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5

 

The history of man is that of his adaption to his material environment. Man has had to discover how to live on the earth and how to create civilization. He has not fully solved the problems, as we know; but he is no doubt getting nearer it. Man learns by doing what has been done. He learns by trial and error, and by practice in the workshop. He learns best under the direction of one who knows—that is, a teacher. As Robert Bridges said in his Testament of Beauty:

 

 

Hence cometh all the need and fame of Teachers, men
 
Of inborn nobility, call'd Prophets of God,
 

Saviours of society, Seeds of the promised land...

 

The loved and lovable whose names live evermore,
 
The sainted pioneers of salvation, unto whom
 
All wisdom won and all man's future hope is due ...
 

 

 

A great deal of our living is instinctive; but much of the life of man—his life in all those regions which we call spiritual or psychic—is by its nature not instinctive. In those regions man moves away from instinct and approaches more and more towards consciousness, until in the highest man consciousness replaces instinct. It is in these regions of our life that we need a teacher most, and where the difficulty of finding one is greatest. People know where to find a master of carpentering or painting; but where is there a master of life?

 

At one time people found what they wanted in the churches, which showed them how to live. Today the majority of people have turned away from the churches; but they have found no substitute. In this age people want truth at first hand. They are doubtful of all reports or records of truth. They want personal experience, not talk or dogmas. As they cannot get it they prefer to be skeptical and live honestly, rather than try to accept truth at second-hand, though that means living on a lower level than their real desires.

 

There is in consequence widespread dissatisfaction. People are uneasy and unhappy, without any real confidence in life. There are few ideals that really possess their hearts. Everything is held lightly and cynically. There is a cleavage between thought and life. This is the most striking fact about intelligent men and women today.

 

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