Authentic participants in the Perennial Tradition can be found in any profession: medicine, teaching, painting, drama, writing, law, construction, farming, etc. The practice of the Perennial Tradition can take place in any way of life, while persons acquainted with the Perennialist may or not be aware that she is spiritually advanced.
As we study the lives and concepts of transformative persons throughout human history, we shall attempt to determine which were in the lineage of the Perennial Tradition and which were merely influenced by this legacy. For example, Dante was clearly influenced by the Perennialist Ibn 'Arabi, but Dante was not a participant in the Perennial Tradition.
A number of books on mystical traditions have taken the opposite approach, using a term, as for example Gnosticism, to include anyone who is referred to as a Gnostic. This is the approach adopted by Hans Jonas in his comprehensive book entitled The Gnostic Religion. Carl W. Ernst employed this same kind of approach in his book Sufism."In this book, I use the term Sufism in the broadest descriptive sense, to include not only those people who describe themselves or are described by others as Sufis but also the whole range of historical traditions, texts, cultural artifacts, and practices connected with Sufis. By using such a 'family resemblance' approach to Sufism, I am deliberately shelving any attempt to decide who is a 'true Sufi,' or what is the proper relationship of Sufism and Islam."
Carl W. Ernst. Sufism
As Ernst recognizes, the difficulty with the all-embracing approach is that it fails to identify who are authentic members of a tradition and who are not. If an author's purpose is merely to write a treatise about a tradition, perhaps in the line of a history, then such differentiation may not be required.
With the indiscriminate approach, a term encompasses so many contradictory concepts and practices that it loses all essential meaning. In Jonas's book on Gnosticism, we find irreconcilable differences between persons deemed to be Gnostics. In Jonas's estimate, for example, a Gnostic can be either a monotheist or a polytheist.
Admittedly, taking the approach I have in this book-- attempting to distinguish those persons who were authentic members of the Perennial Tradition from those who were not--is a hazardous venture and subject to error. But having undertaken to write a book not only about the Perennial Tradition, but also providing practical experience in this heritage, I find it necessary to differentiate between the authentic and the spurious.
I have also adopted this approach because from the beginning of the Perennialist Tradition its adherents have traced their lineage to earlier teachers, thereby distinguishing those they believed to be genuine teachers within their heritage and those who were not.
"In all that I have said about the science of lights and that which is and is not based upon it, I have been assisted by those who have traveled the path of God. This science is the very intuition of the inspired and illumined Plato, the guide and master of wisdom, and of those who came before him from the time of Hermes, 'the father of philosophers,' up to Plato's time, including such mighty pillars of wisdom as Empedocles, Pythagoras, and others. . . . This is also the basis of the Eastern doctrine of light and darkness, which was the teaching of Persian philosophers such as Jamasp, Frashostar, Bozorgmehr, and others before them. It is not the doctrine of the unbelieving Magi, nor the heresy of Mani, nor that which leads to associating other gods with God--be He exalted above any such anthropomorphism!"
Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi, The Wisdom of Illumination
To determine the genuine members of a tradition, we develop operative criteria to include or exclude specific persons (examples of persons excluded in parentheses):
- Persons who produced inspired works, (not merely studies of Perennialist-inspired works, e.g. Evelyn Underhill, Robert Graves, P.D. Ouspensky)
- Persons who actually worked within the Perennial Tradition, (not merely were influenced by it, e.g. Goethe, Duns Scotus, Gurdjieff, Paul Brunton, Castaneda)
- Persons whose early lives were influenced by the Perennial Tradition, but their lives later changed into reactionary conservatism and hence became antithetical to the Perennial Tradition: e.g. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Frances Bacon
- Persons who refer to a majority of the central Perennialist themes in their teachings in other than a scholastic manner (e.g. Madame Blavatsky refers to some of the Perennialist themes theoretically, but it is clear that she had no inner knowledge of the Perennial Tradition)
- Persons who taught esoterically (e.g. Miguel Asin Y Palacios, the renowned Spanish Arabist, taught about the Perennial Tradition publicly but, not being a Perennialist himself, did not transmit the tradition esoterically to a select group of students )
- Persons who experienced personal illumination, not merely studied this phenomenon (e.g. William Inge wrote about Christian mystical experiences but did not experience personal enlightenment)
"By the word 'mystic' I shall always mean a person who himself has had mystical experience. Often the word is used in a much wider and looser way. Anyone who is sympathetic to mysticism is apt to be labeled a mystic. But I shall use the word always in a stricter sense. However sympathetic toward mysticism a man may be, however deeply interested, involved, enthusiastic, or learned in the subject, he will not be called a mystic unless he has, or has had, mystical experience."
Walter T. Stace. The Teachings of the Mystics
In our review of the teachings of Perennialist sages over many centuries, our touchstone is the awareness of the crucial difference between the Perennialist view of teaching and the scholastic view.
Perennialist View of Teaching Scholastic View of Teaching The major goal is helping students develop a higher state of consciousness The major goal is helping students develop intellectual knowledge Genuine teachings speak of higher faculties dormant through generations of neglect, so instead of trying to explain these faculties in ways familiar to our intellect, a true teacher attempts to exhaust or divert our intellectualizing to help us gain an understanding of a higher, spiritual faculty Scholastic teachings speak of the intellect and logic being the highest forms of knowledge Teachers must have achieved a higher state of consciousness to be able to teach Teachers need only to have studied the theories and practices of earlier teachers Teachings are adapted relative to the needs of the people in a particular culture and time Teachings are adopted by one teacher from an earlier teacher Teachings are organic nutrients not meant to remain in unaltered, undigested form merely for curiosity seekers or theoreticians Teachings become the dogma of new schools of thought to be studied and followed by later students and believers Teachings are transmitted by a human exemplar, the teacher, who conveys the experience face-to-face or in experiential teaching material Teachings are transmitted through books and lectures on books Religions are fossil remains of earlier powerful, dynamic teachers who provided prescribed experiences only for the people at the time and place Religions are the ritual and dogma from earlier teachers applicable to all peoples at all times Genuine teachings are esoteric, to be transmitted only to selected, prepared students Teachings are exoteric, transmitted to all believers
Characteristic Perennialist Themes
In this section we will identify and explicate those themes within the Perennial Tradition which help us define this tradition and which any genuine Perennialist teacher holds to and explores in his or her writings.
All Beings Are Part of the One Unity "All that a man has here externally in multiplicity is intrinsically One. Here all blades of grass, wood and stone, all things are One. This is the deepest depth."
Meister Eckhart, 1260-1329 "There is no reality but God."
Through Informed Effort We Can Achieve Illumination "When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Kukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.
"At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!
"In commemoration, she wrote a poem:
In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!"
from Zen, Flesh, Zen Bones, compiled by Paul Reps "I stood in this resolution, fighting a battle with myself, until the light of the Spirit, a light entirely foreign to my unruly nature, began to break through the clouds. Then, after some farther hard fights with the powers of darkness, my spirit broke through the doors of hell, and penetrated even unto the innermost essence of its newly born divinity where it was received with great love, as a bridegroom welcomes his beloved bride.
"No word can express the great joy and triumph I experienced, as of a life out of death, as of a resurrection from the dead! . . . While in this state, as I was walking through a field of flowers, in fifteen minutes, I saw through the mystery of creation, the original of this world and of all creatures. . . . Then for seven days I was in a continual state of ecstasy, surrounded by the light of the Spirit, which immersed me in contemplation and happiness. I learned what God is, and what is his will. . . . I knew not how this happened to me, but my heart admired and praised the Lord for it!"
Jacob Boehme (1575-1624 C.E.) Perennialist Teachings Change According to the Time, Place,
and the Awareness of People
The High Knowledge
"Anis was asked:
'What is Sufism?'
'Sufism is that which succeeds in bringing to man the High Knowledge.'
'But if I apply the traditional methods handed down by the Masters, is that not Sufism?'
'It is not Sufism if it does not perform its function for you. A cloak is no longer a cloak if it does not keep a man warm.'
'So Sufism does change?'
'People change and needs change. So what was Sufism once is Sufism no more. 'Sufism,' continued Anis, 'is the external face of internal knowledge, known as High Knowledge. The inner factor does not change. The whole work, therefore, is the High Knowledge, plus capacity, which produces method. What you are pleased to call Sufism is merely the record of past method.'"
from Thinkers of the East by Idries Shah "Every Scripture must necessarily contain two elements, one temporary, perishable, belonging to the ideas of the period and country in which it was produced, the other eternal and imperishable and applicable in all ages and countries. Moreover, in the statement of the Truth, the actual form given to it, the system and arrangement, the metaphysical and intellectual mould, the precise expression used must be largely subject to the mutations of Time and cease to have the same force; for the human intellect modifies itself always; continually dividing and putting together it is obliged to shift its divisions continually and to rearrange its syntheses; it is always leaving old expression and symbol for new or, if it uses the old, it so changes its connotation or at least its exact content and association that we can never be quite sure of understanding an ancient book of this kind precisely in the sense and spirit it bore to its contemporaries. What is of entirely permanent value is that which besides being universal has been experienced, lived and seen with a higher than the intellectual vision."
Sri Aurobindo. Essays On the Gita Ordinary Consciousness is Only One of
Many Possible States of Consciousness
"The first act of a teacher is to introduce the idea that the world we think we see is only a view, a description of the world. Every effort of a teacher is geared to prove this point to his apprentice. But accepting it seems to be one of the hardest things one can do; we are complacently caught in our particular view of the world, which compels us to feel and act as if we knew everything about the world. A teacher, from the very first act he performs, aims at stopping that view. Sorcerers call it stopping the internal dialogue, and they are convinced that it is the single most important technique that an apprentice can learn."
Carlos Casteneda. Tales of Power "One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality. Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge toward a kind of insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical significance.
William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience We Find Ultimate Reality Within Us
"The Kingdom of Heaven is within you."
Jesus of Nazareth "Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is who within you makes everything his own and says: my God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body. Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate. Learn how it happens that one watches without willing, rests without willing, becomes angry without willing, loves without willing. If you carefully pursue these matters you will find God in yourself."
Monoimus, a first century (C.E.) Gnostic We Must Practice Death and Resurrection Before Final Death "So then, as the apostle [Paul] said of him [Jesus], we have suffered with him, and arisen with him, and ascended with him."
"Now, since we are manifestly present in this world, the world is what we wear (like a garment). From him (the savior) we radiate like rays; and being held fast by him until our sunset--that is, until our death in the present life--we are drawn upward by him as rays are drawn by the sun, restrained by nothing. This is resurrection of the spirit, which overcomes animate resurrection along with resurrection of the flesh. . . .
"Everyone should practice in many ways to gain release from this element (the body), so that one might not wander aimlessly but rather might recover one's former state of being."
Epistle to Rheginus, a third or fourth century, C.E.,
letter from a Perennialist teacher to a student
Mohammed. "Die before your death." Live a Full, Non-Ascetic Life "[O]ur main future danger is likely to be a swing back to the narrow, ungodlike, inhuman 'spirituality' that mortifies the flesh, passes blue laws, neglects plain business, and lets the world go hang. . . . Only by a hearty mingling in all worldly matters, a complete sharing of physical life, a whole-souled attention to our own business and our relations to people, will we, or anybody else, ever get anywhere."
Stewart Edward White The Betty Book Mohammed. "No monkery in Islam." Creation Was Created So That We Might Know God "The Father existed alone, unbegotten, without place, without time, without counsellor, and without any other property that could be thought of . . . solitary and reposing alone in himself. But as he had generative power, it pleased him once to generate and produce the most beautiful and perfect that he had in himself, for he did not love solitude. For he was all love, but love is not love if there is no object of love. So the Father, alone as he was, projected and generated 'Mind' and 'Truth.'"
Hippolytus, a first century (C.E.) Gnostic
'I was a hidden treasure;
creation was created
so that you might know me.'"
Hakim Sanai (died 1150 C.E.)
The Walled Garden of Truth
Distinguishing Genuine Mysticism from Aberrant Mysticism
There are a number of persons who appear to have a connection to the Perennial Tradition in particular and mysticism in general who in fact have no genuine connection. Some of these persons give the appearance of being in the mystical tradition, but actually exemplify a pseudo-mysticism. The most challenging example of this phenomenon is Teresa of Avila.
It's easy to be deceived by Teresa's writings into thinking that she was a genuine mystic, because she speaks of mystical themes and appears to have had unusual experiences typical of the ecstatic. Even Evelyn Underhill was taken in by Teresa's writings, and claimed that she was one of the "greatest mystics," though Underhill does make the distinction that Teresa achieved this rank only "in her later stages." Underhill acknowledges that Teresa was said to be the "patron saint of hysterics," but defends her experiences as psychologically normal. We understand that we cannot depend on Underhill's evaluation of specific mystics when she venerates Teresa but claims that Plato was not a "pure mystic." Underhill also is unmistakably biased in favor of her own Catholicism and sneers at "Oriental" mysticism.
"Thus sang the initiates of Dionysus; that mystery-cult in which the Greeks seem to have expressed all they knew of the possible movement of consciousness through rites of purification to the ecstasy of the Illuminated Life. The mere crude rapture of illumination has seldom been more vividly expressed. With its half-Oriental fervours, its self-regarding glory in personal purification achieved, and the spiritual superiority conferred by adeptship, may be compared the deeper and lovelier experience of the Catholic poet and saint, who represents the spirit of Western mysticism at its best."
Evelyn Underhill. Mysticism
"St. Teresa remarks how much easier it is to impose great penances upon oneself than to suffer in patience, charity and humbleness the ordinary everyday crosses of family life (which did not prevent her, incidentally, from practising, to the very day of her death, the most excruciating forms of self-torture.)"
Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
It's no wonder Teresa of Avila was canonized, for she represents a perverted mysticism at the service of "the Holy Roman Catholic Church." She serves as a model for setting up convent life where everything is totally abberant:
- no friendships (for fear of leading to insubordination)
- little if any talking (lest it lead to gossiping)
- questioning every motive or act (as likely springing from the Devil)
- viewing the outside world as totally depraved and evil
- male chauvinism (against the "Raptures of Feminine Weakness")
- practicing the masochism of health-destroying purgations, entering into abnormal psychological experiences in which pain is said to be "sweet," and relying only on one's superior for approval
"I saw an angel. . . . I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain that I could not wish to be rid of it."
"As long as the pain lasts we cannot even remember our own existence; for in an instant all the faculties of the soul are so fettered as to be incapable of any action save that of increasing our torture. Do not think I am exaggerating; on the contrary, that which I say is less than the truth, for lack of words in which it may be expressed. This is a trance of the senses and the faculties, save as regards all which helps to make the agony more intense. The understanding realizes acutely what cause there is for grief in separation from God: and our Lord increases this sorrow by a vivid manifestation of Himself. The pain thus grows to such a degree that in spite of herself the sufferer gives vent to loud cries, which she cannot stifle, however patient and accustomed to pain she may be, because this is not a pain which is felt in the body, but in the depths of the soul. The person I speak of learned from this how much more acutely the spirit is capable of suffering than the body."
"Perhaps we do not know what love is: it would not surprise me a great deal to learn this, for love consists, not in the extent of our happiness, but in the firmness of our determination to try to please God in everything, and to endeavour, in all possible ways, not to offend Him, and to pray Him ever to advance the honour and glory of His Son and the growth of the Catholic Church."
"As I write this, the noises in my head are so loud that I am beginning to wonder what is going on in it. As I said at the outset, they have been making it almost impossible for me to obey those who commanded me to write. My head sounds just as if it were full of brimming rivers, and then as if all the waters in those rivers came suddenly rushing downward; and a host of little birds seem to be whistling, not in the ears, but in the upper part of the head, where the higher part of the soul is said to be."
"He [the Devil] inspires a sister with yearnings to do penance, so that she seems to have no peace save when she is torturing herself. This, in itself, is good; but, if the prioress has ordered that no penance is to be done without leave, and yet the sister thinks that she can venture to persist in so beneficial a practice, and secretly orders her life in such a way that in the end she ruins her health and is unable to do what her Rule demands, you see what this apparently good thing has led to."
As we've seen, Aldous Huxley describes Teresa's experiences as "self-torture." In a similar vein, William James saw Teresa of Avila as what he called a "shrew" type of personality."If there is one thing I consider more important than another that I can say as a last word to my students it is: 'Whatever you do in the way of developing mind, talent, and character, be assured that your achievements are for eternity.' I like the following quotation of Daniel Webster:
"In spite of the sufferings which she endured, there is a curious flavor of superficiality about her genius. A Birmingham anthropologist, Dr. Jordan, has divided the human race into two types, whom he calls 'shrews' and 'non-shrews' respectively. The shrew-type is defined as possessing an 'active' unimpassioned temperament.' In other words, shrews are the 'motors,' rather than the 'sensories,' and their expressions are as a rule more energetic that the feelings which appear to prompt them. Saint Teresa, paradoxical as such a judgment may sound, was a typical shrew, in this sense of the term. The bustle of her style, as well as of her life, proves it. Not only must she receive unheard-of personal favors and spiritual graces from her Saviour, but she must immediately write about them and exploiter them professionally, and use her expertness to give instruction to those less privileged. Her voluble egotism; her sense, not of radical bad being, as the really contrite have it, but of her 'faults' and 'imperfections' in the plural; her stereotyped humility and return upon herself, as covered with 'confusion' at each new manifestation of God's singular partiality for a person so unworthy, are typical of shrewdom: a paramountly feeling nature would be objectively lost in gratitude, and silent. She had some public instincts, it is true; she hated the Lutherans, and longed for the church's triumph over them; but in the main her idea of religion seems to have been that of an endless amatory flirtation--if one may say so without irreverence--between the devotee and the deity; and apart from helping younger nuns to go in this direction by the inspiration of her example and instruction, there is absolutely no human use in her, or sign of any general human interest."
William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience
To discern the essence of the Perennial Tradition, it's necessary to distinguish between persons and concepts which seem to be genuine--but are actually counterfeit or deformed--and those which are authentic. Teresa of Avila provides the student a test case of a person who speaks of seemingly spiritual ideas--but always with a twist of perversion.
On the basis of the criteria outlined in the first part of this chapter, we can conclude that certain persons were within the Perennial Tradition. In the twentieth century they include:"This philosophy of mine has been arrived at through long, lonely hours of meditation and it will not seem unreasonable to any who will spend as much time and study of it as I have. It has been the motivating force of all my activities and if it is a false philosophy then all my activities have been largely in vain.
- Frank C. Laubach (1884-1970 )
- Betty and Stewart Edward White (early 20th century)
- Rufus Moseley (mid 20th century)
I believe that these persons were genuine Perennialists on the basis of my study of their writings (e.g. I've studied the Whites' and Moseley's writings since the 1950s), in reference to my having met them (Lauback and Moseley). It's likely that there are other genuine Perennialists who lived within the twentieth century, but I have not come across any others whose writings, lives, and teachings place them within this tradition without question.
Betty and Stewart Edward White are particularly significant because they demonstrate a number of essential factors:
- They are the only twentieth century individuals who practiced what is now called "channeling" who are undeniably within the Perennial Tradition. Many earlier mystics--especially Socrates and Rumi--entered an altered state of consciousness and communicated with an "inner teacher" in a similar manner.
- They did not have affiliation with an organized religion. It's difficult for us to appreciate that until very recently in the Western world any exploration in the spiritual dimension had to take place within an organized religion, or the explorer might be branded as heretical or evil. This makes it necessary, in the case of such persons as St. John of the Cross and Meister Eckhart, to separate the elements in their lives and writings which were required or engendered by orthodoxy and the elements primarily free from such constraints.
- They were among the first in the twentieth century to make familiar such terms as: higher states of consciousness, spiritual body, and higher spiritual dimensions.
Rufus Moseley is significant in demonstrating that even in the twentieth century a person could:
- Live within a religious tradition and still be a genuine mystic
- Center his devotion on one spiritual leader (Jesus) and yet revere other teachers
The Perennial Tradition speaks of "hidden sages," persons who have achieved wisdom but may not be fully aware of it and do not call themselves Perennialists or gnostics.
"God . . . has made the Saints the governors of the universe. . . . Among them there are four thousand who are concealed and do not know one another and are not aware of the excellence of their state, but in all circumstances are hidden from themselves and from mankind. Traditions have come down to this effect, and the sayings of the Saints proclaim the truth thereof, and I myself--God be praised!--have had ocular experience of this matter."
Al-Hujwiri. The Kashf Al-Mahjub, [Revelation of the Veiled],The New Testament refers to this "hidden sage" tradition in the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 25 (J.B. Phillips translation):
translated by R. A. Nicholson.
"So, if I am permitted to have an orchestra in Heaven I hope and expect that those who have been in my orchestras here eventually become members there.25:31-33 - "But when the Son of Man comes in his splendour with all his angels with him, then he will take his seat on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from each other like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.In this rendition, the "true men" were not aware that they had served their Lord. They are told that insofar as they have served even "the least" of their fellow humans, they have served him.
25:34-36 - "Then the king will say to those on his right 'Come, you who have won my Father's blessing! Take your inheritance - the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was lonely and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you came and looked after me. I was in prison and you came to see me there."
25:37-39 - "Then the true men will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you lonely and make you welcome, or see you naked and clothe you, or see you ill or in prison and go to see you?'
25:40 - "And the king will reply, 'I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.'
E. H. Whinfield, who translated Rumi's Mathnawi, referred to this tradition of hidden sages."It is unthinkable that all this achievement is lost when we enter upon the next state of existence. If we do not take all we have gained here with us, then nothing we do here really is worthwhile. I am convinced that we shall begin life in the next world just where we leave off here and that we lose nothing at the time of our departure except the physical body.
"A very remarkable doctrine is that of unrecognized saints. There are always on earth four thousand persons who are, so to speak, saints without knowing it. These are they who are born with a natural goodness, which lifts them without effort to a point that most labor to reach in vain--loyal, gentle, unselfish souls, endowed with a natural intuition of good and a natural inclination to pursue it, the stay and comfort of those who enjoy the blessing of their society, and, when they have passed away, perhaps canonized in the hearts of one or two who loved them. Spontaneous goodness of this sort is not to be submitted to rules or forms; the inward inclination, not the outward ordinances, is the source of their goodness. 'Against such there is no law.' They have a standard of thought and character of their own, quite independent of the praise or blame of 'men of externals.'"
I had the very great privilege to come in contact with one such "hidden sage" when I was in middle and high school. Mr. O. H. Attebery was the director of our high school orchestra. This was in a small hamlet in Oklahoma, population twenty-five hundred, yet in fifty district, state, tri-state and national contests, this orchestra won highest honors in forty of them and second highest honors in the others--a remarkable achievement. Mr. Attebery possessed extraordinary qualities of being, inspiring all his students to achieve to the height of their capability. Yet his advanced spiritual state was "hidden" within his work as an orchestra director, discernible only to those "with eyes to see."
It was only at the time of his retirement that Mr. Attebery verbally expressed his philosophy or religion.
"Doubtless it was and is the purpose of the Creator that man shall develop every faculty and talent with which he has been endowed. We do not have to go back to the stone age to see that the race is in evolution; the advance made in the last fifty years is sufficient proof that this is true. Every human being that comes into this world starts from nothing and gradually develops a certain degree of intelligence and skill; it may be in the world of art such as music, painting, sculpture, architecture, in science, or other subjects."The outstanding achievements of the orchestra are a stimulus to the pride of every person in the community but to me there is a far greater satisfaction in what has been done. This calls for a brief explanation of my philosophy and perhaps my religion.
'If we write on brass, time will efface it;
If we write on marble, it will crumble into dust;
But if we write on the tablets of the human mind
We write that which will brighten to all eternity.'
"Use what you have of time, talent, brains, opportunity--the emphasis in this sentence is rightly paced on the word 'use.' It is not the lack of any of the above listed qualifications that hinders development but the failure to make use of what we have. A small amount of any of these put to good use is better than a large amount that is not used. Never offer that oft repeated and feeble excuse 'I don't have time' or the other common one 'I can't do it.' You students have heard these admonitions often enough; it only remains now to practice them."
"I believe in aristocracy. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. . . . On they go--an invincible army, yet not a victorious one. The aristocrats, the elect, the chosen, the Best People--all the words that describe them are false, and all attempts to organize them fail. Again and again Authority, seeing their value, has tried to net them and to utilize them as the Egyptian Priesthood or the Christian Church or the Chinese Civil Service or the Group Movement, or some other worthy stunt. But they slip through the net and are gone; when the door is shut, they are no longer in the room, their temple . . . is the Holiness of the Heart's Imagination, and their kingdom, though they never possess it, is the wide-open world."