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LIFE & DESTINY
by Léon Denis
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH BY
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
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Early in May, while in Dijon, France, the books of Léon Denis, the great spiritual philosopher, were brought to my attention by his friend and pupil, Miss Camille Chaise, a beautiful young refugee from Rheims. Profoundly impressed by the literary and religious importance of this volume, I asked Miss Chaise to inquire if I could obtain the rights of translation. This inquiry led to my coming to Tours, where Mr. Denis resides, and where I have pursued the delightful work. Feeling the translation to be a holy task, I resolved to begin it on a holy day, May 21st, which was the second anniversary of the birth of my husband into spirit life. Beginning with three pages daily, I gradually increased the number, and was able to complete the task on September 21st.
In giving this work of Léon Denis to the English-speaking world, I feel I am bestowing an inestimable favor on every intelligent mind capable of feeling love, sorrow, aspiration, or yearning for a larger understanding of life.
This book is the crowning work of Mr. Denis's three score years and ten of life - the ripe fruit of more than half a century of continual study and research.t a mind of such an analytically scientific bent, as that of Léon Denis, is at the same time so poetical. This, together with the writers profoundly reverential nature, makes his work of threefold value. He appeals to those who pursue psychical research in a purely scientific manner; he appeals to those who value noble and moving literature; and he appeals to every soul that loves and believes in a God great enough to be the Supreme Creator of this magnificent universe.
It can be said of Mr. Denis (which cannot be said of all authors), that his personal life accords with his beautiful philosophy. From a troubled and painful youth, he has slowly climbed an ascending path of difficulties, overcome obstacles and surmounted sorrows, attained profound knowledge and a wide education, and put into daily practice the lofty principles he sets forth in this volume.
May it bring to every reader the uplift it has brought to the translator.
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
The Author, Léon Denis
In the evening of life, the thinker is struck with a sorrowful impression of the futility of human existence. He perceives how the teachings dispensed by institutions of learning in general - churches, schools, universities - enable you to acquire many of those matters which are of vast importance in the conduct of terrestrial existence, and in the preparation for life Beyond. Those to whom is given the high mission of enlightening and guiding the human soul, seem to ignore its nature and its real destiny. In the midst of universities a complete incertitude reigns upon the solution of the most important problems ever presented to man in his passage through earth. This incertitude exists in every thing, which touches upon the problem of life, its aim, and its end.
We find the same impotence among the clergy. By their affirmations, denuded of all proofs, they have little success in communicating to the souls in their charge a faith which responds to sane criticism or the exigencies of reason. The inquiring soul, in fact, encounters in the universities and in the churches but obscurity and contradiction on everything which touches the problems of its nature and its future
One of my friends, a professor in a university, had the sorrow of losing his daughter, which awoke his interest in the problem of immortality. He turned to his colleagues, professors of philosophy, hoping to find consolation. It was a bitter disappointment. He asked for bread and received a stone; he asked for affirmation, and received a "perhaps."’ Francis Sarcy, an accomplished professor in a large university, wrote, ‘I am upon this earth. I know absolutely nothing regarding the how or why of my existence. I know even less, how and where I will go when I leave earth.’ A more frank avowal of ignorance on the all-important subject could not be uttered.
Young adults believe themselves the playthings of fate, tied hand and foot to a relentless destiny. I have contemplated this riddle most of my fifty years as a professor of spiritual philosophy and without tosing a security blanket of faith over what I do not comprehend, I have learnedly and rationally concluded the following...***
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