Chapter XIII: The Heaven and the Earth
Not the least of the consolations we enjoy in this higher life is the perfect freedom on which we enter from the limitations of time. Oh, the liberty, the relief, the rest, the rapturous satisfaction of the realization of it. All that partakes of pain, sorrow, trouble, weariness or affliction eliminated, and every ideal for which the oppressed has sighed attained—what greater consummation could be wished than for time to be dispensed with and for the released to enter upon the full enjoyment of the rest that remains?
Think of it—dream of it, poor disconsolate and overburdened soul—the full realization of all that it meant to the poor weary cottager who told her friend that her idea of heaven was to be able to put on a clean apron and sit down, with no one able to say get up and do anything until she was tired of resting.
It was with some such sense of gratification that I meandered among the fadeless flowers of that Paradise as I conversed with Omra. The heart of time had ceased its beating—I stood across the boundary in the eternal Now. The Then of yesterday was a dream-memory from which I had awakened, and the There of tomorrow was an undiscovered impossibility, because the eternal day reaches beyond the sunset home, so that the night of Regret could never return again.
Under the fragrant benison of such a consolation, what need had we to hurry forward?
“Shall we make the crossing by another bridge?” I presently asked my conductor.
Omra slowly shook his head.
“No! There is only the one way to reach that other side,” he responded.
“I am not sorry. I am not at all impatient to turn my back on such an attractive retreat.”
For a brief interval there was no reply to my remark—my companion might not have heard it—he appeared to be particularly engaged in the examination of a most beautiful flower he had just discovered, and his face wore a most complaisant smile. Arousing himself, he said:
“Now we begin to feel the exhilarating air wafted from the other side. You will soon feel the benefit of its stimulating effects.”
“Do you think we should return?” I enquired, under the impression that there might be a hint of such a suggestion in the remark.
“Not for the present. Before doing so, I want you to take a glance at the great earth circle, so as to enable you to understand something of the various atmospheres and influences which surround it, and help you to a clearer comprehension of what has befallen you on your way here. Will you come”
“I have no other desire,” I replied, “but to leave myself absolutely at your disposal. Do with me as you will. You know the way I ought to take—the things I need to know—the mysteries I fain would solve—the goal I desire to reach. Lead me in the way I should go, then I shall be content.”
We paused for an instant, not on the verge of the chasm where I had previously stood, but on what seemed to be the outer edge of everything, with the boundless void of space reaching away into the infinite. Then Omra took my hand, and in a flash we were poised somewhere in the vast profound, and before us lay a majestic orb, like a tri-coloured moon, which at once recalled to mind the prismatic landscape I had previously beheld when standing with Eusemos on the Mount of God.
The connection had scarcely been suggested to my mind before Omra proceeded to confirm it.
“I have already intimated to you,” he began, “that hitherto your attention had been engaged almost exclusively in the observation of externals. All your interests, studies and occupations have naturally been concerned with the varying changes and appearances that have been presented on the surface of the great ocean of life—you have had no power to penetrate its depths, to explore its secrets, to examine its mysterious forces, to solve the problem of its origin and nature. Children are always more interested in the sands, shells and paddling on the seashore than in the problems of tides and currents, and winds and navigation. Such questions are for older heads, for more mature minds, for those who have been educated and trained, and qualified to deal with such subjects. Childhood is the time when the opening life is allowed freely and joyously to expand, and the joint responsibility for the form it assumes rests upon the shoulders of the parents and guardians.
“You do not find diamonds already cut, polished and mounted, scattered around on the African veldt; nor profound philosophers and expert scientists on the lowest form of an elementary school; nor accepted theologians in the cots of a foundlings’ crèche; nor white robed saints in flesh and blood. ‘There is none good: no, not one.’
“I multiply these illustrations and reiterate the same idea, because the time has come for you to permanently grasp the essential fact that the mortal span of life is no more than the infancy stage of existence, and it is important that you recognize the transition you are making.
“When you first saw the prismatic landscape it appealed to you by its attractive grouping of colours, but you were blind to the mystic significance of its arrangement; nor did Eusemose make any attempt to explain it. Even now—after all you have seen and learned through the ministry of Myhanene and his friends—the idea suggested to you by the vision of the orb which lies before us is that of an immense tri-coloured ball—green, and grey, and pink—like, but larger than a ball that children toss about in their play. You have no conception of the world of revelation that lies hidden beneath its surface.
“Let me break the seals, lift the veil, and help you to understand something of the beauty, perfection and adaptation with which God carries out His great designs.”
With this Omra again laid his hand upon my arm, and instantly we stood in the workshop of the Infinite, where a gigantic coloured diagram of a vertical section of creation. comprising both “the heaven and the earth” (Gen. i, i) lay unrolled before us.
I have included a coloured frontispiece, facing page 17, in order that my reader may more easily follow my interpretation, and only regret that it is not possible to reproduce it in the varied tones of colour in which I saw it. A word of explanation will make it clear why this is so. The colour, shade or tone is not an artificial or arbitrary arrangement, but an atmosphere exhaled by condition. That such an atmosphere or odour is exhaled from the physical body is a point that needs no argument, but whereas in the physical its presence is occasionally evident to the olfactory nerves, in the discarnate state it becomes equally evident to the visual member, its quality being distinguished by the colour. This emanation of the real self clings around and forms the clothing of the soul, by the colour of which it is “known and read of all men” (2 Cor. iii, 2). “This is the Lord’s doing,” and in the great scheme of creation we shall see that in His inscrutable wisdom provision has been made that not only the traitor Judas (Acts i, 25), but every soul that passes through the portal of death might find his own place prepared for him.
Such a perfectly adapted scheme—not primarily for punishment, but rather for the administration of justice and the elimination of all vindictiveness—is the silent but eloquent declaration of creation that its Architect and Builder is a God of love. His purpose in calling a world into existence was not to consign its great majority of men to the agonies of hell, but knowing the inescapable weaknesses and frailties of the flesh through which His new race of sons must pass to reach perfection, He so planned and arranged that even though man, in the blindness of his folly, should wilfully determine to make his bed in hell, in the blackness of its darkness he should find a guiding hand that would eventually lead the prodigal home.
I know I am heretical in my conclusions, but I am a humble follower of one who was crucified for the same offence by those who were orthodox, and if Paul was speaking rightly when he said that prophecies may fail, tongues may cease, and knowledge pass away (i Cor. xiii, 8), would it be very surprising to discover that theologians might be mistaken concerning things which eye hath not seen nor hath the ear heard? Therefore, let us turn to our diagram and carefully compare its revelation with those things we have been taught to believe.
The one object Omra had in calling my attention to this subject at this particular time was to clear my mind of certain false ideas that were hindering me from crossing the bridge. My purpose in recording it is to make it serviceable to my readers at a much earlier period of their pilgrimage; because I realise the great assistance it would have been had I been equally fortunate. This is the whole of my desire and wish. I am not aspiring to the dignity of teacher or leader in the purpose I set before me, I simply wish to stand at a somewhat doubtful point of the way like a finger-post proclaiming—“This is the way,” because I, myself, have already been benefited by the information. Take out your Guide- Book and compass, study the diagram I offer for your perusal in the light of what you profess to believe as to the intentions and disposition of the Father: then, if you agree with me as to the way, walk ye in it; if not, follow your own idea. You will make the great discovery by and by. You have a perfect right to exercise your Freewill until your feet reach the edge of the gulf where I have stood; there you will find that your Freewill will have to be exchanged for Must, as the Great Teacher has declared—“Ye must be born again.”
Now we are in a position to examine the details of this particular mansion of the Father’s universal house in which he who has declared Himself to be “the way. the truth, and the life”, has said He will prepare a place for us.
The circular form which is stamped upon every detail of its construction at once declares that its “builder and maker is God” without beginning or end, the emblem of eternity. And yet it has a beginning—a microscopic centre expanding toward an infinite circumference. On beholding the plan, the eye is at once arrested by an upper and lower group of interblended circles (1 to 7), slightly divided at the middle, but clearly suggesting the figure 8. If I had time and space to enlarge upon the mystical reason for the employment of this particular symbol in this connection, we should find it to reveal more than a coincidence. In the spiritual realm numbers have a significance and meaning far beyond a scientific and commercial value, in exposition of which a whole library might be written without exhausting the subject. I shall attempt no more than an indication of one of the meanings of the figure 8 as suggested here. It requires no elaborate argument to prove that 7 and its multiple is used in scripture to denote completion of varied circles—the week, and the jubilee year, will suffice as illustrations. But while one circle is so completed on the one hand, there are three of the ten numerals left unemployed before the circle of ten becomes complete. In accomplishing this we institute an interlocking of circles, in which the 8 becomes “the first day” of the new week—the resurrection day, of which the symbol in our diagram is prophetic, revealing a glimpse of the purpose that presumably lay in the mind of the Creator in laying the foundations of the earth and its adjoining heaven.
Outside this central group of circles we have three larger divisions, most curiously arranged to fill up the remaining space in the great circumference and at the same time retain a connection from side to side. It is these divisions that give the tricolour aspect (viii, green; ix, grey; x, pink) we observed from the distance.
To prevent unnecessary confusion, it is necessary here to explain that the diagram before us shows neither the Physical (except for the suggestion of the relative position of the earth by the small dotted circle) nor the Spiritual, but simply the Psychic stage of man’s progression, and in order to prevent any confusion or uncertainty as to my meaning in the use of the word Psychic, let me explain the sense in which I employ it.
I accept as my Guide-Book—not as a Manual of Doctrinal Theology—the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. I do this because I have found by extended experience—since I have learned so to use them—that they form the most helpful and reliable directory I have so far met with. They tell me that “God created man in His own image,” a triune being of “body, soul and spirit.” Not three personalities in one being, but three clearly defined stages in the career of the one person, which stages I will name as physical, psychical and spiritual, just as we have in the mortal the corresponding stages of infancy, youth and manhood. This particular idea is so familiar to every reader of the scriptures that one can scarcely wonder at the theologians pressing it into service to support the accepted doctrine of the trinity, but I ask nothing more from it than what must be undeniably patent to every unbiased mind, that if, in the economy of God, suitable provision has been made for the needs and growth of both the physical and spiritual natures of man, we are equally warranted in assuming that the same consideration has been given to the psychical.
Creation’s prophetic reply to the arrogant assumption of the priest, of power to open the doors of the kingdom of heaven to whom he would, and close them against whom he would not allow to enter, was pronounced from the foundation of the world, by God interposing an intermediate—a psychic state between the natural and the spiritual, just as He placed a daybreak between the darkness and the light, and allegorically, a Wilderness of Sin between the Egyptian bondage and the Promised Land.
Let us now examine our diagram and see how it reads in harmony with the idea of a Psychic, or transition, stage from the Physical to the Spiritual.
The opening sentence in the Handbook we are using reads: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and a little lower on the same page (v, 8) it says: “And God called the firmament heaven.” There are other heavens. We are told that Paul knew a man who was “caught up into the third heaven” (2 Cor. xii, 2); but we are now concerned with the particular heaven that immediately surrounds the earth.
The small dotted circle (E) in the centre of the plan marks the relative position held by this cradle of our existence. Our entrance at birth is at the microscopic point from which the radius of the heaven is struck, and every child steps upon the stage robed in the garb of innocence. This we have upon the authority of Him who declared Himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life.” When He was appealed to as to the terms upon which the purely spiritual stage of existence could be attained. He replied: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We are warranted, then, in assuming that the newly-born child is the standard of innocency required for entrance into the spiritual kingdom, and in support of this may I not recall the condition demanded of Nicodemus: “Ye must be born again.”
I shall deal further with this presently, but for the moment another development demands my attention.
If, then, the Nazarene speaks with authority, every child enters upon life free from the taint of personal impurity, and retains that freedom until it is old enough to “know to refuse the evil and choose the good.” At that point it begins to shoulder the responsibility for its own actions, and, in accordance with the choice it makes, moves from the neutral condition it has occupied so far from birth.
What a tremendous decision to rest upon such a delicate and incompetent balance! Is it? Perhaps so. But when we say so, are we not taking a too narrow view of the situation, just as we are also forgetting to point out the significance of the inter-blending of the circles in the diagram we are considering. From that central point where we enter upon the stage of being, to the infinite expanse of life’s circumference, “none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” The Human Race is a family name that embraces every inhabitant of earth, whether, black or white, yellow or red: God “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” and of every soul it is required that he shall recognize the obvious fact and each perform a brother’s or sister’s part to another, wherever needed. If this duty were fulfilled, how carefully would the child be guided, shielded and encouraged in making its initial decision?
Then the question arises: “Who is to bear the blame if the child stumbles and falls?” This is one of the problems respecting which the Master advises us to “judge not”; that is a question that will be decided in a court of assize where absolute justice will be meted out. What we have to bear in mind here is the warning we are all too apt to neglect: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” For the present children may have to bear the burdens, effects and certain penalties of their parents’ sins, neglect and indifference, but in the great assize, a just compensation will be awarded to the innocent sufferer, and the guilty one will have to atone until the last farthing is paid.
Let us see what provision is made for this. We dismiss for the moment all extraneous ideas of neglect, and allow the deliberate action of the freewill. The child chooses to be disobedient. This is the very sin upon which the doctrine of the Fall is based. Having disobeyed the command of God, and seeing how the sin had stained the innocence which had robed him, and hearing the voice of his Creator calling to him in the garden, Adam, in the consciousness of his shame and guilt, for the first time tried to hide from God.
The first step of disobedience taken, the downward road becomes easy; momentum increases, till, at length. the crash comes, and the reckless prodigal finds himself hurled amongst the swine (the Egyptian synonym for devil), smirched, fouled and wallowing in the filth of the pigsty. He is lying in the lowest hell a child of earth can reach (1) on the verge of the “uttermost,” in the way of death; but he cannot die. God has foreseen and made preparation to meet and overcome such a dire catastrophe. The sin is great, but God is greater – Almighty—and He, whose word cannot be broken, has promised: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will deliver them from death” (Hos. xiii, 14).
Let me sound this trumpet call of hope through the darkest and deepest abysses to be found in hell: God the Almighty—the everlasting and immutable—has decreed that: “He will have all men to be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth.” The penalty of deliberate wrongdoing must first be paid—the contumacy of rebellion has to be uprooted, and its effects made good—the fidelity of the regenerated must be satisfactorily assured—and then, the prodigal, coming to himself, shall arise and turn his face homeward. As the ladder of his dream pointed out to Jacob—the homeless wanderer—the way from earth to heaven, so from the pit of the nethermost hell, God has raised another ladder with its feet resting in the filth around the swine-trough, that the victim of temptation, when he wakes from the stupor of his drunken orgy, may yet be able to struggle back again to the ring, the robe, the kiss, the welcome.
And now, having taken a glimpse at this, the lowest depth to which a soul may sink in evil-doing, let us glance at the various stages by which the redemptive ascent is made.
This need not detain us long, since we shall find that we have already made a visit to each of the other stages in the journey, as Myhanene, or one of his fellow servants, has carried me hither and thither in answer to enquiries I have made, or to illustrate some point in the instruction I have received.
One word of explanation may not be out of place here for those who have already become acquainted with the fact of communion through the evidence afforded by spiritualistic séances. This group of conditions we are here considering (1 to 7 in our diagram), are the seven spheres so often alluded to by the varied controls. So far as I am aware, what I now propose to do is the first time they have been placed in orderly sequence, so as to enable the student clearly to understand their arrangement and relationship to each other.
Leaving their lower depth—where the soul might sink to extinction and cease to be, but for the everlasting arm upholding it—in the second sphere we catch a glimpse of the ceaseless strife and combative struggle which goes on in the endeavour to escape the scorpion-lash of an arousing conscience, where the watchful ministry of Ladas and his band of helpers are waiting to render the first possible assistance that may be afforded towards restoration. (The Life Elysian, pp. 96 ff.)
In the third stage we learned the story of a very typical case of this condition as we listened to Marie’s recital of the Harvest of Jealousy (Through the Mists, pp 187 ff.) and were instructed as to the means that are used to lead such souls from the poignancy of their agony and the darkness of their despair into the light of freedom and hope.
Reaching the fourth sphere, we emerge from the subterranean dens and caves in which these scenes of the soul’s first purgation are situated, and find ourselves at the foot of the Mount upon which I stood so soon after my arrival. Not far away we can see the Mists which envelop the earth. How near to the earth we are, I shall speak of when I deal with the contiguity of it in relation to this sphere and Section IX of the plan, as the whole of these three states wear the same grey atmosphere. Had there been sufficient light to have seen the colours in those caves we have left, we might have seen them change, as we came along from the muddy filth of the depths, through the range of browns and khaki till we reached the grey. From hence, as the soul rises in its approach to the Spiritual, the grey will change and lose itself in the prismatic shades, growing lighter, brighter, and then translucent as it rises into the true light of God.
It is seen at a glance that this sphere holds the central position in the general scheme. It is the only member of the group that presents a perfect model of the whole design—a complete circle, divided into upper and lower divisions by a corridor, suggesting the allegorical balance in the scales of Justice. But perhaps the most suitable illustration we can use to indicate its varied features would be that of the main or ground floor of a building used as a custom houses on the frontier of two kingdoms. All who seek to enter must needs pass through its examination hall for preliminary inspection. Here is made a strict scrutiny of properties, that all contraband goods may be confiscated, passports are carefully viséd, letters of credit authenticated, all currency ruthlessly tested, and finally a satisfactory condition of health established or a term of quarantine is demanded in one or other of the basement wards.
The rigorous ordeal of this scrutiny is most appalling to the majority of immigrants, who find they have been misled, misinformed, or advised by unauthorized experts as to the conditions of entrance. Especially is this the case in relation to the law regulating simplicity of dress which is demanded. It is in this respect where the affluent, the proud, the vain and the arrogant come to grief; while the poor, the humble, the modest and the diffident pass by with surprising consideration. This question of dress is determined by law upon the peculiar basis of what a man is in himself, without the slightest reference to what he has, or any position he may have filled in the kingdom from which he arrives; and the character of the robe he assumes determines his present destination and the conditions under which his new lift commences. This frequently constitutes one of the most startling surprises of the soul’s transition. I shall record a case of this kind presently.
In the upper part of this sphere we reach the first buildings that are to be found in the spheres—the Home of Rest, where we heard the Magnetic Chorale; and such institutions as the Home of the Assyrian; then, as we cross into the fifth, we reach the City of Compensation.
It was just across this border-line that I reached the home of my mother—Vaone, in which, for the time, I found the great ideal of my heart’s lifelong desire. From thence I have had your company, my patient and indulgent friends, and you have been able to learn something of the teaching I have received; have looked upon the illustrations that have been placed before me; have, with me. been surprised at the wonderful revelations that have been made, as I have been led forward to the Court of the Voices. Now you are waiting to see me cross over the great divide. I, too, am anxious to be rid of the last of the earth’s influence which prevents my doing so. What this particular infirmity is, I have not yet discovered, but the one great point I am anxious to stamp upon your consciousness is the fact of the far-reaching effects of even the weaknesses of earth, and the inexorable demand for the removal of the last taint of sin, even to “spot or wrinkle,” before the power is acquired to reach the other side, and the soul is truly born into the spiritual kingdom of God.
So we conclude our enquiry as to the processes at work under the provision and ordination of God for bringing rebellious souls back from their wandering into the inheritance He has set apart for us. But the Shepherd has told us: “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd” (John x, 16).
There are still three other sections of our plan unnoticed. A brief consideration of these will not only complete the study of the circle, but gather in all the other sheep to complete the fold. We have seen what provision has been made for the civilized, cultured and morally responsible races, but He who has commanded that the fragments shall be gathered, so that nothing shall be lost, holds the heathen, uncultured and degenerate souls to be intrinsically of equal value as the cultured, and has therefore made just as suitable, considerate and appropriate arrangements for their perfection as has been made for others. These forlorn, despised and contemned people, though in their depravity they “are of the earth earthy,” in moral rectitude they are nothing more than irresponsible children knowing nothing of any standard of right or wrong. Therefore He has prepared a place for them (VIII) on the level with, but free from the influences, penalties and contaminations of cultured recklessness and depravity. In this safely protected reservation they have given to them a ministry perfectly adapted to their every need to bring them finally into the one all-inclusive fold.
Section Xl, in position and colour corresponding to the fourth sphere and the earth, with only the slightest of veils dividing it from either, is the condition into which the souls of those still in the flesh enter for instruction during the hours of sleep. The body cannot lose its consciousness until the soul vacates it, and this condition was designed by God, in order that, while the body slept, the soul might still continue an unbroken communion with those who had assumed the immortal, and so obviate any suspicion of death (Job xxxiii, 14–17). History, both sacred and profane, is crowded with the evidence of this apparently stupendous fact, but interested organizations which could not exist side by side with such an open communion have laughed at the idea until it has been relegated to the region of superstition, and the multitude of men return from their sleep with the memory of its incomparable ministry drowned in oblivion. But God never leaves Himself without a witness to the truth. I have learned of a striking illustration of this in connection with my own attempt to carry the news of this fact back to earth, and a little further on I will record an incident of an assistance I received from one of my readers which was rendered to me in her sleep.
The final section of the plan which I have now to deal with (X) is one calculated to bring a message of joy and comfort to many a sorrowing heart. How many of the sons and daughters of earth sorrow that their only child was still-born or passed away immediately after. Listen! “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” This last apartment we have to look into, in connection with “the earthly house of our tabernacle,” is the corner of heaven for which you have been sighing and seeking, even as I sought all through the days of my flesh for the unknown love of my mother. At length, when the veil was rent, I found her. “Seek and ye shall find, though the conception of the idea so far surpasses the human thought and hope that it “hath not entered the heart of man” to imagine what God has provided for in this connection. The stillborn child has lived if there has been one separate, deliberate movement of the foetus in the womb, that was the birth throb of the new soul, which can never die.
From that initial struggle into life until it knows “to refuse the evil and choose the good,” by the exercise of free-will, that soul is in the nurse care of some particular angel who has been appointed to the office, therefore, said the Master: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of (the) Father.” “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Carried away from earth in their personally unsullied state, it is not meet or necessary for them to pass through the refining stages of even the higher spheres, and so the wisdom of God has provided another way of ascent in which they may be instructed and prepared for the Spiritual realm beyond.
Is it possible that such souls do need any preparation? Yes; and by this we may be able to grasp a connection of the scrupulous rigour that is observed, to ensure the purity of the soul ere it can pass from the Psychic into the Spiritual Kingdom. In the child there may be—is—the seed, the germ, the taint of hereditary vices, or there may be psychological vibrations and impressions received from circumstances to which the mother has been subjected; these have to be absolutely removed, and the possibility of any after-effect rigorously provided for. The agency at work to secure this we have seen at work more than once in our visits to Cushna’s children’s home.
With this I leave our review of the great scheme of creation and the wisdom it displays for the evolution, education and purification of the soul during the infancy and childhood of its existence. Surely, as the review is thought over, meditated upon and intelligently considered, we shall be able to take up the declaration of the Psalmist, and say, at least in relation to this corner of the universe: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high. I cannot attain unto it.”