I'm writing this on the afternoon of the 8th, but will post it on the 9th.
In the previous entry, I alluded to an essay in the Oct. 9, 1841 edition of the Portland (Maine) "Transcript," signed "Aristo." This pseudonym was, as I stated earlier, probably a play on the word "aristocrat," inasmuch as Abby's father was a marquis. (There really was something of nobility about her, which didn't escape Mathew's notice.) It is my conclusion, based on both evidence and intuition, that half a year from Abby's death, he has decided to publish one of her essays, in tribute.
She begins sounding like any insightful minister giving a sermon, but it is a sermon that we, in this modern era, need to hear. Abby is telling us where we have gone wrong. We have divorced wisdom--including the wisdom of the heart--from knowledge; and then, we wonder that people are lost and the world is in a mess. She is not merely saying that we need to return to the Bible to regain our morality. It's much deeper than that. She is saying, "There is no such thing as data." If you think you are perceiving data, you have distorted your perception by cutting off that inner organ which sees reality aright--the moral, intuitive, direct perception of the heart. It was not a mere figure of speech when Jesus said, "Only the pure in heart can see God." God is Truth--which means, unless the purified heart is part and parcel of your perception, you cannot accurately perceive reality.
There is no such thing as information divorced from the wisdom of the heart. There is no data. That means that every person who imagines he or she is understanding the world through science, or philosophy, but who has closed off the heart and kept their moral life strictly separate, is deluding themselves. They are careening off into an abyss, whether they know it, or not. This is Abby's stark warning--and we, as a culture, have not heeded it.
So even in this first part of the essay, where it appears to be a standard sermon, she is bringing a deeper esoteric understanding to her remarks. But before long, she announces that she has left the world of mainstream Christianity, to enter into the realm of philosophy. Now, she expounds the Eastern teachings as directly as she dares, for a public audience of the 19th century, by invoking the concept of mental impressions, or what are called, in the Eastern traditions, "samskaras." Reincarnation is also implied here, though she cannot say so outright. Naturally, she doesn't use the Eastern terminology.
My Guru, Meher Baba, is the only one, as far as I can tell, who spelled it "sanskaras," with an "n." I have tried to track this down, and all I am told is that the original sanskrit is rather arbitrarily rendered into English with different letters, by different scholars. Still, I can't help but feel that Meher Baba did this purposefully, to keep his teachings separate. One can find this concept in Patanjali's yoga sutras, in Buddhism, and probably in many other sources. But Meher Baba has given what I feel is the most detailed, accurate and deepest explanation of this topic.
A thorough understanding of sanskaras is desperately needed by mankind, today. It is even more important, in my estimation, than the truth of reincarnation, although reincarnation is a prerequisite for sanskaras.
I have found bits and pieces of evidence confirming that Abby and Mathew studied the Eastern teachings. As for Mathew, I have identified, as his work in the Portland "Transcript," an unsigned review of a book of translations of Persian poetry, which includes Rumi and Hafiz. The reviewer then offers examples of the poems in a subsequent edition, as promised. It would have been Abby who originally introduced Mathew to this material.
Among other indications for Abby, herself, is the following stanza from her "A.P."-signed poem, "Part of an Address to the Stars," where she alludes to the esoteric teaching that everything in the physical world is alive, and has consciousness:
O deathless spirits! ye are beautiful
Beyond our comprehension—there is naught
Of this inspired matter, that bears rule
Upon this earth, so beautifully wrought,
So wonderful as ye!—Are ye not full
As this, of life, divinity, and thought?—
So eastern realms have judged, and bending down,
Joyed in your smile, or wept beneath your frown.
Because not everyone reading this blog catches all the entries, I will simply repeat that historians attribute all the poems with this signature to Albert Pike--but he plagiarized Abby's classwork when he was her teacher in Newburyport, Mass. Some of her poems he revised, or even added whole stanzas to; this one, he did not. Typically, where you see any reference to stars in her poetry, that's original. As I remarked earlier, where you see worldly, masculine references to things like the drunken god Bacchus taking a goddess for a joy ride in a chariot, that's Pike's addition.*
Mathew published a series of Abby's short stories in the Boston "Weekly Museum," unknown to the editor, under the same initials, A.P., beginning eight years after her death. So far as I know, no historian has ever discovered these, and hence nobody has thought to attribute them to Pike. Clearly, the author is female. They seem to run from her teens, when she wrote much of her poetry, on into her early adulthood. One of the most sophisticated, and hence probably one of the later ones, is entitled "Wilderness Refuge." The young hero, troubled by what a mysterious figure has told him about his father, goes into meditation:
Herman was relieved when the man was gone. Now he had liberty to think; and he laid his head between his hands and traced the shadows in his mind, until the whole seemed as a passing scene. New, strange, dismal thoughts they were, yet he brooded over them patiently and almost hopefully. Light mingled in among their forms at length, and he seemed looking down into his own mind as upon the shifting scenery of a moving panorama.--Brighter visions arose, and a new world had opened to his view--he was among the angels, as it were, and his whole soul was full of light.
There is more evidence along this line, but that will suffice. What I'm going to do, is to reproduce the entire essay by "Aristo" here; and then copy a small section of Meher Baba's teachings on sanskaras, taken from his "Discourses."
The Portland Transcript
October 9, 1841
Culture of the Moral Sentiments.
No one is truly great, who is destitute of moral power. No one can become eminently useful, whose intellectual powers have escaped the dominion of conscience. The Creator designed that its authority should be Supreme, that it should be the great regulator of the whole mental machinery. And thus in fact it is, in the lawful discharge of its duties. It sets up its jurisdiction over the whole domain of the mind, exempting none of its powers from its authority. It scrutinizes every thought, feeling, and action. And happy is that individual, who heeds its monitions, and obeys its mandates.
But it is not the standard of moral rectitude. Its decisions are not always correct, but are based upon pre-existing states of the mind, upon what is conceived to be right and wrong. So that to enlighten the conscience, truth must first dawn upon the intellect. Hence the necessity of a clear perception of truth as revealed in the Bible, of bringing it to bear upon the moral sentiments in order to secure that harmony of action in all parts of the mind, which is so necessary to its increase of strength, and to the highest intellectual and moral attainments.
The culture of the moral feelings, then, is of the greatest importance, not only as it regards the peace and happiness of the mind, but its progress in science. Greater the activity of the moral powers, stronger becomes the intellect, and more energetic the will. So that he who duly cultivates his moral sentiments, renders easier the path of science, and more certain the attainment of the object of his desire and pursuit. But woe to them, in whom “these sentiments are allowed to go to decay.” They disregard the highest and noblest part of the human mind. They cast contempt upon the wisest provision of the whole mental economy. They set up an independency in the empire of the mind, refusing to acknowledge its most sacred laws. They annihilate the only part of our nature that allies us to Deity, and where the radiant finger of God has written, “Let there be light,” their language is, let there be darkness.
And most fearful and terrific are the consequences of neglecting the culture of the moral feelings. God has written, in reference to such neglect, indications too plain to be mistaken. The action of the lower propensities become inordinate, the imagination distempered, “reason is bereft of its power, and lies prostrate.” The mind, in such a state, embraces scepticism as its last and only hope, cuts loose from responsibility, and “flies off into the dark void of Infidelity.”
It is an undeniable fact, that in most of our seminaries of learning there is comparatively but little attention given to the cultivation of the moral feelings. That part of the mind, which ranks first in importance, is regarded as of the least; and consequently receives but a very limited share of time and attention. But every system of education, which is not based upon our moral, as well as our physical and intellectual constitution, is defective, and as such should be remedied. While they remain in their present state, we may cease to wonder, that in so many of our institutions of learning, are found the elements of discord and anarchy. We may cease to wonder, that the brightest hopes are so often blasted, the highest expectations so often dashed. We may cease to wonder, that the most talented and promising so often become the victims of vice, and their hearts the home of melancholy and despair. We may cease to inquire the causes, why so many, once the hope and joy of parental hearts, go down to an untimely grave, covered with infamy and disgrace, while there is wanting moral power sufficient to balance the mind and control its operations.
How many, who begin life with the fairest prospects, and who, had they possessed sufficient moral power, or had their moral feelings been cultivated to an equal extent with their intellects, might have been ornaments to society, and pillars even in the Temple of Science, have become a blasting mildew, the scourge of humanity, and their works the monuments of their vices and crimes. In how many instances have the noblest hearts been undone, the most gifted intellects wrecked by the storms of passion. “Yesterday the unballasted vessel was seen hanging out all the gaiety of its colors, and spreading wide its indiscretions before a breeze: but the night came, the breeze strengthened, and to-day the hapless bark rolls, dismasted, without help, or hope over the billows.”
The philosophical fact, that not a single impression can be made upon the mind without affecting, in some manner, its character, and shaping its eternal destiny, is one that merits the careful attention of all. The thoughts of yesterday may indeed for awhile be forgotten, they may long slumber in the chambers of the soul; but when the light of Eternity shall break upon it, the “power of reminiscence will awake,” and those long forgotten thoughts will start forth in the original form and freshness. And there is sublimity in the fact, that not one of our numberless ideas and concepts will ever perish, but that hence they may return, like comets from their wanderings, lightening up with the brilliancy of their train the waste and darkness of the Past, either to give joy to the beholder, or to carry terror and dismay.
What, then, does this fact teach in respect to the education of the mind? The principles inculcated in our institutions of learning will not be without their lasting influence. What, then, should be their character, and how should they be enforced? Let their character be such, as will elevate and ennoble every faculty of the soul. Let them be enforced at all times in love, in sincerity, and with a sense of weighty responsibility.
THERE are two aspects of human experience—the subjective and objective. On the one hand there are mental processes which constitute essential ingredients of human experience, and on the other hand there are things and objects to which they refer. The mental processes are partly dependent upon the immediately given objective situation, and partly dependent upon the functioning of accumulated sanskaras or impressions of previous experience. The human mind thus finds itself between a sea of past sanskaras on the one side and the whole extensive objective world on the other.
From the psychogenetic point of view, human actions are based upon the operation of the impressions stored in the mind through previous experience. Every thought, emotion and act is grounded in groups of impressions which, when considered objectively, are seen to be modifications of the mind-stuff of man. These impressions are deposits of previous experience and become the most important factors in determining the course of present and future experience. The mind is constantly creating and gathering such impressions in the course of its experience. When occupied with the physical objects of this world such as the body, nature and other things, the mind is, so to say, externalised, and creates gross impressions. When it is busy with its own subjective mental processes (which are the expressions of already existing sanskaras), it creates subtle and mental impressions. The question whether sanskaras come first or experience comes first is like the question whether the hen or the egg comes first. Both are conditions of each other and develop side by side. The problem of understanding the significance of human experience, therefore, turns round the problem of understanding the formation and function of sanskaras.
* * * * *
The power and effect of impressions can hardly be overestimated. An impression is solidified might, and its inertness makes it immobile and durable. It can become so engraved upon the mind of man that despite his sincere desire and effort to eradicate it, it takes its own time and has a way of working itself into action directly or indirectly. The mind contains many heterogeneous sanskaras and, while seeking expression in consciousness, they often clash with each other. The clash of sanskaras is experienced in consciousness as a mental conflict. Experience is bound to be chaotic and enigmatic, full of oscillations, confusion and complex tangles until consciousness is freed from all sanskaras, good and bad. Experience can become truly harmonious and integral only when consciousness is emancipated from the impressions.
Meher Baba, "Discourses," Sixth Edition, Vol. I, "The Formation and Function of Sanskaras"
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*What Pike did to Abby, by thus stealing and adulterating her poetry, was tantamount to intellectual/artistic child molestation. She, herself, would not have responded to any sexual overtures, but it appears Pike did seduce a student at the house where he lodged, and was driven out of town, whereupon he literally hoofed it to the Arkansas territory. There, he set up shop, once again, as a classroom teacher, and to this day they preserve the cabin in which he taught as a memorial. Pike gave his biographer the absurd explanation that he fell in love with the student, Elizabeth Perkins, but was too poor to declare his love and so moved to Arkansas. But Mathew wrote two heavily disguised allegories, as humorous sketches, recording the true events for posterity, naming the main character's love interest as "Bouncing Betsy." Alexander E. Jones' article, "The 'Plagiarism' of Albert Pike," begins:
In his biography of Albert Pike, Fred W. Allsopp has referred rather mysteriously to a "New York literary man [who] once made the assertion that Pike was not an original thinker and suggested that he was a great plagiarist."
Mathew, who had worked as the junior editor for the New York "Constellation" and the New York "Transcript" in the 1830's, and who remained assiduously incognito throughout his life, was undoubtedly that unnamed literary man. I just looked up the original in Archive.org. Allsopp repeats the charge with no references or citations, and immediately dismisses it in a sea of gushing praise. But he doesn't know he is praising Abby, not Pike. In the preceding paragraph, he says:
The Arkansas historian, Mr. Hempstead, suggests that had he remained in his native Boston, his talents would probably have made him one of the greatest ornaments of American literary.
Well, if he had kept it in his pants, he might have been able to (actually, he was a native of Newburyport, not Boston), but then, I think his theft of Abby's poetry would have eventually come to light. Interestingly, after quoting and then dismissing the unnamed New York literary man, Allsopp cites Poe in the next breath, without knowing that Poe plagiarized from Mathew--i.e., that same unnamed, lone dissenter! All I can say is that if academia ever takes me seriously, it's going to require several tons of textbook ink to set things straight. (If they're lucky, by that time nobody will print physical books anymore.)
If you think I'm blowing smoke, how about we apply Occam's Razor to this problem? Pike was a hunter, a man's man, and was pro-slavery despite being a Massachusetts native. If Mathew's sketches are to be believed, he seduced a student and fled to the remote Arkansas Territory. He lied about having written one of Abby's poems, "Ode to the Mocking Bird," telling his biographer he wrote it "two days after his marriage," when actually he almost completely rewrote Abby's poem by the same name, which had been published two years earlier. He went on to fight for the South in the Civil War as a general. Then he became a high-ranking Mason, who taught what is arguably a form of Satanism. At least one conspiracy theory has him masterminding a plot to reinstate slavery after the War. Do you think he wrote the ethereal, deeply spiritual lines I've quoted, above? He certainly didn't write the A.P.-signed stories that Mathew published for her in tribute; nor did he write the A.P.-signed poem Abby wrote just before she died, which Mathew arranged to have published soon after his own death in 1883.
Music opening this page: "Parvardigar," by Pete Townshend,
from the album, "Who Came First"
based on the Master's Prayer, by Meher Baba