Those Who Know About Life After Death Usually Adapt Easily
Ed. Also called the Near-Earth Plane, Hades, Purgatory, the Vestibule, Kamaloka, and the “Blue Island”
A Fictionalized Account of a Transition and Arrival in the Borderland
Ed. [In this fictional account, the average man, “Mr. Johnson,” has had a heart attack. He continues to go about his daily rounds, but accompanied by a stranger, his transition guide. No one pays any attention to him. When the transition guide finally convinces him he is dead, he follows the guide to the near earth plane.]
Suddenly, in the corner of the room, a light appears and the room grows dim. The gentleman beckons to him and says,’ Please follow me into the light, into the next stage of your existence.’ Mr. Johnson feels drawn towards the light, as there is a warmth to it together with a love he has never felt before. It is a little like being under anesthetic because he forgets abut his wife; he forgets about his daughters and forgets about his office job, and his car, and his house and everything else that seemed so important to him this morning. He follows the man through into the light and the light surrounds him. He cannot see anything for a few minutes – only the light.
Then, as it subsides, he finds himself in a village that is just like a village on Earth with walls, trees, houses and roads (although there aren’t any cars) and people going about their business. Mr. Johnson says to the man, who is still standing next to him, ‘I thought you said I was dead,’ and the man tells him that he is! ‘Well, this is a strange Heaven’ says Mr. Johnson and the man replies, ‘This is an initiation point; this is somewhere that will seem familiar to you. Come, there is somewhere here where you can live for a little while.’
Mr. Johnson then follows him to a rather pleasant house. He goes in through the door and there, sitting in the living room on a settee, is his mother. He doesn’t realize that it is his mother at first, instead wondering who the young lady is sitting on the settee with dark hair. His mother then explains that she needs to adjust the way that she is appearing to him. She closes her eyes and thinks for a moment and suddenly she is just as Mr. Johnson remembers her that frail old lady who was in a hospital bed for a few months before she passed over. He is shocked because this is not some apparition of his mother but his mother in the flesh, just as she was. She gets up and they embrace and there is a tearful reunion. Then he sits down and she says, ‘You had better have a cup of tea and a biscuit because you don’t look too well,’ and Mr. Johnson agrees that he would like something to eat. Suddenly there appears on his knee a tray with a cup of tea on it and a plate with some biscuits but he doesn’t question how they got there and the tea tastes better than any tea he has ever tasted before and the biscuits are just divine.
He asks what his mother is doing here and she says, ‘I have come to make you feel comfortable during this transition period. You see, I was a little bit psychic when I was on Earth, if you remember, and sometimes said strange things and people were a little wary of me as a result, but it prepared me for this place so that, when I came across, I didn’t see this village at all but saw the next stage, which you will also see in a little while. I knew that you would have a more difficult time because you never believed in an afterlife and only believed there was the Earth and that when you were dead you were dead. So they have constructed or, rather, your mind in conjunction with the people who care for you here – have constructed this image around you of this village. It is the type of place you would have liked to have retired to. You often talked about it and here is it. It is real for as long as you wish it to be real and until you feel comfortable with your transition. I will come back and talk to you again but now I would like you to rest for a while.’
Suddenly she disappears and he longs for her to come back but the man, who is still with him, says, ‘She will come back so don’t fret over her going. You cannot lose anyone on this side and you will see her again. You do need a rest so wouldn’t you like to go through to the bedroom?’ and he shows him through to a very pleasant little bedroom with a single bed in it. Mr. Johnson does feel very tired. He lies down on the bed and the instant his head touches the pillow he falls asleep.
When he awakens the man is still there and, standing next to him, is another man in a brightly coloured robe not dressed in an Earth-contemporary fashion at all. There is also another being present who appears to be surrounded by a gold and silver light, but Mr. Johnson has difficulty seeing him. It is as though he is only ‘half there’. Mr. Johnson sits up and remembers that the man had said he had died and so asks what he is supposed to do now.
The being in the coloured robe says, ‘Come with me, please, Mr. Johnson’. He takes him out of his house and down the road to what looks like the village boundary and, through this cloudy, misty boundary, Mr. Johnson can see quite a different scene. There are still houses and trees and hills and woodlands, but everything seems more vibrant and the people he can see on that side of the barrier are wearing coloured robes. They are talking and relaxing. Some are sitting on benches, some are reading, but they all seem more detached from the village he appears to be in. This other dimension seems less ‘worldly’; it is far more ethereal and he can see that the sky has coloured streams of lights in it, and also various patches of colour, a little like the Aurora Borealis on Earth but far more subtle and colourful. As he looks at some of the buildings they appear to change. Sometimes they appear to be traditional; sometimes they appear to be made out of light, as though he is looking at the inner as well as the outer structure of them.
The being in the coloured robe turns to him and says, ‘Mr. Johnson, this is the next stage in your journey, but you cannot actually get there yet because you have a lot of pollution around you from the Earth Plane. You bought into it so heavily that we have to first convince you that you are still alive and, second, acclimatise you to this land I am showing you, which is the next stage on your journey and somewhere you will live for some time. What we would like you to do now is to go back to your house and the man who came for you (that is his job, by the way, to come and take people over to the Spirit Worlds) will answer any questions you may have over the next few days (at least they will seem to you like days). Then, when you have realised where you are, that you are a spirit and that you cannot die, you can then go through this barrier and we can introduce you to life on the other side of it. (Spirit teacher known as the Persian Gentleman, BGWHN, n.p.)
Arriving in the Borderland
Medium Stainton Moses asks about a friend, now in spirit.
She is being gradually roused from the torpor into which she fell. She will continue long in a state of weakness and development, and gradually gain spiritual strength before being removed from her present state. She is tended by spirits in the place set apart for those who need fostering care. (1) Many who are withdrawn prematurely or roughly, are tended by those spirits who devote themselves to the work in a special sphere set apart for them near the earth on which they have been incarnated.
This is the intermediate sphere of rest, in which spiritual functions are developed, and that which is lacking is supplied. Such a sphere there is near to each world, and into it the weary and suffering, the spiritually famished, the prematurely cut off, are gathered, that they may be nourished and tended by ministering angels. There they must needs remain till they are fit to progress. Then they go to their sphere, take up their progress, and are developed by degrees. A harbour of rest after a stormy passage.
None from that sphere can be permitted to manifest on your earth. They are housed in the garden of the Lord, and may not be exposed to the rude blasts of your air. Cease to wish. The effect of your wish is but to disturb. Pray, rather, that your friend may fare well in the charge of her guardians. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
- (1) I.e., The Borderlands.
The next stage of life to earth is a replica of your world of matter. Were it not so, the shock for the many who are uninstructed and ignorant would be more than they could stand. And so it has to be accomplished by very easy stages. The next stage of life resembles your world. That is why so many do not know that they have passed beyond the physical. (Silver Birch, SBA, 56.)
I decided that Heather and I couldn’t do better than go along with [Uncle Mark] so we did. It was simply a question of ascending gradually into the sky until all of a sudden we were in this beautiful pasture. I can’t say how long it took us to leave the earth plane. It was rather much like flipping a radio dial from one station to another. When you turn the knob you take for granted that another station will be awaiting your pleasure; you don’t think there’s anything unusual about it. That was how we moved from your world to our new one. (Mike Swain in FMW, 55.)
It all seemed so queer, and as we walked I saw that we were going towards what looked like a sunrise, the best I’ve ever seen, and I turned to look back over the way we had come, and the stranger put his hand on my shoulder and said “Not yet, you must go on out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death and then you can return [to earth] if you want to.” I said “Oh, I don’t care” and I went on in a dazed sort of way until we came to a kind of garden, but it wasn’t enclosed. It was on the hillside with lots and lots of flowers; oh, they were lovely! By this time I had realised that we were not walking in the water any more and I felt so tired and sleepy, and my feet refused to go any further. The stranger suggested that we should rest so I sat down on the grass and was soon asleep. (From a sailor, the son of an old friend in Lord Dowding, MM, 29.)
It’s grand, just GRAND! I wish my Mother could know about it. We are in a far better land than the one we left, and it’s all O.K. I’d love her to see it. (From a sailor, the son of an old friend in Lord Dowding, MM, 29.)
It was a curious journey that. Far more strange than anything I had anticipated. We seemed to rise vertically into the air at terrific speed. As a whole we moved, as if we were on a very large platform, and this was hurled into the air with gigantic strength and speed, yet there was no feeling of insecurity….We were quite steady. I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how far from the earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival. It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky. There, all was brightness and beauty. We saw this land far off when we were approaching, and those of us who could understand realized that we were being taken to the place destined for all those people who pass over suddenly – on account of its general appeal. It helps the nerve-racked newcomer to fall into line and regain mental balance very quickly. We arrived feeling, in a sense, proud of ourselves. It was all lightness, brightness. Everything as physical and quite as material in every way as the world we had just finished with.
Our arrival was greeted by welcomes from many old friends and relations who had been dear to each one of us in our earth life. And having arrived, we people who had come over from that ill-fated ship parted company. We were free agents again, though each one of us was in the company of some personal friend who had been over here a long while. (W.T. Stead, BI, 40-1.)
I was … surprised to find a number of friends with me, people I knew had passed over years before. That was the first cause of my realizing the change had taken place. I knew it suddenly and was a trifle alarmed. Practically instantaneously I found myself looking for myself. Just a moment of agitation, momentary only, and then the full and glorious realization that all I had learnt was true. Oh, how badly I needed a telephone at that moment! I felt I could give the papers some headlines for that evening. That was my first realization; then came a helplessness – a reaction – a thought of all my own at home – they didn’t know yet. What would they think of me? Here was I, with my telephone out of working order for the present. (W.T. Stead, BI, 37-8.)
At Some Point, a Full-Life Review Occurs
Ed. Note that the full-life review, which is brief and objective, is not the same as the Judgment that occurs on the Astral or Mental Plane, which is deep and subjective. On the Judgment, see here .
All people are given a glimpse of this past life as they cross over. After such time as they are ready to really review it in depth and to learn from the experience, then they are shown it in segments. (1) But upon first crossing over, your whole life will flash in front of you, much as a drowning man will says he saw his whole life flash in front of him. This is true of all people. But only when you’re ready to grow from the knowledge will it be given to you in depth, as your understanding is ready. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 11.)
- (1) This in-depth review is probably “the Judgment” that occurs either on the Astral or the Mental Plane.
It is not long [after death] before [his spirit body] begins to show its particular attributes to its owner. By its principal ability ineffaceable and infallible recording, this mind reveals itself as a complete and perfect chronicle of its owner’s life upon earth. The revelations, therefore, that are attendant upon the person newly arrived in the spirit world can be sufficiently startling. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 14.)
At first my mind was entirely occupied with my predicament [of awakening after death] and the past did not concern me, but as I wandered now one, now another vision flashed across my mental retina. A ribbon of road, boys on bicycles, my cottage, and soon these discrete memories began to coalesce into a continuous series of past experiences. Before long I was racing back along the years faster and faster, helpless to stay the record and obliged to feel as well as to remember as my past unrolled back to the earliest childhood memories, I had come to a stand while this disquieting survey held me and as it checked at the unconsciousness of the infant my own consciousness flickered out. At the very moment of oblivion I gasped with relief and just had time to think: this is really the end. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 16.)
[Philip Gilbert:] I lay quiet and pictures came before me of myself as a little boy, and you [Philip is speaking to his mother] always there and my room and its nursery rhyme curtains. But somehow I saw all round, you and me and everyone at once. Then I drifted to my school and to Lausanne – we were in a boat on Lake Geneva that time when your hat blew off. Then I was at sea and in that nightclub at Alex. [Alexandria] – all through my life! (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 89.)
I can see myself as a child, as a boy, as a man, and it is as if I were watching myself on a stage, when suddenly all the threads of the past gradually gather themselves together and shoot past me as one whole through the doorway in which I am standing, and into the beyond. (“Major P.” in PD, 88.)
To give me confidence in my beginning, to reassemble my bits of mind, as it were, my mother took me through some of the earliest of my memories that had made an impact on me and are all pictured here. … This film was a little dim, but a touching one. … Then the pictures moving back in time. … There was I, the very old woman, (1) a spectator of my small child self, entering into her emotions, throbbing to her tears, uplifted by her small joys. Those little dramas enacted by my past child-self were all reassuring to me, the spectator, after the lonely passage of death. Somehow I felt that what should have been the experience of everything being dead, breaking up, nothing was dead, nothing lost. There was the moving spectacle of childhood in this unrolling film – more, of course, learning my letters, lessons, youth, the social training of my period, my sisters being launched. Then my coming out, the hair being put up, long dresses, shyness, gawkiness, grotesque, historical costumes – a costume play! (Winifred Combe Tenant, SBS, 42.)
- (1) The fact that Combe Tenant was still a “very old woman” and that her mother took her through these memories “in my beginning” suggests that this was a full-life review rather than “the Judgment” that happens later in spirit life.
Mine was not a sudden, swift fall. It was a slow-motion picture in this film of memory. (Winifred Combe Tenant, SBS, 44.)
The old woman can only write of it now because she has been watching it scene by scene, living again its varied emotions, its keen anxieties, its palpitating wonder, its fears, its hopes, and yet remaining detached, the spectator in the stalls. (Winifred Combe Tenant, SBS, 44.)
That phase in my life [when my eldest son died] was like the tragic climax at the end of an act in a play. As I viewed it again, I was deeply caught by its conflicting emotions. But I, the spectator, could perceive the change it and the [First World] war wrought in my personality, There had been one change before that in 1908, [the death of her infant daughter Daphne] in my first grave loss through death. But actually I became sensible of the great change in myself in 1918. (Winifred Combe Tenant, SBS, 45.)
The eyes of the dead are indeed opened through some such experience, (1) and this probably accounts for the reports of private judgments by God, the “final accounting,” and so forth. No judgments are implied in those terms, however, though each individual will of course interpret the experience according to his own beliefs and characteristics. Perhaps the events themselves are even perceived in completely different manners.
It is impossible to tell how long this takes in earth terms, but the inner dimensions of the experience are equally beyond description, for there is nothing in life to compare with the depth, breadth, complexity or intensity of such a psychological multievent.
I could compare it to the tracking of a million lights simultaneously crisscrossing a night sky while a startled observer on earth watches hypnotized, dazzled, feeling each light’s distant flicker in the reaches of the universe, while at the same time knowing that each flicker – and each other flicker – originated in his own thoughts and existed within them and in the sky simultaneously. (William James, ADJ, 120-1.)
- (1) I am not clear whether James is speaking about the full-life review that happens immediately after death or about “the Judgment” that happens later.
When you come to this side, your first thought will be of the waste of life that has gone in the past. Waste of opportunities, waste of strength, waste of growth, for the conditions of life, the object of existence here are so different that to many the first impression is that of bankruptcy. They have spent their life in accumulating treasure and so the deposits in the Bank on the other side cannot be drawn here and they are undone. (Julia Ames, AD, 153-4.)
I cannot remember doing anything really worth while. I never looked outside myself. … I was … a crabby, selfish old bachelor. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 21.)
The Full-Life Review Can Happen Before Death
Before the end, I entered into a curious time in which I seemed to be always awake, lying there in blinding light, seeing pictures of my life all the time from the very beginning. They wouldn’t stop coming – that was what was so maddening about them. (Henry Boyce to E.B. Gibbes in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 42.)
Then suddenly I saw my whole life before me and I knew that the end was near! (Sigwart, BOTR, 10.)
I rapidly became very ill and I felt much worse. I was lying in bed and I remember trying to reach over to my wife and say that I was very sick, but I found it impossible to move. Beyond that, I found myself in a completely black void and my whole life … flashed in front of me. … I went from grammar school to high school to college, then to dental school, and then right into practicing dentistry.
I knew I was dying and I remember thinking that I wanted to provide for my family. I was distraught that I was dying and yet there were certain things that I had done in my life that I regretted and other things that I regretted that I had left undone.
The flashback was in the form of mental pictures … but they were much more vivid that normal ones. I saw only the high points, but it was so rapid it was like looking through a volume of my entire life and being able to do it within seconds.
It just flashed before me like a motion picture that goes tremendously fast, yet I was fully able to see it and able to comprehend it. Still, the emotions didn’t come back with the picture, because there wasn’t enough time.
I didn’t see anything else during this experience. There was just blackness, except for the images I saw. Yet I definitely felt the presence of a very powerful, completely loving being there with me all through this experience. (Dr. Raymond A. Moody cited in Paul Beard, LO, 34.)
Then I remembered my life in phases as I grew up. The war, marriage, the children, the exam for the diplomatic service. My posts wandered slowly through my mind like a cinema. I went on working at one after another of our posts abroad. Paris, China, Hungary, Morocco, Hungary again after the war, Japan and Moscow. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 101.)
The “Judgment” (1) is real enough, but it is not entirely concerned with the results of sinning and suffering. What is weighed is the growth of being which experience has produced. This is why the “publican and sinner” go often into heaven before the “good man.” So many of earth’s solemn judgments are reversed or overturned here, where the scale of values runs in terms of being and not of behaviour. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 115.)
- (1) Lawrence is really speaking about the full-life review rather than the Judgment that happens later.
The departed one has not gone to another world to be marched in front of a stern Judge, a Judge, moreover, so stern and unrelenting but that our lamentations will not bring some mitigation in the sentence to be pronounced. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 29.)
There are no judges, or even a single great Judge, anywhere in this world, the spirit world. Any judging to be done, we do it for ourselves and manage very nicely. You’ll find you will become extremely critical of yourself as we all do. We can be very hard on ourselves even. So whatever you may have thought about Judgment Day, dismiss the whole idea from your mind. There is no such thing, there never has been, and there never will be. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 21-2.)
And now [after death], what happens next? Just this: the person who has just passed into spirit lands goes to his own self-appointed place.
At the very outset, this would seem to suggest that I have overlooked what is known as ‘judgment,’ where every man shall be judged according to his merits and rewarded or condemned – received into heaven or sent to hell.
No, I have not overlooked it because there is no such thing as being judged at any time, either by the Father of the Universe or by any single soul that lives in the spirit world. There is no Judgment Day.
Man, himself, is his own judge. His thoughts, his words, and his deeds, recorded upon his mind, are his only judge, and according to how his earthly life has been lived, so will his place be in these lands of the spirit world. This is another natural law and, like all the laws of the spirit world, perfect in its operation. It requires no interpreters of it, no exponents of it. It is self-acting and incorruptible, and, what is most important, it is impartial and infallible.
The old idea of a Recording Angel, whose especial function is to inscribe in a great book all our good deeds, is poetic enough, but completely wrong. We do our own recording for ourselves and this is one instance at least when we speak truly! We cannot hide our bad deeds, but, also, we cannot conceal our good deeds. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 17.)
Being Greeted by Friends and Relatives
All our family, even the ones we didn’t know when we were on the earth, were here to welcome us. They made us feel wanted and very much at home! (Mike Swain in FMW, 55.)
All were rejoicing at the return of the wanderer. (Donald Macleod in HT, 15.)
Dad came to me soon after I realised [I was dead] and we had a great time together. It seems queer to call him Dad, he’s younger than I am now, at least he looks it. (From a sailor, the son of an old friend in Lord Dowding, MM, 29.)
I found myself in company with two old friends, one of them my father. He came to be with me, to help and generally show me round. It was like nothing else so much as merely arriving in a foreign country and having a chum to go around with. That was the principal sensation. The scene from which we had so lately come (1) was already well relegated to the past. Having accepted the change of death, all the horror of our late experience had gone. It might have been fifty years ago instead of, perhaps, only last night. Consequently our pleasure in the new land was not marred by grief at being parted from earth friends. I will not say that none were unhappy, many were; but that was because they did not understand the nearness of the two worlds; they did not know what was possible, but to those who understood the possibilities, it was in a sense the feeling, “Let us enjoy a little of this new land before mailing our news home”; therefore there was little grief on our arrival. (W.T. Stead, BI, 45-6.)
- (1) The sinking of the Titanic.
My father and I, with my friend also, set out immediately. A curious thing struck me. I was clothed exactly as I had been, and it seemed a little strange to me to think I had brought my clothing with me! …
My father was also dressed as I had always known him. Everything and everybody appeared to be quite normal – quite as on earth. We went out together and had refreshment at once, and, naturally, that was followed by much discussion about our mutual friends on both sides. I was able to give them news and they gave me information about our friends and also about the conditions ruling in this new country. (W.T. Stead, BI, 46-7.)
When the newly arrived have had many friends, relatives, or those whom they have loved on this side, they find them waiting for them. [Dad and I] stayed [in a domed building] some time and had refreshment very similar, it seemed to me, to what I had always known, only there was no flesh food. Everything appeared quite normal there, too, and the absence of some things which would on earth have been present was not noticed. The curious thing was that the meal did not seem at all a necessity – it was there, and we all partook of it lightly, but it was more from habit than need – I seemed to draw much more strength and energy out of the atmosphere itself. This I attributed to the color and air. (W.T. Stead, BI, 50-1.)
Looked upon as a meal – a lunch out – it was the longest one I have ever known and without question the most interesting. I learnt a great deal in those first few hours with my father. It was all conversational, but it was of great use to me and of vast interest. He explained to me that the place we were then in was a temporary rest house, one of many, but the one most used by newly-arrived spirit people. It was nearest to earth conditions and was used because it resembled an earth place in appearance. There were other buildings used for the same purpose as well as for other purposes; by that I mean there is more than one of each. (W.T. Stead, BI, 55.)
Resting in the Borderlands
Ed. Most people awaken on the Borderland and remain for a period of rest and adjustment. Others whose belief in the afterlife is strong go directly to the Astral Plane for convalescence and adjustment, if they are needed. Therefore, this section will appear to be repeated in the section on the Astral Plane. It is not a repetition, but an alternative.
In this borderland world where I elect to stay, (1) [the individual] needs refreshment and rest. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 10.)
- (1) Archdeacon Wilberforce has elected to serve as a transition guide to the dead of World War I, whom he searches out on the borderlands.
At first [the newcomer] takes a great deal of rest, having the earth habit of sleep – and it is a necessity – he needs sleep here too, for the present. We have no night as you have, but he sleeps and rests just the same. (W.T. Stead, BI, 65.)
The purpose of the time spent in the vestibule (1) is to give the transition from the outer planes to the inner planes more continuity. Even though any given person lives more of his lifetime on the inner planes than on the physical, the transition of death is still very abrupt. It can be almost as frustrating as the transition involved in entering the physical plane; in that case, the frustration is being unable to function as you’ve been used to because you are now a tiny baby. But in the transition at the time of death, the vestibule experience permits you to continue your patterns of thought about life and afterlife – until you begin to see that these beliefs are all made out of tissue paper and smoke, as it were. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 68.)
- (1) I.e., the Borderland.
It is a kind of layer in one of the inner planes that helps you lessen the shock of passing over. Again I’ll use the analogy of a baby just entering physical life: the baby sleeps a great deal during the first years of its life. During these sleep periods, the spirit of the baby is returning to the inner planes where it can be a total being. So these long periods of sleep help the baby make its transition and become accustomed gradually to its new life. The vestibule is a period in which a person who has recently died gets used to being just a spirit. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 68.)
Everybody goes through a number of stages after passing over, you see. When you first pass over, you usually enter a stage of awareness called the “vestibule.” During this period, you usually experience the kind of afterlife that you have always expected, due to your conditioning, your religious upbringing and training, and your mode of thought. As long as you are in the vestibule, these expectations have a kind of reality. In an ultimate sense they are not real, but they are real enough during this period of transition. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 67-8.)
I want to distinguish between the vestibule and the portion of the astral plane that some of the others participating in [this] project have referred to as the “Peter Pan department.” The vestibule is not necessarily a fantasy, but it’s not quite real either. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 68.)
It’s really not a fantasy because that sounds as if there are lots of little munchkins running around putting up fake scenery to fool everyone with and that isn’t quite what happens. The vestibule experience is a necessary part of nature. …
Eventually, … you begin to realize that the vestibule is only a vestibule, made of tissue paper and smoke and cotton candy – it’s not real. This realization is, in a sense, what is meant by the term “the second death.” (1) You give up your cherished connections with the physical life and begin to adjust to life on the inner planes as it really is – which is startlingly different. If the transition to full reality were abrupt and you weren’t prepared for it, it would be quite a jolt. Something akin to a psychiatric problem could develop.
I believe that it has been mentioned that Colene’s grandmother and grandfather [Colene Johnson, David’s wife] were given the chance to have something of a second honeymoon in a part of the vestibule before getting down to the real business of living on the other side. I think that this was described as happening in the Peter Pan department, but it was really the vestibule. There is also a certain kind of healing that must be done in this time right after death. This healing is much easier when the person is on somewhat familiar surroundings and has a sense of continuity with his physical life. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 68-9.)
- (1) In fact the term “second death” is used more often to refer to the dropping of the astral body when passing from the Astral Plane to the Mental Plane.
Some … people remain in the vestibule quite awhile. They almost have to be taught how to walk again because the adjustment is so difficult. But for physical people who have an awareness of the inner planes, or who prepare themselves for the transition, the period in the vestibule is very short.
There is an immediate example here in the room – Colene’s grandmother made a very quick adjustment to being on the inner planes and was even able to attend her own funeral. That may sound a bit morbid to you, but it was important to her. It was just a matter of hours for her to make the adjustment to moving around on the inner planes. (Stewart Edward White in PP, 205.)
In the case of the rather backward soul, we place him into a deep torpor as soon as we take charge. (1) When he arrives in this world, he wakes in what appears to him to be a hospital ward. The realization filters to him that he is safe and being well looked after; then it gradually dawns on him that there are no doctors or nurses in this hospital; no bandages and no surgical instruments. He himself feels no pain; so his next move is to get out of bed and start exploring, to find out what sort of hospital this is. Only then does he realize that he has successfully passed over. It is wonderful to watch his amazement and relief when he realized he is more alive than ever.
It takes some time, quite some time, for all this to register completely; often his first reaction is to go back to bed for another couple of days to get used to the idea of what has happened to him!
Then one of the elders visits him and answers all the unanswered questions in his mind. You see, the laws of creation are not as easily grasped by these backward souls as they are by their more experienced brothers. (Mike Swain in FMW, 52.)
- (1) Mike Swain is referring here to spirits working as transition guides.
I have been with your family today, but they are all waiting for your Aunt Marian, who is at present resting here in the place set aside for that purpose. When she really feels rested and refreshed, she will be ready to be received by those members of her family who have been here long enough to be able to introduce her to the new life and help her to get used to it. (Gordon Burdick in TR, 77.)
I must have slept from time to time, and when I had slept the weariness out of my bones I remember lying in complete harmony and comfort, waiting for the next event, and it came in the form of a voice. I couldn’t see anyone. It was just a voice calling me by name. But my name sounded so beautiful, I hardly recognized it.
I sat up in order to listen more easily. The voice seemed to be coming from everywhere and it told me to get up and walk to the lake and bathe, and see how the water would give me back my strength. I got up without any effort and we walked, the voice and I, towards the lake. When I got there it seemed only natural to jump in from an overhanging rock and the moment I touched the / water I knew that I was experiencing real life for the first time. These were the waters of Lethe where one learns and forgets.
I found ecstacy in that lake. The power of movement and the sense of force within me were beyond anything I could ever imagine. How long the voice and I stayed in the water I have no idea. It might have been hors or days.
I found I could dive to immense depths, lie on the surface and rest without any special effort. And all the time the voice was with me, telling me, holding me, and urging me to do more and make new efforts, to look around and see the country, and then lastly to listen…. I lay and listened. At first I heard nothing but the lapping of the water, then a tiny network of sound emerged. It grew until I could define notes and then gradually the whole orchestra of Heaven burst forth – and I just lay and listened. (Barbara, transitioning after a long period of illness, in AL, 32-3.)
I was not allowed to see much of my surroundings, as I was immediately assailed by a weariness when I experienced the full glory and warmth of the spirit vibrations without the protection of earthly conditions, so I was taken in the sleep state to the spirit hospital. Time rolled by, and from a great / depth, I slowly emerged from the trance state. I am now aware that I was there for just over seven of your earthly weeks. Through the waves of sleep there came slowly the haunting, beautiful music of the silence. (Donald Macleod, transitioning after years of incapacity from six strokes, in HT, 15-6.)
Most Adjust Easily
I had formed no very definite ideas of this life, but I did have a firm belief that personality continued. I was not ill long, so I arrived with little loss of vigor, and with little to unlearn. I realize that I was extremely fortunate, for I see so many who have much difficulty in understanding what this life means. (Newcomer to spirit in LHH, 38.)
Just as I was overcome with astonishment and satisfaction on first reaching conviction on earth, so I was astonished almost equally on my coming to this land and finding that my knowledge of this subject gained on earth was strikingly correct in nearly all the chief points. There was a great satisfaction in proving this. I was at once amazed and delighted to find so much truth in all I had learnt: for although I had believed implicitly, I was not entirely without grave misgivings upon many minor details. Hence my general satisfaction when I recognized things and features which, though I had accepted whilst on earth, I had scarcely anticipated would be as I now found them. (W.T. Stead, BI, 36.)
You have to realize that I am a novice over here, very much a novice. But I must tell you I know nearly as much as some of the oldsters who have been here a long while; I did my homework before I got here. The more you know about it when you are in the physical, the easier it is for you when you get here. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 42.)
I came over thinking I knew something of what I could expect, but, I assure you, it is all beyond and beyond anything I could devise out of a fairly active imagination – and there is so little that can be expressed in words. (Wellesley Tudor-Pole in AL, 77.)
Of what use is erudition if man is ignorant of what happens after death? Now I would – if I were still on earth – rather forego all earthly knowledge than be deprived of one thing: the faith in the future after death! This is the fundamental thought and the sole truth; all else is void in comparison. (Sigwart, BOTR, 8.)
Some Adjust Slowly
I was well known on earth, and my name would be recognized by many. … I was a politician on earth, and was more interested in swaying the opinions of other men than in educating any special talent in myself. I was always interested in seeing my political party in power, and bent all my energies towards showing the people that it was the proper remedy for their ills. …
I did believe in a future life, and I was not long in a really unconscious state after arriving. But I was grievously disappointed at first that I did not find the beautiful heavenly life which I had been taught to expect.
It was not entire darkness; I could see dimly. But all that was visible was drab and unattractive. I could hear nothing, and could see no living being. You can imagine a little how surprised I was and how puzzled. I knew that my earth life was over; I had been very ill, and had been conscious until nearly the last. So there was no misunderstanding about the fact that I had died. But I could not understand what existence could mean, where there was so little I could see, and nothing I could hear.
After a time – I don’t know how long it was – I realized that there were other beings near me. I was conscious at times of shadow-like forms that moved. I watched them, trying to understand what they meant. I was not particularly interested, for I did not in the least suspect that they were beings like myself. If I thought anything, it was that they were animals of some kind.
I was, of course, not in full possession of my reasoning faculties. When spirit first throws off the material envelope, there is a shock, – not always a severe one, but often sufficient to leave the mentality in a dazed condition, hardly more than a dream-like state If I had then possessed full powers of reasoning. I could no doubt have soon concluded that the shadows meant something to me. But at first I simply watched them curiously. They came and went, sometimes a few, sometimes many. I think it must have been months before it dawned upon me that they might be spirits, then I began to really think things out. I first concluded that possibly spirit was always rather ghostly; possibly these shadows were only conscious of me as a shadow. I pondered over this for some time. I finally concluded that there must be more to heaven than such shadowy creations. Something must be wrong somewhere. I made no attempt to study myself, I only wondered about the others. Why were they unable to make a more solid appearance?
It was a long study; and only after extended cogitation did I suddenly begin to wonder if the fault might lie with me. This thought interested me tremendously. I began to speculate on what spirit sight might be like, and I soon saw that it would necessarily be different from earthly sight. I was not successful in my conclusions at first as to the method by which I would have to see, but I was able to perceive things more plainly just because I realized that I myself was the one at fault. When we realize our own short-comings, a great advance is made toward eliminating them, no matter what they are.
I was soon conscious that I had greatly increased my powers of vision, for I could now see these other beings quite plainly. And I saw that they were conscious of my presence, even seemed to be trying to communicate with me in some manner. But no sound whatever reached my consciousness.
It was a great relief, however, to discover that there was a change taking place, that I was really able to see things. I was amazed at the beings I saw. I could not believe now that I was in the right place, for I could not conceive that I could belong with such wonderful beings. You must understand that a spirit who has arrived at a full understanding of the life here, and who feels the urge to live the life of spirit love and service, such spirit expresses the purity of its character by its outward appearance. Not only the features become wonderfully beautiful, but the garments likewise are glorified. And to my unaccustomed eyes, these spirits about me could not be less than angels from on high. I could not feel I belonged with any such advancement.
So I wondered and waited. As I watched, I became aware that these glorious shapes were communicating with each other. I studied this over, and as my mind became more active, I realized that hearing must be a spirit power as well as sight. No sooner had I reached this conclusion than I was conscious of sound. And, oh, the sweetness of that first musical tone! Heavenly music indeed! I was entranced! I was in heaven after all! Not only were there beautiful angels, but I surely was going to hear the heavenly choirs!
It was not long before I could hear spoken words, and then everything was soon explained to me. It was a day of joy; an exhilaration that I probably will never experience again. But there has been no disappointment since. My education was not rapid, but I advanced surely, and I am now experiencing the pleasures that I only faintly glimpsed in the teachings of my earth life. (Unnamed “politician” in LHH, 18-20.)
The Self-Absorption of the Newly-Arrived
We were a quaint population in that country. There were people of all conditions, of all colors, all races and all sizes; all went about freely together, but there was a great sense of caring only for oneself, self-absorption. A bad thing on earth, but a necessary thing here, both for the general and individual good. There would be no progress or recovery in this land without it. As a result of this absorption there was a general peace amongst these many people, and this peace would not have been attained without this self-centeredness. No one took notice of any other. Each stood for himself, and was almost unaware of all the others. (W.T. Stead, BI, 48-9.)
Initially, All the Senses and Desires are Provided for
It seems that all the senses are provided for here. The chief work on this island is to get rid of unhappiness at parting from earth ties, and therefore, for the time being, the individual is allowed to indulge in most of earth’s pleasures. There are attractions of all kinds to stimulate and generally to tone up strength. Whatever the person’s particular interest on earth has been, he can follow it up and indulge in it here also for the present. All mental interests and almost all physical interests can be continued here, for that one reason of coaxing the newcomer to a level mental outlook. (W.T. Stead, BI, 56.)
There are houses given over to book study, music, to athleticism of all kinds. Every kind of physical game can be practiced – you can ride on horseback, you can swim in the sea. You can have all and any kind of sport which does not involve the taking of life. In a minor degree that can be had too, but not in reality; that is only a make-believe.
From this you will understand that particular buildings are given over to their own kind of work. The man who has spent his life in games, heart and soul, would be disconsolate without them here … he can have them and enjoy them to the full; but he will find that after a time the desire is not so keen and he will turn to other interests automatically, though gradually, and it may be that he will never entirely abandon his games, but the desire will be less absorbing. On the other hand, the man who used his life for, say, music, for instance, will find his desire, his interest and his ability increasing by leaps and bounds because music belongs to this land. He will find that by spending much time in one of the music houses, as he will if his life is music, his knowledge and ability are amazingly increased. Then there is the bookworm. He, too, finds intense satisfaction in his new-found facilities. Knowledge is unlimited – works of priceless value, lost upon earth, are in existence here. He is provided for.
The keen business man on earth whose only interest is in making his business successful will also find scope for his ability. He will come in contact with the house of organization, and he will find himself linked up with work transcending in interest anything that he could have imagined for himself whilst upon earth.
Now all this is done for a reason. Everyone is provided for. On arriving, here there is often much grief; grief that is sometimes incapacitating, and no movement forward can be made until the individual wishes it himself. Progress cannot be forced upon him. Thus in the scheme of creation the blessed Creator has devised this wonderful means of appealing to the main interest on earth of each one. Everyone comes in touch with the chief longing of earth life, and is given opportunity to indulge in it, and thus progress is assured. (W.T. Stead, BI, 56-8.)
In all things that are purely and solely of the earth, the interest flags after a little time; a reaction, a gradual process – nothing is dramatic here – and the person passes from this to another interest which on earth would be called a mental one. Those whose interests have been in this mind-category will continue and enlarge the scope of their work, and will progress along the same lines – the others change. (W.T. Stead, BI, 58-9.)
Only Mind, not Body, Matters Now
You are not forced to acquire anything. You are more than ever free agents. That is why on earth it is so essential to control your bodies by your minds, and not the reverse. When you come here your mind is all-powerful, and everything depends, for your own degree of happiness here, upon the kind of mind you bring with you. (W.T. Stead, BI, 67.)
The presence or absence of contentment is entirely due to the earth life you have led, the character formed, opportunities taken and lost, the motive of and for your actions, the help given, the manner of use of help received, your mental outlook and your use and abuse of flesh power. To sum all these up, it is the quality of mind control over body versus body over mind. Mind matters and body matters – on earth. Here only the mind matters, it is in your keeping entirely, and is in whatever state you have made it by your life. On your arrival here the degree of your happiness will be determined automatically by the demands of your mind. (W.T. Stead, BI, 67-8.)
Some Among the Newly-Arrived May Have False Ideas of What to Expect
I … think it is more of a surprise to people than anything else to find they are not in a heaven such as is described in ‘Revelations’ or elsewhere. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 51.)
The normal life here was a surprise; for I had thought of angels with wings and harps, and heaven as a city of golden streets. But nothing of the kind is here. Normal progression; friends, work, service for others, – yes! happiness, in travel, music, books, and congenial companions. It is all normal and all true. (Spirit control Dee in SW, 92.)
There are many unanswered questions for those who first arrive. Sometimes they expect to find the heavenly home as they themselves have constructed it from bible references or Sunday sermons or funeral descriptions; and they become dazed and halfway lost because they do not find this heaven of their imagination. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth, LHH, 42.)
Normally, when a person dies, he is shown his loved ones first in order for him to understand what has happened. He is given glimpses of things which he expects to see in order to bring him comfort. But after the first seventy-two hours, we no longer use this kind of charade. The entity is then brought out gently and shown that there are no gold-lined streets. He could choose to build them if he wants. But once the entity truly understands, he doesn’t want the harps and the angels and the paved streets. He would want that which he has been around in his last incarnation and that which makes him feel more comfortable. (The unnamed teacher through Betty Bethards in TIND, 18.)
Q: What happens to those souls that die and expect pearly gates and St. Peter?
A: We keep them asleep until such time as they are ready to understand. Usually by the time their funeral is set up, they are cognizant that there are no pearly gates and that there is no need for it to be that way for they would not be at home in that kind of environment. If they choose later on, however, to build their golden streets and their pearly gates, they may create this within their minds; however, you will find very few do. They are more at home in their own natural surroundings. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 32.)
Then I had this magnificent, wonderful vision. There were the gates. I had always envisioned that the entrance to my paradise would be through these magnificent gates. They’re gates of life – of light. They’re living gates. They’re moving all the time. They’re not wrought iron or stone or wood. There was this beautiful gate opening and there were all of my family coming backward and forward to greet me.
I said, “Do you always have to go through gates like that?” And they said, “No, this is because this is what you have always thought and will have what you have imagined. You built this. This is yours – the gateway – your entrance of light. You can have St. Peter if you like.” At that I had a little chuckle. I really didn’t mind whether I had St. Peter or not. I said I could perhaps do without St. Peter.
But then, as I turned my head slightly and looked, I saw a figure I knew was St. Peter. I said, “I’m coming. I’m coming.” He said, “Take your time, take your time. There’s all the time in the world.” (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 28.)
We tend to feel that, when we die, heaven is as we thought it – and it certainly is. As I’ve said, you can be received in exactly the same way you always thought you would be received. You may remain in that narrowness if you want – you need never change unless you wish. God gives us perfect freedom in spirit. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 55.)
Here (1) you see the inner heart of that upon which you gaze, the wonderful purity of each object which irradiates the exterior. The walls which surround this sphere are composed of what you would describe as precious stones, and the Golden Gates are set with great Pearls. (John Helsop, FMABL, 12.)
- (1) John Helsop is speaking of the Christ Sphere and not the Borderlands, which he entered directly upon his transition. But it is included here to demonstrate that things like pearly gates do exist on the higher planes.
Each of us, while yet on earth, if we are disposed to give the matter consideration, builds up a complicated picture of some celestial state, a condition tinged with light and darkness according to our hopes and fears. In my own case, I had this vision of an unsubstantial disembodied state of celestial bliss, which I now see was presumptuous, as I had done nothing to earn it. It was also a very selfish conception of individual attainment. Divine Mind has conceived of a perfect plan of gradual advancement, a plan that banishes all conceit. Ultimate perfection can only be reached when all selfish desires have been overcome. (Jim McLean in LFM, 112.)
If, when I woke to life here, I had found myself floating about the clouds clad in muslin and with a pair of wings, I should have realized the fact [of my death] sooner. Incidentally, too, friends on earth would believe the stories of / those who have “passed on” more readily in a setting of the kind I have described. What they find difficult to understand apparently is the very little change between life in the physical body and in the spiritual.
People with narrow, set, and orthodox beliefs are puzzled by the reality, the “ordinariness” … of the spirit world. If it were described to them as “flashes of light,” “mauve and sapphire clouds,” “golden rivers,” etc., it would more readily approximate with their preconceived ideas. They require “mystery” about this future life.
I often laugh when I hear them complain they can’t believe in “solid” things like houses and gardens in the spirit world. These same folk have always believed readily enough in “solid” thrones, harps, crowns, etc., the perquisites of “the saved,” which things obviously must be supported on other equally substantial substances – the thrones and harps on and in material floors and hands, and the crowns on very solid heads, I imagine! (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 10-1.)
As you can imagine, a great deal of patience has at times to be exercised when we are confronted with minds that are tenacious of old beliefs and ideas that bear no relationship with the truth and facts and realities of spirit life, and it may take much arduous work to free the newly arrived person of so much that is mentally inhibiting and spiritually retarding. You will see, then, the wisdom of choosing instruments who are ably suited in all respects to the work in hand so that a difficult or awkward case may not be rendered more so. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 13.)
No soul is coerced, forced or bound by creeds. If he believes that this is Heaven, or conversely that he is in Hell, then for him, that is so at his present state of progress.
Helpers and Teachers and Great Souls there are in number to explain such errors of thinking, but there are no rules to follow and obey except the Divine Precept of Love, Light, Wisdom, and Understanding. (Frances Banks, TOL, 108.)
Oh, my dear friend! We bring such weird, unreal, unnatural conceptions of spiritual verities and states into this world! And we must drop them all, we must clarify the windows of our souls to let in the truth. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 11.)
Some [arrivals] have erected certain insuperable barriers between themselves and the emancipated soul, by what are termed “truths,” basic truths of Theosophy, etc. Others have much – nearly all, in fact – to learn with regard to the world with which they believe themselves to be in daily communion. So they are; but much that they believe to be imparted to them is merely, as it were, their own mental conception mirrored forth in their own objective consciousness. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 23.)
Q. Can you tell me anything of the spiritual condition of our friend E. L., who recently passed over?
P. The mentality is somewhat obscured – not yet clear; but do not let this distress you. His development will go on naturally and slowly. He will achieve much, later on, but not yet.
Q. Is he happy?
P. He is not happy, but merely resigned to the inevitable. Happiness is not possible to all immediately. All that can be done is being done.
Q. Is he working?
P. He is not doing anything yet. He is still an invalid, and still cast-iron-bound in prejudice and prepossessions, and these must be dissolved away by the solvent of spiritual and mental affections, and even afflictions, in order to free the spirit from the self-imposed restrictions. Imagine a Chinese woman’s artificially bound foot, and you have some notion of what a man can do with his soul-vehicle – not his soul. …
One reason why messages are withheld is that relatives cannot bear the truth. I have given you the true spiritual conditions. He is not yet a free creature in Christ, but you can make him happier by rejoicing that his self-forged chains are falling away. It is because he has become aware of his limitations that he is unhappy. His case is one of transcendent value and interest to both worlds; for when the gyves that manacle him are riven asunder, he will be as powerful for freedom as he was determined in restricting activities that did not appeal to the intellect. … He will eventually help in this great struggle for freedom better here than on earth with his former limitations. Mental fetters can be cast as we grow, but soul and spirit fetters continue into, and through, the unseen. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 14-6.)
At First, All Remains as It Was on Earth
Everyday life for the individual is strikingly like the everyday life he’s always been used to. (W.T. Stead, BI, 65.)
In clothing, we are all practically as on earth and as there are so many races here you can well understand the general appearance of this land is most unusual, and in an odd way particularly interesting and amusing, also instructive. I think I have said that in general appearance we all are as we all were. We are only a very little way from earth, and consequently up to this time we have not thrown off earth ideas. We have gained some new ones, but have as yet discarded few or none. (W.T. Stead, BI, 65-6.)
Gradually the Desire for Earth Things Leaves
Whilst in this Blue Island (1) each one is very much in touch with the conditions left behind. At first there is nothing done but what is both helpful and comforting – later there is a refining process to be gone through. (2) At first it is possible to be closely in touch with the home left behind, but after a little time there is a reaction from this desire to be so close to earth, and when that sets in the process of eliminating earth and flesh instincts begins. (3) In each case this takes a different course, a different length of time. (W.T. Stead, BI, 59.)
- (1) The Blue Island is the Borderlands. (2) From other passages in the book, it is clear that Stead is referring to the Judgment and Second Death, which happen in the first subplane of the Mental Plane or First Heaven. (3) It ends with the Second Death, a shedding of all remaining earthly traces.
The process of discarding [earth habits] is a gradual one. (1) As we live here we gain knowledge of many kinds, and come to find so many things, hitherto thought essential, not only of no importance but something of a bore, a nuisance, and that is how we grow to a state of dropping all earth habits. We get to the state of not desiring a smoke, not because we can’t have it, or think it not right, but because the desire for it is not there. As with a smoke, so with food, so with many a dozen things; we are just as satisfied without them. We do not miss them; if we did we should have them, and we do have them until the desire is no longer there. (W.T. Stead, BI, 66.)
- (1) The process could be said to be coterminous with our stay on the Astral Plane.
After a time, the desire for earth things leaves us all. It may be a short or long time, according to the disposition of the person concerned. Take the athlete. He loves his games, his running, his physical strength and his muscular exercise. Well, he will love it here as much. He will love it here more, because he will find an added pleasure in feeling no fatigue, a sharpened enjoyment altogether, but after a time his appreciation of all this will change. He will not dislike this hitherto loved sport, but be will pass to a different form of it. A form which is full of movement and satisfaction but not a physical affair at all; his mind will become more awake, and be will get enormous mental satisfaction from the studies which will come before him concerning the ways and means of travel here. Locomotion of all kinds here is very different to that which obtains in earth conditions, and this former athlete of earth will drop into line in his new surroundings and will presently realize that life here is a different thing for him, for, though still on the same lines, it holds an increased mental interest. Is that clear? … Well, apply it in the same fashion to every other type of individual. (W.T. Stead, BI, 59-60.)
My difficulty in trying to make you understand in a satisfactory way the life of this Blue Isle [is that] I have to consider how to explain it. It is no use my telling you that one person sits by the sea all the time, weeping because of her parting from her lover, and another is in a mental stupor from drink, and another still thinks he is ringing the bells of his local chapel on Sunday, etc., etc. – that is not the life, those are only bits of it. Atoms of the whole. I do not want to particularize, I want to generalize, with some detail. Therefore I must say that if you were to pay this land a visit in your earth bodies, as you are at present, you would be struck by the lack of excitement. You would think it all so like earth. That is what you would say to people on your return. “Oh, it’s so much like our life here, only there are such a lot of different races of mankind there.” (W.T. Stead, BI, 64.)
The Fate of Those who do not Know They Have Died
Many Spirits Do Not Realize They Have Died: Discussion
There is a surprising number of people who do not realize that they have passed from the earth in the death of the physical body. Resolutely they will not believe that they are what the earth calls ‘dead.’ They are dimly aware that some sort of change has taken place, but what that change is they are not prepared to say. Some, after a little explanation and even demonstration, can grasp what has actually happened; others are stubborn and will be convinced only after prolonged reasoning. In the latter case, we are oft-times obliged to leave such a soul for a while to allow a little quiet contemplation to work its way. We know we shall be sought out the instant that soul feels the power of our reasoning. In many respects it is tiring work, though I use the word ‘tiring’ in its strictly limited sense of the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 78-9.)
Many refuse to believe they are dead. It is, of course, true that they are not dead. They have all their faculties: they see, they hear, they move hither and thither. Everything seems the same to them as before. Their first realization of the change that has taken place is a kind of shock to them. ‘So this is death. Then if so, there is no such thing as death!’ For it is so entirely different from what we had imagined. (Julia Ames, AD, 160.)
Absurd as it may seem to us, there are still far too many people on earth who refuse to believe in our existence. They are in for a shock when the inevitable day arrives when they will join us here. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 67.)
Those who are concerned with the reception of new arrivals tell me that it is quite amusing at times to see their utter astonishment at finding themselves surrounded by living beings whom they had believed dead and gone forever. Many others expect to be awakened by a celestial choir of golden winged angels with harps. They rigidly follow whatever preconceived notion they have built up during their earthly lives. But none of these newcomers have grasped the fact that they will simply be themselves, no better and no worse than they were, the day they died. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 67.)
As I have already told you, for some time after people come here they continue to feel as if they were still in a mortal body. You can realize this in a small way from what is, alas, a common occurrence nowadays. Any soldier who has had the misfortune to lose a limb will tell you he can feel pain, discomfort, or irritation in it for days after it has been amputated. / In this way spirits continue for some time after they have left them to “feel” their bodies after death. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 36-7.)
The dead – for I fear I must use that misleading word – in almost all cases where death has been unexpected, does not realize the change that has taken place. His only idea is that he has suddenly recovered. Physical pain drops off you like a garment with the body which you left behind; you wake up well; and your first impression is one of delight, just the same as when you wake up from a bad dream. So simple, so natural does this seem that you almost always mistake what has taken place. I did, as you know. And I find it is a common experience. (Julia Ames, AD, 159-60.)
The immense majority here say the same thing. They were asleep; they found themselves awake and well, in the same place where they fell asleep, and at first they could not realize they had died.
And this is the case even when, as in some churches, the dying have been prepared for death by the last solemn rites. They knew that they were going to die, but they did not expect that dying was waking up quite well, with all their old faculties and memories, in the same place where they fell asleep, and this always is a source of astonishment, of bewilderment, to them at first. Many think it is a pleasant dream to be well and dread waking up to the old pain and weakness. … There are many, very many exceptions. But, as a rule, death is a painless waking up in health and the first emotion is bewildered astonishment. (Julia Ames, AD, 162-3.)
Many do not [know they have died]. This [knowledge] is something which comes as a big shock, unless your loved ones who’ve already crossed can explain this to you, which normally they do. The only problem that usually arises is in the case of a sudden death where the soul just does not understand that his physical body is dead, particularly in a case where you can’t look at the body and see it, as in an accident that disintegrated the body totally.
Each soul is allowed to go to his own funeral. By watching other people, listening to their thoughts, seeing them mourn or rejoice (whatever the case may be depending upon how the soul has lived), he will then know within himself that he has died, according to the beliefs of the people there at the funeral.
People will not hear, see, or respond to him, so that even the most ignorant soul will recognize that he is not being seen or heard. He knows there’s a change, even though he, himself, sees or feels none. For he sees his etheric body just as real as the physical body. His thinking hasn’t changed. It’s just that he’s hearing people’s thoughts now and he’s seeing clearly the things which he was unable to see while in the body. (The unnamed teacher through Betty Bethards in TIND, 47.)
Many, as you know, do not realize for some time the fact that they are what they would call dead, because they find themselves alive and with a body, and their previous vague notions of the after-death state are not, by any means, lightly thrown away.
The first thing to do, then, with such as those is to help them to realize the fact that they are no more in the earth life, and, to do this, we employ many methods.
One is to ask them whether they remember some friend or relative, and, when they reply that they do so but that he is dead, we try to enable them to see this particular spirit, who, appearing alive, should convince the doubter that he is really passed over. This is not always the case, for the ingrained fallacies are obstinate, and so we try another method.
We take him to some scene on earth with which he is familiar, and show him those whom he has left behind, and the difference in his state and theirs. If this should fail, then we bring to his recollection the last experiences he underwent before passing, and gradually lead up to the time when he fell asleep, and then try to connect up that moment with his awakening here.
All these endeavours often fail – more often than you would imagine – for character is built up year by year, and the ideas which go to help in this building become very firmly imbedded in his character. Also we have to be very careful not to overtax him, or it would delay his enlightenment. Sometimes, however, in the case of those who are more enlightened, they / realize immediately that they are passed into the spirit land, and then our work is easy. (G. Vale Owen’s mother in LBV1, 90-1.)
He is a type of many, very many, who come here with their mortal desires and plans still the only life they know. We talked with this one a long time, after he could hear us, and he is at last convinced that he is here in the spirit world, and that a new life, a new adaptation to life, is necessary. It seems to us that when he at last actually understands this necessity, he will show the same persistence and determination to ‘win out,’ that had formerly made him a success in mortal life and earthly business. He will progress rapidly when once he is entirely convinced that the way leads to happiness, selfishly, probably, at first, but growing into spiritual insight by degrees until he becomes a fine worker here in helping others. This is our joy, to watch the advance of those who seem almost hopeless. You will love to help when you come. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 111.)
The Theosophists are right in teaching that it is far better for the body to lie quiet and undisturbed for a few hours. It gives the escaped entity a chance to realize for itself that it no longer inhabits that discarded mass of electrons! But, in a street accident, they say, at once a confused babble of usually stupid people come around and the spirit is even more bewildered and distressed, trying to understand the impacts on it. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 138.)
Many Spirits Do Not Realize They Have Died: Instances
It’s a strange thing dying; of course your mother was one of my first visitors. … When I asked for my wife, the delightful young nurses became so vague I could have shaken them! Then G. came in to see me and I asked about my wife, but she became silent, until at last I said, “Do tell me, has something awful happened to her? Is she dead?” “No,” said G, taking both my hands, “but you are.”
I nearly sprang out of bed, it was so ridiculous. There was I in a most comfortable bed, in a charming room, with the prettiest of nurses, and very good food! I looked at G. in amazement, but she only laughed and reminded me that she had died several years before me. (Charles Bonham Carter in AL, 14.)
I seemed in a dream. I had dreamt that someone or something had knocked me down. Now I was dreaming that I was outside my body. Soon I should wake up and find myself in the traverse waiting to go on guard. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 14-5.)
The spirit-body disengaged from the physical body is conscious, at least I was, almost from the first. I awoke standing by my dead body, thinking I was still alive and in my ordinary physical frame. It was only when I saw the corpse in the bed that I knew that something had happened. (Julia Ames, AD, 66-7.)
What first convinced me that something had happened was the sight of my old body. After that came the discovery that my nurse did not see me nor hear me, but wept about my body as if that were myself. This is usually what happens. The passing soul, which retains consciousness, sees the body which it had inhabited lying inert. (Julia Ames, AD, 162.)
Those Who Do Not Know May Have Problems Adjusting: Discussion
[Of spirits lying in a state of profound unconsciousness:] They are those who in their earth life denied the immortality of the soul. They will awaken centuries, perhaps ages, hence when the irresistible laws of rhythm shall draw them out of their sleep into incarnation. (Judge David P. Hatch’s teacher in LLDM, 227, quoted in Lord Dowding, MM, 88-9.)
I find so many people come over here quite unprepared, they are often completely shattered by the shock of discovering that they are dead. They have always avoided discussing or even thinking of it. (Unnamed spirit communicator in AL, 21.)
Many come so very ignorant and come into such a long sleep and unconscious period, which we are sure is unnecessary for they have not believed the truth of active spiritual development here. So they lose time and lose the power at first of realizing the life and all it means. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SRE, 25.)
There are millions of men and women who arrive here to whom the discovery of the existence of life after death is a stunning shock. They have argued themselves into a conviction that death ends all and the discovery that it begins all over again makes them often angry and sometimes they refuse to listen to any guidance or counsel. They are then left to themselves to find out by personal experience the facts (1) That they are still living entities in the same world, although on a different plane; (2) That the laws of the new world need to be learned if they would advance to the better life that lies before them. (Julia Ames, AD, 166-7.)
Many worldly ones feel a keen disappointment when they first arrive, because all is so different, because all depends upon spirit knowledge, spirit powers, which they so entirely neglected to develop when on earth. (Unnamed spirits in LHH, 91.)
That sounds as though the “don’t knows” were left to themselves; they are because they go on wishing it so deeply, hugging their old grievances and going on being miserable and lonely to such an extent that no one can penetrate a and, if they do, the “don’t knows” brush them aside and go on grumbling. But the moment light begins to dawn they are off like me, into a world of light and colour and music. (Rosamund Lehmann’s daughter Sally in AL, 185.)
Q: What about those who don’t believe in God or anything, those who don’t even believe in an afterlife? What happens to them?
A: These people will normally sleep about forty-eight to fifty-eight hours and wake up surrounded by the loved ones or the people they knew during this last incarnation. If these people have no feeling about death, if they are not religious, they will usually wake up in a meadow or by a mountain stream, some place that’s calm and beautiful, where they can reconcile the transition from the death state into a continuous life or an on-going type of life. They are at that time given teachings to help them cope with the phenomenon we call death. They are guided in the hope that they do not try to become earthbound or try to continue living as they did when they were in the physical body. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 33.)
You hear of individuals, who are new arrivals, wandering about aimlessly, apparently lost, and who do not seem to know what has befallen them. Can it be that they do not know that they have passed on?
Such is the state of spiritual enlightenment of the earth that in many cases these folk are completely unaware that they have ‘died.’ … This situation frequently arises among people who pass into the spirit world suddenly and perhaps without warning. Their lack of knowledge of conditions existing in the spirit world produces this state of bewilderment, and if there is added to that ignorance also the fact that, during their earthly life, they never gave any heed to a future life in the spirit world, then their situation becomes a doubly unhappy one.
But there is in the spirit world a vast organization of all its immense resources and it must not be thought that these bewildered souls are left to shift for themselves. They are soon taken in hand by others long resident in spirit lands – as you judge time – who devote their spirit lives to such work. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 20.)
Our task is often a difficult one because it is not always easy for the soul to grasp what has happened. The mental equipment of the individual may cause a reluctance to accept the truth. On the other hand, those who are mentally alert will soon see for themselves the exact situation. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 21.)
When anyone first gets over here, he is ‘imprisoned’ in his own thought-world. But into that may impinge other entities, such as relatives, who may help him – or hinder, if [the relative] has himself been mischievous. Most people’s thoughts are concentrated on the earth-plane and many people only on that spot of the earth which they inhabited, and they find it very difficult to dissociate themselves, unless the whole trend of their mind has been upwards. Or if they have done many kindnesses, because, in that case, the law of the inevitable consequences sends them to those they have helped, who pay back their debts in full measure. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 192.)
For the average [person], the experiences [after death] are very subjective, that is, emanating from his own thought-life, at first. A good deal depends, in the first place, on whether the person realizes he has died. I think in ordinary times, most people do – at least that is the intention of the natural law. People should really live to old age and, gradually, as the physical body weakens, see a little through the “veil” into the next phase, and have relatives there to greet them.
Unfortunately, very frequently this does not happen. Many people die prematurely of illnesses and their physical link is strong. Others, even when old, have not learnt much and are so obsessed by earthly predilections that they continue to live in them afterwards, in a complete illusion, created by their strongly-woven thought images.
Really unpleasant types – and you’d be surprised: there are not so many as you’d think for most people who behave badly do it through ignorance or weakness, or by being up against human laws which so far have usually operated in favour of the “haves” against the “have-nots” – well, anyhow,really nasty bits of work stay in their illusions, but in compulsory company with others like them, or with those they have wronged if the latter are full of resentful hate, and they are at the mercy of any unpleasant astral entity who may be around. (Philip Gilbert to his mother, Alice, in PTS, 13.)
When death interrupts the action of the brain, all thought is then necessarily carried on by the spirit brain. It can sometimes do this at once, although usually only for a short time. In most cases it is unable to act at all for awhile. (Presumably this is because it has always relied on the assistance of the machinery of the material brain, and lacks experience in acting alone.) This we think explains the first unconsciousness after death. After a time it receives additional power, as we all receive it, and then can function alone. It is often in a very dazed condition, however, for a longer or shorter period, and much lacking in reasoning powers. In addition, it may not have learned how to see and hear, thus still further limiting its action. So a spirit is frequently a very helpless being for a long time. (Unnamed spirit, LHH, 125.)
The souls that come to this side come in such multitudes that they can scarcely be counted, yet only here and there are the spiritually developed ones, the ones who can enter into this life with joy, and commence the development of spiritual power at once. The pity of it gets hold of us here, now and then, and we feel like trying to bombard the earth with spirit bombs; – something to make the people think, something to force them away from their material thoughts, pleasures, and plans.
We are obliged to begin our work with them as we would begin with children, and not even in that way when they first come. They sink into a state that is hard to be described. They are not even ready to think. Brain and sense and heart and soul have so long been educated wrongly that silence and unconsciousness are the only remedies at first. Then there comes a confused awakening, with all their human habits of thought and all their evil selfishness predominant. What can be done, then, except to put strong forces in control, that they at least may be kept from harming others. You cannot conceive of this work, I am sure; but it is very real here. (Spirit control Mary Bosworth in SRE, 26.)
Those Who Do Not Know May Have Problems Adjusting: Peacetime Instances
If there has been no spiritual perception, you cannot see the beauty around you and are often in the dark. (Therold, FMABL, 95.)
On coming over with no knowledge or understanding, I had to begin at the beginning… Then Pat came into my life and I rose from the crowd of “don’t knows” into the mass of lovely outflowing people who “know,” and I began to live again in a vital way. (Rosamund Lehmann’s daughter Sally in AL, 185.)
My heart gave out and that was that. I fell into a coma and woke up to find myself in a curious light. It wasn’t sunlight or moonlight or electric light. It was different from any light I’d ever seen. I tried to go to sleep again, but the light was rather disturbing and to this were added voices, laughing and talking. I rather wished they’d stop. After all, I had been ill and they might remember and leave me quiet. But the voices came nearer and at last I could bear it no longer. I got up, but instead of feeling tired and ill, I was perfectly all right. At that moment someone waved to me, saying: “It’s lovely to see you awake at last.” I felt rather annoyed at not having been allowed to sleep on.
Other people came pouring in from both sides. I half recognized some of them and was on the point of saying so, when they vanished and someone else took their place. Then suddenly I saw Pat and I felt I must hold on to her. I said: “Stay with me. I don’t feel very well.” She sat down at once and explained just why I was feeling so muddled and insecure. It was a horrid feeling. I came over to this plane with no idea what I should find. It was all half light and half shadow. Patricia was an expert at explaining. (Unnamed spirit communicator in AL speaking of Cynthia Sandys’ daughter, Patricia, 20.)
I wish you had told me more about this life in detail. If you had, I should not have been half so miserable. (Alice Ross to her living sister in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 110.)
You know I did not believe as you did. I thought – if I thought at all – along the lines the church had laid out. I do not remember much of my coming: I seemed to finally drop into a peaceful sleep. How long, I do not know. Then a new consciousness seemed to come slowly. There was beauty about me; people moving; music far away, but beautiful. But I supposed the music must be from harps played by angels. Old ideas are strong, you know.
Then I found I could move. I saw a wonderful shining form near me, – my guide, I afterwards learned – and, strangely enough, I felt acquainted with this stranger! He took me by the hand, or so it seemed, and together we explored this wonderful new country. Patient with all my ignorance, wise when I was foolish, tender when I was almost afraid; but through it all, he was leading, guiding me through wonderful scenes, and bringing me to a trust, a happiness and well-being, I never knew before.
This was my first experience of the new life. Afterward came the desire to fit myself into the wonderful surroundings; and studies were suggested. Studies? Why, pleasures, I should say! For thought is so quick here that study is the wrong name.
Then came moving from place to place, growing acquainted with other spirits. And though I have not risen very high in heavenly learning, I am thrilled with new power and look forward to an eternity of knowledge, growth and happiness. (Unnamed spirit communicator in LHH, 43-4.)
“We think we have been on this side a long time, for we were unconscious longer than we could know. When on earth, we were not in accord with spiritualism. We had heard of it, but only the common medium, the fortune-telling variety, and we felt superior to that. If we had only tried it out, had only investigated in an unprejudiced way, we would have come into the heavenly life without the dreary waiting in darkness and doubt.” ‘Had you no religion?’ “No, we were not even church members. We thought if we lived decent materialistic lives we would come into the heavenly one – if there was one, which we really did not believe. Our guides tried to help us, but we were buried too deep in our own beliefs, and had to suffer the consequences. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 108.)
“I feel now as if I had been such a blunderer. To think of us over there! – poor humans chasing around after little specks of happiness we hoped to find, and missing a universe of joy in our future! We should think, and as far as possible, live this life before we come here.”
He had been a golf-player here, and was asked if he played it there.
“Not that. But you needn’t think we are a psalm-singing, harp-playing lot of people over here. Joy, pleasure, study, helping others when we can. Strange, that even over here there are souls living in poverty of – well, a lack, utter lack, of happiness because of their own unbelief! I was one of the unbelievers there, but I did not stay so. One glimpse of the glory, and my soul was filled with joy; and never again has doubt assailed my mind.
“You did not know, I guess, how far my unbelief went. But I could not find God anywhere in my business, and of course I could not find any immortality, or soul, or spirit life. Fool that I was!” (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 138-9.)
[T.E. Lawrence, who has no knowledge of life after death, dies in a motorcycle accident:] A shattering blow, darkness rent with interludes of throbbing agony and finally merciful cessation of pain; nothingness.
Out of the void came first a mere point of self-awareness, lost and found again and spreading gradually into an indefinite impression of being; a sensation of neither darkness nor light, an uneasy greyness filled with growing apprehension. Soon I should need to drag myself out of this numbing stupor, to find out where I was and what was happening in this waste of greyness. But. Having flickered, consciousness went out again and I slept.
There came a time when I could no longer drowse my fears away. The sense of identity grew stronger and with it came a tumult of emotions and hurried, anxious thoughts. Unwillingly I had to awake to a formless world of which I seemed the only inhabitant. Yet I thought I heard voices but could distinguish no words; I felt the shadows palpitate with movement and could see no one. I was aware, too, of waves of sorrow washing up around me and trying to drown out my feeble consciousness. Becoming aware of my body I found myself on my feet, surprised to find movement so light and easy, but I was afraid to venture far in any direction because of the shadowy obstacles I sensed around. I fumbled in the dimness, seeking a way out of the grief that enveloped me. Where was I? Even if I had become blind and deaf surely there must be someone around to help me? I tried calling, but there was no response. What had happened? (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 15-6.)
The startling impression that this was death became insistent, but if I had to accept that idea what became of my conviction that death ended it all? For I was certainly alive, if you could call it living. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 17.)
I felt my body; firm flesh. How odd! I tried to speak but only a throttled ghost of a sound came forth. I arose and walked and realized afresh how light and resilient my limbs felt. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 18.)
I had not expected existence to continue and certainly had as yet no reason to welcome it. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 17.)
Whether the fault of my [awakening] vision or a characteristic of the locality, the same dingy murk prevailed and the place and the people were of a piece; hard-featured women with shrill, harsh voices and men whose faces were marked by brutality and meanness came from the houses and mingled uneasily in the streets. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 20.)
You say it hurt you to hear that poor woman who spoke through the other medium the other day; she seemed so terribly unhappy and uncomfortable. Well, poor woman, she was so unready to pass out of the world. She was killed suddenly through an accident while in perfect health.
She was a very worldly woman, and could not believe it when she came to herself and found she had left her mortal body. She had no real belief in “life after death,” and felt she was in a dream and a very unhappy one, for, alas for herself, she had in her life on earth laughed her husband out / of all belief in it too! And she realized the difficulty she would have in undoing this mistake.
As you make the conditions of your own life after death by your state of spiritual development, you can imagine some people, whose spiritual faculties have dwindled till they have become atrophied, almost a negligible quantity, in fact, [they] can see no beauty here; in fact, they live under unpleasant conditions. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 35-6.)
“I am a woman. I have been here many years. I was born and brought up on the Atlantic coast, and moved to one of your western states when I was married. But that was many years ago. The year was 1840. I lived a lonely life on a farm: had many hardships; raised a family; and finally left my weary existence at the age of 68. I was never a church member, although brought up by Puritan parents. In coming into the western country I brought none of that teaching with me, however. In some ways I think I would have been happier if I had, for I would at least have been looking forward to something after death. As it was, I was so weary of life, I looked forward to peace and nothingness. I was ready to give up everything, there was so little I cared for.
“When I finally realized that death had not ended my existence, I did not know what to make of it. I could see or hear nothing. But I knew I was alive and that I had left my earthly body. I was distracted. For I felt that now I could not rid myself of life, no matter how much I suffered, or how weary I was. But I soon found that I was not suffering, except from loneliness, and after a time I began to wonder what it all meant. Surely there was something I had failed to understand. I certainly was not meant to pass through eternity in this lonely condition. Somewhere, somehow, I would meet some one in like condition, and then we could talk it over and try to arrive at some understanding.
“By good fortune my mind was so undeveloped at that time that I did not have very bright reasoning powers, so time itself did not seem so long as it might. But I did finally reason that if I met some one and wanted to talk, I would have to make this person understand by new means. It seems that this thought of itself brought some light and understanding. For it was not long before I was aware that I was beginning to see and hear faintly. It was a delight, you may be sure, and you on earth can never conceive the joy I experienced when I first realized that some one was trying to talk with me. Of course it was not long then until I was taught how to use my spirit powers, and soon I was able to take up my new life. In contrast with my old one anything would have brought joy. But if I could make you comprehend even one small portion of the reality, you would still be far from realizing my full happiness. (American frontierswoman who probably died around 1890, LHH, 35-6.)
“When we were trying to influence this man we found that he was only able to move from place to place, and to see dimly some of his surroundings. He was not able to see those who were trying to help him, and he could hear nothing. His own thoughts were all the company he had through the long centuries. We do not know just how long the time seemed to him, for of course he had no way of measuring it. But he says he can only express it by saying that it seemed endless.
“We were able to influence him by surrounding him with music. The continuous tones at last broke through his deafness, and set him to wondering whence they came. His attention having once been drawn to the fact that he was receiving impressions of sound, he was then led to detect other sounds, and finally made to understand that some one was trying to talk to him. After that the progress was rapid.” (Transition Guide of an unnamed man from Cromwell’s time, LHH, 33.)
It so happened one Sunday that few from our families wished to ride, so four of us were in my automobile including my friend and partner. We miscalculated at a railroad crossing and we two soon found ourselves on this side. That is, we left our earthly bodies. Here is where our unusual experience comes in.
We had just been laughing and talking about an article in the paper concerning ghosts. After our spirits left our bodies, we each seemed to realize that an accident had occurred, but each thought himself uninjured. But each could see the spirit form of the other, and its peculiar appearance to his new powers of spirit sight, convinced him that his partner had been killed and that his ghost was still present. It was a “Comedy of Errors,” if ever there was one, – right in the midst of tragedy. Each thinking himself in the flesh and the other a ghost, there was no attempt to speak, so the mistake was not discovered.
After the first excitement was over we seemed to drift into oblivion for a time, and we think it must have been some months before we were aware that we were alive only in spirit. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 27-8.)
Those Who Do Not Know May Have Problems Adjusting: Wartime Instances
I am alive after all. I thought extinction was the only thing that could follow such an inferno. (A WWII tank officer in MM, 32.)
I never had any faith, nothing to expect on dying and I am lost; I know nothing. All the things I made fun of come back to me. I was a bad man. I neglected many things, my prayers and my church, but I do not know if that mattered. I have no creed, and now I find that extinction being impossible I have to suffer a sort of conscious extinction, knowing and feeling and yet being empty of strength. What you expect here, that you find; you build your awakening, it is just as you imagined, at least that is what they told me. I expected nothing, so nothing came. (S.Z., a Polish pilot in MM, 32.)
We grovel among the illusions created by our thoughts. We surround ourselves with misconceptions. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 28.)
I was afraid of being killed and was sure it would mean extinction. There are still many who believe that. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 14.)
Physical death is nothing. There really is no cause for fear. … This is what happened. I have a perfectly clear memory of the whole incident. I was waiting at the corner of a traverse to go on guard. It was a fine evening. I had no special intimation of danger until I hear the whizz of a shell. Then followed an explosion, somewhere behind me. I crouched down involuntarily, but was too late. Something struck, hard, hard, hard, against my neck. Shall I ever lose the memory of that hardness? It is the only unpleasant incident that I can remember. I fell and, as I did so, without passing through any apparent interval of unconsciousness, I found myself outside myself! … What a small incident this dying is.
Think of it! One moment I was live, in the earthly sense, looking over a trench parapet, unalarmed, normal. Five seconds later I was standing outside my body, helping two of my pals to carry my body down the trench labyrinth towards a dressing station. They thought I was senseless but alive. I did not know whether I had jumped out of my body through shell shock, temporarily or for ever. You see what a small thing is death, even the violent death of war!
I seemed in a dream. I had dreamt that someone or something had knocked me down. Now I was dreaming that I was outside my body. Soon I should wake up and find myself in the traverse waiting to go on guard…. But it all happened so simply. Death for me was a simple experience – no horror, no long-drawn suffering, no conflict. It comes to many in the same way. My pals need not fear death. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 14-5.)
I had been struck by a shell splinter. There was no pain. The life was knocked out of my body; again I say, there was no pain. Then I found that the whole of myself – all, that is, that thinks and sees and feels and knows – was still alive and conscious! I had begun a new chapter of life. I will tell you what it felt like. It was as if I had been running hard until, hot and breathless, I had thrown my overcoat away. The coat was my body and, if I had not thrown it away, I should have been suffocated. I cannot describe the experience in any better way; there is nothing else to describe. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 16.)
Then I lost consciousness and slept soundly. … When I awoke, my body had disappeared! How I hunted and hunted! It began to dawn upon me that something strange had happened, although I still felt I was in a dream and should soon awake. My body had been buried or burned, I never knew which. Soon I ceased hunting for it. Then the shock came! It came without warning suddenly. I had been killed by a German shell! I was dead! … Curious that I felt no shock when I was first driven outside my body. Now the shock came and it was very real. I tried to think backwards, but my memory was numb. (It returned later.) (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 15-6.)
Purgatory and hell are different states. We must all needs pass through a purging, purifying process after leaving earth life. I am still in purgatory. Some day I shall rise above it. The majority who come over here rise above or rather THROUGH purgatory into higher conditions. A minority refuse to relinquish their thoughts and beliefs in the pleasures of sin and the reality of the sense life. They sink by the weight of their own thoughts. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 34-5.)
My sergeant friend is not here at present but I will tell you about him. He was drowned when the transport he was travelling in was mined. He says he made a big struggle to reach a raft but was unsuccessful.
He does not remember any feeling of distress whilst drowning, when once he had given up the struggle. He told me the actual sinking into unconsciousness was not unpleasant. Sergeant Z does not know how long he remained unconscious. He says his passing over was gentle, that he travelled through the land of mist without mishap whilst still in a dazed condition.
It seems that his brother found him quickly and brought him through. A bond of great affection linked these two; a year separated their coming over. A bond of love between two souls, if it be unselfish, will achieve much. Through it, the passing-out experience can be robbed of danger, made pleasant instead of fearful.
Had I been met when I arrived my troubles would have been less severe. I was met, but I was too self-centred to pierce the fog of my own selfish thoughts which shut me in on all sides. (Private Thomas Dowding of “Sergeant Z,” PD, 72.)
I was a regular soldier and went out to France in 1914. I was “killed” before the year was out. I cannot tell you much about it. It was at night: we were retreating, my horse had been shot beneath me. I was standing looking down upon him when a shell exploded near me. Nothing seemed to happen. I was still looking at my horse: but he was alive again, which struck me as very strange.
I took him by the bridle, mounted and rode away. The whole action was mechanical. I cannot give you many details. I was joined by another man I knew, also riding (a brother officer who had been stunned by the same shell and his horse killed, I discovered later). He asked me where we were. I could not tell him. We soon knew that something must have happened, but we did not think that “death” had overtaken us. We both thought we had lost our way in the retreat and were wandering in strange country, dazed by fatigue and lack of food. We had had no proper sleep or food for four days.
I was too dazed to wonder what would happen next. Soon I fell asleep. I could not keep awake, although I feared to sleep lest I should fall off my horse. I awoke to find myself in what I now know to be a hall of rest. My horse had disappeared, my companion also.
It was only recently that I heard he had not been killed at all, but rendered unconscious by the shell that killed me. While senseless he was able to be with me, riding on his own horse that had been killed. He was taken prisoner but is now released and well.
There is little more to tell you. I rested until my own guide found me. He brought me to the hall of instruction where I have spent much time. I learned slowly. It was all strange to me. Then [Private] Dowding joined our circle and he had brought me to you. We work together. Dowding will tell you about it. There is no moral to my story. I came here quite simply, without distress. (“Captain Y” in PD, 70-2.)
Pulling Away Soldiers Who Keep on Fighting
I am going straight on with my job, under my own officer, and with many of my pals; we work for the rest, especially when they are asleep. Sometimes we raid the enemies “dead” battalion, fighting with our thought weapons! It’s a grand game. There are so few things we can’t do now. (Gunner Simons in MM, 30.)
I felt sick and miserable, and then it passed off and I found myself standing outside the tank talking to my Colonel. He seemed unconscious of the bullets that were raining down on us. I ran for shelter but he called me and told me not to bother. He was looking as young as a subaltern and as though he was enjoying the battle. He took me by the shoulder and said “Don’t you see, Kit, we are dead, and yet far more alive than they are, and we can go on fighting, hampering the enemy, throwing dust in his eyes, putting ideas into our leaders and playing an invisible hand.”
I saw that he was serious but I thought he was mad. I said “Yes, Sir, but I’m so tired I don’t think I can move any further.” He left me and I don’t know what happened, but I woke up here with only one idea – to go back to the battle and find him – he wasn’t mad, but I was stupid. (A WWII tank officer in MM, 33.)
“It’s a queer world, Johnson, and I suppose we’d best carry on.” I says: “Yes, Sir, but wot does we do now?” “Load the gun of course, you blighter,” ses he, just as he used to. I went to obey, but strong as I felt I could not move the shells. They weren’t so heavy as all that, but I could not get hold of them; they was slippery. It seemed as though there was a sort of fish scale between my fingers and the shells. I couldn’t hold it. I tells the officer and he come to help, cursing proper he was by this time, and the two of us had a go, but would she budge? Not an inch. It seemed silly like; there was us two great hefty fellows trying all we knew to lift one small ack-ack shell and we just couldn’t do it. At last I broke down and laughed. “Well,” I ses, “did you ever hear of two dead blokes firing a gun? “Yes, I did,” ses he, all angry now and red in the face, “and, wot’s more, we are going to do it. We are fit enough, aren’t we? Come on.” So I heaved to again, thinking he’d gone crazy but that it was better to humour him. So we tried again, and now I begun to see things – not the efforts that we was making with our hands, if you follow me, but the Captain, he seemed to be sending out power some way, he was that determined, and I saw him as you might imagine a Call Up Station of the wireless (if you could see one) and the answer came not through his fingers but through himself.
Lots of shadowy people came round us and worked with us, and the gun wasn’t exactly in action, but something was being fired from her. Plane after plane came over, and suddenly lost speed then turned for home or crashed, I was mystified, I couldn’t recollect anything like this: there seemed to be no noise, the discharge was silent, but the repercussion was distinctly felt by all of us, and that seemed to give us fresh impetus for the next. Just then I saw Jock coming towards us. He’d stopped a packet too, but he hadn’t been with us before. He recognised me and the Captain and saluted and stood ready for duty. The Captain was too busy to notice him and Jock was always one for arguing, so I shut him up with “Just you wait and see, Son, we’re learning new operational tactics, us three gonners from the old batch, so come along and learn and don’t interrupt whatever you do.” So I stayed close to Jock and made him watch the Captain.
The Captain was a grand fellow, not a doubt. he seemed to drive his way through with all his determination against it all, and when I made a move, he looked up that sharp, and said: “You sit quiet and think – for God’s sake think with all the guts you’ve got in you, that’s wot you must do now. We’ve got our brains and our determination and if we three hold together we’ll pull it off and keep the air protection for our chaps. Don’t you see the men who are helping us?” and then I looked and there was Sandy, who got snipped on Thursday, standing waist-high in water, making strange movements with his arms. I looked at his eyes, and they were Sandy’s, but different, so clear like stars, he seemed inspired, if one could say so.” (Johnson, a British soldier from Libya in MM, 35-6.)
All at once [Sandy] seemed to be leading us and not so much the officer who was following his orders most carefully, and as the shadowy people became clearer, I seemed to lose touch with the live people, and the dead ones seemed more real.
Then the Jerries attacked and took the gun and we weren’t touched. He came through us without seeing or hearing us, though we could see and hear him and feel the perspiry sense of his nearness. I loathed the smell all of a sudden, though it was familiar enough, it almost made me sick, and I saw Sandy and the Officer had moved away. So I pulled Jock up and said: “Don’t let’s lose sight of those two or we’re lost.”
Jock agreed, but when I got to my feet I found I couldn’t stay on the ground; it was most comical and so difficult to move on. I was kind of floating and so was Jock. I said: “Let’s hold hands and keep each other down,” but instead we seemed to buoy each other up. Oh, we did have a time catching up with Sandy and the Captain, but they didn’t notice us, someone else had joined them.
He wasn’t in uniform and I wondered for a minute how a civilian could have got there; he looked like an Arab, and then when he turned and looked at me, I felt – I felt as though he was re-making me all over again. I knelt down and murmured “Christ” with all the reverence of a child. “No, not Christ, but a messenger from Him,” said the man I was kneeling before, and “He wants you” that was what he said, He wanted me.
“Whatever for?” I gasped out, and I looked up to see where the others were, but I could see nothing but a blinding Light. It seemed to fill my head and burn through something that was keeping me there, and then a voice spoke again, something like this: “By your Sacrifice you have attained to the Crown of Fortitude” – and then I remember no more. (1)
That was the last I saw of Earth. I’d like some of the chaps to know how we pass on. It’s a most wonderful thing. (Johnson, a soldier in Libya in MM, 36-7.)
- (1) The soldier may have been rewarded by an experience of illumination. But, since he does not know what happened to him, there is no way of confirming it.
Q> Are you in touch with the German slain? I am a missionary spirit and know no divisions. The soul cried out to me I came to his aid. He had been over some time, wandering in darkness. I was with others, going into the highways and hedges of the “borderland,” and met this and other poor remnants of humanity, cast on the void by this great and awful, yet holy, war. (1) (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 24.)
- (1) World War I.
The first time I was sent down to help our enemies I objected, but was told to remember they were fighting for what they believed to be right and in / defense of their country too. I saw rather an interesting meeting between an Englishman and a German who had killed each other. They met face to face and looked at each other steadily. The Englishman held out his hand. His erstwhile enemy, taking it, said, “What d – – fools we have been!” (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 11-2.)
Transcending the Misty State or Region
There is a kind of vaccum between this world and the other (1) which has to be bridged before one can get into the lower vibration of earth. I can only explain it as being a kind of misty place (2) in which one might get temporarily lost if you didn’t know what to do. I am so used to crossing it that it gives me no bother. (Gordon Burdick in TR, 90.
- (1) I.e., the Earth Plane. (2) The Misty Region or Grey World.
I was on, or rather above, the battlefield. It seemed as if I were floating in a mist that muffled sound and blurred the vision. Through this mist slowly penetrated a dim picture and some very low sounds. It was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. Everything was distant, minute, misty, unreal. Guns were being fired. It might all have been millions of miles away. The detonation hardly reached me; I was conscious of the shells bursting without actually seeing them.
The ground seemed very empty. It was like looking down from above the clouds, yet that doesn’t exactly express it either. When a shell that took life exploded, then the sensation of it came much nearer to me. The noise and the tumult came over the border line with the lives of the slain. … All this time I was very lonely. I was conscious of none near me. I was neither in the world of matter not could I be sure I was in any place at all! Just simply conscious of my own existence in a state of dream. I think I fell asleep for a second time and long remained unconscious and in a dreamless condition. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 18.)
He does not remember any feeling of distress whilst drowning, when once he had given up the struggle. He told me the actual sinking into unconsciousness was not unpleasant. Sergeant Z does not know how long he remained unconscious. He says his passing over was gentle, that he travelled through the land of mist without mishap whilst still in a dazed condition.
It seems that his brother found him quickly and brought him through. (Private Thomas Dowding of “Sergeant Z,” PD, 72.)
I can watch you clearly yet I am not earthbound nor am I dwelling in the land of mist. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 70.)
A mist was hanging about everything. I suppose I really was what is called dead. Anyways I had a sort of misty sense that [John Hawley] was there. (Alice Ross, described as very negative, to Geraldine Cummins, TS, 101.)
When I knew I was dying, I was just able to say: “Take care of little Tough.” He was my darling baby grandson. But I wasn’t unhappy or frightened or lonely; for I saw my fathers, my sisters, my brother whom I had thought of as dead – and by dead, I mean asleep till Judgment Day.
But they weren’t asleep, they were quite close to me. I could see them through a pale mist. (Hilda to Geraldine Cummins, TS, 139.)
For a minute or two [after death] I remained gazing and the thought of what to do next entered my head, but help / was close at hand. I could still see the room quite clearly around me, but there was a certain mistiness about it as though it were filled with smoke very evenly distributed. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 10-11.)
Perception, in the early days here, is very inadequate owning to the poor development of one’s bodily senses. So one will expect that at first this world will have a misty and dreamlike quality. But, … this condition clears. (T.E> Lawrence, PMJ, 125.)
With the exception of the border regions of misty unreality, our earth is as solid and actual to our senses as the earth is to its denizens. … Once one’s new senses have developed and are adjusted, this world has a solid surface with a clothing of grass, trees and flowers. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 115.)
Now you are taken by your friends to the world where you now belong. As you move out of the room together, you pass through what appears to be a fog or mist. It is not dense. You can see for about six feet ahead of you. And because you know and love the people you are with, you follow them gladly.
This mist is caused by the dispersing of your etheric body, which has served as the guardian of your material body. The etheric body, now that death has intervened, leaves the material body and seeks to attach itself to the soul. But as you move up towards the rarer planes, the etheric matter cannot follow so it forms the mist which obscures your vision for a few seconds. When you step out of the mist, the etheric matter returns to the universal reservoirs. (Mike Swain in FMW, 51.)
Some Souls Become Earthbound: Discussion
Ed. For rescue work connected with the earthbound, see here.
Some people find themselves ‘earth-bound’ after death. This is a lower astral state. For example, people who die suddenly by accident, perhaps when they are young, are often loathe to leave the earth as they feel a sense of incompletion of their earthly life. They stay close to the earth, ‘haunting’ the homes and places they have left.
It is only through a process of education that they can be urged away from this unhealthy condition and helped to progress and grow in the new state in which they find themselves. Prayers made on behalf of these people from those still on earth can be a great support and help. These prayers help release them to go on and partake of the ever-expanding life in the world beyond. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 58.)
Many an earth-bound spirit has no evil intent. He is simply reluctant to sever his connection with the earth. His motives are as varied as the sands of the sea. So it would be useless to try and give you details of why they cling to their particular surroundings. (Douglas McLean in LFM, 101.)
There are many thousands who are roaming the city streets, crowding into places of entertainment, leaning on bar counters, or simply sitting quietly in their favourite armchair at home. For all types are represented. These people cannot accept the reality of life after death. They have been deceived by the simplicity of their transition. They simply do not accept that they have died. (Douglas Mclean in LFM, 104.)
Some people are earth-bound. All their interests are there, and they return for that contact with men and the old conditions they crave.
I know it is difficult to understand why discarnate souls should still hanker after material and sometimes gross pleasures. It is because while on earth their senses ruled them, and stamped and coarsened the soul, instead of the spirit refining and purifying the body. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 36.)
I have told you here, too, “like attracts like.” If a human being is spiritually and intellectually undeveloped, and lives only in the senses, the spirit-friends he attracts are of a very undesirable order. They are the souls of those who had no wish to live anything but a life of animal gratification, and still hang about the world and their old haunts continually, trying to get a kind of second-hand indirect pleasure from the doings of the people who now follow in their footsteps. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 15.)
Even those who have no earthly ties or bonds of love and friendship behind them, being totally unprepared for their awakening, refuse to believe in this new life and, stubbornly, refuse to leave the vicinity of their worldly possessions. They are prone to take a morbid interest in disintegration of their earthly bodies. I am told by Douglas and Clifford, who are both rescue workers, that people of this type are some of the most difficult to help. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 48.)
Your towns are full of men and women who have parted with their material bodies and still live on in the old way, scarcely knowing whether they are alive or dead, for they see everything going on as before; they jostle against their old friends in the streets and they see no difference in them excepting that those who are still in the body seem … like deaf, dumb and blind people, who pass them by and take no notice of them. …
It is a painful sight to see the wretches who crowd together in their old haunts in your cities and in the country, too; for generations of people will sometimes live on and on in the same house, never thinking of the possibility of there being any higher life, but simply vegetating as, in fact, thousands do amongst you now. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SRE, 59.)
There are many who want to “hang around: the earth plane in their old haunts in comfortable surroundings rather than to go and discover for themselves the beauty and wisdom which is offered to them on this other side. These people are slowly coaxed along, given time. Sometimes this can take fifty to a hundred years of earth time for them to be able to accept death and the understanding of it. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 16.)
Many souls will go right back to their physical home in the earth plane, sit in their favorite chair and stay there. Many of them are unwilling to continue on. They are more tied to those they love here on the earth plane. And this is fine. If you choose to do this, you are not forced into anything. Many will wait, if they have left a love one to whom they were extremely close until the other partner crosses over and then they’ll go and explore their own creative potentials or the things which they hope to do. It’s up to the soul. Whatever he chooses, it will be. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)
It is sad to see the multitudes who linger near the earth, drawn by no forces except the material ones that ruled their lives while there. We cannot reach these multitudes easily, and many we cannot reach at all. And we grow sad at the thought of the long years of darkness and misery that so many must endure. You must try to put the truth before the world, if not personally, by means of books and papers. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 137.)
Ghosts are people who have died but who are still very much associated with the physical plane for some reason. They usually die under circumstances that create a great somatic shock -like being killed suddenly or murdered. If people die as a result of a very deep shock, when they regain consciousness they often have the sensation of still having their physical fingers and toes, their clothing and hair – of still being physically alive. Although they have technically passed over, they continue for a time believing that they are still physically alive. And so they continue doing the same things in the same physical locations as before. If physical people clairvoyantly see them while this is going on, they appear to be ghosts.
For example, if you were suddenly hit in the head with a battle ax and died, you would “awake” from the blow on the inner planes sometime later, but you would probably not be aware that you were dead at all – because death was unexpected. So you would “walk the battlements” – you would continue doing the things you would normally do. The only change you would notice would be that people don’t react to what you do or even seem to see you.
This can be a period of great confusion. Sometimes these people have to be left alone because this confusion is a part of the life plan that they worked out for themselves – believe it or not. And so they “walk the battlements” for a period of time. But the time spent in this way is never really that long in terms of time on the inner planes. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 70-1.)
“Ghosts are the uneasy spirits who have left some earth duty undone or some wrong unrighted, and they try to go back again. The spirit of one who has committed a crime, or who has wronged some one on earth, is never at rest until the wrong is made right. Let this be a lesson to evil-doers. There are uneasy souls here who never have peace because they cannot undo the wrong. Criminals learn the lesson too late, and if reincarnation were true they would gladly go into another earth life to profit by the lesson they have learned here. We wish we could make this plain to all evil-doers.”
‘Do you say they never have peace? Do you mean that literally?’
“We mean it in connection with mortal life. Of course the one who has suffered comes here sooner or later, and then the opportunity arrives for righting the wrong.”
“We have many here who are making a study of these wandering spirits, and it is found that they sometimes seem to be seeking lost treasure which to them is of transcendent importance.” (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in LHH, 68-9.)
In these times, (1) … there are so many, so many who have been shot over here suddenly, in full earth vigour, hot-blooded, resentful in many cases, or wracked by hideous memories, all their emotions going strong and to be subdued. All these constitute a great mass of the “earth-bound” at present and we work amongst them. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 24.)
- (1) Philip is referring to the Second World War and the years immediately after it.
There seem to be many variations of the “earthbound” state, just as there are of temperaments. With some, it is a matter of living shut up in some strong thought-image of their own, some obsession-rut, caused by what they have dwelt on when in the flesh.
With others: they still are on earth in its etheric form. They cannot get away from earth surroundings, tied to their homes and families and longing painfully to re-enter the flesh. These people are often quite evolved souls, but have committed some injustice or unkindness which ties them down to an overwhelming desire to make reparation, and, usually, they have no means of doing this. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 21.)
If anyone has “got anything on his mind,” an obsession for, say, cricket, he will live in an illusion world of that, and will not attain his full power and knowledge of how to get on here till he has snapped out of it and that may take centuries.
But the average person who has had no mental unbalance soon begins to realize his new existence and tries to learn the rules.
Also, … some activities are an extension of earth ones (or it might be more correct to say that they are the reflection on earth of universal activities) – music, painting (colour), mathematics and so on can all be continued from where they are left off.
But any activity which depends for its impetus on physical body skill or earth needs such as, say, cricket or the stock exchange has no equivalent in the reality here because our way of functioning precludes it.
People who have lived entirely in the material, seeking only earthly and bodily advantages, and with no real love-bonds (and mind you, there are comparatively few who don’t love anyone) have created a thick cloud of thought images – a deep rut between high walls – through and over which they cannot see at all, when they emerge from their body. They are in the centre of a dense cloud (just as you all, on earth!). They can only see what they have left behind, and that is sometimes out of focus, erratic and constantly bewildering them by shifting and changing. They are neither in one world or another – it must be very wretched. …
Yes – and they do go on like that for centuries, sometimes, because no one is sufficiently interested to dig them out. Those who may be aware of them would not have the power, for it is one of the hardest jobs, from our side to penetrate into the shell-like image of an earth-bound person. Only someone fairly advanced can do it, but the advanced have so much more important work, generally.
These people just go on and on; it is their boredom and sometimes malice which has created the fears of “ghosts” and unseen “influences.” They do not always realize that there is any further world. But if an instructed earth dweller of spiritual nature and knowledge – a psychically sensitive person of unselfish and helpful nature – can get through to them the knowledge of a further state they begin to emerge, to “climb up,” “peep over the wall” – and that is the beginning of progress.
Anyone who actually meets a real “ghost” of the haunting variety – and there are very few, most being psychometric picture memories – should not be afraid, but just speak to him and tell him to make a thought act of desire to advance into the real world. It is very simple and great help will have been given. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 18-9.)
Without fear … and with the use of positive creative will, any of these phantasms can be dispelled like smoke. Sometimes when I go “scavenging,” I have to do this first, before I can get to the wretched being beset by his own personified follies and weaknesses.
Actually there are – as far as I’ve yet experienced – very few people who are so debased as to gravitate to such horror when they die. But there are a good many whose lived have been obsessed by the more seamy aspects of physical desire, and they do find themselves in a rather disgusting muddle of tantalizing illusions and images. It’s not punishment – there’s no such thing literally: it’s what you called the “inevitable consequence.” In this world of mine, you’ve got to live in what you create and if you create muddle and illusion, then it’s just too bad! (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 41.)
It is customary among certain minds of the earth to regard the spirit world and its inhabitants as vague and shadowy, extremely unsubstantial and speculative. These same minds regard the dwellers in spirit lands as a class of sub-human beings who are immeasurably worse off than themselves simply because they are ‘dead.’
To be upon earth is normal, sound, and healthy, and infinitely to be preferred. To be ‘dead’ is unfortunate – but, of course, inevitable – very unhealthy, and anything but normal. The ‘dead’ are much to be pitied because they are not alive on earth.
This line of thought tends to place an undue importance upon the earthly life and upon the physical body of man. It is as though it were only at the point of ‘death’ that man takes upon himself any spiritual nature, whereas, in truth, that spiritual nature has been present since the moment of his drawing his first breath upon earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 14.)
Where I have accosted earthbound people, I have always ascertained that the soul so circumstanced was totally unaware of any other state of existence to which he could depart from his present surroundings. He was ignorant of other realms higher or lower than that which he was occupying.
Usually these unfortunate people are tied to their earthly environment whatever it may be. That attachment may be one of sentiment, where a great affection was entertained for the earthly home, or place of residence, or work. The attraction may be a morbid one, where some misdeed has been committed which draws back the guilty one to the scene of its perpetration. Perhaps this latter is the most familiar to earth people under the designation of ‘haunted’ places, and many people are puzzled by the fact that in a large number of cases the subject of the ‘hauntings’ has remained in operation for hundreds of years. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 38.)
The ‘hauntings’ of an unpleasant nature where some crime of violence has been committed, or where some wrong has remained unredressed, fall into a different category altogether. In most instances, individual remain rooted to the locality. They may still be in the same frame of mind as upon the original occasion of their misdeed. They may be consumed with the desire for vengeance or retribution or for some form of violence. So strong will be the concentration of mind and so powerful the emotion that the whole incident or series of incidents will be projected from this harassed mind in the shape of thought-forms and these will assume the precise details, with exact precision, of the original occurrence. The memory will have recorded the details faithfully and the mind will have released them and it can go on releasing them with unfailing exactitude. Any person whose psychic powers are developed – and sometimes those that are not – will see what is taking place before them and thereby causing the ‘haunting.’ (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 40-1.)
It is always so much easier, and produces much better results, for people still on earth to tackle these cases in the first instance. The person who is responsible for the haunting is so much nearer the earth and is consequently more easily approached by you than by us here in the spirit world. When he has fully grasped what has happened and what he is doing, then we can take charge of him and lead him away from the environment that is causing the distress. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 42.)
The disembodied soul who wakes up to find his body gone and life going on in the home as before, and alive in the midst of it, does not realize that he is dead, and sometimes it is quite a long time before he is aroused to his true condition.
He is annoyed that his folk do not see him nor answer him and he feels as if he were in a kind of bewildered dream. There he continues until some spirit can convince him. Of course this occurs mostly with those who have not realized the existence of this world or who have imagined it so different; they cannot recognize the truth that they are still in the same world after death. Death seems denied in two ways: First, the outward visible world has undergone no change; and, secondly, they retain unbroken continuity of consciousness, they are themselves, and realize their identity as much as they do on earth after they undress at night. (Julia Ames, AD, 162.)
When the newly-arrived find that they can remain [on earth] among their loved ones but that they cannot communicate with them, it often opens up a feeling like that of Tantalus. And after suffering for a time, always hoping and trying to make them hear and see, they feel compelled to leave them. You are aware of many apparitions at the moment of death. These are the small percentage of those who succeed in impressing themselves upon the sense of survivors. There are more of those then more try at once and therefore the number appears larger. The percentage of successes to attempts is not greater at death than after. (Julia Ames, AD, 170-1.)
The spirits of criminals often return and live over again the atrocities for which they are still suffering. It is the law of cause and effect. Their subconscious selves received the impressions of their acts and beliefs so strongly that they are still bound by the old sensations and criminal instincts, and they try to reproduce the semblance of the crimes or incidents that caused these impressions, in the surroundings in which they occurred. They live it over again as an actor reproduces a scene he has memorized. It is through the terribleness of these scenes that they discover themselves for what they are. It is sometimes a lifetime before they turn away from their evil impulses. But it is this earthwalking, this renewing of their past crimes in memory, that finally makes them determine to try for something better. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in LHH, 70.)
Numbers of discarnate spirits return to your world to acquire from earthly teachers what they failed to learn in the earth-life. Now this is a fact of the greatest importance. It means that the influence of mortals in thought, word and deed affects for good or evil spirit-people who are invisible to them. To those whose inner eyes are open, these spirits are plainly seen and the more earnest and anxious among them throng your churches, chapels and lecture-halls to receive help and teaching there. (John Heslop, FMABL, 73-4.)
I know it will be asked, “Why do spirits return to earth; surely it is easier for them to get spiritual help on the other side?” No, not necessarily so. The link with earth is very strong with undeveloped souls on the lower spheres and often it helps them more to get in touch with mortals than to receive the teaching of angels. Earth is the infant school of the spiritual life and even you do not ask your Professors to teach children the alphabet! (John Heslop, FMABL, 74-5.)
After a / period of loneliness and remorse for past sin, the spirit may possibly desire to return to earth, drawn back by love for one still in the flesh; or some loving being from the higher spheres, coming to the lower, may see the distress and loneliness of this soul and go to his help. Then by prayer and ministrations his eyes will be opened and he will be led where he can be helped and taught. (Therold, FMABL, 95-6.)
Spirits who in their earth-life had been victims to kindred vices … live over again their earthly sensual lives, and find their gratification in encouraging the spirit to base and debasing sin. This tendency of bodily sin to reproduce itself is one of the most fearful and terrible of the consequences of conscious gross transgression of nature’s laws. The spirit has found all its pleasure in bodily gratifications, and lo! when the body is dead, the spirit still hovers round the scene of its former gratifications, and lives over again the bodily life in vices of those whom it lures to sin.
Round the ginshops of your cities, dens of vice, haunted by miserable besotted wretches, lost to self-respect and sense of shame, hover the spirits who in the flesh were lovers of drunkenness and debauchery. They lived the drunkard’s life in the body; they live it over again now, and gloat with fiendish glee over the downward course of the spirit whom they are leagued to ruin. Could you but see how in spots where the vicious congregate the dark spirits throng, you would know something of the mystery of evil.
It is the influence of these debased spirits which tends so much to aggravate the difficulty of retracing lost steps, which makes the descent of Avernus so easy, the return so toilsome. The slopes of Avernus are dotted with spirits hurrying to their destruction, sinking with mad haste to ruin. Each is the centre of a knot of malignant spirits, who find their joy in wrecking souls and dragging them down to their own miserable level. Such are they who gravitate when released from the body to congenial spheres below the earth. They and their tempters find their home together in spheres where they live in hope of gratifying passions and lusts which have not faded with the loss of the means of satisfying their cravings. (“Imperator” in Stainton Moses, ST, 35.)
Only [those] who, by fondness for evil, by a lack of spiritual and excess of corporeal development, attract to themselves the congenial spirits of the undeveloped who have left the body, but have not forgotten its desires … risk incursion of evil. These by proclivity attract evil, and it dwells with them at their invitation. They attract the lower spirits who hover nearest earth, and who are but too ready / to rush in and mar our plans, and ruin our work for souls. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 78-9.)
Some Souls Become Earthbound: Instances
I was shot by the Germans in Trondheim. I was a little shopkeeper; they shoot. I do not love the Germans. I never shall, but I am held up here by my hatred. I find that I cannot throw if off. I still feel so angry for their acts of unprovoked cruelty, and I am consumed with my passionate anger, and cannot get free. I beg of you to help me. Your Father, he bring me to you to make a close link with him. He tell me that we must forgive the Nazis, and they do not know what they do; that they are like sleep-walkers, and until I forgive them I cannot get free to pass from this plane so near the Earth on to other planes. Here all that happens with you is known and felt in a greater form and we go on feeling more and more animosity against the Germans race, and when they join us in the astral body we feel far more antagonism than we felt during our Earth life. It is awful, this anger that we cannot shake it off. Give me serenity and let me seep. I want sleep and forget them. I might be fairer in my judgement and come to forgive. I see why Christ quickly forgave everyone before He left the Earth Body. I see the reason and the need, and with the help of your Father and this contact that you have given me, I shall escape. (J. Ammussen in MM, 30-1.)
Sometimes one settles down for a long time in one place. I visited an old home in the State of Maine, where a man on this aide of life had been stopping for I do not know how many years; he told me that the children had grown to be men and women, and that a colt to which he became attached when he first came out had grown into a horse and had died of old age. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter IX.)
I left a man who was very anxious to return to your earth. He was killed in a street accident and is totally unprepared for his new life here. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 74.)
I’ve seen the little man who used to live in your flat. He won’t go away from it and the village. I talked to him and tried to make him see something further, but he wouldn’t. He said it was his and he’d made it. He doesn’t seem either happy or unhappy – just static. I don’t know when anything will move him – perhaps not for centuries. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 104.)
You know, so many people here don’t seem to be alive in my sense. I don’t understand it – it distresses me. I see so many people who never seem to try to use their new powers to get anywhere. They just stand round where they’ve always lived.
– For how long? –
I haven’t any idea. I suppose they must see the real forms of trees and people and yet it doesn’t seem to convey anything to them. They just talk and think of their own old interests and often just sit about in their old homes, getting het up about what their families are doing.
It does seem to me that people on earth badly need education for death – not so much ‘religious’ as common-sense instruction on how to make the most of their opportunities. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 106.)
In the near-earth planes, … there are some queer specimens, we well as lower types of entity – foci of negation. Powerless really, except for the fear they can inspire, but most unpleasant to behold. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 59.)
I told my brother I wanted news about events on earth. He took me to visit an old gentleman who had been editor of a newspaper. Why did I call him ‘old’? Because he died at eighty-one and has not thrown off earth conditions yet. He therefore surrounds himself with these conditions. His son on earth runs the paper, a French journal. The old man can read his son’s thoughts and so divines the world’s news through his son’s mind. He has built himself an office, full of telephones and tape machines. These machines are in a way illusory, but please the old gentleman.
He received me courteously and insisted on hearing the details of my crossing. He was disappointed that I did not know his paper by name and surprised that I knew so little about earthly affairs. ‘I want to get back. I cannot get along without my paper. My son often uses my ideas in his editorials without knowing it.’ (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 22.)
The old gentleman was still rambling on about his paper and its prospects when I came away. How awful to be chained to an earthly property like that! Tell people to control their worldly interests…. If you identify yourself heart and soul with some material project or undertaking, you will find it hanging on to you over here. It will obsess you, blot out the view, make progress impossible.
This old French editor came over a good many years ago. He still lives on earth in mind, so far as he is allowed to do so. Take a bird’s-eye, dispassionate view of all your worldly interests. Master them or they will master you. In the latter case, when you get here you will be miserable. Life will seem empty, a wilderness. Earth ties will tighten their grip, yet you will be unable to respond. Confusion will result – that is purgatory. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 23.)
He has not rested after the violent separation from the body. (1) Well for him if he does so. If not, he will remain an earthbound spirit for long. Rest is a step to progress in the case of such a spirit. It is to be desired that the poor soul may rest and not haunt the sphere of vice in which his earth life was spent. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 149.)
- (1) Of a man who met a violent death and appeared soon after to Stainton Moses.
The Situation of Suicides
Ed. See also “The Case of a Selfish Suicide” for a more developed discussion of the fate of one who willfully takes his own life.
You could never imagine where I went the other day – to the great funeral of the Emperor of Japan. You could not go from Paris to Japan and return in so short a time, could you? But I did.
An hour before starting I did not even know that the Emperor of Japan was dead. The Teacher sought me out and invited me to go with him. He said that something would occur there which I ought to see.
His prophecy was verified. I saw a soul, a great soul, go out as a suicide. It was sad and terrible.
But as I write this the Teacher comes and stands beside me; he advises me to say no more on that subject.
One sees horrible things out here, as well as beautiful things. I can only say with regard to suicide, that if men knew what awaits those who go out by their own hand, they would remain with the evil that they know. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXIV.)
The one called Jim (a suicide) is in a fog of apathy. I was able to make him sense me a little. (“Ross” in ITE, 25.)
Persons who commit suicide before the time they are meant to die find themselves in a state of heavier vibrations / and closer to the earth than those who died natural deaths. They remain in this state of density until the time when they would have normally died. (1) They then may pass into the planes of finer vibration. People who have experienced death through suicide are greatly helped by the prayers and supportive thoughts from those still on earth. They are also aided by those from the higher planes who are dedicated to help them grow spiritually during the period of waiting. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 58-9.)
- (1) There is disagreement among spirits on whether a suicide remains in this foggy state until the time of natural death or not. One difficulty is in knowing exactly when the time of natural death would have been.
Many people who commit suicide will have to go through [a] hell of their own making in order to become aware that this is not what they are striving for. It is a punishment, but it is not one that God is giving you. It’s one which you have made for yourself, and it teaches the soul that it does not have the right to take its own life, that it cannot kill, it cannot hurt other people. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 10.)
“I am here in answer to the discussion you had … because I have just done it [i.e., committed suicide]. I can see myself there in the bathtub with my wrist still bleeding. There is no hope of returning. The [silver] cord has been cut and I am in full realization of my act. I … can see how utterly foolish it was for me to do what I did.
“The record is before me. I am not lost. There is a place for us who have done this. It would have been but a short time until I would have been here – and not in this degenerative state. Now free will has been taken away from me for a space and I will wait in despair and sorrow until released. Then I will return and make good the karmic debt I have incurred. There was no reason to do what I did. …”
“What do you mean by karmic debt?” Roy asked.
“In not completing my earthly obligations because of taking my own life, I incurred a karmic debt to those who were deprived of my services, my love, and my protection. I must come back to make amends for that which I took away. Can you understand this? …
“Through natural means I would have passed here. There could be times when it is excusable, but not when there is anger in the mind and in the conditions that exist. Never, never take a positive action to end your own life.” Then she left. (Young woman to rescue circle leader Doris Heather Buckley in SC, 90-1.)
[L’s] suicide led to his being plunged into darkness and isolation here for a very long time. … Eventually he took to drugs and, as you know, killed himself. That is a mortal sin. He took into this life his crude ego that hated and hated and denied love. So he suffered much. Poor Eveleen some time after coming here had to perceive, as we all have to, the consequences resulting from her life on earth. She saw how much she was responsible for her son’s ruined life on earth. She has been very brave about it and, though her reception by L. was grim, she sought him out and tried to help him out of his hell of her and his creation. She has done much to improve things for him. (Winifred Combe Tenants in SBS, 31.)
Last night, we both worked … at one of the hardest tasks in one sense, among some suicides. The Law, to me, seems hard on such people, but it is simply the inevitable consequence, I suppose. Spiritually, they are earth-bound unless they have been very highly evolved people who have performed the act for unselfish reasons. Any suicide for selfish reasons, however strong and urgent, finds himself ‘tied to the aura of his incarnation,’ as the Chief put it to you. He cannot escape to the Light, though he may see it. Yet, to those who have been sorely tried, help can be taken. It acts as in every case: if a person has been sufficiently in harmony to attract, magnetically, harmonious entities, then, whatever folly he has committed in earth-life, he gets help and inspiration here, in time. It may not be from the highest levels, but it is from higher levels than his own and there are billions of discarnate entities who have chosen to pay off debts of selfishness and greed by unselfish efforts to help in the astral world. They can often pay off ‘Karma’ in this way, just as well as by re-incarnating. There is no lack of help here – rather, a superabundance of it. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 144-5.)
I saw a soul, a great soul, go out as a suicide. It was sad and terrible.
But as I write this the Teacher comes and stands beside me; he advises me to say no more on that subject.
One sees horrible things out here, as well as beautiful things. I can only say with regard to suicide, that if men knew what awaits those who go out by their own hand, they would remain with the evil that they know. (“X” in LLDM, 102-3.)
There is one very foolish method of coming here. By suicide. This is a futile action for all concerned. When someone of the earth plane feels so restricted, so cramped, so frightened, that he sees no solution to it – when, in fact, he can no longer face up to the day-to-day burdens that confront everyone else in your world – he thinks that committing suicide will be an easy way out and will punish his ‘tormentors’ at the same time.
When his soul comes here, it is immediately placed in a state of rest … until the jangling dislocations of the suicide have subsided. Then he is immediately sent back to earth to inhabit a new body. Once again he finds himself a mortal man; but he retains no recollection of his previous history.
What is more, in this second life of his, he is going to be confronted by exactly the same problems. If he fails a second time, the same process will occur and continue to occur until he learns to face his problems rather than escape them.
Throughout, he will be surrounded by the love of the Great One and guarded by his brothers, but he must solve his problems without aid form anyone. Once he has faced it and solved it, there is no further danger of him committing suicide. At the same time he is developing the strength of mind that he will need when he eventually learns to be a Creator, as his Great Father was before him.
So, if you want a frustrating round-trip ticket up to our world and right back down to yours again, Dad, commit suicide! It will get you nowhere fast! (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 53.)
When a human life is broken by the owner of that life, there is a long period of unconsciousness before any reconstruction can take place. Years may elapse before they are ready to begin any advancement. The suicide takes his own way instead of God’s way; and the result is, to paralyze the finer spiritual qualities, and prevent entrance into the joy of this life for a long time. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 138.)
The human instrument may be jarred and out of tune, and so may faultily transmit the will of the spirit within. There are many cases in which madness is the result of bodily disease. For such the spirit is not blameworthy. Accidental injury may derange, or congenital defect, or overstrain of trouble and distress. For such causes the spirit is blamed by none, least of all by the Holy and Just One, who deals not with body but with spirit, and who judges according to spiritual motive and intent. We reprobated the case on which we spoke, because the end was the result of life-long sin. He was and is responsible, and he begins to know it. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 186.)
Suicides or People with Much Negativity Often Find Themselves in the Misty Region
Many people [upon death] will be blocked into a gray, hazy state, much like you would feel a fog all around you. There’s not the clarity, there’s neither the darkness nor the light. This is when there has been much negativity or bad done during that incarnation, or a suicide when one must spend some time contemplating that which has happened to him. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 43.)
What happens to the unfortunate soul who puts an end to his own existence? In many – in most of such – cases the pressure of work and worry, combined with private misfortune have unsettled the reason – or this is the would-be charitable verdict of the Coroner’s Court. There are few men who have not in their make-up that weak point at which control breaks down. In most cases courage has been sapped by self-pity and so the breach is carried by a flood of despair. No man can judge, because each of us has his breaking point whether life tests us to the limit or not.
The friend of whom I speak was found almost immediately and I was able to go to him. He was in a kind of stupor and I was told that he might remain in this state for a long time and that nothing could be done about it. We watched over him and were loath to leave him in the misty half-region where he was found. It was a tract I myself had known in time past. Until he regained consciousness there he had to remain; had we forcibly removed him his poor body would not have been able to stand the conditions of our plane and so we had to leave him there. Now and again I went back to find him still in the same quiet coma, and seeing the state of his astral form I almost dreaded his awakening.
Suicides often show this long-lasting coma. It is really a merciful pause during which some of the damage to their emotional bodies is quietly made good. Much always remains for them to do when they come to themselves and in D’s case, Mitchell asked me to make periodic visits to him so that he might find a familiar face when he awoke.
I made one such visit and found that he had gone. Knowing the agony of loneliness and ‘lostness’ one can suffer in this region of looming shadows I went immediately in search of him. I had only to let my feet take me swiftly in the direction of my strong desire to find him and soon I made out his tall figure swaying through the mist. I hailed him and he let me come up but it was hard to make him see or hear me. In fact, his body was so ill-developed that his new senses were as yet of little use to him. By some means I got him to come with me and led him into a slightly better region and here he sank down and rested again. He was reassured by his feeling of a friendly presence and he has since told me that he recognized it as mine. So he sunk again into sleep. I watched for some time and then realized that he was deep under and might not rouse again for a long time, so reluctantly I left him there.
It would be tedious to describe the slow and uphill progress he made. I was with him as often as possible and as his senses developed and his body strengthened I got him by degrees into better conditions. There was much trouble to clear; remorse for his weakness, and sorrow and fear all had to be cured. He is still unable to join Mitchell in his ‘home,’ but a delicate beauty and grace is beginning to emerge and I am hopeful of more rapid progress soon.
I am told that there is a belief that suicides remain in a coma until the time when they would normally have died. This is one of the propositions which are impossible of proof, since no one can say when their hour would have struck had they not anticipated it. It is a fact that this state of coma lasts for varying periods, but there is also a long period of unconsciousness in many who have come by violent deaths. A suicide differs from such a one because his emotional state is usually far worse and takes much longer to clear, but a long period of coma may supervene on death in either case. Time is relative and the duration of unconsciousness to the sufferer is immaterial. Eventually he must awaken and take on the task of fitting himself to enter his own appropriate sphere of being. This is where he can be and is helped. There is often a long convalescence before he can get free of the sin and suffering of his violent end.
It is fitting that those who help him pay their debt of sympathetic suffering, but we know the end, and it is glorious. There can be no such thing as final failure and this is where we have the advantage of earth. Even a relapse can be only temporary and there is never any occasion for despair. So I look forward with joy to the day when D will be among is as a happy and fulfilled being with his mistakes and sorrows all behind him. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 110-13.)
Rescue Work in the Borderlands
It is recognized here, so [spirit control Abdul Latif] says, that the person who completes his earth rhythm has had his full chance of spiritual evolution – his state in the astral world is what he has made it. But the young, who die through no fault of their own in battle, (1) cannot be held responsible. It is unfair to leave them, unhelped, to face the inevitable consequence. Hence the bands of helpers who strive always to meet and aid. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 206.)
- (1) Philip is writing from the end of the Second World War.
Q. What is your chief care in the borderland sphere?
P. My chief care has been to act as an efficient guide and helper to the great host of the suddenly and recently [dis]embodied. No thought, no activity can be spared from that great task. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 107.)
P. I am at present exclusively dwelling in the soul of the earth – or in the next grade of substance to the earth matter. (1) But it is my choice to do so – otherwise I could not write, as I now am doing, and could not manifest sensibly to earth dwellers.
Q. Are you not in close touch with your beloved ones on the Other Side?
P. I visit my beloved ones in the spirit-spheres of earth, during seasons of rest, when earthly friends do not seek my presence as you do now. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 3-4.)
- (1) Philemon refers to the borderland.
Through this communion (1) I am able, as it were, to take stock of this borderland realm, and plumb the depths of the gulf that separates the quick and the dead. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 6.)
- (1) Through communicating with medium Charlotte E. Dresser.
Spirits Attend Their Own Funeral
At the funeral, I felt [Philip] standing over on the right, in front of me, and at that very serious moment when the coffin was being lowered, I heard a voice in my mind very clearly, –
‘Whatever is he bleating like a sheep over that thing for – it’s not me!’ (Alice Gilbert reporting a telepathic conversation with the recently-transitioned Philip in PTW, 88.)
I attended the funeral and admired all the beautiful flowers. Dad and [uncle] Buffalo were with me. We, three, found it a solemn occasion because, to me, it was the ending of a chapter. Both had already experienced this and so understood my feelings. I was reluctant to leave you, children, as I felt that there were many things that I should have done and had not completed. But, as Dad pointed out, there was nothing I could do about it now. Thus, there was no point in lingering. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 27.)
And how does the departed soul view all these adjuncts of ‘death’? Sometimes with disgust, sometimes with amazement at their stupidity, sometimes, and especially with those whose sense of humour is well-developed, with undisguised mirth!
And what of all the paraphernalia of ‘death’? Has it availed the departed soul anything? No, nothing. Black garments, drawn blinds, ponderous solemnity, hushed voices, and countenances of exaggerated gloom are utterly worthless to help the soul upon its way. Indeed, the reverse can, in many cases, be the result. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 15.)
The spirit body may take some days of your time before it becomes completely separated from the earthly body and it may be hindered very much by the combined thoughts of the sorrowers who are participants in the dismal [funeral] rites. Instead of departing from the earthly sphere, the discarnate one will be attracted to the scene of obsequial activities and more than likely will be saddened himself by what he is witnessing and by the sorrow of those he has left behind. He will feel a heavy weight within him of the separation that has come about and, perhaps being ignorant of what has befallen him, he will be doubly distressed, and even trebly distressed by the fact that he speaks to his friends but they cannot hear him. And how great a difference a little knowledge would make. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 28-9.)
Most Spirits are Invisible to Human Eyes
A discarnate being is invisible to the human eye because the etheric body or vehicle of expression is vibrating at a more rapid rate than the physical body. When the soul passes to higher levels of consciousness, its form, or outward expression of itself, becomes more and more ethereal. That is to say, it is vibrating with greater rapidity and with a far greater intensity. (Frederic W.H. Myers, BHP, n.p.)
A spirit who comes here, and is anxious to get in touch with earth ties, may be made more unhappy by being with the earth people, for if they do not understand that he is still alive, they are all sadness, and they think of him as dead – as something finished. Although the spirit will go to them a great deal at first, the earth people will not know he is there, and seeing them but being unable to make his presence known causes him much disappointment and sorrow, and gradually he will go to them less and less. Realizing that they are ignorant of his presence and think only of him as dead, he will finally stay away altogether, content to wait until they join him. (W.T. Stead, BI, 109.)
A Few Can Manifest
Not that I’m trying to blow my own trumpet, you understand, but I am one of the few here who have been able to manage [to regress myself back to your world]. I can move from my world to yours by my own free will. Heather can do it now, too. But I would say that ninety-five per cent of the souls at this level are completely unable to manifest at the earth level. Maybe in moments of urgency, they can appear momentarily to their loved ones on earth, but they wouldn’t promise to guarantee it. (Mike Swain, FMW, 55.)
Cremation, Burial, and Visits to the Grave
Q: What about cremation?
A: The soul will usually prefer a cremation to a burial. Burial causes people to go out to the cemetery and grieve. With cremation and scattering of ashes, it is easier for the soul who has entered upon the so-called death state. He then does not have to keep going to the grave year after year, which he has to do if people are grieving there.
Every time people go to view the grave or to put flowers on it, the soul must go and the soul really can’t relate to that body in the ground at all. He’s used it, it has fulfilled its purpose. It has no meaning to him whatsoever and he sees no reason to set up a tribute to that body that isn’t him anyway. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 50-1.
Don’t fret in your heart about what happened to my body. I shouldn’t go often to that grave if I were you – it only makes you morbid. I don’t want you to think of what’s under there. I’ve got a real body now – indestructible and much more efficient. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 99.) I really would much rather you didn’t go to that grave – I saw how morbid it made you again. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 153.)
Have the courage of your convictions, my dear! I’ve told you before, you would not, when I was in the flesh, have gone and brooded droopily over my cast-off suits and put flowers in them, now would you? I want you, once and for all, to rid yourself of any lingering feeling that what is there is me at all. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 153.)
The Impact of the Grief on the Departed
Q: Why does he feel he has to go to the graveyard?
A: Any time one’s loved ones go to the cemetery or there is a grieving or a strong thinking about him, it is imposed on his thoughts. Even if he is off in a school or listening to music, dancing, enjoying himself, he will feel this enormous pull, this grieving. He is then brought down to that rate of vibration. It is a heavy thing for him to have to go through, too, because he has been freed of all this, he sees no sense in continual grieving.
Grieving is one of the hardest things for entities who have been released to have to withstand, because they know that they haven’t gone anywhere. They know they have no feelings towards the body and they don’t want you to feel that way.
They want you to rejoice in their happiness, in their freedom, and to be happy with them, to pray for their continual growth, but not to pull them back down. And this is something which far too many people do because they lack understanding of death. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 50-1.
I could actually feel the terrible pull of the grief that you and Mum were suffering. (Mike Swain, FMW, 55.)
If I can but convince one person on earth that their dear ones are never lost to them and that death is not the end, I will have atoned for much of the havoc I caused.
Excessive grief does have a distressing effect on those who have passed over, for it is quite natural that they should be distressed when they realize that, although they are safe and well, it is impossible to convey this fact to the ones that are left behind. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 47.)
When you grieve for someone you love, your sorrow is immediately transmitted to him in his new world – a most beautiful world – but he cannot come back to the earth plane to comfort the mourners. He hasn’t had time to master the art of slowing down his vibrations until you can see him or hear him. This puts him in a hell of a quandary – he is torn between a desire to comfort his loved ones, knowing it to be impossible, and a need to adjust himself to his bright new surroundings. (Mike Swain, FMW, 56.)
Never allow yourself to mourn. When you do, it vitally depresses me in this world. Send us your love, send us your happiness; these we can use in the service of our Father. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 23.)
Perhaps the most important message we can send you from here – if you can get it across for me – is that grieving, weeping, and wishing for the soul of the departed to return are the worst things that you people can do to someone who has just died. (Mike Swain, FMW, 55.)
So please, Dad, tell those who are still on earth not to grieve for those of us who have come over here. I know it’s impossible to ask them to rejoice; yet we on this side rejoice when the soul of an old friend comes here. I would ask the bereaved to sit and think of their loved ones instead of themselves. They will soon forget their own sorrows. Tell them, please, just to send their love and kindly thoughts for a calm journey and a happy arrival, for the friend they have lost is already secure in this world of warmth and happiness.
Send wave upon wave of love. This will help the newly dead to stabilize, because it convinces them of the validity of both spheres of existence. This is perhaps the most important thing I want you to put into this book. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 56.)
While it is good to feel sorrow over the death of a loved one, undue grief and mourning can prevent the freeing of a soul, as by your vibrations of grief you unwittingly call us to your sides to try and comfort you. Therefore, mourn for a short period for your loved ones, then rejoice that they are free of the cruelties of life. (Donald Macleod in HT, 13.)
You should not mourn anymore, this is so agonizing for me. (Sigwart, BOTR, 3.)
I am satisfied with all of you now. Your grief tormented me in the beginning for I had made the greatest effort to make myself [receptive] to you. It is better now. (Sigwart, BOTR, 3.)
Then the longing returns for the loved ones whom one has left behind. One perceives their grief and that is terrible! These were the only real agonies for me and they still are to a certain extent. But you know now how I am and you have no more reason to mourn. (Sigwart, BOTR, 5.)
You have hurt [your mother] by mourning for her. One may not grieve for a departed one. We remain united exactly as on earth, although the bereaved ones are not able to perceive it. You cannot imagine what it means to us who no longer have physical bodies when someone we love weeps for us. This is the most severe anguish for us to endure because we still feel exactly as we did on earth.
How your mother would have suffered while still alive had she seen you so sad. She could not have endured it, and yet she must bear it now! We feel every thought of pain the same as we did in our earthly state because we are the ones you knew and loved. Grieving creates a chasm between you and us. (Sigwart, BOTR, 24.)
Q: Isn’t it difficult to see your loved ones grieving for you when you are standing there?
A: Yes, this is the most hurtful part of all because you’re trying to tell them that you still love them, that you haven’t gone anywhere, that you’re right there. Trying to get this message across can be very difficult. Often, one person in a family will be sensitive enough to the dead soul’s impression that he will find a solace in this recognition that, wait a minute, he isn’t dead, he’s still living.
Q: Do people grieve more from guilt than from loss?
A: Yes, for within most people is the thought that “I could have done something to prevent it.” This is a very common feeling which people have, regardless of how the entity has died.
Q: Is it normal to grieve?
A: Grief is normal in all people; guilt, however, is that which you are inflicting upon yourself through your own lack of understanding of the karmic laws and of the meaning of death. If you can understand there is a time and place for each and every soul to leave the earth plane- that it cannot be done accidentally, there must be a bigger reason behind this than anything that you can understand with your limited knowledge – then you can accept the fact that the soul has gone on to a better place than that which he had here on the earth plane.
It’s all right to cry for those who have gone, but realize that the pain is your sense of loss, and has nothing to do with the state of the entity who has crossed over. His is a reward; yours is the sorrow of losing contact physically with that entity.
Q: Is knowing that the loved one is still alive on another plane and that you will see him or her again the means of overcoming grief?
A: Yes, for as you see them nightly as you leave the body (in your sleep), you begin to know deep within that there truly is no death. It is more a transference of energy. You will not be separated as long as you continue to feel and to send out love. The person over here will acknowledge this and will show himself to you in dreams and it’s from this that you will begin to understand the meaning and the reason for all souls to experience that which you call death. (The unnamed teacher through Betty Bethards in TIND, 47-9.)
Sorrow is but natural in human hearts at the parting of loved ones and in their removal from physical sight, but sorrow is aggravated and increased by the lack of knowledge of what precisely has taken place. Orthodox religion is largely responsible for this state of affairs. The one who is mourned has gone to an unknown land where, presumably, an omnipotent God reigns supreme, ready to mete out judgment to all who enter that world. It behoves us, therefore, orthodoxy would urge in effect, that we should do all that we can to placate this Great Judge, that he may deal mercifully with our departed brother. Such a situation, it would be further urged, is no time for anything but the gravest demeanour, the most solemn behaviour. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 14-5.)
My own beloved, what do you mean by mourning as one who has no hope? Is it then all mere talk that Christ brought life and immortality to light? Why is it that with the certainty of the continued existence of your loved ones you feel as disconsolate and forlorn as if there were no other world and as if Christ had never triumphed over death and the grave? Why do you grieve as those who have no hope? Do you not know that you are as a city, set on a hill which cannot be hid? How many thousands, nay millions, of poor souls all over the world will have their lives saddened by the drip of your tears, who might have been gladdened by the sunlight of your smile – if you had believed really in the love of God! (Julia Ames, AD, 55-6.)
It is no use saying you believe when you feel sad. No one who really believes can ever feel sad. The measure of your grief is the measure of your unbelief. (Julia Ames, AD, 57.)
All sorrow is the register of the spiritual thermometer of our unbelief. (Julia Ames, AD, 58.)
So far as you disbelieve, so far you lose your power to be the conductor of the love of God to man. (Julia Ames, AD, 57.)
My dear, dear friend, why do you not weep, not that your dear one is with us, but because you have made so little of the magnificent opportunity of proving to all that the other world is God’s world to you and that those who are lost to others are not lost to you who believe? (Julia Ames, AD, 56.)
You did, right from the first minute that you heard [of my death] – how I appreciate it! – try to think what you could do to help me, rather than of your own feelings. That would be bound to have a great effect on my post-death experiences. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 140.)
You really must stop whinging [grieving over me]. I feel it always, as if I were doing it. Everything [here] seems to be feeling. One feels other people’s thoughts. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 96.)
Darling, don’t grieve – come on now: detachment! Practice what you preach! The end of a phase of earth-life – nothing at all! I whom you love am in Eternity. That is the only reality – keep your consciousness there! (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 173.)
You should now cease to grieve deeply. We have given you the proofs you asked for. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 154.)
Let him (1) go and so gain him. That is the law. (Unknown Teacher to Alice Gilbert in PTS, 84.)
- (1) I.e., Philip, her son.
Bereavement works two ways, you know. I remember after I died and I was being contact by my family, I was bereaved too. I was separated from people that I was very close to and in the beginning the contacts I had with them served to calm me down a bit, too.
If someone is given over to grief at the passing of a relative, then it is certainly beneficial on both sides to make contact through a medium. But that kind of contact should be made only as necessary in the short period of time after death. As has been said, if someone insists on talking every Thursday to the spirit of Aunt Tillie, they are doing Aunt Tillie a great disservice. Aunt Tillie is alive and well on the inner planes and has her work to do. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 71-2.)
One you are convinced that Grandma is alive and well on the inner planes, you should let go of your grief so she can live in peace. Having been reassured that all is well, you should accept the fact that she is now living in a different dimension of life and has new activities to devote her attention to. And so you should try not to interfere with those activities. Of course, if after a few years you need to talk to Grandma, then it is quite possible that Grandma will come back and talk with you. But that should be after Grandma has made her transition and adjustment and has embarked on her particular work over here. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 73.)
Endless sittings with Aunt Minnie are really childish – and they interfere with what Aunt Minnie should be accomplishing over here. We’re all very busy here in heaven, you know. We have things to do. Life doesn’t stop just because you no longer have physical fingers and toes. (Sir Oliver Lodge, SOLR, 32.)
Always remember you have the power to add to our happiness or give us pain and, whether you know it or not, we must sometimes come back to those we loved on earth for love draws us there. (Therold, FMABL, 97-8.)
Q: How shall we pray for those who have died?
A: Send them love, send them joy, pray for them to find their own creative outlets, their own potentials, their growth into the Christ Light. Picture more and more radiance around them, continually rejoicing in their happiness and their release. The love you send mentally to them is also important. Talk to them occasionally in whimsical or very witty terms. They enjoy this and then they are part of the family. They have not been removed. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 54.
Q: Can they hear us when we think about them?
A: Yes, they hear your every thought. Any time you think their name, it goes out like a loud microphone so that it’s hard for them to tune it out. They don’t have to respond, but they do keep hearing it and this is annoying to the soul for he does not want to be pulled into that.
Q: Would it be better, then, not to think of them if it disturbs them?
A: If you think of them in sad, negative, mourning vibrations, this is not good for them as it pulls them down. If you think of them with love, with a sense of humor, this projects them higher, for you are putting out a higher vibration to them, which they can then use to be projected outward into their advancement and growth.
There are positive and negative energies which you can pit out, and you must be very careful that you don’t put out the negative towards them because this, then, will pull them back down into the harsher vibrations of the earth plane. By putting out light, happy, cheerful vibrations, you are sending love. This is praying for them. It is enabling them to use that energy to gain higher admission to other realms. Just talk to them in love.
Q: We can actually help them to advance?
A: Yes, all souls should be given that love, and that prayer, that sense of humor, the jokes that you can send to them, for this is helping them advance too. It is also showing them that you can carry on without their actual physical presence being there and gives them a greater sense of freedom. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 55.
Much Mourning is Spurious
Grief over the death of a loved one is a very selfish emotion. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 47.)
People who grieve are feeling sorry for themselves and they are hurting the other soul by doing so, for it is not allowing him his freedom. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 54.
After I had passed into the spirit world, one of my earliest experiences was the consciousness of a feeling of sadness, not of my own sadness, for I was supremely happy, but of the sadness of others and I was greatly puzzled to know from whence it came.
Edwin told me that this sadness was rising from the earth world and was caused by the sorrow felt at my passing. It soon ceased, however, and Edwin informed me that forgetfulness of me by the earth people had already set in. That experience alone, my good friend, is one that can be relied upon to induce feelings of humility, if no humility before existed! (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 103.)
The spirit world disapproves of mourning in every shape and form. Genuine, heartfelt sorrow is a human emotion that none of us is secure from, but so much mourning is spurious. Here we can see just what is taking place in the minds of the mourners. Mourning as a rule is utterly selfish because people are not sorry for the soul who has passed on except in so far as it is thought that he is now infinitely worse off ‘dead.’ The great majority of people are sorry for themselves at the physical separation, not happy and glad that their friend has gone to a greater, grander, more beautiful life.
Even when the sorrow is perfectly genuine and inspired by true affection, every effort should be made to curb it. The soul newly arrived in spirit lands will feel the determined drag of the thoughts of those who are left behind unless those thoughts are constructive thoughts for the present and future well-being of the friend who has gone.
Thoughts of the wrong kind will draw the soul back like a magnet and prevent it from making a steady and natural transition into its proper sphere. … The strong attachment to the physical body that exists in the minds of so many people would be largely broken down if those same people were to become fully acquainted with spirit truths. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 26-7.)
We leave people behind on the earth who dutifully mourn for us, who are genuinely upset at their loss – but after a while, short or long – their remembrance of us grows thin. They cease to think of us, to recall us, and to remember our companionship. Those are the only partings. In some cases even those people come back to our lives when they themselves come to this land. Gradually, as they throw off the influences which dimmed their remembrance of us, they find the foundation of the old affection. Sometimes it is untouched; sometimes spoilt but these are the only partings. (W.T. Stead, BI, 108-9.)
The Sobering Effect of Learning the Opinions of Loved Ones About Oneself
I often go and look at people I knew, just for fun…. I make them remember me and then study their reaction, I can see that the ability to do this must be the reverse of pleasant to a great many people when they go back to earth-life and hear the remarks of their nearest and dearest. In fact, in many cases, where people have been stupid and self-satisfied, but not really bad, this penance of seeing themselves as others saw them is the beginning of advancement. They snap out of their conceit once for all, and try to change themselves. Really, anyone with any intelligence has no reason to stick round in a static condition. There’s so many ways of learning here, with the fuller vision that we get. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 163-4.)
It is not pleasant to feel that your place is so soon filled, that you have become a “blessed memory” when you are more palpitating with life and love and light than ever before. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 22-3.)
The First Mediated Communication Home
The first time a spirit returns through a medium, the death condition is generally reproduced or indicated. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 15.)
In talking with a man who had died from an accident, we asked if he could tell us of his passing. Immediately Sis’s hand and pencil were shaken violently. She experienced a cramping pain, and an impression of gloom. After a little the pencil wrote with emphasis: –
“That is awful to remember even now. It happened so suddenly, and I was alone and helpless. It was so terrible that the suffering came with me to this side. But it is all over long ago.” (Unnamed spirit to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 132.)
[Philip Gilbert:] There was a crash. I was going fast down that slope. There was a crash and a blackness and then I opened my eyes and saw trees glowing, illumined in an ivory golden light – they seemed alive…. I lay quiet. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 89.)
In the first shock of separation almost all [spirits] desire to manifest and seize an avenue to that end. Later they see that it is not so tremendously urgent and only those who are earth-bound / or heart-bound, through one who cannot live without the loved presence, continue to communicate. In most cases one world is more than enough to deal with; therefore intercommunion is a hindrance rather than a help in growth here or with you, except in the early days of severance, when it is a mutual service. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 80-1)
The Messenger … said I am still living in a fog, a fog of my own creation and design. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 29.)
When I spoke to you before, I had just arrived here. I was confused, bewildered. I was filled with shame and humiliation. My life on your side had been so useless. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 55.)
[Later the Messenger communicates:] When [Private Dowding] first arrived here he was not in a fit condition to communicate with your world because he had no understanding of his surroundings. (“The Messenger” in PD, 74.)
The house which is given over to this work in the Blue Island [i.e., the Borderlands] had been a regular haunting-place of mine ever since my father had told me of it, together with the works of the other buildings. I went to this house a great deal, and received much help from the various people in charge. They were all kind and very sympathetic, but entirely businesslike. It was not merely a house of tears and sympathy, it was an amazingly well organized and businesslike place. There were many hundreds of people there. Those who had on earth believed and those who had not, came to try and wire a message home.
The heart call was the one which received the most serious attention. Many were there only as lookers-on, incredulous and facetious. They got nothing more than the satisfaction of their own amazement.
After a little time my turn came.
For a building given over to this kind of work it appeared to be inadequately equipped. I had rather expected to see many implements and instruments, many wires and machines, and the presence of electric forces, but there was nothing of that kind at all. It was all and only the human element.
I had a long conversation with a man there – a man obviously of some importance, though I cannot say he looked like an angel, he appeared quite as mundane as myself. I had a long talk with him, and from him heard how a great deal of this work was carried on. He told me they had a system of travelers, whose work was very close to physical earth. They had the power of sensing people who could and would be used for this work at the other end. These men could locate and then tabulate the earth people, marking each individual ability, and when the newly-arrived spirit came in search of help, these sensitives on earth were used as each could be used.
This is a sketchy outline of the work done in that building….There I came frequently and tried to get my messages through to home by more than one means; I succeeded in some ways, I failed in others. The spirit has much to do himself with the success or failure attained; a great deal depends upon him. Every time I succeeded, I helped another. Every time I failed I went myself for help, and got it. Having given much time and study to the subject on earth, I was given unlimited assistance at this end of the line now that I needed it.
I want to explain how I got some of my first messages through and how I knew I had succeeded. We had been taught by this time how to come in close contact with the earth, although it was not possible for me to do this alone. I had a helper with me. I must call him an official. He came with me to my first trial.
We came into a room which seemed to have walls made of muslin. Something and yet nothing. I knew it was a house, and was conscious of the walls of the room, and yet they seemed such poor things because we could see through them and move through them. I could not have done this by myself at that time, but with my official we did.
Then came the attempt. There were two or three people in this room and they were all talking together about the horror of this great disaster and about the probability of people coming back. They were holding a séance, and my official showed me how to make my presence known. The controlling force, he told me, was thought. I had to visualize myself among these people in the flesh. Imagine I was standing there in the flesh, in the center of them, and then imagine myself still there with a strong light thrown upon me….Create the picture. Hold the visualization very deliberately and in detail, and keep it fixed upon my mind, that at that moment I was there and that they were conscious of it.
I failed, of course, at first, but I know that after a few attempts I succeeded and those people did actually see me. My face only, but that was because in my picture I had seen myself only as a face. I imagined the part they would recognize me by. I was also able to get a message in the same way. Precisely the same way. I stood by the most sensitive present, and spoke and concentrated my mind on a short sentence, and repeated it with much emphasis and deliberation until I could hear part of it spoken by this person. I knew that at last I had succeeded, and I succeeded reasonably easily because I knew so intimately what the conditions of those people and that earth room were. Many who had not my earth knowledge made little impression at all.
There was none of my own family present that time. Had there been it would have made it impossible for me, as I was then feeling their sorrow acutely, and I would not have been able to give my mind so full a power as I did – I became almost impersonal. It was a good thing that my first attempt was purely a test one – to see if I could break through to home. (W.T. Stead, BI, 86-90.)
If I had set out to write a scientific treatise of the life on this side, I should have begun in quite a different way from this. In the first place, I should have postponed the labour about ten years, until all my facts were pigeon-holed and docketed; then I should have begun at the beginning and dictated a book so dull that you would have fallen asleep over it, and I should have had to nudge you from time to time to pick up the pencil that had fallen from your somnolent hand.
Instead, I began to write soon after coming out, and these letters are really the letters of a traveler in a strange country. They record his impressions, often his mistakes, sometimes perhaps his provincial prejudices; but at least they are not a rehash of what somebody else has said. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVII.)
The Benefits of Talking with a Medium
It’s ever such a help to do this, it kind of gives me more pep to get into close touch with my pals. It would be much better if you could have a talk with more of us. You give us confidence. So often we cannot see the result of our work, but now I can feel and see your reactions, and it makes real work, like I expect it does for you. Something to show for it. Thank you ever so much. (Gunner Simson in MM, 30.)
It’s the most extraordinary thing, but I feel so much better, more myself, less vague and far more composed after I have been writing through you. It seems to focus my mind by giving me a sense of that rock-like existence which it was on the physical plane. (Unnamed country doctor in AL, 26.)
I have so enjoyed writing that because it clears my head and puts the sequence of the growth of awareness in its right place. (Rosamund Lehmann’s daughter Sally in AL, 187.)
You’ve no idea how refreshed and free I feel after I’ve written a letter through you. (Sir Alvary Gascoigne in AL, 113.)
It is so nice to go on talking like this. (Sir Ronald Fraser in AL, 176.)
The Difficulties of Communicating
Before you could raise yourself up to this plane, you would have to raise your vibrations to the speed of mine. Likewise, when I need to regress myself back to your world, I have to reduce my vibrations to their slowest rate. This isn’t easy, Dad. Some of it is downright painful. It’s like putting on a strait-jacket. I have to constrict myself more and more, like the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, until my vibrations are moving as slowly as yours. (Mike Swain, FMW, 55.)
Your Mother rarely, almost never, returns directly to the Borderland realm where intercommunications takes place. Not finding a medium attuned to her as I do, that is natural. But she is aware of everything that affects those whom she loves, and in supreme moments is with them, unseen but seeing, unheard but hearing. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 68.)
Departing the Borderlands
Personality Remains the Same; Death-bed Repentances are Useless
In the next sphere we are little changed. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTTT, n.p.)
[People] have not changed much in passing through the doors of death. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXIX.)
It’s just like an old puffadder changing its skin. You will still be the same old puffadder when you’ve wriggled out of it. (Grace McLean in LFM, 113.)
I am exactly the same person now [as I was]. (Frances Banks, TOL, 37.)
You will have the same thoughts and opinions on the other side as on earth. You do not change, unless you are an old soul who has had some of that understanding in the body. (Unnamed spirit teacher in Betty Bethards, TIND, 12.)
Souls are exactly the same the instant after passing into spirit life as they were the instant before. Death-bed repentances are of no avail, since the majority of them are but cowardice born of fear of what is about to happen – a fear of the theologically-built eternal hell that is such a useful weapon in the ecclesiastical armoury and one that has perhaps caused more suffering in its time than many other erroneous doctrines. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 17.)
It is quite erroneous to suppose that because a man was a man on earth, he will become a spirit angel the moment he dies. Death is only the doorway from one room to another, and both rooms are very similarly furnished and arranged. (W.T. Stead, BI, xxix-xxx.)
The next step after death is only a very little one. You do not go from indifferent manhood to perfect godliness! It is not like that; it is all progress and evolution, and as with people, so with lands. The next world is only a complement of your present one. (W.T. Stead, BI, 48.)
There is no sudden metamorphosis from an idle person into an active person, from a money-centered person into a God-centered person. This is not an automatic thing. Your personality – your likes and dislikes, your hopes, your fears – are still attached to you, although in a more nebulous form than when you are on earth in a physical body. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 53.)
I see people come over. They arrive and have high hopes that everything is going to be different for them. However, / nothing can be different for them because they have brought with them what they are. There is so much harmony here, and if they have brought a disharmonious personality with them, they find it very difficult to link in with the harmonious existence that we have. This is something that grieves me when I see it. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 53-4.)
I have learned one thing already that it seems to me the earth people should be told. It is that we cannot change our character at the moment of death. What we have made of ourselves during our earth life determines what we will be here to a very large extent. I suppose one who was malicious or criminal there will in time change his character here: but the characteristics which caused him to turn to an evil life there will be his strong characteristics here; and he will have to learn how to turn these to better use.
I think this point is not at all realized on earth. Those who believe the Bible teachings are too often filled with the idea that repentance will remake them, no matter what kind of a life they have [led]. And those who do not have this idea are usually lacking in any conclusion on the subject. (Newcomer to spirit in LHH, 36.)
“Death works no miracle,” and you wake up here the same personality exactly that left the earth-plane. Your individuality is intact, and your “spirit-body” a replica of the one you have left, down to small details – even deformities remain, though I am told they lessen and disappear in time. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 10.)
Life goes on without any miracle…. The human soul begins here as it left off there…. There is no wonderful transformation of character…. Evil remains evil until the soul turns of its own accord toward the good…. Sin does reap its own reward… There is no hell except the one created by one’s own self… All, all, can rise through gloom, disappointment, sin and selfishness, to something high, holy and grand, and forever and forever live in happiness and usefulness: Are these things [not] worth the thought of mortals?
That is what we believe and why we try to send the truths of this life to earth. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 91.)
A person is exactly the same spiritually the moment after he has ‘died’ as her was the moment before. No instantaneous change takes place to turn an earthly lifetime of evil into good. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 186.)
No magical, instantaneous change takes place [upon death] either of mind or body. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 39.)
We pass into the spirit world with all our earthly likes and dislikes, all our fancies and foibles, all our idiosyncrasies, and with all our religious errors fast upon us. We were just as we were on earth, though it does not follow in every instance that we will behave just as we did on earth. In the spirit world, we have more freedom of expression and, gravitating as we do to our own temperamental and spiritual kind, we are not diffident of giving open expression to our thoughts and feelings, and thus presenting, at last, a true picture of ourselves as we really are.
Some minds are quick to grasp new ideas and new truths. Some are quick to grasp truth in place of falsehood or untruth. People of this mental caliber soon readjust their views, and so become in harmony with their new life and surroundings. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 39.)
I am still scholarly, given to my studies, where others for example are concerned with emotional relationships and would be involved in different kinds of encounters both with their own environment and yours. …
The fact of death does not make the coward into a hero or the fool into a wise man, true; yet those judgments are highly limiting to begin with, and death does bring a man into his own estate. That is, he sees his own characteristics and abilities in a clearer light and after the first shock of surprise he usually views himself with a more generous, lively compassion than he did before. (William James, ADJ, 123-4.)
When the soul leaves the body it remains exactly the same as when it was in the body. … [The soul] retains the mind, the knowledge, the experience, the habits of thought, the inclinations … exactly as they were. (Julia Ames, AD, 47.)
Though the conditions of existence are altered, the life itself remains the same. (Julia Ames, AD, 64.)
Do you think that, if the bundle of passionate and eager forces which make up what you call your Ego were to come here, if the earthly house of your tabernacle were to be dissolved, that you would, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, be quite other than you are? Would that spirit of yours be freed from the characteristics which make you really you? No…. Individuality is not eliminated, but rather accentuated in its essence and harmonized in its accidents. The trouble in the world is that there it is the other way. There is so much friction in the horns and hoofs and armour of individuality that the real individuality often perishes. (Julia Ames, AD, 82.)
When the man dies he wakes up himself and no other. He is still he, she, she. If a child, he wakes up a child; if an old man, he wakes up an old man. If it were not so, you would lose your identity and imagine that you have been incarnated in another body. (Julia Ames, AD, 160.)
There is much that a man must leave behind, but there are possessions which he brings over here. A proud spirit does not become humble because its owner has lost his wealth, nor does the spirit of jealousy die with death. These and many [other qualities] persist, just as kindness and sympathy and pity persist. And they torment their owners here as with you, only worse. The difference between the worlds is at the beginning chiefly in the sudden loss of all the materialities of your world. The man comes naked into this world as he came into yours. (Julia Ames, AD, 186.)
When you “die,” … you are instantly in the fourth dimension. Yet you are in the same environment in which you find yourselves now. If you have a happy environment, one of harmony that you have created on the earth plane, you will find the same on the other side. It is dependent upon self, for self makes its own heaven, its own hell. Self brings about its own pain in order to grow.
However, your senses will be much more developed once you have left the body. If you have prepared for this, the beauty you will find there will far surpass anything you are able to experience here without the spiritual insights. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 15.)
Those people who think of their departed friends as being all-wise, how disappointed they would be if they could know that the life on this side is only an extension of the life on earth! If the thoughts and desires there have been only for material pleasures, the thoughts and desires here are likely to be the same. I have met veritable saints since coming out; but they have been men and women who held in earth life the saintly ideal, and who now are free to live it. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVI.)
As the soul lives in the earth-life, so does it go to spirit-life. Its tastes, its predilections, its habits, its antipathies, they are with it still. It is not changed save in the accident of being freed from the body. The soul that on earth has been low in taste and impure in habit does not change its nature by passing from the earth-sphere, any more than the soul that has been truthful, pure, and progressive becomes base and bad by death.
Wonderful that you do not recognise this truth! You would not fancy a pure and upright soul degenerating after it has passed from your gaze. Yet you fable a purification of that which has become by habit impure and unholy, hating God and goodness, and choosing sensuality and sin. The one is no more possible than the other.
The soul’s character has been a daily, hourly growth. It has not been an overlaying of the soul with that which can be thrown off. Rather it has been a weaving into the nature of the spirit that which becomes part of itself, identified with its nature, inseparable from its character. It is no more possible that that character should be undone, save by the slow process of obliteration, than that the woven fabric should rudely cut and the threads remain intact.
Nay, more. The soul has cultivated habits that have become so engrained as to be essential parts of its individuality. The spirit that has yielded to the lusts of a sensual body becomes in the end their slave. It would not be happy in the midst of purity and refinement. It would sigh for its old haunts and habits. They are of its essence. (Spirit leader Imperator in Stainton Moses, ST, 26.)
Our “Dossier” Comes with Us
A newly-arrived person, still surrounded by his earth aura, carries his “dossier” imprinted round him, to anyone skilled to read thought webs. Those who are not skilled are best not to know. It is no business of theirs, as they are not very advanced. (Philip Gilbert to his mother, Alice, in PTS, 27.)
Not only is the past life laid bare to himself, but it is patent also to all his friends, for the spirit shows in his person the sort of life has had led in the past, and he cannot change the appearance of the picture until he has obliterated the recollection of all that was evil by making restitution to those he has wronged and obtaining the forgiveness of those he has injured. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SRE, 41.)
The old idea of a Recording Angel, whose especial function is to inscribe in a great book all our good deeds, is poetic enough, but completely wrong. (1) We do our own recording for ourselves and this is one instance at least when we speak truly! We cannot hide our bad deeds, but, also, we cannot conceal our good deeds. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 17.)
- (1) Monsignor Benson overlooks the existence of the Akashic Records. It is apparently true that the individual’s aura contains the record of his or her life, but it is also apparently true that all actions are recorded on the akasha.
Where Do We Go from Here?
I come now to the last days on the Blue Island and the taking up of our residence on the next and far more permanent world. The Blue Island is a transient life; a land for acclimatizing the newcomer, and as soon as he’s fit, he passes from it to what I might term the Real World, inasmuch as each one will be much longer on it than any has yet been on earth. We can at will return to the Blue Island, and many do so frequently, both to meet newly arrived friends and associates, and to help any person or group with whom we are in sympathy. These are only visits, and we do not ever again return there to live. (W.T. Stead, BI, 127.)
Betty (1) passed through the vestibule stage very quickly; it was important to her not to remain very long. She was able to make a quick transition because she had been a medium herself and was already familiar with the inner planes consciously. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 72.)
- (1) Betty White, wife of Stewart White, with whom she collaborated on a number of books about the two worlds.
Destination Depends on Life Lived
You earn wherever you go. (Unnamed spirit teacher in Betty Bethards, TIND, 18.)
However he has lived his life on the earth side determines how high he can go into the light on our side. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 43.)
Each man earns his environment by his conduct. By the working of the natural law you gravitate to the place for which you are suited; what is within you draws you automatically. (Unnamed spirit in CB, 7.)
The newly transported soul graduates always to its rightful place, to the place it has earned and prepared. (Frances Banks, TOL, 61.)
After the death of the physical body we gravitate to our rightful place: a mansion, a cottage, even a hovel, as we have earned. It is essential therefore to regard life experience, whilst / in incarnation on the earth plane as a preparation for this existence. (Frances Banks, TOL, 105-6.)
The ‘subjective’ or inner content of my thoughts, aspirations and desires here and now will fashion the ‘objective’ place to which I will pass on to the next stage of my journey, just as the inner life of the soul within the body-mind on earth decides the first future ‘home’ on this level.
More and more important therefore and invaluable is the / inner life of meditation and contemplation and at-one-ment with Divine Beauty and Truth. The saying on earth, ‘As a man thinks, so is he,’ is true in essence, truer than our ideas can conceive. By man’s thoughts and inspirations he weaves for himself his future place in this dimension. This is logical Law. (Frances Banks, TOL, 60-1.)
‘Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ may be taken as having a factual meaning. (Frances Banks, TOL, 61.)
Thoughts are truly things. That is why, when an entity comes over to this plane, he, or she, automatically graduates to the rightful plane. That is Law. (Frances Banks, TOL, 87.)
One who has lived an ordinary good life, shall we say, doing the right things, attending to his outward religious observances, but all the time concealing within himself black thoughts of envy, malice, uncharitableness, will find himself in the company of such as he is. Dismay / will fill his soul until he realizes that this great Law is just and until he makes an effort to adjust his thinking to Love, Charity, Truth and try to redress the wrongs he has worked on others. In these efforts there is always help at hand, always more advanced souls ready to comfort, to listen and to teach him. There are souls, too, ready to guide him to higher realms and to happier company. (Frances Banks, TOL, 87-8.)
If the earth-life has been a pure and good one, you are raised – usually in an unconscious condition – to the sphere for which your spiritual perception has made you ready. (Therold, FMABL, 95.)
In the etheric and astral world – the “lower astral” being the earth-bound, and the “lowest” astral being the dregs of creation merging into negation – an entity lives for a time in its own previous thought world, drawn by magnetism to its own kind. If it is only slightly evolved, it is “earth-bound” as I described and often very lonely, unhappy or frustrated because it has all the disadvantages of being a “vapour” from an earth point of view and yet cannot acquire knowledge to use the overwhelming advantages of its new phase of existence.
But … the average decent sort of chap senses light at once: a distant [glimmer] of light which pulls at him and, if he then wills to evolve, he is helped. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 23-4.)
It is almost like a clearing house [here], for the positive and negative currents seem to focus there, and each have tremendous force, which is reflected into the earth form in which incarnate people live. These forces are let play uninsulated upon the newly-dead. They are attracted by their kind and repelled by their opposites, and so the process of ‘separating the sheep from the goats’ begins, slowly but inexorably.
It is upon this plane that the fiercest struggle between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ takes place, but the advantage, to those who have tried to live decent lives, is that it is so much easier to be ‘good’ here. Freed from the worries of the physical vehicle, equipped with a fleet and subtle body, and with that marvelous light gleaming afar off, seeing the worthwhile work there is to do, appreciating as never before the amazing conception of Universal law and one’s own part in it, and tasting that deep joy one feels every time one has aligned oneself with this harmonious whole – all these make it easy to be ‘good,’ if one is given that way.
But, of course, the reverse also applies so that, to the average person who is a mixture of good and bad, there is still plenty to fight. One can only enter, even for a flash, the next stage of ‘consciousness’ if the ‘good’ (harmony) in one’s make-up outweighs considerably the ‘bad,’ because, as you know from your writings, it is a matter of rapid ‘power vibrations’ given out from an everlasting Source. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 203-4.)
Ruth [Montgomery], we want you to wake up the people there to the importance of this towering truth. They, with their thoughts, are not only creating the pattern of their future lives but their heaven or hell. (Arthur Ford in WB, 16.)
We construct our own surroundings here by the creative power of our own thoughts. You are doing the same although it is not apparent to you. … You construct you own surroundings even in that opaque and circumscribed outer world by your own thinking. Where do your chains of thoughts lead? Are they chains holding you down or are they threads of light leading you upward? (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 60-1.)
Each character creates its own surroundings, and, in your probation sphere, the character of the spirit is formed. Every act goes to build up the character that is perpetuated and the home that you are hereafter to inhabit. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTTT, n.p.)
The spirit incarnated in your world settles for itself its position after it has been freed from the body, by the deeds done in the body. According as they have been good or evil, they cause it to gravitate to a higher or lower sphere, or to a higher or lower state in the sphere for which it is fitted. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
The judgment is complete when the spirit gravitates to the home which it has made for itself. There can be no error. It is placed by the eternal law of fitness. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 156.)
And now [after death], what happens next? Just this: the person who has just passed into spirit lands goes to his own self-appointed place. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 17.)
What may happen to us immediately after the [magnetic] cord is severed may vary infinitely according to the multiplicity of human temperaments which go to make up the populations of the earth and according to the wide divergence in degrees of spirituality possessed by the new arrivals. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 42.)
We are not pontifically welcomed among the ‘elect.’ We are not made free citizens of these realms because we have been ‘saved’ through believing in some strange, obscure theological creed. We are not here because we have been ‘redeemed’ through the offices of another. We are here solely because we have, by our lives in earth or by our progress in the spirit world, earned the right to call ourselves citizens of these realms. We are here because no one can keep us out! Once we have the right to be here, no one can gainsay that right, no one can dispute it, no one would dispute it even if he could. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 24.)
All places are not open to us here. There are many realms where we are not able to enter except in very special circumstances, or only if our progression permits. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 23.)
Each soul as it passed into spirit passed into that realm for which it had fitted itself when upon the earth – into that realm and no other. Edwin had in the beginning described this land as the land of the great harvest – a harvest that was sown on earth. We could judge for ourselves, then, whether we considered that harvest a good one or a poor one. We should find that there were others infinitely better – and others infinitely worse. In plain words, there are other realms immeasurably more beautiful than that in which we were now happily living; realms of unsurpassing beauty into which we cannot penetrate until such time as we have earned the right to enter, either as visitors or as inhabitants. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 55.)
What really counts in our earthly lives is the motive behind our deeds. Our motives may be of the highest, but the actual deed may have a poor external appearance. And the reverse is equally true. For example, a man may give vast sums of money for some charitable purpose with the sole thought of personal publicity and self-aggrandizement. While the gift itself may do great good to those upon whom it is bestowed, the motive behind the gift will not be to the giver’s spiritual advantage. But if this same donor were to perform a small service to another person in difficulty or similar circumstances, all unwitnessed by a third party, and with the sole intention of helping a fellow mortal in distress, such unobtrusive and stealthy service brings a rich reward to him who performs it. It is motive, always, that counts.
The richest services are most often those that are performed without a fanfare of trumpets. So many of us here in the spirit world are surprised when we discover that some small service that we have done – and immediately afterwards forgotten – has helped us in our spiritual progression to an extent that we should scarcely have thought possible. But here we see things in their proper light – that is, in their true light – because they are registered within ourselves in their true light.
So, you see, we need no one to condemn us. No one could condemn us more strictly, more exactly, more truly and efficiently than we do ourselves. When we come to the spirit world at our dissolution we thus find ourselves in the precise environment for which we have fitted ourselves. That environment may be one of darkness or of light, or it may be one of gloomy greyness. But, whatever it may be, we have ourselves to thank or blame for it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 17-8.)
Character is the Passport to Heaven
The character determines the / exterior, and purity of soul expresses itself in purity of appearance. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in SW, 96-7.)
Life is good when character is good, but not when character is evil. We must overcome evil and change it into good. That is our mission. (Spirit control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 80.)
Character is of the first importance. As a man lives on earth, so he will appear on this side. Slipping out of the mortal body does not always mean entrance into perfect happiness. Justice, purity, unselfishness and kindness of heart are the passports to the heavenly life. If these are lacking, they must be acquired and sometimes the effect of mortal sin makes this acquirement very difficult and often the time is long and unhappiness great before the evil is eliminated from the soul. We cannot make this too strong or the caution too serious! (Spirit control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 137.)
Purgatory is Not Associated with a Single Location
This consciousness which is called ‘Purgatory,’ (1) is not a continuous state which goes on until the last ‘scoria’ has been burnt. … Experience, … mine and that of many others, shows that this state comes and goes, takes place and passes, one does not know how or when. (Albert Pauchard quoted in LO, 104.)
Between each plane or new chapter in experience there is existence in Hades or in an intermediate state, when the soul reviews his past experiences and makes his choice, deciding whether he will go up or down the ladder of consciousness. (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)
Between each plane there is this lapse into apparent oblivion, a stilling of all processes, a great calm. It is called Hades by the ancients. Here the soul seems to pause. Slowly, however, vision returns, the traveller perceives, imaged upon the glimmering sea of eternity, all his experiences on previous planes; all the past images that make up the story of his life are spread before him. He studies them in the light of his Unifying Principle or spirit. They rouse, according to his nature, his varying desires, intellectual and emotional.
He knows then that he must choose either to go forward or backwards. The spirit actually forces the choice. It has to be made according to the fullness of his experiences in the previous life. He has entire free will, but inevitably he chooses his greatest need. When at the gate of Illusion-land, the Animal-man chooses to drop back into a physical existence. When at the gate of the many-colored world, the Soul-man sometimes chooses to drop back into the first division of this region, which, in its last divisions, is the apotheosis of form. (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)
When the [spirit’s rightful] place is settled it comes to pass that those who are entrusted with the mission educate it, and purge away false notions, and lead it to ponder on former sins, and so to desire to remedy their consequences. This is the first step in progress.
The purification continues until the spirit has been so far cleansed as to rise into a higher state, and there again the process is continued until the spheres of purification are passed, and the spirit, refined and purified, rises into the spheres of education. There further knowledge is instilled; the soul is refined and made fit to shake off still more of the material, and to undergo a further process of sublimation. And this continues until the material is entirely purged away, and the spirit is fitted to enter into the spheres of contemplation. Then we lose sight of it. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
Changing Descriptions of Life on the Other Side Arise Because People Leave the Borderland and Go to Their True Destination
When I was contacted after my death, I gave a number of descriptions about what I was experiencing at the time. These were descriptions of the vestibule. (1) Obviously, after someone passes out of the vestibule, his descriptions of the afterlife will greatly change. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 70.)
- (1) I.e., the Borderlands.
The time period when I was being contacted after my death covered many months and included several gaps. During this time, as I was describing what was happening to me, I was beginning to make the transition out of the vestibule. And so one account might be quite different from an earlier one because I had moved on to another stage. Of course, if I were to describe the conditions where I am now it would sound entirely different from anything published in Raymond.
The old idea that “in my Father’s house there are many mansions” applies to the inner planes…. You might live in California during one stage of your physical life and then move on to another location later on. You can do the equivalent of that on the inner planes, not by going to some place far away, but by going to a different stage. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 72-3.)
Most Do Not Regret Dying
Death was an awakening more beautiful than I could have imagined. … How comforting it is not to have a physical body anymore. (Sigwart, BOTR, 4-5.)
[The Sisters] explain this new adventure to me. For this is an adventure; that is how I feel about this new life I am now living. It is an adventure … probably not permanent … for nothing is permanent, not even here! But it is truly stimulating and very satisfying. (Frances Banks, TOL, 32.)
I am at the beginning of a very exciting quest, instead of at the end of all my researches, which I had expected. (Unnamed scientist in Frances Banks, TOL, 41.)
When you stand alone for the first time on this side, there is not always, as you would think, a great longing to go back to the world you have quitted. The first sense is not that, but of awe and curiosity as to the new world. When I awoke, I was so astonished and amazed at what I saw and at the strangeness and the sameness, I did not want to come back. (Julia Ames, AD, 68-9.)
I did not think much during the journey of those whom I had left behind. They were alive and well and they would soon come over and be with me. The overpowering rush of new sensations seemed to leave no room for regrets or thoughts of the old life. (Julia Ames, AD, 77.)
The body is such a miserable substitute for the spirit in which we live and move and act as we think. … It would be all loss and no gain. There is nothing the body can give me that I do not now enjoy. … Much that I now enjoy I should lose by being again in my body. (Julia Ames, AD, 69.)
I am rather vague as to who is “alive” and who is “dead,” they all look much alike, but the “dead” are far more active and don’t get tired. I should never go back alive. But my parents would never understand how much more alive I am now, so it’s no use my trying to tell them. (Gunner Simons in MM, 30.)
One of the strangest things is that we all feel happy. I wasn’t one of the naturally happy ones on Earth. I worried and fidgeted and found time lagged more than most people. But here there is a sort of care-free feeling, and no time to lag, so I can’t work up any regret over leaving my body. I stay right here. Our boys are happy, too, all of them, and the others are having such a rough time that it’s up to us to stay by them. (Gunner Simons in MM, 30.)
It’s grand finding that nothing has been wasted. I have all the faculties now that I longed to have on Earth. Oh, it’s simply grand. (A Highlander taken prisoner on Crete in MM, 31.)
I have been away from my earth life now a number of earth years, and although I have been in constant and unbroken touch with my old conditions and affections, I have never, since leaving the Blue Island, (1) had any desire to return to the earth for habitation. (W.T. Stead, BI, 137.)
- (1) Stead’s name for the Borderlands.
You see here, in this borderland, we feel much more vividly, and can be easier helped and hurt, than when protected by the material envelope of the body. That is why comparatively few return to the earth-sphere. They would reap sorrow rather than joy. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 22.)
We had a hearty laugh over our ghostly experience [dying in a car accident], but also mingled with sorrow for our families left behind, two of whom were badly injured at the time we were killed. But as time passes, and we learn of the beauties and joys of this life, we realize that we have lost our desire to really return to earth life, and we anticipate now the things that we may attain in the future. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 28.)
We are not developed enough to even conceive what lies before us. But be sure of one thing, absolutely sure: You will never miss your human body, nor want to exist in one again. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 147.)
‘Did you not believe in spirit communication?’ “Not entirely. How can a person believe in unseen powers when he is absorbed and narrowed by the seen? – by the essentials of that life? I did not, at all events. And I approached the close of life with a fear that was almost horror. I was not wicked, as the world thinks of wickedness, but bound by the material and visible. And when the final test came I could not find the spiritual and unseen. So I passed. And my friends must have had little consolation in the thought of my entering upon new conditions.” ‘How did it fare with you?’ “I sank, out of extreme pain, into a sleep so gentle and peaceful, I think it would have been all right if I had never awakened again. But the waking came slowly, hardly consciously, until I finally knew that the terror was over, and about me were kindness and helpfulness. You probably cannot imagine those first moments of exquisite joy that I felt in the new life, a new opportunity to ‘make good,’ in a way, in a small way, but with such visions of larger opportunity before me that the life here has become truly the great adventure.” (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 97-8.)
The dead still love those they loved in life, but they understand the emotion far better than they did before and, in a way … difficult to express, they do not miss the living. They do not feel absent from the living, only present in an entirely different fashion than the living can fathom. In this, of course, they have the advantage and it is to relieve the loneliness of the living that the dead communicate, even while knowing that such communications themselves can make the living only more anxious.
The dead in their way are jealous of their freedom and sometimes their communications take the form of hasty, “Yes, I’m all right” messages, shouted over a mental shoulder. Some people forget to send letters when they travel, caught up as they are in new experiences. Similarly, the dead are so involved in their own adventures that sometimes they ignore the nagging of the living, whose thoughts rise up like mental kites, with reminders, saying “Why haven’t you written?” (William James, ADJ, 123.)
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