Psycho-analysis has taught us the danger of keeping skeletons in the cupboards of the soul, the importance of tracking down our real motives, of facing reality, of being candid and fearless in self-knowledge. But the emotional colour of this process when it is undertaken in the full conviction of the power and holiness of that life-force which we have not used as well as we might, and with a humble and loving consciousness of our deficiency, our falling short, will be totally different from the feeling state of those who conceive themselves to be searching for the merely animal sources of their mental and spiritual life. “Meekness in itself,” says “The Cloud of Unknowing,” “is naught else but a true knowing and feeling of a man’s self as he is. For surely whoso might verily see and feel himself as he is, he should verily be meek. Therefore swink and sweat all that thou canst and mayst for to get thee a true knowing and feeling of thyself as thou art; and then I trow that soon after that thou shalt have a true knowing and feeling of God as he is."
The essence, then, of repentance and purification of character consists first in the identification, and next in the sublimation of our instinctive powers and tendencies; their detachment from egoistic desires and dedication to new purposes. We should not starve or repress the abounding life within us; but, relieving it of its concentration on the here-and-now, give its attention and its passion a wider circle of interest over which to range, a greater love to which it can consecrate its growing powers. We do not yet know what the limit of such sublimation may be. But we do know that it is the true path of life’s advancement, that already we owe to it our purest loves, our loveliest visions, and our noblest deeds. When such feeling, such vision and such act are united and transfigured in God, and find in contact with His living Spirit the veritable sources of their power; then, man will have resolved his inner conflict, developed his true potentialities, and live a harmonious because a spiritual life.
We end, therefore, upon this conception of the psyche as the living force within us; a storehouse of ancient memories and animal tendencies, yet plastic, adaptable, ever pressing on and ever craving for more life and more love. Only the life of reality, the life rooted in communion with God, will ever satisfy that hungry spirit, or provide an adequate objective for its persistent onward push.
[Footnote 62: Ennead IV. 8. 5.]
[Footnote 63: De Imit. Christi, Bk. III, Cap. 53.]
[Footnote 64: Boehme, “The Way to Christ,” Pt. IV.]
[Footnote 65: Unamuno has not hesitated to base the whole of religion on the instinct of self-preservation: but this must I think be regarded as an exaggerated view. See “The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and in Peoples,” Caps. 3 and 4.]