© Tom Lethbridge 1967 
Let us accept that the inexplicable does take place, and cock a snook at the man who wastes his life trying to disprove it. He never can. However clever he may be, an enormous proportion of the population of the globe regards him as a half-wit. There is just something short in his make-up which prevents him from linking up with the world of nature. Dear me, how terrible it must be to be in his position. It would be more comfortable to be stark staring barmy!
How much more comforting it is to meet a sheepdog on a track among the heather, grin at it and see it grin at you, than to behave as a bogus lord of creation and regard it as one of the lower animals, with no soul, nor possibility of a future existence. For we go on as the spiral shows we must do, and they go on too. The sheepdog will still be there to smile at you in his delightful way on the next whorl of the spiral. Do not bother about what any Smart Alec says, it must be so.
The fellow who leant over the rampart of the Iron Age fort, seething with rage and nursing his sling for a chance of a shot at a hated enemy, is there just as much as a flicker of his spirit remains attached to the stone he eventually slung. That is what we surely seem to be beginning to learn.
Once we have passed the 40 mark on the disc, there is no more time. Tennyson saw it in Ulysses. ‘I am a part of all that I have met.’ In fact poets seem to be able to get far nearer to the heart of the matter than any modern philosopher, or theologian.
The poet somehow has a thinner refracting layer at 40 inches than most. Many seem to be able to slip from one layer of the mind to the next without any difficulty. But then to be a real poet you have to sit and think. Few people nowadays have time to do this and would have to go on the dole if they tried to do it.
It is the old story of Mary and Martha all over again, over and over again. Martha has no time to spare for thinking about anything of real importance. Our whole educational system is designed to produce Marthas. Mary made time to sit and think about what everything meant. So when she met someone who really knew something, she was able to listen and understand.
This may be a parable, or it may be fact, it does not matter which; but the more facts educationalists cram into the heads of children, the fewer real thinkers they will produce. All that a man really has to be taught is to be given enthusiasm to read, and then be given the time to do it. With this he can teach himself anything.
But think how many corns of vested interest I tread on by saying this. From the professor in his university rooms, to the village school teacher, they all depend for their livelihood on being able to repeat what they have been taught by someone else.
Not only must they be able to repeat it, they also have to be able to persuade gullible politicians that what they have as their stock in trade is of great importance. Half an up-and-coming don’s life is spent in persuading people that his special line is of vital importance and that he needs more people to teach it, when in truth it would be far better for the intellectual development of the students if they had to sweat up the subject for themselves and learn to form their own judgement on what they read.
All the real sages of antiquity had to get away somewhere quiet to think things out. In the East they still do. How far the modern ones get, we never know and in any case they may not have been first-class material to start with. But both of the really great religious founders, whom we know about, Jesus and Buddha, did this.
In the case of the Christians this tradition of going away into a desert place for contemplation survived so long into the Dark Ages that only the piratical attacks of the Norsemen made it impossible. The remoter islands round the western coasts of the British Isles are dotted with the remains of the dwellings of these contemplatives.
They are scattered from the south, right round the west of Ireland, up past the Hebrides, Orkneys and Faeroe Islands. I have found and published evidence for their existence in Iceland, and the story of Cormack makes it reasonably certain that they went as far as Greenland itself. If you believe the stories about St. Brendan they may well have contemplated on the shores of America.
This contemplative urge would never have survived had not men realized that great results could be secured by satisfying it. ‘Sometimes I sit and thinks, and sometimes I just sits’ sounds a ridiculous performance. But it is not. Unless you give yourself time to sit and think the world becomes such a desperate place that you cannot really think at all.
And if you cram your mind with a mass of facts which could easily be found by turning up a reference book, you are straining its capacity for learning something else. Also you need to think by yourself. In the gabble of the herd nobody can think clearly, except the Smart Alec and the pickpocket who thrive on the bemused state of their fellows.
Once, in 1937, on the way to Greenland from Scotland in a small Norwegian sealing-ship, we met such heavy weather in and passing the Pentland Firth that we ran into Loch Eribol for shelter. Some of us pulled ashore in a hunting boat to see the country.
Outside an isolated croft an elderly man was sitting thinking on an upturned tub. He was not in the least surprised to be greeted by strangers from a foreign ship, although probably few ever entered the loch. He just asked us where we were going. ‘Round Cape Farewell and up West Greenland,’ we replied. ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘that will be twelve hundred miles’ and relapsed into silence.
He was contemplating and did not want to be disturbed. There was no thrill at meeting someone new, who might tell him things about London or Edinburgh or Cambridge. This was of no importance whatever. He was sitting there reasoning out the why and wherefore of life. Anything else was completely superfluous.
I have met others on lonely islands, who were so excited at seeing someone new that they were almost hysterical. One Canadian Mountie on Ellesmere Land was so thrilled that he could not sleep for a couple of nights.
But the man who wants to think would rather not see too many people and have to talk to them. Therefore the Hindu seekers after truth retire to the most inaccessible places they can find and there undisturbed they look on the grandeur of nature, think about what it all means and are contented.
For to them humanity in bulk is a nuisance and a bore. It is not of the slightest interest to hear that so and so has met somebody and what they said to each other. They do not really care if the weather is going to be hot or cold, wet or fine.
The one burning question is ‘What is the meaning of it all?’ And that is our question too, although we are not hermits and enjoy meeting our fellows in limited numbers.
 Source: The Monkey's Tail - a study in evolution and parapsychology; Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969, SBN 7100 6598 1.