header pic header text

Volume III - The Art of Personality

Part II - Rasa Shastra - The Science of Life's Creative Forces

Chapter XVII


The faculties of intelligence express themselves through physical channels, which they have created for the purpose of their expression. The faculty of sight has created the eyes; that of smell has created the nose. Each organ in fact has been developed by a certain faculty, in order to express its particular purpose.

Whichever channel activity works through, it effects some purpose. If rightly directed it achieves the intended purpose; if wrongly directed that intended purpose is not accomplished, but some other result is brought about. The ingenuity of science enables the nose to be used as a passage to convey food to the stomach. But science cannot do this without risk of dangerous consequences. And it is a thing quite beyond the unskilled to effect without inflicting injury. To take a railway ticket to Southampton, wishing to go there, and then to get into a train for Brighton, is called a mistake, or going astray. But those who are in the train for Brighton, wishing to go to Brighton, cannot be said to be going astray. The tracks of the railway line are made for the smooth running of the train. If the train slips off the track, it not only has difficulty in proceeding but it also causes damage, plowing up the land and creating destruction in its path.

The generative organs have been developed by the generative faculty, and when used for any other purpose they are misused; and other use directs energy to a wrong channel and creates disorder.

Under a mantle of beauty there may be hidden something desperately evil, while a revolting mask sometimes covers a gem of pure loveliness. The difficulty of touching upon the hideous aspects of life lies in the fact that different social classes are so cut off from one another as to be quite ignorant of each other. Each has its virtues, covering the vices due to its own conventions of life. And to each the vice it does not know appears more intolerable and more unnatural than the vice it is acquainted with.

There is perversion that follows over-indulgence in the beauty that life offers. And equally perversion follows the too rigid observance of hard and fast moral, social, or religious ideas of order. However beneficial any method of life may appear, it inevitably leads, if carried to excess, to something disastrous or unwholesome, which may be called perversion. And so it is that these unwholesome results are usually logical developments of causes of which the individual is the hapless victim. It is not always possible to blame him with justice for his condition.

A vast section of civilized society almost ignores the inborn impulses towards beauty and interest. And its unimaginative conception of life weighs not only upon its younger, but grinds also upon its older members. Wherever the natural channels of life are choked and stopped up, other outlets are forced. Some of these may seem to be productive of beauty, but most are proved to be eventually productive of innumerable forms of ugliness or cruelty.

Thus the restrictions, which some classes place, by their social and religious conventions, upon the liberty of the individual, with the laudable motive of preserving the standards of order, bring about pitiable situations of life. Pitiable as the ruin caused by the lawlessness of those other classes which are too powerful, or too obscure, to submit to restraint.


Music is behind life and rules life. From music springs all life. The whole of creation exists in rhythm. And in general phrase it may be said that there is one common source of human disease, and that is disorder in rhythm. Rhythm is broken by congestion. And again rhythm is broken when activity goes beyond the boundaries of normality. For it is a phenomenon of activity that it produces energy of itself. In any activity, in walking, in speaking, in thoughts and imaginations, activity increases with its own energy. So that the speed at the end, is greater than the speed at the beginning, until the climax when it burns itself out. Also activity gains energy when caught into the speed of a greater activity. Riding quietly along a road one finds that one's horse will break into a canter if other horses go cantering past.

Perverted desire originates in the debauched, in whom normal desire lives on after physical energy has been spent; and in the physically abnormal and incapable. It originates also in the normal person who is deprived of natural expression. When it arises, the effect is that the normal rhythm of health is broken.

Amongst the former are usually those whose mission in life is to corrupt others; for just as the spiritually minded wish to lead others to a spiritual view of life, and the materially minded enjoy life more when they draw others into their circle of gaiety, so also, the pervert desires to spread his influence. The perverted have their own groups and recognize each other.

Amongst the latter, that is those in whom natural expression is denied an outlet, are found some who have ideals of life, and who are above reproach. Their hidden practice may seem quite powerless to break down or injure character, and therefore it may appear quite harmless. But it seems impossible to find any case where health and mind are not affected. For mental despair arises, or confusion or indecision. Or else a physical ailment of a nervous kind, or else a state of mind develops which in its turn produces a physical disorder. And here we must reflect that modern science has perhaps still to study the effect of emotion on the blood. This seems to be still a somewhat unexplored field in modern medicine.

The artist stands in opposition to nature. It is true that art is nature in miniature, but there is always a tendency in the artist, as he observes nature, to run counter to nature. He observes and molds and creates and improves and originates. And that is why there is always a tendency in him that leads away from the natural course of things. That is why perversion is often found among artists.

But playing with passions and the unnatural expression of passion seems to exist in all countries and at all times. It is never quite uprooted, although it always creates a strong feeling of revulsion.

Creator and creation, thus goes the natural rhythm of things. Nowhere in nature is there room for an intermediary between these two.


It is said that ignorance is bliss, but ignorance may well prove to be a curse. There is a tendency in every child that needs guidance, the neglect of which is a most fertile soil for perversion.

This whole subject of perversion is in itself cold and dead. There is no beauty in it. The contemplation of it is deadening and freezes one. A mother or father turns naturally away to other, creative displays of life and spirit, which have some light and warmth in them, giving an insight into character. For instance, if a child tells a lie, there is as a rule some interest in noticing the type of story that he tells; or perhaps he tells a tale that is in itself thoroughly imaginative and amusing.

Also the innocence of a child is so disarming; and innocence is the surest protective armor against all hurt, a truth every parent knows at heart. But what every parent should recognize is that the intelligence of the child is all the time pushing it to make investigations and experiments that are interesting and new. And it is for the guardian to see that this interest receives no unwholesome stimulus. Wherever interest seems strong, it should certainly be disentangled and made straight and clear of the mystery in the little mind.

A feeling may be fully awakened in a child before the unperceptive guardian will even think there could be any possibility of the child's having any idea of sex. And a child in its ignorance will deal in its own way with a thing which it finds enjoyable or interesting, and will discover some means or other of self enjoyment. The parents have not spoken to it of such things; and having found some new sensation in life, it gladly seeks a comrade to share the new interest. In this way one child learns from another, hiding the fact from its parents; and so a habit may grow and become quite natural without having any special significance to the child at all.

The impression produced by a habit of this kind has results that are almost incalculable. The abnormal child will no doubt be given a direction that will develop into a definite taste for abnormalities in later years. But the average child will suffer in other ways. For instance it may with the years develop a distaste for marriage, or a coldness that affects relationship in marriage. Undeniably the impression received by its mind will color its attitude towards life for many years to come, arousing perhaps a feeling of contempt or of shame for sex. But whatever unhealthy attitude towards nature is thus evoked will affect its whole existence. If parents could realize that every child has an inclination towards perversion, which starts as play, and that it needs teaching and guidance in its inclinations, some to a greater and some to a lesser extent, many disasters might be prevented.

A child is intelligent and can easily be brought to notice the difference between people, and to admire the noble and beautiful. It can easily be trained to a healthy discrimination, with an inclination towards all that is sane, wholesome, and vigorous as being productive of the greatest happiness and pleasure, with a contempt of all uncleanness, and with a fear of the consequences of all unlawfulness. There is no need to punish or frighten a child, any more than there is any need to feel disgust or fear for a child when it shows an inclination that needs correction. Words usually produce the best-remembered impressions.

Children have many influences to deal with that come from without. Not only through other children come unpleasant and perverting suggestions in playtime, as an English saying goes, 'Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do,' but also through older people. Old age often blunts the fineness of feeling, and even among the aged and trusted may be found monstrous tendencies, which enjoy watching the spring of interest in the child. Ignorant nurses, perhaps without thought of harm, will play with that interest, and there are monster souls who enjoy above all, the thought of being the first to enjoy the passion of youth. And others, who have perhaps the greatest refinement and delicacy of thought, life, and sentiment, but who find such an overwhelming attraction in the vigor, in the spring-like beauty of youth, as not to be able to refrain from tampering with it, to get some enjoyment and interest out of it in some way or other. Also there are many older people who have a hatred for the opposite sex which they impart to children. This is especially true of women. And it is not uncommon for women to make a mission of prejudicing young girls against a normal and healthy attitude towards men.

Perhaps there is no grown person who has not a recollection of some occurrence of the sort in his or her own life. But with a dim memory of the strangeness and horror of it, the grown person remembers too, his own extraordinary youthful innocence that came to his rescue. And so he feels inclined to trust to the strength of that same innocence in his own child, not considering in what unknown and difficult situation a child may be entangled.

Or else a parent may be anxious to protect his girl, and less inclined to protect his boy; never having perhaps traced very carefully what depth of influence that early experience of his, even if of short duration, had on his own life; and therefore, never having realized what lack of vigor in body, what amount of indecision in mind, of obscurity of purpose, of loss of the total sum of his individual happiness or success might be traced to it. Before the mind of a parent these human tendencies should ever be present; and it is his obligation to awaken in good time the youth under his care.


The knowledge of these things awakens. Not that we are forced thereby to become virtuous; but that we see what power, virtue and vice have, looking upon vice as any activity which eventually brings unhappiness to humanity. It is the emotional nature, which is susceptible to the desire to experience new sensations. And it is the emotional nature that is the great nature. The great character is on the one side more daring than the average; and on the other more loving, more responsive, more alive, and therefore, more likely to fall into the ditch. But the one who falls and yet comes out again uninjured, and with wings free and pure, is a rare bird.

There is a temperament that finds it impossible to speak of such subjects. A temperament that would eagerly desire to warn youth and to awaken the one who is blindly following a wrong path, but who finds it impossible to speak the necessary words. This reserve springs from a delicate and sensitive respect for human nature. It has been described by Muhammad as Haya, 'the quality of the truly religious,' and it prefers to place the greatest trust and confidence in youth, and in friends. It is the one that draws out and fosters virtue in others. How many young people owe their unstained records to the trust and confidence placed in them by the mother! At the same time education requires something more than a silent condemnation. It requires the clarification and understanding of that law of reciprocity which is the basic law of nature.

An artist relates how his father, whom he greatly respected, gave him no rules of conduct, but treated him always with trust and confidence; and how it was from his brother-in-law, the husband of his much older sister, that he received as a child a much needed warning. The brother-in-law, seeing the ardor, the generosity, the sociability, the enthusiasm for life of the youth, took him to various parts of town, pointing out the different types of humanity; reminding him at the same time of the great traditions of his race and of his family, of the ideals of his fathers, of the beauty and pride of nobility. What he pointed out and what the youth saw with his own eyes left an undying impression on his mind of the effects of perverted life, influencing the whole trend of his life. Youth is generous, youth is ardent, and rarely fails to respond.

checked 18-Oct-2005