side of the mountain had been
inundated by molten lava. And just around the corner to the right, in 1915, the whole east side of
the mountain blew out, and the hot blast devastated a wide area, leaving acres of charred brush
and trees along the edge of its complete destruction.
But this pioneer hemlock had persisted through this and other eruptions. Suffering greatly, it had
escaped a killing heat. And I wondered why it should have been compelled to pass through travail
such as other trees know nothing of.
And around that corner to the right, where hot blasts were followed by the mud formed by
powdered rock mixing with almost instantly melting snow, there is a completely devastated area,
some miles long and a few hundred yards to a mile in width, in which every living thing perished.
Trees three feet in diameter were broken off like matches, or uprooted, and the country scoured as
by a mighty sand blast.
When thousands of other trees perished, what karma, or what favoritism of Jehovah, prevented
this hemlock, whose tribulations were far in excess of those experienced by Job, from passing to
the next life?
Still pondering this, my inspection of the mountain’s top completed I descended through the
hemlocks to a lower elevation where dwell the lodgepole pines. And I observed that most of these
were healthy, but that here and there one had become sickly, through an attack of borers. What
sin, in this life or some other, had these borer-infested pines committed to deserve such
The Ways of Chipmunks
–Back at camp, I sat upon a log eating my evening meal. And at this particular spot, Manzanita
Camp, there is an unusual abundance both of the little striped chipmunks and the larger
golden-mantled ground squirrels. As many as seven or eight at a time, as a result of a few day’s
feeding, scampered about, expecting their customary bits of bread. The few days I had been there
had permitted me to make good friends of all these little chaps. No longer were they afraid.
There was one golden-mantled ground squirrel, I always recognized him because of his
pot-belly, I called my alderman. But he might better have represented a mayor, for he bossed the
whole lot. When he wanted a certain bit of bread, no one disputed his right. When he came along,
all the others stepped to one side. Plainly, he was the king-pin of the rodent community.
Then there was another of almost equal size, but lacking the pot-belly, who gave obeisance to the
alderman, but who chased any of the others away from a coveted bit of food. I called him the
lieutenant. Then there were other ground squirrels, sometimes more and sometimes fewer being
present, but each well understanding he could boss some and had to be bossed by others.
Any chipmunk had to yield way to any ground squirrel, because the ground squirrels were almost
twice as large. But one chipmunk was the major among them. He made the other chipmunks
stand to one side, while they in turn drove weaker chipmunks from their path. And finally, there
was a little mangy runt of a chipmunk that everyone picked on and browbeat. The only way he
could retain a mouthful of food, even when I threw it directly beneath his nose, was to grab and
flee for his life; for there was sure to be some larger fellow trying to make him drop it.
If you have ever been in a mining camp, a logging camp, or associated with a construction crew,
you will recognize the type. There is always some poor devil, lacking in wit or backbone, who
becomes the butt of all jokes, who is picked on by every bully, and who furnishes boisterous
amusement for the others. His inferiority gives them, who resent being ordered about by their
superiors, a certain feeling of compensation. Their self-esteem is somewhat raised by being able
to compare themselves with this poor fellow.
And the big pot-bellied ground squirrel is another type we have with us in human form. Not only
did he collect all the food he could eat, but after he was full he would drive the others off, to the
extent he could, and gather up more, and hoard it away in a secret retreat. It is not likely that bread,
due to its perishable nature when dampened, would keep even if stored in a better place than the
hole he dug amid the pine needles. But, irrespective of its value to him, he was bound and
determined that as little of it as possible should come into the possession of chipmunks and other
In 1929 the world entered a period of great economic depression, brought about by humans who
had the same conception of life as did this potbellied ground squirrel. Not content to accumulate
what they can make use of, such people try their utmost to monopolize as much wealth as
possible. They grab it and store it away. Such surplus is of no value to them, but it does deprive the
other people of the world of that which is necessary for them to live. And the same spirit of greed
which I observed in this big ground squirrel has been the cause of other depressions, and of many
other human calamities.Watching these chipmunks and these ground squirrels, and their attitude toward each other, the
stronger always oppressing the weaker, gave me much to think about in reference to humanity.
That I recount, even in brief outline rather than in detail, my observations of Nature during one
day, may seem strange to those anxious to gain occult knowledge. But I must impress upon you
that no one can get any correct knowledge of occultism in its application to life, who so narrows
his mind as to shut out the rest of Nature.
You cannot become a naturalist, which means one who studies Nature, without becoming
convinced that man is simply a somewhat more complex expression of the same intelligence to
be observed in plants and birds and mammals. To understand occult law, and at the same time to
place mankind in some special air-tight compartment, is as impossible as it is to understand the
nature of heat without some knowledge of chemistry. The same things, due allowance being
made for degree, happen to plants, to animals, and to man. And the same occult laws, due
allowance being made for degree, are applicable to plants, to animals, and to man.
Life Differs Only in Degree
–If you continue to believe that God took up a handful of clay and breathed the breath of life into
it, and thus man was a special creation, you are wasting your energy in trying to comprehend
occultism. But if you perceive that all life has a basic similarity, that it does not remain just as it
now is, but is moving forward to greater and greater perfection, you have a sound foundation for
With such a conception of things you cannot set man off from the rest of Nature. To any naturalist
he is just a higher animal. But every type of animal has capacities that other animals do not have.
And man possesses self-consciousness as his distinguishing trait.
Yet man is similar to all other physical organisms on earth in that they all have the same
fundamental problems to meet: the problem of resisting illness and external foes, the problem of
providing protection from the inclemencies of the environment, the problem of making a living,
the problem of a successful family life, etc. Why, then, should we presume that man’s success or
failure to solve any one or all of these problems common to other life-forms on earth, is due to any
other causes than those that determine the success or failure of these other kindred creatures to
meet the same kind of problems?
The same kind of reasoning that denied the Mohammedan women any place in paradise, which in
slavery days denied the Black Man a soul, and which causes men of one nation to consider men of
another nation atrocious criminals when they do the things that their own nation sanctions, may
draw the conclusion that creatures other than men do not suffer as he does.
No one who has entered into rapport with a robin or a meadowlark singing in the spring can deny
that birds, for instance, feel joys and experience raptures keener than those that come to most
men. No one who has felt with a mother quail, as she trailed her wing along the ground and
feigned to be mortally wounded, while her young sought the cover of some leaf or clump of grass,
will claim that the feeling of anxiety is alone the attribute of man. And the dog which starves on
his master’s grave, as a token of mourning for his loss, is the very exemplification of sorrow.
Birds and beasts, insects and fishes, fight to the death in the attempt to win and hold a mate. Are
we to think, because they are not human, that those terrific combats are meaningless to them? Are
we to believe that the failure to gain the object loved is less important to them than it is to some
man who every two or three years sends a different wife to Reno to make legal their separation?
As for loyalty, either to mate or to young, the examples that can be taken from the lives of
creatures other than man are so numerous that whole volumes might be filled with interesting
accounts of them. It is the rule, rather than the exception, that the mother shall defend her young
against great odds, that the male shall defend the female, and that the members of the gregarious
species shall protect the common life and interests. Give a hornet’s nest a poke, or try to invade
the home of a swarm of bees, and of this you will immediately suffer conviction.
Many male birds bring the female food during the period the eggs are incubating. And many
mammals, such as the kit fox of our California deserts, bring food to the mother while the young
are helpless and she must nurse them. Such a fox, though gaunt with hunger, will carry the game
he has caught, for miles to place it at the foot of the nursing mother.
Certain scorpion mothers, to provide a sure supply of food for the young, permit them to cling to
her and suck the juices from her body. The young actually, though slowly, devour her, and in her
devotion to their welfare she encourages this cannibalistic practice.
But why go on with other illustrations? To watch the creatures about us is to become convinced,
not only that they feel the same basic emotions–anger, fear, joy, hope, and sorrow–that are
common to the human race, but that they also live as rigidly close to the code of morals adopted
by their race as does man.
The various types of men each have their own code of morals. The morals of a Hottentot, those of
a Chinese farmer, those of a Negrito headhunter, those of an Eskimo, those of a native of Bengal,
and those of a Caucasian of the Manhattan area of New York, vary as widely as the code of morals
do which is observed among animals lower in the scale of life than man.
Those morals, while the priests may have led their followers to believe they were handed down
from above, are mostly erected by the needs of a particular people, but given a twist by the most
powerful among them, so that these would in some manner receive certain advantages and
otherwise be unduly favored. They take their roots in survival needs. How much truth they
contain depends upon the enlightenment of the people, and their freedom from powerful
individuals who warp that truth to give them a selfish advantage.
And the morals of lesser creatures are likewise based upon survival needs. They may, or may not,
be successful in providing for the survival of the race; but they sprang into existence in this
attempt. Just so, the morals of certain people, based upon false assumptions, often hinder, rather
than aid, survival. But the aim is to benefit the race.
As to suffering, if you will observe the frantic efforts of any creature to live, you cannot doubt that
it suffers. I grant that a sensitive nervous system, such as man possesses, may bring to the mind
more acute reports of pain than the blunt perceptions of many lower creatures will permit. Yet
one who can enter into sympathetic rapport with one of the red-blooded animals, especially a bird
or a mammal when it is being killed, or while it is in terror, or is being mistreated, or while it is ill,
can have no illusions that man suffers supremely more than they.
And even where plants and more simply organized animals are concerned, the difference in
suffering is that of degree and not that of kind. Other creatures suffer physical pain and
experience mental anguish. They have joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, successes and failures.
Man is like them, except he is at the top of the scale of complexity.
If, therefore, we believe that the sufferings of man are due to punishment by Jehovah for
transgressions of moral laws, we must believe also that the sufferings of plants and animals must
be due to their transgressions of their moral laws, and the offense they have thus given Jehovah.
And if we are to believe the successes and joys of this life which man experiences are due to his
conformity in a past life to whatever moral code his tribe holds, we must believe that the plants
and animals which have success and joy in this life have lived in conformity to a plant or animal
code of some kind in a past life. If we believe the suffering of man in this life is due to sins in a
previous life, then we must believe that the suffering of animals and plants in this life is due to
their transgressions in a previous life.
One Universal Law For All
–What I insist on as a naturalist, as a seer, and as a student of all things occult, is that man is not
set apart from other living things, but that all forms of life come under one uniform and universal