Arrival in the Astral Plane
Msgr Benson: Hurried Through the Borderlands and the Lower Astral
Ed. Msgr Robert Hugh Benson’s transition directly from physical death to the Astral Plane is an alternative to the passage from death to the Borderlands. Instead of including his discussion of his transition in the chapters on death and the Borderlands, his full discussion is included here. Rather than being a repetition, I hope the reader will view it as an alternative discussion of events.
Edwin later informed me that I had passed through the lower spheres – and unpleasant ones – but that through the authority of his mission of coming to help me into my realm, we were both fully protected from any and every description of unpleasant influence. We were in effect completely invisible to all but those of our own realm and higher. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s friend Edwin to Benson through Anthony Borgia, LIWU, 59.)
My own passage … was easy and comfortable and I was certainly not aware of any distress when the actual moment arrived for the magnetic cord to break from my physical body. As far as I was concerned there was no shock or struggle, no unpleasant circumstances of any description. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, who believed in an afterlife and had some psychic abilities, in HH, 16.)
Where is the boundary between the earth world and the spirit world? Upon the instant of my passing, … I was fully conscious, when I arose from my bed in response to a very definite urge. At that moment I was in the spirit world. The two worlds, then, must interpenetrate one another. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s friend Edwin to Benson, LIWU, 58-9.)
The actual process of dissolution is not necessarily a painful one. I had during my earth life witnessed many souls passing over the border into spirit. I had had the chance of observing with the physical eyes the struggles that take place as the spirit seeks to free itself forever from the flesh. With my psychic vision I had also seen the spirit leave. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 9.)
I had a presentiment that my days on earth were drawing to a close only a short while before my passing. There was a heaviness of the mind, something akin to drowsiness, as I lay in bed. Many times I had a feeling of floating away and of gently returning. … During such lucid intervals that I had, I endured no feelings of physical discomfort. I could see and hear what was going on around me and I could ‘sense’ the mental distress that my condition was occasioning. And yet I had the sensation of the most extraordinary exhilaration of the mind. I knew for certain that my time had come to pass on and I was full of eagerness to be gone. I had no fear, no misgivings, do doubts, no regrets – so far – at thus leaving the earth world. … All that I wanted was to be away.
I suddenly felt a great urge to rise up. I had no physical feeling whatever, very much in the same way that physical feeling is absent during a dream, but I was mentally alert, however much my body seemed to contradict such a condition. Immediately I had this distinct prompting to rise, I found that I was actually doing so. I then discovered that those around my bed did not perceive what I was doing, since they made no effort to come to my assistance, nor did they try in any way to hinder me. Turning, I then beheld what had taken place. I saw my physical body lying lifeless upon its bed, but here was I, the real I, alive and well.
For a minute or two 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. I looked down at myself wondering what I was wearing in the way of clothes, for I had obviously risen from a bed of sickness and was therefore in no condition to move very far from my surroundings. I was extremely surprised to find that I had on my usual attire, such as I wore when moving freely and in good health about my own house. My surprise was only momentary since, I thought to myself, what other clothes would I expect to be wearing? Surely not some sort of diaphanous robe. Such costume is usually associated with the conventional idea of an angel and I had no need to assure myself that I was not that!
Such knowledge of the spirit world as I had been able to glean from my own experiences instantly came to my aid. I knew at once of the alteration that had taken place in my condition; I knew, in other words, that I had ‘died.’ I knew, too, that I was alive, that I had shaken off my last illness sufficiently to be able to stand upright and look about me. At no time was I in any mental distress, but I was full of wonder at what was to happen next, for here I was, in full possession of my faculties and, indeed, feeling ‘physically’ as I had never felt before. … the whole process must have taken but a few minutes of earth time. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 10-11.)
There came a moment when the physical sensations attendant upon my last illness left me abruptly and in place of them a delightful feeling of bodily ease and peace of mind completely enveloped me. I felt that I wanted to breathe deeply and I did so. The impulse to rise from my bed and the passing of all physical sensations mark the instant of my physical ‘death’ and my birth into the world of spirit. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 127.)
The final illness – the serious one – was too much for the physical body and my transition took place. And immediately I knew what it felt like to be a spirit person.
As I stood talking to Edwin I felt, physically, a giant, in spite of the fact that I had just departed from a bed of sickness. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 150-1.)
As time went on, I felt even better. I had not the slightest suspicion of a twinge of pain and I felt light in weight. My mind was fully alert and I was aware of my [spirit] body only in so far as I could move my limbs and myself whenever I wished, apparently without any of the muscular actions that were but so recently familiar. It is extremely difficult to convey to you this feeling of perfect health, because such a thing is utterly impossible on earth and therefore I have nothing with which to draw a comparison or form an analogy for you. This state belongs to the spirit alone and completely defies any description in earthly terms. It must be experienced and that you will not able to do until you become one of us here yourself. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 151.)
Need for Convalescent Sleep upon Arrival
Ed. Some people leave their bodies, go directly to the Astral Plane, and take their convalescence on that plane rather than in the Borderlands. Usually their convalescence is shorter because their spiritual knowledge is greater.
The spirit longs to rest. There comes the great desire to sleep.
In that sleep a great deal happens but I don’t know enough yet to tell you all about it. It is not exactly a sleep, but your sleep in the earth life is very much the nearest thing to it. … All you know is that you wake up another being. When the spirit comes out of that sleep he knows where he is and what he is, as you sometimes wake up in the morning with some knotty problem solved.
Those who pass over with full knowledge and understanding of the life beyond do not need that sleep at all, unless they come over with their spirits tied by long illness or the worries of life. In practice almost everyone needs the sleep period for a shorter or a longer time. The greater the difficulty of the spirit in adjusting himself the new conditions, the longer and deeper the sleep period that is necessary.
How to describe what it feels like when you come out of that sleep. You know quite clearly that you are alive, without any muddle about thinking that you are still in the earth life. During that experience something has taught us and told us. (“Joe’s Scripts” in Paul Beard, LO, 62-3.)
Jeannie slipped back into the passive state of the newly-awakened into this consciousness. So we let her rest. (Frances Banks, TOL, 91.)
After the excitement of the funeral, [Walter McLean] sank into the normal lassitude that follows transition and is now resting in his own room in an exact replica of his house, which Vivian has prepared for him. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 40.)
At this point, (1) a great sense of adventure came over me. I felt quite ready to set out with them in search of a new life. But, shortly after this, I began to get tired again. Dad, however, told me not to worry, just to lean on them and they would take me to a place where I could rest. I, then, seemed to sleep again, for a while. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 27.)
- (1) After the funeral.
My friend [Edwin] asked me if I was tired. I had no ordinary sensation of earthly fatigue, but yet I felt somewhat the necessity for a bodily relaxation. He told me my last illness was the cause of such a desire and that if I wished I could pass into a state of complete sleep. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 15-6.)
Making myself ‘comfortable’ upon a couch [in my house], I sank into a delightful state of semi-sleep, in which I was fully conscious of my surroundings, yet at the same time I could feel a downpouring of new energy, which coursed through my whole being. I could feel myself becoming, as it were, lighter, with the last traces of the old earth conditions being driven away forever.
How long I remained in this pleasant state, I have no knowledge, but eventually I fell into a gentle slumber from which I awoke in that state of health which in the spirit world is perfect. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 22-3.)
My friend [Edwin] at once noticed a change in me and he congratulated me upon my regaining my full vigor. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 23.)
For a time the soul in transit may slumber, particularly if there has been undue shock or mental weakening. On this side, they let it sleep until it stirs and seems to feel need, of its own accord, for contact with those on this side. But sometimes the step across is so gentle as to seem like the wafting of a summer’s breeze. This was so in my case, because I knew enough of what to expect to welcome the shedding of the husk which was my ailing body. The pain ceased, the spirit departed, and here I was amid such beauty as you cannot dream. (Arthur Ford, WB, 15.)
At last I awoke. Then a new sensation came to me. It was as if I stood on a pinnacle, all that was essential of me. The rest receded, receded, receded. All appertaining to bodily life seemed to be dropping away down into a bottomless abyss. There was no feeling of irretrievable loss. My being seemed both minute and expansive at the same time. All that was not really me slipped down and away. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 18.)
The Full Formation of the Spirit Body
I will call her. She is quite near. Her new body is now almost formed. When it is complete she can face the new world and this life. (Spirit control Astor of Alice Ross to Geraldine Cummins, TS, 100.)
The mental images you are forming of me are not correct. I have not as yet disposed fully of the sheaths of the material world; therefore the ease of communication with you. It will be different later, more beautiful and more spiritualized, because I shall continue to shed more of the material substances. For this reason I may not approach you then as easily as now. (1) (Sigwart, BOTR, 5.)
- (1) Interestingly, the same process that Sigwart is describing himself going through immediately after his transition is the process he will go through in the “Second Death.” His words here are as applicable to his dropping of the astral body as they are to his dropping of the physical and etheric bodies.
“Hospitals” or Homes of Rest
My brother helped me into one of these Rest Halls. Confusion at once dropped away from me. Never shall I forget my happiness. I sat in the alcove of a splendid domed hall. The splashing of a fountain reached my tired being and soothed me. The fountain ‘played’ music, colour, harmony, bliss. All discordancies vanished and I was at peace. My brother sat near me. He could not stay long but promised to return. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 20.)
I suppose you could call this a hospital, a home of rest upon the Way and a ‘kinder-garten’ teaching-centre. All these terms would be correct. The weary souls, the frightened souls, the ignorant and ‘fallen’ souls, together with those who have been ‘rescued’ from the ‘Land of Shadows’ require understanding and explanation of their sore states, and there are some to whom Survival has to be explained, even demonstrated. Many will not accept the fact of death or prefer to consider that they still dream. You see how wide is our work and how, by teaching, we ourselves learn. By demonstrations of the results of other lives, I myself have learned much and I am still learning. (Frances Banks, TOL, 86.)
Sister Ursuline … will be going on to work at another ‘Receiving Sta/tion,’ for ours, I understand, is only one of many such Homes for Healing. (Frances Banks, TOL, 86-7.)
“I suppose this is … a sort of Heaven.”
“It’s the beginning of Heaven, Jeannie.”
“You mean we’re only starting? … We’re not there yet?”
“Not in the Heaven you mean, Jeannie. But we’re on our way there.” (Frances Banks explaining the hospital to twelve-year-old, newly-arrived Jeannie, TOL, 92.)
When a soul is sleeping it needs, not busy, over-occupied presences – only kindly watchers. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 7.)
In the great halls of rest there are expert nurses and spirit doctors ready to treat those whose last earthly illness has been long and painful or whose passing into spirit has been sudden or violent. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 169.)
Long illness has a tiring effect upon the spirit body – it would be more accurate to say an inhibiting effect upon the spirit body – and when, at last, the physical body is cast off, the spirit body usually goes to one of the numerous halls of rest with which the spirit world is plentifully supplied. There the new resident will pass into a state of pleasant sleep, ultimately to awake fully refreshed and reinvigorated. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 42-3)
[We saw in the distance what turned out to be] a home of rest for those who had come into spirit after long illness, or who had had a violent passing and who were, in consequence, suffering from shock. … As we drew near I could see that the [stately] building was in no sense a ‘hospital’ in outward semblance, whatever its functions might be. It was built in the classical style, two or three stories high and it was entirely open upon all sides. That is to say, it contained no windows as we know them on earth.
It was white in color as far as the materials of its composition were concerned, but immediately above it there was to be seen a great shaft of blue light descending upon and enveloping, the whole building with its radiance, the effect of which was to give a striking blue tinge to the whole edifice. This great ray was the downpouring of life – a healing ray – sent to those who had already passed here, but who were not yet awake. When they were filly restored to spiritual health, there would be a splendid awakening and they would be introduced to their new land. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 34-5.)
Occupying the whole of the floor space were extremely comfortable-looking couches, each of which bore a recumbent form, quite still and obviously sleeping profoundly. Moving quietly about were a number of men and women intent upon watching the different couches and their burdens.
I noticed as soon as we entered the hall that we came under the influence of the blue ray and its effect was one of pronounced energizing as well as tranquility. Another noticeable quality was the entire absence of any idea of an institution with its inevitable officialdom. … Those in attendance on the sleepers did so, not in the attitude of a certain task to be done willy-nilly, but as though they were performing a labor of love in the sheer joy of doing it. Such, indeed, was precisely the case. The glad awakening of these sleeping souls was an ever recurrent joy to them, no less than to the people who had come to witness it. …
Long illness prior to passing into the spirit world has a debilitating effect upon the mind, which in turn has its influence upon the spirit body. The latter is not serious, but the mind requires absolute rest of varying duration. Each case is treated individually and eventually responds perfectly to its treatment. During this sleep-state the mind is completely resting. There are no unpleasant dreams or fevers of delirium.
While gazing upon this perfect manifestation of Divine Providence, the thought came to me of those absurd earthly notions of ‘eternal rest,’ ‘everlasting sleep,’ and the many other equally foolish earthly conceptions, and I wondered if, by some chance or other, this sleep I was now beholding had been distorted by earthly minds into a state of eternal slumber, whither all souls pass at dissolution, there to await, in countless years’ time, the awful ‘last day’ – the dread ‘Day of Judgment.” Here was the visible refutation of such a senseless belief. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 37.)
In the halls of rest, … the doctors and nurses are always in attendance whatever else may be taking place in other parts of the sphere. Their devotion to duty is always instantly rewarded, for during the general celebrations of the realm the illustrious visitors from the upper realms make a special journey to the rest homes where they personally greet every one of the staff. The latter can afterwards arrange amicably for their own family and friendly festivities. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 179.)
Some Need Help to Awaken to Spirit Life
When a spirit first arrives it is cared for much as patients are entered in a hospital. They are helpless, and often remain so for long periods. In this condition they need little care. When sensation and consciousness begin to show, they need attention.
Many cannot be reached at all by their guides, as you know by those who have been brought to you. Sometimes they can be led from place to place, but that is all. Sometimes they need to be surrounded by guards to prevent them from running hither and thither without reason. When they can be made to realize that they still live and are in the spirit world, they can be easily managed. But the progress of each is according to the ability to receive and understand the teachings given them.
We think we can truthfully say that one-fourth of those who come to this side are made to understand the needs of spirit life in a reasonable time. But the remaining three-fourths are our problem and care. We do not mean that all of this large number are unable to advance, but that they are slow, and sometimes very slow.
We have many, many, whom we seem unable to help at all. We do not know that it is impossible for them to advance, but we do know that many of them have made no advancement since we came; and we are told that some of them have been in this condition for centuries.
It is pitiful. It seems to us unnecessary. It does not seem to be so much because of difference in ability, as from a state of mind brought about by forming wrong opinions and ideas when in earth life. And the position they occupied in that life seems not to have much to do with it. This makes us think that it is unnecessary, and we wish some way could be found that would make the world understand what is needed. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 154-5.) The primary need of the soul on arrival ‘over there’ is to be free, free first to sleep and then to learn how to use the new form now clothing him, and to begin to understand the strange conditions by which he finds himself surrounded. For these purposes it is imperative that all emotional disturbances should be avoided, especially those caused by the grief, depression, regret (and sometimes fear) of those he has left behind. This is especially important in cases where belief in an after life is faint or non-existent.
It is here that Providence steps in and acting at her most merciful, screens the soul (temporarily) from all these mundane contacts which could disturb or delay progress and understanding.
For those who do not realize the need for this protective screening process, what appears to be loss of contact can prove distressing. The ‘Interlude’ in question may last for weeks or even months of our ‘time’ and varies with each individual. (Wellesley Tudor Pole in PD, 94.)
The patients resting upon their couches looked very peaceful. Constant watch is kept upon them and, at the first flutterings of returning consciousness, others are summoned and all is ready for the full awakening. Some will wake up partially and then sink back again into slumber. Others will shake off their sleep at once and it is then that those experienced souls in attendance will have, perhaps, their most difficult task.
Until that moment, in fact, it has been mostly a matter of watching and waiting. In so many cases it has to be explained to the newly awakened soul that he has ‘died’ and is alive. They will remember usually their long illness, but some are quite unaware that they have passed over into spirit and when the true state of affairs has been gently and quietly explained to them, they often have an urgent desire to go back to the earth, perhaps to those who are sorrowing, perhaps to those for whose care and welfare they were responsible. They are told that nothing can be done by their going back and that others of experience will take care of those circumstances that are so distressing them. Such awakenings are not happy ones by comparison with those who wake up with the full realization of what has taken place. Were the earth more enlightened, this would be more often the case and there would be a great deal less distress to the newly awakened soul. …
We saw kind and patient spirits trying so hard to convince [some] people that they had really ‘died.’ And this hall of rest is but one place out of many where the same service is being carried on unceasingly and all because the earth world is so very superior in knowledge! (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 38.)
We were shown another large hall similarly appointed, where those whose passing had been sudden and violent were also in their temporary sleep. These cases were usually more difficult to manage than those we had just seen. The suddenness of their departure added far greater confusion to the mind. Instead of a steady transition, the spirit body had in many cases been forcibly ejected from the physical body and precipitated into the spirit world. The passing over has been so sudden that there seemed to them to be no break in their lives. Such people are taken in hand quickly by bands of souls who devote all their time and the whole of their energies to such work. And in the hall of rest we could now see the results of their labors. Had so many of these had but a small knowledge of spirit matters, these awakenings would have been so much happier.
I do assure you it is not a pleasant sight to see these gentle, patient helpers wrestling mentally – and sometimes almost physically – with people who are wholly ignorant of the fact that they are ‘dead.’ It is a most saddening sight, which I can vouch for from first-hand evidence, for have I not seen it? And who is to blame for this state of affairs? Most of these souls blame themselves when they have been here long enough to appreciate their new condition, or alternatively, they blame the world they have but recently left for tolerating such blindness and stupidity. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 38-9.)
Many with Spiritual Knowledge do not Need Convalescence
There are, as you wrote in your messages, places … created by very advanced entities, where people can go … with fountains, birds and incredibly lovely colour blending and rippling streams, and all the doings. They are used as rest-cure homes.
Fortunately I did not need one. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 121.)
It is difficult for me to visualize the condition of those … who cannot see the people here at the first because they think they are not killed as, from the first, as soon as I saw Grandpa, I knew, and when I got to you and saw you, you were the glowing aura with a dark physical centre that all human beings are. I could see the helpers all round you. There was never any plane of illusion for me, at all.
After my little sleep, which cleared my confused thoughts, I soon got going, as you know, and was able, with Grandpa’s help, to project a picture of myself on to your brain and to communicate with you. But then I was lucky – to have a psychic mother who’d put me wise to it all and to have a good deal of power myself, ready to tap, as I began to feel my way. In fact, to me, I’d come back to my real life! (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 206.)
Some Meet Their Loved Ones on Arrival in the Astral Plane
Our work is to be on hand when those newly-arrived entities awake to awareness. Sometimes their friends and loved ones already in these realms have been ‘alerted.’ Then we wait in the background until the greetings are over. In other cases, ours are the first ‘countenances’ they see; ours are the words of comfort, assurance, and welcome. (Frances Banks, TOL, 86.)
It was like coming home, to slip through that door and release the tired old body. In an instant, without conscious thought, I was surrounded by relatives and my mother was saying, “Hallelujah, Arthur. Welcome to Canaan Land.” (Arthur Ford in WB, 15.)
In these realms we receive our friends amid great rejoicings. Another friend has come to join us. We wear no black, we do not recite long gloomy prayers or perform harrowing ceremonies. Nor do we have a reception committee of ‘angels,’ as many people are disposed to imagine. … We merely behave in a normal, rational, human manner as one would expect from normal, rational, human beings. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 23-4.)
There were … numbers of friends who were waiting to meet me again after our long separation. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 7.)
The meetings with relations and friends are something that must be experienced in order to grasp the full significance and joy or reunion. Such meetings will only take place where there is mutual sympathy and affection. We will not, for the moment, consider any other. These gatherings will continue for some while after the arrival of the new resident. It is natural that in the novelty both of surroundings and condition some time should be spent in a grand exchange of news and in hearing of all that has transpired in the spirit lives of those who have ‘predeceased’ us. Eventually the time will come when the newly-arrived individual will begin to consider what he is to do with his spirit life. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 171.)
Some Meet Their Loved Ones After a Period of Convalescence on the Astral Plane
After the Change was over and I was free of my earthly ‘covering,’ I ‘woke up’ here. … I opened my eyes … or I just came back to consciousness … and there was Mother Superior just as she used to be and as I had remembered her for so many years.
She took my hand. She said: ‘So you have arrived safely?’ (Frances Banks in Paul Beard, LO, 63.)
[At the home of rest that Monsignor Benson visited] I noticed that there was quite a number of people seated upon the grass in the grounds or walking about. They were relatives and friends of those who were undergoing treatment within the hall of rest and whose awakening was imminent. Although, doubtless, they could have been summoned upon the instant when necessary, yet, following their old earthly instinct, they preferred to wait close at hand for the happy moment. They were all supremely joyful and very excited, as could be seen by the expressions on their faces and many were the friendly smiles we received as we walked among them. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 35.)
Some are Helped to Convalesce by Their Parents
After I woke up from the sleep of death, and following its uneasy dreams, some pleasant, some nightmares, my father and mother appeared to welcome me. Then your father and my sisters came. But my end was my beginning. I was too overjoyed perhaps at getting a glimpse of George, your brother, so father and mother soothed me, calmed me, took charge of me and gave me my first sense of locality and environment.
It as all rather gradual – [a] time of oblivion and unawareness, then these two were there beside me – my parents almost like doctor and nurse – and they guided me back into real consciousness. (Winifred Combe Tenant, SBS, 39 and 42.)
My parents, A.W. and Margaret, came from regions and appearances beyond my ken and adopted the old disguises. These are all in the litter of memory. They have appeared to me, as I remembered them in the earlier years of my life. They brought with them my very old-fashioned home of long ago and its dear, comfortable ugliness, its books, its papers and its flowers, even the photographs that figured in numbers in Victorian sitting-rooms, drawing-rooms, studies. How I am enjoying its dear atmosphere! I was very tired and it has been so restful to me – imbued as it is with the fragrance of many distant memories. Oh, it will change, I know. Later on – visitors, friends, the setting of another scene in my life. (Helen Salter in Paul Beard, LO, 67.)
I was back in the old house, enfolded in its studious contentment. They did not have a number of visitors. It was kept quiet to be a refuge of sheltering peace for me. (Helen Salter in Paul Beard, LO, 69.)
Sometimes an Interlude Intervenes
When the soul wakes up on this side it is often encompassed about by those whom it has loved and served in life. But sometimes a little space intervenes, as was my case. (Julia Ames, AD, 78.)
When the disembodied soul arrives here there is often an awkward pause. The new world into which he has entered is strange and he is a stranger. But the Agency which is at work here soon discovers what soul is friendless and alone. The angel who came to me was the servant of this Agency. The pause which is awkward is not longer than is necessary for the good of the new-comer. When he arrives he will, after this pause time, if there is no preparation personal to himself, be addressed by the Receiving Angel, who, as I explained, may or may not assume wings as credentials. If the arrival is prepared to receive the news of his awakening, there is little difficulty. There was none in my own and I was at once taken to those whom I knew. None of them were very near and dear to me or they would have been waiting for me. (Julia Ames, AD, 166.)
Friends and Relatives Can Assist the Bewildered New Arrival
I am no longer alone – I have met my dear brother. He came out here three years ago and has come down to welcome me. The tie between us is strong. William could not get near me for a long time, he says, the atmosphere was so thick. He hoped to reach me in time to avert the ‘shock’ to which I have referred, but found it impossible.
He is working among the newly arrived and has wide experience. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 19.)
Relatives and friends, who have passed on before us, can help in such extremities [as when the newly-departed arrives in a bewildered state] and they frequently do so. But some mutual interest must exist first, even if it does not reach to the state of affectionate regard. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 22.)
“We Do Have Bodies”
We Are Not Our Physical Bodies
The body is not really you. It is merely a container that exists for the soul to learn. (Thavis, TIH, 147.)
The average person does not know of what he himself is composed. He knows he has a physical body, of course. There are not many who can easily forget it! (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 13.)
The physical body he is fairly conversant with, but what of the soul and spirit? Of these two man knows little indeed. What he does not realize is that he is a spirit, first, last, and always. The physical body is merely a vehicle for his spirit body upon his journey through his earthly life. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 13.)
The Nature of the Astral Body
The spirit body which we all possess is the normal body. The earthly body, which temporarily covers the spirit body during its earthly passage, is a modification of the spirit body, an accommodation to earthly laws and conditions and modes of life. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 114-5.)
The spirit body is, broadly speaking, the counterpart of our earthly bodies. When we come into the spirit world we are recognizably ourselves. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
The astral body in which we live immediately after we have died is a duplicate of our physical body, except that it is made of a fine, tenuous substance. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 45.)
The [physical] mechanism you have is fine, and is for use so long as needed by mortal life. But beyond this equipment is the more delicate one of spirit power. We here are so conscious of the difference, so conscious of the super-excellence of our spirit power, that we cannot help expressing this to mortals when the talk turns toward the activities of the human body, with its machinery for its limited stay upon earth. The spirit life with its spirit equipment is so enormously better and finer than the mortal, we would like to have you understand a little the advantages and joys of spirit existence. Never doubt them. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 105-6.)
[The astral body] is … a structure so rare, so fine, that it is invisible to the mortal eye and eludes the finest instruments of the scientists. (Frederick W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)
The spirit-body has the same faculties as the natural, but, in addition, it has others which do not belong to your earth. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTTT, n.p.)
Our bodies are just as solid to us as yours are to you. Ours are, however, of a more refined and incorruptible nature. We cannot suffer physical injury of any kind and physical illness is unknown. But we can and do suffer mentally, with a degree of intensity very rare on earth, if we transgress the laws of our Heavenly Father. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 49.)
We have a much better-wearing body than the physical one we leave behind. It is composed of different elements from the physical one and does not need either food or sleep to replenish it. In appearance it is very much the same, but fresher looking. Lines and blemishes disappear, or rather are not apparent on the new body. Actually it is not new; we have had it all the time. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher, TR, 41.)
We do have bodies, do use hands, arms and feet, can talk, can sing if we wish. These are the mechanical processes that are puzzling you. We cannot throw entire light upon it all, but perhaps it may help you to think of the material from which our bodies are constructed. This body is unseen by you, but is with you now, else how could you think, how could you move, speak, sing; or how could the emotions stir your heart and brain? Invisibility is not nothingness; nor is spirit substance invisible to us. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 93.)
How does the spirit appear anatomically, you will ask? Anatomically, just exactly the same as does yours. We have muscles, we have bones, we have sinews, but they are not of the earth; they are purely of spirit. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
Does it seem strange that a spirit body should possess finger nails and hair? How would you have us be? Not different from yourselves in this respect, surely? Would we not be something of a revolting spectacle without our usual anatomical features and characteristics? This seems an elementary statement, but it is sometimes necessary and expedient to voice the elementary. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 154.)
Here I have a body, certainly, but it is of finer composition than my late physical body. Here I look as I did on earth, or relatively as I looked, but here I am free to refashion this body by thought. (Frances Banks, TOL, 107.)
‘We have been told that the spirit body could be contracted so that many could come into the room; that spirit could even balance on a needle point?’
“We know that is a problem with you. We could stand on a needle point because we could balance there and our weight would not destroy the needle. It means lightness rather than smallness there. We can go into a room, many, very many at a time, because we can contract a little. Do you not sometimes fold your arms tightly, or draw your feet under your chair, to create more room?”
“Something like this occurs with us – I mean analogous to that. We can fold ourselves more readily, and into smaller compass than the material body can do. But the effort is nearly the same. And no one feels crowded if one’s arms and bands are contracted, or if the body is drawn into its smaller circumference.” (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 93-4.)
My present body is made of chemicals, and gases, and atoms – atoms certainly of a finer kind than one / gets on the earth-plane. These are held together in much the same way as the atoms of the physical body, but this body does not disintegrate in the same way as the physical one does, because the life on the third Sphere (1) is sure to be as long and perhaps many times longer than the one on the earth-plane.
There is something substantial about my spirit-body. Suppose I had to leave the third Plane and to go to the fifth, sixth, or seventh Plane (for good I mean, not for a visit). I know then my entire etheric body would undergo a change: the atoms would be of a still lighter kind, because the nearer I go to the God-force, or Life-force, the more actual Life-force there is running through my body and holding those atoms together.
Because of this greater force in the higher spheres we would require less chemical matter.
On the third Plane the body in the way of its chemical constituents would be very much like that of the earth-plane – not so much in quantity, but the same in kind. Is it not correct that hydrogen and similar gases or chemicals can be obtained in a grosser or coarser or in a more refined state, a lighter state – lighter in pressure? Our bodies are made of the extremely refined variety.
Take coal, … for example; you can set / it alight in the raw state, and you have a coarse flame of gas, or even if we don’t light it we know there is gas there of a coarse kind. If that gas is taken and put through certain processes it becomes purer and more refined in nature, simply because it has passed through those processes. It has passed through and over something, and is farther from its foundation in the lump of coal. The gas is drawn from the coal and blown right across steam, and when it reaches the other side it is caught in a purer state.
Now we come to the point. The gases and chemicals that go to make up our physical bodies, we know, need not be drawn only from the surface, or just above it, of the earth-plane.
We have proved those gases exist some distance from the earthplane. The farther you go the purer and more refined in nature are those gases and chemicals. Just as your physical body is made of the grosser gases which belong to the earth-plane, so our bodies are made of the finer gases which exist in the air or atmosphere of our plane. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 62-4.)
- (1) I do not for certain know which plane the “third sphere” is. I hazard a guess that it is the Higher Summerlands, what are called the fifth, sixth, and seventh subplanes of the Astral Plane.
The Astral Body is not Our “Real” Body
It appears that. Even now, my ‘body’ that I see at present – made of fine ‘vibratory’ matter like steam is not the real me any more than my flesh body was. My real me sits inside it and is bounded by its laws just as yours is. (1) (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 124.)
- (1) Philip is probably referring to his mental body, but he may be referring to the immortal Self, the essence.
I no longer identify with my [existing] body, and, of course, it is not flesh and blood, though it seems to be when I want it to. (William James, ADJ, 165.)
I still have several ‘parts’ or ‘bodies’ and I marvel more as I recognize them. The ‘purely personal’ part of me is being cleansed and purified. I live mostly now in an astral body and that gives a measure of greater freedom than a dense physical body, but I am very much aware of my Higher Body, or, if you wish, my inner self, much more aware of it than when in incarnation in the physical plane of matter. I am now learning, and achieving I trust, a higher balance of living. By this I mean that I am becoming aware of my Spiritual Body and, in so doing, I am enabled to absent myself from this plane of thought, the astral or emotional, and slip away in consciousness to the higher Mental and Spiritual planes of thought.
With the transition from this consciousness to that of the Higher comes an exquisite sense of peace and freedom such as I can scarcely explain. (Frances Banks, TOL, 123.)
What I was just talking about was the astral body. That’s the body that preserves the unpleasant elements of character. (1) And it’s the body that the clairvoyant is perceiving when he reads an aura or “feels” an impression. (Stewart Edward White in PP, 203.)
- (1) White is describing the astral body from the standpoint of the Mental Plane where he occupies a mental body. Of course the mental body is not our “real” body either. No body is. By nature, we are formless.
Leichtman: Was there something distinguishing about the term “spiritual body”? ….
It was not meant to describe the body of any one plane. It can be used to refer to any of the inner bodies. Betty used the label, I’m being told, to describe the inner essence of a being. The essence is not related to a specific plane, because we live on more than one plane simultaneously.
Most people, of course, are unaware that they live in the finer planes as well as the physical plane. The trained psychic can move back and forth with ease, but this is a skill which has to be developed. The ordinary person doesn’t have it, because he has never acclimated himself to the fuller dimensions of reality. Then, when he becomes a citizen of the inner planes, he can have a little difficulty in getting around. (Stewart Edward White in PP, 205.)
The Vibrancy of the Astral Body
The creative power of God – the Life Force – radiates through and powers our spiritual bodies. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 45.)
It is impossible to convey, even in a small measure, this exquisite feeling of supreme vitality and well-being [that we feel here]. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 23.)
Our energy is at a constant level according to our individual requirements. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 149.)
Imagine that you had spent sixty or seventy years in a heavy earthly body, a body which insisted on growing fat, and would get stiff-jointed and rheumatic, even going on strike occasionally to the extent of laying you up in bed for repairs of a more or less clumsy sort. Then fancy yourself suddenly exchanging this heavy body for a light and elastic form. Can you imagine it? I confess that it would have been difficult for me, even a year or two ago.
Clothed in this form, which is sufficiently radiant to light its own place when its light is not put out by the cruder light of the sun, fancy yourself moving from place to place, from person to person, from idea to idea. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVII.)
Why, it takes more energy on earth to put one heavy foot before another heavy foot, and to propel the hundred or two-hundred pound body a mile, than it takes here to go around the world! That will give you an idea of the quantity of surplus energy that we have for enjoying ourselves and for dream-building. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVI.)
The [physical] body…, believe me, is a poor affair! If you only knew what one can do. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 93.)
I am more vibrantly alive, and my surroundings also, than I was before. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 153.)
We are all, it seems, walking dynamos. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 94.)
The body I have here, once one has learned to control it, is a wonderful vehicle almost unlimited in its ability to transport me on its own plane, at least, and also able, in flashes, and with the help of the Advanced People, to expand itself to higher planes … which is a tremendous advantage over the dense physical body, so limited and easily disarranged. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 200.)
The Age of the Astral Body
My father … by the way, was considerably more active and younger than he was at time of death; we looked more like brothers. (W.T. Stead, BI, 47-8.)
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 opened my eyes [after a long convalescence] and saw myself as I was at the height of my power – young, virile, and glad to be alive. Most of us choose the great years of our lives, between thirty and forty-five to show ourselves. (Donald Macleod in HT, 16.)
I have grown so much younger. It gives me pleasure to look and feel as if I were in the twenties again. (Alice Ross to her sister in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 117.)
We may project our appearance as we were when we think we looked our best. For me it is the time when I was in my third decade, my early thirties. I was a fine figure of a man. (Thavis, TIH, 137.)
[James] hesitates. The voice is hers, but different. Moreover, she died an old woman with grey hair and an invalid. And now she stands before him, a lovely woman, not young nor old, but of perfect grace and beauty of eternal youth. (Unnamed spirit in SRE, 35.)
Don’t have any regrets about Bob F.’s passing. He has escaped from an old and worn-out body and is now going to be again the young and handsome man he was in his prime. He wants you to think of him in that way and forget the old and tired man he became. (Admiral Boyle Somerville to Geraldine Cummins, TS, 33.)
People who die when they are old can go back to a ‘prime’ age of life by a process of revitalization. Likewise, people who die at a young age can mature and progress to what they consider a ‘prime’ age. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 47.)
I want you to understand that I am now a middle-aged man again. I am not old anymore. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 47.)
[The spirit body] is at first influenced a little by the age of a person in appearance, but grows older or younger till it reaches its most attractive period, maturity. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher, TR, 41.)
“Will [Aunt Marian] become younger at once?” (1)
In a way, yes, but not young in the usual sense. She will still be elderly in appearance, but without any infirmities. She should feel well and strong again. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 77-8.)
- (1) Aunt Marian has just arrived and is at present resting.
Age differences melt away as our consciousness expands; I am no longer their wrinkled old Grannie. But they still pay me the respect and homage they did on earth and I love them dearly, as my beloved children and children’s children.
It was a great joy for me to discover that it is not necessary to retain the physical characteristics of an aged body once one has become adjusted to conditions here. It takes time for the illusion of age and its attendant ravages to be dispelled from one’s mind. It would, I am sure, prove too much of a shock if one passed over at the age of eighty or so and awoke to find oneself back in the prime of life! (Ethel McLean in LFM, 83)
One’s mind gradually becomes adjusted to the fact that time is a factor related only to earth conditions. Time is therefore an illusion and not / a reality. Once this is grasped, one is no longer hampered by its limitations. But this degree of consciousness has to be achieved before the results become manifest.
Just as on earth, it is the things you want to believe that are accepted first, so it did not take me long to dispel the illusion of old age. It is one of the rewards of having lived out a long and complete life on the earth plane.
The seeds of this knowledge have already been sown and, … although your body ages, you still feel that the central “you” is unchanged. So it is not so difficult, after all, to accept the fact that this is indeed true, once the earth life has fallen away.
Here, it is quickly realized that, on earth, one has inhabited a spiritual body clothed in flesh and that … merely the physical vehicle or outer covering … has been discarded. The resurrected body cannot, of itself, age. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 83-4)
I appear to be approaching my ‘proper’ age. This is a phenomenon of which Mitchell [my guide] warned me. It seems that every human being has a true meridian of age at which his being is unfolded at its peak of achievement. For some, it is youth; for some, a riper middle age; for others, even an advanced age. Whichever manifestation of the being was most full and characteristic, at this age the man or woman rests. So it matters not at what age in earthly reckoning a man dies, he reverts by degrees to his ideal age when he comes here. Most of the persons I meet seem to be young but there is an admixture of the mature and elderly. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 68.)
I have achieved equilibrium at about twenty-eight and shall stay there very thankfully. I am young and have the vigour and enthusiasm proper to what is obviously my real age and now can hardly envisage being any older. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 69.)
As a rule, those who say that they have been long here do not seem old. I asked the Teacher why, and he said that after a time an old person forgets that he is old, that the tendency is to grow young in thought and therefore young in appearance, that the body tends to take the form which we hold of it in our minds, that the law of rhythm works here as elsewhere.
Children grow up out here, and they may even go on to a sort of old age if that is the expectation of the mind; but the tendency is to keep the prime, to go forward or back towards the best period, and then to hold that until the irresistible attraction of the earth asserts itself again. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XV.)
I have since learned that to try to guess the ages of people here is a difficult and almost dangerous task! For you must know … that it is the law that, as we progress spiritually, so do we shake off the semblance of age as it is known on earth. We lose the wrinkles that age and worldly cares have marked upon our countenances, together with other indications of the passage of years, and we become younger in appearance, while we grow older in knowledge and wisdom and spirituality. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 25.)
There is a stage in our lives on earth which we know as the prime of life. It is towards this that we all move. Those of us who are old or elderly when we pass into spirit will return to our prime-of-life period. Others who are young will advance towards that period. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
In the higher spheres the beauty of mind rejuvenates the features, sweeps away the signs of earthly cares and troubles and sorrows, and presents to the eye that state of physical development which is at that period of our earthly lives which we used to call ‘the prime of life.’ (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 87.)
In the spirit world, age in years doesn’t count. What happens is that the period known as the prime of life is the normal and permanent age. If one arrives here before that time, … even tiny infants, then you proceed gradually towards that prime of life and there you remain. If you should come here after you’ve reached it – one may have gone far past eighties and higher – then you revert, you return to the prime of life. In other words, you become younger. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 86-7.)
There would be nothing to indicate positive agedness in such outward signs as wrinkles and lines, and all the other familiar landmarks of passing, or passed, years. … This is an ageless world, … and some of us, at any rate, would appear to be the same. No lined faces, no white or graying hair, no suggestions of that additional weight with which on earth we manage to burden ourselves, or, on the other hand, no indications of shriveling up and wasting away; no slowing down of our movements, or alterations in the pitch of our voices; no loss of mental vigour. No second childhood. Eliminate this melancholy catalogue and you have us as we are, restored to a second prime, those of us that need it, instead of advancing into a second childhood. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 87-8.)
The Condition of the Astral Body
Your grandmother … is as slim as a young girl and beautiful. You know, they don’t use any adornments over here, except themselves, and that shines through like a great and tremendous light. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 35.)
The spiritual bodies are whole and perfect. Even a person who has lost a limb by amputation while in the physical body can function as a whole person in the spiritual world. The limbs of the spiritual bodies are not lost through amputation of physical limbs.
However, people who have been physically ill for a long time on earth or who have had a limb amputated before death often carry that illness or disability over with them in their minds. They feel that they still have the disability in their astral bodies and it is difficult for them to realize that they are whole persons. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 47.)
There are hospitals on the astral plane for the treatment of people who are not able to function effectively when they first pass over. The healers and physicians on the astral plane concentrate their treatment on making those persons realize that their illness is only in their minds and that the mind is influencing the astral body, producing a simulated illness. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 47.)
One evening my grandfather came, and Mary said:
“He is very bright and happy looking, and if you could see his perfect form and youthful appearance, you would not be calling him grandfather.” (Spirit control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte Dresser, SWSL, 50.)
I spoke of [my grandfather’s] stooping shoulders when on earth, and Mary came back with this:
“No physical imperfection appears in the spirit form. He is not surprised that you remember his bent figure, but thinks he will be able to surprise you when you come.”
A young soldier of whom we had known, had been blown to atoms by a shell. We asked if that would interfere with the spirit’s entrance into that life.
“The body does not imprison the spirit; neither can the spirit be injured. The soul of the young soldier would arrive here as perfectly as if borne on angel wings.”
‘Then spirit is not subject to accidents?’
“Spirit is superior to all conditions. I could meet lightning without sensation, or ride on the wings of a tornado, or drop into the greatest heat, or move among polar snows, and all sensations would be pleasant. Spirit is the controlling power. I do not quite know how to express it, but spirit is above and beyond any conflict of the elements, or any material conditions. In / our movement through the ether, we have no sense of obstruction, and we pass easily through matter that you consider solid. We are infinitely finer than any material known on earth.” (Spirit control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte Dresser, SWSL, 50-1.)
Many of [the people I saw] had crippled twisted bodies. I saw the helpers lay them in a horizontal position on a ray, using it as though it were a table, straighten out their limbs quiet simply, then focus another ray upon them and then, and still in a sleep state, float them away out of our sight. I was gasping with questions and my doctor friend needed no further vocal word, but started off at once to explain.
These were mostly the etheric bodies of people who had suffered from polio or been crippled or paralysed in some way. They had all to be treated before they woke up and it was all quite simple. He explained that there was no illness of the etheric body. They only became crumpled like a dress which is always being worn crooked. They have to be straightened and strengthened and that is all.
I asked what would happen if we did that on earth? He said: “It all depends on the patient. Here no one thwarts you in mind, while on the physical plane they are always searching for a physical explanation, but if the human mind could accept simple healing it would be healed.” (Unnamed country doctor in AL, 25.)
We retain our physical appearance but our bodies, though the same in shape, become more beautiful in appearance and are more ethereal in substance. (Gorden Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 36.)
When the spirit first arrives it is not more beautiful than the earth life expressed, but becomes beautiful in proportion to spiritual advancement. All spirits are fairer than their earthly envelope, and increase in beauty as the spirit progresses. (Spirit control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 80.)
For a short period of time you will look the same; however, this changes in about the first three days as you know time. Then you take on a form in a totally healthy body. Say a person was an amputee or a cripple in life, after about thirty-six hours, he would find that he is no longer without lost limbs. He has to adjust mentally to having a whole body again. With some people, this takes longer for they are not willing to accept it. Many people will still see themselves as crippled or without limbs for a while.
You are allowed within the first six weeks to choose whatever age you want to project. Most people on the other side look more beautiful, but the true beauty on our side is that which is coming from within the soul. Beauty is not measured in terms of physical beauty, but rather by your light shining out from your vehicle. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 26.)
Another astonishing change has reconciled me to any loss of the prestige of a riper age. A small man suffers from his lack of inches and is influenced by it in many undesirable ways. He is impelled to try and compensate for it and often does so ruthlessly, to his own and other people’s hurt. However great in spirit, he will hardly every feel safe enough to forgo the defences he builds around his puniness. In my own case, my proper growth was stunted by an accident in youth and so my small stature was only incidental to my form. To my great joy this disability is removed and I have now attained a normal height. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 69.)
In the spirit world our bodies are always in a state of absolute perfection of condition. (1) (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 110.)
- (1) It is probable that Monsignor Benson is restricting his comments to the Summerlands in which he lives; on the dark plane, the inhabitants are often misshapen, reflecting their thoughts.
One soon shakes off the physical characteristics that belong to the earthly side of life, and puts on the spirit-world personality. Thereafter, longevity [in the spirit world] makes no difference. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 92.)
Any supernormal or subnormal conditions of the physical body, such as excessive stoutness or leanness, vanish when we arrive in these realms and we appear as we should have appeared on earth had not a variety of earthly reasons caused us to be otherwise. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
If [one’s earthly] life has been spiritually ugly, the spirit body will be similarly twisted. But if the earth life has been spiritually sound, the spirit body will be correspondingly sound. There is many a fine soul inhabiting a crooked earthly body. There is many a bad soul inhabiting a well-formed earthly body. The spirit world reveals the truth for all to see. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
We all preserve our natural characteristics – they never leave us. But we find that many minor physical features that we can profitably dispense with [are gone;] we shake off with our earthly bodies certain irregularities of the body with which, perhaps, we have been born or that have come upon us during the course of the years. How many of us are there, I wonder, when we are incarnate, who could not think of some small improvement that we should like to make in our physical bodies, were it all possible? (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
You can scarcely realize what it means to have no physical pain or weariness, no disappointment, no sorrow. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 100.)
Actual pain is not felt in any of the parts of this new image of man. For now the mind has greatly increased powers, and though it may experience pain in the spiritual or intellectual sense, such is its control of its outward form … that form cannot hurt it in the earthly or physical sense, cannot be, in any respect, the ruler. (Frederick W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)
The organs with which he now finds himself are for ever beyond harm of every description. No germ can attack the body; no destructive force can exert the slightest influence upon it. It is incorruptible. Its various organs, such as the heart and lungs, act perfectly. For example, the beating of the heart remains constant and normal under all conditions. We cannot literally become breathless. … Our respiration. Like the action of the heart, remains always at its normal rate. And so it is throughout the rest of our bodies. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 115-6.)
In the spirit world there are no such things as germs of any description; therefore, there can be no disease of any sort whatever. Moreover, the spirit body is completely impervious to any kind of injury. It cannot be damaged by accident and it is imperishable and incorruptible. So that whatever organs we possess they can never become disordered in the slightest degree. We are constantly enjoying a state of perfect health, upon which there are no two opinions among all of us here in these realms. The slightest trace of ache or pain is something not only unheard of, but, from our point of view, fantastically impossible. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 112.)
We suffer from no ailments – that would be impossible in the spirit world. Therefore our bodies do not require constant looking after to maintain a state of good health. Here our health is always perfect because we have such a vibrational rate that disease, and the germs that cause it, cannot exist here, but spiritual malnutrition – that is, of the soul – does most certainly exist. A visit to the dark realms and their neighborhood will soon reveal that! (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153-4.)
Spirits can be Subject to Temporary ” Ill Health”
A temporary lapse of soul health which might be described as illness is not unknown. This takes the form of absorbing and persistent grief for one’s self or for others; remorse for evil done; unhappy memories; longings for the unattainable; carnal earth desires; feelings of hatred and bitterness; desire for revenge; jealousies; hatred; malice and all uncharitableness. These and similar mental conditions constitute disease of the soul, the remedy for which in every case is to encourage the development of the opposite quality of the particular disease.
Do you hate? Then you will find love the antidote. Are you unduly depressed? Take a dose of optimism, it will put you right. Are you self-absorbed with your own griefs? Lend a helping hand to another in similar straits and you will effect your own cure. The poet asks: “Who can minister to a mind diseased?” The sufferer must be his own physician: he himself and no other possesses the remedy.
Gentle, kind, and gracious souls are ever round about such suffering ones to encourage and advise and cheer, but in the long last, the sick one must effect his own cure. Some such mental illnesses as have been indicated are seemingly intractable and souls suffer in these little hells for long period, but, ultimately, in every case, they will emerge cured. God loves them all and “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,” but only for his edification and uplift. (A. Farnese in WSL, cited in SRE, 64.)
There is no Gender in Spirit
Souls are not female or male or insect or animal or fish souls. They are very simply God’s own souls. I know what you are thinking. Of course I consider myself a male. Those of us who have lived on Earth or elsewhere usually consider ourselves as male or female in our own thoughts. We can project our image to another soul in that form. But we have no gender, not really. (Thavis, TIH, 101.)
The Aura and the Spirit Body
All material things have an aura round them. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTTT, n.p.)
The character determines the / exterior, and purity of soul expresses itself in purity of appearance. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in SW, 96-7.)
The aura and the astral body are not quite the same. Every entity has form – an astral body which reflects his latest earth shape. Out of the head his eyes glow like lamps, just as in those paintings by that psychic painter.
Extending from the astral body is a glow, or in the case of the average person, an emanation, glowing only in proportion to the entity’s permeation with the creative Force. This emanation has colour, and, to us, sometimes a subtle odour. The darker and dingier the emanation, the less evolved the entity, because it is the diffusion of inner Light which causes the aura.
All that Theosophists say about the aura is correct. The aura of one of the Advanced People is too wonderful for words; it extends for what you would think of as miles and every entity on which this glow falls is stimulated and exalted. The first glimpse of the Chief – your Unknown [Teacher] – was enough for me to purge away my follies and misconceptions. I was so completely convinced, once and for all.
But an unevolved entity could not breathe in that vibration. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 236-7.)
We continue to use the psychic centers of the body. They become much more active because they are now free of the physical body.
These psychic centers, the chakras, are sources of spiritual energy and each has certain colours it contributes to the aura, or magnetic field of light which emanates from each person. There is an aura of light around the physical body which is visible to those, such as clairvoyants, who are attuned to see it.
There is also an aura of light around the astral body. The light and color characteristics of the aura of a person at a given time depend on which chakra or chakras are activated at that particular time. People trained in this area can often diagnose physical or mental disorders by the color of the aura seen. They can determine which part of the physical or emotional body is malfunctioning by the auric pattern and color which is evident. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 46.)
The mediumistic aura to spirit gaze is of golden hue. The sympathetic tint is crimson, the colour of the affections. The tint of the learned and powerful agent for development of truth is blue, the colour of the intellect.
What does the violet signify?
It would indicate a progressive spirit who might be developed. The spirit that is hard and unreceptive of sympathetic influence a green aura encircles, and we cannot approach.
To spirit eyes, does [the aura] declare the character?
To the more developed and progressed it does. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
What I was just talking about was the astral body. That’s the body that preserves the unpleasant elements of character. (1) And it’s the body that the clairvoyant is perceiving when he reads an aura or “feels” an impression. (Stewart Edward White in PP, 203.)
- (1) White is speaking from the vantage point of the Mental Plane. No “unpleasant elements of character” survive and accompany the individual into the Mental Plane; these are dropped with the astral body; hence White’s comment.
The Organs of the Spirit Body
Whether [spirits] retain [their] organs depends on their state of consciousness. If they are completely ignorant of a life after yours and they do not think that there is another world, then they have a complete replica of everything they had in the physical world, and they continue every bodily function in all its details – every function. (Silver Birch, SBA, 59.)
The astral body goes through a process of rarefication. As you appreciate that there is no need for certain organs, you gradually find they become atrophied and in the end they disappear. (Silver Birch, SBA, 59.)
Myself – Do you have organs?
He – Yes, but not as you understand it. If we appear to take nourishment, it is disposed of chemically. (Alice Gilbert to Mrs. Roberts’ spirit control, Sun-Ray, in PTW, 225.)
I was a doctor on earth … but I had no use for religion or faith healing, or any of those sentimental emotions. … I woke up in a hospital. … A doctor came over to me and asked how I was feeling, adding, “We shall be glad to teach you all we know.” … He sat down beside me and out of nowhere a diagram appeared showing the organs and arteries of my new body. “This is what you’ve got to work on now,” he explained. I thought I must be going mad. Here was a diagram of a body, similar in shape to the one I knew, but with feeding ducts, digestive organs and so on, of a much simpler kind.
I noticed all the pressure points of the body were marked with “light intake,” “colour intake,” “heat intake,” and so on. The digestive organs seemed to be on a rotary system. It looked like one large fly-wheel that drew in from all sides the white and coloured rays, transforming them into energy and life such as I am now experiencing. After a few moments he sensed that I couldn’t take in any more. The diagram vanished and I slept – thinking, thinking, thinking. (Dr. Sykes in AL, 23.) We have our full complement of limbs, our sight and our hearing; in fact, all our senses are fully functioning. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 153.)
We have no waste matter that must be eliminated from the body. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 113.)
The organs (1) that we possess, therefore, have their very definite purpose for their existence. We do not carry about with us organs that are redundant. Their purpose is to act as a channel for the life force, the etheric power, if you wish to call it so, that emanates from a multiplicity of sources. There is no fear that some organs, or all of them, will become atrophied because they do not seem to be employed in the same manner as their counterparts in the earthly body. The organs of assimilation of the earthly body will become seriously affected if a sufficient quantity of food is not passed through them. No such situation could arise in our spirit bodies because the life-force here amply sustains them and keeps them in proper working order and thus they fulfil their objects. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 114.)
- (1) Note that Philip Gilbert disagrees on the question of organs: “The body I use now looks to me very like my old one, but there are no organs, as you know.” (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 104.)
In company with many others I have seen and spoken to at least one illustrious being whose period of life, in years, reaches astronomical figures. He possesses, just as do you or I, the ordinary normal complement of limbs; he has hair upon his head. His hands, anatomically like yours and mine, have their full number of finger-nails. And so we might go on, through the complete catalogue of the parts of the human anatomy as it exists in the spirit world. The exalted nature of his being and the elevated realm in which he resides make him no different, anatomically, from the rest of us.
His spirituality and wisdom and knowledge are, of course, in their high degree incomparable with us here. But we are not considering that for the moment. What we are considering is that when man, who has lived upon earth, comes to the spirit world to continue his life here, he sheds with his earthly body all such organs of that body as will be superfluous to his new mode of living. …
The body I possess is not a hollow drum, a mere empty vessel in the ownership of which I am able, in some mysterious fashion, to carry on my life. There is good rich blood flowing through my veins. There is no doubt about that, for I can observe the flesh-pink tinge it gives to my skin, as it does to us all. We have the complexions of healthy individuals, though the former may vary in the depth by virtue of the various racial characteristics which you can easily call to mind. Whatever may be the precise shade of our complexions or of our skin in general, we none of us have the pallor that is usually associated with a poor state of health or with some particular form of earthly occupation. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 115-6.)
The spirit body, coming first in the order of ‘creation,’ is the standard of human form and figure. The earthly body resembles it, but it has certain other organs added by which it carries out certain processes that are essential to its continued survival upon earth. The two principals of these processes are the means of assimilating food and the means of perpetuating human life on earth. Food we do not need in the spirit world, and the population of spirit lands is derived, with the exception of those beings in the higher and highest realms…, entirely from the earth in so far as this spirit universe is concerned.
In discarding my earthly body at my physical dissolution, I found that my spirit body was without certain organs, the possession of which would be entirely redundant. Such organs have no counterpart in the spirit body.
A question may naturally be asked as to how we can live with some of our organs missing. The answer is that they are not missing; they were never there! The spirit body performs perfectly because it is perfectly constructed, complete in all its parts, and only possesses such organs as it requires – in number slightly less than those required by the earth body. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 117-8.)
How the Spirit Body is Sustained
My new body does not need food in your sense; it is nourished, they tell me, by magnetic currents emanating from the Source of Power. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 107.)
When you first arrive here … the routines of eating and drinking and sleeping are too firmly established to be eliminated at one fell swoop. So if you think you need to sleep … you sleep for as long as you want. If you think you need to eat, then you eat your fill. There are no excretory organs in our bodies. … When I drink water it just diffuses itself throughout my system and that’s that!
In other words, it’s converted into energy. If I see a beautiful apple tree with bright red apples on it, I can reach up and pick one off. … It has the effect of recharging our batteries. (Mike Swain in Paul Beard, LO, 94.)
The spirit world has air just as you have on earth and we have lungs in our bodies with which to breathe it. And it does ‘oxygenate’ the blood in what would be the spirit world equivalent of that process. Upon earth the air you breathe will help to purify the blood. In the spirit world we have good rich blood running through our veins and we breathe the beautiful, clean, fresh, fragrant air, but while your blood undergoes the process of oxygenating, our blood is reinvigorated by the spiritual force and energy that is one of the principal constituents of the air we breathe here.
Could one exist without [air]? Hardly. It gives us a measure of life-force just as it does you on earth. But you could not exist upon air alone. You must have food and drink. We do not need these latter two commodities, as you know, but we derive another part of our sustenance from the light of these realms, from the abundance of colour, from the water, from the fruit when we wish to eat of it, from the flowers, and from all that is beautiful itself. As these realms positively abound in beauty you will see why we enjoy such perfect health.
But we also take in strength from the great spiritual force that is being constantly poured down upon us all from the Father of Heaven Himself. It is, as it were, an eternal magnetic current that is for ever charging us with force and power and giving us life.
It really comes to this, that we derive our life-force from a score of different sources; sources, moreover, that we do not have to seek as do you with your food and drink, but which literally envelope us wherever we go, whatever we do. We cannot shut ourselves off from the means of life nor can the means of life be denied us or ever fail us here. The air we breathe cannot become polluted nor can the water become in a similar state of impurity. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 111-2.)
Spirits Respond to the Afterlife
First Reactions: All are Esctatic
The best you can conceive falls short of the realities of life beyond death. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce] in LFOS, 2.)
Earth made perfect. (G. Vale Owen’s mother in LBV1, 40.)
The life of spirit is eternal, perfect, supreme. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 28.)
And this is heaven! A heaven as far beyond what I imagined as the stars are above the sea. (Spirit communicator “A.H.” in LHH, 48.)
This freedom [that I now experience], this satisfaction, this sheer joy of living fill me to the brim with a surging energy of being I could never know before. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 69.)
Our bodies never get tired. Illness and sickness do not exist here. This is a world of perfection. (Mike Swain in FMW, 25.)
Everything seems easy now. I could do twice as much work as I do – I feel so strong. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter V.)
This is such a wonderful world, Dad. I wish I could describe the infinite beauty that surrounds us. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 33.)
The real blessings have been left for this life. (William James, LHH, 108.) I find this first sphere heavenly in many ways and love the life and freedom of it. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 51.)
It’s wonderful to be bounding with energy and able to jump straight off the ground and stay there! It makes me feel quite heady. (Cynthia Sandys’ daughter, Patricia, in AL, 13.)
Maclean said he was having an amazing time – he has found his own crowd and they, including himself, were all so immensely relieved to find that they were alive and, not only that, but they were neither in heaven nor in hell or in any other hot spot, but they were in a perfectly normal world, leading a life packed with thrills. He said, if it wasn’t for those left behind, he’d have no regrets – he wouldn’t be sorry for having packed up and cleared out, or, rather, been cleared out. (Nigel Gibbes of Flying Officer Ian Maclean in Geraldine Cummins, TS, 31.)
My earth life already feels more than a lifetime away; (1) remote and unreal and its cramping frustrating necessities just a bad dream. Day and night, cold and heat, inescapable hunger and thirst – all these have vanished out of existence. Here we still have a material aspect of life but it wears an easier air; hard necessities of an exterior kind are relaxed or non-existent. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 52.)
- (1) Lawrence died in 1935 and Sherwood’s book was published in 1964, so, at the most, just short of thirty years would have passed.
As one standing on a higher point than yourselves, and able to see a little more than you see, I can best explain to you that in these further states you receive not merely fifty, or sixty, or even a hundred per cent out of your lives in happiness and joy, but you receive comparatively six hundred per cent. This is simply a graphic way of indicating the degree of happiness that obtains here. (W.T. Stead, BI.)
You know our lives here have become for us the usual, – all its brightness, its knowledge, its wonder, its variety, its purity, and – yes, its holiness. Only do not think of that word in its usual acceptance. But all these are our usual life. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 134.)
We know that many people cannot think of this life unless in terms of wonder and ecstasy. It seems that all who have had visions of this world have been so overwhelmed with its beauty, that they picture it to others in terms that make it appear far different from the reality. They have caught the beauty and glory, but have not sensed the reasonableness, the orderliness, the harmony. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth in LHH, 44.)
We would like to fill your minds with the immensity of the world here. … There is so much before us that life becomes the “great adventure.” There is no staleness, there is no weariness of mind; and day by day, vista by vista, time by time, brings us new joys and new experience. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 145.)
Four of us were together one evening, and we asked Mary if she could tell us what would be our first experiences if we should suddenly come there together from any cause.
“That is a question not easily answered. First, the unconscious period, which might be long or short according to the spiritual advancement of each. Then the awakening, and then, ah, then! the beauty, the loveliness, and the surprise! We think then a quiet enjoyment, a quiet receptivity, the while your spirits were becoming accustomed to the light and glory.
“We know that you would soon gladly take up two occupations: – the one of learning the laws of spirit life, the accustoming your souls to the new atmosphere. And the second, the eagerness for two things: – to send back word to those on earth who loved you, that heaven is heaven after all; and then soon the law of spirit life would possess you, and study for improvement, for knowledge of this wonderful life, and then the immediate desire to draw toward you, and toward heavenly delight, those whom you loved on earth.” (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 133.)
Heaven is here, life is here, happiness is here, and nothing to ever disturb us more. Why not be happy and joyful? …
We here in this circle have not tried for physical phenomena, nor for messages for mortal curiosity. We wish to lead you toward the higher life, for it is great, so wide, so deep, so satisfying, that all else seems puerile. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 148.)
I am sure you will find the life delightful. I have yet to meet one who does not, after he has arrived at a certain stage of his education. We do see, however, that in the early stages, there are many who find life here somewhat disappointing. One who can only think of existence as a means to outdo some one else in money-getting, is not attracted to study, is not happy in company with students, and in some ways finds life a burden. If he has really learned how to use his spirit powers, he can find pleasure in the musical performances and in some other ways of entertainment. But as time passes, he usually begins to learn and to experience the pleasure of doing things himself; and then his true happiness comes. If life on earth could be viewed as one of actively acquiring happiness, instead of passively allowing happiness to be brought to them, the earth would become a far more enjoyable place, and the entrance into this life would be a matter of joy, instead of one of penance, which it often is. (Unnamed spirit teacher in LHH, 262.)
‘Today is Sunday. Can you not give me a little sermon from over there?’
“Sunday! And a sermon! What should it be, what can it be, in this clear light, except truth, no other than truth, knowledge, great and glorious knowledge of this life and its never-ending joy.”
‘Does “never-ending” joy grow a bit tiresome, if there is no change, no contrast?’
“Never! An eternity of love! Happiness, increasing wisdom, knowledge, with an unknown and limitless universe for study! Satiety? Weariness? No, never! We cannot express it in any earth language. One must be here to realize its perfect satisfaction.”
There was a pause of some moments. Finally [Charlotte] asked: – ‘Is there anything more?’
“Yes, more, and much more, if only we could give it to you in mortal language. But to your thought we can only convey the sense of never-ending contentment and progress.” (Unnamed spirit to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 122-3.)
Life here is more tangible, and easier to lay hold of and use by those who study its nature, and it pulsates all around us, and we, being in a more sensitive state, are more able to feel it than when we, were in the earth life. (Unidentified spirit communicator in LBV1, 58.)
“How strange! How very strange it is, because [it is] so infinitely different from what we were taught, and in our half—hearted way tried to believe when on earth.”
‘You find it so different then?’
“Yes, although this is not the highest heaven; we might just say the border of the infinite kingdom. But all is so natural, all so beautiful, and so like our highest dreams, if we had such dreams and desires.” (William Andrews to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 61-2.)
I had only the old orthodox conceptions, a dim cloudy vision of harps and choirs and a sort of eternal Sunday. Ali! How I wish I could describe it to you! But I think I can only give you the idea of a natural life on earth, but with all pain and sorrow removed, all bickerings, all quarrels, wars, or epidemics or disease – in fact all evil, all discomfort, removed, and only happiness and joyous health, and beauty of surroundings, and then friendships and occupations such as one’s heart desires. I feared to come, and regarded the approaching end as a fearful calamity, never knowing that it was the open door to a country so fair that I could have no regret.” (William Andrews to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 62.)
‘What are you doing by this time?’
“Studying, I guess, only it seems like play, it is so easy. Oh, you don’t know yet the ease with which we can advance in learning. We are supposed to have left our brains in the coffin along with our bodies. But something has taken the place, and of such infinite improvement, I cannot describe it. Only there is no effort in acquiring knowledge: – you just want it, and it comes! You will never know a thousandth part of this life, for all the pages and pages and pages that have been written, until you come. Then, oh, then! Happiness and more happiness.” (Spirit communicator “A.H.” to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 51.)
‘How old were you?’
“Something over thirty. But the years have all dropped away from me now, and when in some instant of remembrance I see that wrinkled, careworn, ignorant and unhappy woman, I can scarcely believe or realize that it was I. But we must have a happy thought to part with. This is an awful picture that I have looked back upon. What picture shall I present? What but joy! Joy! Fullness of joy and love unspeakable!” (Unnamed spirit communicator to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 59.)
The here was not different from the there except that, with no need for physical comforts, only the beauty of the world remained. (Arthur Ford in WB, 15.)
I never realized that heaven was so dear. Why! It is like a perfectly beautiful, natural life on earth, – if earthly people could ever attain such goodness and beauty! I always wanted to be beautiful, and never realized before, that while we are still on earth, we may be creating beauty that will last into eternity. (Spirit communicator “A.H.” in LHH, 48-9.)
Again when speaking of beauty, we were told:
“We have everything that pertains to beauty, either of dress or scenery or gems or anything else. Make no mistake! Your world has nothing to compare with the beauty of this!” (Unnamed spirit communicator in SWSL, 64.)
‘Well, I imagine you would be one who would appreciate the beauties there to the full extent?’
“You are right. My highest hopes, my deepest reverence, my desire for happiness, could not have brought me into more perfect conditions.” …
‘Were you unconscious long after arriving there?’
“Not very long, they tell me. I was ill for a time and left the old earth in an unconscious state. It seemed to me I was drifting, drifting slowly into the dark, but not a terrible dark; a time of rest in which I was content. Then into the darkness came a faint light, and the light grew stronger and brighter, and through all my being there ran a thrill of life, life in abundance. Then I awoke to a vision such as I had never dreamed. Beauty, love, all seemed blending in one beneficent power about me, and I felt enveloped and translated into a bliss I had never imagined. Such is heaven.” (Willis Coleman to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 61.)
Oh, how easy it is to be good here where there is no physical weakness, where there is no discord, where love is the law of life! I never knew what heaven was like. If only the ministers would tell their people of the love and thoughtfulness here, of the naturalness of this life, with its continuous unbroken kindness – and no Hell, except what we make for ourselves, the world would be saved. (Spirit communicator “A.H.” in LHH, 47.)
“I wish I could give you some idea of the beauty of this life. I never dreamed it could be so different from earth life, and yet so natural. It is perhaps the human life, with the wrong-doing and wrong-thinking eliminated, and all the pure, good and kindly nature left. I never understood it while on earth, and I am wondering now how I can make others understand. If the world could know, if it could realize, all would be well and sin forever discarded. (Spirit communicator “A.H.” in LHH, 49.)
‘Are you happy?’
“Yes, happier than I ever believed could be possible. I do not quite know how to explain it; but think of a body that is never sick, never tired, and more full of life and pleasure than in the brightest hours on earth. Then imagine, if you can, the perfect peace and affection and unselfishness which are the laws of life here. Then imagine new studies, new opportunities, new surprises, all delightful ones, and a general companionship that fulfills every law of friendship. Then try to be sad or selfish, if you can! I can’t! Even with the remnants of my old human temper.” (Spirit communicator “A.H.” to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 51.)
Each and every one begins their beautiful life here, just by kindness and constant thoughtfulness for others. Never a selfish thought. Think of it! And I was so selfish! (Spirit communicator “A.H.” in LHH, 50.)
Joy is joy wherever it comes. But here there is no background of sorrow or regret; no fear for the future. Many times our joy is an all-pervading contentment. Many times it is an infinite desire to give the world proof of the heavenly life. Sometimes a tender sorrow for those who cannot see or know. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 93.)
I am overwhelmed by this wonderful personal atmosphere of zest. It is a kind of perpetual soul optimism, compounded of relief and thankfulness to God, that all the dreams and visions, hopes and faith, which I was allowed on occasions during my earthly days have materialized into a result which is far more glorious than my highest, noblest and most cheerful dream ever could be. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 28.)
Oh, the extraordinary vividness of it all! The air has an extra translucent quality; birds, animals, wild and domestic, are fearless and tame; the flowers and the grass give out a subtle melody, which, as our ears grow more in turn to our environment, merges / into precious strains of harmonic sound. Our five senses become enhanced. They are extensions rather than replicas of the earthly senses. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 28-9.)
There is so much to do, learn and achieve in this sphere that I shall probably be in it for a long time. I am at present well content. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 84)
Q: Does the place where people go when they die look like the earth plane?
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. True, these are of a finer texture and a more lucent beauty. Again, much of the contrast with earth may be due to our more ethereal senses but perhaps both the objective and the subjective reality are different. I do not want to paint a sentimental paradise but it is difficult to avoid it. There is a serene unity about our conditions. On earth you may go from the sordid hell of an industrial town to its clean and prosperous suburbs and through these to the open country in a very short time. But here the sordid hell is relegated to the lower planes and populated by those who feel secure and at home in such surroundings and the pleasanter types of country are far removed from them. Thus in this region are stately cities with all that an urbane town-dweller can wish; noble buildings, churches, libraries and galleries and all the amenities of civilization for those who want them. There are stretches of lovely country with parks and mansions, wild regions of mountains and moor and rivers and seas of incomparable beauty. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 115.)
In the realm of which I am now speaking, all is exactly attuned to its inhabitants – its temperature, its landscape, its many dwellings, the waters of the rivers and streams, and, most important of all, the inhabitants one with another. There is therefore nothing that can possibly create any unhappiness, unpleasantness, or discomfort. We can completely forget our bodies and allow our minds to have free play, and through our minds we can enjoy the thousands of delights that the same minds have helped to build up. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 23.)
As an inhabitant of these [astral] lands my whole outlook, both mental and spiritual, has had to undergo sweeping and fundamental changes, in spite of the fact that I had some small knowledge before I passed over. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 58.)
These realms wherein I live are, to all of us who inhabit them, a state of perfection so far as our present experiences takes us. The great majority of us can scarcely contemplate a state of greater beauty and happiness, that is, a state of greater perfection than this sphere where we have our homes and our life. We love every inch of these realms, we love every moment of our lives; we are supremely happy – we could not be more so; that is to say, we do not think we could be more so.
But when we come to regard the strict truth we know that when we pass into a higher realm we shall be happier still. We have not yet enjoyed that experience, but those of our friends who have already mounted to a more exalted realm are continually returning to visit us and to tell us of the greater happiness which they are now enjoying, happiness which they did not think possible, and to speak of the greater perfection in their new realms of things which already seemed perfect to them. …
Perfection, after all, is a matter of degree, of comparison, of experience, and it is not possible to set any limitation upon perfection, because we do not know as yet how far it is possible for perfection to extend. … When I say that everything is perfect, I mean, of course, everything is perfect in so far as our present experience takes us. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 82.)
It is in the conceit and self-importance of man that he should think that beauty is expressly created for his pleasure while on earth. Incarnate man thinks he has the monopoly of beauty. When he becomes discarnate he eventually wakes up to the fact that he has never really seen how great beauty can be and he becomes silent and humble, perhaps for the first time in his life! It is a salutary lesson, the awakening in spirit, believe me, my dear friend – with many a shock to accompany it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 97.)
There is no room for the unpleasant phases of human character that are so often exhibited upon earth. They cannot enter these realms. And in so far as such elements of character and temperament as we show upon earth are not the true reflection of our real selves, we shall at once cast them aside for ever as we enter the spirit world upon the moment of our transition.
I have previously said that a human being is exactly the same one minute after his dissolution as he was one minute before it. That is borne out by what I just said. It is the great difference between our real selves and the personality which we present for outward view. We are just the same in our true selves, but we may not be recognizably so. It is not so much that we have altered but that we are no longer subject to the stresses that produce the unpleasant qualities that were observable in us when we were on the earth. Remove the causes of the distempers and the latter will disappear also. Here in spirit lands we have nothing to disturb us. On the contrary, we have everything that will bring us contentment.
Our true natures thrive and expand upon such glories and splendours as the spirit world alone has to offer. We work, not for an earthly subsistence, but for the joy that comes with doing work that is both useful and congenial, and above all things, work that is of service to our fellow beings. The reward which work brings with it is not a transient reward as is the case with so much mundane labour, but a reward that will bring us eventually to a higher state of living.
To us here in the spirit world, life is pleasure, always pleasure. We work hard, and sometimes long, but that work is pleasure to us. We have not the tiresome wearying toil that you have upon earth. We are not solitary beings fighting for our existence amid a world that can be, and so often is, somewhat indifferent to our struggles. Here in these realms wherein I live, there is not one solitary individual of whatever nationality under the sun who would not come immediately to the assistance of any one of us upon the merest glimmering of our needing help. And such help it is! There is no false pride that precludes our accepting help from a fellow creature anxious to give it.
Millions of us though there be, yet there is not one sign, not one atom of discord to be seen throughout the immense extent of these realms. Unity and concord are two of the plainest characteristics to be observed and understood and appreciated to the full. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 124-5.)
Never have I experienced such a feeling of real, genuine enjoyment as came upon me at this moment. I was in perfect health and perfect happiness…; unrestricted by time or weather, or even the bare thought of them; unhampered by every limitation that is common to our old incarnate life. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 67.)
Life, you must know, is upon a gigantic scale here in the spirit world, how gigantic you can have very little conception until you yourself come here to dwell among us. But because its magnitude is vast, that is not to say that it is proportionately complex. Indeed, when one comes to compare the earth world with the spirit world, it is at once apparent how complex the earth world is, and how much simpler is life in the spirit world. This may seem an astonishing statement to make; nevertheless, it is a true one. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 67.)
The Astral Plane Resembles the Earth Plane
Q: [The Astral Plane] looks like the same plane as earth for convenience and comfort’s sake?
A: Yes, it’s for people to be more at home, more comfortable. And they can always visit the planes below them [just like] many times they will have teachers visiting them from higher planes and attending to their needs. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 18.)
A: There’s no difference. It’s just that we have controlled temperatures all the time. We have sunshine all the time. There’s great beauty. It’s not polluted. The air is pure and clear. We have lovely homes and gardens, beautiful buildings, restful and peaceful places. Whatever you can imagine, we have, for it is built through the imagination. We have little communities gathered together in the mountainous countries. Some people prefer snow-capped mountains; even though it is not cold, we still have snow if that’s what you choose to see. It is whatever you make it.
Q: Is there music, art, color on the other side?
A: Far beyond your wildest expectations. The colors on the other plane are those which could not be described to you. You have no concept of the beauty. Many people in meditation begin to tap into these realms where they can see the colors, they can hear the celestial music and they can see the great beauty in art works. It is beyond expression, though; it is something that you can only imagine. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 23.)
Many people wind up staying somewhere on the high astral between incarnations because it is more comfortable or familiar for them than the beta body. (1) There is more visual sensation and they seem to need these reference points. Otherwise, they are lost. But those people who are expanding their understanding of life will find there is no problem getting acclimated to the mental plane as well as to the astral. (Stewart Edward White in PP, 205.)
- (1) White’s term for the mental body.
At First, Spirits Want to Communicate with Their Loved Ones
Edwin told us that a very large majority of people are no sooner arrived in spirit than a burning enthusiasm overtakes them as the spirit world reveals itself to them in the new life and they immediately want to rush back to the earth and tell all the world about it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 54.)
When I first arrived my strongest desire was to try to demonstrate to the friends I left behind the fact that I still lived. In this I fear I was not very successful. (William James in LHH, 107.) “Ruth, this is Lily and the group. Arthur Ford is here and wants you to know that he is as young as the merry month of May. He feels great and does not want you to grieve. He is so glad to be here, more delighted than you will ever know, for he has secretly yearned to make this trip of exploration and finds it much more beautiful than he had imagined or glimpsed while in trance. He’s on top of the world. A ball of fire! He’s so glad to be rid of the worn-out body which caused him such pain.” (Lily, Ruth Montgomery’s spirit control, in WB, 10.)
You naturally are absorbed by the new, and only after you have felt and seen and understood what the new things are does your mind revert to those whom you have left and you wish to go back and tell them of what you have experienced. (Julia Ames, AD, 69.)
The people who crowd around controls here – it’s just like a tomato queue! – (1) are mostly people still in the earth-planes and still wanting to be back there or not very adjusted to their new states or worried about their families. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 120.)
- (1) The reference is probably to wartime queues formed for luxuries like tomatoes.
I will not plunge into a throng of ‘Syds’ and ‘Minnies’ waiting to shout at their families – it was a most third rate crowd. Do not expect me to come to you in these public wallowings – I won’t do it! (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 154.)
It’s (1) like a thick mesh of telephone wires. Some [incarnate?] people, encased in a sort of thick shell of earthiness, get nothing through except the crudest, coarsest noises; others, in a thin, filmy cocoon, get everything in a jumbled blur, and often end up in looney bins, and others, have a fine sensitive switchboard, which they can turn on or off, at will. I do realize how utterly ignorant humanity is, of the dynamo of which it’s a tiny part. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 139.)
- (1) Philip seems to be speaking here of discarnate entities wishing to communicate directly with incarnate entities.
What are the facts? When anyone dies, upon awakening in their new surroundings, they naturally think of those they have left behind. If they are in great happiness, they long to tell their loved ones not to grieve for them. They want to describe the new and beautiful country to which they have come. With their clearer vision they are often able to guide those on earth in their human affairs, and, above all, they want them to realize how love is deeper, stronger, purer, than ever it was on earth.
Well, then, the cords of their great love draw them back to the earth and, in spirit form, they enter the old home. Their first sorrow is their total inability to make their presence known, their desire to comfort is unavailing; they watch the agony of grief and can do nothing. In their distress they often seek someone of psychic development and send a tender message of love and consolation. But, alas! Too often the bereaved will not receive the message. They are only frightened or incredulous.
Again they try, by abiding in the old home, to make one member, more receptive than the rest, realize their presence. But this time their touch, or partial manifestation, creates terror instead of joy and they are reluctantly obliged to resign themselves to knowing that in the home of which they were the centre their name is often never mentioned and they are regarded only as dead in the tomb, which friends with loving hands decorate with flowers and water with their tears. (John Heslop, SABL, 12-3.)
There are Stations on this plane where communication with the earth plane is possible. (I always had an idea of this but now I know it is a fact.) In these Stations there are helpers and servers who have dedicated their knowledge and service to helping those who long to send messages to loved ones still on earth. The technique employed, I understand, is quite ‘special’ and very difficult at first to follow, even by those who desire to use it. But there are Stations, there are Directors for this work, there are administrators and (in a sense) technicians to run them. (Frances Banks, TOL, 78.)
How necessary that some of us should speak back across the border! The barriers must be broken down. This is one of the way of doing it. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 14.)
On returning to my alcove in the Rest Hall I found someone else there.
He told me he was a messenger from another sphere, higher up. Certainly wisdom shone from his eyes. … ‘You are speaking to earth. Do not hurry to describe your new life and surroundings. Take my advice: do a little living first….” I think he saw surprise in my face. ‘Do you know,’ he continued, ‘that most of what you have conveyed to your friend at the matter end of the line is quite illusory?’ ‘What do you mean?’ I cried. ‘You will gradually find out for yourself. Remember what I have just said. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 24.)
Evidently I am in a state of consciousness not far removed from earthly existence. … I have no right to speak with any authority of my experiences here. … If this really is a state of illusion, or illusory idea, in which I find myself – well, others must pass through it too. Perhaps the ideas I have tried to express may help some of those who are not yet here. Anyway, my life seems quite as real as it did on earth, even more real. There is something that lives and moves within me that is not illusion. That something will forge its way out into the light some day. I can but go on trying. Meanwhile perhaps I had better not come to you again. Let me thank you for your patience. You have helped me through difficult purgatorial hours. I may return. I do not know. (Private Thomas Dowding, PD, 25.)
Our spirit dress would be imperceptible to you, and our spirit forms unrecognisable; consequently, we array ourselves in such sort as you would expect us to appear. If the spirit is showing itself to its own friends, it would appear in the semblance of the dress it was in the habit of wearing in earth-life; and would specially exaggerate, or draw attention to, any peculiarity of gesture, dress or demeanour which would identify it.
It is a bitter disappointment and sorrow when a spirit is unrecognised by its loved friends to whom it has so longed to manifest itself, and when it has so striven for success. It is one of the sorrows which hang round the spirits who are attracted to earth by longing desire to minister to loved ones left behind. They hover round them, tend and care for them, yet they cannot communicate. They search around, and at length find a medium through whom they can reach their friends. After infinite pains they are enabled to show to them their real selves, to demonstrate their existence, to show their love.
Alas! What bitter pangs they suffer when they find their efforts scoffed at, themselves unrecognised; and, possibly, the whole subject of communication with spirit-land laughed at as an idle and baseless vision. This is pain, corresponding to the intensity of joy with which a spirit finds itself still loved and recognised. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
Dream Visits to the Departed
Many souls who are mourning those who have passed into the spirit world, leaving sad hearts behind then, can bring comfort and consolation to themselves even if only in a limited degree by nightly visitations and meetings in the spirit world with those whom they mourn. Many a soul so afflicted has arisen from his bed in the morning with an unaccountable feeling that comfort has come to him in some mysterious fashion. This means of lessening the distress of separation is but another instance of the perfection of the dispensation that is the very foundation upon which the whole spirit world is built and upheld. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 25-6.)
We were in a luminous plain of encircling white light with faintly outlined domes and pinnacles reaching upwards into infinity. These are the thought worlds of the advanced – the creations of mind immeasurably stronger than ours. Music seemed to be emerging from each breath of air: at one moment, it was a ‘cello and we blended with it and tried to increase our power even more.
An indescribable joy was in our hearts. We seemed to be one person, yet we each perceived, heard and felt. Flecks of radiant power floated around us.
But we could not stay long, for you, tied to the earth plane, are not strong enough to breathe this air save for a brief flash. (Philip Gilbert to his mother, Alice, in PTS, 69.)
We come together in sleep and help each other. (Sigwart, BOTR, 4.)
As I was with all of you tonight I could see how falling asleep is related closely to dying. Material existence clings to the spiritual by a thread, (1) and the spirit rejoices in being free. We then converse with each other just as in life on earth, and I tell you much of myself.
But you must not miss the moment of return to your physical bodies. All this proceeds according to exact laws that human beings obey unconsciously. On awakening your spirit is fully earth-bound again and you know nothing of our togetherness, although you resolve each time to try to remember. You can only achieve this when you have advanced far enough to meet me consciously in sleep. I think some of you will reach this state on earth. (Sigwart, BOTR, 36-7.)
Q: Does the dead person’s spirit ever stay with their loved ones that are still in the body?
A: Yes, many times they will come back when they feel there is a need, even if they had left to go on to other realms of teaching and learning. They are always there in times of crises; also on holidays and celebrations. They never like to miss the happy occasions which they knew on the earth plane so that they will join loved ones during the holiday festivals and special occasions. They are also with you at night when you leave the body.
Many times you go with them into different classes, things which they are taking; you see where they are living, see their new interests, their friends. People congregate together out of the body when you sleep. You are as much at home out of the body as you are in. Very few people are allowed to bring back the conscious memory, for then they wouldn’t want to work on their tests on earth. They would long for home, for the gentler world on the other side. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 50.)
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