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THE GREAT WAR
BY RALPH SHIRLEY 124-
EDITOR OF "THE OCCULT REVIEW"
THIRD AND ENLARGED EDITION
WILLIAM RIDER AND SON LTD.
First Edition, Oct. 30, 1914.
Reprinted Nov. 27, 1914.
Second Edition, Dec. 7, 1914.
Reprinted March 1, 1915.
Third and enlarged Edition, Aug. 1915.
TIME and Space, however actual they may appear to us in the affairs of daily life, are, from the metaphysical point of view, merely modes and conditions under which our intelligence functions. They are part and parcel of our limitations as finite beings; but in attempting to postulate the existence of the Infinite we must assume a state where neither Time nor Space has place or meaning. In such a condition we cannot admit the reality of past, present, and future, but only the truth of one all-embracing eternal NOW. So also of Space. Infinity involves the negation of distance, a truth which we endeavour to express in saying that God is everywhere. Mr. H. G. Wells, in his brilliant romance The Time Machine," by postulating the impossible and working out the theory of a machine travelling through time, as the railway train or motor-car passes through space, has endeavoured to convey some notion of the illusory nature of this conception, and the idea that Time looked at from a certain standpoint is in the nature of a cinematographic film, the scenes of which we witness in succession, the whole of the film being in reality present simultaneously throughout the spectacular performance. Time in reality is nothing more than a sequence in events. Nor can we gauge it otherwise than by the intervals between successive
experiences. The duration of time is regulated entirely by the nature of our own consciousness. Man with his present sense of sight can only appreciate seven vibrations in a second, and with his present sense of hearing can only appreciate sixteen vibrations in the same period. There are insects who vibrate their wings several thousand times in a second, and we have reason to believe that they are cognizant of each vibration.* Thus the measure of time is entirely dependent on the unit of perception of its percipient, and an insect may experience as many sensations and events in the life of a day as a man can do in the Psalmist's "three-score years and ten." In other words the insect's life may be as long to it, though in reality only lasting one of our days, as is that of the human being who has fulfilled the allotted span of seventy years. It is this fact which explains how it is that people have frequently dreamt the experiences of weeks, and even of years, in a few minutes by the clock. The consciousness of the transcendental self has for its perceptions a different and far more rapid rate of vibration then the normal man of waking life, and under certain dream conditions akin to trance, we have reason to believe that this rate of vibration can be almost indefinitely accelerated.
These reflections serve to show the illusory character of Time as judged by the standard of human measurement. We are, however, all of us, subject to the limitations of our own consciousness, and while, by giving these reflections due weight, we are able to
*See "Science and the Infinite." By Sidney T. Klein. London: W. Rider & Son Ltd. 2s. 6d. net.
apprehend the fact that we are the slaves of senses which are constantly deceiving us, we still find it difficult, if not impossible, to admit that the future is present with us, in a latent form, even when we least suspect it. Some such admission as this must, however, it seems, be made, if we are to accept the possibility of premonitions of a distant future, when there is no perceptible basis by means of which our intellects can gauge the events of the coming time.
The remarkable nature of some of the predictions which have long been current with regard to the present war, seems to demand from the present writer thus much defence for their publication. Some of them no doubt, such as the very remarkable one quoted from Heine, presuppose merely extraordinary intuition and foresight. But others, in their detail and exactitude, obviously demand some far different justification. Failing this, we are left face to face with the necessity of a blank denial of their reality, or an assertion of their invariably bogus character. In view of the large number of such predictions in the present instance, and the striking way in which they agree with each other on certain specific points, and their accuracy in others, in the minutest detail, we are faced with a situation which renders it impossible to put forward the usual sceptic's contention of mere coincidence. For this reason it is all the more necessary that the predictions in themselves should be scrutinized with a critical eye, and not necessarily accepted at their face value. There are cases in which they have probably been touched up with an artist's pen to enhance their dramatic effect, and there may be others in which more careful investigation