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Record number: WCP596

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Sent by:
William [not a relative of ARW] Wallace
Sent to:
Alfred Russel Wallace
3 December 1912

Sent by William [not a relative of ARW] Wallace, St Joseph's College, Darjeeling, India to Alfred Russel Wallace Old Orchard, Broadstone, Dorset on 3 December 1912.

Record created:
09 August 2011 by Beccaloni, George


Re. the connection between modern theories of evolution and the ancient philosophies of the East enclosing 2 folios of TS text titled "The Eastern philosophy of person & nature".; Stamped envelope addressed to Alfred Russel Wallace at Broadstone postmarked Darjeeling 4 Dec 1912 on the front, annotated in Alfred Russel Wallace's hand on the front "From Rev. William Wallace S.J., Darjeeling, About Indian philosophy of Evolution. I Ansd., asked for seeds &c." and annotated in pencil [in William Greenell Wallace's hand] ?90th".

Record contains:

  • enclosure (1)
  • letter (1)
  • envelope (1)

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An enclosure typewritten in English.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/8/125(2)
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




The Eastern Philosophy of person & nature

The Supreme has two kinds of creative power, viz; the power to multilocate[sic] itself indefinitely, that is to produce perfect replicas of itself not only in form and beauty but also in immensity, eternity, and other attributes; and the power to produce mirage of the Eternal, or in other words to make Truth which is infinite, changeless, and one, appear as finite, changeful, and many.

The individual being is formed by the coinciding together of these two powers so as to be seen as the one thing. That is, one replica or Image combines with one phase of Mirage of the Eternal. The image of the Supreme is the person of the individual, and the phase of Mirage is its concrete nature.

The Image is changeless, being always perfect replica of the Supreme not only in form and beauty out also in eternity, immensity, and other attributes. It is pure consciousness, pure living light, pure Subject, and is the persons identically similar in all beings.

The Mirage is fluxional i.e. evolving sometimes upward sometimes downward sometimes merely tossed out in the scale of existence. Its phases are concrete natures of individual beings.

These two Powers coincide to form the individual, but the changeless persons is the Knower of the fluxional nature. But though the persona be intrinsically changeless, yet according to the law of all light it assures the form and qualities of that upon which it falls and which it illumines, and so appears under the form of the concrete nature with which it is for the time being in proximity. Hence the persons illumining a human nature says, "I am man"/ and illumining a canine nature says, "I am dog"; out in itself the persona in neither man nor dog but the Imago[sic] of the Supreme.

[[2]] The individual persons, as the knower of the concrete nature and all that is in it, is outside of it and of a higher order, so it does not act on it directly s a hammer on the nail it drive, but is said to affect it by proximity as the loadstone does the iron. Consequently it does not add any being to the natural order or take any from it.

Nature, or mirage of the Eternal, is evolutionary. It is of her essence to evolve, but this she does involuntarily and unconsciously. Nature evolves only in union with an individual person, and this latter it is which illumines it with consciousness. Differences in concrete natures arises from the fact that Nature tho’ a single principle is triple in quality, answering to the process of becoming, being, and dissolving in which she exists from instant to instant.

So in any one of her phases i.e. in any concrete nature, all others are at least primordially present, and one phase passes into another according to the law of merit and demerit. For instance all natures whether animal vegetable or mineral, terrestrial or celestial are present in the human nature of any individual, but latent for the time being. E.g. that my present human nature should become angelic nature nothing is required but that the angelic nature which is now latent in me should become actual, and the human nature which is now actual should passback into the latent state. This there is no essential line of demarcation between one species and another, e.g. between human and canines, or between canines and rose or daisy nature. Each may pass into the other though not always directly. All life survives death.

Final Liberation from the world, which in this system is at endless stream, comes by the individual persona ceasing to fall upon and be assimilated to any finite concrete nature, and falling upon its great Original -- the Supreme. Then Nirvana of the world takes place, the persona buried in its Original as an image of the sun turned back so as to fall into the sun would be buried in the sun, ceases to take the alien forms [[3]] of the passing concrete natures in proximity, and at last receives its own. For it is the perfect Image of the Supreme in itself, and never was anything else.

In this system Nature is capable of evolving into all forms of physical, mental, and moral "stuff," no matter how exalted the character of it. And all of it proceeds from Nature and is but modification of Nature as curds and butter and cheese are of milk. There is only one thing beyond the power of Nature to produce, and that is the Power that knows her -- the persona Nature cannot produce knowing - stuff -- the Power that sees her -- Consciousness; that is superimposed upon her from another source. In this respect the individual being is like a fiery fountain produced by an electric search-light turned at night upon water-fountain playing.

Thus the philosophy of the East admits influx on the concrete nature from a higher source, while at the same time holding that all finite substance, quality, and operation, whether physical, mental or moral, proceeds from the evolutionary power of Nature.

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