THE SHEPHERD AND THE STONE.
The metaphor of the Shepherd and the Sheep is of constant occurrence throughout the Bible and naturally suggests the idea of the guiding, guarding, and feeding both of the individual sheep and of the whole flock and it is not difficult to see the spiritual correspondence of these things in a general sort of way. But we find that the Bible combines the metaphor of the Shepherd with another metaphor that of “the Stone,” and at first sight the two seem rather incongruous. “From thence is the Shepherd the Stone of Israel,” says the Old Testament (Genesis xlix. 24), and Jesus calls himself both “The Good Shepherd” and “The Stone which the builders rejected.” The Shepherd and the Stone are thus identified and we must therefore seek the interpretation in some conception which combines the two. A shepherd suggests Personal care for the welfare of the sheep, and an intelligence greater than theirs. A stone suggests the idea of Building, and consequently of measurement, adaptation of parts to whole, and progressive construction according to plan. Combining these two conceptions we get the idea of the building of an edifice whose stones are persons, each taking their more or less conscious part in the construction–thus a building, not constructed from without, but self-forming by a principle of growth from within under the guidance of a Supreme Wisdom permeating the whole and conducting it stage by stage to ultimate completeness. This points to a Divine Order in human affairs with which we may more or less consciously co-operate: both to our personal advantage and also to the furtherance of the great scheme of human evolution as a whole; the ultimate purpose being to establish in ALL men that principle of “The Octave” to which I have already alluded; and in proportion as some adumbration of this principle is realized by individuals and by groups of individuals they specialize the law of race-development, even though they may not be aware of the fact, and so come under a SPECIALIZED working of the fundamental Law, which thus differentiates them from other individuals and nationalities, as by a peculiar guidance, producing higher developments which the merely generic operation of the Law could not.
Now if we keep steadily in mind that, though the purpose, or Law of Tendency, or the Originating Spirit must always be universal in its nature, it must necessarily be individual in its operation, we shall see that this universal purpose can only be accomplished through the instrumentality of specific means. This results from the fundamental proposition that the Universal can only work on the plane of the Particular by becoming the individual and particular; and when we grasp the conception that the merely generic operation of the Creative Law has now brought the human race as far as it can, that is to say it has completely evolved the merely natural GENUS home, it follows that if any further development is to take place it can only be by the co-operation of the individual himself. Now it is the spread of this individual co-operation that the forward movement of the Spirit is leading us to, and it is the gradual extension of this universal principle that is alluded to in the prophecy of Daniel regarding the Stone cut out without hands that spreads until it fills the whole earth (Daniel ii. 34 and 44). According to the interpretation given by Daniel, this Stone is the emblem of a spiritual Kingdom, and the identity of the Stone and the Shepherd indicates that the Kingdom of the Stone must be also the Kingdom of the Shepherd; and the Master, who identified himself with both the Stone and the Shepherd, emphatically declared that this Kingdom was, in its essence, an interior Kingdom–“the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” We must look for its foundation therefore, in a spiritual principle or mental law inherent in the constitution of all men but waiting to be brought into fuller development by more accurate compliance with its essential requirements; which is precisely the method by which science has evoked powers from the laws of nature which were undreamt of in former ages; and in like manner the recognition of our true relation to the Universal Spirit, which is the source of all individual being, must lead to an advance both for the race and for the individual such as we can at present scarcely form the faintest idea of, but which we dimly apprehend through the intuition and speak of as the New Order.
The approach of this New Order is everywhere making itself vaguely felt; it is, as the French say, in the air, and the very vagueness and mystery attending it is causing a feeling of unrest as to what form it may assume. But to the student of Spiritual Law this should not be the case. He knows that the Form is always the expression of the Spirit, and therefore, since he is in touch with the forward movement of the Spirit, he knows that he himself will always be harmoniously included in any form of development which the Great Forward Movement may take. This is the practical and personal benefit arising from the realization of the Principle which is symbolized under the two-fold metaphor of the Shepherd and the Stone. and in all those new developments which are perhaps even now within measurable distance, we can rest on the knowledge that we are under the care of a kind Shepherd, and under the formation of a wise Master Builder. But the principle of the Shepherd and the Stone is not something hitherto unheard of which is only to conne into existence in the future. If there were no manifestations of this principle in the past, we might question whether there were any such principle at all; but a careful study of the subject will show us that it has been at work all through the ages, sometimes in modes more immediately bearing the aspect of the Shepherd, and sometimes in modes more immediately bearing the aspect of the Stone, though the one always implies the other, for they are the same thing seen from different points of view. The subject is one of immense interest, but covering such a wide range of study that all I can do here is to point out that such a field of investigation exists and is worth exploration; and the exploration brings its reward with it, not only by putting us in possession of the key to the history of the past, but by showing us that it is the key to the history of the future also, and furthermore by making evident on a large scale the working of the same principle of Spiritual Law by cooperation with which we may facilitate the process of our own individual evolution. It thus adds a vivid interest to life, giving us something worth looking forward to and introducing us to a personal future which is not limited by the proverbial three-score years and ten.
Now, we have seen that the first stage in the Creative Process is always that of Feeling–a reaching-out by the Spirit in a particular direction, and therefore we may look for something of the same kind in the development of the great principle which we are now considering. And we find this first vague movement of this great principle in the intuitions of a particular race which appears from time immemorial to have combined the two characteristics of nomad wandering with their flocks and herds and the symbolization of their religious beliefs in monuments of stone. The monuments themselves have taken different forms in different countries and ages, but the identity of their symbolism becomes clear under careful investigation. Together with this symbolism we always find the nomad character of the builders and that they are invested with an aura of mystery and romance such as we find nowhere else, though we always find it surrounding these builders, even in countries so far apart as India and Ireland. Then, as we pass beyond the merely monumental stage, we find threads of historical evidence connecting the different branches of this race, increasing in their complexity and strengthening in their cumulative force as we go on, until at last we are brought to the history of the age in which we live; and finally most remarkable affinities of language put the finishing touch to the mass of proofs which can be gathered along all these different lines. In this magic circle countries so remote from one another as Ireland and Greece, Egypt and India, Palestine and Persia, are brought into close contiguity–a similar tradition, and even a similar nomenclature, unite the mysterious builders of the Great Pyramid with the equally mysterious builders of the Round Towers of Ireland–and the Great Pyramid itself, perhaps antedating the call of Abraham, re-appears as the official seal of the United States; while tradition traces the crowning-stone in Westminster Abbey back to the time of Solomon’s temple and even earlier.
For the most part the erewhile wanderers are now settled in their destined homes, but the Anglo-Saxon race–the People of the Corner-Stone–are still the pioneers among the nations, and there is something esoteric in the old joke that when the North Pole is reached a Scotchman will be found there. And not least in the chain of evidence is the link afforded by a tribe who are wanderers still, the Gipsies with their duplicate of the Pyramid in the pack of cards- a volume which has been called “The Devil’s Picture Book” by those who know it only in its misuse and inversion, but which when interpreted in the light of the knowledge we are now gaining, affords a signal instance of that divine policy by which as St. Paul says, God employs the foolish things of this world to confute the wise; while a truer apprehension of the Gipsies themselves indicates their unmistakable connection with that race who through all its wanderings has ever been the guardian of the Stone. In these few paragraphs I have only been able to point out very briefly the broad lines of enquiry into a subject of national importance to the British and American peoples, and which interests us personally, not only as members of these nations, but as affording proof on the largest scale of the same specialization of universal laws which each of us has to effect individually for ourself. But whether the process be individual or national it is always the same, and is the translation to the very highest plane–that of the All-originating Life itself–of the old maxim that “Nature will obey us exactly in proportion as we first obey Nature”; it is the old parable of the lord who, finding his servants girt and awaiting him, then girds himself and serves them (Luke xii. 35 to 37).
The nation or the individual who thus realizes the true principle of the Shepherd and the Stone, comes under a special Divine guidance and protection, not by a favouritism incompatible with the conception of universal Law, but by the very operation of the Law itself. They have come into touch with its higher possibilities, and to recur to an analogy which I have already employed, they learn to make their iron float by the very same law by which it sinks; and so they become the flock of the Great Shepherd and the building of the Great Architect, and each one, however insignificant his or her sphere may appear, becomes a sharer in the great work, and by a logical consequence begins to grow on new lines of development for the simple reason that a new principle necessarily produces new modes of manifestation. If the reader will think over these things he will see that the promises contained in the Bible whether national or personal, are nothing else than statements of the universal law of Cause and Effect applied to the inmost principles of our being, and that therefore it is not mere rhapsody, but the figurative expression of a great truth when the Psalmist says `”The Lord is my Shepherd,” and “Thou art my God and the Rock of my salvation.”