The Kingdom of Earth

Studies in Alice XXVI, by Marc Edmund Jones

This lesson is the second of two additional ones and considers another of the overall principles in the Philosophy of Concepts in that it is only through an intensified interest in the values and rewards of conventional or everyday living that any individual may hope to reach his goal on the path of illumination. He is called on to attain stature far beyond his fellows but yet hold to the realization enunciated by Jesus to the effect that if he were lifted up he would draw all men up with him. There cannot be any separation in practical fact between the godly person and his less universally quickened or oriented neighbors and relatives if there is to be any truth in the godliness in question. Man is a social creature and it is his privilege to go to any limit of exaltation on the one side or debasement on the other as long as he manages to preserve his tie with all others at root. Therefore imagination is only part of the purpose served by folk tales and all the gamut of literature and drama that can be classed as comedy. There is to be release for the spirit and the soul must have every opportunity to regather itself as it stands apart and sees the futility of so much human effort and pretense but also and concurrently there must be an unbroken anchorage in the practical issue of the moment and the ramifying circumstances of self-involvement. Here is where a sense of proportion comes in and where the race is served by its more serious dramatization of reality. There are the ritualization of religion and community enterprise together with all the demands of custom and tradition and this is not imaginative achievement but rather is the practical competency or ability to hold firmly to center within self and to what is worth while in the life of the group. Superficially it is polish and in the simplest form is good manners of perhaps no more than fundamentally friendly instincts relative to every phase of life and its kaleidoscopic activities. In a very apt way it can be said to be sophistication or growth in self-refinement to the point where the individual in his own consciousness is always equipped to meet the immediate situation. By his own experience or his studies, and helped to an infinitely great extent by the narratives of life built into an intellectual heritage for each race and even each special group in the community, he has the answers ready when he needs them. The true occultist is called on to build up this side of his character, talents and endowments no less than the imaginative, inspirational and inner realizations to which attention was given in the preceding lesson.

There is a kingdom of earth no less than one of heaven and its primary purpose is to afford a practical matrix in which the principle of tragedy is afforded a full play for its manifestation. Here is where people truly exalt themselves in an effort to live and be better than they are even to a point of willingness to destroy themselves if they fail to attain in accordance with their ideals. Human kind have always loved the tales of high chivalry or the lives of self-sacrifice lived by the saints and near impossible heroism of those who have given some new name for tradition to hang high before the hopes of men. This can be seen therefore as a different sort of nonsense or as outreach to potentialities not so much with a light dismissal of opportunities and responsibilities and a consequent inner regathering of self and its powers as rather a self-dedication that comes to its point of a now or never determination and rushes ahead to a dream of accomplishment in a fashion that indeed does lift up everyone else and bring spiritual values to a sure enthronement here and now in everyday terms. The instinct is not to reach out to a divinity and achieve a self-transcendence but to create a high divinity of self-hood by its dedication to down-on-earth needs and hopes.

The achievement of imagination in Alice in Wonderland also has this marked facet of sophistication to which attention has been drawn in the course of all the lessons making up the original series. There has been the very serious and dedicated drive to accomplishment that can be shared however much this may have been subordinated to the comedy point of view. Man is only ridiculous when he is inept in the light of whatever it may be that he is trying to do, and the final contribution of these studies is in directing attention to the crying need for more intelligent practicality in all spiritual seeking. A grown man may get down on the carpet and roll around with his children if this obviously is play or facilitation of their participation in the fun by eliminating some of the handicaps they suffer from their stature as so much less than his. But if he does something of this sort and then claims high spiritual meaning for what he is doing he is revealed as deficient in sophistication because his acts and claims make no sense to the others around him. Seekers for eternal truth are most inclined to oddities of dress and diet and to childish play-acting as a proposition of ritual, and the test of merit in everything of the sort is the effectiveness of communication for the larger ideal. When Mahatma Gandhi fasted as a way of putting political pressure on an authority with which it would be almost silly to meet with force, the meaning was so universally obvious that it proved impossible to resist him. With him it was not comedy but true tragedy, and in the history of religion it is the impact of idea that marks the stages in forward progress of the genuinely spiritual insights. Lewis Carroll saw the ridiculousness of nearly all the pretense around him but implicit in his dramatization of human foibles was stress of potentialities out of which a whole new day of human insights might arise.

The symbolism of tragedy in life is the transcendence of an immediately ridiculous set of circumstances or human manner of acting by bringing out the validity of real values as these are supported in a living and worthy tradition, and men therefore are happy to exert themselves to protect them and to bring others to accept them by stressing the human ineptness that would debase or allow them to be abandoned. When attention is given to the human deficiencies of themselves the result is the comedy or current exhibition of everyday accidents and incidents by which men gain their day by day refreshment of the spirit. It is in this area that the press has its principal focus, as well as all phases of the entertainment field. But on and beyond is the deeper reality. Sensationalism approaches this but not in any healthy fashion since there is an element of exaggeration or pure burlesque in the shoddy dealing with the blood and tears. What is offered is still the escape although there is the symbolism for the higher.

The law of applied psychology is that there must be the call to greater self-dedication despite all that may be offered by way of immediate release of the spirit. Man's inner nature needs its refreshment but not primarily as other than a punctuation to its more vital straining and striving for an ultimate reality. The individual is never happy when challenged merely to be comfortable, and when he leans to the ridiculous or comedy side it is because he knows he dares not be merely the simple nonentity or indistinguishable average. What he yearns for above all else is something worthy of supreme self-sacrifice.