"The Cage is buried, but the bird is free, above the grave."—Spirit Message.
It has seemed incongruous to many Spiritualists that in our services we make so little use of the glorious communications from the other side. We have a literature which is unapproached by that of any other religion or philosophy in the world, and we do not take adequate advantage of it. It has been my pleasant task, therefore, to make a series of extracts from some of my favourite spiritual books in the hope that they may be useful to those who have to conduct services and who have not the time or opportunity to make a selection for themselves.
I have not arranged the quotations under their separate headings in a large way, but each bears its own description, and by consulting the index a reader who wishes to treat any particular phase of our knowledge can easily find his material. Such a reading should, in my opinion, form an integral part of every Spiritualist gathering, so that our people may be accustomed to hearing the wisdom and the beauty of the utterances from beyond.
It is very essential, however, that it should be well read, and good reading is a rare accomplishment. If the officiating minister has not got it he should find some one in his congregation who has, and he should confide the task to him. Many good earnest clergymen ruin their own efforts by the unnatural voice which they adopt, which is enough to spoil by its artificiality the effect of the most beautiful passages. Simplicity and audibility are the two essentials for good reading.
In dealing with spirit utterances we do not, of course, ascribe infallibility to them, especially when they deal with matters of speculation. Spirits are finite like ourselves, and the higher will often intervene to correct the views of the lower. At the same time, though the contents of this book are merely like a few heads of grain picked from a vast field in order to show the richness of the harvest, the reader cannot fail to be struck by the high level of the messages and by their remarkable agreement in essentials, although they are drawn from so many sources.
We can never expect absolute unanimity. People have their own point of view there as here. A narrow man is not instantly converted to breadth of view by the fact of death. On such debated subjects as reincarnation or the Godhead of Christ there is as sharp a division there as here. Human death is only one forward step in the illimitable march of the spirit, and it is still faced by a horizon which shrouds many mysteries. We must train our own spirits to be tolerant and charitable, realising that many of the woes of mankind, and much of the religious confusion have been caused by those who attempted to define that which was beyond human comprehension. Whether Christ was a man-like God or a God-like man, or whether there are three persons or one in God, is a mere matter of speculation which has nothing vital in it. It is probable that the world would have been none the worse had such questions never been raised. On the other hand, it is essential that we should strive for the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, and that we should remember the words of Micah, "What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?"
In dealing with occasional discrepancies in spirit utterances we have also to remember that from the misery of the lowest purgatorial spheres to the glories of the seventh heaven, there is a long ladder of evolution, and that every rung of it is different from the last. The nearer the earth the more material the condition, and the experience of a lower spirit is naturally very different from that of a high one. If earth experiences were given by a Hindoo peasant and by an Oxford Professor they would read very differently, and yet each would represent a truth.
I pray, then, that this little book may carry out that for which it was designed, and I give my thanks (and my apologies) to the many mediums whose messages I have purloined.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Crowborough, October, 1923.
"What do physicians find to do there?"
"Plenty and plenty. Those who come over mentally unbalanced, those needing kind and wise treatment to bring them out of sin or out of selfishness, and those who are projected into this world by accident or suicide or other sudden ways, all need spiritual physicians. The remedial agencies here are mental and spiritual instead of material; but physicians, if of the right stamp, soon learn to adapt their treatment to such cases.
"What happens to the mind that has been unbalanced here?"
"We have many specialists who take charge of these. Many are the result of disease or old age, but those are easily cured. For spirit does not require any grey matter or brain cells for intelligence."
"Sometimes a snap in the brain or in the arteries, and they come to us very quickly. In such cases it is without knowledge that they have passed out of the body. That is a condition that has to be watched and cared for here, else they remain very long in the dream state and do not progress. I have watched many cases on earth but never knew what happened on this side until I came here. Physicians have work to do here. And their labour on earth, and their study of abnormal conditions there, help them here to heal the spirit that is beclouded by the physical; or, rather, the impressions made by the physical while it had power over them."
—Spirit World and Spirit Life.
I now saw that it was not impossible to pass from plains to mountain heights, and that powers of vision and conceptions of sacred harmonies surrounding me were in exact relation to my spiritual perception and capacity of receptivity, now being more perfectly unfolded through new experiences.
I also saw that labours brought no fatigue. My eyes, heretofore unaccustomed to such brilliancy of light, acquired larger capacity to relate to all changes of conditions.
Upon the journey which I now entered I passed through different altitudes, in all of which there seemed to be so many kaleidoscopic changes that at first I could not fully comprehend my surroundings. My robe changed its texture, and in each transformation I received new poetical and harmonial suggestions of eternal love and wisdom, each more entrancing than the other, in-breathed, absorbed, and assimilated through atmospheric and spiritual influences, leading me away from the low and grovelling conditions in which I had but recently seen so many, out into the glorious light and liberty of the Divine Being, infinitely superior to the limitations of material states.
From certain altitudes I beheld, at great distances, cities and villages, with their multitudes of busy and conglomerate populations—many architectural curiosities, crystal streams flowing from mountain peaks, rearing their lofty heads into space, from which wave vibrations were received, each one signifying to me the spiritual and intellectual fact that I should and could pass into closer relations with the great masters and adepts, upon whom wondrous powers over elements had been conferred.
The vibrations, which I then began to study, conveyed interior meanings to all who had learned to translate them wisely. By them a universal language could be understood through all space.
—A Celestial Message.
Your wars and your wholesale murderings are even more fearful. You settle your differences with your neighbours, who should be your friends, by arraying against each other masses of spirits—we see not the body; we care only for the spirit temporarily clothed with those human atoms—and those spirits you excite to full pitch of rage and fury, and so you launch them, rudely severed from earth-bodies, into spirit life. You inflame their passions and give them full vent. Vengeful, debased, cruel, earthbound spirits throng around your earth-sphere, and incite the debased who are still in the body to deeds of cruelty and lust and sin. And this for the satisfying of ambition, for a passing fancy, for an idle princely whim.
We were speaking of the Bible one evening, and Mary said:—
"The essential parts of the Bible are the ethical teachings and the sacred example of the Christ. The earth needed Christ, and he came. The earth still needs him, and his influence is still here. But many are deaf and blind to this influence, and because this is so, war still desolates the earth and selfishness and crime sometimes blot out the law of unselfishness and love that he gave his life to teach."
We asked if Christ was near to those on that plane.
"Christ is exalted to the heavens above, but he is as the elder brother and the guide of us all on this plane. As you advance in knowledge of this life we can tell you more of its mystery and loveliness."
"How can we advance?"
"Conquer doubt; build up hope; believe in the infinite love."
"The cruelties of this world and the sufferings of the innocent make it hard sometimes to believe that the world is ruled by infinite love."
"Believe in God's mercy through it all. The suffering of the innocent is more than made up to them here.
"The pure in heart have a vision of a purified world where kindness and justice shall reign. They are the hope of the world, and through them we must reach those whose thoughts are all for self and for selfish interests.
"The hope for the future lies in the philosophy that Christ brought to earth and which here is our rule of life. Christ was the apostle of love and patience, and he desired to deliver the world from evil through the power of love. But evil held sway by reason of its long continuance and growth, and was too strong, as it has many times since been too strong, to be overcome by spiritual power. But the time is coming when the Christ love will prevail, and wisdom and love together shall rule the world."
—Spirit World and Spirit Life.
Man has gradually built around the teachings of Jesus a wall of deduction and speculation and material comment similar to that with which the Pharisee had surrounded the Mosaic law. The tendency has increasingly been to do this in proportion as man has lost sight of the spiritual world. And so it has come to pass that we find hard, cold materialism deduced from teachings which were intended to breathe spirituality, and to do away with sensuous ritual.
It is our task to do for Christianity what Jesus did for Judaism. We would take the old forms and spiritualise their meaning, and infuse into them new life. Resurrection rather than abolition is what we desire. We say again that we do not abolish one jot or one tittle of the teaching which the Christ gave to the world. We do but wipe away man's material glosses, and show you the hidden spiritual meaning which he has missed. We strive to raise you in your daily life more and more from the dominion of the body, and to show you more of the mystic symbolism with which spirit life is permeated.
You wish to know something of the future life of those who have been happily married on earth. We must divide them into two classes: those who have been truly mated, and those who have not been so, but have been married to partners with whom they have been fairly happy, but not completely so. As regards those who have not been happy enough to come under either of the above classes, we can only say they have lived a life against Nature's laws, and have to suffer the natural penalty. All men must ultimately meet their true mates, whether in this life or the next; just as certainly as all men must be sooner or later saved. This may take centuries of time to accomplish, according as they have lived when in the flesh. An unhappy life in the flesh tends to retard their happiness in the future; hence those who do not come under the foregoing categories are simply delayed in their happiness, like all other transgressors. Those who have been true to their companions, and have gained their love, have, of course, nothing to repent of in the next life. If the two partners then find that they were not conjugally as happy as they would like to have been, their relationship in the next world will simply be that of friends, and they may each meet their true companions there and be happy. Marriage, in fact, does continue in heaven, theologians notwithstanding; and only those who have been truly mated here can conceive how impossible it would be for a heavenly society to exist without the continued existence and capacity for enjoying the highest love, next to that of God. Of course, those who have not known true love on earth can be excused for not being able to reconcile their notion of heaven with the continued existence of earthly marriages.
"There are many problems at present hidden even from the higher planes. Study and discovery are among the delights here. There is an infinite amount of undiscovered science still before us. We follow the thought of others, and advance step by step, inch by inch, and are held in wonder and awe at the dim visions before us of the powers and forces yet to be used. We are children yet in the infinite knowledge, and we of mortal birth move along in smaller circles than the spirits of other planes or universes. But can you conceive a little of the joy of acquiring the knowledge that leads us into such limitless wonders! Knowledge is growth, and growth is happiness; and all avenues of thought lead upward to infinite wisdom, justice and love."
"We are individuals, but we belong to a great scheme of higher consciousness toward which we are all tending. That is the real joy of this life; that it is evolutionary onward and upward to infinite results of which we yet have no complete conception; only dimly perceiving the ultimate joy, wisdom and affection."
We spoke once of the delights they had mentioned on their plane, and expressed our wonder by remarking that it seemed too good to leave for another.
"You will not be obliged to change until you wish to do so. But neither do you need to dread the higher spheres. As a child you would probably have dreaded the high school, though later you longed for it. And that is the way it is here. Progress is natural, following the development of the mind."
"Many prefer to stay here. We find abundant opportunities for service. We are attracted to the planet we came from and prefer to stay near it for a time. All go on some time, but the time of the change is indefinite and is decided by each individual for himself—at least after a certain degree of advancement is made."
"There are prophecies of a wonderful wave of spiritualisation—that someone will arise to save us from the evils of materialism and selfishness into which we seem drifting. Is there any truth in this?"
"The world moves slowly and no miracle is likely to happen. But if you will just study the past and go back far enough, you will see that the tendency is always upward. But whether the tendency can be measured by years or by centuries, is something which we do not know. The optimists will believe the change will come soon; but the pessimists believe it will be long delayed if it come at all. We can watch and help as best we can, and then wait; and that is what the world will have to do. Our teachers do not tell us of any coming marvel. Just patient effort, and working for the good at all times, is what we are taught as our part of it."
This was all from the professor, but to my surprise, William James appeared, saying that he would like to add his testimony to what had been said of impressions of spirit life.
"Spirit is one thing," he wrote, "matter another. Do not expect to measure both in the same way. Your professor friend is trying to make your earth language convey a little more clearly the impression of the life here. We are puzzled how to get over to earth life the beauty and harmony of this one. Where all are tuned to the same vibrations there can be no discordant notes. You are musically in tune with the great composers, and you will know what I mean when I say that to be in tune with the heavenly vibrations means a harmony undreamed on earth. It means a readjustment of the earth-born faculties. It means that the follies of earth thought are replaced by the wisdom of this sphere. It means that the wisdom of earth thought is merged in heavenly knowledge. It means that the transient loves of earth are replaced by loves and friendships so fine as to bear no resemblance to the fleeting ties of earth.
"Have I added anything to the clearness of the description?"
This was all at this time, but in closing I would like to add one more word from Professor James, who came a few evenings later with this:—
"I have a word to say to earth people, if I can get it through as I wish. It is that the earth is full of mystery; every plant that grows, every wave of the ocean, every star that shines, has its own hidden mystery. Life, the life of the spirit, is God's mystery, and God's blessing, and its richest blessings are here in the unseen. Why, then, turn away from this greatest and best of all mysteries? Why not come into closer touch with this incomparably great and unseen life?"
—Spirit of Professor William James, from Spirit World.
Like attracts like, and the silly curious inquirer who asks from no desire for information, but only to gratify a whim or an idle curiosity, or to entangle us in our talk, is answered, if at all, by a spirit like to himself.
I should be very sorry if the reading of these letters of mine should cause foolish and unthinking people to go spirit-hunting, inviting into their human sphere the irresponsible and often lying elemental spirits. Tell them not to do it.
Would you advise any delicate and sensitive woman to sit down in the centre of Hyde Park, and invite the passing crowds to come and speak through her, or touch her, or mingle their magnetism with hers? You shudder. You would shudder more had you seen some of the things which I have seen.
Do not be too sure that the entity which raps on your table or your cupboard is the spirit of your deceased grandfather. It may be merely a blind and very desirous entity, an eager consciousness, trying to use you to hasten its own evolution, trying to get into you or through you, so as to enjoy the earth and the coarser vibrations of the earth.
It may not be able to harm you; but on the other hand, it may do you a great deal of harm. You had better discourage such attempts to break through the veil, for it is thinner than you think, and though you cannot see, you can feel through it.
—Letters from Living Dead Man.
Those who have given you the only record you have of the life of Jesus have insisted too much on His persecution by learned ignorance, and too little on the moral dignity of His life amongst those who lived with Him. They had not access to the original recipients of His teaching, and borrowed at tenth hand stories that were rife. It is as though centuries hence men should compile a history of these days from the current stories of Society. It is important to mark this.
"With regard to reincarnation, it is a large and complicated subject. I can only tell you in this, as in all things, what I have myself experienced, or heard from higher spirits, and believe to be true. And so I think it is incorrect to state that all must come back to a material life on earth. When anyone has entered into any spiritual knowledge during the mortal life, they are never reincarnated, except by their own special desire. If they are undeveloped and animal in the earth life, they frequently return there in spirit form, as earth-bound spirits. Often they receive through the teaching of mortals their first desire for a better life. It is not necessary to pass repeatedly through the earth life in order to progress. I will not say no one has ever reincarnated, but I have never yet met anyone who has."
"Do you, then, hold the doctrine of reincarnation?"
"Not as an absolute law under which all spirits must pass, but I do believe that in the experiences of many spirits reincarnation is a law of their progression. Each spirit or soul born into planetary life has spiritual guardians who, from the celestial spheres, superintend its welfare, and educate the soul by such means as seem best to them in their wisdom. These spiritual guardians, or, as some term them, angels, differ in their methods and their school of thought, for there is no sameness anywhere, I am taught, and no absolute path upon which all must walk alike. Each school of thought which has its counterpart, its dim imperfect reflection on earth, has the perfected system of the school and its highest teachers in the celestial spheres."
—Speaking Across the Border Line.
We attach little importance to individual belief: that is altered soon enough by extended knowledge. The creed which has been fought over with angry vehemence during the years of an earth lifetime is surrendered by the enfranchised spirit without a murmur. The fancies of a lifetime on earth are dissipated like a cloud by the sunlight of the spheres. We care little for a creed, so it be honestly held and humbly professed; but we care much for acts. We ask not what has such a one believed, but what has he done? For we know that by deeds, habits, tempers, characters are formed, and the condition of spirit is decided. These characters and habits, too, we know are only to be changed after long and laborious processes; and so it is to acts rather than words, to deeds rather than profession, that we look.
The religion which we teach is one of acts and habits, not of words and fitful faith. We teach religion of body and religion of soul; a religion pure, progressive and true; one that aims at no finality, but leads its votary higher and higher throughout the ages, until the dross of earth is purged away, the spiritual nature is refined and sublimated, and the perfected spirit—perfected through suffering and toil and experience—is presented in glorified purity before the very footstool of its God. In this religion you will find no place for sloth and carelessness. The note of spirit-teaching is earnestness and zeal. In it you will find no shirking of the consequences of acts.
Such shirking is impossible. Sin carries with it its own punishment. Nor will you find a convenient substitute on Whose shoulders you may bind the burdens which you have prepared. Your own back must bear them, and your own spirit groan under their weight. Neither will you find encouragement to live a life of animal sensuality and brutish selfishness, in the hope that an orthodox belief will hide your debased life, and that faith will throw a veil over impurity. You will find the creed taught by us is that acts and habits are of more moment than creeds and faith; and you will discover that that flimsy veil is rent aside with stern hand, leaving the foul life laid bare, and the poor spirit naked and open to the eye of all who gaze upon it. Nor will you find any hope that after all you may get a cheap reprieve—that God is merciful and will not be severe to mark your sins. Those human imaginings pale in the light of truth. You will gain mercy when you have deserved it; or rather repentance and amendment, purity and sincerity, truth and progress will bring their own reward. You will not then require either mercy or pity.
This is the religion of body and spirit which we proclaim. It is of God, and the days draw nigh when man shall know it.
"Can you tell us the origin of evil?"
"That is not for us to know at present. The origin is so far away in an unknown past that only the Creator of us all can rightly tell of its origin and use. But we know that all things work towards a final greater good, and that is sufficient for us at present."
"Is the percentage of good people any greater now than a hundred years ago?"
"The percentage is far greater than formerly. But the quiet lives of the good, with their unseen and unselfish service, do not get to the knowledge of the public as do the riotous actions of the evil-minded ones."
"Is the world growing better?"
"The good are growing better; the evil are growing more evil still."
Think! You say to us that we are not of God because our ideas of Him made known to you are not compatible with some notions which you have derived from certain of the books in your sacred records. Tell us which is the God with Whom we are at variance in our ideal. Is it the God Who walked in human form with Adam, and is fabled to have wreaked direful vengeance on the ignorant creatures who are said to have committed what you now see to be a very venial fault? Or is it the God Who commanded his faithful friend to sacrifice to Him the only child of his love as an acceptable offering? Or is it the God Who reigned over Israel as an earthly monarch, and Whose care was feigned to be devoted to the enunciation of sanitary laws, or to the construction of a tabernacle. Who went forth with the armies of Israel to battle, and issued blood-thirsty laws and regulations for the extirpation of innocent and unoffending peoples? Or is it, perchance, the God Who enabled His servant Joshua to arrest the course of the universe and to paralyse the solar system, in order that the Israelites might revel a few hours more in gore and carnage? Or is it rather with the God Who was feigned to be so angry with His chosen people because they wished for a visible monarch, that He visited upon them an elaborate revenge extending over many hundreds of years? Or with which of the Gods of the prophets are we at variance? with Isaiah's God, or with Ezekiel's? or with the lugubrious Deity that Jeremiah's morbid mind imagined? or with David's Divinity, half father, half tyrant, cruel and yielding by turns, always inconsistent and irrational? or with Joel's? or with John's; or with Paul's Calvinistic conception, imagined and painted with horrid phantasies of predestination and hell and election and a dreamy listless heaven?
— Spirit Teachings.
"I am not trying for marvels or wonders, but I do want to try to give a plain, simple statement of the life here that may lead some anxious fearing soul into more faith and happiness. I wish I could save them from looking forward with fear into the dark unknown. Will you try and take what you can, and I will try and write what I can, of comforting thought to all those who are really trying to live the right life on earth, and desiring a new inspiration for the future.
"Many come so very ignorant, and come into such a long sleep and unconscious period, which we are sure is unnecessary, for they have not believed the truth of active spiritual development here. So they lose time, and lose the power at first of realising the life and all it means. Tell all who come in the circle of your influence that they are making their future now, and can almost control this future condition, if they will only seek the truth and abide in it while still on earth.
"I do not often preach, but feel like a sermon to-night. For the souls that come to this side come in such multitudes that they can scarcely be counted, yet only here and there are the spiritually developed ones, the ones who can enter into this life with joy, and commence the development of spiritual power at once. The pity of it gets hold of us here, now and then, and we feel like trying to bombard the earth with spirit bombs;—something to make the people think, something to force them away from their material thoughts, pleasures and plans.
"We are obliged to begin our work with them as we would begin with children, and not even in that way when they first come. They sink into a state that is hard to be described. They are not even ready to think. Brain and sense and heart and soul have so long been educated wrongly that silence and unconsciousness are the only remedies at first. Then there comes a confused awakening, with all their human habits of thought and all their evil selfishness predominant. What can be done, then, except to put strong forces in control that they at least may be kept from harming others. You cannot conceive of this work, I am sure; but it is very real here."
Very few of the high thoughts expressed in earth's literature were begotten by man himself. They are the result of his conjunction, unknown to himself, with the higher nature of his guardian angel. Man originates practically nothing. He simply exercises a divine power of choice, and anyone may perceive this for himself by looking carefully into his own nature. On every matter two thoughts or opinions are offered him—one evil, one good. He merely adopts what he prefers, but on that preference hangs life or death. In the same way, when any special message is needed for Earth, or any other similar star, thoughts expressing the message are brought into the man's consciousness, and he delivers them in the natural language of the earth, firmly believing them to be his own.
— Behind the Veil
The joys of that life had been for a long time so wonderfully portrayed that we began to wonder if the malicious ones of earth were to be allowed to enter into equal happiness. One evening this thought was answered, even before it was expressed in words.
"You are thinking," the pencil wrote, "that we have not emphasised sufficiently the consequences of an evil life; that we have not warned the selfish and the malicious ones, and have allowed this life to seem too easy of achievement; and we wish to say, every time and all the time, that character is of the first importance. As a man lives on earth, so will he appear on this side. Slipping out of the mortal body does not always mean entrance into perfect happiness. Justice, purity, unselfishness and kindness of heart are the passports to the heavenly life. If these are lacking they must be acquired, and sometimes the effect of mortal sin makes this acquirement very difficult, and often the time is long and unhappiness great, before the evil is eliminated from the soul. We cannot make this too strong or the caution too-serious!
"Selfishness appears to us here as the foundation of all sin. It appears to be the root of all evil, and is insidious in its destruction of character. Selfishness may be only superficial or it may be deeply ingrained in the individual. The first may be overcome when true knowledge takes the place of vanity and superficiality; the second is the foundation of so much evil that it is most debasing in effect, and most difficult to overcome. It masquerades often in fine dress, for many strive for beauty selfishly; make music and art a matter of personal pride; or adorn themselves with exquisite textures and priceless gems; and forget the deeper meaning of spiritual loveliness. The selfish use of wealth and power; lack of sympathy for the poor or suffering; pride; self-esteem—all these, and many other manifestations of self love, are working towards spiritual atrophy."
"How about those who take their own lives to get rid of the evils of this existence?"
"When a human life is broken by the owner of that life, there is a long period of unconsciousness before any reconstruction can take place. Years may elapse before they are ready to begin any advancement. The suicide takes his own way instead of God's way; and the result is, to paralyse the finer spiritual qualities and prevent entrance into the joy of this life for a long time."
"Will the world ever come into true Christianity?"
"It will come eventually. Every individual has the power to bring that blessed time a little nearer. The work goes on from here as well as there, and all are needed; for the strife between good and evil grows daily more vicious on the side of evil and needs daily reinforcements on the side of good."
"You believe that final victory will be with the good?"
'I know it will. But there must be greater power both here and there. We see the evil, but not in the hopeless way you see it, for we see also the remedy.'
There are individuals who have probed the depths and scaled the heights of intellectual development; they dwell amongst the cold peaks of scientific attainment. They have stored their minds with a huge mass of information regarding the facts of existence, not recognising the truth that knowledge is useless until you use it; and unless knowledge is used to sweeten life, it is of little value to humanity. Such individuals are often unapproachable to their fellows here, and when they reach the spirit world they find themselves in solitude, their natures are stunted and cold; the love-tides do not flow freely, their human sympathies and affections have been frozen, and very often a little child leads them into happier conditions in the social spheres, where love warms the spirit into freer and rounder life.
—Death's Chiefest Surprise (L. W. Wallis).
One evening my grandfather came, and Mary said:—
"He is very bright and happy looking, and if you could see his perfect form and youthful appearance, you would not be calling him grandfather."
I spoke of his stooping shoulders when on earth, and Mary came back with this:—
"Must I repeat, that no physical imperfection appears in the spirit form? He is not surprised that you remember his bent figure, but thinks he will be able to surprise you when you come."
A young soldier of whom we had known, had been blown to atoms by a shell. We asked if that would interfere with the spirit's entrance into that life.
"The body does not imprison the spirit; neither can the spirit be injured. The soul of the young soldier would arrive here as perfectly as if borne on angel wings."
"Then spirit is not subject to accidents?"
"Spirit is superior to all conditions. I could meet lightning without sensation, or ride on the wings or a tornado, or drop into the greatest heat, or move among polar snows, and all sensations would be pleasant. Spirit is the controlling power. I do not quite know how to express it, but spirit is above and beyond any conflict of the elements, or any material conditions. In our movement through the ether we have no sense of obstruction, and we pass easily through matter that you consider solid. We are infinitely finer than any material known on earth."
"Could you descend into the earth?"
"It is through spirit that the treasures of the earth have been found. It is through spiritual impressions on the mind of man that he has been sent to seeking and using the hidden riches which are there for the finding."
Speaking of the higher planes, we are told:—
"Life on the higher planes is more ethereal than here, and all conditions are more ethereal. Coming to this plane from a higher one is a little like descending from an altitude where the air is light to a lowland where the air is dense. Like a life accustomed to the rarefied air of mountain tops, descending into deep pits of the earth, where the air is too heavy for them to breathe."
— Spirit World.
The atonement was the expression through Christ of the love of the Father even unto death, for every human soul. It enabled us to draw nearer to the Father than was possible before Christ died. But this is a great mystery which you cannot fully understand. By assuming the human form, Christ gave the crowning dignity to humanity, and so caused an at-one-ment between us and God. Now, that this at-one-ment is accomplished by Christ, the Holy Spirit can take complete possession of the heart, and by filling it with the Divine Presence gradually purify it from sin. It was to bring us into this soul union that Christ lived and died.
But Christ's death does not remove the effects of sin from any human being. Direct, deliberate sin has far-reaching consequences, stretching even into eternity, and the evil must be undone and the soul make restitution itself for the evil done in the body.
It is the doctrine of the substitution of Christ, the Sinless One, to satisfy the laws the sinner has broken, that has done so much evil. It has lulled the wicked into a false security. The first thing they find when they come here is the record of their life, and every man goes to the place he has made for himself, according as that life has been. Absolute, impartial justice is meted out to every man, of every clime and every race. However feeble have been the glimmerings of goodness and truth, here they are fostered and strengthened till they burn brightly for God. The ignorant are instructed, the weary are soothed, and the brokenhearted are comforted.
—Speaking Across the Border Line.
"Have you any conception of what the music of this life may be? Do you ever wonder what it is like? It is caused by vibrations, but produced in the ether by speech of this life. And the study of this force is the most careful and perhaps the most difficult of all. The power depends upon the speed; the speed depends upon the spirit. For the worker must learn to grade and use the force in accordance with law. Nothing is guess work; nothing happens by chance. All is orderly. All can be acquired by study.
"You say this is not definite. Could you describe an unseen and unknown property to one entirely ignorant of that property? To attempt a comparison, Mary has asked if you could describe the fragrance of a rose. How about the flavour of a fruit to one who had never known the taste? You can say sweet or sour or bitter, but these convey no meaning to one who has never tasted sweet or sour or bitter. So, you see, we can only give the crudest examples of the effects of certain powers, because we cannot explain the finer meaning.
"I can say, then, that vibration is our power. We study its properties and its uses. We learn to control. And when we have finally become capable of using it we become workers with infinite resources and power at our command." Then Mary added:—
"This teacher was one who was a scientist on earth, and would have used scientific terms if he could have impressed them on your mind. But as you could not take them he tried to give you more general ideas."
And now, my ward and friend, let me show you a scene which will point what I have written.
On a hill-side green and golden, and with the perfume of many flowers hovering round like music kissed by colour, there is an old gabled house with many turrets and windows like those which first in England were filled with glass. It stands amid trees and lawns, and down in the hollow is a large lake, by the shores of which birds of many colours, and very beautiful, disport themselves. This is not a scene of your sphere but one on this side of the veil. It were of little profit that I argue to show the reasonableness of such things being here. It is so; and that men should doubt that all that is good and beautiful on earth is here with beauty enhanced and loveliness made more lovely is, on our part, a matter of wonder quite as great.
On one of the towers there stands a woman. She is clad in the colour of her order, and that colour is not one you know on earth. I would describe it as golden purple; but that will, I fear, convey little to you. She looks out towards the horizon, far away across the lake, where low-lying hills are touched by the light beyond. She is fair to look upon. Her figure is more perfect and more beautiful than that of any woman on earth, and her face more lovely. Her radiant eyes are of a lovely violet hue, and on her brow a silver star shines and sparkles as it answers to her thoughts within. This is the jewel of her order. And if beauty were wanted to make her beauty more complete, it may be seen in just a tinge of wistfullness which but add to the peace and joy of her countenance. This is the Lady of the House, where live a large number of maidens who are in her charge to do her will and go forth on what mission she desires from time to time. For the House is very spacious.
Now, if you study her face you will see at once that she is there expectant; and presently a light springs up and flashes from her eyes those beautiful violet rays; and from her lips issues a message; you know this by reason of the flash of light, blue and pink and crimson, which darts forth from between them and seems to take wing far too quickly for you to follow it across the lake.
Then a boat is seen coming quickly from the right between the trees which grow on its borders; the oars flash and sparkle, and the spray around the gilded prow is like small spheres of golden glass mingled with emeralds and rubies as it falls behind. The boat comes to the landing-place, and a brilliantly robed throng leap on to the marble steps which lead them up to the green lawn above. One is not so quick, however. His face is suffused with joy, but he seems also to be full of wonder, and his eyes are not quite used to the quality of the light which bathes all things in a soft shimmering radiance.
Then, from the great entrance, and down towards the party, comes the Lady of the House, and pauses at a short distance from the party. The new-comer looks on her as she stands there, and utter perplexity is in his gaze, rapt and intent. Then at last she addresses him, and in homely words this shining saint of God welcomes her husband: "Well, James, now you have come to me, at last, dear, at last!"
But he hesitates. The voice is hers, but different. Moreover, she died an old woman with grey hair, and an invalid. And now she stands before him, a lovely woman, not young nor old, but of perfect grace and beauty of eternal youth.
"And I have watched you, dear, and been so near you all the time. And that is past and over now, and your loneliness is gone for ever. For now we are together once again, and this is God's Summer land, where you and I will never grow old again, and where our boys and Nellie will come when they have finished what is theirs to do in the earth life."
Thus she talks, that he may get his bearings; and this he does at last, and suddenly he bursts into tears of joy, for it comes to him that this indeed is his wife and sweetheart, and love overcomes his awe. He moves forward with his left hand over his eyes, just glancing up now and then, and when he is near she approaches him quickly, draws him into her arms and kisses him, and then, throwing one arm about his neck, takes his hand in hers and leads him up the steps, with slow and gentle dignity, into the House she has prepared for him.
Yes, that house is the heavenly counterpart of their home in Dorset where they lived all their married life, until she passed hence, and where he had remained to mourn her absence.
This, my ward, I have set down by way of pointing, with homely incident, the fact that the treasures of heaven are not mere words of sentiment, but solid and real, and, if you will not press the word, material. Houses and friends and pastures and all things dear and beautiful that you have on earth are here. Only here they are of more sublime beauty, even as the people of these realms are of a beauty not of earth.
Those two had lived a good life as country squire and wife, both simple and God-fearing, and kindly to the poor and the rich alike. These nave their reward here; and that reward is often unexpected in its nature, as it was to him.
This meeting I myself witnessed, for I was one of those who brought him on his way to the House, being then of that sphere where this took place.
What sphere was it, please?
The Sixth, And now, friend, I will close, and would I might show you now some of these beauties which are in store for the simple-hearted, who do what they can of love and seek the righteousness of God to please Him, rather than the high places among men! These shall shine as the stars and as the sun, and all around them shall take on more loveliness by reason of their presence near. It is written so, and it is true.
All around you are divers chains, or what look like chains, fine and small. They are in truth the electric "cords" attaching you to myriads of other minds. They are the vibratory "cords"—by means of which so much is conveyed to you of both good and ill. The whole atmosphere around you is electric. The ether is full of varied colours. Could you but see them you would almost believe that you were already out beyond matter.
The fine, tiny "cords" of which we speak are the same all over the universe, connecting everyone and everything. It is difficult clearly to express their full meaning in language you would at present understand—but this we can tell you. Jars or frets affect certain "cords" especially, and tighten or, as it were, make such loose. This does not happen without some corresponding effect on the body physical. Therefore, from all standpoints, the more calmly you hold yourself, firm, cultivating poise of mind, the better for you all round.
When we speak of "cords" it is not those "cords" as you on earth would speak. We use the term merely in order to illustrate and help you to picture in some degree what we mean. Actually these "cords" are electricity of the very finest, most tenuous type and style. They radiate everywhere and more especially amongst those between whom great harmony and a similar habit of mind exists. This is what you often hear called "telepathic"; as one mind signals or thinks along a certain line, that signal or thought will at once be caught by any and all who are similarly inclined electrically. It vibrates right along until it reaches the mind—the sense mind of those in sympathy with it. It is a species of telegraphy which, when carried almost to perfection, as in a few rare cases, will serve instead of any outward means of communication between such people. This unceasing flow of power ever radiating and vibrating in the ether around people is liable to jerks, according as they have or have not control of their mind and thoughts. If you could see the beauty all around you, the colours, the electricity, the rapidity of vibrations, you would scarcely be able to bear it, lover as you are of colour and beauty in all ways. But it is, we believe, interesting and useful to know that these beauties exist, and that just as in proportion your thoughts are of sympathy, thanksgiving and upliftment—so around you do these "cords" persist and increase.
Round many a soul all is dull and dead-looking, because these people never lift their thoughts beyond matter.
—Teachings of Love.
We can only convey our experiences approximately. To describe conditions here in words is quite impossible. Please remember this. My brother helped me into one of these Rest Halls. Confusion at once dropped away from me. Never shall I forget my happiness. I sat in the alcove of a splendid domed hall. The plashing of a fountain reached my tired being and soothed me. The fountain "played" music, colour, harmony, bliss. All discordances vanished and I was at peace. My brother sat near me. He could not stay long, but promised to return. I wanted to find you at once to tell you I had found peace, but it is only now that I could do so. On earth the study of crystal formations was a great hobby of mine. To my intense delight I discovered that this splendid hall was constructed according to the law of crystal formations. I spent hours in examining various parts of it. I shall spend hours and days and weeks there. I can continue my studies and make endless discoveries. What happiness! When I have regained a state of poise, my brother says I may help him in his work outside. I am in no hurry for this.
You evidently know nothing about crystals, I cannot impress your mind with the wonders of this place. What a pity! This place is so different from any earthly edifice that I fear it is useless to attempt description. As it is, people will say I am romancing. Or else they will say that you, my faithful scribe, have let your imagination run away with you.
If you create something on earth in solid matter, you create it first in thought-substance; but there is this difference between your creation and ours: until you have moulded solid matter around your thought-pattern you do not believe that the thought-pattern really exists save in your own fancy.
We out here can see the thought-creations of others if we and they will it so.
We can also—and I tell you this for your comfort—we can also see your thought-creations, and by adding the strength of our will to yours we can help you to realise them in substantial form.
Imagination creates in this world, as in yours; it actually moulds the tenuous substance.
—Letters from a Living Dead Man.
You want to know how we on this side "construct objects for our use." When you create a material object it is first designed by the mind, then fashioned by the hands. In this condition it remains till the ravages of time destroy it. Then chemical changes are set up, and nature uses the atoms once more in her laboratory.
With us the process is different. The spirit constructs a thought-form, clothing it with spiritual tangibility. This tangibility is etherealisation, and the spirit operator wills it into any form he desires. When it has served his purpose, he then absorbs it back into himself. It can be dispelled by thought, as well as produced by thought. It is in this way that we show ourselves to mortals. We reproduce the very garments we wore on earth, with many details to ensure recognition.
—Across the Border Line.
Nearly all forms of beautiful thought which are expressed, either in the writing of prose or poetry, or in painting, sculpture or music, have been inspired by some spirit-artist or musician, in waves of thought to a receptive mind on the earth plane. Probably many so inspired have no idea that the thoughts are not entirely their own, and would resent a suggestion of invisible help. But they are helped, nevertheless, by those on this side, and sometimes one will admit that the words came he knew not how, or that the picture was painted in an ecstasy, when he could neither eat nor drink till the inspiration ceased. And thus are produced the masterpieces of a man's life. Now it is just as your spirit is enabled to rise, consciously or unconsciously, into communion with those lofty beings of this higher life, that great things can be said or done on the earth plane. It is the divine essence of knowledge and beauty, filtering down to the inhabitants of earth, in such measure as they are capable of receiving it. When the inspiration comes, it depends entirely on the mentality of the one who receives it, what form it will take. It may express itself in music, painting or verse, but in all cases the inspiration comes through silent waves of thought, flowing over the soul of man. The more receptive and spiritually developed the nature, the finer the result of the inspiring spirit.
I want to add a few lines to Sunday's letter. It is possible that, from what I then wrote you, some might think that spirit help would turn men into automata. That they would be reciting the thoughts of spirits rather than giving their own ideas. This is not so. No spirit can impress a material nature, and no one can be helped against his will.
—Across the Border Line.
Not only is the past life laid bare to himself, but it is patent also to all his friends, for the spirit shows in his person the sort of life he has led in the past, and he cannot change the appearance of the picture until he has obliterated the recollection of all that was evil by making restitution to those he has wronged and obtaining the forgiveness of those he has injured.
You must understand that the memory appertains to the spirit, and not to the body; and it is one of the few qualities of mind that the materialist has been puzzled to account for, because, though every particle of the matter of which the brain is composed may change, there remains indelibly impressed on the mind the recollection of the past experience of the individual from the days of his childhood. If, however, these impressions had belonged to the matter of the brain, they would have been swept away long since in the course of the perpetual changes that are going on in the organism of the human body.
—Life Beyond the Grave.
Is it nothing that we teach you that each act in this, the seed-time of your life, will bear its own fruit; that the results of conscious and deliberate sin must be remedied in sorrow and shame at the cost of painful toil in far distant ages; that the erring spirit must gather up the tangled thread and unravel the evil of which it was long ages ago the perpetrator?
Is it nothing that we tell you that words and deeds are as the pebble thrown into the stream which causes an ever-widening ripple, ceaselessly enlarging in its effects; and that for such influence you are accountable; that every word, every act, is of incalculable import in its results and influence; that the good which your influence produces is to you a source of gratification hereafter, while of the ill you must view the baneful effects in agony and remorse?
Is it nothing that we tell you that reward and punishment are not delayed till a far-off day faintly imagined, after a period of torpor, almost of death, but are instant, immediate, supervening upon sin by the action of an invariable law, and acting ceaselessly until the cause which produced it is removed?
Is this no incentive to a life of sanctity and holiness? Which, say you, is the more potent incentive to a holy life of progress: that creed which we have indicated, or that which teaches that a man may live as seems to him good, may wrong his neighbours, insult his God, and debase his own spirit, may break all laws divine and human, may be loathsome in his moral nature, a blot on the name of man, and then, by a fanatical cry, by a fancied faith, by a momentary operation of the mind, may be fitted to enter into a dreamy heaven, where his sole joy is to be that which his nature would view with distaste, but which, now that the magic change has been effected, is to become the congenial occupation of eternity? Which faith will move the degraded most? To tell him that for each sin, discovered or undiscovered by his fellow, he will have to repent; that each must be remedied, not by another, but by himself; and that no happiness is possible for him till he grows a purer, better, truer man? Or, to tell him that, do what he will, heaven is open to the vilest reprobate, and that a dying cry, when fainting nature is wrung with agony, can magically change his spirit, and send it, after a distant judgment, pure and good, into the immediate presence of his God?
"The five earthly ones are all so increased and multiplied by their varied powers, that they might well be called additional ones. Then we have perceptions not dependent upon sight, hearing, touch or taste. These belong to spirit intuitions."
"I suppose you hardly have need of the sense of taste?
"Not as you know it. Although there are many things that appeal to us almost like that sense. We have fruits and flowers and many other things, that appeal to both taste and smell. But we do not gain them through material organs as you do."
We asked about other sensations.
"We have sensations analogous to the mortal ones, though only in a spiritual sense. We do not need to clasp the hand to show our friendship, There is no need of kisses or other expressions of affection. We have the spiritualised form of them which is higher and finer."
"Do you use language there?"
"We can speak if we wish; and oratory, poetry and lessons are given in word language. But in ordinary intercourse ideas flash from mind to mind without need of words. We speak with spirit organs, as we use other spirit powers; but this you can hardly understand as yet.'
"Can you read the written words here, or do you get them through our minds?"
"I read mostly through the mind; I have not learned the other way yet. Others can read written words, but I have not progressed so far."
"If there were a picture in this room that neither of us knew or saw, could you tell what it was?"
"I doubt it, unless it was the likeness of someone I knew and loved, and I am not sure even of that. We see your soul or spirit selves, and do not discern the physical very clearly except as a shadow of the soul. It is like seeing your true self through a veil; the material flesh is the veil. A picture does not have the inner spirit. It is only an impression of a material body, and that is hard for us to see. Some can see perfectly all material things, but my own power is at present limited."
The difficulty of expression was again mentioned when we read one evening the beautiful sonnet that is attributed to the spirit of F.W.H. Myers:—
To all who wait, blindfolded by the flesh,
Upon the stammered promise that we give,
Tangling ourselves in the material mesh
A moment, while we tell you that we live.
Greeting, and reassurance; never doubt
That the slow tidings of our joyful state,
So hardly given, so haltingly made out.
Are but the creaking hinges of the gate.
Beyond, the garden lies; and as we turn,
Wond'ring how much you hear, how much you guess,
Once more the roses of glad service burn
With hues of loving thought and thankfullness:
Once more we move among them, strong and free,
Marvelling yet in our felicity.
"The poem is true. If only you could see our difficulty of expression you would be patient with misunderstandings. We are not so in touch with material language and thought as to be able to express the marvels of this life by material words or imagery. We are of different conditions and different expression, yet we try to become material for the moment, that we may help you to understand; but often the language fails, and we are confused by lack of right words."
While we waited in expectation of what we were to see, a soft strain of music floated towards us as though borne upon some passing breeze. This grew stronger, fuller, more distinct, till a solemn majestic measure like the march of an army fell upon our ears.
Then the curtains glided apart and showed us a huge mirror of black polished marble. And then the music changed to another measure, still solemn, still grand, but with somewhat of discordance in its tones. It wavered, too, and became uneven in the measure of its time, as though halting with uncertain step, stumbling and hesitating.
Then the air around us darkened till we could scarce see each other's faces; slowly the light faded, and at last all we could see was the black polished surface of the gigantic mirror, and in it I saw reflected the figures of two of the members of our expedition. They moved and spoke and the scenery around them grew distinct and such as I had seen in the Inferno we had left. The weird music stirred my soul to its inmost core, and looking upon the drama being enacted before my eyes I forgot where I was—I forgot everything—and seemed to be wandering once more in the dark depths of Hell.
Picture melted into picture, till we had been shown the varied experiences of each of our band, from the lowest member to our leader himself—the last scene showing the whole company assembled upon the hill listening to the farewell discourse of our commander. And like the chorus in a Greek Tragedy, the wild music seemed to accompany and explain it all, varying with every variation in the dramas, now sad and sorrowful, now full of repose or triumph. . . At last as the final scene was enacted it sank into a soft plaintive air of most exquisite sweetness, and died away note by note. As it ceased, the darkness vanished, the curtain glided over the black mirror and we all turned with a sigh of relief and thankfullness to congratulate each other that our wanderings in that dark land were past.
I asked my father how this effect had been produced, was it an illusion, or what?
"My son." he answered, "what you have seen is an application of scientific knowledge, nothing more. The mirror has been so prepared that it received and reflects the images thrown upon it from a series of sheets of thin metal, or rather what is the spiritual counterpart of earthly metal. These sheets of metal have been so highly sensitised that they are able to receive and retain these pictures somewhat in the fashion a phonograph (such as you saw in earth life) receives and retains the sound waves.
"When you were wandering in those dark spheres, you were put in magnetic communication with this instrument and the adventures of each were transferred to one of these sensitive sheets, while the emotions of every one of you caused the sound waves in the spheres of music and literature to vibrate in corresponding tones of sympathy.
"You belong to the spheres of Art, Music and Literature, and therefore you are able to see and feel and understand the vibrations of those spheres. In the spirit world all emotions, speeches or events reproduce themselves in objective forms and become (or those in harmony with them either pictures, melodies or spoken narratives). The spirit world is created by the thoughts and actions of the soul, and therefore every act or thought forms its spiritually material counterpart. In this sphere you will find many things not yet known to men on earth, many curious inventions which will in time be transmitted to earth and clothed there in material form."
—A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands.
The worth of character, which you sometimes ignore and never rightly recognise, must be seen as we see it here, to be appreciated. We have wonderful surprises here. We see men as they are. Not, of course, all men always. But when the wrappings are off we see the nature of the soul, and the factor that decides is the character. I know this sounds like a commonplace. But it does not seem a commonplace when it is applied as we see it applied here. No. You can hardly, by any stretch of imagination, realise what a change it is to live in a place where the only test is character, where property, station and work do not count—no, nor religious profession. The idea, which you so often have in the world, that the words which you say with your lips have magic influence on your hearts, must be seen in all its hollow absurdity to be understood.
—Letters from Julia.
The child grows up naturally here as it would upon earth; but if, as is frequently the case when one or another of their beloved ones come here, they expect and desire to see once again the little one they loved and lost, as they say, then that child is permitted, by power of thought, to show itself as of old to its mother or father. Just as in a reverse case one who came here old and wrinkled, as seems to earthly eyes, would, for purposes of recognition alone, appear again the same—although as we state there is no "old age" out here.
The children chiefly dwell in their own special domain, almost a little world of their own, where places of learning, religion and love abound, as well as the beauteous gardens and playing grounds of Paradise the fair. There are endless methods of teaching, learning and happiness evolved for the spiritual advancement of the children. We need not tell you that the Master Himself, Who so loved the little ones, is constantly present there, too. Another point of interest and comfort, friend, is, that the children are never allowed to forget or lose their love for their earthly parents. Often and often they are brought to meet them in the appointed meeting-place where many separated souls are re-united—during the hours of sleep.
—Teachings of Love.
"He seems to question everything, and doubts even the spiritual life. He knows, of course, that he has passed away from earth, but is busy explaining that and many other things, with a philosophy of his own. He has a bright brain and we wish to turn it to the truth, and lead him into the real life here. That is why I asked you to send him a message. He does not know you are communicating. We believe that if he can find himself—that is, realise that he is a spirit and living a spirit life already—that he will begin to study and grow."
The next day the pencil wrote:—
"After talking with you yesterday, I turned, and with the quickness of thought, was far away; so far that it would have taken you days to accomplish the journey. We went to see the one to whom we wish you to speak, and we have brought him to our circle to talk to you. He does not believe it can be done. Can you convince him? Will you speak to him?"
"Well, Frank Chase, are you really here to talk to me again after all these years?"
Mary said: "He does not believe it is you. Call to his mind someone he used to know."
Sis complied by asking: "Do you remember going to New York to see a young lady?"
"Will you tell him how she looked?"
Sis gave a short description of the young lady, and Mary said: "Will you keep on? He is impressed."
Sis asked if he remembered this young lady coming to where he lived.
"Keep right on. He is interested."
After further talk we were told: "He knows now it is you, and is overjoyed to know it is possible to talk with and hear from earth, which he has never done before."
After some further conversation Mary said: "He is so surprised that he can hardly credit it at all. Yet he knows that only you could tell him some of these things. We will bring him again soon; it is a good beginning. He is startled, and can hardly believe; but will probably wish to investigate, as that is his turn of mind, and that is what we wish."
We asked if they could explain how he had been getting along all these years without learning more.
"Try to think of yourself in a dream, a long dream, and everything happening in ways that are strange, yet you do not wonder about it. Your dream accepts the things as true. That is as near as I can describe his situation. When he first came he was met by his father and sister, but they failed to reach his reasoning mind and he has wandered on in this condition through all these years."
At another time he came of his own accord to Mary, wishing to talk. After a short conversation Sis asked if in all that time he had been there he had heard of the many wonderful inventions that had appeared here in the meantime. He had not, and wished to know about them. First was the telegraph. Yes, he remembered that. But the telephone was new, and the wireless, and automobiles. Then we went on to tell of the great war, and the immense ships that carried our soldiers, and the terrible guns, and the liquid fire. He had heard a little of the war, but did not believe it possible to do such things.
"What are the good things of earth?" he asked.
This came near being a "poser," but Sis spoke of the Red Cross work, the hospitals, the aid to the starving, etc. Mary said:
"He thinks the world must be in a terrible condition with so much science producing evil things. Tell him of the great vessel that was sunk by the Germans. Tell him about the ship that was sunk by an iceberg."
We talked some time, and after some remark of Sis's he said: "What am I going to hear from you next! No one else could have told me the things you have. I did not know it could be done."
Mary added: "He is dazed with the thought, but he will take it to think over as he did the last time. You are certain of getting hold of him, and we must keep it up."
"This is startling, Mary! How can such things be?"
"Will you believe that each one makes his own life, each one has the chance and must develop accordingly? Frank Chase's condition was caused by too much doubt, too much unbelief in a spirit life. He would not believe he was in a heavenly sphere, and would not admit that he needed help; but argued himself into a strange and persistent unbelief, until the desire for anything different almost disappeared."
The next time he came Mary wrote for him as follows:—
"I am here. Your teacher will write for me. I have been so unbelieving that I could get nothing of course; and so I had no proof of the connections between the two worlds. But what you have said convinced me and I am studying now so that I too can get in touch with mortal lives."
Mary added: "There have been years, he says, when he believed he was on some plane above the earth, but did not understand that this plane might be the beginning of heavenly life for him. It is hard to make you understand, and he says now it is hard for him to understand; and it seems to him more like a long, long dream than anything else he can compare it to. He is learning fast, and is far happier than before, and pursues his studies eagerly."
This was an amazing experience for us. We had read something of such things, but it was all so strange we had passed it by. But this brought the truth to our realisation with much force.
It seems these unfortunate spirits can frequently be helped from this side quicker than from there, if they can reach someone whom they knew. But they eventually find the way out of the fog in some manner, in any case; though as we were told, it may be years and years. Such spirits have not necessarily led evil lives while here. More often this spiritual handicap is the result of too strong belief in some superstition, some creed, or some philosophy on earth; a case of being certain that one way is right and all others wrong. Such beliefs and philosophies continue with them more or less strongly on the other side, just as superstitions sometimes cling to one here in spite of all the evidence there may be to show they are without foundation.
It is very difficult to tell you about work in the spirit world. It is allotted to each one his portion, according to how he has progressed. If a soul has come direct from earth, or any material world, he must then be taught all he has neglected in the former existence, in order to make his character grow to perfection. As he has made those on earth suffer, so he himself suffers. If he has a great talent, that he brings to perfection here; for if you have beautiful music, or any other talent, we use them here much more. Music is one of the great moving forces of our world; but although arts and talents are carried to their fullest, it is the great work of all souls to perfect themselves for the Eternal Life.
There are great schools to teach the spirit children. Besides learning all about the universe and other worlds, about their kingdoms under God's rule, they are taught lessons of unselfishness and truth and honour. Those who have learned first as spirit-children, if they should come into your world, make the finer characters.
Those who have spent all their material existence in merely physical labours, have to learn everything when they come here. Work is a wonderful life, and those who become teachers of souls learn so much themselves. Literary souls become great orators, and speak and teach in eloquent language. There are books, but of quite a different kind from yours. One who has studied your earth-laws would go into the spirit-school as a teacher of justice. A soldier, when he himself has learned the lessons of Truth and Honour, will guide and help souls in any sphere or world, to fight for the right faith in God.
What I want to say is that in the most crushing defeat of the enemy lies no true victory; that the great, the glorious, the transcendent victory will be in the successful application of Christian principles to the business of the world; and that application will lead to life, not death—to upbuilding, not destruction. Remember that the redemption of humanity implies the return to the Father's fold of men irrespective of race or religion.
God bless you, my dear, faithful friend!
—Philemon, Letters from the Other Side.
"What is life? We do not know! It is! It is like the answer we have to give in regard to the Supreme Deity: It is! That is all we know. God is life, and life is the gift of God. What this most subtle, most unseeable, most elusive—. No, we cannot discover it. It simply is! That is all. Some philosophers and scientists may think they know, but they do not. It is the riddle of the universe, and only the Creator of the universe holds the secret in his soul."
"All life is of spirit origin though manifesting itself in such manifold and even grotesque forms. The wide diversity comes from the material envelope, and in what Darwin called adaptation to environment. Spirit is indestructible, not subject to disease or death. But the earthly form in which for a time it manifests itself may be subject to all the accidents and disease of mortal existence.
"I do not know all universes, nor all the ways of life in them; but I think all immortal spirits are always first in human form, and subject to material conditions, and come out of these conditions according to the laws of spiritual evolution. Life here is still progressing to higher forms, and will finally reach a perfection as yet undreamed even by us of the lower planes."
Remember that you are a spirit—just as much a spirit now as you will be when you come here, but you have that spirit encased while on earth in an outer covering called the body. This is a protection to the spirit while you are undergoing your probation on the earth-plane; and when you have finished with it your spirit form will rise out of that body of fleshy component parts, an exact facsimile of it....
Perhaps it may interest some if I describe the process (or how the spirit leaves the body). First, the spirit form, which is unconscious at the time, commences to rise from the top of the head, through the aperture which is never completely closed from birth to so-called death, and slowly ascends head first, and in a perpendicular position, until the whole form stands, as it were, on the earthly body. Then those spirits who are there to receive the spirit body hold out their arms and support it, until the cord, which is attached to the spirit feet and thence down to the material head, has passed. This cord is usually about a quarter of a yard long, and until it has passed the spirit is not free. During its passing there is often a spasmodic movement in the body, and what is termed a death rattle, but in almost every case the breath has actually left the body before this occurs. The final spasm is caused by the cord passing through the body preparatory to its final separation. This can be seen by clairvoyants who may watch a death scene.
After the spirit is free it is taken by loving friends to a place of rest—it may be by relatives, or it may not—but always by those who are most suitable to help it at that time. In some cases the spirit sleeps for a week or more.
Q. Are the appearances of Christ and the Saints, reported to have been seen by the faithful, projected by the minds of the latter, or are they real appearances?
P. It is very difficult to give an answer that covers all the cases. In all instances the vision is occasioned by some real wave of loving interest on the part of some spiritual being. A slum-child recovering consciousness in an accident ward, seeing a beautiful lady bending over her, may imagine it is the Queen. This is one extreme. There are other cases where I should judge the experience to be an actual one, to emanate from the Being personified. You will notice one thing: the percipient, as a rule, clothes, fashions the visions along some lines of convention. Where this is not done—which is rare—what I have said does not so much apply. Bernadotte saw a representation of the Blessed Virgin, who sent her an answering thrill in response to her ardent faith. "According to thy faith be it unto thee," holds good, despite certain elements of error and superstition.—God bless us, one and all!
—Philemon, Letters from the Other Side.
When a man dies he has to learn everything anew. He is like a child in regard to many things that we are acquainted with, and has to be instructed in the most ordinary subjects. For instance, he learns an entirely new means of locomotion; he finds that he requires no food, and cannot understand how he is to live or what he is to do. He may want to go to bed, but he finds that he is never tired, and it is never dark—there being no day or night in the spirit world—which, of course, puzzles him exceedingly. Again, he wonders where his friends are, for he very often does not realise that he is dead at all.
—Life Beyond the Grave.
The body you now wear, and the trees and rivers and other things of material substance, which you call real, are not so enduring, nor so real, as their counterparts in these spheres. For here is found the energy which comes to your systems, and is as the electric dynamo to the single lamp as to its power and intensity.
When, therefore, men think of us as of whiffs of smoke, and of our environment as drifting shadows, let them pause and ask if there is any sound reason on which to base their view. Nay, there is no reason in it whatsoever, but, on the contrary, it is foolishness, and unworthy of thinking beings.
We have before us one sole aim, and that alone has brought us to your earth. You know our mission. In days when faith has grown cold, and belief in God and immortality is waning to a close, we come to demonstrate to man that he is immortal, by virtue of the possession of that soul which is a spark struck off from Deity itself. We wish to teach him of the errors of the past, to show him the life that leads to progress, to point him to the future of development and growth.
You lead two lives at the same time; and a man may make a name and a reputation in both worlds at once, or in one only; for it often happens—indeed, it is most commonly the case—that men whom we think the most of are least thought of by you. Many a poor man is a power in the spirit world, and will have a name awaiting him, when he enters spirit life, which kings might envy.
—Life Beyond the Grave.
The existence of this spiritual counterpart of earthly objects seems to you an extraordinary state of things, and you cannot take it all in yet, but when you consider it fully you will see that it is only reasonable. Your towns are full of men and women who have parted with their material bodies, and still live on in the old way, scarcely knowing whether they are alive or dead, for they see everything going on as before: they jostle against their friends in the streets, and they see no difference in them excepting that those who are still in the body seem—as we told you before—like deaf, dumb and blind people, who pass them by, and take no notice of them. Of course, all who pass away from your world do not lead this kind of life, or there would not be room in your towns to hold the millions who would in course of time become crowded together. As it is, these unfortunate beings are sadly too numerous. It is a painful sight to see the wretches who crowd together in their old haunts in your cities and in the country, too; for generations of people will sometimes live on and on in the same house, never thinking of the possibility of there being any higher life, but simply vegetating, as, in fact, thousands do amongst you now.
You appear to us like a double man. We see the physical body precisely the same as you see yourself, only instead of being solid and material it is transparent and shadowy to our eyes, and we see you seated on a transparent or shadowy chair, surrounded by shadowy papers, and equally shadowy furniture; in fact, you present the appearance of a ghost to us. So much for the physical body and its material surroundings. Your savants, who imagine that there is nothing but matter, may perhaps be surprised to hear that there is a spiritual duplicate or counterpart (we will call it a counterpart) of the foregoing objects, including yourself, and that this counterpart, though spiritual from your point of view, and therefore invisible to your senses, is tangible and material to our touch. The physical body and material objects are not, however, distinct from the spiritual counterparts, but are inter-blended, the former being attached to the latter by a sort of silvery thread, which causes them virtually to be one inseparable substance so long as this spiritual tie is maintained. When, however, by the death of the physical body the spiritual counterpart becomes independent of the former, it begins to exist alone, and so also with the furniture, etc. When the spiritual tie is severed which attaches your articles to their spiritual counterparts, the latter can be displaced and moved away, and become thenceforth, in the spirit world, separate and distinct objects. The spiritual counterpart being to us the most material, of course conceals, for the time being, the material object from our view. The latter per se offers, of course, no impediment to our movements, being transparent to our senses, but the spiritual object, whether connected or disconnected, impedes our locomotion, and requires to be displaced before we can pass. Thus, you see, that entering your rooms we have to come in through the door like other human beings. We do not care to break through your walls, or come in at the window, or through the ceiling, though we are aware that such is reputed to be the orthodox mode of locomotion in our world. Since we told you the spiritual counterpart of your walls and your doors is solid to our senses, of course we must either open the door or break through. The latter we can do if we like; not by physical force, as with you, but by the exercise of will-power, which answers the same purpose with us, where the strongest man is he who has the most powerful will. You do not see why we should hesitate to adopt the first-named mode of entrance and come in through the wall, if it suits us and can be so easily accomplished as we suggested: but you must understand that we do not care to injure what does not belong to us. You can, if you like, break through your friend's window, but you do not do so, for the same reason.
—Life Beyond the Grave.
Having explained to you that you possess a spiritual body, you can easily understand that in controlling you to write, we can take hold of the spiritual counterpart of your hand and move it about. This does not prove how we move your material hand. Quite so; but it shows that if the tie between the two is strong enough, and we can also impress your brain with the ideas we want to write, we can induce your hand to trace out the words on paper which are to express our ideas. This we do by magnetism, for you could not write for us had you not previously been magnetised also.
You present to us the appearance of a deaf, dumb and blind man, because, though we may address you, you cannot hear us, neither can you see nor talk to us. You can speak to us if you like to do so, but of course, you cannot be aware of our presence and hence, virtually, you are dumb also, when you are passive we can, however, talk to you, and often we enter your brain slowly as thoughts, and you think they are your own.
— Life Beyond the Grave.
It is necessary that you should recognise that the spirit world is a realm of law and order—not of supernatural magic—and that character persists after death; that by no possible means can anyone cut himself away from his past. An interesting case will illustrate this. I attended the awakening of an old man who "passed over" to our side very suddenly. When he awoke to consciousness he protested vehemently that he was not dead, calling us all liars and fools. He had been cynical and conceited, and believed that men were honest and women virtuous only so long as they were not found out. He imputed the worst intentions to all, and having no sympathy with others he had no friends, so that he found himself a stranger in a strange land. He was isolated, hemmed in by his own mental state, and could neither see nor hear the real spiritual world, as his own conditions were his own surroundings.
— Death and the Beyond (Wallis).
It may be asked, Does the soul body require recurring periods of rest, similar to that which obtains on earth? Now, there are no arbitrary time divisions here like night and day, according to which earth occupants sleep during night and work during day. But every soul after a period of activity becomes tired and needs rest and recuperation. This is obtained by something analogous to slumber; it may be partial or absolute insensibility like sleep, but it is always dreamless. When the soul organism requires such rest, there comes round and about it a kind of twilight, which is an indication that rest is necessary and it also induces slumber. There is no uniformity as to the time or the manner of seeking this repose—each one takes it just when he or she feels the need of it. It is always restful and restorative and some good people on earth will be thankful to know, that when this need is felt, rest always ensues. Insomnia is unknown in this life.
Does sex persist in this new life?
In a modified form, Yes. The reader will concede that the primary purpose of sex on the material plane is to provide for the perpetuation of the race. No such need exists here. But sex differentiation is not only a question of the body, it is also a matter of the soul, and although you leave all the physical sexual differences and demands behind you when you come across death, you still bear in your natures sex qualities and differences, and so here a man in his outlook remains a man, and a woman remains a woman.
But as you grow upward towards the higher things, there is a gradual diminution and lessening of the sex dividing line, and the sex division which is sharply accentuated with the new arrivals in this life, diminishes more and more with spirit growth. The two natures, once acutely divided, grow towards each other, and each gradually develops qualities peculiar to the other. Man acquires on his upward career woman's tenderness, and woman attains to man's strength.
Is the spirit body subject to illness, disease or accident?
Accident? No. Organic disease? No! But a temporary lapse of soul health which might be described as illness, is not unknown. This takes the form of absorbing and persistent grief for one's self or for others; remorse for evil done; unhappy memories; longings for the unattainable; carnal earth desires; feelings of hatred and bitterness; desire for revenge; jealousies; hatred, malice and all uncharitableness. These and similar mental conditions all constitute disease of the soul, the remedy for which in every case is to encourage the development of the opposite quality of the particular disease.
Do you hate? Then you will find love the antidote. Are you unduly depressed? Take a dose of optimism, it will put you right. Are you self-absorbed with your own griefs? Lend a helping hand to another in similar straits and you will effect your own cure. The poet asks: "Who can minister to a mind diseased?" The sufferer must be his own physician; he himself and no other possesses the remedy.
Gentle, kind and gracious souls are ever round about such suffering ones to encourage and advise and cheer, but in the long last, the sick one must effect his own cure. Some such mental illnesses as have been indicated are seemingly intractable, and souls suffer in these little hells for long periods; but ultimately, in every case, they will emerge cured. God loves them all, and "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," but only for his edification and uplift. "Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I trow that Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of his Master, has by suffering washed his robes, cleansed his soul, and is now a saint in glory.
There are many ways of passing from your side to ours. Of these the most general is painless waking up, and the first sensation is one of rest, of relief, and of peace. The dead—for I fear I must use that misleading word—in almost all cases where death has been unexpected, does not realise the change that has taken place. His only idea is that he has suddenly recovered. Physical pain drops off you like a garment with the body which you have left behind, you wake up well, and your first impression is one of delight; just the same as when you wake up from a bad dream and discover that it was only a dream. So simple, so natural does this seem, that you almost always mistake what has taken place. I did, as you know. And I find it is a common experience. Many refuse to believe they are dead. It is, of course, true that they are not dead. They have all their faculties: they see, they hear, they move hither and thither. Everything seems the same to them as before. Their first realisation of the change that has taken place is a kind of shock to them. "So this is death. Then if so, there is no such thing as death!" For it is so entirely different from what we imagined.
What first convinced me that something had happened was the sight of my old body. After that came the discovery that my nurse did not see me nor hear me, but wept about my body as if that were myself. This is what usually happens. The passing soul, which retains consciousness, sees the body which it had inhabited lying inert. The snapping of consciousness between the soul and the tenement, if I may so speak of it, is usually not felt by the soul. With some it is different. They feel as if it were the slow breaking, one by one, of the threads which connect the soul with its tenement; but the process is not painful, even when it is protracted. I have spoken to many on the subject, and the majority tell me that their experience agrees with mine. They could not even say that they could remember the exact moment when the body parted company with their soul. Some say that they left the body before it ceased to breathe, others that they lingered behind for a time after physical life had ended. But these are exceptions. The immense majority here say the same thing. They were asleep; they found themselves awake and well, in the same place where they fell asleep, and at first they could not realise they had died. And this is the case even when, as in some churches, the dying have been prepared for death by the last solemn rites. They knew that they were going to die, but they did not expect that dying was waking up quite well, with all their old faculties and memories in the same place where they fell asleep, and this always is a source of astonishment, of bewilderment, to them at first. Many think it is a pleasant dream to be well, and dread waking up to the old pain and weakness. All that I have written relates to the immediate moment after awaking, and to the experiences of the majority. There are many, very many, exceptions. But, as a rule, Death is a painless waking up in health, and the first emotion is bewildered astonishment.
When the newly arrived have had many friends, relatives, or those whom they have loved on this side, they find them waiting for them. Especially when they have kept thinking of or praying for them.
Forgetfullness separates here as there. But all whose minds and hearts have been closely knit in love with those on this side find their loved ones waiting. And yet so great is the difference between what is and what they expected, that even when they are welcomed on this side by those whom they knew to have been long "dead," it is to them as a dream. Bewilderment, surprise are the first sensations. When I came over, you will remember! was at first quite alone, when I was allowed by my experience with the nurse to discover for myself what had happened, and then came the angel who took me apparently a long, long way to my relations and friends.
It is in pity to His wandering, struggling children that God has in these later days opened once more—and wider than ever before—the doors of communion between the two worlds. He is sending out again messengers to warn man, ambassadors to tell him of the better way, the truer path to the happiness of a higher life, and to show him that knowledge and that power which shall yet be of right his inheritance. As the prophets of old spake, so speak these messengers now, and if they speak with clearer voice, with less veiled metaphor, it is because man is no longer in his infancy and needs now that he should be shown the reason and the science upon which his beliefs and hopes must be founded.
—A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands.
Realise that between us and you a great psychic gulf is fixed, putting many difficulties in the way of communication. There is an underlying truth in every wrongly transmitted message. Treat us not as fraudulent, because we cannot always pierce the darkness of your material minds. Do you always receive your telephone messages correctly?
—Not Silent—if Dead.
Neither spirits nor mortals can know everything, and spirits can only give you what are the teachings which their own particular schools of thought and advanced teachers give as their explanations. Beyond this they cannot go, for beyond this they do not themselves know; there is no more absolute certainty in the spirit world than on earth, and those who assert that they have the true and only explanation of these great mysteries are giving you merely what they have been taught by more advanced spirits, who, with all due deference to them, are no more entitled to speak absolutely than the most advanced teachers of some other school.
—A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands.
"We are not thinking of birth at all. It is always the present here. No looking forward to old age and decrepitude of either mind or body. The future is ours; the present is ours. How different from the half-fear of the future, the dread of the years that may bring hardships, the looking forward to the silence of the grave, and the terror of the future! Can you see?
"I was not happy on earth, but I feared the end of that life, and had rather a morbid terror of death. Will you see the difference now? Nothing to fear, neither sickness, poverty, age nor death. Why count the years, when each passing one will only add to your happiness and power, and preserve forever both youth and beauty? Good-bye to birthdays! Greet the future with joy that will take no cognizance of years!"
"The tie between the two worlds, or rather the one world of the seen and the unseen, grows closer as the years go by. I did not know much about this life when there, but I imagined more than I knew. The normal life here was a surprise; for I had thought of angels with wings and harps, and heaven as a city of golden streets. But nothing of the kind is here. Normal progression; friends, work, service for others—yes, happiness; in travel, music, books and congenial companions. It is all normal and all true. It is worth working for there. And all the work is simply to have high ideals and live up to them. The golden rule is no dead letter. Be sure of that!"
Q. When you went away did you go to that land you have described?
P. I went to that realm of love and light. It is useless to repeat my attempt at description. But I went further. I left that pleasant and beauteous land, for land it is in the same sense to us as spirits as the earth is land to you incarnate beings. All attempts at describing ultra-earth spheres and states leave a sense of unsubstantiality and unreality, therefore I refrain. This needs repeating, because it is so hard for you to realise that we are the light, you the shadow, we are the reality, you the appearance. But I did not remain long. I speedily returned to the sphere of love and light, for I am not yet inured to existence in the ultra-etheric worlds.
Q. Do you dwell in communities or families?
P. All who are in the sphere of love and light dwell in families, communities, groups, the binding force of which is love, love alone, sympathy, mutual affection. There you have less one-sidedness than on earth. It is a world of mutual loves and affections and pursuits. Parents and children are reunited only if that love tie persists and friends and relatives have no other reason for being together but that they love to have it so. Different kinds of love are merged in the highest form of all—friendship, affinity in varying degrees of intensity and nearness
—Letters from the Other Side.
From Archdeacon Wilberforce.
You see, here, in this borderland, we feel much more vividly, and can be easier helped and hurt, than when protected by the material envelope of the body. That is why comparatively few return to the earth-sphere. They would reap sorrow rather than joy. It is not pleasant to feel that your place is so soon filled, that you have become a "blessed memory" when you are more palpitating with life and love and light than ever before.
I want to say that the Church, our beloved but very faulty, very erring Mother, can only prove and continue to prove a ghastly failure while she retains, unrescinded, the awful doctrine of hopelessness for those who pass on, outside of, or at enmity with, her communion. To the learned we tell the truth. To the simple, to the little children in the faith, we still deal out the old dogmas and so drive them to seek refuge, sometimes in very doubtful folds of faith and practice. I must write no more now, except to tell you that I do come into touch with other friends, but only partially. Some have erected certain insuperable barriers between themselves and the emancipated soul by what are termed "truths," basic truths of Theosophy, etc. Others have much—nearly all, in fact—to learn with regard to the world with which they believe themselves to be in daily communion. So they are; but much that they believe to be imparted to them is merely, as it were, their own mental conception mirrored forth in their own objective consciousness. God bless and keep you
—Philemon, Letters from the Other Side.
P. There are spirits who have never been on earth in this world. There are beings from all parts of our solar system, but I am not aware that there are any extra-solar-system beings within our radius. Our learned spirits deny its possibility, as your astronomers deny that beings from other planets dwell upon earth. We are none of us spirits in the sense of transcending the stream of events you call time, and the juxtaposition of worlds and objects that men term space.
Q. But you are not—even in your world—all equally developed?
P. We spirits are not a democracy but a hierarchy—an ordered grade of beings, ascending beyond our capacity even here to follow its upward ranges. But there is no injustice. Each occupies its position by reason of capacity and fitness. Democracy on earth will fail unless it becomes a brotherhood, older and younger brothers.
Q. Can you tell us about the solar systems other than our own?
P. I cannot go in thought outside of our system in the sense of attempting to outline other systems, their nature and modes; but of this I am sure: they are like our solar system, and we human spirits shall find ourselves at home in any member of any solar system, because God rules and reigns in all, and we are His offspring.
— Letters from the Other Side.
The sinfullness of sin chiefly shows itself in the inability to see God. The punishment of sin which is remedial is the sense of loneliness and darkness which overwhelms the loveless souls when they come into this world, the atmosphere of which is eternal love. This they endure until such time as they love. When they love, they turn to God, and see in the darkness a ray of the Love infinite and everlasting, in which they are able to realise, as we do, that they live and move and have their being.
There is much about this of which I will tell you later. For the present let me just say this: There is, when the loveless soul comes here, as much care taken to welcome it as when the soul of love arrives. But the selfish soul is blind and dark, and shudders in the dark. The imagination, which here is far more powerful than with you, fills the solitude with spectres, and the sinner feels he is encompassed by the constantly renewed visions of his deeds. Nor is this all; he sees those whom he has injured, and he fears. If ever a soul needs a Saviour and Deliverer it is when imagination and memory without love recreate all anew the selfish acts of a loveless life.
Please understand that the explanation now given has to do with spirit folk who have had their origin in civilised communities. I am not for the moment concerned with the robing of the dead savage, or partially civilised person, though the underlying principle operating is identical in all cases.
All decent folk have latent at the back of their minds the idea that clothing is indispensable. The consciousness of this need is woven into the very texture of their thinking; it is an integral part of themselves; they could not conceive of an existence for themselves where garments could be altogether dispensed with. This idea has such a governing and determining effect upon their life and action that without conscious effort it is sufficiently powerful to automatically garb them on their emergence through death. And here you have another vivid example of the mechanical operation of a strong and latent idea within the soul and of its self-volition. So that when man awakes from the sleep of death his latent sense of the proprieties of decent life have already provided him with suitable garments.
This, then, is the basic principle, the operation of which clothes a man in spirit life.
The question may perhaps be asked: Has a person no voice in deciding the kind of clothing he may wear? At the outset of his spiritual career he has no power whatever to interfere with the kind of dress he wears, because it is the reflection of his own soul. If he is beautiful in his nature and loves beautiful things and performs kindly actions, his garments will be becoming and beautiful. If his life has been ugly and selfish his robes cannot be anything but sombre and unlovely. A vain superficial woman whose life on earth was largely occupied with her personal adornment finds to her chagrin that here her very vanity has clothed her with a robe that is anything but lovely. But the good folk, the real ingrained good folk, who come through death in their thousands, have robes which scintillate with beauty, reflecting as they do beautiful minds. Gracious and kindly natures are invariably beautifully garbed. And then there are the great and high and exalted ones, who are "clothed with righteousness as with a garment," and their vesture is almost too dazzling to look upon. Your garments change with the state of your mind, and as you grow from strength to strength, so do they become more lovely. So you perceive that upon awakening on the spirit side of life you find yourself arrayed in robes self-evolved by the mechanical processes of your own mind, and these garments, which are composed entirely of thought stuff, have been radiated from and exactly reflect your own nature. Thought texture is a wonderful fabric, and is amply sufficient to garb the spirit body.
Now, it may be asked, is it possible for any being to himself add to his own adornment? Yea. One of the activities of this life is creative, and it is possible by concentrated mental effort to add much in the way of adornment if you so wish it.
Great souls, however, are too occupied with the higher activities to be concerned about this; but partially civilised peoples, little children and bonnie lassies are taught how to create pretty things to wear. You see, dear friends, up in the Great Beyond there is a salutary ministry of "little things for little minds"—toys for the bairnies, pretty baubles for the lassies, and so on—beautiful, is it not?
Peoples of ancient races—Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Persian—who on earth attained to a measure of civilisation and functioning now on spiritual planes—some of which I have been privileged to visit—not infrequently bejewel their already resplendent spirit garments in the way which has been indicated. Uncivilised and savage races, whose conception of the need of clothing is most elementary, find when they come through death that their limited need is self-provided, their spiritual robes being of a correspondingly scanty character.
—Morrow of Death.
All earth-dwellers are not equally visible to us. I can see the "scribe" clearer than I can discern others most near and dear. The reason is somewhat as follows:—
The physical bodies are like lanterns enclosing "lights," souls and spirits. Where the physical is the best-developed part of the being—no, no, where it is of the earth, earthy, very gross, the light given off by the soul is dim and unpenetrating. Such a person would be almost invisible to us here, even were he one's own son. I can see the scribe more by reason of the rapid intensity of her vibratory system than by reason of the lesser materiality of the physical instrument. I can see you as clearly as I see her; but there is this difference: I cannot help seeing her, even if I did not want, without shutting my spiritual eyes; but I have to look for you and find you. I cannot explain except that it is generally true, this insistent visibility of the so-called "mediums."
Q. Do you see me more clearly now than when on earth?
P. I feel rather than see your thoughts, far more vividly than when on earth, for this reason. I am a thought-man. You as a thought-woman meet that thought-man, myself. Your body prevents you receiving the full impact of my thought. I have no such impediment, but receive your thoughts in full force. Therefore I know you better than I ever could have known you on earth.
— Letters from the Other Side.
The question may now be asked: Does the Resurrection or after-death body require food to nourish and sustain it, as is the case with the earth body?
The circumstances are not parallel. Without food the physical or earth body would decay and perish. Food is an absolute necessity to it, to replace waste and renew the vital forces which are being continually exhausted by bodily activities. Without food the physical body dies, but the spiritual or soul body is immune from anything analogous to death; yet for its health and development it requires sustenance of a kind. You see, it it a soul or mind body, and food for the mind it essential to its well-being and growth. Were it possible for a being in this life to absolutely enclose himself within himself and shut out all external influences and stimuli, such an one would certainly languish and his spirit body become almost atrophied. But such a possibility is almost inconceivable. Surrounding every individual here are healthy, informative and soul-expanding influences, and just to the extent that he opens his nature to their incoming is his spiritual body nourished and sustained.
Perhaps you ask: How does this occur? What is the modus operandi? Just as you breathe air in the earth life, so here you inbreathe all these revivifying and beneficent influences surrounding you to which you happen to be en rapport. In this way soul nourishment is automatically imbibed. As you open your mentality to higher influences and recuperative forces, they enter and your soul body becomes reinvigorated and fortified.
By way of illustration—on earth you may read an elevating book, listen to an instructive discourse, or come under the spell of fine music, and as a result your soul is largely benefited by these uplifting influences. How do they enter your soul? Through your sense channels, which convey them to the brain, from whence they are received into and assimilated by the mind; and here, in a similar way, do these exterior uplifting influences come into your nature and nourish and stimulate your mind and make for the health of your soul body. You do not eat great thoughts here, they are inbreathed by souls in affinity with them and are then mentally digested and assimilated by the spirit body. Should you starve the mind here you starve your body, which is constructed of mind stuff. Now, with little children and adults likewise who are children in spiritual things, a semblance of eating as on earth is sometimes desirable and may be indulged in with great benefit. These folk—little children and children of a larger growth—who can conceive of no satisfactory existence without receiving food through their mouths, find means to gratify their imaginary needs.
Fruits—beautiful to behold and luscious to the taste—are in great profusion, and may, as thought necessary, be plucked and eaten. These fruits contain in concentrated form, mental and spiritual essences. Though seemingly eaten, they are not swallowed as is food on earth, but are dissolved in the mouth cavity, then imbibed into the system. But folk as they grow upward and progress onward, ultimately perceive the puerility of the process, and do not pursue it. How the savage and partially civilised do in the matter of their imaginary need for food, I am not able to say; excepting to remark that savage peoples, as a rule, do not eat unless they feel hungry. Civilised folk on earth eat at stated times and probably far too frequently. Not so is it with the savage, and as such an one would never feel anything approximating to a hunger pang here, he doubtless would have no desire for food. Still, if such a desire did manifest itself, I have no doubt whatever that the marvellous workings of the subconscious mind would provide him with food which his untutored mind deemed suitable and sufficient. But the savage of earth is not long a savage here, and soon becomes quite at home in celestial climes, and in a marvellous way adapts himself and his doings to his wonderful new life.
—Morrow of Death.
Q. Do you believe that every soul, whether male or female, has its counterpart?
P. I am inclined to believe that each soul has its counterpart, its affinity, its complement in some other soul. But here again there are exceptions in the case of certain mystics who seem to find entire fulfilment in God Himself. But most Dantes need a Beatrice to lead them upwards and onwards to the sphere where the beatific vision bursts upon their enraptured gaze. Only mediately can most souls attain to full spiritual and celestial maturity.
Q. But perhaps Beatrice herself longed for an inspiring guide?
P. Beatrice had her full joy and delight in guiding and tending the poet's faltering footsteps, much as mothers teach children to walk. And Dante was as slow to recognise the actual guiding presence of Beatrice as children are to realise what they owe to those who nurture and cherish them through infancy and childhood. Dante and Beatrice are true to fact, even should neither have ever lived as individuals on earth. They are symbols of eternal truths. I take this example from where I am as an ideal. From earth I should not have thus regarded it. I should have felt it inadequate. But here I see that the perfect equality of two souls exactly complementing each other would mean a kind of stagnation, arrest, monotony, equilibrium, that debarred one from further yearning, striving, loving, growing towards a good ever realised, only as a step to yet further perfection.
—Letters from the Other Side.
I fell into earthly oblivion, but awakened to full awareness in another set of surroundings. I was a spirit, among spirits—some clear and perfectly defined, others as it were in a fog. I did not then know that I was "dead." But I wondered at the fog-bound friends whom I knew so well, yet could not see. Later I discovered that the fog-bound spirits were incarnate friends. The clearly defined beings were the "dead," old college friends. "Khaki", and my mother were the first who made me realise I was a spirit among spirits—I now think I "died" twelve hours before my body ceased to function, because I went to all the dear ones, and could only see them as in a mist. Directly my body ceased to function I escaped from the earth and saw the friends of my youth, "Khaki" and my mother; and then I knew that the change called death had supervened. I went to all who really loved me, not to those who just admired or respected me; and, dear friend, the latter were, they are, the majority. In the state between the two worlds no mistakes are made. The spirit follows, is drawn, by the bonds of love.
—Canon Wilberforce, in Letters from the Other Side.
In the first shock of separation almost all desire to manifest, and seize any avenue to that end. Later they see that it is not so tremendously urgent, and only those who are either earth-bound or heart-bound, through one who cannot live without the loved presence, continue to communicate. In most cases one world is more than enough to deal with; therefore intercommunion is a hindrance rather than a help to growth here or with you, except in the early days of severance, when it is a mutual service.
—Letters from the Other Side.
Have you ever wished to be back again in this life? She wrote:—
No. I have never for one passing moment wished to be back in my body again.
The body is such a miserable substitute for the spirit in which we live and move and act as we think. No, if I might come back and live on earth as I used to do, I would not; it would be all loss and no gain. There is nothing the body could give me that I do not now enjoy. Only in an etherealised but more real way, and much that I now enjoy I should lose by being again in my body.
What about being parted from friends who survive?
That is, I admit, a deprivation to them and to you, as much as you see them lamenting their deprivation. But it is not a real deprivation. You are with them to help them more than when you lived. When the departure entails material loss, as of the father who earns the money with which the family is supported, and the children are hungry, are scattered, or are sent to the poorhouse, you may think that it is hard to bear. And in one way it is. But you can have no idea of the abiding sense of the things which most impress us here. The first is the vivid realisation of the love of God; the second is the exceedingly transitory nature of all earthly things; and the third, the extent to which poverty and misery minister to the creation of character, the development of love.
"Hardly. We have a system or order of work and study, though what you call hours and minutes are not so counted by us. The divisions of time are not arbitrary, but I am thinking how to tell you of the orderly way in which we work. Perhaps if I call it (this by way of illustration) a central office, where the plans of work are arranged and messengers sent to us when we are needed, it may help you a little."
"Well, again: You have no need for food, and so no rivalry in obtaining it; no buying or selling, no business of any kind, no money, no medium of exchange."
"We are as busy as you. We exchange many things, which might be called barter. For instance, I study something I wish to perfect myself in, and teach, perhaps, my very teacher in some other branch. We exchange many things, sometimes work, sometimes ideas, sometimes the many acts of love or friendliness; but all without your medium of exchange, money. We have love instead, or, if to those we do not know, whatever courtesy suggests. So you see we have a busy trading system, and enjoy it, too, and no one becomes bankrupt."
Sis said it was very difficult for her to realise that there would be no desire to eat or sleep.
"You will never miss either. Instead, you will be delighted that the sordid occupations of life do not interfere with your progress."
"So much of life here is made up of chasing the dollar with which to buy food and comfort, it would seem that many people would be completely lost over there. What will a banker do there, for instance?"
"Will you know that his training there will not be lost here. He may not handle money, but there are many other ways in which that trained accuracy wilt be of service."
"Then, your travel is so different. You have no railroads, no trains, no automobiles, no airplanes, no steamships."
"Wait till you come and we take you on a trip to some far off place. The mode of travel will be as much finer as your Cadillac is finer than a wheelbarrow!"
"Having no need of the things that money buys, there can be with you no jealousies because of place or position attained by material blessings."
"They who serve most are the greatest here. There is no computing of place or position except by service or wisdom. Service may be of the intelligence, or of the spiritual gifts, or the more common activities; but the wiser the service, or the more loving and unselfish the giving of one's self—these are the things that give prominence in spirit life."
"You have no thieves or robbers, and no need for insurance policies."
"We have the unworthy ones to guide and the wicked ones to convert, and the time and patience given to this work is more than any occupation on earth would probably demand. The unworthy ones are always with us, therefore that work is never done."
I said they had no colour line, therefore no race prejudice; and Sis asked if spirits were always white.
"Not that exactly, but spirit is not black or red or yellow or brown, it is spirit, that is all."
When we read this later Mary corrected it by saying:—
"That would seem to make spirit a colourless substance. That would be quite the opposite of the truth. Spirit is white, in a way, because spirit represents truth, beauty and nobility of character, character determines the exterior, and purity of soul expresses itself in purity of appearance."
"Then, as you have remarked several times, you have no care of the house or clothing or person."
"It makes us almost weary to think of all these things; but your list has brought to our attention our freedom and our joys. We become so accustomed to our blessings that we perhaps forget a little, and it is good to be reminded."
"But, Mary, what are the youngsters going to do? There are no games of football, no baseball, no tennis, no golf, no billiards, no card-playing?"
"Don't you worry. There are pleasures beyond these, and there are delightful occupations that take the time."
Sis spoke of the wonders of mountain scenery here, and asked if any such would be there.
"What did you hear from the college professor in regard to the desires of life here? Were you not to see the rugged and the grand, as well as the quiet beauty of valley and stream? He is right, and there will be no disappointment for you."
"But the snowy mountain ranges here have an attraction just because we cannot easily reach them. Dee could there go in an instant to anything she wanted to see."
"She would not be impressed in the way you would sense it; but it would impress her, nevertheless. You can look into fathomless space here as well as there. You can see infinite distance, and the evidences of infinite power. And you can see the wonderlands of strange planets."
I cannot express to you the freedom wherewith the Spirit of God would bless us. But we will none of it. We measure the immeasurable with our puny foot-rule. I speak for myself, and we limit to our capacity of comprehension the truths we can accept. It must be so, but remember that it is so.
My love and blessing.
"Do you have anything there that is comparable to an orchestra or to an organ?"
"Will you put out of your mind any idea that heavenly music is inferior to that of earth? You do not conceive of spirit power or heavenly music. These are things we cannot make plain to you. But the music you love best is only the slightest indication of that which you may—O, I get lost for words!"
Sis asked an old school friend who had been a fine pianist on earth if she kept up her music there.
"Not much," was the reply, "It is all so wonderful, I feel myself unable to learn the methods by which it is produced."
"Music was an easy accomplishment for you here."
"I had the keyboard before me there and could find the combinations easily, it is true. But here! Oh, my dear! If you could only know the difference between earthly and celestial music!
"You are wondering how it is that I who have been here so much longer than Mary should not have entered into the study of music before she did. You see, that so far as spiritual knowledge was concerned I was a child when I came over, and had to begin as children do. I could not hear sounds for a long time; spiritual deafness, you might call it. And so I began with other things, and grew so interested that I almost forgot music. Then when my discovery of musical vibrations came I wished to know how they were produced, and went to a teacher of the science. But I did not give enough time to it because interested in other things, and so Mary got ahead of me. The study is fascinating, as you will learn for yourself when you come. We will conditions you do not know. They are started by the will of the musician in a manner you cannot understand; but you may know that the thought of the composer may express itself directly without the slow medium of writing, or even of performing. Can you conceive the thought as a material atom, if we may so express it, that moves outward from its producer and goes on its way with influence in proportion to its quality?"
"Do you have mechanical means of reproducing music, or does the author have to send it from his mind each time?"
"We have spirit instruments as we have spirit houses. How else could we get the grand total of harmonious production? Sounds are set vibrating on the spirit instruments according to the conception of the artist or the performer, and the variety of tone or subject is as varied as the thought of the musical mind. Some prefer the quick and joyous tones and chords; others still hold earth's memories in retrospective thought, and their music grows pensive and perhaps pathetic; while others are filled with the desire for intricate harmonies. But all are beautiful, each in its own way.
"Any description of spirit instruments would be beyond your conception. But nothing on earth is so perfect and so beautiful in tone."
"How about the great singers who have been so famous and so loved on earth?"
"The beauty of music and its power of expression does not depend upon the voice, and may carry its message to the heart without song. It may appeal to one with the same power but by different means. We can sing if we wish, though the exquisite effects produced by heavenly instruments make the use of the voice less desired."
— Spirit World.
Q. Was Jesus Christ an Essene, i.e., of the Freemason Initiates?
P. He belonged to them but was not of them. He broke away and insisted on taking the outside world into the innermost of Truth, being aware of the fact that none can receive beyond his native capacity. Those who would keep wisdom from the multitude err just to the degree in which they fail to perceive the truth of what Christ was always insisting upon—that the soul, or rather the spirit of a man, must have unfolded the spiritual senses, before it can apprehend the truths of the Spirit.
Q. Then why did Christ speak of truths often so far ahead of their apprehension?
P. He spoke of those inner truths to cause their souls to yearn for them, just as the germinating seed strives to reach the light. Truth always precedes us. We follow after, press on, forever learning, but never able to come to the full knowledge of the Truth. Where I am it is still so.
Christ not only did not give all, He did not know all as the Logos, the incarnate Word of God. "Mild he laid His Glory by." What Glory? Of the sun, moon and stars? No, but of omniscience, and as the Logos He must defer to the Supreme Father. As undifferentiated Spirit there are no limitations.
Q. Can you explain more fully what I never quite understood in your teaching of the suffering of God?
P. I taught of the suffering of God in and through all the sins and sorrows of humanity, especially in this fearful world-war. I exaggerated and minimised, as I see now, from my own experience. For instance, I know all you suffer on a given occasion; I suffer with and for you. But I suffer not hopelessly and despairingly, because I know the outcome. Just as, in a dream, when the tension is greatest and the stress severest, you remember it is only a dream and thus take comfort, so in similar way I realise the evanescence of the worst that can happen upon earth, and that comforts me.
—Letters from the Other Side.
We then can see what were the sources of these vague impressions, intuitions and aspirations, both up and down. We were in the midst of these Beings always, but we mistook them for parts of ourselves. They are distinct, although united, for no one can live to himself alone. We are all members one of another, and this is as true of spirits as of bodies.
These evil agencies exist. That I know. We see them; but we cannot fear them. For greater is He that is for us than all they that are against us. He is Love. And He is stronger than hate. The only power the Evil Ones have is due to our fear and lack of faith. They are powerless when we yield to the good Guardian who is ever near us, or when we know God, who is Love. I have not seen much of this evil side of life, and my information must be more or less second-hand.
When I began to move I walked as I used to walk, and it seemed natural to do so. My Guide walked beside me, and we saw the world as it was with spirits moving among men. I did not see at first which was which. They were all living people, it seemed to me. But I saw the spirits pass through matter and move away, as physical bodies could not do. Then I asked my Guide, and he said they were like myself, those who had lived on earth and had passed on. Then I saw that they moved sometimes as if they were still in the body, and at other times as if they were angels coming and going with great speed, and I remarked upon it to my Guide. And he said, "Yes, they can do as they please, for it is in the power of the mind to go slow or fast." Then I thought if they can I can. And I asked, not speaking, but thinking in my mind, if this were so? And my Guide, without my having spoken, answered and said, "This also is possible to you." And I said then to him, "May we go as they go wherever we are going?" And he smiled and said, "As you will, so it will be." And then I had my first experience of the new freedom of locomotion. The earth seemed to grow small beneath my feet.
We went through space at a great speed. I did not feel the speed so much while in motion as when we stayed and discovered how fast and how far we had come. When we stayed it was not in this world at all. We had left your planet and were now speeding through space. I was hardly conscious of movement. We went as we think. Only the things we saw at first disappeared, and there was nothing to check or time our flight. We were together, my Guide and I. We went to a place at a great distance from your earth. The distance I cannot measure. Nor do we take account of distance when you have only to think to be anywhere. The stars and the worlds, of which you see gleaming twinklings at night, are to us as all familiar as the village-home to a villager. We can go where we please and we do please very often.
It should, however, be stated that in the earlier stages of your celestial career it is unlikely that you will engage in any definite systematic task, for the reason that this life to you at first will be so new, so strange, so different from anything that you had ever thought or dreamed of, that for a period you will be content just to investigate and explore and to endeavour to understand the new life. You will meet those whom you love and have remembered; you will make pilgrimages here and journeys there; you will at the outset have so much to learn and to unlearn and to discover and to understand, that your earlier energies will be fully occupied in these things. You will, however—as your sojourn here lengthens—find little and varying ministries, little services of differing sorts, all of which will keep you happily employed. But when ultimately you fully realise your relationship to the new life—a spiritual being, functioning on a spiritual plane, endowed with spiritual powers—you will then discover your true bent and find joy and useful service in following it.
Now we will commence at the beginning, and refer to the employment of young life here, the bairnies and little lads and lassies. Naturally that which would occupy their youthful energies would be of an educational nature, so there are to be found everywhere—for these dear little souls—schools of a kindergarten character where they are taught and their growing faculties trained. In one respect these younger lives have an advantage over those who come across death their senior in years, because they have not so much to unlearn. The care, training and instruction of this young life provides delightful occupation to a very large number of grown folk, and it is with them always a self-imposed labour of love, and each concentrates upon some particular phase in the education of the little ones. They are all taught to develop from infancy the thinking and reasoning faculties, and even from babyhood self-mastery and thought for others is a dominant note in the celestial curriculum. Systematised play and joyous games are necessary to the young life. Here, as on earth, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," and the happy little youngsters in the playing fields are indeed a sight to be seen.
O you parents of earth, you dear mother with the aching heart, who think wistfully of the little life that was touched by the Angel of Death a short while since and taken from you, be assured that your darling is in the safe keeping of Love and Wisdom, and that the memory of a dear mother is religiously fostered. I would here relate something which will have a message for those who are competent to read between the lines; it is literally true.
Some while ago I perceived in the distance a crowd of merry youngsters whose happy faces were intently gazing upon something ministering to their joy. What a lyric is there in the lilt of a child's laugh!
I proceeded towards the merry throng and found their interest was absorbed in a—just think of it—Punch and Judy show. A literal fact, if you please. I enquired for my own edification, and it appeared that the old showman and his wife, who was with him, had spent a long life on earth going around from place to place making the lads and lassies happy wherever they went and earning a precarious existence by so doing. When the old man "passed over" he was unhappy because he had not his puppets with him. He loved the puppets, and still more to see bright faces and laughing eyes all around him. He was told in due course—greatly to his surprise—that he might have his Punch and Judy show here, but he would have to make it himself. This he was unable to do, although he tried repeatedly by creative thought; later, however, his wife joined him, and with her help they ultimately succeeded in creating an exact replica of the old earth show with all its appurtenances. And now the old man finds an intense delight in wandering through the Elysian fields with his dear partner and his much-loved puppets, ministering to the delight of merry-faced youngsters.
Says my critic: Crude, puerile, impossible!
No, sir, absolutely true, beautiful in its inception and Christ-like in its ministry, and a stepping-stone to a higher service in the life yet before these two choice souls.
In contemplating the after-death state it must ever be remembered that its structure, its composition, the constituents which form it, are non-material. It is erroneous to suppose that the elements of which it is composed are sublimated or rarefied matter. This is not so; if it were the laws which have governance in the material cosmos would be operative here also. To argue—as some do—that there can be per se only one ultimate kind of substance is surely to fetter Omnipotence.
Surely the Power who in the remote aeons brought out of nothing the material universe would be competent to create another universe of a different character, and this is the fact. Why limit God? Earth is the synonym of matter, heaven of spirit.
—Morrow of Life.
What the age needs is time to think, time to meditate, time to pray, time, in short, for the Divine and Eternal. What is it that we must need in our efforts to bring this world of ours into touch with yours? Why have I failed with you, comparatively? Why is the Bureau I wrote about years ago not established? All because of one thing, and one thing only. You have no time. That is to say, that all the time you have you spend on the things of this whirling transitory life. It will not do. Your world will gain no glimpse of the Other Side, open we the chinks never so widely, when the whole day is spent in the desperate pursuit of an unceasing multitude of this world's affairs. No; to truly live you must make time to think; to clear, for some moments at least, a silence where our voices may be heard. That is nothing new, but the world seems to be forgetting it more than of old. We can do nothing to establish the connection unless, for at least some brief season, you can say to yourself, "Peace; be still!"
We do not ask impossibilities. We do not wish men in a newspaper office to practise the contemplative life of the monks of the Thebiad. But we do want even newspaper men to have at least five minutes in every day.
Waiting for an opportunity to resume contact with you, and quietly musing, I lifted up my eyes and beheld the glorious prospect before me. Undulating meadowland bespangled with flowers, and stretching away into far distances were, here and there, hill and dale; coppice and thicket; plantation and wood; and away on the horizon purple hills footing a range of majestic snow-clad mountains. This panorama, I reflected, is not an offshoot of my own personality, likewise it is not a semblance, but an exterior reality, tangible and substantial, and to me as real as anything similar to you on earth. How, then, did this majestic sweep of countryside—which is so real— come into existence? It is the creative work of high angelic beings. God made man in His own image, after His own likeness. We are all children of the Divine Father, and as we grow in beauty and grace, so also do we grow in power of achievement, and from the lowliest personality to the highest Angelhood, God delegates His powers to His creatures, just to the extent of their capacity to use them.
Possibly my reader may be inclined to ask: Do I consider myself in heaven? If that term is intended to convey the meaning placed upon it by orthodoxy, the answer is "No." If, however, by heaven is meant a state of harmony and peace and soul satisfaction, then indeed I am in heaven, if a state of joyous activity, of happy service for others, of fine effort for the enlightenment and the well-being of one's fellows is heaven, then I am there. If heaven be freedom from the carking care and blighting sorrow of earth; if heaven be emancipation from the fetters of the flesh; if heaven be the gradual and progressive purification of one's nature and the fuller comprehension and apprehension of things spiritual; if heaven be that state where one becomes ever more and more in harmony with the things of the good God, verily I am indeed in heaven.
Should the question be asked: Have I seen any of those majestic Bible worthies of whom we read so much on earth? No! Have I met the Apostles, the prophets, the martyrs, whose memories are the priceless possession of the Christian Church? No! These radiant souls are farther on and higher up and in glory unspeakable. I follow on, but at present am only qualified for the kindergarten of the spiritual life.
Have I seen my Master, the crucified Nazarene? O that this beatific vision had been vouchsafed to me, as it has been to some. He is about us, and with us and in us, though mine eyes have not yet seen His glory, but in mystic moments I have had a vivid sense of His nearness. O Jesu, my Master, may I become more and more worthy of Thy service and more and more like unto Thee!
Have I seen God? This is unthinkable. No soul can visualise Deity in the totality of His undreamed-of majesty and splendour, but a sense of the presence of God is everywhere. We know that He is. We see the evidences of His reality all round about us, and feel them within us. The atheist is unknown in the life spiritual. God is very near us all, "Closer is He than breathing, nearer than hands and feet." We may not see God, but we may and do sense the Eternal Presence. Even the smallest child here has in his soul some awareness of Deity. We are overshadowed by His love, and in a very real sense to us "underneath are the everlasting arms."
—Morrow of Life.
Q. Is it good for spirits who describe themselves as beings in darkness to try to get help from those on earth?
P. The ideally best does not obtain in any world with which I am acquainted practically. It is still ahead, for which I am profoundly grateful. It might be far better for these darkened ones to be helped from the other side, but they often get no help except through the incarnate, with whom they are in closer touch than they are with the disembodied.
This question, like all others, depends upon circumstances. Few are fit to undertake this work, and should not seek it of their own volition; but no request for prayer and help should be refused. On the other hand, to sit deliberately and invite that kind of visitant seems to me folly, if not even presumption.
—Letters from the Other Side.
Presently we came to a sort of parapet, from which we looked down into what at first seemed unknown and unfathomable depths, so impenetrable was the darkness which overshadowed it; but after a time my vision became strengthened, so that I began dimly to perceive what was before, or rather beneath, us. I saw here and there a figure walking about with a sort of uncertain movement, as one might walk in a dream or in utter darkness. Some of them stumbled, others stretched out their hands as if to feel their way. But far more than were walking were sitting or crouching immovable, as though they were hewn of stone. There was no sound of voices, there were no shrieks, no wails, no curses. The silence was profound and oppressive, and was only broken by an occasional sigh or moan, as one sometimes moans in sleep, which, low as it was, smote on the ear with terrible distinctness.
What did it mean?
My companion divined my inward questioning, and replied, "These are in a spirit lethargy—a soul sleep, which has bound many of them for years, and which may bind them for years to come. Their spiritual natures are wholly dormant, and being taken from the material world, where alone their energies found activity, they have necessarily fallen into their present state. These souls are, so to speak, yet in embryo, and have not been born into spirit-life."
"From what classes of mortals come these inhabitants of this land of sleep and death?"
"Those who know nothing whatever of spiritual life while on earth. Those in whose hearts were no high aspirations, no sense of purity and goodness, and who mocked at the very words. Those who by vicious lives have murdered the spirituality within them. Those who allowed their souls and their intellects to be fettered by superstitions and followed blindly the leading of others. Those who lived wholly for self, refusing to recognise the grander meanings and purposes of life. In the sphere we have just left the spiritual perceptions were not killed, only perverted or put aside. Here they have either never been developed or else have been so nearly destroyed that only the germ remains. That can never perish, and will some day, perhaps in the far future, be developed into active life."
—Heaven Revised (Duffey).
"But if they were to look upward could they not see us? Could we not beckon to them, and so awaken them to a knowledge of something better than their present condition, and to a desire to attain to it?"
"No; as their spiritual senses are dulled their eyes are blinded to all things spiritual. They cannot see us. They could not hear our voices. We can only communicate with them by the means of earthly organisms. Sometimes at the seances held on earth one of these benighted spirits finds his way thither, and by listening to words uttered through mediums for the first time becomes conscious of the existence of a higher spiritual life. From that hour dates his spiritual progress. But, oh! his way is a long and weary one! If mortals could only realise it how anxious they would be to avoid travelling it themselves; how zealous to help others!"
—Heaven Revised (Duffey).
Philemon greets you, my friends.
Q. Can you give me any conception of the life and work of my beloved mother, such as you have given of your own life?
P. Yes, I can, in words that are but faint symbols of the reality. Your mother rarely, almost never, returns directly to the Borderland realm where intercommunications take place. Not finding a medium attuned to her as I do, that is natural. But she is aware of everything that affects those whom she loves, and in supreme moments is with them, unseen but seeing, unheard but hearing. I will not attempt to explain how this is brought about—I could not make it clear.
She is aware of the spiritual values, the content, as estimated in the spiritual world, of all your earthly strivings. She would see, as a rosy glow, fraternal affection passing from one to another of her children, in waves; she would perceive the ardent desire for service emanate in the form of azure-hued clouds, deepening to an intense violet hue. When sadness and depression oppress your spirit, she sees these colours saddening into greyish hues.
She dwells in a world that I call the Realm of Roses; roses are the only flower-form that conveys a faint idea of its freshness, fullness, fragrance and beauty. This sounds feeble, perhaps foolish; but I felt this when I was permitted to visit her, and I always think of her there.
Q. Is she with those who were so near and dear to her on earth?
P. They are not all with her, but she is with them all, whenever she so wills, or they so need. She is very restfully busy, reposefully active. I know the bliss of such service, of such activity, through my visits to where she is. Her work is to the denizens of the spirit world who enter spirit life somewhat stunted and starved, however noble they may have been, through lack of beauty and fragrance in their earthly surroundings. Many a child of rich parents, reared in dreary wealth and luxury, needs her ministrations. Many a city man, who has really forgotten that daisies and buttercups are as necessary to a normal existence as silver and gold, has to undergo a course of re-education in her world before the angels can do anything for him. Your mother came to me, when I was perplexed at finding myself in a hueless, grey world, drawn thither in the quest of a soul in sore need of help. I was exclaiming, "How can this grey underworld form part of God's world? Shall I ever see colours and beauty again?" Then I looked up to see her scintillating with the most delicate shade of every possible colour, some of which were new to me. She wore the most wonderful opalescent garments; the colours changed as she moved. She held towards me what appeared to me as the most marvellous flowers I had ever beheld, both hands full—the colours were as those of living gems; and she said in a voice as musical as rippling waters: "Dear friend! This is too much for you. Come with me for a while. You will return strengthened and better equipped for your mission."
That sojourn in her world was my retreat. I marvel that I have attempted to tell you, because it is so hopeless to attempt to portray these things.
This is where I have been. I had met her previously, or rather she me, more as the friend remembered on earth—not before as this radiant being with the flowers. I have brought back with me some of that radiance, and I, by my presence shed light and beauty and joy in the dark and sad spheres where my work often lies. I am so very happy, so very glad to be of service where I am, I could not be as happy anywhere else. I am not a round peg in a square hole, but a nice square peg in a first-class square hole.
When my radiance is dimmed I shall return to the realm of Roses and Joy, for recuperation and refreshment.
Q. What memories do you keep of the loved ones still left on earth?
P. It is most difficult to generalise. It is an individual idiosyncrasy. I may remember my children's names, but find myself utterly unable to transmit those beloved sounds through certain media. The memories with strong emotional content are those which survive longest. In the spirit world I should think of my beautiful daughter, my clever daughter, not of my first or second—not necessarily by name.
—Letters from the Other Side.
Q. Is the world on the whole purged by this terrible war?
P. I can say this: the world is a better world, a holier world, than when I left it. This is true. I will give you my personal view, which may be optimistic or short-sighted. The hour is dark and yet darker. But the darkest hour is not far distant. There is no need for despair, nor even for discouragement.
The crest of the wave to me is in sight, but the end will not come until the statesmen and politicians of the world recognise that righteousness alone exalteth a nation, and that the children of light must emulate the children of darkness in activity and self-sacrifice. They, the statesmen, already see this truth dimly.
God keep and sustain you!
—Philemon, in Letters from the Other Side (written in 1917).
Then I was dead! How strange it seemed to be dead, and yet with such superabundant life! How mortals misapprehend the meaning of the word. To be dead means to be alive with a vitality earthly humanity does not know. How long had I been dead? It seemed to be early morning. The watchers were silent, having dozed off to sleep in their arm-chairs. The rays of the lamp were paling before the light of the approaching day, which was heralded in the east by scarlet banners flung across the sky. When I had fallen asleep—into that peaceful sleep from which I had wakened in another world—the night had been far spent. I must have passed away at the ebb of the tide, when day was struggling with darkness, and nature itself was at its lowest ebb. I had probably been dead twenty-four hours. I had been asleep on earth; I had awakened in the land of spirits.
The land of spirits! Strange as it may seem, I for the first time realised this fact. My thoughts and emotions up to this point had all been connected in some way with the world and the life I had left behind me. But where were the spirit forms of the loved ones who had passed on before, and whom I had expected to meet me at the gateway, and to welcome and guide me into the life eternal? On the threshold of this new life I felt no fear at my seeming isolation, but a sense of disappointment and loneliness, and of bewilderment also, stole over me. Even as these thoughts passed through my mind the room and all it contained seemed to dissolve before me. I found myself upon a great plain, which gently inclined towards a valley, through the depths of which flowed a stream. I cannot describe the beauty of the scene. Earth is beautiful, and its beauties found their way to my heart; but the spirit-world is far more so. The scene seemed strangely familiar. It was so like, and yet so unlike, an earthly valley, where I had spent many happy hours—perhaps the happiest of my life. It seemed, indeed, the earthly valley glorified and spiritualised, as who shall say that it was not? The grass was intensely yet softly green, and starred with myriads of daisies. When last I had beheld the earthly valley it was still beautiful, but it had the beauty of death that sent a chill to my heart, and over it hung a pall of cloud which completely enshrouded its depths. But my valley was resurrected, and was mine evermore.
I was walking, but, strange to say, my feet did not touch the ground. I walked along just above the surface of the earth, just as I had done many times in dreams—the realest dreams I ever had. What a strange sensation it was to be freed from the weight of the earthly body—to be released from the physical law of the attraction of gravitation! I felt that I might rise to any height to which I aspired, yet was content for the present to keep near the ground.
But my friends—my spirit friends—where were they? Why was I thus so isolated in my new life? I was not conscious of having uttered a thought aloud, but as if in response to it I found myself in the presence of two youths, whose radiant countenances possessed more than mortal beauty. Years ago I had laid away with an aching heart and many bitter tears two beautiful babes, first one and then another; and many times thereafter I stretched out my arms with soul-felt longing towards the unknown land whither they had gone, as if to reach to them and bring them back to me. But when I clasped my arms to my breast again they were always empty. My babes! How I had longed for them, yearned for them! They had always been babes to me in my memory, little tender, clinging things, finding their whole world in mother-love. But when I beheld these youths beside me some subtle instinct revealed to me that they were my babes now nearly grown to manhood. I felt neither hesitation nor surprise in recognition. It was as though I had always expected them to appear thus to me. I only held out my arms with an unutterably glad impulse, crying "My boys! Mine!"
My lost ones were in my arms, and for a time my soul was filled with a bliss too deep for words. At last emotions struggled into utterance.
"Our mother!" were the glad words I heard from lips which had never learned to pronounce them in their brief earth-lives, and then there were eager questionings and glad responses.
"We have been with you, mother," said the elder, "through all these years. Daily we have visited you. We have nestled in your arms. You never called to us that we did not come. And we spoke to you and tried to comfort you, but you did not always hear us; and sometimes when our messages reached your heart you did not comprehend from whom they came. You have been our mother still, our helper and our guide; and we in turn have helped and guided you as far as lay in our power, as we could not have done had we remained with you on earth."
—Duffey's Heaven Revised.
Pity Oscar Wilde—one who in the world was a king of life. Bound to Ixion's wheel of thought I must complete for ever the circle of my experience. Long ago I wrote that there was twilight in my cell and twilight in my heart, but this is the (last?) twilight of the soul. In eternal twilight I move, but I know that in the world there is day and night, seed-time and harvest and red sunset must follow apple green dawn. Every year spring throws her green veil over the world, and anon the red autumn glory comes to mock the yellow moon. Already the may is creeping like a white mist over lane and hedgerow, and year after year the hawthorn bears blood-red fruit after the white death of its may. (Mrs. T. S: Why have you come here?) To let the world know that Oscar Wilde is not dead. His thoughts live on in the hearts of all those who in a gross age can hear the flute voice of beauty calling on the hills, or mark where her white feet brush the dew from the cowslips in the morning. Now the mere memory of the beauty of the world is an exquisite pain. I was always one of those for whom the visible world existed. I worshipped at the shrine of things seen. There was not a blood stripe on a tulip or a curve on a shell or a tone on the sea but had for me its meaning and its mystery and its appeal to the imagination. Others might sip the pale lees of the cup of thought, but for me the red wine of life.
Pity Oscar Wilde. To think of what is going on in the world is terrible for me. Soon the chestnuts will light their white candles and the foxgloves flaunt their dappled drooping bells. (Will you come again?) I will come again gladly if you will let me buzz on as an autumn bee might who was tired of hunting for fresh blossoms out of season. I am tired, too, but I like to remind myself now and then of the fact that there are people who regard the little globe as the whole of what is reality.
You are the light that lets me peep again into the world which seems so dazzling now that the Divine Justice finds it His pleasure to keep me in dim twilight. I lived for the beauty of visible things. The rose-flushed anemones that star the dark woodland ways, those loveliest tears that Venus shed for Adonis and shed in vain were more to me than many philosophies.
I wither here in twilight, but I know that I shall rise from it again to ecstasy. That thought is given to us to help us to endure.
—Oscar Wilde, through the Mediumship of Mrs. Trovers Smith.
Q. I meant to ask: Have you bodily pain? Have you, since you went over, ever experienced what we call bodily pain, or have you done with it?
P. Yes and No. Yes, when my body of tenuous substance you call astral comes up against astral currents of the lower astral levels, it suffers and shrinks as would a tropical plant or animal in an icy blast; but we know how to avoid such pain, for pain it is. But bodily pain of the kind known on earth, hopeless and misunderstood, is a thing of the past. Here help, instruction or avoidance are swiftly and surely available. I wish I could give you a less truthful—no, no, I mean a more satisfactory answer. Your beloved mother can enjoy bliss even to the extent of the ecstasy of the beatific vision. She could not do this if she had no sensitiveness, and while there is sensitiveness of body, of mind, or spirit there is the possibility of pain. But just as you discover anodynes on your earth so we, too, explore and discover and apply the results of research and discovery on our planes.
P. I suffered from the non-loving currents of the earth-soul when I approached the borderland; my spiritual body suffered, but after a very brief experience I learned the colour rays which permitted of approach without discomfort, and even with pleasure, as when my thoughts impinge on the thought-aura of the writer. I need not really suffer in my present vehicle or body when leaving it behind—so I am told; but I do not like to answer where I have no personal experience. I see those who have been here the longest appearing most vigorous, most glorious, most luminous, so I conclude that there is nothing really analogous to what you know as death.
— Letters from the Other Side.
First of all, what you need to think of above everything else in regard to this matter is, what you or any one of you are doing to make the Real World real to men. The worst evil of the present day is not its love of money, nor its selfishness. No, but its Loss of the Soul. You forget that the Soul is the thing. And that all that concerns the body, except so far as it affects the Soul, is of no importance. But what you have to realise is that men and women in this generation have lost their souls. And this is a terrible truth. It is not what we used to think of losing the Soul. When I say lost I mean it. You have lost it as you might lose a person in a crowd. It is severed from you. You are immersed in matter and you have lost your Soul. And the first, the most pressing of all things, is to find your Soul. For until you find it you are little better than an active automaton, whose feverish movements have no real significance, no lasting value. The Loss of the Soul, that is the Malady of the Day; and to find the Soul is the Way of Salvation.
The finding of the Soul is the first thing and the most important thing. You will never find it unless you give yourself time to think, time to pray, time to realise that you have a soul. At present, then, do you remember that? You remember post time and you remember when you must catch trains. But when do you remember that you must catch your Soul? No, no! All is rush and jump and whirl, and your Soul gets lost, crowded out of your life. You have so many engagements that you have no time to live the Soul-life. That is what you have to learn. No doubt your work is important, and duty must be done. But what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own Soul?
Q. Do tell us more about the future of those devoted animals, as, for instance, Sir Walter Scott's dog.
P. Their next step is to companion those human spirits in the borderland spheres who could not be happy lacking the faithful four-footed friends of their earthly existence, and some lonely waifs are made happy "in heaven" by being given a four-footed pet of their very own.
Q. Can you tell us what is the ultimate fate of our loved dogs?
P. What the ultimate fate is of these "little ones" I cannot at present tell you. There is a tradition, born, I verily believe, of human exclusiveness and arrogance, which denies the persistence of the "four-footed" beyond certain spheres. Why, I ask, should Khaki, who is one of these beloved ones, be with us here and yet not go forward? I am sure those dogs who have died that others might live, who have refused to live on after the death of a beloved human friend, have earned, and will receive, life, and more abundant life, in the presence of those whom they loved with the greatest of all loves—the love that gives all, asking nothing in return.
—Letters from the Other Side.
Often what seems to you the worst things are the best. Sometimes the apparent best are among the worst. Motive is not everything, but it is a great deal—so much that those from whom motive is hidden cannot judge fully. My own experience of all this was very varied, and I soon became accustomed to disregard all the distinctions I had made so much of when in life. Then I used to ask if So-and-so were religious, whether he belonged to this or that or the other church; now these things do not interest me any more than the new frills and facings of fashion. We don't ask what church. Here let me say that you may misunderstand what I have written. It is not that I think being religious is of no importance. It is of all importance. What I meant was the asking of any one of his church connection as a way or knowing whether or not he was religious. That is the absurdity we never practise. We never ask about these things except so far as they stand in the way of the real religion. We lament, and have continually to deplore, the fact that they are substituted for the love which is the fulfilling of the law. The degree of love with which anyone loves measures his religion. The degree of hatred or indifference which paralyses love in the soul is the test of irreligion. Love eats into selfishness as the sun's rays eat into the black and dark night. That is God in life. That is what we see. Light that shines in the darkness. Love is that light. We don't care for the shape of the shutters that shut it out. Nor for the endless discussions as to the windows that let it in. These questions are so simply answered. The best window, what is that? It is the window that lets in most light. Where, then, is the light that is the test of the window? And the light of life is Love, and Love is God and God is Love; and those who do not love are those who sit in outer darkness, and in the valley of the shadow of death. Sin consists in the living without God; that is to say, without love. But the more you think the more you see that love that is selfish is not love, and love that injures its object is not love but cruelty. The love that sacrifices the permanent welfare of the loved one, to the immediate gratification of the pleasure of the moment, is not real love. All love supposes some degree of restraint, and this is true of the Highest as well as of men and women. Restraint that is born of the intelligence that foresees. And real love is the keenest-sighted of all things.
The tide of immigration sets steadily from your land to ours. There is no emigration back to earth. All faces are turned towards the spirit-world; all feet are hastening hitherward, and all must come at last face to face with death, and, standing on the shores of the mystic river, must bid an eternal farewell to earthly life, and venture with hesitation and fear, or with courage and faith, into the unknown and mysterious realm beyond.
These pilgrims are coming, coming, coming, leaving behind them all that possessed material value on earth, and bringing only—themselves. If they have cultivated their spiritual natures and held themselves above the level of materiality, then they are rich indeed; but if earth and its cares engrossed all their attention, and they had neither time nor thought for that "better part" for which Mary was commended, then no beggar on earth could be poorer or more destitute than these souls when they enter the life immortal. Nor do intellectual enlightenment, moral regeneration and spiritual illumination wait upon them to be put on like an outward garment as soon as they ave reached the spirit sphere. These are the true riches, which must be acquired by laborious effort. As a man was upon earth, so does he find himself when he first enters here. He who was ignorant is ignorant still; he who was filthy is filthy still; superstition still holds those spirits in its thrall who were its victims upon earth.
It would seem to you that all must become Spiritualists when they reach here, and the avenues or knowledge are thrown open to them; and I shall surprise you when I say that there are Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Quakers here, and all the different sects of religious beliefs, just as among you. There are those who bow to the supremacy of a spiritual Pope, and who yet find auricular confession and the observance of rites and ceremonies necessities to their religious life. True, they encounter much to surprise them when they enter here. Heaven is altogether different from what they had pictured it; but their beliefs and prejudices are stronger than the facts which come under their observation (is not this also the rule in earth life? ), and so they merely readjust themselves, still clinging as far as possible to their old tenets. But the time comes, sooner or later, when they grow out of these superstitions, and getting at first faint glimpses of the truth, these glimpses become brighter and clearer as they seek for them.
There is no more interesting study than to watch the arrival of these immigrants—these pilgrims, and to note their first impressions, experiences, surprises and disappointments. It is also sad to stand beside the bed of death, as it is often our privilege and our duty to do, and witness the terror with which theology has invested the passing from death unto life. Is it true that the Christian knows how to die? He may meet death serenely if he be a man of strong character, hopeful disposition, and with nerves not easily shaken; but with such a character he would meet it no less bravely were he a rejector of all religious faiths. If he be timid and weak, given to apprehension and shrinking from danger, not all the consolations and hopes which religion can afford will save him from becoming terror-stricken when the last dread hour approaches. There is something appalling, even to the stoutest heart, in going out to meet the unknown, and that is what all, save Spiritualists, must do. To them, and to them only, is the spirit-world revealed. To them it is given to know that they are passing from darkness unto light; from death unto life; from mortality to immortality. How strange that this glorious truth, which should be indeed the cornerstone of existence, is rejected by so many earthly builders!
—Duffey's "Heaven Revised."
I am here, but I can't tell you much. Meslom will help me. He is not very well known to me.
I never knew I could come back. I have been asleep and lost a long time. I am just awakening and I am all in a tremor to think I am really alive yet and able to see you. I can come to you from time to time. Meslom will help me—I can come—I am already stronger. I went away too soon, but now I can make up for the time I wasted.
L. has been obliged to stop. He is not yet strong enough to do much, but I brought you together and you are to help and be a great power.
L. is not suffering—he is only just awakened. He was brought to consciousness by his mother's wish to communicate.
L. is here again.
Yes, I am here, and I am so glad I am alive again. Oh! mother darling, I am so thankful and so happy to be with you. I am free from suffering. I am alive, alive! and all awake to the wonders about me. But remember I have been asleep. Your wish to speak to me has awakened me. I am alive!
I am not able to tell you much, but I am filled with such a tremendous joy of life that I cannot imagine going back.
I can come to you again and I can tell you much. Meslom is going to teach me, and says I can come when you and Mary arrange. I have no choice—it is for you to say.
I am alive again and so happy, but I can't tell you much. I appear to be in a wonderful light and in a marvellous country of perfect conditions—I can see Meslom.
L. is not able to stand a longer strain, but the conditions are perfect. I will bring him again but not to-day. He is a fine nature and will develop quickly and be a great help.
February 3rd, 1917.
L. is here. He has been far away and cannot stay long, but he will speak.
Here I am. I can't tell you much yet. I was so excited at being alive that I cannot get in trim for calm work. Since I awoke the other day I have been far away in a wonderful country-it seems like the land one sometimes dreamed and never quite found. It is perfect and filled with light and perfume and life and movement. I cannot explain it all now. I only know I am enjoying it and getting strong again and all my weakness is gone.
Do you regret your life here?
Yes, I might have done many things which I neglected, but I am permitted another life.
I am going to help you to enjoy this life of mine and understand what you can before you come, but you are really able to foresee some, because of your innate appreciation of art and beauty. I shall have the double happiness of enjoying and of teaching you.
Can you see me?
Yes, and I am so glad you have found Mary and that you are able to talk to me. You can never know my feeling the other day, when you awakened me from that long sleep which seemed death. You know I caused this myself because I had been persuaded that it was death I was facing, and at the end I was so tired that I really didn't care. I could not struggle along any further, but if you had not called me and found a way to reach me I should have been obliged to wait for long ages, because in the ordinary course it requires a much longer time to come back to consciousness. Help me by loving me.
Q. Is there an immediate enlargement of vision on passing over, where there is very narrow but sincere religious conviction—among strict Presbyterians or Roman Catholics, for instance?
P. It all depends on the individual and his environment on this side. Roman Catholic families are as well shepherded with us as on earth, and members of their families are overshadowed by the "dead," and deterred in many cases from leaving the faith which was theirs, and still is a cherished part of the new life. Hence you see a pious or perfunctory Latin Christian would perceive no shock on his entry to the new sphere of life and thought. It would only be gradually and by not very definite stages that he would discover the spiritualisation of the old crudities and cruelties. The forms were beautiful, and have changed but little. The spirit has been renewed, and is more in harmony with the soul's deepest convictions than were the old errors.
A friendless soul, without convictions, would not find himself in a community of the formerly "orthodox." He would be welcomed by the kindly ministering spirits, whose very presence would cheer his heart and feed his soul.
Q. But is it not a shock for the pious Roman Catholic, for example, to find that the repetition of so many Paters and Aves does not cancel hundreds and thousands of years in purgatory?
P. There is no shock involved. He finds himself in light and warmth and colour. He concludes that his good conditions are due to that very cause, his prayers and those of others; and in a sense he is right. The "paid" prayers are few in comparison with the real ones, and those who pray "paid" prayers for unknown souls often pray truly. These errors fall away gradually. The priests tell them that the language of time could not express the truths of eternity, and that it applied to conditions rather than to duration and space.
The fact that there are abodes of darkness and despair leads them to infer that they represent the "hell" of earth, and these are bad enough in all conscience—so bad that some pious priests, still faithful to their doctrine of the end justifying the means, actually preach that it is a sin for spirits to impart the truth to those left on earth lest they, thinking it of less moment, should be careless, and so not fearing "hell" should merit the sojourn in the abodes of darkness and despair to which the wicked virtually condemn themselves.
—Letters from the Other Side.
What about those you had left in tears?
No, I did not think much during the journey of those whom I had left behind. They were alive and well, and they would soon come over and be with me. The overpowering rush of new sensations seemed to leave no room for regrets or thoughts of the old life. Well I you may regret this, but I am telling you facts. You will find it so also your first day. And I think it is good and not evil. For otherwise it would have been different.
When we were journeying I spoke little. My thoughts were busy and yet I was not conscious of even thinking, only of feeling and seeing, drinking in at every point new impressions. When we seemed to be arriving at a new world I spoke. I asked my guide, "Where is this? Is it Heaven?" He replied, "Wait and see. You will find those there who will teach you what you want to know."
The place was very pleasant to behold. The air was sweet, and there was a delicious fragrance as of flowers in June. The world—for it was a world we were approaching—seemed not unlike our old world, but it was different—there was nothing to jar. The sense of restful peace and contented love was everywhere. The place had a placid smile of tranquil joy; the note I remember, the details I will not enter upon.
When I found my friends there were about five or six of those relatives and near friends who had been on this side for some time. My dear little sister was the lovingest and dearest of all. I saw before me the semblance of her childhood, just as she was in the long years ago, when I had parted with her it seemed for ever. But she was only assuming the child-form to gain recognition. After a time, when I learned more about the life here, she revealed herself to me as we see her now, as a spirit who is a woman grown. There is no difficulty in our assuming whatever form we need for the purpose of the moment. No, I do not mean to say that I could assume permanently any disguise; but you can make yourself appear for the time what you think you wish to be. For the subtle thought is as an artist not merely in colour or marble, but to all apparent semblance in the actual person.
My little sister having embraced me and welcomed me to the sphere where the loved and the lost are united, took me by the hand and brought me to the friends who were close by waiting for me. They were all very kind and loving, and they told me many things. The chief surprise that I found was in the fact that we were all so very much the same. We did not seem to have become angels or saints. For my part I was, I fear, by no means saintly. There was at first a certain awe that numbed me; but as that numbing sensation wore off my old natural self asserted itself, and I really felt that I was as I had been, only with a much greater sense of power and of freedom. There was the increased sense of vitality—doubly and trebly delightful after my illness—and a great feeling of restful absence of fret.
When I came to talk with my friends they told me many things that at first startled me. They said, for instance, that I should be able to go among all those whom I had left, and that I should feel no sense of separation. For the spirits of our friends are open to us on this side. Then I said, "There is no death," and they laughed merrily. "Of course not," they said, "not to us who are 'dead.' Death is only a sense of deprivation and separation which the so-called living feel—an incident of limitation of 'life.* Death only exists for the living, not for us." And I wished at once to go and see if it were so; and immediately as I thought, I was back among those whom I loved.
"One has so much to ask. Are the spheres like this around?"
"In every way similar. It is only the change of condition that makes the difference. Flowers and fruits and pleasant landscapes and animals and birds are with us as with you. Only the material conditions are changed. We do not crave for food as you; nor do we kill to live. Matter, in your sense, is done with, and we have no need of sustenance, save that which we can draw in with the air we breathe. Nor are we impeded in our movements by matter, as you are. We move freely and by volition. I learn by degrees, and as a new-born babe, to accustom myself to the new conditions of my being."
"Are things real to you?"
"Quite; and very beautiful."
As soon as the spirit, whose departing hour I thus watched, was wholly disengaged from the tenacious physical body, I directed my attention to the movements and emotions of the former, and I saw her begin to breathe the most interior or spiritual portions of the surrounding terrestrial atmosphere. At first it seemed with difficulty that she could breathe the new medium; but in a few seconds she inhaled and exhaled the spiritual elements of nature with the greatest possible ease and delight. And now I saw that she was in the possession of exterior and physical proportions which were identical in every possible particular-improved and beautified—with those proportions which characterised her earthly organisation. That is to say, she possesses a heart, a stomach, a liver, lungs, etc., etc., just as her natural body did previous to (not her, but its) death. This is a wonderful and consoling truth! But I saw that the improvements which were wrought upon and in her spiritual organisation were not so particular and thorough as to destroy or transcend her personality; nor did they materially alter her natural appearance or earthly characteristics. So much like her former self was she that had her friends beheld her (as I did), they certainly would have exclaimed—as we often do upon the sudden return of a long absent friend, who leaves us in illness and returns in health—"Why, how well you look! How improved you are!" Such was the nature, most beautifying in their extent, of the improvements that were wrought upon her.
I saw her continue to perform and accustom herself to the new elements and elevating sensations which belong to the inner life. I did not particularly notice the workings and emotions of her newly-awakening and fast-unfolding spirit, except that I was careful to remark her philosophic tranquility throughout the entire process, and her non-participation with the different members of her family in their unrestrained bewailing of her departure from the earth, to unfold in Love and Wisdom throughout eternal spheres. She understood at a glance that they could only gaze upon the cold and lifeless form which she had but just deserted, and she readily comprehended the fact that it was owing to a want of true knowledge upon their parts that they thus vehemently regretted her merely physical death.
The excessive weeping and lamentation of friends and relatives over the external form of one departed are mainly caused by the sensuous and superficial mode by which the majority of mankind view the phenomena of death. For, with but few exceptions the race is so conditioned and educated on the earth, not yet having grown into spiritual perceptions, not yet progressed to where "whatsoever is hid shall be revealed," realising only through the medium of the natural senses the nearness of the beloved, watching and comprehending only the external signs and processes of physical dissolution, supposing this contortion to indicate pain, and that expression to indicate anguish; I say, the race is so situated and educated that death of the body (to the majority of the earth's inhabitants) is equivalent to an annihilation of the personality or the individual. But I would comfort the superficial observer, and I can solemnly assure the inquirer after truth that when an individual dies naturally the spirit experiences no pain; nor, should the material body be dissolved with disease or crushed by the fearful avalanche, is the individuality of the spirit deformed or in the least degree obscured. Could you but turn your natural gaze from the lifeless body, which can no longer answer to your look of love, and could your spiritual eyes be opened, you would behold—standing in your midst—a form, the same, but more beautiful—and living! Hence, there is great cause to rejoice at the birth of the spirit from this world into the Inner Sphere of Life—yea, it is far more reasonable and appropriate to weep at the majority of marriages which occur in this world than to lament when man's immortal spirit escapes from its earthly form to live and unfold in a higher and better country. You may clothe yourselves with the dark habiliments of woe when you consign, at the altar, a heart to a living grave, or when you chain the soul to breathe in an uncongenial atmosphere; but robe yourselves with garments of light to honour the spirit's birth into a higher life! The period required to accomplish the entire change, which I saw, was not far from two hours and a half; but this furnishes no rule as to the time required for every spirit to elevate and reorganise itself above the head or the outer form. Without changing my position of spiritual perceptions I continued to observe the movements of her new-born spirit. As soon as she became accustomed to the new elements which surrounded her, she descended from her elevated position, which was immediately over the body, by an effort of the will-power, and directly passed out of the door of the bedroom in which she had lain (in the material form) prostrated with disease for several weeks. It being in a summer month, the doors were all open, and her egress from the house was attended with no obstructions. I saw her pass through the adjoining room, out of the door, and step from the house into the atmosphere! I was overwhelmed with delight and astonishment when, for the first time, I realised the universal truth, that the spiritual organisation can tread the atmosphere which, while in the coarser earthly form, we breathe—so much more refined is man's spiritual condition. She walked in the atmosphere as easily and in the same manner as we tread this earth and ascend an eminence. Immediately upon her emergement from the house she was joined by two friendly spirits from the spiritual country, and after tenderly recognising and communing with each other the three in the most graceful manner began ascending obliquely through the ethereal envelopment of our globe. They walked so naturally and fraternally together that I could scarcely realise the fact that they trod the air—they seemed to be walking upon the side of a glorious but familiar mountain! I continued to gaze upon them until the distance shut them from my view; whereupon I returned to my external and ordinary condition.
Oh, what a contrast! Instead of beholding that beautiful and youthfully-unfolded spirit I now saw, in common with those about me, the lifeless, cold and shrouded organism of the caterpillar, which the joyous butterfly had so recently abandoned.
—Clairvoyance of A. J. Davis.
You may say that there is a love which is selfish and a love which is evil. It is true, but that is because the love is imperfect. It is not love when it leads to selfishness. The love which leads a mother to engross herself with her own children and neglect all her duties to other people is not wrong itself. It is only because she has not enough love for others that her love for her children makes her selfish. The great need where-ever love seems to make people selfish is not less love for those whom they do love, but more love for the others who are neglected. You never love any one too much. It is only that we don't love others enough also. Perfect love all round is the Divine ideal, and when love fails at any point, then evil is in danger of coming in. But even a guilty love, so far as it takes you out of yourself, and makes you toil and pray and live and perhaps die for the man or woman whom you should never have loved, brings you nearer Heaven than selfish, loveless marriage. I do not say this is against marriage. I know you think that this is a dangerous doctrine. All true doctrine is dangerous, but is not less true for its danger. There is no doubt that much so-called love is very selfish, and is not love at all. The love, for instance, which leads a man to ruin a woman, and desert her when he has gratified a temporary passion is not love. It is not easy to distinguish it from the deadliest hate. It is self-indulgence in its worst shape. Now, all love is of the nature of self-sacrifice. There are many things also to be borne in mind. We have all not merely to think what is the result to ourselves, but also to other persons, some of whom may not yet be born. To love, therefore, anyone really, truly, means that we are putting ourselves in his place, loving him as ourselves, that we desire for him the best, and give up ourselves and our own pleasure in order to secure it for him. This is true love, and wherever you find it you find a spark of God. That is why mothers are so much nearer God than anyone else. They love more—that is, they are more like God; it is they who keep the earth from becoming a vast hell.
Now, my darling, hold fast to this central doctrine; Love is God, God is love. The more you love, the more you are like God. It is only when we deeply, truly love, we find our true selves, or that we see the Divine in the person loved. Oh, Ellen, Ellen! if I could come back and speak in the ears of the children of men, I think I should wish to say nothing but this—Love! Love is the fulfilling of the law, love is the seeing of the face of God. Love is God, God is love. If you wish to be with God—love! If you wish to be in heaven—love! For heaven differs chiefly from hell in that in heaven all love up to the full measure of their being, and all growth in grace is growth in love. Love! love! love! That is the first work and the last word. There is none beside that, for God, who is love, is all in all, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last word.
...You know my head is still a little in the clouds, as you would say, in time I shall be able to do more practical work. The wonder and light here are a little bewildering at first, and I have not tried all my new powers. Where the need is the help is at hand. There was a wonderful thing here yesterday. I can only describe it to you as a sort of service—but not like anything with you really—and the result has been to make it a little difficult to think of anything but the attributes of God. I have never understood before the value and wonder of a man, or the reality of faith and hope, or what a mere shadow pain is and how soon dispelled by the sun. If it were only possible for you to see with my eyes for only a moment and to realise the great Kindness—but you have to carry on where you are, and I shall be always so near, nearer than ever before, for what separates is matter, and I have done with that, and so am nearer and always will be. Later, when you are further from my death and nearer to my life, you will feel me nearer and share in my great joy. I love you all far more than before. Death is glorious and life here a song of triumph, no words mean what I mean. I look back to my own death as a very wonderful experience, one which I should like to repeat. In this place of peace and understanding there is a joyful recognition of many things which have only been seen very dimly and intermittently before. You do not feel you have come to a strange place, but as if you had come home. There is a moment, just before one understands, when one regrets what one thinks will be a separation from the old days; it is the same kind of grief which you feel now, but it seems impossible to find words for the actual change which takes place. . . . It is true that in a long death the mind turns to losses and cannot yet comprehend the gain.... The fear of the dark disappears with the coming of light. Nothing will be lost; I can see from here the various kinds of links which bind people together, none of them breakable by such a thing as death.
Very hard work just now, every force needed, so I have only come to pass the time of day with you. I am very interested in the development of this; you will find it will make great changes of thought in the world, if only men of sense will listen. . . . Think of me as always taking a deep interest in all that concerns you, for one forgets nothing here and yet one remembers without any of the pain which your memories have. Perhaps this is because you are all building castles in the dark, and from here we can see the result and how happy you will be in them when they are finished. All that you value in the old life, all real things, love, friendship, beauty, understanding, books, thoughts and feelings, you will bring here with you to weave into the new life, which is full of beauties and joys which have not entered into the heart of man in your state yet. I won't say good-bye because I do not go away, I am only turning the current into another channel.
One of the things I have learnt in these months is the immense power of thought. You can see from here how people change and mould themselves by their thoughts. . . . This war is spiritual as well as material; it is amazing to see the spiritual war waged from here, the other is pale beside it. But the forces of good are undying, immortal.
I have a great deal to say, but I don't think it is the right time to say it yet.
The Greater Understanding.
I am over the Border, but I am in constant communication with you on the earth-side. To me this has been a means of great blessing. I cannot conceive how anyone can consider that such communications can possibly retard growth. Growth depends upon love and service; and you limit the area of both when you put a wall of iron between the spheres. The conception of earth as a geographical place is very material. You think too much in matter. You cannot realise that to me and to all on this side you are spirit-fogged in a little body limited and conditioned by that fog. But the real self is spirit, not flesh-fog, and life is ministry and sacrifice and service and love. As, therefore, this means of communication enables me to minister to and serve those whom I loved, who are often sorely pressed and troubled, you can see how absurd is the doctrine that it is a hindrance to development.
When my spirit awoke to consciousness of the eternal life and its surroundings I found myself in company with bright and blessed angels, the ministers to me of the abounding mercy of my God. The shock that severed me from earth had been so sudden that at first I was not conscious that I was in the world of spirits. But my dear father made himself known, and convinced me that I was indeed alive and amongst the ranks of the shining ones. With him was my dear mother; and they were joined after by the pure spirit of Keble, and philanthropic souls who delight to gather around him who on earth was a chief amongst men in philanthropy and deeds of love. By them I was conducted to the home where my guardians rest. From them I learn that which is requisite for me, and am taught to put aside much that I once thought of vital moment. Ah! how easily does the spirit put away the opinions of earth to which it so fondly clung! Through my guardians I received the request that I would put myself into communication with you. It was conveyed to me through your presiding spirit, who now writes for me. I complied with joy, and am now pleased beyond measure that I can touch the plane where so many so dear to me still live; though, alas! alas! I cannot reach them. They know not; and will not learn as yet. Since I left the earth I have been occupied in learning my work, and in preparing myself for the life of progress to which my being is now devoted. Already, under the guidance of my guardians, I have passed through the first sphere, where are gathered those who are bound to earth by the affections, or are unable to rise as yet. There I saw some whom I had known in the body, and learned from them, and from others, much that I needed to know. My work will be of a similar sort till I reach my appointed sphere.
When the soul leaves the body it remains exactly the same as when it was in the body; the soul, which is the only real self, and which uses the mind and the body as its instruments, no longer has the use or the need of the body. But it retains the mind, the knowledge, the experience, the habits of thought, the inclinations; they remain exactly as they were. Only it often happens that the gradual decay of the fleshy envelope to some extent obscures and impairs the real self which is liberated by death. The most extraordinary thing which came to my knowledge when I passed over was the difference between the apparent man and the real self.
It gave quite a new meaning to the warning, "Judge not," for the real self is built up even more by the use it makes of the mind than by the use it makes of the body. There are here men who seemed to be vile and filthy to their fellows, who are far, far, far superior, even in purity and holiness, to men who in life kept an outward veneer of apparent goodness while the mind rioted in all wantonness. It is the mind that makes character. It is the mind that is far more active, more potent than the body, which is but a poor instrument at best. Hence the thoughts and intents of the heart, the imaginations of the mind, these are the things by which we are judged; for it is they which make up and create as it were the real character of the inner self, which becomes visible after the leaving of the body.
When you die a change takes place that differs so much in different cases that I think I had better begin by describing as clearly as possible what is felt by the person who dies. In my letters I have told you how I felt. There was no pain, no shock, no sensation at all save that of waking up out of a deep sleep, perfectly well. That was my experience, and it was a very happy one. It is a very common one, but it is not universal. There are many ways of passing from your side to ours. Of these the most general is painless waking up, and the first sensation is one of rest, of relief, and of peace. The dead—for I fear I must use that misleading word—in almost all cases where death has been unexpected, does not realise the change that has taken place. His only idea is that he has suddenly recovered. Physical pain drops off you like a garment with the body which you have left behind, you wake up well, and your first impression is one of delight; just the same as when you wake up from a bad dream and discover that it was only a dream. So simple, so natural does this seem, that you almost always mistake what has taken place. I did, as you know. And I find it is a common experience. Many refuse to believe they are dead. It is, of course, true that they are not dead. They have all their faculties: they see, they hear, they move hither and thither. Everything seems the same to them as before. Their first realisation of the change that has taken place is a kind of shock to them. "So this is death. Then if so, there is no such thing as death!" For it is so entirely different from what we imagined. We imagine that life, our life, ends with the death of the body. What you learn here is that the span of life spent in the earth-body is but a small segment of the great circle of existence. You go on. You never stop. Sometimes you sleep, but you always wake.
When the man dies he wakes up himself and no other. He is still he, she, she. If a child, he wakes up a child; if an old man, he wakes up an old man. If it were not so you would lose your identity and imagine that you have been incarnated in another body.
When a new-born babe passes over, consciousness has hardly begun on the earth. It is really born into this world rather than into yours. It has had no earth-experience, no memory of this side. There is another class which at first at least have no memory of their earth-life.
I told you yesterday that some, like little children, are unconscious of any life but this. And there are others who are unconscious for a long time. There are some who suffer violent deaths, who seem, as it were, stunned when they come here, and do not recover consciousness until the funeral rites are over, and they are forgotten among men. The reason why men have in every age made great to-do about funeral ceremonial is not merely to express sorrow, it is to advertise to the dead the change that has taken place. The disembodied soul who wakes up to find his body gone and life going on in the home as before, he being consciously still present, and alive in the midst of it, does not realise that he is dead, and sometimes it is quite a long time before he is aroused to his true condition. He is annoyed that his folk do not see him nor answer him, and he feels as if he were in a kind of bewildered dream. There he continues until some spirit can convince him. Of course this occurs mostly with those who have not realised the existence of this world, or who have imagined it so different; they cannot recognise the truth that they are still in the same world after death. Death seems denied in two ways: First, the outward visible world has undergone no change; and secondly, they retain unbroken continuity of consciousness, they are themselves, and realise their identity as much as they do on earth after they undress at night.
What first convinced me that something had happened was the sight or my old body. After that came the discovery that my nurse did not see me nor hear me, but wept about my body as if that were myself. This is what usually happens. The passing soul, which retains consciousness, sees the body which it had inhabited lying inert. The snapping of consciousness between the soul and the tenement, if I may so speak of it, is usually not felt by the soul. With some it is different. They feel as if it were the slow breaking, one by one, of the threads which connect the soul with its tenement; but the process is not painful, even when it is protracted. I have spoken to many on the subject, and the majority tell me that their experience agrees with mine. They could not even say that they could remember the exact moment when the body parted company with their soul. Some say that they left the body before it ceased to breathe, others that they lingered behind for a time after physical life had ended. But these are exceptions. The immense majority here say the same thing. They were asleep; they found themselves awake and well, in the same place where they fell asleep, and at first they could not realise they had died. And this is the case even when, as in some churches, the dying have been prepared for death by the last solemn rites. They knew that they were going to die, but they did not expect that dying was waking up quite well, with all their old faculties and memories, in the same place where they fell asleep, and this always is a source of astonishment, of bewilderment, to them at first. Many think it is a pleasant dream to be well, and dread waking up to the old pain and weakness. All that I have written relates to the immediate moment after waking, and to the experiences of the majority. There are many, very many exceptions. But, as a rule, death is a painless waking up in health, and the first emotion is bewildered astonishment.
When the newly arrived have had many friends, relatives, or those whom they have loved on this side, they find them waiting for them. Especially when they have kept thinking of or praying for them. Forgetfullness separates here as there. But all whose minds and hearts have been closely knit in love with those on this side find their loved ones waiting. And yet so great is the difference between what is and what they expected that even when they are welcomed on this side by those whom they knew to have been long "dead," it is to them as a dream. Bewilderment, surprise are the first sensations. When I came over you will remember I was at first quite alone, when I was allowed by my experience with the nurse to discover for myself what had happened, and then came the angel who took me apparently a long, long way to my relations and friends. This is sometimes the case and sometimes not. Sometimes even before the soul leaves the body it hears the welcome sound of the voices loved and lost, sees the angels and hears the music of the spheres. But these cases are comparatively few. Not until the body is cast off like a worn-out garment do you begin to see, hear and understand the new life.
You may shrink from it, but it is not the less true that sometimes the parting spirit finds itself in outer darkness in which it sees and feels nothing but a dread lostness, a desolation which oppresses, and which is described as Hell. And Hell is no fiction. And Hell awaits those who have built it for themselves, as surely as Heaven awaits those who have built it for themselves. No, for I must notice your insistent question. Not a hell that is punitive except incidentally. Believe me, the law of the Universe which is God, is Love, and no pain on this side or that is ever inflicted on anyone excepting in such a way that out of that pain and sorrow may spring joy and gladness of heart. And Hell is a great remedial agency. You see here the result of your life's works, thoughts, deeds. What you have sown you reap here. And you must not imagine that the law is here less stern than with you. It is not felt to be so stern because it is more easily understood. And the people who find themselves in Hell when they open their eyes in the darkness find the Beneficence and the Mercy of God even in their affliction. You do not realise the exceeding sinfullness of sin until you see its results. And on earth they are often hidden. Here they are revealed. You see what you have been doing. And the sight is often appalling. And as those who love have before them waiting the dear ones whom they loved, so those who hated, or injured or neglected, they also will find on this side their victims, who need no whip of torment to scourge the sinner, but only to reveal to him, "See thy handiwork. This thou hast made of me."
When the disembodied soul arrives here there is often an awkward pause. The new world into which he has entered is strange, and he is a stranger.
But the Agency which is at work here soon discovers what soul is friendless and alone. The angel who came to me was the servant of this Agency. The pause which is awkward is not longer than is necessary for the good of the newcomer. When he arrives he will, after this pause time, if there is no preparation personal to himself, be addressed by the Receiving Angel, who, as I explained, may or may not assume wings as credentials. If the arrival is prepared to receive the news of his awakening there is little difficulty. There was none in my own, and I was at once taken to those whom I knew. None of them were very near and dear to me, or they would have been waiting for me. But there are millions of men and women who arrive here to whom the discovery of the existence of life after death is a stunning shock. They have argued themselves into a conviction that death ends all, and the discovery that it begins all over again makes them often angry, and sometimes they refuse to listen to any guidance or counsel. They are then left to themselves to find out by personal experience the facts (1) That they are still living entities in the same world, although on a different plane; (2) That the laws of the new world need to be learned if they would advance to the better life that lies before them. There are many to whom the light of the new life, which is Love, manifesting itself and manifested, appeals at once. They are in their element, and rejoice exceedingly to be at home in Heaven, at home with God Who is Love. But those whose acrid temperament and selfish disposition have gradually made them loveless and utterly self-seeking, find themselves in this world like blind men in presence of the glory of sunrise. It is there, flooding the world with colour and splendour, but all its radiance does not exist for him because his optic nerve is destroyed.
The optic nerve of the soul is unselfish love; with that one can see God, can enter Heaven. I use the terms which use has consecrated. For the arbitrary division, Heaven and Hell, although corresponding to the truth in its crude essence, is very far from representing things as they are. Yet possibly it would have been difficult to make men realise the difference except by sharp contrasts. Heaven shades off into Hell, Hell shades off into Heaven, by a million imperceptible gradations. Between the two there is no great gulf fixed, as is suggested in the parable of Lazarus. For the Borderland which divides the two is crossed by innumerable paths, along which the dwellers in Heaven are perpetually leading those who were spirits in prison, to whom those of us who are in the light of the Love of God are preaching. Preaching in this sense, that of loving and making them believe in love, and causing them to love. As I wrote, the joy of Heaven is emptying Hell, and I never wrote a truer word. The task is not an easy one, but what infinite joy there is when the darkened eye is opened, and a soul begins to live! This world is like your world, only the things of the spirit are visible, and the dulling mask of matter is no longer here to obscure the vision of the soul.
The fate of the loveless soul is a sad one. But there is no despair. Nor do we ever regard any one as hopeless. Many are so blind it seems as if the eye had entirely disappeared. But we never give up. And in the end all will come into the Light of the Love of God. But there are degrees of this Light. Between the grey confines of the Borderland, between Heaven and Hell and the radiant glories of the spheres where souls perfected in the Love of God and man are to be found, there is an infinity of space. And we grow and evolve more and more in the realising sense of the glory that suffuses the world and all the universe of worlds.
I have told you a little about the journey and arrival, and I want now to tell you my first impression and a few experiences. I must begin by saying I do not know how long after the collision these experiences took place. It seemed to be a continuation without any break, but I cannot be certain that this was so. I found myself in company with two old friends, one of them my father. He came to be with me to help and generally show me round. It was like nothing else so much as merely arriving in a foreign country and having a chum to go around with. That was the principal sensation. The scene from which we had so lately come was already well relegated to the past. Having accepted the change of death, all the horror of our late experience had gone. It might have been fifty years ago instead of, perhaps, only last night. Consequently our pleasure in the new land was not marred by grief at being parted from earth friends. I will not say that none were unhappy, many were; but that was because they did not understand the nearness of the two worlds; they did not know what was possible, but to those who understood the possibilities, it was in a sense the feeling, "Let us enjoy a little of this new land before mailing our news home"; therefore there was little grief on our arrival.
In writing my first experiences I am going to give a certain amount of detail. My old sense of humour is still with me, I am glad to say, and I know that what I have to say now will cause a certain amount of amusement to those who treat this subject lightly, but that I do not mind. I am glad they will find something to smile at—it will make an impression on them that way, and then when their own time comes for the change they will recognise themselves amongst the conditions of which I am going to write. Therefore, to that kind of sceptic I just say, "It's all right, friend," and "You give no offence."
My father and I, with my friend also, set out immediately. A curious thing struck me. I was clothed exactly as I had been, and it seemed a little strange to me to think I had brought my clothing with me! There's number one, Mr. Sceptic!
My father was also dressed as I had always known him. Everything and everybody appeared to be quite normal—quite as on earth. We went out together and had refreshment at once, and, naturally, that was followed by much discussion about our mutual friends on both sides. I was able to give them news and they gave me information about our friends and also about the conditions ruling in this new country.
Another thing which struck me was the general colouring of the place; of England it would be difficult to say what the impression of colouring is, but I suppose it would be considered grey-green. Here there was no uncertainty about the impression; it was undoubtedly a blue which predominated. A light shade of a deep blue. I do not mean the people, trees, houses, etc., etc., were all blue; but the general impression was that of a blue land.
I commented upon this to my father—who, by the way, was considerably more active and younger than he was at time of death, we looked more like brothers. I spoke of this impression of blue, and he explained that it was so in a sense. There was a great predominance of blue rays in the light, and that was why it was so wonderful a place for mental recovery. Now some say, "How completely foolish!" Well, have you not on earth certain places considered especially good for this or that ailment? . . . Then bring commonsense to bear, and realise that the next step after death is only a very little one. You do not go from indifferent manhood to perfect godliness! It is not like that; it is all progress and evolution, and as with people, so with lands. The next world is only a complement of your present one.
We were a quaint population in that country. There were people of all conditions, of all colours, all races and all sizes: all went about freely together, but there was a great sense of caring only for oneself, self-absorption. A bad thing on earth, but a necessary thing here, both for the general and individual good. There would be no progress or recovery in this land without it. As a result of this absorption there was a general peace amongst these many people, and this peace would not have been attained without this self-centredness. No one took notice of any other. Each stood for himself, and was almost unaware of all the others.
There were not many people whom I knew. Most of those who came to meet me had disappeared again, and I saw scarcely any I knew, except my two companions. I was not sorry for this. It gave me more chance of appreciating all this new scene before me. There was the sea where we were, and I and my companions went for a long walk together along the shore. It was not like one of your seaside resorts, with promenade and band; it was a peaceful and lovely spot. There were some very big buildings on our right and on our left was the sea. All was light and bright, and again this blue atmosphere was very marked. I do not know how far we went, but we talked incessantly of our new conditions and of my own folk at home and of the possibility of letting them know how it fared with me, and I think we must have gone a long way. If you can imagine what your world would look like if it were compressed into a place, say, the size of England—with some of all people, all climates, all scenery, all buildings, all animals—then you can, perhaps, form an idea of this place I was in. It must all sound very unreal and dreamlike, but believe me, it was only like being in a foreign country and nothing else, except that it was absorbingly interesting.
I want to give you a picture of this new land without going too deeply into the minute details. We arrived at length at a huge building, circular and with a great dome. Its general appearance was of a dome only—on legs—I mean a great dome supported on vast columns, circular and very big. This again, in the interior, was an amazingly lovely blue. It was not a fantastic structure in any way. It was just a beautiful building, as you have on earth—-do not imagine anything fairy-like; it was not. This blue was again very predominant, and it gave me a feeling of energy. I wanted immediately to write. I would like to have been a poet at that moment, but as it was I just wanted to express myself with pen and ink.
We stayed there some time and had refreshment very similar, it seemed to me, to what I had always known, only there was no flesh food. Everything appeared quite normal there, too, and the absence of some things which would on earth have been present was not noticed. The curious thing was that the meal did not seem at all a necessity—it was there, and we all partook of it lightly, but it was more from habit than need—I seemed to draw much more strength and energy out of the atmosphere itself. This I attributed to the colour and air. It was while we were in this place that my father explained the reason and work of the different buildings I had noted on our walk together.
—W. T. Stead in The Blue Island.*
At a fine voice séance some time after this book appeared, I asked Mr. Stead if I could rely upon this account. He replied at once: "Twenty-five per cent was the medium."—A.C.D.
[The confusion of "I" and "You" is caused by alternate talk of the spirit and of the spirit control.]
Tell them I am very happy, very well and plenty to do, and intensely interested. I did suffer from shock at first, but I am extremely happy now.
You do not feel so real as people do where he is, and walls appear transparent to him now. The great thing that made him reconciled to his new surroundings was that things appear so solid and substantial. The first person to meet him was grandfather, and others then, some of whom he had only heard about. They all appeared to be so solid that he could scarcely believe that he had passed over.
He lives in a house . . . and there are trees and flowers, and the ground is solid. And if you kneel down in the mud apparently you get your clothes soiled. The night doesn't follow the day here as in the earth-plane. It seems to get dark sometimes when he would wish it to be dark, but the time in between light and dark is not always the same.
There is something always rising from the earth-plane, something chemical in form. As it rises to ours it goes through various changes and solidifies on our plane. He feels sure that it is something given of! from the earth that makes the solid trees, flowers, etc.
I am told that I can meet anyone at any time I want to. There is no difficulty. That is what makes it such a jolly fine place to live in.
It is interesting . . . much more than on the old earth-plane. I wish you could come over for one day and be with me here. They have all been over with him at night, but he thought it very hard you could not remember. If you did he is told the brain would scarcely bear the burden of the double existence, and would be unfitted for its daily duties, so the memory is shut out.
Keep jolly, or it hurts me horribly. Truly I know it is difficult, but you must know by now I am so splendid.
Tell mother she has her son back with her on Xmas Day. There will be thousands and thousands of us back in our homes that day, but the horrid part of it is that so many of the fellows don't get welcomed. Please keep a place for me.
Following on this line of thought Paul Kennedy, a spirit friend of Raymond's, said. "It is revolting to hear the boys tell you how no one speaks to them ever. It hurts me through and through."
For God's sake strike at these people, these dolts who will not believe. The world so needs this knowledge. If I had only known this on earth it would have so altered my life—the sun would have shone on my grey path had I known what lay before me.
Nothing jars over here. There are no crosscurrents. I am interested in many things, mostly human, the progress of human development, above all the regeneration of the earth-plane. I am one of those who are working for the cause on this side hand in glove with you.
Never fear, the light will be the greater for the darkness you have passed through. It will come very soon, as God wills it. Nothing can stand against that. No powers of darkness can stand for one minute against His light. All the crowd working against it will be swept away. Lean more on us, for our power to help is very great.
[Where are you?]
It is so difficult to explain to you the conditions over here. I am where I would most wish to be, that is, with my loved ones, where I can keep in close touch with you all on the earth-plane.
[Have you food?]
Not in your sense, but much nicer. Such lovely essences and wonderful fruits and other things besides, which you don't have on earth.
Much awaits you which will very much surprise you, all beautiful and high, and so sweet and sunny. Life was a preparation for this sphere. Without that training I could not have been able to enter this glorious wonderful world. The earth is where we learn our lessons, and this world is our great reward, our true and real home and life—the sunshine after the rain.
—Editor's Home Circle. Lady Doyle, Medium.
An undeveloped spirit, Oct. 11th, 1922.
[Do you believe in God?]
[Poor fellow. I fear, then, you are in darkness and trouble. Can we help you?]
[A relative intervening.] He says he is coming again to talk to you. He says you are the only humans who have spoken kindly to him. We will help also, but he is earth-bound, and so you can help him best. He has not been over very long. The light will soon shine for him also. He was a Materialist.
The Undeveloped Spirit: Friend, thank you with all my heart. I will take care of the medium and not abuse your trust.
[I hope you are happier.]
You have helped me already, kind sir. Please go on helping me. You are the only one who has since I left the earth, and I do need help badly.
[We will stand by you.]
Bless you for saying that.
[Can you hear and see? ]
I hear every word. I see you, too in this beautiful home. I did not believe in a future life. Now I know I was all wrong, and I am all at sea in finding myself over here.
Please say anything that will help me, friend. I am ready to listen, for my eyes are opened.
[I fear you are in the gray circles.]
Yes, it is all, all gray. That is the awful part of it. Our surroundings are so horrible.
[We will soon have you out.]
For Gods sake tell me how.
[Then you do believe in God!]
Oh, I do, I do! I see it for myself.
[You will soon come along now.]
Bless you for saying so. I'll try. That would, indeed, be great. May it come soon. I'll say it with you now. (Joined in the Lord's Prayer.) I just didn't care. But, oh, how deeply I regret it. Your words have encouraged me more than I can say.
[Can you tell us of yourself?]
Not now. Please help me in my present plight. My name was Peter—Peter Johnson. My mind is open to any idea. You encourage me so. I shall feel less lonely if I talk to you as often as you can spare the time. Thank you with all my heart.
(Tell us more detail.)
In good time that may come. Let me get right first. Already it is easier. A little light seems to glimmer in the dark.
Oh, I am so much better, dear, kind friends. I am trying very hard to go uphill. I begin to see how wrong I have been. My mind is learning many great truths. I have seen my own dear mother who passed over many years ago. She says she has waited for me.
[Did you not see her before we spoke to you? ]
No. I was in too dark a place for even her to penetrate.
(Don't think only of yourself. Help others.)
I have already been able to help one poor lonely soul, and he is better, too. All thanks to your circle. I have lost all sense of time. I don't know how to say how long it is since my death.
[Who was King?]
I will tell you more later if you will only keep-in touch with me.
[Your mother can do the rest.]
Yes, but you can help me so tremendously. Some day I hope I may repay you for what you have done for me.
—The Editor's Home Circle, Lady Doyle, Medium.
This extraordinary experience took place as Randall has described it in "The Dead Have Never Died."
"The room was in absolute darkness," he writes, "and suddenly the voice of one called by the world 'dead,' trembling with anger, broke upon the stillness of the night.
"'By what right do you presume to compel my presence in this house?' the voice cried.
"'Do you understand the situation in which you find yourself?' I asked.
"'I do not, and I will not allow any man to dictate to me,' he replied.
"'You are not afraid?' I asked.
"'Afraid! I am not afraid of God or man, and I will not remain here.'
"'It might be to your advantage if you would,' I answered. 'I did not force you to come. You are as much a stranger to me as I am to you.'
"'Who did force me to come?' he asked.
"'I do not know: tell me about it.'
"'As it comes to me now,' he answered, 'an irresistible force seemed to urge me from a dreamlike condition. Suddenly I was awake, in your presence, and immediately concluded that in some manner you controlled my conduct. That I cannot permit."
"'Before you go,' I said. 'I should like to have you know something of the work we are doing, which may account for your coming. . . . For many years I have been engaged in psychical research with this psychic who sits opposite me, trying to obtain a practical solution o f the great physical change called death.'
"'What has that to do with me? I am not dead, or am I interested in the subject," he answered.
"'Wait a moment, please. You will be interested when I tell you that I have discovered something of the daily life and environment of the individual after he has ceased to be an inhabitant of the earth-plane.'
"'There is no such thing as life after death.' he said.
"'I am going to try to explain what life is, before I give you absolute proof of what I state. Now follow me. At the moment of conception an Atom of the Universal Force called "Good" is clothed with substance vibrating more slowly than the life-force which is thus clothed. The individual is as perfect at the moment as the giant oak tree in the heart of the acorn. We cannot see the individual or the oak tree before or after birth and growth. Life-force vibrates so fast that it is not visible to the physical eye, but ultimately we see the outer covering, that substance which makes both possible. This outer garment of the individual is composed largely of water. This physical body of ours changes once in seven years at least, but with such change we retain individuality, form and feature. How is this done?' I asked.
"'I don't know, and I don't care,' he answered.
"'Follow me a little further, please. This entity, this life-force, this individuality, this soul, this "us," if you like, is composed of matter, differing only in the flesh substance in its vibratory condition. This accounts for its permanency of form, but no physical eye ever saw or ever will see this self, this spirit form, this soul so-called, unless possessed of psychic sight with which, speaking generally, few are endowed. Without it one individual can never see the spirit form of another while an inhabitant of this earth. We are conscious only of physical expression and sound. Now in dissolution from accident or physical weakness the body covering that is visible to us is no longer fit for habitation; then the separation, dissolution—death, so-called—occurs; the individual, through a natural process, releases itself from the flesh garment, and stands forth the same man or woman as before, though invisible to the inhabitants of earth. They see but the old flesh body which housed the spirit. They could not, as I have said, see the true self before, or can they see it after dissolution, because of the intensity, because of the rapidity of the vibration of the etheric body, for our eyes are limited to motion as well as to distance.'
"'...I cannot accept a word you say about a life after death. There is no other life—there can be none—a man dies like a dog.' said the visitor. 'We have all seen dead people, have seen their bodies buried, and you tell me there are no dead.'
"Again I said, 'You fail to understand what I have been telling you. We bury the physical bodies, but not the spirit bodies; one is just as material as the other. . . . Now to begin proof—do you know where you are at this moment? Tell me if you know.'
"'I don't seem to know. This is not my home; the room is strange to me; you are strange, too. It is all unreal."
"'Listen to me. This frail little woman, over eighty years old, who sits opposite me, is the most gifted psychic in the world. More than twenty years ago it was discovered that under favourable psychic conditions such as prevail to-night we could have speech with spirit people.'
"'But I am not one of these; the suggestion is absurd. I tell you. I am as much alive as you, and my body is quite as substantial as yours,' he said.
"'Hold up your hand as I do mine, and see if there is any difference between the two.'
"'Yes,' he answered, 'there is a difference, I now discover. Yours is opaque, but mine is transparent. I can see right through my hand. \9 this hypnotic suggestion?'
"'No, I said, 'you are facing new conditions to-night. Do you know that we sit in intense darkness—and cannot see you, although we hear your voice distinctly?"
"'I know,' he answered, 'that it is not dark, for I can see you, and if I can see you, you can see me; but never mind that; what is the matter with my body? I think now I have been very ill, and one always looks as I do after a long sickness,' he replied.
"'Speaking of illness, what do you recall about your last illness?'
"'My memory seems hazy, but it is coming back to me. I recall lying on a bed, the physician waiting, my wife and children sobbing. The doctor said, "He is passing now." That did give me a start; there were some who would like to see me dead—but I fooled them—for I did not die. If I had died, how could I be here?'
"'Suppose I tell you that you have already made that change.... Suppose I now prove it to you. Is there no one in the next life with whom you would like to talk if you could? Remember that your sickness may have ended in dissolution (death); your body is different, and you know you find yourself in a strange city.'
"'Things have changed, but I don't want to see or talk to dead people.'
"'...You have been so intent on our conversation. I think you have not looked around—look, what do you see?'
"'My God! People, people, people! All strangers, and all looking at me, all with bodies like my own; what strange hallucination is this? Where am I? Where am I?'
"'You are no longer an inhabitant of this world, but are actually living in the after-life. Are there none you know among those you see, who, to your knowledge, are counted among the dead, so-called?' I asked.
"'Not one; but wait, there comes—John—my old partner. Why does he, of all men, come? He is dead! I helped bury him! I was his executor. Take him and that woman and the boy away. I won't see them, I tell you. They are dead, all dead. They are coming to arrest me. How can they when they are all dead? Tell me, tell me, tell me quick!'
"'What wrong did you do?' I asked.
"'Wrong? Who said I did them any wrong? I was faithful to the trust."
"In answer another spirit spoke. 'No, you were not faithful. You stole the money entrusted to you for my wife and child, and left them to suffer. There never was and never can be a secret in the world. When you kept from my loved ones that which I left for their support and let them die in want, I saw, and all your friends in spirit life saw your act and the working of your mind.'
"'No secret in the world? My crime known! the dead alive! Have I too left my physical body, to find that there are no secrets when I thought to find oblivion? Am I to meet all those I have wronged? I cannot face the future! Darkness is gathering! I am falling! God help me!'
"The voice faltered, struggled for further speech, and was lost. The gross material that clothed his organs of respiration, disintegrated, and he spoke no more.
"We had participated in one of the most remarkable experiences that it has been the privilege of man to have. We had talked with one who had left the physical body, and witnessed his awakening."
—Randall, The Dead Have Never Died.
Hell is not a place of revolt, but of resignation to justice, and every soul within its wide dominion has learned from experience that the love of God is as powerfully present here as in the highest heaven. This recognition occasions, perhaps, one of the sharpest pangs of hell—remorse that one has so basely sinned against such unchanging affection, which still pities where one would look for well-merited revenge. Here sin is brought closely home to the sinner as a wilful and deliberate act against what is known to be right, or an equally criminal refusal to protect the right: and the purpose and mission of hell is understood to be the best that eternal love and wisdom can devise to effect a complete redemption from sin preparatory to the assumption of Divine sonship. The first stage of life has been woefully misunderstood, misdirected, misapplied; men in their ignorance have presumed to interpret eternal laws by the light of so-called human justice, which may be tampered with, and is largely influenced by speech, caprice, or other weakness of earth. Because God does not erect a tribunal in every market place and bring each offender forward to immediate and public chastisement it is imagined that sin is only punished in theory, and daring trespassers lift their heads high and race with breathless speed from sin to sin. In all this men only add to their condemnation. They know and admit that natural laws are not subject to caprice! You cannot bribe fire not to burn a child, nor hold it responsible for doing so on the ground of the child's ignorance. It is the nature of fire to burn—it is also the nature of sin to punish. No man can play with either without paying the inseparable penalty.
Hell is God's house of correction, modelled to rescue the perishing and uplift the fallen, and so true is it to model that no soul has yet passed the portal until he has fully and freely made the admission, "I have sinned!"
"Not one?" I queried.
No I Such a thing would be impossible.
—The Life Elysian.
Of course we are all together. That is the law of love over here. Mother is so busy, always doing kind things for those who arrive here—strangers. Just like her dear sweet self. She is full of fun and sunshine.
You will have many animals in your home here—so many. Several of those who died are in your future home. I am so happy. I play in an orchestra, and I enjoy it so much.
[What do you do?]
Music and children, loving and mothering and lots more. Far, far more here than in the gray old earth. Nothing in the people round ever jars. That makes everything happier and more complete.
[Tell us about your surroundings.]
It is lovely. I have never seen any house on earth to compare with it. So many flowers—a blaze of colour, and they have such wonderful scents, each one different and all blending so harmoniously. Then there are gorgeous butterflies, not afraid of one, so that one can go close up and see all their beauty.
[Can you see other houses?]
No, it would spoil the peace. Nature only is what one wants. Every house is an oasis. Beyond is wonderful scenery and other sweet homes full of dear sweet people, full of laughter and joy from the mere fact of living in such wonderful surroundings. No earthly mind can conceive the light and wonder of it all.
—Editor's Home Circle, Lady Doyle, Medium.
All channels of communication are limited by purpose and capacity. It might be possible under exceptional circumstances to use the same conduit for water, gas and electricity, but it is by no means advisable to do so. Every surgeon has most confidence in his own instruments. If the music is to be perfect Kubelik must play upon his own violin and Paderewski upon his own piano: how much more necessary is it that the instrument of inter-communion between the two worlds shall be set apart and delicately attuned to the special music it will be required to play. The great need of those in the beyond is for instruments worthy and willing to be used in the mission: high, noble, self-sacrificing souls who understand the nature and responsibility of the work, realise that only purity and holiness will attract corresponding agencies from without, always bearing in mind that the nearer the angel messenger using the instrument stands to God the greater will be the strain his presence will put upon the organism he employs. It is a high calling, and the man or woman who enters upon it must do so prepared to become "a living sacrifice, well pleasing unto God." Such instruments are rare, but when they are found, those into whose care they are entrusted know well their value and will not allow them to be wrongfully or hurtfully handled.
—The Life Elysian.
Men miss the awful emphasis Christ places on character because they forget that speaking from the immortal side of life death to him was simply an incident in existence, and not an end of it—a veil he could thrust aside, passing in and out at will. Neither King of Terrors nor Valley of the Shadow exists for him, but his eyes look calmly forward into the shadowless light of the eternal day, and he carries forward into that to-morrow the unbalanced account of life's to-day. It is this thought in his teaching which should make men pause. There are many nights and days between the sowing and the reaping, but whatsoever a man soweth in the Spring he shall reap in the Autumn. There is only one accessory death has no power to confiscate as the soul passes forward—character. Beliefs, dogmas, creeds and professions will all be left behind, but character will furnish the only permissible clothing with which it may step into immortality. Its works have preceded or will follow on and be produced in evidence in the judgment where "except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
—The Life Elysian.
There is a general idea amongst mankind that by the simple process of dying we are translated into a condition of omniscience, and solve every problem "in the twinkling of an eye." It was with a sense of deepest gratitude that I discovered the fallacy of such teachings, and the wider my experience ranges the more astounded I am that this preposterous assumption could ever have originated or found a sanction in the minds of intelligent human beings. Every single question I asked, every scene I beheld, every sound I heard had its own special revelation to make, and the rapidity with which each successive wave of information rolled over me allowed me no time for recovery from the grandeur of its power and scope. Be not deceived. God ever tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. He knows our frame and has ordained that our soul-expansion shall proceed under conditions best suited to our state, and which also tend to magnify His majesty and love. Knowledge can only be acquired as we have power to assimilate every successive phase of truth; it has no force, no energy unless applied, and the man who tries to accumulate it without the corresponding necessary strength to utilise the same would, if successful, find that he had gathered together and built an edifice which, for lack of support, would fall and crush him in its ruin. This strength to wield the weight of knowledge can only come by steady growth.
—Through the Mists.
Where weariness is, sleep will come, and where the one is not to be found there is no necessity for the other. When you have been toiling under the weight of a heavy burden you may lay that down, but the fatigue it has occasioned cannot be so easily laid beside it. When a sickness has been struggled with and subdued, the consequent prostration has still to be overcome; but if that illness prove to be the victor, and secures the divorcement of the soul from the body, think you some miracle is wrought to overcome the weariness of the struggle? Everything in nature has its season of repose! Why should you expect to find an exception in the case of a wearied soul? The conflict and the battle over, does it not require recuperation and sleep to regain its healthful vigour? "So He giveth His beloved sleep," and in that sleep the boundary is passed at which weariness is compelled to say "Adieu."
"Do all persons sleep on entering this life?"
Not necessarily. Sleep divides two states of the soul's development, as night divides two days. Some persons, when they reach this life, have not attained to such a standard as to dispense with it, and their condition remains much the same as formerly, until they reach one of the many "rest homes," where they pass beyond the boundary line, and then, being beyond the reach of weariness, never require to sleep again. Others again pass the spiritual standard before leaving the earth, and so make but a temporary stay here (in the "rest home") while growing accustomed to the new surroundings. Then they pass on to higher homes.
—Through the Mists.
Readers of the HTML version who wish to locate a specific section or topic listed should use their browser's or e-book reader's search function. In the EPUB edition individual sections can be accessed directly via the Table of Contents. — RG
aim of the movement
a meeting in heaven
are manifestations desirable
arrival in spirit life
a view in heaven
awakening in spirit life
can they see us?
circle of expiation
conditions of the other life
dawn of new life
death does not change character
desire for life
difficulty of expression
effect of our actions
fate of animals
first experience in the beyond
friends for the friendless
future of spiritualism
growth of children
hell is remedial
helping the dark souls
how a mother feels in the beyond
immediately after death
impressions of one just passed over
intellect and spirit
julia's after-death narrative
life in the beyond
notes from home circle
object of the war
origin of evil
other world life
poor and rich
powers of the spirit
power of thought
process of death
progress in the next life
relatives in the beyond
rest halls of heaven
some messages from raymond
spirit and matter
tasks in the beyond
the arrival of spirits
the awakening of wilberforce
the future of the sceptic
the hell of the material
the lower heaven
the nature of hell
the postmortem value of character
the rescue of a dark soul
the responsibility of mediumship
the return of the ignorant
the soul after death
the worst evil
vibrations and music
what is life?
what the age needs
work in the spirit world