These statements included my own life and studies and chief interests, and the number and sex of my immediate family; also the attitude of the various members towards myself, and in each case the special statement was absolutely correct.
Her first words were: "You are in great anxiety, I see. It is about the illness of an elderly man. Two people with whom you are in very intimate relations are ill, I see, but I will tell you now of the one you wish to hear about especially."
She went on to describe not only my brother's surroundings and illness at the time, but also his permanent state of paralysis, adding that he was now in the country, for she saw green trees all round him and waving grass. As my brother's life for many years had been spent entirely between London and the seaside, this was a good bit of evidence. As a matter of fact, he was spending a few weeks in a country cottage for the first time in his life.
The single point where she failed was as to the time of his passing away. She saw at once that the illness was one from which he could not permanently recover, and gave the approximate time very tentatively. "We cannot see times exactly—they come only in symbols. For instance, I see now falling leaves; it looks like an autumn scene, and so I infer that means later on—perhaps October or November."
This, as I have said, was the only mistake in the whole interview. My brother passed to the Higher Life on 24th September.
When I saw his valet in town later, I asked him about the trees, and he explained that owing to the great heat, the leaves were all over the ground, and gave an autumnal look to everything.
Most of us noticed the same appearance in London and elsewhere, even quite early in September 1906.
The second friend lying dangerously ill was a puzzle to me at the time; but within five days of my brother's transition, I heard of the death of Judge Forbes, who was one of my most intimate friends, as Mrs Arnold had truly observed. His illness was a very short one; but on comparing notes with members of his family I found that he had taken to his bed three days before my visit to Mrs Arnold, and was already very seriously ill, although I had no knowledge of the fact for more than a week after my interview with her.
Before closing these personal records I must say a few words on the much vexed question of psychic photographs.
As my friend Admiral Usborne Moore observes in a letter received from him as I write these words: "We are dealing with a great mystery here." He is himself one of those who by persevering effort is helping us to solve the mystery.
It is certainly the branch of psychic science which promises the best results from an evidential point of view, but it must be a case of "each man his own photographer."
There is always a tendency in human nature to be over-credulous as to our own achievements, and over-sceptical as to those of our neighbours.
So for many years probably, we shall only accept our "very own" psychic photographs as quite genuine; but when a sufficient number of people are convinced by their personal experiences in this line of research, there will be some hope that the subject will go through the usual stages—(1) Impossible and absurd; (2) Possible, but very improbable; (3) Possible, and not even abnormal; (4) Finally, normal, and "Just what we knew all about from the first!"
Meanwhile some of us have been experimenting, with professional assistance, and in these cases the question is not "Can such photographs be faked?" We all know nowadays that faking photographs is the easiest of all possible frauds. I have spent many a half hour doing the faking myself, with an amateur photographer, by sitting for so many seconds in a chair and then vacating it in favour of some other "spook"!
No, the whole question at present must be determined by our recognition or non-recognition of the photographs produced.
If Mr Boursnell or any other photographer can produce (as he has done) my old nurse, who died twenty-three years ago, and was never photographed in her life, then we must find some other suggestion than that of "common or garden faking" as a solution of the mystery. There she sits, as in life, with a little knitted shawl round her shoulders and the head of a tiny child upon her lap. The eyes are closed, and give a dead look to the face, yet the features are to me quite unmistakable, and no one knew the dear old woman so well as I did.
Again, I have in my little picture gallery, an old and very well-known Oxford professor, in whose house I stayed many times.
Quite unexpectedly he appeared on one of Mr Boursnell's plates last summer, and although this special photograph is fainter than the one just described, the likeness can only be denied by someone more anxious to be sceptical than truthful. I compared the photograph with an engraving of the professor in much earlier life—which is to be found in the Life published since he passed away—with an artist friend (who had not known him). We went over the features one by one, and my friend said she noticed only one small difference, the exact length of the upper lip, and this, she considered, would be amply accounted for by the lapse of time between the two pictures and the slight lengthening of the upper lip owing to loss of teeth. The professor passed away as an old man; the picture engraved in the Life represents him as he was at least twenty years before his death.
But the most interesting point to me in this photograph, is the appearance on his lap of a much loved dog, a rather large fox terrier named "Bob." I had not noticed Bob until a daughter of the professor pointed him out to me, and now I cannot understand having missed him at first.
Bob was not only the most important person in the Oxford household, but he was good enough to be very fond of me, so it seems to me quite natural that he should have come with his master to pay me a visit.
I remember arriving at the house one dark winter's evening after an absence of over two years, and Bob's welcome to me was so ecstatic that he nearly knocked me down in a vain attempt to get his paws round my neck.
I heard the professor, who was always rather jealous of Bob's affections, say in a whisper to his wife: "Most touching thing I ever saw, that dog's welcome when Miss Bates arrived!"
Dear Bob! I am so glad he can still come and see me, with his dearly loved master.
Another shuffle of the photographs brings to the top a sweet girlish face and figure, "sixteen summers or something less."
She appeared first upon a plate in the summer of 1905, but so indistinctly as to the face that I could not recognise it.
A few months ago the same figure appeared again, but quite clearly this time, and involuntarily, as I looked at it, I exclaimed: "Why, of course, it is Lily Blake!"
Now it is nearly thirty years since I met this charming child; during my first visit to Egypt. She and her father (a well-known physician) and her aunt, were spending a six weeks' holiday in Cairo, and I saw more of her than would otherwise have been the case, because she was the playmate of another young girl—the child of friends of mine at Shepheard's Hotel.
Lily was a sweet-looking, delicate girl, with soft, sleepy blue eyes, and was always dressed in a simple, artistic fashion. A few months after our return to England I saw in the papers the death of this pretty child; for she was little more at the time. I wrote a letter of condolence and sympathy, which was at once answered by the aunt in very kind fashion; and since then I have seen nothing to remind me of Lily until this last year has brought her once more within my ken. I am only too thankful to realise that any influence so pure and beautiful as hers, may be around me sometimes in my daily life.
* * * * *
And now let me say, in the words of our great novelist:
"Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out!"
Only I trust in this case we have managed to rise a little above the usual atmosphere of Vanity Fair.
Surely the aim of all psychic research should be to give us a scientific, as we have already, thank God, a spiritual, foundation for the "Hope that is in us."
Spirit photographs and spirit materialisations and abnormal visions or abnormal sounds amount to very little, if we look upon them as an end in themselves, and not as the symbols and the earnest of those greater things which "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive."
I remember, years ago, in the course of a deeply interesting conversation with Phillipps Brooks, the late Bishop of Massachusetts, that I asked him what he thought about modern theosophy, which was just then becoming a culte in his native town of Boston. There was a great deal of talk at the time about the new philosophy and the wonderful phenomena said to accompany its propaganda. Sir Edwin Arnold had written his "Light of Asia," and Oliver Wendell Holmes had welcomed it with wondering awe, as something approaching a new revelation. And smaller people were talking about the historical Blavatsky tea-cups, and hidden heirlooms found in Indian gardens, and some of us were wondering how soon we should learn to fly, and what would come next.
The bishop's answer to my question was so genial, so characteristic, and showed such divine common-sense!
"It is not a question of flying," he said. "I should like to fly as much as anybody; and a queer sort of bird I should appear!" (He was well over six feet, and broad in proportion.)
"If you suddenly found you could fly," he continued, "it would be absorbing on Monday morning, intensely interesting on Tuesday, interesting on Wednesday, and quite pleasant on Thursday, but by the end of the week it would be getting normal, and you would want to discover some other new power. No, believe me, the real question is not flying, but WHERE you would fly, and WHAT YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOU GOT THERE."
This sums up the case in a nut shell, and seems to me only another way of saying: "Don't forget the spiritual significance beneath the scientific symbol."
And I would add: "Let us all join hands in the interesting and absorbing work of trying to make our symbols as scientific as we can, by finding out the laws which govern them, as well as all other things, in this universe of Love and Law. Probably we are here to learn, above all things else, that Love and Law are ONE."
* * * * *
Many people have had far more remarkable experiences than mine. For various good reasons I have carefully abstained from any attempt to cultivate, or in any way increase, the sensitiveness which is natural to me.
I can only assure my readers that my record has been absolutely accurate. In many cases it would have been very easy to write up the stories into some far more dramatic form; but by doing so the whole aim and object of my book would have been destroyed.
I wanted to trace the thread of what we at present consider abnormal, through the whole skein of a single life, hoping thereby to encourage others to do the same.
It is only by putting these things down, if not for publication, then in some diary or commonplace book, that we can realise how far our normal life is, even now and here, interpenetrated by another plane of existence.
And so farewell to all kind readers who have followed me to the end of my personal record of curious events—curious chiefly by reason of our present imperfect knowledge.
Much has been said of the folly and triviality of all messages coming, or purporting to come, from the Unseen. I think here, as elsewhere, like clings to like, and we get very much what we deserve; or rather, to put it in a more philosophical and Emersonian way, we receive what belongs to us.
Emerson tells us in one of his most illuminating passages, that everything which belongs to our spiritual estate is coming to us as quickly as it can travel. All the winds of heaven, all the waves of earth, are bringing it to us, and neither angel nor devil can prevent our taking what is ours or rejecting what is not ours.
This is a universal law, and applies to automatic writing as to everything else. Emphatically we get what belongs to our spiritual estate.
Therefore any casual and general remarks as to the foolishness of all automatic writing, must of necessity be made by those who are ignorant of this spiritual law, or whose experience of such messages is very limited.
I intend to give a few which I have myself received, in the form of an Appendix to my book. With one exception, they all come from a very dear friend, who passed into the other sphere little more than a year ago under peculiarly happy circumstances. I do not wish to give his name, although it would add considerably to the interest of the narrative. I shall therefore call him Mr Harry Denton. The messages will be given exactly in the form in which they were received, and without any editing. We never discussed theological ideas from any standpoint of creed; but I imagine that my friend, when here, would have looked upon Jesus Christ as one of the many inspired teachers of the world, and that his views were cosmic rather than religious—in any narrow sense—and certainly religious, in the broad sense of the term, rather than theological.
The first conversation (for this is a better description of my friend's communications than the word message) refers to my own attitude, as compared with that of a lady friend of mine, regarding Jesus of Nazareth.
H. D.—I see a great stream of light round you, Kate, and it seems to have come with your truer conception of Jesus Christ. It is all right for your friend to say she prefers to put the matter aside and leave it alone. That is just the best thing she can do; in fact, the only thing she can do at present.
The seed is still underground, and the moment of emergence has not come. To try and force it above ground just now, would be fatal. It would also be immature and uncalled for. The old husks of man-made creeds must drop off gradually, leaving the bud they protected intact, not be torn off by an impatient hand.
So far her instinct seems to me a true one. But the case is widely different for you. The husks have fallen off, as a matter of fact, and the discomfort and sense of something wrong arose from your knowing that you were only striving desperately to clutch on to them, when the fine, strong bud was there, able and ready to take its proper share of sunshine and rain, and even to bear the cold winds of misrepresentation and misunderstanding if need be.
"QUIT YOU LIKE MEN, BE STRONG." That is your lesson-book, and you will never feel happy or content until you are learning it.
Surely you must feel how much you have gained since you faced your own facts?
E. K. B.—Yes, Harry, I do; but I don't quite understand your position. Are you at the same point of view?
H. D.—No; not yet. It is all rather foreign to my previous notions. I thought of Jesus of Nazareth as a great teacher—one of the great teachers of the world—but I had still to learn His unique position as regards our chain of worlds.
They tell me here that He was the first to attain to the full stature of the Divine Man as he existed in the thought of the Absolute.
Spiritual evolution is the process, apparently the only process, whereby a Son of God in this sense can appear. And aeons of time have been necessary to produce this fine Flower of Humanity. Your own band are helping me to understand this. Having attained, being the anointed One, it is given to Him to bring the whole race after Him.
This is quite a different conception from my former one, and the one held by most of those whom in old days we called Unitarians.
You have had to unlearn, or rather to drop, some of the husks of old tradition which have been guarding the truth for you, whereas I have still to come up to the truth; but the point reached will be the same, whether the approach to it is from north or south—do you see?
In Christ Jesus, they tell me, we are all new creatures, as a matter of fact; because, consciously or unconsciously, we are working together with Him to realise and manifest ourselves, as made after the Image of God.
He is the example and the pledge for us. St Paul saw this, of course, and your present position illuminates his teaching for me enormously. So I have much to thank you for, Kate. It is easier to learn from those we know and trust, than from strangers.
And, moreover, when we can learn from the loved ones on earth as well as through the loved ones here, it makes the links in the golden chain complete, and helps us to realise the unity and solidarity of our common existence, in the Father—with the Son. H. D.
Another morning I had told H. D. that I had been reading an article in The Nineteenth Century—and After, I think, entitled "An Agnostic's Progress," and asked if he had sensed it through me at all.
H. D.—Yes. We will begin with that this morning. I am very glad you read it, for it is curiously like my own experiences in the same line.
Since coming over here, and thereby coming into such direct touch with you, I have been able to grasp the key to much that puzzled me on the other side.
As my views became more spiritualised I saw there must be more truth in the Christian religion than outsiders supposed, and yet I knew it could not be absolutely true in the form in which it has been handed down.
That was for me unthinkable, because I saw it would be a sudden and catastrophic incursion upon a cosmos of Law and Order.
It would mean God working in the highest departments of His Creation, as He is never seen to work in the lower ones. And my faith in Him prevented my entertaining such an idea! Schemes and plans of salvation belong to the comparative childhood of the race, not to the full-grown spiritual man. They are still in the fairy-tale stage, holding a truth, but acting only as the husk of the truth.
The unity of the race; the necessity for self-sacrifice in realising that unity: that by giving our life for our brothers we save our Life, which is that unity in which the brethren are included—all this I could accept in Christ's teaching or the teaching of the Apostles; but the rest: the detail, the carefully arranged scheme of the Atonement, etc., as dogmatic doctrines—all these seemed to me so obviously the desperate attempts of man at a certain stage of development to fit in spiritual facts with the most probable theories; and to say that men who wrote of these things were inspired, and therefore infallible, was absurd.
Even in my short life, I had seen the world pass through several stages of belief and assimilate them in turn.
As a child, I was told that God was angry with people for sinning and breaking His commandments, and so Jesus Christ offered to come and die on the cross to appease His just wrath.
That seemed a great puzzle to me, because, although it might account for what happened before Christ came and until He came, I could not understand why God should go on letting people come into the world who would break His laws, and make Him still more angry for centuries and centuries. That seemed to me, as a child, so unnecessary.
Later I was told it was not God's anger but His sense of justice that had to be appeased and satisfied, which was a distinct step in advance.
A little later, however, I read that this was not the hidden truth of the doctrine. The religious world (the thoughtful section of it) now arrived at the idea that it was not God who needed to be satisfied or appeased in any of His attributes, but MAN, and that GOD—in the person of his Son—came into the world to reconcile the world to Him, and not Himself to the world.
This was a complete bouleversement of the whole situation, though it came so gradually that few appreciated that fact.
The last suggestion appeared to me by far the most luminous. In human life it is invariably the lower nature that needs to be reconciled and conciliated; whilst the higher nature, in proportion to its development, is forgiving and tolerant and wide-minded, and does not prate about its own high sense of justice requiring to be appeased. The best type of man punishes a wrong-doer in order that he may learn to do better and leave off tormenting and wronging his fellow-creatures; not to appease any instinct in his own breast, for that would be egotism, no matter how we might try to disguise the fact.
Now if it would be a blot upon the best conceivable man to be egotistical, a fortiori must it be upon God.
To conceive otherwise is to make God in the likeness of the lower and not the higher humanity. I thought all that out very clearly.
Still this crux remained for me, that to be suddenly, at any arbitrary moment in the world's history, obliged, as it were, to send an absolutely divine part of Himself into the world, was the way a man would act faced by an unforeseen catastrophe, but not the way in which God has acted throughout the rest of our history.
A succession of teachers, enlightening the world by degrees, and culminating in the ANOINTED Son of God—the Flower of Humanity—this is entirely in line with the processes of Nature and the laws of God, so far as we know them.
All progress has its culminating point.
AEons have passed to produce the most exquisite crystals, the highest forms of vegetation, of animals, of men. Then came the slow processes of civilising and educating men; the dim instincts of fear and propitiation, merging, by slow degrees, in the first conceptions of Love, as something apart from desire, and so forth.
Was I to be expected to shut my eyes to all these known facts, and bolt down the theories contained in one Book, written by human authors, no matter how admirable?
I felt it was impossible.
Then I remembered with relief that these very dogmas, as a matter of fact, were in so fluent a state, that my own bare fifty years of living had seen at least four different high-water marks!
Here again therefore, under my very eyes, was the universal law of progress working, the moment it could work, by being released from the swaddling-clothes of the Roman Catholic Church, which, so far as it is orthodox, is fossilised.
I saw also that the whole body of dissent had moved on, taking up its pegs and planting them a little further on each time; till a City temple, with its widening theology, was an established fact.
Progress everywhere—slow, but sure—and the pace getting quicker, even in my short span! Still, the uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth and His influence over the nineteen centuries was a puzzle.
Buddha's influence has lasted longer, Mahomet's almost as long (the two cancel any way), but I have always recognised an advance in the teaching of Jesus Christ. He brought a fresh element, in the personal note of the Sonship with GOD.
I was at this point when I came over here. Now through your mind I have been able to see, and, oddly enough, to quicken in your soul, the seed already planted there.
They tell me the illumination came to you years ago, at Oberammergau—no, not when you were there for the Passion Play—four years earlier.
You took it in with your head then, not with your heart. Old traditions were too strong, I suppose, and you had not made up the last little bit of your mind, to be true to the convictions that had come to you through your prayers for light.
And so you have gone on, see-sawing to and fro, not really believing the old orthodox ideas, but not courageously sweeping them away for yourself. So although the key was in your hands, you have not used it until now. You have given me the key, and I have been allowed, as my New Year's gift, to fit it in the door.
This is how Jesus Christ has stood so long at the door of your heart and knocked. He could only enter through the one door—namely, that one opened in the highest point of your spiritual realisation. I see now that He comes in at that door in each soul, and, as spiritual evolution unfolds in each heart, so is the special position of that door shifted; but the fact of His presence is the vital one! It was not possible for Him to do otherwise than hide His face, as it were, whilst you were barring His only door of access—i.e. your true point of realisation.
It all seems so clear to me now. And this is how He comes to so many in different guises.
He is the Perfected Manifestation of GOD, as the Divine Man—the Flower of Humanity.
But He can come into the heart in the narrowest creed, so long as the holder of that creed is at his true point of growth and not trying to stifle God's gift of ever-advancing truth by cowardly want of trust, or fear of being worse off in the end, by being absolutely honest to himself and his own convictions in the present.
It has been a long message, and you have taken much of it awkwardly, but on the whole it represents what I wanted to say. H. D.
H. D.—I feel now that you want to know what I meant by telling Miss R. it was the likeness to the old world which puzzled me here.
You see, we have all imbibed traditional ideas with our mother's milk, however much our intellects may have modified them. Instinct is stronger than intellect, because it is more elemental.
The first thing that struck me was that truths which are latent on earth are made manifest here.
(Here comes an interpolation.)
You can take my words so easily that we must guard against wasting time in mere verbosity. I must teach you to condense more. We must strike some sort of balance between my brevity and your amplification. At present it is as well to get the instrument into proper working order before worrying too much over these details.
(He then resumed.)
It is as if you turned the old earth garment inside out, and saw the very fabric of it, which the earth looms have hitherto concealed by the warp and woof of the manufactured article.
For instance, you are told on earth that you are making your own future conditions by right or wrong thinking. Here you see the absolute, material results of right and wrong thinking, just as if you were looking at two different patterns, woven by two different workers. I said material results, because matter here is just as real as it was on earth, and just as illusory, in one sense, in both spheres. Your matter is unreal to us. Our matter is unreal to you. The truth is, both are shadows cast by an antecedent reality on the Screens of the Universe.
The screens are the school-houses through which humanity learns its lessons.
Don't be worried! There is no real difficulty in using your hand; it is only trying to compromise between your redundancy and my brevity.
Earth is like a gallery of sculpture. (Note by E. K. B.—This simile had flashed through my brain, and H. D. at once said: "Yes, that is very good; you started it, and I pick it up and apply it.") All the figures and groups are perfected and complete in their marble or bronze or terra-cotta, as the case may be.
Some groups or figures are noble, others mediocre, others again may be sensual and degrading, but they have one quality in common—for good or bad, they are ready made.
Now go into the sculptor's studio, having studied well in the great sculpture galleries of the world. You go to the studio, we will suppose, as a pupil. He puts a lump of clay into your hands, and for the first time you are invited to model your own statues and figures, to embody your own ideas in this clay, which corresponds to thought stuff here. You are even made to understand that your houses will only be worthily furnished by the work of your own hands. Here it is the work of your own hearts, of your loving or unloving thoughts.
So the first lesson we learn over here is that THOUGHT is not only Creative Power, as you are often told on earth, but it is also the very stuff out of which the creation must be moulded. It is, in very truth, the clay of the modeller.
Shakespeare said truly enough "We are such stuff as dreams are made of," but he was referring to our embodied selves.
The difference between the two worlds seems to me, so far as I have arrived, as the difference between the pupil in the sculpture gallery and in the experimental studio. The chief part of the earth modelling is ready made—made by the racial thought stuff and the racial manipulation of it.
Here, for the first time, we must turn to and take a hand in the work ourselves. It would not be possible to give such individual power in any lower sphere than this, for it would be misused, and would lead to terrible tragedies.
You see some slight hints of this in what is called Black Magic—the wilful and intentional throwing of evil conditions on other people, making hard and cruel images of them in the mind, and so forth. But all that is as child's play to what would happen if the absolute clay were put into their hands, as it is here.
It is the difference between thinking out an ugly picture; and painting it and hanging it up in a gallery; for we have objectivity here as with you. Naturally what comes into objective existence has more power than what remains latent. The latter can only influence exceptionally sensitive souls, and that to a comparatively small extent, whereas the former, here as with you, has a much farther range of influence.
So this sort of gunpowder is not given to us until we are old enough to know better than to burn our fingers with it, in trying to make fireworks!
At the same time, as all stages of evolution overlap, it is inevitable that some hint of these possibilities should be already in your world. Woe be to those who misuse them!
You have taken enough for this morning. H. D.
The friend I have called Mr Harry Denton, during his psychic researches, came, as many others have done, very strongly under the influence of "Imperator," the chief of the Stainton Moses controls.
I knew that this was the case, especially during the last three or four years of my friend's life, and I always rather resented the fact, for the limitations of Imperator have always appealed to me so strongly, as to dim, perhaps unduly, his undoubted claims to appreciation.
I have read many of the private Stainton Moses' records (thanks to my friendship with the executor, with whom these journals were left), and in all those referring to Imperator's communications, there was to my mind the same note of cock-sureness and mental tyranny.
There was too much of finality and self-assertion, too much of "Thus saith the Lord," about Imperator's remarks for my rebellious soul. I could never be strongly impressed by any personality, however admirable, that so palpably exacted allegiance and unquestioning obedience. These must be the unconscious tribute to the Genius of Holiness, as to any other sort of genius; never an enforced levy upon us.
So at least it seems to me. Certainly I would not escape one sort of priestcraft to set up another in its place, whether the niche be filled by Mrs Besant or Mrs Eddy or Mr Sinnett, or any other fallible fellow-creature. Not even Imperator can strike me as infallible; and his own evident belief in that direction does not affect the question.
It seemed to me rather to be deplored that Mr Denton, with his wide outlook and cosmic conceptions, should fall so strongly under any special influence, even that of the admirable Imperator!
So I was curious to know what his views were upon this subject from the other side of the veil. I will now leave him to speak for himself.
H. D.—You want me to tell you just my position about the Imperator group before and since I passed to this side? That is easily done. Remember, the teaching I got through Imperator was practically the first spiritual teaching I ever had—the first I mean, of course, that I could assimilate, because it appealed to my reason, as well as to my sense of the fitness of things—and therefore I can never feel sufficiently grateful to him and his group; and I see that they can teach many who would not be amenable to a more distinctly spiritual appeal.
Imperator is a great force in his way; a sort of plough that goes over the hard, caked-up earth and throws it open to the sunshine and rain and all Nature's beautiful influences, to all the possibility of Divine influences on the corresponding sphere.
But the limitation of Imperator I see clearly now, as you always appear to have done.
He is, as you say, too final and too dogmatic. This is at once his weakness and his strength: his weakness, because it limits his own spiritual receptivity; his strength, because it focusses his power in dealing with materialistic minds.
A more spiritually true perspective in his communications would rule out half the souls to whom his appeal is made.
Stainton Moses has also progressed beyond the Imperator influence, and this is why the communications between them had become so clogged and so liable to error.
S. M. could not switch on to the old wires, as in the days when his horizon was bounded by them. This accounts, I see, for much of the misconception and apparent inconsistency of the remarks made through Mrs Piper, but it was very disheartening for the investigator as time went on and the "Light" became more and more clouded. Then there was the additional fact to be faced, that Mrs Piper herself became, psychically rather than physically, exhausted, and less able to be used from this side.
Now I see you want to know about Frank Strong, and what he said about sin existing only on your plane, and how inconsistent this was with the previous teachings of Stainton Moses, who was supposed to be speaking through Frank's assistance.
It is so difficult to explain everything in black and white when there are so many shades of grey, so many degrees and amounts to be considered. It is like a question in mechanics.
With increased momentum you get an increased rate as multiplied by space. I am not an expert, but this is practically true. In the same way, spiritual perception acts with increased momentum.
All sin is failure in spiritual perception. Spiritual perception corresponds with the momentum of a falling body in mechanics. Only in Divine mechanics it is a rising body; but the same law holds good.
You say truly that an action can only be called sinful when the sinner knows the higher and deliberately turns to the lower.
That is true; but it is only half a truth. It is still the lack of knowledge that causes sin. With the fulness of knowledge of the higher (only another way of putting fulness of spiritual perception) must come the righteousness of life.
It is the broken gleams, the little knowledge, which is truly a dangerous thing, for it brings responsibility, and therefore the capacity for sinning. Yet the choice between good and evil fully made, is the schoolmaster to bring us to the full realisation of our nature as Sons of God.
Now when Frank came over here, he was so greatly impressed by the dynamic force of spiritual perception that for the time he lost all sense of proportion and accuracy of judgment. Compared with the old earth temptations, those in his sphere seemed non-existent, whilst the temptations to goodness were enormously increased.
What wonder that in the delightful sensation caused by his sense of moral and spiritual freedom from old shackles, he should exclaim with youthful fervour: "Sin is only possible in your sphere—it is unknown here!" Any communications of which he formed the channel, would of necessity be coloured by this dominant idea of his. Everything is a question of degree, and he is learning that lesson now, I find. He says: "Why do people in the earth life quote our words as if we were Delphic Oracles?"
Why, indeed? But I am afraid I did much the same whilst so strongly under the Imperator influence.
E. K. B.—Why is Imperator so slow in throwing off his own spiritual limitations?
H. D.—I can read your mind so easily. It is quick and alert, and has already answered its own question. It is because he has a work to do on your plane amongst those who could not come in touch with a higher spiritual development. There are spiritual as well as scientific martyrs, you must remember; and he is one of them. But the Divine Economy works very beautifully here. He is not conscious of any spiritual limitation, and therefore he is happy in his work, and the martyrdom I spoke of is unconscious. When it becomes conscious, with him it will mean that his present plane of work is finished, and that he will be removed to another "Form" so soon as he is prepared to teach there.
He is essentially a teacher, and a valuable one, for those who have not soared beyond his present perceptions. It is all so much more simple and reasonable than you suppose. It is these crusted old creeds that have misrepresented actual conditions, and yet they also have been, as Imperator; doing their own work amongst the people to whom they have acted as necessary stepping-stones.
That is enough for to-day; take a rest now. H. D.
The following conversation between Mr Denton and myself (the last of the series which I propose to give) took place, I see, at Buxton, 4th September 1906.
There had been some correspondence in The Daily Telegraph about Time as a fourth Dimension, and I asked my friend if he could say anything to me on the subject. His reply was as follows:—
Time is really a form of perception, not a thing in itself—do you understand?
Your limitation of perception you call Time.
Another limitation is called Distance.
This also is an illusion, or a limitation, whichever you choose to call it.
The White Ray is the Absolute. The spectroscope gives you the limitation which makes the colours perceptible to your human eyes. For the one who is free from these limitations, all colours exist and are present in consciousness at the same moment. But they must be split up and observed severally to enter into the earth consciousness. It is exactly the parallel of Time.
Events in Time coincide with the colours in the Ray. All exist simultaneously for the one who is free from limitations. All must be brought into sequence for the one who is bound by limitations.
This is really the key to so many puzzles, and accounts for so many occult phenomena.
As we transcend the normal earth limits ever so little, so do we develop these abnormal powers, as they are called. But here, as everywhere, the reality is just the converse of the apparent.
The true norm is the Perfect Ray—the Ceaseless Sound—the Perfect Vision; and the abnormal is the limitation upon the earth, or upon any succeeding plane, short of the Absolute. But naturally we consider that normal which happens to be our standpoint for the moment.
Already to me the earth limitations appear abnormal, and my more extended capacities mark the norm of existence for me. This must be the case naturally.
Prevision would be more accurately termed Whole vision—seeing the whole and not the tiny section.
In moments of intense joy or realisation of any kind, Time seems to cease, and a moment may hold an Eternity. Any absorbing emotion, joyful or sorrowful, may bring this experience. For the moment you are out of yourselves. This is literally true. You are living in the next Dimension. Time and Space no longer exist for you. Most of you have had some such experience, but of necessity it can be a flash only in the midst of your normal life. Ask me something now.
E. K. B.—A man writing lately in The Daily Telegraph of Time as a fourth Dimension said something about the cube as being an infinite number of flat planes of infinite tenuity, heaped up one over the other. To the person who knew only length and breadth, the cube would have no existence. Such a person would realise only an infinite number of planes in sequence. Yet they would all co-exist for the three-dimensional man of the present day. The suggestion appeared to be that, in exactly a similar way, events which to the three-dimensional man can only be perceived normally in sequence, would co-exist for a four-dimensional being. This would mean practically the annihilation of Time, as giving sequence. Do you see Truth in this idea, and can you tell me if it extends also to Space?
H. D.—Certainly. That is just what I meant as regards Distance. All limitations are mental, as a matter of fact. We have them here, but infinitely fewer than in the old earth life.
Mind has always been able to flash from pole to pole and to affect those at a distance, because mind and distance occupy two different planes. The latter is an earth limitation. As the veil lifts a little, even on your side, so you become conscious that mind has these powers; but the powers were always there. It merely means that you have come up with your own mental capacities to some small degree.
E. K. B.—Is there any help here for my constant problem: Why should one's individual life be only now evolving in Eternity? Do you see what I mean?
H. D.—Yes; but I hardly know the answer to that tremendous problem. Still, I will try to suggest a few thoughts to you.
To be conscious of holiness and virtue we must have known its antithesis—evil and separation, which are really synonymous. Separation from Holiness is evil. It is a condition, a limitation.
It is to the Divine Essence just such a limitation as Time is to the mortal. Separation is therefore the antecedent cause of all limitations. These must exist where the Wholeness or Holiness is absent.
I must use the language of earth or you would not understand. Logically, of course, Holiness can never be absent, since it is the cause of all Existence; but it is apparently absent, and this apparent absence, this separation, this evil in fact, acts as a spectroscope. It analyses, and thus brings into our consciousness the White Ray of the Divine Nature.
We can go no further than that. The Divine Chemistry, beyond this fact, must remain a mystery, probably for ages to come.
We cannot tell why things are thus arranged; we only know that it is so.
As well ask why the White Ray of Light gives out its colours only through separating them.
But it is easier to speak of the co-ordination of events. Take your own suggestion of the cube—that will help us best.
Take it that each life is a cube of planes, of experiences. These experiences are co-existent and knit together, as firmly in the life of a human being as the many planes are co-existing, and knit together in a mathematical cube. You can dissect the cube and slice off infinitesimal small planes in sections.
So is the individual life sliced off into an infinite number of planes by the sequences of Time (our three-dimensional condition).
But these experiences—great or small, important or trivial (from your point of view)—exist in the cube of that person's earth pilgrimage, as the colours exist in the White Ray.
The Ray may be split up into sequence, but the colours belong to it all the same, and by a perfectly seeing eye would be known and recognised without the help of the spectroscope.
The true seer is the one who sees the cube of your life; before whom it is spread out, without Time Separations, into planes of experience. This is the real secret of all foretelling. Such people, when honest, have some amount of access to the cube of earth life, some more, some less.
Many mix up and confuse what they see; but they do see beyond the plane section which Time gives to the normal human being.
I think you have taken enough now.
I will only add that, of course—as you know—there is nothing arbitrary in the cube of life, as I have called it. It is built up of necessary experiences and necessary consequences. But it is built up by Love and Wisdom, the two Elements of the Divine Nature, in which we live and move and have our being. H. D.
The next selection that I shall give from my automatic script comes from an entirely different personality, which can be sufficiently indicated by the initials E. G.
E. G.—Worship is a necessary part of each soul's training, and we can only worship that which we feel to be above and beyond ourselves. As we grow older and become more developed in spiritual consciousness, so do we tend more and more to worship the inner and intangible, rather than the outer and manifest. So whilst the instinct of worship is always the same, the objects and methods must continually change with our own advancing realisation and unfolding consciousness.
Those limitations which once made for reverence are in time found to be cramping and to lead to superstition.
It is the same with the education of either children or of childish nations.
In both cases a display of power is necessary to command obedience, because the childish mind can only apprehend from the outer, and realise the existence of that which it sees physically demonstrated. Tell a child of tender years that to be naughty is to be unhappy, and in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred he will neither understand nor believe you. But take away his toys or his sweets or put him in a corner; make him, in fact, physically aware of the truth that to be naughty is to bring unpleasant consequences upon himself, and you have taken the only argument which he is capable of realising at a certain point of consciousness.
This is why certain nations, at the child point of development, must be treated as children. They don't realise the appeal to the spiritual, and will only misconceive you and your motives, and read cowardice in your attempt to treat from a standpoint they have not reached.
It is the same with certain religions, and this is the cause of much failure in mission work.
Theosophy and Roman Catholicism appeal strongly to comparatively immature minds.
Those who care more for form than for essence are always in the immature stage.
They love big words and mysterious sayings and doings. To have something apart from others—whether it be happiness or knowledge—is their idea of bliss. Hence in most theosophists, as in all Roman Catholic converts, you find this note of immaturity and monopoly. I say converts, because those born in the Roman Catholic faith are on different ground. Their spiritual life may grow and develop in spite of the creed limitations into which Fate has cast them, but those who deliberately choose such limitations give the best possible proof of their own standpoint. And the same may be said also of all strict creed religions.
They have their great and valuable uses, as prison bars have their uses in a community which has not learnt to respect the rights and property of its neighbours.
Withdraw these bars and you let loose upon society a pestilential crew of murderers and marauders. Relax the bars of creed and you will find the same result. But as bars are not necessary for the advanced souls who recognise that to murder or defraud their fellow-creatures leads to their own misery, apart from any detection or punishment, so creeds are not necessary, under a corresponding evolution of the spiritual instinct, which tallies with the social and moral instincts noted above.
And as treadmills and oakum picking can be dismissed in the one case, so can much of the theological machinery for the discipline and punishment of sinners against spiritual laws be dispensed with, in the case of those who are, spiritually speaking, coming of age.
They come then into the full liberty of Sons of God, and shall be no more treated as servants, but as sons, as the Apostle puts it.
This brings me to my special subject.
There are many things of great and transcending interest which we are obliged to keep secret from our younger children, partly because they would fail to understand, but still more because they would misunderstand, and this to their own hurt and disadvantage; not to speak of possible injury to others through them.
Spiritual Evolution is the true Doctrine, but it is not food for babes in spiritual life.
To have an unlimited series of advancing lives and advancing experiences unfolded before their eyes would not only dismay and bewilder, but would also paralyse their energy for good, and terribly augment their capacity for evil—for the not good.
Until they are sufficiently versed in spiritual experience to realise the difference between purity and impurity, good and evil, God and the world, fame and peace, pleasure and happiness, the peace which passes understanding and the false glamour of sensual passion and sensuous self-indulgence, so long it is dangerous for them to know, with absolute certainty, the real facts of the case.
Even the terrible and abhorrent pictures of an Eternal Hell, of endless flames and of undying worms, have had their uses.
In this form alone could the thoroughly immature mind be made to realise the discomfort and misery that would inevitably attend wrong-doing. It was a truth, although not a literal truth. Many literal truths convey a false impression to the immature mind, whilst a symbolic truth may convey as true an impression as such a mind is capable of receiving.
The old ideas of Heaven and Hell are already doomed; but other ideas, equally untrue from the literal point of view, still hold their own, and will be more slowly eradicated. It is well this should be so. The world at large is not prepared yet to take this further step.
Frequent examinations have been found useful and inevitable in school training, both as a test of progress and still more as an encouragement.
If you tell a school of boys and girls in January that a grand examination will be held the following December, do you suppose they will work as well and as diligently as if they knew there will be short examinations at Easter and more important ones at midsummer?
Again, if you tell boys of ten years old, who are learning a little history, geography, and arithmetic, just in the Rule of Three and simple fractions, with perhaps a little Latin; of the Algebra and Euclid and Conic sections and higher Mathematics, and Latin and Greek verse and Hebrew and Philosophy, which they must some day confront, you will puzzle and paralyse their brains, and leave only a sense of misery and revolt and helplessness, which will quickly show forth in reckless despair, even concerning the tasks which are well within their present capacity.
God, in His Infinite Wisdom (of which ours is the feeblest reflection), acts in precisely the same way as wise fathers and wise teachers.
Your earth is more or less of an infant school, but before leaving it, some of you must prepare for the higher classes and learn to take your own spiritual responsibilities.
It is seen that in these days of reaction and readjustment, many minds are puzzled and perplexed by the old doctrines, which they have outgrown, and which were never more than the outer husk and protection for the inner kernel—the casket for the jewel of spiritual truth.
The one term of probation—the one chance for progress—the immediate Heaven or Hell—the Great White Throne of Judgment, instant and inevitable—all these correspond with the frequent examinations, with the good and bad marks—the judging of the school work at the end of each term. The only difference lies in the fact that the schoolboy knows he has other terms in front of him, and we are all aware that this is a very unfortunate fact where an idle boy is concerned.
How often you may hear them say: "Never mind! I'm a bit behind now—but I have three years more—I shall catch up later." And this is probably just what they fail to do; for with such characters it is always to-morrow that is to see the reformation which so often comes only when life has taught its hard lessons to the defaulter.
Is it not apparent, therefore, that there has been wisdom and goodness in our very theological mistakes and illusions?
The opposition to spiritualistic teachings has its good and healthy side. It is really the fierce antagonism of the undeveloped nature towards a truth it dimly apprehends to be ahead of its own development; and, tiresome as it seems, and is from one point of view, it is the best safeguard for the world at large.
Unimaginable horrors would come to pass upon the earth were Power as well as Knowledge put into the hands of the crude and undeveloped.
It would be arming savages with Winchester rifles and quick-firing guns.
Never regret, therefore, this opposition, even whilst fighting against it in individual cases.
Both must grow together till the Harvest—the Tares and Wheat, the Crude and the Developed—and the former are the enormous majority.
This is the reason why all Truth must be born into each world through a fight and an agony; for it always comes as an advance upon normal conditions, no matter in which sphere it may be. And it is through the struggle that the Victory comes and the Light is born.
Let people jeer and deride when they hear of a future life, not so very different from your own; of houses and lectures and boats and horses, of pet animals, and so forth.
Those who jeer and deride or talk of blasphemy are still at the orthodox stage, when it is well for them to know only of one school, of one term, of one chance, and of an immediate and final judgment for the deeds done on earth.
Others are old enough (spiritually speaking) to know the truth i.e.—that GOD is in all, of an infinite series of spheres, through which each travelling soul must pass, gaining ever fresh light, growing ever into fresh knowledge and realisation of Divine Beauty and Divine Love; spheres differing little externally from the one left behind, but enormously in the capacities and qualities which by degrees the soul will unfold in the Cosmic Journey.
The outer will become more and more the result of the inner condition; for the creative faculty, scarcely born with you, flourishes in the ascending spiral. Down here you are babes, with your clothes made for you, your bottles filled for you, and dependent on others for the conditions of life, but by degrees you will enter on the full responsibility and the full joy and glory of independent existence, which yet will be unified—first into the life of the Affinities—the True and completed Being—and then into the life of that Body of Christ, of which St Paul speaks in his prophetic moments, where "there shall be neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, Bond nor Free," but Christos, the glorified and crowned Humanity, shall be all in all—GOD IN MAN; the coping-stone of the Building, whose foundations were laid as MAN (the Image and Likeness of God) IN GOD.