2. ‘A Man of Action and of Ideas’: Francis Younghusband
'I can see Younghusband before me now, as he was at the early Congresses - always the central figure, mobile in body and mind, vibrating with energy, a perpetual stimulus', said Lord Samuel in a broadcast he gave quite soon after Younghusband's death. There is no question that Younghusband was the moving spirit of the Congress. The WCF was his 'ultimate mission. To it he devoted the remaining years of his life. He travelled about; he lectured, he enlisted much individual support among leaders of opinion in many parts of the world' - to quote Lord Samuel again (1).
Sir John Squire, writing in The Ilustrated London News in 1953, gave a vivid picture of how Younghusband appeared in his later years.
'To the present generation he is remembered as a short, sturdy old man, with bushy, overhanging eyebrows, clipped moustache, tight mouth, firm chin and piercing blue eyes, who took the chair on many a platform, was indisputably enthusiastic about the spiritual nature and unity of mankind and its destinies and duties in this world, but who was as lamentably lacking in eloquence in person as he was fluent, graphic and persuasive with the pen. Except in print he gave the impression - probably even when he was surmounting a peak - of being alone and retired with his thoughts' (2).
His daughter Eileen gives a rather different picture and spoke of his ability to enter into her childish enthusiasms. 'I know that when he and I were walking in mountainous country when I was a child, every plea of mine just to see what was round the next corner met with an enthusiastic response from a fellow conspirator, who also felt that what was round the next corner was far more important than that lunch was getting cold'. This sense of fun shows in many of his letters to his daughter, his 'Rogie' (a diminuitive of 'little rogue'), his 'Rog Pog', 'Little Scampie' or 'Baby' (3). His love of nature, she recalled, was not only for the great mountains but for the detailed beauty of a butterfly. '"Where's your father? Breakfast's ready": "Oh he's down the garden looking at the butterflies on the buddleia bush"'.
Dame Eileen, in a talk to WCF on November 16th, 1965, paid a beautiful tribute to her father:
'He was a very happy person with enormous strength and simplicity of character in the sense that he was very much a whole person with I think almost no internal conflict or guilt and very few doubts. Perhaps that is why, although I saw him angry sometimes, I never saw him in a temper or lose his temper, and certainly self-pity or conceit were very far from him. He was simple because he was single-minded, strong and clear-minded, knowing inside himself who and what he was and what he could and should do. The characteristics people most remember about him are this simplicity, happiness, vitality, an often impish sense of humour, a complete lack of pettiness because he was absorbed in things beyond himself, and over it all there was a quality of greatness. If one asks someone who knew him to describe him they will fumble with all these things and end up by saying that he was essentially childlike. And this is really it. He had the quick perception, the directness, the sense of wonder, the zest for living, the capacity for enjoyment and the sense of the ridiculous of a child'.
Eileen ended her talk by saying, 'Whom the Gods love are young when they die. He was indeed young and full of happiness and confidence' (4). To look through the minutes of both the preparatory committee and of the early years of the WCF Executive is to see Younghusband's full involvment, attention to detail and youthful vigour, although he was well over seventy before the World Congress of Faiths was established.
In a broadcast, a couple of weeks before the Congress opened, Younghusband explained how he became involved.
'Fifty years ago in Manchuria I commenced a series of journeys which led me from one extremity of the Chinese Empire to the other and took me eleven times across the entire breadth of the Himalayas from the plains of India to the plains of Turkestan and the highlands of Tibet and back. During these explorations... I have come into the most intimate contact with adherents of all the great religions, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Confucians. I have been dependent upon them for my life... I have had deep converse with them on their religions, I have been invited to attend their religious ceremonies - even in the Cathedral at Lhasa. I have also been invited to speak at their religious meetings. And from all this close intercourse with men of different faiths I have derived intense enjoyment. It has forced me down to the essentials of my own Christianity and made me see a beauty there I had not till then known. It has also forced me to see a beauty in the depths of theirs. The beauty of holiness I have learned to recognise wherever found' (5).
Elsewhere he wrote,
'I remember the rude Mongols far away in the midst of the Gobi Desert, setting apart in their tents the little altar at which they worshipped. I recall nights spent in the tents of wandering Kirghiz, when the family of an evening would say their prayers together. I think of the Afghan merchants visiting me in Yarkhand, and in the middle of their visits asking to be excused while they laid down a mat and repeated their prayers; of the late Mehtar of Chitral, during a morning's shooting among the mountains, halting with all his court for a few minutes to pray; and lastly of the wild men of Hunza, whom I had led up a new and difficult pass, pausing at the summit to offer a prayer of thanks, and ending with a shout of Allah' (6).
Because of his experiences, Younghusband wanted to break down the barriers that usually exist between people. Indeed he said that the way in which everyone worked together during the blitz was creating just that sense of camaraderie at which WCF was aiming (7).
In his address at the inaugural meeting of the WCF Paris Conference, he spoke of what happened when he was run over by a car in Belgium.
'A crowd with agonised expressions collected round me, showed the utmost concern for me, and did all they could to help me. And the point I wish to make is that no one enquired whether I was Aryan or non-Aryan, whether I was Belgian, French, German, Dutch or English, whether my religion was Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, and if Christian whether I was Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant. None of these questions did they ask of me. They sprang to my help because of their fellow-feeling. I was a human like themselves. What hurt me hurt them'.
In the same address he went on to speak of people of unusual sensitivity who in some crisis of their lives become still more acutely conscious of the oneness of all being.
I personally have met several such mystics - men and women who have known what it is to be filled with a rushing mighty wind, such as the earliest Christians experienced on the day of Pentecost, and who have become intensely aware of that same unity in the spiritual world that science has established in the world of matter.'
The experience he said was one both of unity and of joy, the two being inseparable (8).
To those who knew Younghusband, it would have been obvious that he was speaking of his own experience, but he seems to have been careful to avoid mentioning this too publicly. In a private letter to Miss Mary Clark of Tunbridge Wells, dated 31.5.1938, he speaks of the spiritual experience which inspired him. He begins:
I hope I am right in thinking that you have enjoyed a direct experience of God - an experience of communion with the Central Spirit of Things and have known what intensity of joy and exaltation of spirit that mystical experience brings.
Now today is my 75th birthday and it behoves me to see that in the few years to come the fullest use is made of the experience with which I have been favoured and to share with as many as possible the almost inexpressible joy which I then felt. It is too intimate and sacred to speak of in public. Yet one would like everyone to be as convinced as one is oneself that in the Heart of Things and in the heart of every single person a Power is working not merely for "good" but for unbelievable joy (9).
The experience, to which he refers, he describes in one of his books, Vital Religion.
The day after leaving Lhasa I went off alone to the mountainside, and there gave myself up to all the emotions of this eventful time. Every anxiety was over - I was full of good-will as my former foes were converted into stalwart friends. But now there grew up in me something infinitely greater than mere elation and good-will. Elation grew to exultation, exultation to an exaltation which thrilled through me with overpowering intensity. I was beside myself with untellable joy. The whole world was ablaze with the same ineffable bliss that was burning within me. I felt in touch with the flaming heart of the world. What was glowing in all creation and in every single human being was a joy far beyond mere goodness as the glory of the sun is beyond the glow of a candle. A mighty joy-giving Power was at work in the world - at work in all about me and at work in every living thing. So it was revealed.
Never again could I think evil. Never again could I bear enmity. Joy had begotten love (10).
Elsewhere he mentioned other mystical experiences. The second experience was in 1905 after he had attended a Welsh Revival meeting. 'I felt', he said, 'as if I were in love with every man and woman in the world'. Some twenty years later, as he described in his book A Venture of Faith, he again sensed the power of the Spirit. It was a 'feeling of great thankfulness. I kept muttering to myself. I thank Thee, O God, I thank Thee' (11).
It was such mystical experiences that were to be one of the spiritual roots from which the World Congress of Faiths was to grow. In some private notes, Younghusband admitted 'I was too slow and hesitant in my middle life in developing my religious concern' (12).
Because the WCF both in its origins and throughout its history has been inspired by Younghusband's vision, some outline of his life is in place. This has been told in a worthy biography by Francis Seaver and more recently in a very carefully researched and elegantly written biography by Patrick French. Both cover the many aspects of Younghusband's life.
It was perhaps fitting that Francis was born at Murree, a hill station on the North-West frontier of India. Indeed, V Ganapathi Sastri, a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi, who told the Maharshi about the World Congress of Faiths, wrote to Younghusband that 'there is no doubt that in one of your previous incarnations in this planet of ours, you were an Indian' (13).
Francis' father John Younghusband was in the Indian army. He taught his son to show respect to people of all races and religions (14). His mother was Clara Jane Shaw, who was the sister of Robert Shaw, an explorer of Central Asia. In an interview, Younghusband spoke of his uncle's influence on him as a teenager in making him want to be an explorer (15).
Francis, John and Clara Younghusband's second son, was born on May 31st, 1863. At the age of seven months, he was taken home to Britain to Bath by his mother, who wished to care for her dying mother. After the grandmother's death, the parents returned to India, whilst Francis, now four and a half, was sent to live with his father's two unmarried sisters at Freshford. They were austere and strictly religious. Any hint of moral laxity was beaten out of him. 'They were of the sternest stuff, dressed in poke bonnets and living in the greatest simplicity. Strict teetotallers waging a war against drunkenness and teaching in the Sunday school', wrote Francis years later.
Three years later, Francis' parents returned. The reunited family moved back to Bath but the strict religious regime continued. One day Francis was found stealing a coin from a servant's purse. The punishment stressed his irredeemable wickedness and convinced him that he had betrayed his family and God. 'I lost my childhood's happiness, and became serious. Indeed I doubt if I ever completely recovered it till my old age' (16).
In 1873, when he was ten, he travelled out to India with his parents. Three years later he returned to Britain to start at Clifton College, Bristol. There he was expected to conform to the rather conventional public school version of Christianity. Yet already at his confirmation he was thinking for himself. He had some doubts about the virgin birth and the physical resurrection and ascension of Jesus. During this time, he paid a visit to the Alps, which he said, 'did far more for me than all the sermons I had ever heard' (17). He was troubled by feelings that he was guilty of terrible sins - probably only masturbation. He was good at games, especially cross-country running, but too withdrawn to be popular. Clifton had a proud record of training those who would run the Empire and Francis was fitted to the mould. Henry Newbolt was a contemporary and he and Francis remained friends for life.
In 1881 he entered Sandhurst. He was a solitary figure, spending his spare time reading biographies or going for long walks by himself. The only person with whom he could share his intimate feelings was his sister Emmie.
The following year he set sail for India. His choice of reading for the journey showed that already he had considerable interest in religion. Amongst many biographies, lives of Christ were prominent. He had time to think and determined that in the future he would take nothing on authority. Ritual and dogma were unimportant. He came to think of Jesus Christ as a real man, with all the frailties of men, who became great because of indomitable courage. Already his basic convictions were largely fixed. These were to develop in two main ways: in greater experience of the mystery of the universe and in broadening sympathy with, and understanding of, people of other faiths.
The highlights of the next few years of military service were his journeys of exploration to Manchuria and across the Gobi Desert. In 1888 he was granted a short leave, so that he could lecture about his travels to the Royal Geographical Society. He tried, unsuccessfully, to communicate to his parents his new sense of spiritual values. He had met and spoken with Christians of many denominations and with both educated and simple adherents of other faiths. He did not think one religion alone could be true and all others false. In the Gobi Desert, he had studied Darwin's work. He had found confirmation for his views on the gospels in Renan's Life of Jesus and Seeley's Ecce Homo. For Younghusband, at the time, the essence of Christianity was that the divine Spirit, which in Christ was a living flame, was latent in all men. All therefore were children of the same Father and should seek to develop the divine Spirit. Thus by 1889, he had made his own religion for himself (18).
On his return to India, after a time of 'arid and meaningless' soldiery, he was asked to explore all the Himalayan passes from the north. He was in his element as an explorer, but even so, during his leave in England in 1892, he again discussed with his father his project to leave the service and devote his life to the conduct of a spiritual campaign. This would not have been as an official of any church, but in some undefined way.
In 1894 he wrote in his diary 'I think I have had from time to time the feeling that I was born to recognise the divine spark within me... I shall through my life be carrying out God's Divine message to mankind'. A little after this entry, he was thrown from his horse and lay unconscious for fourteen hours. As he began to recover, he read Leo Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You - a book which deeply impressed him and was also to influence Mahatma Gandhi profoundly. Younghusband had been reading books on evolution by Herbert Spencer, who almost convinced him, but did not inspire him. Tolstoy made his heart leap. On August 31st 1894, he wrote in his diary:
It has influenced me profoundly ... I now thoroughly see the truth of Tolstoy's argument that Government, capital and private property are evils. We ought to devote ourselves to carrying out Christ's saying, to love one another (not engage in wars and preparation for wars and not resist evil with evil).
Tolstoy does not say how society can exist without Govt, capital and private property but he says the few great ones, like Columbus, must plunge into the unknown and discover the way. And this is what I mean to do. To set the example first of all by giving up Govt service and all my private property except what is absolutely necesary for supporting life' (19).
A few days later, he sent a letter to the Government explaining his intentions. Almost immediately, however, he was to meet with George Curzon, who was visiting India. By the end of the year Younghusband was back in Britain on leave and quite quickly recovered his health and good spirits. Plans to get rid of his possessions were put to one side. He was still unsure about his future. His father suggested a return to government service, whilst others thought he should try journalism or business. He was also doing preliminary work on a book, which would be called The Heart of a Continent.
Disturbing developments on the frontier at Chitral justified his warnings about the instability there. A speech he gave at the Royal Geographical Society on the issue on March 25th, was fully reported in The Times. The Times invited him to return to Chitral as their special correspondent. By April 21st, Younghusband was riding back into Chitrali territory.
Patrick French describes Younghusband in early 1895:
Frank Younghusband presents a puzzling spectacle at this stage of his career. Profoundly moved by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, he has quit government service in order to devote his life to God. Instead he falls into a job as a journalist and public speaker, anxiously defending a 'forward' policy in the Great Game [the competition between Russia and Britain in Central Asia]. The summer of 1895 finds him living with his old father in Southsea, aged thirty-two, with little money, thinning hair, few definite prospects and a vague wish to find "that form of religion which is best adapted to the men of the present day and which would form the religion of the future". At the same time he has recovered a certain social confidence' (20).
Younghusband had for some time had an epistolary romance with a married woman Nellie Douglas. This was brought to an end by the fact that returning to South Africa, where he had been sent by The Times, he had fallen in love. The lady whom he intended to marry was Helen Magniac. She had been brought up in a wealthy home and her family had aristocratic links. Her father, who died in 1891, had speculated on the stock exchange and left massive debts. The family was forced to sell Chesterfield House and all its contents. Helen was afraid of the sexual aspect of marriage and Francis agreed to a marriage without sex. The agreement must have been quite quickly broken, as Helen was pregnant within the year. Even so, it was never a fulfilling marriage for either of them. Younghusband tried to do his duty to his wife and wherever he was he wrote regular letters to her. She did not share his many ventures and at the end of her life was in a nursing home in London. The marriage was also too much for Younghusband's sister Emmie, who could not bear another woman to replace her in her brother's affection. Emmie was to become the victim of mental illness and depression.
The wedding took place on August 11th, 1897 and was followed by a month's honeymoon in Paris. Now needing a steady career, Younghusband, with Helen, returned to India. He hoped to rejoin the Government of India's Political Department. Instead he was given the lowly position of Third Assistant to the Political Agent in Rajputana. The Political Agent's job was to advise - a polite word for 'control' - a prince who, recognizing British suzerainty, ruled one of the many states of India. Younghusband was posted to the hill station of Mt Abu. There, Charles, their first child was born but died as a tiny baby. Helen was crushed by grief. The time at Mt Abu was not a happy one for the young couple.
Strangely, Mt Abu has more recently again come to play a part in the story of WCF. This hill town is the headquarters of the Brahma Kumaris, who have built their World Spiritual University there. In recent years the Brahma Kumaris movement has given active support to WCF and other interfaith work. It was at their Global Co-operation House in London that the 1993 Year of Inter-religious Co-operation and Understanding was launched.
With Lord Curzon's appointment as Viceroy of India in 1899, Younghusband's prospects began to improve, as the two were already friends and political allies. In 1903, Younghusband was asked by Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, to lead a mission to Tibet. This was a difficult and dangerous undertaking. Controversy has continued to surround what happened. At Lhasa, where he met the Dalai Lama's Regent, he successfully signed a treaty, but his work was repudiated by the politicians. It was as he was leaving Lhasa that he had the decisive spiritual experience, which has already been described.
On his return to Britain after the Tibetan venture, Younghusband was regarded as a hero, except by Whitehall. In 1906, Younghusband returned to India to become British Resident in Kashmir. The following year his father died. He felt his loss acutely, but also felt free to pursue a spiritual mission. In 1908, he drafted a letter to the poet Henry Newbolt about his 'important mission'. 'For years past I have felt there is something wrong with our present religion... Christianity itself is puny and childish' (21). When in 1908, the job for which he had been hoping as Commissioner of the Frontier Provinces went to a rival, Younghusband decided the time had come to leave India.
In December 1909, Younghusband sailed from Bombay. It would be nearly thirty years before he returned to Asia. Immediately on his return to Britain, he involved himself in the first 1910 General Election campaign and again in the second campaign at the end of that year. Besides making a number of speeches, he wrote some articles for the press and two books, Kashmir and India and Tibet.
His mind was still brooding on religious matters. In an article in the National Review, he wrote, 'Behind all political effort and social endeavour must be the impulse which religion alone could give. It was for the renewal and revitalizing of our religion that the English people really craved' (22). Already for some fifteen years, religion had been Francis Younghusband's primary interest. He was aware of the higher-critical study of the scriptures and of scientific advance. As a result he was dissatisfied with the conventional religion in which he had been brought up. 'I had visions of a far greater religion yet to be, and of a God as much greater than our English God as a Himalayan giant is greater than an English hill' (23).
Already he wished to communicate this 'greater religion' but he knew that first he had to clarify the intellectual framework of his conception of the universe. Convinced that the universe was governed by its own laws and not by external interference, he continued his study of science. A variety of experiences and his reading of nature-mystics, such as Blake and Wordsworth, made him dissatisfied with some scientists' 'petty-minded hatred of religion'. A study of McTaggart's Some Dogmas of Religion and Studies in Hegelian Cosmology led him to seek the acquaintance of the author, who was an Old Cliftonian.
Having tested his faith against intellectual criticism, he set to work to give it shape and definition in a book to be called The Inherent Impulse. As the work was nearing completion, he met, whilst in Belgium, with an accident, which was followed by prolonged illness. This experience led him to revise his book, which, eventually, was published in the autumn of 1912, with the title Within. This was the first of several books in which he described his religious views.
In October 1914 his Mutual Influence, which was his most humanist book, was published, but it did not sell many copies. When war broke out, Younghusband offered his services to the India Office and then to the War Office. Both were declined. In 1915, he was asked to take an unpaid job at the India Office preparing daily news telegrams for the Viceroy on the progress of the war. These were then used for official news releases to the Indian press. Later that year, he caught the mood of the nation in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, saying 'We are engaged in a spiritual conflict - a holy war - the Fight for Right' (24). ‘Fight for Right’ quickly became a movement to bolster public morale and Younghusband toured the country giving speeches. In 1917, he was made a Knight Commander of the Star of India. Soon, however, ‘Fight for Right’ fell apart as divisions between idealists and jingoists came to the surface.
For the last months of the war, Younghusband gave his time to thinking about India and the constitutional changes that should be introduced after the end of the war. He prefaced his memorandum with a recommendation that reform be instituted in the express context of future self-determination and be accompanied by an affirmation of belief in those spiritual values which in India bulk larger than politics.
After the war, Younghusband in effect lived two lives. One life was with his establishment friends, many of whom showed no interest in his religious views. In the 1920s Younghusband was involved in many societies. As President of the Royal Geographical Society he initiated and backed Mallory's attempt to conquer Mt Everest.
In his other life he was exploring spiritual ideas both with his religious friends and in his writings. In 1921, he wrote The Heart of Nature; or The Quest for Natural Beauty which is broken up into alternate chapters of description and philosophizing. In 1923, he wrote The Gleam, which was an account of the life of the pseudonymous Nija Svabhava. The real hero, of course was Younghusband and he nearly revealed this in a letter to the Times, but prevented its publication at the last minute. His next religious book was Mother World (in Travail for the Christ that is to be). In it, he speaks of Mother Nature and talks of the world as a benevolent deity. His pantheistic tendencies were attacked by The Tablet. The book ends with the belief that the world was 'groaning and travailing to bring forth a leader', the 'Christ that is to be', the God-child that he had first prophesied in Within (25).
Amongst the societies that he supported was one to encourage religious drama (now Radius). He was also keen to promote a knowledge of the world's religions. He was, as we have seen, active in support of the Religions of Empire Conference and the Society for the Study of Religions and then of the World Fellowship of Faiths. It was, however, to the World Congress of Faiths that he devoted the main energy of his final years.
Sir John Squire wrote that to define Younghusband's religion would be hopeless.
Sometimes he seemed a Pantheist, sometimes a pure monotheist of the Mohammedan or Jewish kind. He regarded himself as a loyal member of the Church of England and was a zealous attendant at Divine Service; yet with his views about the impersonality of the deity and the mere surpassing human goodness of Christ, he can hardly have taken the Apostles' Creed literally. The one thing certain is that he "walked with God daily" and that his working philosophy did make him continually aware of his responsibility to "the power, not ourselves, making for righteousness"' (26).
K.D.D. Henderson, who was secretary of the Spalding Trust, wrote,
'The basis of his heresy was the conviction that the message of Jesus Christ depended for its efficacy upon his humanity. He (Jesus) attained to a higher level of being than any other man, and provided for posterity an example at which to aim. The force of this example fell to the ground if you postulated in him any element whatsoever of the super-human. Christianity has survived by virtue of his personality, perpetually shining out from the gospel narratives with an intensity and vitality approached by none of his interpreters, not even by John or Paul.
Younghusband found in Jesus an embodiment of a Love elemental rather than personal, an all-loving universal power, and he was as impatient of the ritualist approach to God as he was of attempts to define God's essence or prove his existence by argument. His practical philosophy was "to show forth Thy praise not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to thy service".
"No one who has seen what I have seen", he wrote in 1892, "and still more surely no one who has been influenced as I have been, can doubt that there must be an all-pervading spirit in nature, and this spirit is God; and the essence of the spirit is Love"' (27).
Younghusband's basic conviction was that joy was the ground and crown of all religion. Joy, he claimed, was at the heart of Christ's message. Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim saints had also declared the same; and the Psalms were full of its expression. Although love was usually regarded as more fundamental, he held that joy was both deeper and higher. This emphasis did not mean that he disregarded evil and suffering. He believed, however, that the joy of life not merely counterbalanced the suffering and wickedness but could transform it into good.
This emphasis on joy is clear in the review he wrote, during the last year of his life, of Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine.
'Bliss', Younghusband wrote, 'is the object of the Creator in creating... Bliss is the motive power of the whole universe. He who has once reached the culmination of the Spirit will be moved with pity and compassion for the sufferings of his fellows both bodily and spiritual. He will love them and sympathize with them. He will be filled with something far more deeply penetrating than love and sympathy. He will see and feel the Divine in all forms - animal as well as human. The Divine in them will touch the Divine in himself, till the joy that is in him will remain with them that their joy may be full' (28).
It is important to recognize that Younghusband's conception of a fellowship of faiths sprang from a mystical sense of the unity of all people. As George Harrison put it, 'Sir Francis believed in divine fellowship. Every single man is bound up with every other man and with all living creatures, and with the entire physical universe in one mighty whole' (29). The 'brotherhood of man' was for Sir Francis not a religious slogan but a truth realized in religious experience. In such an experience, a person is 'lifted right out of himself and wafted up to unbelievable heights. He seems to expand to infinite distance and embrace the whole world' (30).
'The ultimate aim of the Fellowship can only be to intensify our sense of kinship with the universe to the mystic degree - to that point when the individual feels as if he and the universe were madly in love with one another', Younghusband said in a talk at Westerham in Kent (31).
In his later working for the World Congress of Faiths, Sir Francis made it clear that there was no intention of formulating another eclectic religion. It was rather to help members of all faiths to become aware of the universal experience which had been his. The Congress, he hoped, 'would awaken a wider consciousness and afford men a vision of a happier world-order in which the roots of fellowship would strike down deep to the Central Source of all spiritual loveliness till what had begun as human would flower as divine' (31). The human fellowship that he sought to promote was inextricably linked to communion with the divine. The Congress, therefore, was an attempt to give practical expression to the mystic's vision of unity.