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Section 42

42. It follows that, for the purposes which have induced this discussion, the stars have no need of memory or of any sense of petitions addressed to them; they give no such voluntary attention to prayers as some have thought: it is sufficient that, in virtue simply of the nature of parts and of parts within a whole, something proceeds from them whether in answer to prayer or without prayer. We have the analogy of many powers- as in some one living organism- which, independently of plan or as the result of applied method, act without any collaboration of the will: one member or function is helped or hurt by another in the mere play of natural forces; and the art of doctor or magic healer will compel some one centre to purvey something of its own power to another centre. just so the All: it purveys spontaneously, but it purveys also under spell; some entity [acting like the healer] is concerned for a member situated within itself and summons the All which, then, pours in its gift; it gives to its own part by the natural law we have cited since the petitioner is no alien to it. Even though the suppliant be a sinner, the answering need not shock us; sinners draw from the brooks; and the giver does not know of the gift but simply gives- though we must remember that all is one woof and the giving is always consonant with the order of the universe. There is, therefore, no necessity by ineluctable law that one who has helped himself to what lies open to all should receive his deserts then and there.

In sum, we must hold that the All cannot be affected; its leading principle remains for ever immune whatsoever happens to its members; the affection is really present to them, but since nothing existent can be at strife with the total of existence, no such affection conflicts with its impassivity.

Thus the stars, in so far as they are parts, can be affected and yet are immune on various counts; their will, like that of the All, is untouched, just as their bodies and their characteristic natures are beyond all reach of harm; if they give by means of their souls, their souls lose nothing; their bodies remain unchanged or, if there is ebb or inflow, it is of something going unfelt and coming unawares.

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