Chapter XV: Concerning Spiritual Intercourse
It is a common but very natural fallacy that, granted a means of communication can be established between the so-called living and the dead, it would be most readily achieved between members of the same family than with strangers. Such a supposition is based upon the idea of the continuance of blood relationship; but “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” and the only relationship that survives is the sacred bond of pure affection. In the spiritual realm there is only one family which embraces “every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation. “One is their Father, even God, and all are brethren.”
This may be a hard saying for you to consent to receive, and you may doubt the truth of what I say. Well! I am simply telling you what I have myself discovered. If you prefer to wait until you discover it, the result will not be fatal. All mistakes will then have to be corrected. whatever their nature or extent—venial or mortal, they must be expiated and atoned for. But no matter where the prodigal may be when he comes to himself, he will then learn that there is a way home from the ground whereon he lies, and someone near at hand to lead him to it.
Still a little reflection and forethought touching the question of opening up communion may not be out of place. Whether a man is or is not a believer in the immortality of the soul really makes little or no difference to the fact that when he stands by the bed of a beloved one and watches the vital spark flicker to extinction, so far as the physical is concerned, he stands face to face with the most awfully solemn experience of life. Standing there, clasping the almost unresponsive hand, watching the stealthy, almost visible approach of death, who is there who does not feel how appropriately it might be said, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” And is not the sacredness equally profound when, under the insatiable longing of that widowed heart, an attempt is about to be made to stretch a telephone wire across the grave and speak once more with the beloved, and so shatter the unbearable silence? Tennyson spoke with true prophetic caution and advice when to such he said:
How pure at heart and sound in head
With what divine affection bold
Should be the man whose thought would hold
An hour’s communion with the dead.
In vain shalt thou, or any, call
The spirits from their golden day,
Except like them, thou too canst say,
My spirit is at peace with all.
But when the heart is full of din,
And doubt beside the portal waits,
They can but listen at the gates,
And hear the household jar within.
Communication between the physical and the spiritual states of being is not only possible, but natural, uninterrupted and free; free as the oceans are to shipping, or the air to aircraft. The only limitations by which you are conditioned are to be found, not in any imaginary obstructions which are supposed to block the way; everything depends on the character and capacity of the vehicle in which you make the attempt. No man would try to cross the Atlantic in a rowing-boat, nor to pass from Europe to America in a gas-balloon. These are both useful, convenient and desirable for insular and local purposes and necessities, but must needs give place to greater and more enduring powers where the effort is made to unite or bridge the great divide that lies between continent and continent.
As the instinct of the animal has evolved into the reasoning power of man, and intellect unfolded into the higher power of inventive genius, these impossibilities of the ancients have become not only possible but commonplace. But great as the human intellect is—suggestively omnipotent as it appears to be, it has its bounds and limitations beyond which it may not pass, because it is yoked to the physical, and presently must reach a point where a higher power is heard saying, as to the sea when its doors were shut: “Hitherto shalt thou come but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed” (Job xxxviii, 11). The mightiest ship that ploughs the ocean will never be able to cross the land, nor will the most superb aeroplane that genius can perfect have power to cross the void between the planets and visit Earth’s nearest neighbour. And the reason why I am able to speak so confidently as to this is, that there lies a condition between the planets, mysterious, unknown, unexplored, unconquered, in the presence of which, intellect, science, human wisdom and achievement are both dumb and powerless.
As the intrepid aeronaut ascends he finds the conditions by which he is surrounded become absolutely impossible for physical existence to endure. He reaches the fatal boundary beyond which flesh and blood may not trespass. In the heights he finds, as in the depths—a grave. And yet that No Man’s Land is not an unconditioned void. What is it? Is there no analogy in nature that will enable us to gain some foregleams of its use and purpose? I think so. Turn to our Guide-Book again. “And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. i, 5). This supplies all our need—evening and morning, darkness and light, in creation; and in man, physical and spiritual. But in nature, in between the two estates, we have the twilight, which serves the purpose of inter-blending or handing the night to day—the darkness to the light. So man is a creature of body, soul and spirit, and the Psychic or soul condition is the transitional agent between the Physical and the Spiritual.
It is in the highest degree important for me to point out just here that, though the line of demarcation between the physical and psychic or psychic and spiritual, estates is a very fluidic one, as the tidal mark upon a sloping beach, yet it is always the higher condition that reaches down to and embraces the lower. The physical has no power to invade the psychic sphere, nor has the psychic the slightest claim to cross the frontier of the spiritual. It is the waiting to get rid of the final trace of the psychic that kept me from crossing the division that hindered my reaching the Gate when I first beheld it. Here is made apparent the wisdom of God in designing the Sleep-state as a school in which the temporary discarnate soul might be prepared and qualified to higher heights on entering the discarnate than if only subjected to the intellect and teachings available in the physical.
This brings me back again to the consideration of the opening of communion. No enquirer has ability to influence another who stands on a higher spiritual plane than himself. Then
How pure at heart and sound in head,
With what divine affection bold
Should be the man whose thought would hold
An hour’s communion with the dead.
Is not the attempt to approach such an interview treading on holy ground? Would you care to break the silence of death in company with a captious critic, or scientific agnostic, or occult prospector, or one in search of an afternoon-tea sensation?
Incredibly startling and revolting as it may appear, the ordinary séance not infrequently presents such features. Do not misunderstand me. I am not objecting to enquiry, or asking you to believe without the most drastic proof. You cannot reach the inner shrine without first passing through the portal. You must first find the soul for whom your heart is aching, before you can enter upon the hallowed communion you wish to re-establish. You must be fully assured in your own mind that this mystical path is not a delusion and a snare. This you have a right—nay, more, it is demanded that you should ascertain, and the preliminary phenomena by which you may be assured and led forward into the deeper revelation is placed at your disposal. “Seek, and you shall find.” “It is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up to heaven for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear, and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ But [it] the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deut. xxx, 1114). But what I counsel is that you make and keep your preliminary enquiry a sacred part of your private or family prayer or worship, and guard it as solemnly, as was the parting you are now seeking to annul.
I wish to be very clear and emphatic here, because great issues are necessarily subject to equally great risks. I have already pointed out how closely the fourth sphere is allied to the physical in more than one aspect, notably, it is the portal through which the passage is made. Its occupants are, for the most part, new arrivals, and therefore very little better acquainted with the new life than they were before the transition. I say for the most part advisedly, because those who have returned to this condition after purgation, even though they were enquired of, would naturally be very reticent as to their experience; neither would they be so likely to be sought after by personal friends as those who had more recently passed over.
It naturally follows, then, that this fourth sphere becomes the great centre of demand and supply between public séances and those presided over by professional mediums, and I ask all who are acquainted with such to recall how many of the replies to enquiries as to the condition of the communicants are to this effect—how seldom they bear of one who speaks from the fifth.
As an instance of the kind of authority and knowledge with which they speak, I take a characteristic illustration from a volume written by one of your most respected and eminent scientific authorities and refrain from offering one word of criticism. I only ask: “Is it worth while to break the silence of the grave to gain such information?”
One word of explanation may be necessary. If the reader has carefully followed my description of the diagram, he will be able to verify the position from which the communication is given. It comes from a soldier, who had been killed some ten weeks earlier, who finds himself still wearing khaki, and does not speak himself, but through “a little Indian girl.” The message is to his father. and the subject under consideration is houses and clothing in the beyond. These things, we are told, have to be manufactured, “just as you manufacture solid things.” The question is—“How?”
“. . . Everything dead has a smell, if you notice; and I know now that the smell is of actual use, because it is from that smell that we are able to produce duplicates of whatever form it had before it became a smell. Even old wood has a smell different from new wood; you may have to have a keen nose to detect these things on the earth plane.
“Old rags,” he says, “cloth decaying and going rotten. Different kinds of cloth give off different smells—rotting linen smells different from rotting wool. You can understand how all this interests me. Apparently, as far as I can gather, the rotting wool appears to be used for making things like tweeds on our side . . . My suit, I expect, was made from decayed worsted on your side” (Raymond, Sir Oliver Lodge, pp. 198-9).
I do not criticize or deny the validity of the communication itself—most probably it is perfectly correct as to its source and transmission. My point is this—Souls who occupy any position in the fourth sphere, whether they have recently passed over, or have perforce been through the lower conditions, are not in a sufficiently advanced stage to speak with any degree of spiritual authority as to the discarnate life. Yet these are the souls most easily attracted by séances and professional mediums.
Are you beginning to wonder where I am leading you? Whether I have dared to open a door of hope for your tear-dimmed eyes to catch a glimpse of the scene for which your aching heart is yearning, only to shut it again and laugh at your trusting credulity? God forbid! Where you are standing, I have stood. The sorrow which is darkening all your life, I have felt and endured. The agonizing enquiry you are making—“If a man die, shall he live again?”—I have toilsomely followed, praying for some response, but all in vain, until my wearied head dropped upon the pillow of the grave. I know how sacred is the quest—am conscious of the awful solemnity of the place as we approach the burning bush, and I have no other wish or desire but to preserve its sanctity. There are those who, in their search after the wonderful and hidden, would “rush in where angels fear to tread.” To all such I would sorrowfully say: “Turn back, my brother, we are about to enter the secret place of the Most High, where you will find yourself most miserably out of place.” But to the heart-broken, weary and heavy-laden, who are seeking light in life’s darkness, the oil of joy for their mourning, I reach out the hand of fellowship and say: “Follow me, and you shall find that death is swallowed up in victory.”
As I am about to open the door, let me again remind you that in crossing the threshold we pass from the physical realm to the domain of the spiritual, and, to ensure the success you seek, you will be required to place yourself, to the utmost extent of your powers, in harmony with the conditions of the spiritual life. You may not be pure and holy—but a consciousness of your shortcoming and a sacred resolve to honestly aspire to such a condition will be tentatively accepted if suitably presented. Therefore no really hungry soul will be turned empty away. No wonder that the outcast Jacob, when he realized all the possibilities and blessings that were spread out before his eyes and ears, when he passed across this threshold, said: “Surely this is none other but the house of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven.”
Now let us enter. And, having shut out all contact with the physical, in our aspiration, let us place ourselves in harmony with the new conditions with which we find ourselves surrounded. In this strangely new light we are each and all seen and known and dealt with as we are, not as we should have others think we are. We here wear only the garments our lives have woven to hide our nakedness. We are all naked here in the presence of our Father—our God. No one need be afraid. Simply, humbly, sorrowfully, it most probably will be, let us pour out our desires before Him—lay bare the wound that Death hath made – plead with Him to heal the open sore and to restore the broken communion, confident that He is the vanquisher of Death. Then leaving our petition at His feet, “rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him,” and He will give you your heart’s desire.
The royal, natural, heaven-constructed way for restoring communion between the mortal and the spiritual is not by means of the séance room and the medium—these accessories may be, are frequently employed upon occasion, but they should be regarded as exceptions and irregular rather than the rule—the highway in which the wayfaring man shall not err, be deceived, or led astray, is through the ministry of Death’s twinsister, Sleep. Byron was right when he said:
Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and Existence.
Let us consult our Guide Book: “He giveth to His beloved [in] sleep” (Ps. cxxvii, 2). “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then He [God] openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword” (Job xxxiii, 15- 18). Men have wandered from the way and have lost sight of this, the most precious part of the function of sleep. It has a far greater purpose, in the economy of God, than giving rest to a weary body. It was used from the beginning to make Adam know that he had a spiritual as well as a physical nature; to show the outlaw Jacob the way to the spiritual home; to reveal to Joseph the future concerning Egypt, and instruct him concerning it; to bestow the gift of wisdom upon Solomon; to open the vista of the future ages to Daniel in Babylon, and give him the interpretation of the king’s dream; and it gives the promise that the divine ministry shall be restored again in the latter days—a promise that is even now being fulfilled on every hand.
Another glance at our diagram will show that an open corridor exists between the earth and the sleep-state (IX), but—and here lies the power of the bondage into which man has been ensnared—were this free and uninterrupted passage left as God had first designed it, there would never have been a cult of priestcraft (hireling shepherds) possible. Under the teachings (emphatically plural) of the Babel of Theology man has learned the sad truth of Isaiah’s pronouncement: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”
Still, the way is free and open for whoever has courage and desire to use it. If Revelation needed, or cared to ask the confirmation of Science it would easily be procurable that the body is vacated by the soul during the hours of sleep. Where, then, does the soul go? The answer is not far to seek. We have already seen that in the discarnate every soul goes to its own place. Should it be surprising that there should be a prepared place for those who are temporarily set free? Is it not what we might expect of a God who is perfect in all His works and ways, to provide a place where the sorrowing ones might meet with the loved again? Even man allows such occasional interviews with prisoners, and God is more merciful than man. So this night school of the soul has been designed to demonstrate the fact that “There is no Death.”
There has been no interruption of its service since the time that Adam is recorded to have learnt therein that he was a spiritual as well as a physical being. But, under the teachings of priestcraft, man has allowed his memory of the lessons he has received to be laughed and ridiculed into oblivion. The regaining of the faculty of memory is a personal matter entirely, which every soul must achieve for itself. No third party has any authority, right or necessity, to intervene. Proxies, advocates, or representatives are altogether out of place when a child wishes to make an acknowledgment or to ask a favour from its parent. Therefore, I say, when you seek to open this communion, which is your birthright, proceed according to the law of the kingdom, “when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. “The memory of the communion with the absent loved ones will dawn upon you. You will find it has never ceased. Only your memory has been at fault. You have simply changed the hours of your intercourse from the waking to sleeping, and they are a thousand times more precious to you now in their higher life than they were before. Or, should you find them reaping what they have sown in a lower sphere than earth, you will find that your love can still be of assistance to them, an instance of which I will record for your instruction presently.
But someone will tell me that what he requires is a demonstration in the objective rather than in the subjective. This also is provided for, and is to be far more reliably reached by the course I am advocating than by any other process devised by man.
Man is not a machine made up of standardized parts that may be exchanged and replaced as occasion may require. He is not simply a brute swayed and prompted at the impulse of instinct. He has been created in the image of God, and is a most mysteriously complicated being, actuated and directed in accordance with the working of a Spirit within him which, as yet, he is scarcely in a position to recognize, and certainly not able to comprehend. Hence the greatest and most profound mystery of creation which man has to face is—himself. Nor will the solution over be reached until man knows his Father-God. In all the great family of mankind there are no two that are in every respect identical, consequently that which is good for one may be injurious for another, and this applies to every aspect and walk of being, as it is found in its infancy or physical stage.
Here arises the necessity for the school which God has provided in the sleep-state, thoroughly equipped and furnished with teachers who are competent to teach and say. “This is the way,” and then guide their pupils into the appointed way of life. This “way” is most accurately suited to every individual need of the particular life under direction. The wisdom that has arranged for a soul in the hours of sleep to ascend into the region of the discarnate has also provided that its tutors and guardians shall have equal access to council and direct in the more needful hours of its physical environment. “He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Ps. xci, 11-12). But the sources of intercourse these angel guards have at their disposal are as varied and numerous as the circumstances and needs which call for their intervention. It is a fallacy of the most childish imagination to suppose that communication with heaven is limited to séances and trance mediumship. You might as well contend that the free winds of heaven only blow through the kitchen bellows. The former, as the Master said, “blows where it listeth,” and the latter is equally without restriction suited to the occasion, the individual, and the circumstance in connection with which assistance is required. Hagar, in the wilderness, needs clairvoyance to enable her to find the water necessary to save her child’s life; Jacob first learns the way to heaven from earth in his sleep—but later he is granted, not only to see, but even to wrestle with a materialized spirit; Moses is permitted to commune with the “direct voice,” “face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend;” to Abraham three angels, as men, appear and converse as he sat at the door of his tent; to Elijah, a fire display is granted, in answer to his prayer, burning up his offering; to David automatic writing and drawing is granted; to Elisha, the resuscitation of the dead; but why need I further prolong the list? God’s laws are to-day, as they were in the beginning, without need of change or correction.
Therefore, in seeking to open communication, is it not far better that the aspirant “should seek unto his God” for all his supplies, needs and guidance direct, rather than apply to those who stand as interpreters of the beyond by means of séances and familiar spirits?
God has perfected His own plan and design for reaching and directing every individual soul that comes into existence. Each one has his own appointed place to fill which no other soul can take, and God has His own appointed and prepared method for bringing every soul to its appointed goal. From where the call to “Come” reaches a man he is directed to take the Straight course, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left in pressing homeward. Then every spiritual gift that is necessary to his assistance and edification will be granted to him as he proceeds. But let a man beware—he who determines to choose by what method or manifestation he will be directed and advised, will soon find himself out of the way, and ultimately in the dungeon of Giant Despair. The prophet of the Lord who has been called to clair-audiently hear the secret plans of the King of Syria, spoken in the monarch’s bedchamber will not be instructed by means of a tipping table, he who has to decipher the mysterious handwriting on the wall will not need to resort to a clairvoyant for his interpretation; Daniel needs not the aid of a palmist to read the prophecy of the future; Peter needs no assistance from a trance medium to get free from his fetters and pass through the open door of his prison. Spiritual gifts can be as numerous as the mercies of God, and be equal to every occasion and need, if they are sought according to spiritual direction. Be sure that the instructions are observed, then “everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”