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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.