Rufus Jones on the Oversoul

“According to Emerson’s doctrine, there is no impenetrable wall, ‘no screen or ceiling,’ between the individual soul and the oversoul:

‘There is no bar or wall in the soul where man . . . ceases and God . . . begins.  The walls are taken away.  We lie open on one side to the depth of spiritual nature.’

“Like his masters, Plato and Plotinus, Emerson thinks of this oversoul, this universal reason, as the interpenetrating life and power and intelligence in nature, which is ‘the perennial miracle’ of spirit.  Nature is alive through the same oversoul which is within us.  At the center of nature, as at the center of man’s soul, one supreme mind is actively present, is showing its unvarying laws, and is weaving the web, which partly conceals and partly reveals the hidden-working spirit.  There is one common, penetrating pulse of nature and spirit — ‘the earth-beat, sea-beat, heart-beat which makes the tune to which the sun rolls, and the globule of blood, and the sap of trees.'”

“Since Emerson’s day there have been many interpretations of ultimate reality in terms of oversoul.  William James concludes that ‘continuous and co-terminus’ with our personal selves there is a ‘wider Self through which saving experiences come.’  R. M. Bucke calls this ultimate reality ‘cosmic consciousness’ and gives many illustrations of its influence.  F. W. H. Myers worked out in much detail a doctrine of the subliminal self, from which, he holds, come inspirations, revelations, and a vast number of extraordinary experiences and manifestations.   There are, furthermore, in contemporary thought, many popular varieties of oversoul doctrine.”

–Rufus Jones in an essay called “Oversoul”


Rufus Matthew Jones (Jan. 25, 1863 – June 16, 1948), Haverford, Pa.) one of the most respected U.S. Quakers of his time, who wrote extensively on Christian mysticism and helped found the American Friends Service Committee.


Jacob Boehme on “The Supersensual Life” (


T H E    S U P E R S E N S U A L     L I F E,


T H E   L I F E   W H I C H    I S   A B O V E   S E N S E.


Two  D I A L O G U E S  between a Scholar or Disciple and his Master.

D  I  A  L  O  G  U   E       I.



Woodcut - THE Disciple said to his Master:   Sir, How may I come to the Supersensual Life, so that I may see God, and may hear God speak?


The Master answered and said: Son, when thou canst throw thyself into THAT, where no Creature dwelleth, though it be but for a Moment, then thou hearest what God speaketh.


Is that where no Creature dwelleth near at hand; or is it afar off?



It is in thee.  And if thou canst, my Son, for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then thou shalt hear the unspeakable Words of God.



How can hear him speak, when I stand still from thinking and willing?



When thou standest still from the thinking of Self, and the willing of Self; “When both thy Intellect and Will are quiet and passive to the Impressions of the Eternal Word and Spirit; when thy Soul is winged up, and above that which is temporal, the outward Senses, and the Imagination being locked up by Holy Abstraction,” then the Eternal Hearing, Seeing, and Speaking will be revealed in thee; and so God heareth “and seeth through thee,” being now the Organ of his Spirit; and so God speaketh in thee, and whispereth to thy Spirit, and thy Spirit heareth his Voice.  Blessed art thou therefore if that thou canst stand still from Self-thinking and Self-willing, and canst stop the Wheel of thy Imagination and Senses; forasmuch as hereby thou mayest arrive at length to see the great Salvation of God, being made capable of all Manner of Divine Sensations and Heavenly Communications.   Since it is nought indeed but thine own Hearing and Willing that do hinder thee, so that thou dost not see and hear God.



But wherewith shall I hear and see God, for as much as he is above Nature and Creature?



Son, when thou art quiet and silent, then art thou as God was before Nature and Creature; thou art that which God then was; thou art that whereof he made thy Nature and Creature: Then thou hearest and seest even with that wherewith God himself saw and heard in thee, before ever thine own Willing or thine own Seeing began.



What now hinders or keeps me back, so that I cannot come to that, wherewith God is to be seen and heard?



Nothing truly but thine own Willing, Hearing, and Seeing do keep thee back from it, and do hinder thee from coming to this Supersensual State.  And it is because thou strivest so against that, out of which thou thyself art descended and derived, that thou thus breakest thyself off, with thine own Willing, from God’s Willing, and with thine own Seeing from God’s Seeing.   In as much as in thine own Seeing thou dost see in thine own Willing only, and with thine own Understanding thou dost understand but in and according to this thine own Willing, as the same stands divided from the Divine Will.  This thy Willing moreover stops thy Hearing, and maketh thee deaf towards God, through thy own thinking upon terrestrial Things, and thy attending to that which is without thee; and so it brings thee into a Ground, where thou art laid hold on and captivated in Nature.  And having brought thee hither, it overshadows thee with that which thou willest; it binds thee with thine own Chains, and it keeps thee in thine own dark Prison which thou makest for thyself; so that thou canst not go out thence, or come to that State which is Supernatural and Supersensual.


Jakob Böhme (March 8, 1575 – November 17, 1624) was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He was considered an original thinker by many of his contemporaries within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as Aurora, caused a great scandal. Wikipedia

“The Ancient Sage” by Alfred Tennyson

A THOUSAND summers ere the time of Christ
From out his ancient city came a Seer
Whom one that loved, and honour’d him, and yet
Was no disciple, richly garb’d, but worn
From wasteful living, follow’d—in his hand
A scroll of verse—till that old man before
A cavern whence an affluent fountain pour’d
From darkness into daylight, turn’d and spoke.This wealth of waters might but seem to draw
From yon dark cave, but, son, the source is higher,
Yon summit half-a-league in air—and higher,
The cloud that hides it—higher still, the heavens
Whereby the cloud was moulded, and whereout
The cloud descended. Force is from the heights.
I am wearied of our city, son, and go
To spend my one last year among the hills.
What hast thou there? Some deathsong for the Ghouls
To make their banquet relish? let me read.

“How far thro’ all the bloom and brake
That nightingale is heard!
What power but the bird’s could make
This music in the bird?
How summer-bright are yonder skies,
And earth as fair in lute!
And yet what sign of aught that lies
Behind the green and blue?
But man to-day is fancy’s fool
As man hath ever been.
The nameless Power, or Powers, that rule
Were never heard or seen.”

If thou would’st hear the Nameless, and wilt dive
Into the Temple-cave of thine own self,
There, brooding by the central altar, thou
May’st haply learn the Nameless hath a voice,
By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise,
As if thou knewest, tho’ thou canst not know;
For Knowledge is the swallow on the lake
That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there
But never yet hath dipt into the abysm,
The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth,
And in the million-millionth of a grain
Which cleft and cleft again for evermore,
And ever vanishing, never vanishes,
To me, my son, more mystic than myself,
Or even than the Nameless is to me.
And when thou sendest thy free soul thro’ heaven,
Nor understandest bound nor boundlessness,
Thou seest the Nameless of the hundred names.
And if the Nameless should withdraw from all
Thy frailty counts most real, all thy world
Might vanish like thy shadow in the dark.

“And since—from when this earth began—
The Nameless never came
Among us, never spake with man,
And never named the Name”—

Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son,
Nor canst thou prove the world thou movest in,
Thou canst not prove that thou art body alone,
Nor canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone,
Nor canst thou prove that thou art both in one:
Thou canst not prove thou art immortal, no
Nor yet that thou art mortal—nay my son,
Thou canst not prove that I, who speak with thee,
Am not thyself in converse with thyself,
For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven: wherefore thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt,
And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith!
She reels not in the storm of warring words,
She brightens at the clash of ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’
She sees the Best that glimmers thro’ the Worst,
She feels the Sun is hid but for a night,
She spies the summer thro’ the winter bud,
She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,
She hears the lark within the songless egg,
She finds the fountain where they wail’d ‘Mirage’!

“What Power? aught akin to Mind,
The mind in me and you?
Or power as of the Gods gone blind
Who see not what they do?”

But some in yonder city hold, my son,
That none but Gods could build this house of ours,
So beautiful, vast, various, so beyond
All work of man, yet, like all work of man,
A beauty with defect——till That which knows,
And is not known, but felt thro’ what we feel
Within ourselves is highest, shall descend
On this half-deed, and shape it at the last
According to the Highest in the Highest.

“What Power but the Years that make
And break the vase of clay,
And stir the sleeping earth, and wake
The bloom that fades away?
What rulers but the Days and Hours
That cancel weal with woe,
And wind the front of youth with flowers,
And cap our age with snow?”

The days and hours are ever glancing by,
And seem to flicker past thro’ sun and shade,
Or short, or long, as Pleasure leads, or Pain;
But with the Nameless is nor Day nor Hour;
Tho’ we, thin minds, who creep from thought to thought,
Break into ‘Thens’ and ‘Whens’ the Eternal Now
This double seeming of the single world!—
My words are like the babblings in a dream
Of nightmare, when the habblings break the dream.
But thou be wise in this dream-world of ours,
Nor take thy dial for thy deity,
But make the passing shadow serve thy will.

“The years that made the stripling wise
Undo their work again,
And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,
The last and least of men;
Who clings to earth, and once would dare
Hell-heat or Arctic cold,
And now one breath of cooler air
Would loose him from his hold;
His winter chills him to the root,
He withers marrow and mind;
The kernel of the shrivell’d fruit
Is jutting thro’ the rind;
The tiger spasms tear his chest,
The palsy wags his head;
The wife, the sons, who love him best
Would fain that he were dead;
The griefs by which he once was wrung
Were never worth the while”—

Who knows? or whether this earth-narrow life
Be yet but yolk, and forming in the shell

“The shaft of scorn that once had stung
But wakes a dotard smile.”

The placid gleams of sunset after storm!

“The statesman’s brain that sway’d the past
Is feebler than his knees;
The passive sailor wrecks at last
In ever-silent seas;
The warrior hath forgot his arms,
The Learned all his lore;
The changing market frets or charms
The merchant’s hope no more;
The prophet’s beacon burn’d in vain,
And now is lost in cloud;
The plowman passes, bent with pain,
To mix with what he plow’d;
The poet whom his Age would quote
As heir of endless fame—
He knows not ev’n the book he wrote,
Not even his own name.
For man has overlived his day,
And, darkening in the light,
Scarce feels the senses break away
To mix with ancient Night.”

The shell must break before the bird can fly.

“The years that when my Youth began
Had set the lily and rose
By all my ways where’er they ran,
Have ended mortal foes;
My rose of love for ever gone,
My lily of truth and trust—
They made her lily and rose in one,
And changed her into dust.
O rosetree planted in my grief,
And growing, on her tomb,
Her dust is greening in your leaf,
Her blood is in your bloom.
O slender lily waving there,
And laughing back the light,
In vain you tell me ‘Earth is fair’
When all is dark as night.”

My son, the world is dark with griefs and graves,
So dark that men cry out against the Heavens.
Who knows but that the darkness is in man?
The doors of Night may be the gates of Light;
For wert thou born or blind or deaf, and then
Suddenly heal’d, how would’st thou glory in all
The splendours and the voices of the world!
And we, the poor earth’s dying race, and yet
No phantoms, watching from a phantom shore
Await the last and largest sense to make
The phantom walls of this illusion fade,
And show us that the world is wholly fair.

“But vain the tears for darken’d years
As laughter over wine,
And vain the laughter as the tears,
O brother, mine or thine,

For all that laugh, and all that weep
And all that breathe are one
Slight ripple on the boundless deep
That moves, and all is gone.”

But that one ripple on the boundless deep
Feels that the deep is boundless, and itself
For ever changing form, but evermore
One with the boundless motion of the deep.

“Yet wine and laughter friends! and set
The lamps alight, and call
For golden music, and forget
The darkness of the pall.”

If utter darkness closed the day, my son——
But earth’s dark forehead flings athwart the heavens
Her shadow crown’d with stars—and yonder—out
To northward—some that never set, but pass
From sight and night to lose themselves in day.
I hate the black negation of the bier,
And wish the dead, as happier than ourselves
And higher, having climb’d one step beyond
Our village miseries, might be borne in white
To burial or to burning, hymn’d from hence
With songs in praise of death, and crown’d with flowers!

“O worms and maggots of to-day
Without their hope of wings!”

But louder than thy rhyme the silent Word
Of that world-prophet in the heart of man.

“Tho’ some have gleams or so they say
Of more than mortal things.”

To-day? but what of yesterday? for oft
On me, when boy, there came what then I call’d,
Who knew no books and no philosophies,
In my boy-phrase ‘The Passion of the Past.’
The first gray streak of earliest summer-dawn,
The last long stripe of waning crimson gloom,
As if the late and early were but one—
A height, a broken grange, a grove, a flower
Had murmurs ‘Lost and gone and lost and gone!’
A breath, a whisper—some divine farewell—
Desolate sweetness—far and far away—
What had he loved, what had he lost, the boy?
I know not and I speak of what has been.
And more, my son! for more than once when I
Sat all alone, revolving in myself
The word that is the symbol of myself,
The mortal limit of the Self was loosed,
And past into the Nameless, as a cloud
Melts into Heaven. I touch’d my limbs, the limbs
Were strange not mine—and yet no shade of doubt,
But utter clearness, and thro’ loss of Self
The gain of such large life as match’d with ours
Were Sun to spark—unshadowable in words,
Themselves but shadows of a shadow-world.

“And idle gleams will come and go,
But still the clouds remain;”

The clouds themselves are children of the Sun.

“And Night and Shadow rule below
When only Day should reign.”

And Day and Night are children of the Sun,
And idle gleams to thee are light to me.
Some say, the Light was father of the Night,
And some, the Night was father of the Light,
No night no day!—I touch thy world again—
No ill no good! such counter-terms, my son,
Are border-races, holding, each its own
By endless war: but night enough is there
In yon dark city: get thee back: and since
The key to that weird casket, which for thee
But holds a skull, is neither thine nor mine,
But in the hand of what is more than man,
Or in man’s hand when man is more than man,
Let be thy wail and help thy fellow men,
And make thy gold thy vassal not thy king,
And fling free alms into the beggar’s bowl,
And send the day into the darken’d heart;
Nor list for guerdon in the voice of men,
A dying echo from a falling wall;
Nor care—for Hunger hath the Evil eye—
To vex the noon with fiery gems, or fold
Thy presence in the silk of sumptuous looms;
Nor roll thy viands on a luscious tongue,
Nor drown thyself with flies in honied wine;
Nor thou he rageful, like a handled bee,
And lose thy life by usage of thy sting;
Nor harm an adder thro’ the lust for harm,
Nor make a snail’s horn shrink for wantonness;
And more—think well! Do-well will follow thought,
And in the fatal sequence of this world
An evil thought may soil thy children’s blood;
But curb the beast would cast thee in the mire,
And leave the hot swamp of voluptuousness
A cloud between the Nameless and thyself,
And lay thine uphill shoulder to the wheel,
And climb the Mount of Blessing, whence, if thou
Look higher, then—perchance—thou mayest—beyond
A hundred ever-rising mountain lines,
And past the range of Night and Shadow—see
The high-heaven dawn of more than mortal day
Strike on the Mount of Vision!
So, farewell.

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (August 6, 1809 – October 6, 1892) was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. Wikipedia

Ramana Maharshi on self-inquiry


[Self-Inquiry] alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enable one to realize the pure, undifferentiated being of the Self or the absolute.
~ Ramana Maharshi (December 30, 1879 – April 14, 1950)  was an Indian sage and jivanmukta. He was born Venkataraman Iyer, but is most commonly known under the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was born in what is now Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, India. Wikipedia

David Hume on the human condition

David Hume (May 7, 1711 – August 25, 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of radical philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. Wikipedia

“For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception…. If any one, upon serious and unprejudic’d reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must confess I can reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is, that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continu’d, which he calls himself; tho’ I am certain there is no such principle in me.”

David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

“Liberty” by Paul Eluard


Paul Éluard, born Eugène Émile Paul Grindel (December 14, 1895 – November 18, 1952), was a French poet and one of the founders of the surrealist movement. Wikipedia

Paul Eluard in Poésies et vérités 1942
Ed. de Minuit, 1942, distributed over the French countryside by the Royal Air Force during the Occupation.

On my notebooks from school
On my desk and the trees
On the sand on the snow
I write your name

On every page read
On all the white sheets
Stone blood paper or ash
I write your name

On the golden images
On the soldier’s weapons
On the crowns of kings
I write your name

On the jungle the desert
The nests and the bushes
On the echo of childhood
I write your name

On the wonder of nights
On the white bread of days
On the seasons engaged
I write your name

On all my blue rags
On the pond mildewed sun
On the lake living moon
I write your name

On the fields the horizon
The wings of the birds
On the windmill of shadows
I write your name

On the foam of the clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On dark insipid rain
I write your name

On the glittering forms
On the bells of colour
On physical truth
I write your name

On the wakened paths
On the opened ways
On the scattered places
I write your name

On the lamp that gives light
On the lamp that is drowned
On my house reunited
I write your name

On the bisected fruit
Of my mirror and room
On my bed’s empty shell
I write your name

On my dog greedy tender
On his listening ears
On his awkward paws
I write your name

On the sill of my door
On familiar things
On the fire’s sacred stream
I write your name

On all flesh that’s in tune
On the brows of my friends
On each hand that extends
I write your name

On the glass of surprises
On lips that attend
High over the silence
I write your name

On my ravaged refuges
On my fallen lighthouses
On the walls of my boredom
I write your name

On passionless absence
On naked solitude
On the marches of death
I write your name

On health that’s regained
On danger that’s past
On hope without memories
I write your name

By the power of the word
I regain my life
I was born to know you
And to name you

God Rewinds Time To Watch Man Fall Off Trampoline Again

THE HEAVENS—Saying He just had to see the guy faceplant one more time, the Lord our God, Almighty Creator of the Universe, reportedly rewound time Monday to watch an Indiana man fall off a trampoline again. “Look, look, look—you can see right when his foot goes through the hole between the springs and his face is just like ‘Oh shit,’” said God, who reportedly reversed the temporal flow of all existence six times in a row to watch the man “just completely eat it,” at one point pausing time entirely to laugh at the 25-year-old suspended upside down in the air after he had bounced off the trampoline’s metal frame and just a split second before his face slammed into the ground. “That sound he lets out afterwards is amazing—it’s not even a scream; it’s like a squeal. Oh man, that had to hurt like a motherfucker. Fucking idiot.” At press time, the Lord had reportedly rewound time once again and then restarted it in slow motion, shouting for a few nearby angels to come over and “check this shit out.”

Book recommendation: “On the Eternal in Man” by Max Scheler


Max Scheler (1874-1928) decisively influenced German philosophy in the period after the First World War, a time of upheaval and new beginnings. Without him, the problems of German philosophy today, and its attempts to solve them would be quite inconceivable. What was new in his philosophy was that he used phenomenology to investigate spiritual realities.

The subject of On the Eternal in Man is the divine and its reality, the originality and non-derivation of religious experience. Scheler shows the characteristic quality of that which is religious. It is a particular essence that cannot be reduced to anything else. It is a sphere that belongs essentially to humankind; without it we would not be human. If genuine fulfillment is denied it, substitutes come into being. This religious sphere is the most essential, decisive one. It determines man’s basic attitude towards reality and in a sense the color, extent and position of all the other human domains in life. It forms the basis for various views about life and thought.

Scheler was emphatically an intuitive philosopher. In Scheler’s work the break between being as the almighty but blind rage and value as the knowing but powerless spirit-has become complete, and makes of each human a split being. Personal experiences may be reflected here. The development of Scheler’s work as a whole was highly dependent on his personal experiences. It is this that gives Scheler’s work its liveliness and its validity.

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