Pig and Pepper

Studies in Alice VI, by Marc Edmund Jones

This lesson considers the sixth chapter of Alice in Wonderland and the sixth great principle of wisdom in the Philosophy of Concepts as revealed through the adventures of Alice is that growth lies in pain. In many departments of life this fact is well recognized, particularly in parturition and in the detail of psychological development of the individual, but the world is still far from acceptance of the universal nature of the principle and indeed almost the first effort of every man today is directed toward escape from pain. When understood, so that the mind and the poignancy of sensation are in sympathetic unity, pain becomes pleasure and to it under many circumstances the term ecstasy is given. Even extreme pain may be sought with joy as in the case of the youth who coined the phrase it hurts so good as excuse for deliberate irritation of injury. Thus it is that many people cling to both physical and psychological injuries when conditions have brought about adequate lack of self-expression with the resultant perversion in point of view. In an understanding of the law of pain is found the only explanation of the martyr temperament that in this philosophy and from any spiritual consideration is regarded as perhaps the most inexcusable of human weaknesses. The universal law of pain is that every individual must either give or accept pain as the active basis of his experience in consciousness. As growth is necessary in all things, so pain is necessary as the fundamental element of that growth. It is the creative element in the consciousness.

Here is the principle of stimulation. Man may expand and accept the growth necessary to his continuance in the individual existence and well-being in either the outward and objective or inward and subjective or subconscious realms as he pleases, but as he may elect to focus his activity of awareness in one he sets up a complementary stimulative manifestation of the other and this is known to him either as pain or as the joy that is the pleasurable phase of the same phenomenon. To the person seeking expansion in the outer world of every day as he invites subjective stimulation, both pain and pleasure will serve to enhance appreciation or dislike of objective things and relations and the sources of this pain or pleasure will appear to be beyond conscious control and tend to force this individual into more intense living within the moment. Conversely the person seeking expansion in the realm of higher things invites stimulation at the hands of outer and practical life. He encounters a lack of understanding that drives him into appreciation of subjective principles. His sources of pain and pleasure are objective and so invite control, and he is forced into more intense living in the future and in the past as psychologically the same thing. In either case the man who seeks to avoid pain because the element is an integral part of his consciousness proceeds willingly or unwillingly to give pain to others. In this giving of poignancy to others the practical individual is mentally cruel. Hence the biting criticism of those who approach spiritual studies selfishly or for the obtaining of worldly goods, and the mystical individual is physically cruel as shown by the odd and terrible crimes committed by those unbalanced by religious mania. In the Philosophy of Concepts development is offered to individuals of either type and the method, which is simple enough when properly understood, is to teach the student to accept gratefully the pain that comes to him until such time as he learns not to give pain that is resented by others and therefore destructive but rather the intensified poignancy known as ecstasy or constructive joy. By an alternating emphasis of realms an aspirant may gain a rounded development that is neither slavery to things nor yet a meaningless and empty mysticism.

The symbolism of the sixth chapter in Alice is vital at this point in bringing out in striking fashion the universal principles of this law of pain. The pepper is the negative and the thrown dishes are the positive irritating pain-giving elements. The sneezing as the recognition of irritation is the convulsive action of the body that loosens the vehicles of higher consciousness and for the moment separates them from the physical body and so intensifies sensation. Because of this projection of self out of the physical embodiment during the instant of sneezing all primitive people hastened to bless a sneezer. When the baby was not stirred up enough or the confusion as exaggerated symbol of awareness was not great enough, the dishes were thrown to supplant the pepper in its work. When an individual cannot find enough pepper or pep in life to sneeze at, life promptly bombards him with dishes or his accustomed utensils of being.

The achievement of imagination in the chapter, or the sixth great scientific anticipation, is the revelation of the indestructibility of form that is taught through scientific channels as the intelligence of nature. Life precedes embodiment in the sense that the potentiality actually constitutes the life apart from the force and the substance involved, these being elements easily traceable to purely chemical factors when the concepts of material science are used. Therefore the tree or plant is foreshadowed in the seed and the nature and character of the young animal from its parents. The growth of new and variant forms is no exception to the rule because they may be traced to a blending of factors or to the activity in imagination of the existing forms. In either case the life or the idea precedes the outer manifestation and this in turn is not new form but is an adaptation of those forms that exist and are indestructible.

Thus in the remarkable creation of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire cat it is first of all the grin. When fully embodied it was this smile that distinguished the feline lady and the grin here represents consciousness as preceding its outer manifestation. It is curious that in astrology Leo or the cat has to do with materialization and dematerialization and also that this animal was held the most sacred in Egypt.

The law of applied psychology or the sixth big idea for the solution of personal problems is brought out here in the technique of humanizing. Human constitution is fundamentally a matter of four-fold being. Cat and grin are the mental nature. The duchess or the embodiment of human social and political recognition is the emotional, the cook is the habit and the baby is the physical. Through these the phenomenon of the developing consciousness is possible. During growth the real-self grins and bears and remains detached and will only materialize in moments of real interest. The emotions scold and shake to give the necessary pain if the being will accept it whereas the habit nature throws things and seeks to hurt or awaken consciousness. The physical or outer real self screams and sneezes or makes itself manifest and is only turned into a pig or made gross through mistaken kindness by means of which too many seeking souls are deprived of their experience. The student must learn to MAKE A GAME OF IT whenever life presents a seemingly unconquerable difficulty. Alice learns to tie the baby in knots and aspirants must learn to make life complicated and fit things into seemingly the complex ritual of larger patterns.