There seems to be neither pleasure nor pain and yet there is no absense of feeling but it all seems to center in the one idea: "I am!" The human Ego, stands face to face with itself, as it were, and for the time being all else is shut out. This is the experience of anyone who passes that breach between the Desire World and the World of Thought, whether involuntarily, in the course of an ordinary cyclic pilgrimage of the Spirit, which we shall later elucidate when speaking of the post-mortem existence, or by an act of the will, as in the case of the trained occult investigator; all have the same experience in transition.
There are two main divisions in the Physical World: the Chemical Region and the Etheric Region. The World of Thought also has two great subdivisions: The Region of Concrete Thought and the Region of Abstract Thought.
As we specialize the material of the Physical World and shape it into a dense body, and as we form the force-matter of the Desire World into a desire body, so also do we appropriate a certain amount of mind-stuff from the Region of Concrete Thought; but we, as Spirits, clothe ourselves in spiritsubstance from the Region of Abstract Thought and thereby we become individual, separate Egos.
The Region of Concrete Thought is neither shadowy nor illusory. It is the acme of reality, and this world which we mistakenly regard as the only verity, is but an evanescent replica of that region.
A little reflection will show the reasonableness of this statement and prove our contention that all we see here is really crystallized thought. Our houses, our machinery, our chairs and tables, all that has been made by the hand of man is the embodiment of a thought. As the juices in the soft body of the snail gradually crystallize into the hard and flinty shell which it carries upon its back and which hides it, so everything used in our civilization is a concretion of invisible, intangible mind-stuff. The thought of James Watt in time congealed into a steam engine and revolutionized the world. Edison's thought was condensed into an electric generator which has turned night to day, and had it not been for the thought of Morse and Marconi, the telegraph would not have annihilated distances as it does today. An earthquake may wreck a city and demolish the lighting plant and telegraph station, but the thoughts of Watt, Edison, and Morse remain, and upon the basis of their indestructible ideas new machinery may be constructed and operations resumed. Thus thoughts are more permanent than things.
The sensitive ear of the musician detects a certain musical note in every city which is different from that of another city. He hears in each little brook a new melody, and to him the sough of wind in the treetops of different forests gives a varying sound. In the Desire World we noted the existence of forms similar to the shapes of things here, also that seemingly sound proceeds from form. But in the Region of Concrete Thought it is different, for while each form occupies and obscures a certain space here, form is nonexistent when viewed from the standpoint of the Region of Concrete Thought. Where the form was, a transparent vacuous space is observable. From that empty void comes a sound which is the "keynote" that creates and maintains the form whence it appears to come, as the almost invisible core of a gas-flame is the source of the light we perceive.
Sound from a vacuum cannot be heard in the Physical World, but the harmony which proceeds from the vacuous cavity of a celestial archetype is "the Voice of the Silence," and it becomes audible when all earthly sounds have ceased. Elijah heard it not while the storm was raging; nor was it in evidence during the turbulence of the earthquake, nor in the crackling and roaring fire, but when the destructive and inharmonious sounds of this world had melted into silence, "the still small voice" issued its commands to save Elijah's life.
That "keynote" is a direct manifestation of the Higher Self which uses it to impress and govern the personality it has created. But, alas, part of its life has been infused into the material side of its being, which has thus obtained a certain will of its own and only too often are the two sides of our nature at war.
At last there comes a time when the Spirit is too weary to strive with the recalcitrant flesh; when "the Voice of the Silence" ceases. No matter how much earthly nourishment we may seek to give, it will not avail to sustain a form when this harmonious sound, this "word from heaven" no longer reverberates through the empty void of the celestial archetype. "Man lives not by bread alone," but by the Word, and the last sound-vibration of the "keynote" is the death-knell of the physical body.
In this world we are compelled to investigate and to study a thing before we know about it, and although the facilities for gaining information are in some respects much greater in the Desire World, a certain amount of investigation is necessary, nevertheless, to acquire knowledge. In the World of Thought, on the contrary, it is different. When we wish to know about any certain thing there, and we turn our attention thereto, then that thing speaks to us, as it were. The sound it emits at once gives us a most luminous comprehension of every phase of its nature. We attain to a realization of its past history; the whole story of its unfoldment is laid bare and we seem to have lived through all of those experiences together with the thing we are investigating.
Were it not for one enormous difficulty, the story thus obtained would be exceedingly valuable; but all this information, this life-picture, flows in upon us with an enormous rapidity, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, so that it has neither beginning nor end, for, as said, in the World of Thought, all is one great now; time does not exist.
Therefore, when we want to use the archetypal information in the Physical World, we must disentangle and arrange it in chronological order with beginning and ending before it becomes intelligible to beings living in a realm where time is a prime factor. That rearrangement is a most difficult task as all words are coined with relation to the three dimensions of space and the evanescent unit of time, the fleeting moment, hence much of that information remains unavailable.
Among the denizens of this Region of Concrete Thought we may note particularly two classes. One is called the Powers of Darkness by Paul, and the mystic investigator of the Western World knows them as Lords of Mind. They were human at the time when the Earth was in a condition of darkness such as worlds-in-the-making go through before they become luminous and reach the firemist-stage. At that time we were in our mineral evolution. That is to say: the human Spirit which has now awakened was encrusted in the ball of mindstuff, which was then the Earth. At that time the present human Spirits were as much asleep as is the life which ensouls our minerals of today, and as we are working with the mineral chemical constituents of the earth, molding them into houses, railways, steamboats, chairs, etc., etc., so those Beings, who are now Lords of Mind, worked with us when we were mineral-like. They have since advanced three steps, through stages similar to that of the Angels and Archangels, before they attained their present position and became creative Intelligences. They are expert builders of mind-stuff, as we are builders of the present mineral substances, and therefore they have given us necessary help to acquire a mind which is the highest development of the human being.
According to the foregoing explanation it seems to be an anomaly when Paul speaks of them as evil and exhorts us to withstand them. The difficulty disappears, however, when we understand that good and evil are but relative qualities. An illustration will make the point clear: Let us suppose that an expert organ builder has constructed a wonderful organ, a masterpiece. Then he has followed his vocation in the proper manner, and is therefore to be commended for the good which he has done. But if he is not satisfied to leave well enough alone, if he refuses to give up his product to the musician who understands how to play upon the instrument, if he intrudes his presence into the concert hall, he is out of place and to be censured as evil. Similarly the Lords of Mind did the greatest possible service to humanity when they helped us to acquire our mind, but many subtle thought influences come from them, and are to be resisted, as Paul very properly emphasizes.
The other class of beings which must be mentioned are called Archetypal Forces by the Western School of occultism. They direct the energies of the creative archetypes native to this realm. They are a composite class of beings of many different grades of intelligence, and there is one stage in the cyclic journey of the human Spirit when that also labors in, and is part of, that great host of beings. For the human Spirit is also destined to become a great creative Intelligence at some future time, and if there were no school wherein it could gradually learn to create, it would not be able to advance, for nothing in nature is done suddenly. An acorn planted in the soil does not become a majestic oak overnight, but many years of slow, persistent growth are required before it attains to the stature of a giant of the forest. A man does not become an Angel by the mere fact of dying and entering a new world any more than an animal advances to be a man by the same process. But in time all that lives, mounts the ladder of Being from the clod to the God. There is no limitation possible to the Spirit, and so at various stages in its unfoldment the human Spirit works with the other nature forces, according to the stage of intelligence which it has attained. It creates, changes, and remodels the Earth upon which it is to live. Thus, under the great Law of Cause and Effect, which we observe in every realm of nature, it reaps upon earth what it has sown in heaven, and vice versa. It grows slowly but peristently and advances continually.
Various religious systems have been given to humanity at different times, each suited to meet the spiritual needs of the people among whom it was promulgated, and, coming from the same divine source: God; all religions exhibit similar fundamentals of first principles.
All systems teach that there was a time when darkness reigned supreme. Everything which we now perceive was then non-existent. Earth, sky, and the heavenly bodies were uncreate, so were the multitudinous forms which live and move upon the various planets. All, all, was yet in a fluidic condition and the Universal Spirit brooded quiescent in limitless Space as the One Existence.
The Greeks called that condition of homogeneity chaos, and the state of orderly segregation which we now see: the marching orbs which illumine the vaulted canopy of heaven, the stately procession of planets around a central light, the majestic Sun, the unbroken sequence of the seasons and the unvarying alternation of tidal ebb and flow--all this aggregate of systematic order was called cosmos, and was supposed to have proceeded from Chaos.
The Christian Mystic obtains a deeper comprehension when he opens his Bible and ponders the first five verses of that brightest gem of all spiritual ore: the gospel of St. John.
As he reverently opens his aspiring heart to acquire understanding of those sublime mystical teachings he transcends the form-side of nature, comprising various realms of which we have been speaking, and finds himself "in the spirit," as did the prophets in olden times. He is then in the Region of Abstract Thought and sees the eternal verities which also Paul beheld in this, the Third Heaven.
For those among us who are unable to obtain knowledge save by reasoning upon the matter, however, it will be necessary to examine the fundamental meaning of words used by St. John to clothe his wonderful teachings. It was originally given in the Greek language, a much simpler matter than is commonly supposed, for Greek words have been freely introduced into our modern languages, particularly in scientific terms, and we shall show how this ancient teaching is supported by the latest discoveries of modern science.
The opening verse of the Gospel of St. John is as follows: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We will examine the words: "beginning," "Word," and "God." We may also note that in the Greek version the concluding sentence reads: "and God was the Word," a difference which makes a great distinction.
It is an axiomatic truth that "out of nothing, nothing comes," and it has often been asserted by scoffers that the Bible teaches generation "from nothing." We readily agree that translations into the modern languages promulgate this erroneous doctrine, but we have shown in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception (chapter on "The Occult Analysis of Genesis"), that the Hebrew text speaks of an ever-existing essence, as the basis whence all forms, the Earth and the heavenly lights included, were first created, and John also gives the same teaching.
The Greek word arche, in the opening sentence of the Gospel of St. John has been translated the beginning, and it may be said to have meaning, but it also has other valid interpretations, vastly more significant of the idea John wished to convey. It means: an elementary condition, a chief source, a first principle, primordial matter.
There was a time when science insisted that the elements were immutable, that is to say, that an atom of iron had been an atom of iron since the earth was formed and would so remain to the end of time. The alchemists were sneered at as fanciful dreamers or madmen, but since PRofessor J. J. Thomson's discovery of the electron, the atomic theory of matter, is no longer tenable. The principle of radio-activity has leter vindicated the alchemists. Science and the Bible agree in teaching that all that is has been formed from one homogenous substance.
It is that basic principle which John called arche: primordial matter, and the dictionary defines archeology as: "the science of the origin (arche) of things." Masons style God the "Grand Architect," for the Greek word tekton means builder, and God is the Chief Builder (tekton) of arche, the primordial virgin matter which is also the chief source of all things.
Thus we see that when the opening sentence of St. John's Gospel is pro perly translated, our Christian religion teaches that once a virgin substance enfolded the divine Thinker: God.
That is the identical condition which the earlier Greeks called Chaos. A little thought will make it evident that we are not arbitrary in finding fault with the translation of the gospel, for it is self-evident that a word cannot be the beginning, a thought must precede the word, and a thinker must originate thought before it can be expressed as a word. When properly translated the teaching of John fully embodies that idea, for the Greek term logos means both the reasonable thought (we also say logic) and the word which expresses this (logical) thought.
1) In the primordial substance was thought, and the thought was with God, And God was the word,
2) That (The Word), also was with God in the primal state.
Later the divine word, the Creative Fiat, reverberates through space and segregates the homogeneous virgin substance into spearate forms.
3) Every thing has come into existence because of that prime fact, (The Word of God), and no thing exists apart from that fact.
4) In that was Life.
In the alphabet we have a few elementary sounds from which words may be constructed. They are basic elements of expression, as bricks, iron, and lumber are raw materials of architecture, music, literature, or poetry, but the contour of the finished product and the purpose it will serve depends upon the arrangement of the raw materials, which is subject to the constructor's design.
But a heap of bricks, iron, and lumber, is not a house, neither is a jumbled mass of notes music, nor can we call a haphazard arrangement of alphabetical sounds a word. These raw materials are prime necessities in construction of architecture, music, literature, or poetry, but the contour of the finished product and the purpose is will serve depends upon the arrangement of the raw materials, which is subject to the constructor's design. Building materials may be formed into prison or palace; notes may be arranged as fanfare or funeral dirge; words may be indicted to inspire passion or peace, all according to the will of the designer. So also the majestic rhythm of the Word of God has wrought the primal substance, arche, into the multitudinous forms which comprise the phenomenal world, according to His will.
Did the reader ever stop to consider the wonderful power of the human word? Coming to us in the sweet accents of love, it may lure us from paths of rectitude to shameful ignominy and wreck our life with sorrow and remorse, or it may spur us on in noblest efforts to acquire glory and honor, here or hereafter. According to the inflection of the voice a word may strike terror into the bravest heart or lull a timid child to peaceful slumber. The word of an agitator may rouse the passions of a mob and impel it to awful bloodshed, as in the French Revolution, where dictatorial mandates of mob-rule killed and exiled at pleasure, or, the strain of "Home, Sweet Home" may cement the setting of a family-circle beyond possibility of rupture.
Right words are true and therefore free; they are never bound or fettered by time or space; they go to farthest corners of earth, and when the lips that spoke them first have long since mouldered in the grave, other voices take up with unwearying enthusiasm their message of life and love, as for instance, the mystical "Come unto me" which has sounded from unnumbered tongues and brought oceans of balm to troubled hearts.
Words of peace have been victorious where war would have meant defeat, and no talent is more to be desired than ability always to say the right word at the auspicious time.
Considering thus the immense power and potency of the human word, we may perhaps dimly apprehend the potential magnitude of the Word of God, the Creative Fiat, when, as a mighty dynamic force it first reverberated through space and commenced to form primordial matter into worlds, as sound from a violin bow molds sand into geometrical figures. Moreover, the word of God still sounds to sustain the marching orbs and impel them onwards in their circle paths; the Creative Word continues to produce forms of gradually increasing efficiency, as media expressing life and consciousness. The harmonious enunciation of consecutive syllables in the Divine Creative Word mark successive stages in the evolution of the world and man. When the last syllable has been spoken and the complete word has sounded, we shall have reached perfection as human beings. Then time will be at an end, and with the last vibration of the Word of God, the worlds will be resolved into their original elements. Our life will then be "hid with Christ in God," until the Cosmic Night, Chaos, is over, and we wake to do "greater things" in a "new heaven and a new earth."
According to the general idea Chaos and Cosmos are superlative antitheses of each other. Chaos being regarded as a past condition of confusion and disorder which has long since been entirely superseded by the cosmic order which now prevails.
As a matter of fact, Chaos is the seed-ground of Cosmos, the basis of all progress, for thence come all ideas which later materialize as railways, computers, telephones, etc.
We speak of thoughts as being "conceived by the mind," but as both father and mother are necessary in the generation of a child, so also there must be both idea and mind before a thought can be conceived. As semen germinated in the positive male organ is projected into the negative uterus at conception, so ideas are generated by a positive human Ego in the spiritsubstance of the Region of Abstract Thought. This idea is projected upon the receptive mind, and a conception takes place. Then, as the spermatozoic nucleus draws upon the maternal body for material to shape a body appropriate to its individual expression, so does each idea clothe itself in a peculiar form of mind-stuff. It is then a thought, as visible to the inner vision of composite man as a child is to its parent.
Thus we see that ideas are embryonic thoughts, nuclei of spirit-substance from the Region of Abstract Thought. Improperly conceived in a diseased mind they become vagaries and delusions, but when gestated in a sound mind and formed into rational thoughts they are the basis of all the material, moral, and mental progress. The closer our touch with Chaos, the better will be our Cosmos, for in that realm of abstract realities truth is not obscured by matter, it is self-evident.
Pilate asked "What is Truth?" but no answer is recorded. We are incapable of cognizing truth in the abstract while we live in the phenomenal world, for the inherent nature of matter is illusion and delusion, and we are constantly making allowances and corrections whether we are conscious of the fact or not. The sunbeam which proceeds for 90 millions of miles in a straight line is refracted or bent as soon as it strikes our dense atmosphere, and according to the angle of its refraction, it appears to have one color or another. The straightest stick appears crooked when partly immersed in water, and the truths which are so self-evident in the higher worlds are likewise obscured, refracted or twisted out of all semblance under the illusory conditions of this material world.
"The truth shall set you free," said Christ, and the more we turn our aspirations from material acquisitiveness and seek to lay up treasure above, the more we aim to rise, the oftener we "get in the spirit," the more readily we "shall know truth" and reach liberation from the fetter of flesh which binds us to a limited environment, and attain to a sphere of greater usefulness.
Study of philosophy and science has a tendency to further perception of truth, and as science has progressed it has gradually receded from its erstwhile crude materialism. The day is not far off when it will be more reverently religious than the church itself. Mathematics is said to be "dry," for it does not stir the emotions. When it is taught that "the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees," the dictum is at once accepted, because its truth is self-evident and no feeling is involved in the matter. But when a doctrine such as the Immaculate Conception is promulgated and our emotions are stirred, bloody war, or heated argument, may result, and still leave the matter in doubt. Pythagoras demanded that his pupils study mathematics, because he knew the elevating effect of raising their minds above the sphere of feeling, where it is subject to delusion, and elevating it towards the Region of Abstract Thought which is the prime reality.
In this place we are dealing with worlds in particular, and will therefore defer comment upon the remainder of the first five verse of St. John's Gospel:
We have now seen that the Earth is composed of three worlds which interpenetrate one another so that it is perfectly true when Christ said that "heaven is within you" or, as the translation should rather have been, among you. We have also seen that of these three realms two are subdivided. It has also been explained that each division serves a great purpose in the unfoldment of various forms of life which dwell in each of these worlds, and we may note in conclusion, that the lower regions of the Desire World constitute what the Catholic religion calls purgatory, a place where the evil of a past life is transmuted to good, usable by the Spirit as conscience in later lives. The higher regions of the Desire World are the First Heaven where all the good a man has done is assimilated by the Spirit as soul power. The Region of Concrete Thought is the Second Heaven, where, as already said, the Spirit prepares its future environment on Earth, and the Region of Abstract Thought is the Third Heaven, but as Paul said, it is scarcely lawful to speak about that.
Some will ask: Is there then no hell? No! The mercy of God tends as greatly towards the principle of good as the inhumanity of man towards cruelty, so that he would consign his brother men to flames of hell during eternity for the puerile mistakes committed during a few years, or perhaps for a slight difference in belief. The writer has heard of a minister who wished to impress his "flock" with the reality of an eternity of hell flames, and to demonstrate the fallacy of a heretical notion entertained by some of his parishioners: that when sinners go to hell they burn to ashes and that is the end.
He took with him an alcohol lamp and some asbestoes into the pulpit and told his audience that God would turn their souls into a substance resembling asbestos. He showed them that thought the asbestos were heated red hot it did not decompose into ashes. Fortunately, the day of the hell preacher has gone by, and if we believe the Bible which says that "in God we live and move and have our being," we can readily understand that a lost soul would be an impossibility, for were one single soul (Spirit) lost, then logically a part of God Himself would be lost. No matter what our color, our race, or our creed, we are all equally the children of God and in our various ways we shall obtain satisfaction. Let us therefore rather look to Christ and forget creed.
Our chapter head, "The Constitution of Man," may surprise a reader who has not previously studied the Mystery Teachings, or he may imagine that we intend to give an anatomical dissertation, but such is not our intention. We have spoken of the Earth upon which we live as being composed of several invisible realms in addition to the world we perceive by means of our senses. We have also spoken of man as being correlated to these various divisions in nature, and a little thought upon the subject will quickly convince us that in order to function upon the various planes of existence described, it is necessary that a man should have a body composed of their substance, or at least have specialized for his or her own use, some of the material of each of these worlds.
We have said that finer matter, called desire-stuff and mind-stuff, permeates our atmosphere and the solid Earth, even as blood percolates through all parts of our flesh. But that is not a sufficient explanation to account for all facts of life. If that were all, then minerals, which are interpenetrated by the World of Thought and the World of Desire, would have thoughts and desires as well as man. This is not the case, so something more than mere interpenetration must be requisite to acquire the faculties of thought and feeling.
We know that in order to function in this world, to live as a physical being among other like beings, we must have a physical body all our own, built of the chemical constituents of this visible world. When we lose it at death, it profits us nothing that the world is full of just the very chemicals needed to build such a body. We cannot then specialize them, and therefore we are invisible to all others. Similarly, if we did not possess a special body made of ether, we should be unable to grow and to propagate. That is the case with the mineral. Had we no separate individual desire body, we should be unable to feel desires and emotions, there would be no incentive to move from one place to another. We should then be stationary as plants, and did we not possess a mind, we should be incapable of thought, and act upon impulse and instinct as animals do.
Some one may of course object to this last statement, and contend that animals do think. So far as our domesticated animals are concerned that is partially true, but it is not quite in the same way that we think and reason. The difference may perhaps best be understood if we take an illustration from the electrical field. When an electric current of high voltage is passed through a coiled copper wire, and another wire is placed in the center of the coils, that wire will become charged with electricity of lower voltage; so also the animal, when brought within the sphere of human thoughts, evolves a mental activity of a lower order.
Paul, in his writings, also mentions the natural body and the spiritual body while the man himself is a Spirit inhabiting those vehicles. We will briefly note the constitution of the various bodies of man invisible to the physical sight but as objective to spiritual sight as the dense body to ordinary vision.
That body of ours is composed of ether is called the vital body in Western Mystery Schools, for, as we have already seen, ether is the avenue of ingress for vital force from the Sun and the field of agencies in nature which promote such vital activities as assimilation, growth, and propagation.
This vehicle is an exact counterpart of our visible body, molecule for molecule, and organ for organ, with one exception, which we shall note later. But it is slightly larger, extending about one and one-half inches beyond the periphery of our dense vehicle.
The spleen is the entrance gate of forces which vitalize the body. In the etheric counterpart of that organ solar energy is transmuted to vital fluid of a pale rose color. Thence it spreads all over the nervous system, and after having been used in the body it radiates in streams, much as bristles protrude from a porcupine.
The rays of the Sun are transmitted either directly, or reflected by way of the planets and the Moon. The rays directly from the Sun give spiritual illumination; the rays perceived by way of the planets produce intelligence, morality, and soul growth, but the rays reflected by way of the Moon make for physical growth as seen in the case of plants, which grow differently when planted in the light of the Moon from what is the case when they are planted when the Moon is dark. There is also a difference in plants sown when the Moon is in barren and fruitful signs of the Zodiac.
The solar ray is absorbed by the human Spirit which has its seat in the center of the forehead; the stellar ray is absorbed by the brain and spinal cord; and the lunar ray enters our system through the spleen.
The solar, stellar, and lunar rays are all three-colored, and in the lunar which supplies our vital force, the blue beam is the life of the Father, which cause germination; the yellow beam is the life of the Son, which is the active principle in nutrition and growth; and the red beam is the life of the Holy Spirit, which stimulates to action, dissipating the energy stored by the yellow force. This principle is particularly active in generation.
The various kingdoms absorb this life-force differently, according to their constitution. Animals have only 28 pairs of spinal nerves. They are keyed to the lunar month of 28 days and therefore dependent upon a Group Spirit for an infusion of stellar rays necessary to produce consciousness. They are altogether incapable of absorbing the direct ray of the Sun.
Man is in a transition stage, he has 31 pairs of spinal nerves which keys him to the solar month, but the nerves in the so-called cauda-equina (literally, horse-tail) at the end of our spinal cord are still too undeveloped to act as avenues for the spiritual ray of the Sun. In proportion as we draw our creative force upward by spiritual thought we develop these nerves and awaken dormant faculties of the Spirit. But it is dangerous to attempt that development except under guidance of a qualified teacher, and the reader is earnestly warned not to use any method published in books, nor sold, for their practice usually leads to insanity. The safe method is never sold for money or any earthly consideration however large or small; it is always freely given as a reward of merit. "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened," said the Christ. If our life is a prayer for illumination, the search will not be uncertain, nor the knock without response.
When solar energy has been transmuted in the spleen it traverses the whole nervous system of the body, glowing with a most beautiful color of a delicate rosy hue. It answers the same purpose as electricity in a telegraph system. We may string wires between cities, erect telegraph stations, install receivers and transmitters. We may even have operators ready at the keys, but until electric fluid is turned into our wires, the telegraph keys will refuse to click.
So also in the body, the human Spirit is operator, and from the central station of the brain, nerves ramify, go through the whole body to all the different muscles. When this vitalizing fluid of which we are speaking traverses the nervous system, the Ego may send his commands to the muscles and cause them to move, but if the vital fluid for any reason does not flow into a certain part of the body such as an arm or a limb, then the Spirit is powerless to move that part of the body and we say that it is paralyzed.
When we are in health, we specialize solar energy in such great quantities that we cannot use it all in the body and therefore it radiates through the pores of our skin in straight streams and serves a similar purpose as an exhaust fan. That machine drives the foul air out of a room or building and keeps the atmosphere within pure and sweet. The excessive vital force which radiates from the body drives out poisonous gases, deleterious microbes, and effete matter, thus tending to preserve a healthy condition. It also prevents armies of disease germs, which swarm about in the atmosphere, from entering, upon the same principle that a fly cannot wing its way into a building through the exhaust fan. Thus it serves a most beneficent purpose even after it has been utilized in our body and is returning to the free state.
It is a curious and most astounding sight when one first observes how, from exposed parts of the body such as hands and face, there suddenly commences to flow a stream of stars, cubes, pyramids, and a variety of other geometrical forms. The writer has more than once rubbed his eyes when he first perceived the phenomenon, for it seemed that he must be suffering from hallucinations. The forms observed are chemical atoms, however, which have served their purpose in the body and are expelled through the pores.
When one has eaten a meal, vital fluid is consumed by the body in great quantities, for it is the cement whereby nature's forces build our food into the body. Therefore the radiations are weakest during the period of digestion. If the meal has been heavy, the outflow is very perceptibly diminished, and does not then cleanse our body as thoroughly as when the food has been digested, nor are the radiations as potent in keeping out inimical germs. Therefore one is most liable to catch cold or other diseases by overeating.
During ill health the vital body specializes but little solar energy. Then, for a time, the visible body seems to feed upon the vital body, as it were, so that the vehicle becomes more transparent and attenuated at the same rate as the visible body exhibits a state of emaciation. The cleansing odic radiations are almost entirely absent during sickness, therefore complications set in easily.
Though science has not directly observed this vital body of man, it has upon several occasions postulated the existence of such a vehicle as necessary to account for facts in life, and the radiations have been observed by a number of scientists at different times and under varying conditions. Blondlot and Charpentier have called them N-rays after the city of Nantes where the radiations were observed by these scientists; others have named them "The Odic fluid." Scientific investigators who have conducted researches into psychic phenomena have even photographed it when it has been extracted through the spleen by materializing Spirits. Dr. Hotz, for instance, obtained two photographs of a materialization through the German medium, Minna-Demmler. On one a cloud of ether is seen oozing out through the left side of the medium, shapeless and without form. The second picture, taken a few moments later, shows the materialized Spirit standing at the medium's side. Other photographs obtained by scientists from the Italian medium, Eusapio Palladino, show a luminous cloud over-hanging her left side.
We said in the beginning of this description that the vital is an exact counterpart of the dense body with one exception: it is of the opposite sex, or perhaps we should rather say polarity. As the vital body nourishes the dense vehicle, we may readily understand that blood is its highest visible expression, and also that a positively polarized vital body would generate more blood than a negative one. Woman, who is physically negative, has a positive vital body, hence she generates a surplus of blood which is relieved by the periodic flow. She is also more prone to tears, which are white bleeding, than man, whose negative vital body does not generate more blood than he can comfortably take care of. Therefore it is not necessary for him to have the outlets which relieve excess of blood in woman.
In addition to the visible body and the vital body we also have a body made of desire stuff from which we form our feelings and emotions. This vehicle also impels us to seek sense gratification. But while the two instruments of which we have already spoken are well organized, the desire body appears to spiritual sight as an ovoid cloud extending from sixteen to twenty inches beyond the physical body. It is above the head and below the feet so that our dense body sits in the center of this egg-shaped cloud as the yolk is in the center of an egg.
The reason for the rudimentary state of this vehicle is that it has been added to the human constitution more recently than the bodies previously mentioned. Evolution of form may be likened to the manner in which the juices in the snail first condense into flesh and later become a hard shell. When our present visible body first germinated in the Spirit, it was a thought-form, but gradually it has become denser and more concrete until it is now a chemical crystallization. The vital body was next emanated by the Spirit as a thought-form, and is in the third stage of concretion which is etheric. The desire body is a still later acquisition. That also was a thought-form at its inception, but has now condensed to desire-stuff, and the mind, which we have only recently received, is still but a mere cloudy thought-form.
Arms and limbs, ears and eyes are not necessary to use the desire body, for it can glide through space more swiftly than wind without such means of locomotion as we require in this visible world.
When viewed by spiritual sight, it appears that there are in this desire body a number of whirling vortices. We have already explained that it is a characteristic of desire-stuff to be in constant motion, and from the main vortex in the region of the liver, there is a constant outwelling flow which radiates toward the periphery of this egg-shaped body and returns to the center through a number of other vortices. The desire body exhibits all the colors and shades which we know and a vast number of others which are indescribable in earthly language. Those colors vary in every person according to his or her characteristics and temperament, and they also vary from moment to moment as passing moods, fancies, or emotions are experienced by him. There is, however, in each one a certain basic color dependent upon the ruling star at the moment of his or her birth. The man in whose horoscope Mars is peculiarly strong usually has a crimson tint in his aura; where Jupiter is the strongest planet the prevailing tint seems to be a bluish tone; and so on with the other planets.
There was a time in the Earth's past history when incrustation was not yet complete, and human beings of that time lived upon islands here and there, amid boiling seas. They had not yet evolved eyes or ears, but a little organ: the pineal gland, which anatomists have called the third eye, protruded through the back of the head and was a localized organ of feeling. It warned the man when he came too near a volcanic crater and thus enabled him to escape destruction. Since then the cerebral hemispheres have covered the pineal gland, and instead of a single organ of feeling, the whole body inside and out is sensitive to impacts, which of course is a much higher state of development.
In the desire body every particle is sensitive to vibrations similar to those which we call sight, sounds, and feelings, and every particle is in incessant motion, rapidly swirling about so that in the same instant it may be at the top and bottom of the desire body and impart at all points to all the other particles a sensation of that which it has experienced. Thus every particle of desire-stuff in this vehicle of ours will instantly feel any sensation experienced by any single particle. Therefore the desire body is of an exceedingly sensitive nature, capable of most intense feelings and emotions.
This is the latest acquisition of the human Spirit, and in most people who have not yet accustomed themselves to orderly, consecutive thought, it is a mere inchoate cloud disposed particularly in the region of the head. When looking at a person clairvoyantly there appears to be an empty space in the center of the forehead just above and between the eyebrows. It looks like the blue part of a gas flame. That is mind-stuff which veils the human Spirit, or Ego, and the writer has been told that not even the most gifted seer can penetrate that veil, said to have been spoken of in ancient Egypt as "The Veil of Isis." None may lift it and live, for behind that veil is the Holy of Holies, the temple of our body, where the Spirit is to be left secure from all intrusion.
To those who have not previously studied the deeper philosophies the question may occur: But why all these divisions? Even the Bible speaks only of soul and body, for most people believe soul and Spirit to be synonymous terms. We can only answer that this division is not arbitrary but necessary, and founded upon facts in nature. Neither is it correct to regard the soul and the Spirit as synonymous. Paul himself speaks of the natural body which is composed of physical substances: solids, liquids, gases, and ethers; he mentions a spiritual body, the vehicle of the Spirit, composed of the mind and desire body, and the spirit itself, which is called ego in Latin or "I" in English.
That term "I" is an application which can be made only by the human Spirit of itself. We may all call a dog, dog; or we may call a table, table, and any one else may apply the same name to the dog and to the table, but only a human being can be called "I." Only he himself can apply that most exclusive of all words, "I," for this is the badge of self-consciousness, the recognition by the human spirit of itself as an entity, separate and apart from all others.
Thus we see that the constitution of man is more complex than appears upon the surface, and we will now proceed to note the effect upon this multiplex being of various conditions of life.
There are two classes of people in the world. In one class the vital and dense bodies are so firmly cemented that the ethers cannot be extracted under any circumstances but remain with the dense body at all times and under all conditions from birth to death. Those people are insensible to any supersensuous sights or sounds. They are therefore usually exceedingly skeptical, and believe nothing exists but what THEY can see.
There is another class of people in whom the connection between the dense and the vital bodies is more or less loose, so that the ether of their vital bodies vibrates at a higher rate than in the first class mentioned. These people are therefore more or less sensitive to the spiritual world.
This class of sensitives may again be divided. Some are weak characters, dominated by the will of others in a negative manner, as mediums, who are the prey of disembodied Spirits desirous of obtaining a physical body when they have lost their own by death.
The other class of sensitives are strong positive characters who act only from within, according to their own will. They may develop into trained clairvoyants, and be their own masters instead of slaves of a disembodied Spirit. In some sensitives of both classes it is possible to extract part of the ether which forms the vital body. When a disembodied Spirit obtains a subject of that nature, it develops the sensitive as a materializing medium. The man who is capable of extracting his own vital body by an act of will, becomes a citizen of two worlds, independent and free. These are usually known as Invisible Helpers. There are certain other abnormal conditions where the vital body and the dense body are separated totally or in part, as for instance, if we place our limb in an uncomfortable position so that circulation of the blood ceases. Then we may see the etheric limb hanging down below the visible limb as a stocking. When we restore circulatiion and the etheric limb seeks to enter into place, an intense prickly sensation is felt, due to the fact that the little streams of force, which radiate all through the ether, seek to permeate the molecules of the limb and stir them into renewed vibration. When a person is drowning, the vital body also separates from the dense vehicle and the intense prickly pain incident to resuscitation is also due to the cause mentioned.
While we are awake and going about our work in the Physical World, the desire body and mind both permeate the dense and the vital bodies, and there is a constant war between the desire nature and the vital body. The vital body is continually engaged in building up the human organism, while the impulses of the desire body tend to tire and to break down tissue. Gradually, in the course of the day, the vital body loses ground before the onslaughts of the desire body, poisons of decay slowly accumulate, and the flow of vital fluid becomes more and more sluggish until at length it is incapable of moving the muscles. The body then feels heavy and drowsy. At last the vital body collapses, as it were; the little streams of force which permeate each atom seem to shrivel up, and the Ego is forced to abandon its body to the restorative powers of sleep.
When a building becomes dilapidated and is to be restored and put in thorough repair, the tenants must move out to let the workmen have a free field. So also when the building of a Spirit has become unfit for further use, it must withdraw therefrom. As the desire body caused the damage, it is a logical conclusion that it also must be removed. Every night when our body has become tired, the higher vehicles are withdrawn, only the dense and vital bodies being left upon the bed.
Then the process of restoration commences and lasts for a longer or shorter time according to circumstances.
At times, however, the grip of the desire body upon our denser vehicles is so strong that it refuses to let go. When it has become so interested in the proceedings of the day, it continues to ruminate over them after the collapse of the physical body, and is perhaps only half extracted from that vehicle. Then it may transmit sights and sounds of the Desire World to the brain. But, as the connections are necessarily askew under such conditions, the most confused dreams result. Furthermore, as the desire body compels motion, the dense body is very apt to toss about when the desire body is not fully extracted; hence the restless sleep which usually accompanies dreams of a confused nature.
There are times, of course, when dreams are prophetic and come true, but such dreams result only after complete extraction of the desire body. Under circumstances where the Spirit has seen some danger, perhaps, which may befall, it then impresses the fact upon the brain at the moment of awakening.
It also happens that the Spirit goes upon a soul flight and omits to perform its part of the work of restoration; then the body will not be fit to re-enter in the morning, so it sleeps on. The Spirit may thus roam afield for a number of days, or even weeks, before it again enters its physical body and assumes the normal routine of alternating waking and sleeping. This condition is called trance, and the Spirit may remember upon its return what it has seen and heard in the super-physical realm, or it may have forgotten, according to the stage of its development and the depth of the trance condition. When the trance is very light, the Spirit is usually present in the room where its body lies all the time, and upon its return to the body it will be able to recount to relatives all they said and did while its body lay unconscious. Where the trance is deeper, the returning Spirit will usually be unconscious of what happened around its body, but may recount experiences from the invisible world.
A few years ago a little girl by the name of Florence Bennett in Kankakee, Illinois, fell into such a trance. She returned to the body every few days, but stayed within only a few hours each time, the whole trance lasting three weeks, more or less. During the returns to her body she told relatives that in her absence she seemed to be in a place inhabited by all the people who had died. But she stated that none of them spoke about dying and no one among them seemed to realize that they were dead. Among those she had seen was a locomotive engineer who had been accidently killed. His body was mangled in the accident which caused death. The little girl perceived him there walking about minus arms, and with lesions upon his head, all of which is in line with facts usually seen by mystic investigators. Persons who have been hurt in accidents go about thus, until they learn that a mere wish to have their body made whole will supply a new arm or limb; for desire-stuff is most quickly and readily molded by thought.
After a longer or shorter time there comes in each life a point when the experiences which a Spirit can gain from its present environment have been exhausted, and life terminates in death.
Death may be sudden and seemingly unexpected, as for instance by earthquake, upon the battle-field, or by accident, as we call it, though in reality death is never accidental or unforeseen by Higher Powers. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without divine will. There are along life's path partings of the way, as it were; on one side the main line of life continues onward, the other path leads into what we might call a blind alley. If the man takes the latter path, it soon ends in death. We are here in life for the sake of gaining experience and each life has a certain harvest to reap. If we order our life in such a manner that we gain the knowledge it is intended we should acquire, we continue in life, and opportunities of different kinds constantly come our way. But if we neglect them, and the life goes into paths which are not congruous to our individual development, it would be a waste of time to let us stay in such an environment. Therefore the great and wise Beings who are behind the scene of evolution, terminate our life, that we may have a fresh start in a different sphere of influence. The Law of Conservation of Energy is not confined to the Physical World, but operates in the spiritual realms also. There is nothing in life that has not its purpose. We do wrong to rail against circumstances, no matter how disagreeable. We should rather endeavor to learn the lessons which are contained therein, that we may live a long and useful life. Some one may object and say: "You are inconsistent in your teachings. You say there is really no death; that we go into a brighter existence, and that we have to learn other lessons there in a different sphere of usefulness! Why then aim to live a long life?"
It is very true that we make these claims, and they are perfectly consistent with the other assertions just mentioned. However, there are lessons to be learned here which cannot be learned in the other worlds, and we have to bring up this physical body through the useless years of childhood, through hot and impulsive youth, to the ripeness of manhood or womanhood, before it becomes of true spiritual use. The longer we live after maturity has been attained, when we have commenced to look upon the serious side of life and started truly to learn lessons which make for soul-growth, the more experience we shall gather and the richer our harvest will be. Then, in a later existence, we shall be much more advanced and capable of taking up tasks that would be impossible with less length of life and breadth of activity. Besides, to die is hard for the man in the prime of life with a wife and growing family whom he loves, with ambitions of greatness unfulfilled, with hosts of friends about him, and with interests all centered upon the material plane of existence. It is sad for the woman whose heart is bound up in home and the little ones she has reared to leave them, perhaps without anyone to care for them; to know that they have to fight their way alone through the early years when tender care is needed and perhaps to see those little ones abused, and she unable to lift a hand, though her heart may bleed as freely as it would in Earth life. All these things are sad, and they bind the spirit to Earth for a much longer time than ordinarily; they hinder it from reaping the experiences it should reap upon the other side of death, and they make it desirable, along with other reasons already mentioned, to live a long life before passing onwards.
The difference between those who pass out at a ripe old age and one who leaves this Earth in the prime of life may be illustrated by the manner in which the seed clings to a fruit in an unripe state. A great deal of force is necessary to tear the stone from a green peach; it has such a tenacious hold upon the fruit that shreds of pulp adhere to it when forcibly removed. So also the Spirit clings to the flesh in middle life and a certain part of its material interest remains and binds it to Earth after death. On the other hand, when a life has been lived to the full, when the spirit has had time to realize its ambitions or to find out their futility, when the duties of life has been misspent and the pangs of conscience have worked upon the man, and shown him his mistakes; when, in fact, the Spirit has learned the lessons of life, as it must have to come to old age, then it may be likened to the seed of the ripe fruit which falls out clean, without a vestige of flesh clinging thereto, at the moment the encasing pulp is opened. Therefore we say, as before, that thought there is a brighter existence in store for those who have lived well, it is nevertheless best to live a long life and to live it to the fullest extent possible.
We also maintain that no matter what may be the circumstances of a man's death, it is not accidental; it has either been brought about by his own neglect to embrace opportunities of growth or else life has been lived to the ultimate possible. There is one exception to that rule, and that is due to man's exercise of his divine prerogative of interference. If we lived according to schedule, if we all assimilated the experiences designed for our growth by the Creative Powers, we should live to the ultimate length, but we ourselves usually shorten our lives by not taking advantage of opportunities. It also happens that other men may shorten our lives and cut them off as suddenly as the so-called accident whereby the divine rulers terminate our life here. In other words, murder, or fatal accidents brought about by human carelessness are in reality the only termination to life not planned by invisible leaders of humanity. No one is ever compelled to do murder or other evil, or there could not come to them a just retribution for their acts. The Christ said that evil must come but woe unto him by whom it cometh, and to harmonize that with the law of divine justice, "as a man soweth, so shall he also reap," there must at least be absolute free will in respect to evil acts.
There are also cases where a person lives such a full and good life of such vast benefit to humanity and to himself that his days are lengthened beyond the ultimate, as they are shortened by neglect, but such cases are of course too few to allow of their being dwelt upon at length.
Where death is not sudden as in the case of accidents, but occurs at home after an illness, quietly and peacefully, dying persons usually experience a falling upon them as of a pall of great darkness before termination of life. Many pass out from the body under that condition and do not see the light again until they have entered the superphysical realms. There are many other cases, however, where the darkness lifts before the final release from the body. Then the dying person views both worlds at once, and is cognizant of the presence of both dead and living friends. Under such circumstances it very often happens that a mother sees some of her children who have gone before, and she will exclaim joyously: "Oh, there is Johnny standing at the foot of the bed: my, but hasn't he grown!" The living relatives may feel shocked and uneasy, thinking the mother is suffering from hallucinations, while in reality she is more clear-sighted than they. She perceives those who have passed beyond the veil, who have come to greet and assist her to find herself at home in the new world she is entering.
Each human being is an individual, separate and apart from all others, and as experiences in the life of each differ from those of all others in the interval from the cradle to the grave, so we may also reasonably infer that the experiences of each Spirit when it passes through the gates of birth and death. We print what purports to be a spirit message communicated by the late professor James of Harvard at the Boston Spirit Temple, and in which he describes sensations which he felt when passing through the gate of death. We do not vouch for its authenticity as we (the writer) have not investigated the matter personally.
Professor James had promised to communicate after death with his friends in this life, and the whole world of psychic research was and still is on watch for a word from him. Several mediums have claimed that Professor James has communicated through them, but the most remarkable are those given through the Boston Spirit temple as follows:
"And this is death, only to fall asleep, only to awaken in the morning and to know that all is well. I am not dead, only arisen.
"I only know that I experienced a great shock through my entire system, as if some mighty bond had been rent asunder. For a moment I was dazed and lost consciousness. When I awakened I found myself standing beside the old body which had served me faithfully and well. To say that I was surprised would only inadequately express the sensation that thrilled my very being, and I realized that some wonderful change had taken place. Suddenly I became conscious that my body was surrounded by many of my friends, and an uncontrollable desire took possession of me to speak and touch them that they might know that I still lived. Drawing a little nearer to that which was so like and yet unlike myself, I stretched forth my hand and touched them, but they heeded me not."
"Then it was that the full significance of the great change that had taken place flashed upon my newly awakened senses; then it was that I realized that an impenetrable barrier separated me from my loved ones on Earth, and that this great change which had taken place was indeed death. A sense of weariness and longing for rest took possession of me. I seemed to be transported through space, and I lost consciousness, to awaken in a land so different and yet so similar to the one which I had lately left. It was not possible for me to describe my sensations when I again regained consciousness and realized that, though dead, I was still alive.
"When I first became conscious of my new environment I was resting in a beautiful grove, and was realizing as never before what it was to be at peace with myself and all the world."
"I know that only with the greatest difficulty shal I be enabled to express to you my sensations when I fully realized that I had awakened to a new life. All was still, no sound broke the silence. Darkness had surrounded me. In fact, I seemed to be enveloped in a heavy mist, beyond which which my gaze could not penetrate. Soon in the distance I discerned a faint glimmer of light, which slowly approached me, and then, to my wonder and joy, I beheld the face of her who had been my guiding star in the early days of my earth life."
One of the saddest sights witnessed by the seer at a death-bed is the tortures to which we often subject our dying friends on account of ignorance of how to care for them in that condition. We have a science of birth; obstetricians who have been trained for years in their profession and have developed a wonderful skill assist the little stranger into this world. We have also trained nurses attendant upon mother and child, the ingenuity of brilliant minds is focused upon the problem of how to make maternity easier; neither pains nor money are spared in these beneficent efforts for one whom we have never seen. But when the friend of a lifetime, the man who has served his kind well and nobly in profession, state, or church, is to leave the scene of his labors for a new field of activity, when the woman, who has labored to no less good purpose in bringing up a family to take its part in the world's work, has to leave that home and family, when one whom we have loved all our lives is about to bid us the final farewell, we stand by, utterly at a loss how to help. Perhaps we even do the very things most detrimental to the comfort and welfare of the departing one.
Probably there is no form of torture more commonly inflicted upon the dying than that which is caused by administering stimulants. Such potions have the effect of drawing a departing Spirit into its body with the force of a catapult, to remain and to suffer for some time longer. Investigators of conditions beyond have heard many complaints of such treatment. When it is seen that death must inevitably ensue, let not selfish desire to keep a departing Spirit a little longer prompt us to inflict such tortures upon them. The death chamber should be a place of the utmost quiet, a place of peace and of prayer, for at that time, and for three and one-half days after the last breath, the Spirit is passing through a Gethsemane and needs all the assistance that can be given. The value of the life that has just been passed depends greatly upon conditions which then prevail about the body; yes, even the conditions of its future life are influenced by our attitude during that time, so that if ever we were our brother's keeper in life, we are a thousand times more so at death.
Post-mortem examinations, embalming, and cremation during the period mentioned, not only disturb the passing Spirit mentally, but are even productive of a certain amount of pain, there still being a slight connection with the discarded vehicle. If sanitary laws require us to prevent decomposition while thus keeping the body for cremation, it may be packed in ice till the three and one-half days have passed. After that time the Spirit will not suffer, no matter what happens to the body.
No matter how long we may keep the Spirit from passing out, however, at last there will come a time when no stimulant can hold it and the last breath is drawn. Then the silver cord of which the Bible speaks, and which holds the higher and the lower vehicles together, snaps in the heart and causes that organ to stop. That rupture releases the vital body, and it, with the desire body and mind, floats above the visible body for from one to three and one-half days, while the Spirit is engaged in reviewing the past life, an exceedingly important part of its post-mortem experience. Upon that review depends its whole existence from death to a new birth.
The question may arise in the student's mind: "How can we review our past life from the cradle to the grave, when we do not even remember what we did a month ago? To form a proper basis for our future life, this record ought to be very accurate, but even the best memory is faulty." When we understand the difference between the conscious and subconscious memory and the manner in which the latter operates, the difficulty vanishes. This difference and the manner in which the subconscious memory keeps an accurate record of our life experiences may be best understood by an illustration, as follows: When we go into a field and view the surrounding landscape, vibrations in the ether carry to us a picture of everything within the range of our vision. It is as sad as it is true, however, that "we have eyes and see not," as the Saviour said. These vibrations impinge upon the retina of our eyes, even to the very smallest details, but they usually do not penetrate to our consciousness, and therefore are not remembered. Even the most powerful impressions fade in the course of time, so that we cannot call them back at will when they are stored in our conscious memory.
When a photographer goes afield with his camera, the results which he obtains are different. The ether vibrations emanating from all things upon which his camera is focused, transmit to the sensitive plate an impression of the landscape, true to the minutest detail; and, mark this well, this true and accurate picture is in no wise dependent upon whether the photographer is observant or not. It will remain upon the plate and may be reproduced under proper conditions. Such is the subconscious memory, and it is generated automatically by each of us during every moment of time, independently of our volition, in the following manner.
From the first breath which we draw after birth to our last dying gasp we inspire air which is charged with pictures of our surroundings, and the same ether which carries that picture to the retina of our eye is inhaled into our lungs where it enters the blood. Thus it reaches the heart in due time. In the left ventricle of that organ, near the apex, there is one little atom which is particularly sensitized and which remains in the body all through life. It differs in this respect from all other atoms which come and go, for it is the particular property of God,and of a certain Spirit. This atom may be called the book of the Recording Angel, for as the blood passes through the heart, cycle after cycle, the pictures of our good and evil acts are inscribed thereon to the minutest detail. This record may be called the subconscious memory. It forms the basis of our future life when reproduced as a panorama just subsequent to death. By removal of the seed atom--which corresponds to the sensitized plate in a camera--the reflecting ether of the vital body serves as a focus, and as the life unrolls slowly, backwards, from death to birth the pictures thereof are etched into the desire body, which will be our vehicle during our sojourn in Purgatory and the First Heaven where evil is eradicated and good assimilated, so that in a future life the former may serve as conscience to withhold the man from repeating mistakes of the past, and the latter will spur him to greater good.
A phenomenon similar to the panorama of life usually takes place where a person is drowning. People who have been resuscitated speak of having seen their whole life in a flash. That is because under such conditions the vital body also leaves the dense body. Of course there is no rupture of the silver cord, or life could not be restored. Unconsciousness follows quickly in drowning, while in the usual post-mortem review the consciousness continues until the vital body collapses in the same manner that it does when we go to sleep. Then consciousness ceases for a while and the panorama is terminated. Therefore also the time occupied by the panorama varies with different persons, according to whether the vital body was strong and healthy, or had become thin and emaciated by protracted illness. The longer the time spent in review, and the more quiet and peaceful the surroundings, the deeper will be the etching which is made in the desire body. As already said, that has a most important and far-reaching effect, for then the sufferings which the Spirit will realize in Purgatory on account of bad habits and misdeeds will be much keener than if there is only a slight impression, and in a future life the still small voice of conscience will warn much more insistently against mistakes which caused sufferings in the past.
When conditions are such at the time of death that the Spirit is disturbed by outside conditions, as for instance the din and turmoil of a battle, the harrowing conditions of an accident, or the hysterical wailings of relatives, the distraction prevents it from realizing an appropriate depth in the etching upon the desire body. Consequently its post-mortem existence becomes vague and insipid; the Spirit does not harvest the fruits of experience as it should have done had it passed out of the body in peace and under normal conditions. It would therefore lack incentive to good in a future life, and miss the warning against evil which a deep etching of the panorama of life would have given. Thus its growth would be retarded in a very marked degree, but the beneficent Powers in charge of evolution take certain steps to compensate for our ignorant treatment of the dying and other untoward circumstances mentioned. What these steps are, we shall discuss when considering the life of children in heaven; for the present let it be sufficient to say that in God's kingdom every evil is always transmuted to a greater good, though the process may not be at once apparent.
During life the collapse of the vital body at night terminates our view of the world about us, and causes us to lose ourselves in the unconsciousness of sleep. When the vital body collapses just subsequent to death, and the panorama of life is terminated, we also lose consciousness for a time which varies according to the individual. A darkness seems to fall upon the Spirit; then after a while it wakes up and begins dimly to perceive the light of the other world, but is only gradually accustomed to the altered conditions. It is an experience similar to that which we have when coming out of a darkened room into sunlight, which blinds us by its brilliancy, until the pupils of our eyes have contracted so that they admit a quantity of light bearable to our organism.
If under such a condition we turn momentarily from the bright sunlight and look back into the darkened room, objects there will be much plainer to our vision than things outside which are illumined by the powerful rays of the Sun. So it is also with the Spirit; when it has first been released from the body it perceives sights, scenes, and sounds of the material world which it has just left much more readily than it observes the sights of the world it is entering. Wordsworth in his Ode To Immortality noted a similar condition in the case of newborn children, who are all clairvoyant and much more awake to the spiritual world than to this present plane of existence. Some lose the spiritual sight very early, others retain it for a number of years, and a few keep it all through life, but as the birth of a child is a death in the spiritual world and it retains the spiritual sight for a time, so also death here is a birth upon the spiritual plane, and the newly dead retain a consciousness of this world for some time subsequent to demise.
When one awakes in the Desire World after having passed through aforementioned experiences, the general feeling seems to be one of relief from a heavy burden, a feeling perhaps akin to that of a diver encased in a heavy rubber suit, a weighty brass helmet upon his head, leaden soles under his feet, and heavy weights of lead upon his breast and back, confined in his operations on the bottom of the ocean by a short length of air tube, and able to move only clumsily and with difficulty. When after the day's work such a man is hauled to the surface, and divests himself of his heavy garments and he moves about with the facility we enjoy here, he must surely experience a feeling of great relief. Something like that is felt by the Spirit when it has been divested of the mortal coil and is able to roam all over the globe instead of being confined to the narrow environment which bound it upon earth.
There is also a feeling of relief for those who have been ill. Sickness, such as we know it, does not exist there. Neither is it necessary to seek food and shelter, for in that world there is neither heat nor cold. Nevertheless, there are many in the purgatorial region who go to all the bothers of housekeeping, eating and drinking just as we do here. George Du Maurier in his novel, Peter Ibbetson, gives a very good idea of this condition, in his life lived between the hero and the Countess of Towers. This novel also illustrates splendidly what has been said of the subconscious memory, for George DuMaurier has somewhere, somehow discovered an easy method which anyone may apply to do what he calls "dreaming true." By taking a certain position in going to sleep, it is possible, after a little practice, to compel the appearance, in a dream, of any scene in our past life, which we desire to live over again. The book is well worth reading on that account.
When a fiery nebulae has been formed in the sky and commences to revolve, a little matter in the center where motion is slowest commences to crystallize. When it has reached a certain density it is caught in the swirl, and whirled nearer, and nearer to the outward extremity of what has, by that time, become the equator of a revolving globe. Then it is hurled into space and discarded from the economy of the revolving Sun.
This process is not accomplished automatically as scientists would have us believe, an assertion which has been proven in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception and other places in our literature. Herbert Spencer rejected the nebular theory because it required a First cause, which he denied (though unable to form a better hypothesis of the formation of solar systems), but it is accomplished through the activity of a Great Spirit, which we may call God or any other name we choose. As above, so below, says the Hermetic axiom. Man, who is a lesser Spirit, also gathers about himself spirit- substance, which crystallizes into matter and becomes the visible body which the spiritual sight reveals as placed inside an aura of finer vehicles. The latter are in constant motion. When the dense body is born as a child it is extremely soft and flexible.
Childhood, youth, maturity, and old age are but so many different stages of crystallization, which goes on until at last a point is reached where the Spirit can no longer move the hardened body and it is thrown out from the Spirit as the planet is expelled from the Sun. That is death--the commencement of a disrobing process which continues in Purgatory. The low evil passions and desires we cultivated during life have crystallized the desire-stuff in such a manner that also must be expelled. Thus the Spirit is purged of evil under the same law that a sun is purged of the matter which later forms a planet. If the life has been a reasonably decent one, the process of purgation will not be very strenuous nor will the evil desires thus expurgated persist for a long time after having been freed, but they quickly disintegrate. If, on the other hand, an extremely vile life has been led, the part of the expurgated desire nature may persist even to the time when the Spirit returns to a new birth for further experience. It will then be attracted to him and haunt him as a demon, inciting him to evil deeds which he himself abhors. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not a mere fanciful idea of Robert Louis Stevenson, but is founded upon facts well known to spiritual investigators. Such cases are extremes, of course, but they are nevertheless possible, and we unfortunately have laws which convert such possibilities of probabilities in the case of a certain class of so-called criminals. We refer to laws which decree capital punishment as penalty for murder.
When a man is dangerous he should of course be restrained, but even apart from the question of the moral right of a community to take the life of anyone--which we deny--society by its very act of retaliatory murder defeats the very end it would serve. If the vicious murderer is restrained under whatever discipline is necessary in a prison, for a number of years until his natural death, he will have forgotten his bitterness against his victim and against society, and when he stands as a free Spirit in the Desire World, he may even by prayer have obtained forgiveness and have become a good Christian. He will then go on his way rejoicing, and will in the future life seek to help those whom he hurt here.
When society retaliates and puts him to a violent death shortly after he has committed the crime, he is most likely to feel himself as having been greatly injured, and not without cause. Then such a character will usually seek to "get even," as he calls it, going about for a long time inciting others to commit murder and other crimes. Then we have am epidemic of murders in a community, a condition not infrequent.
The regicide in Serbia shocked the Western world (in 1914) by wiping out an entire royal house in a most shockingly bloody manner, and the Minister of the Interior was one of the chief conspirators. Later he wrote his memoirs, and therein he writes that whenever the conspirators had tried to win anyone as a recruit, they always succeeded when they burned incense. He did not know why, but simply mentioned it as a curious coincidence.
To the mystic investigator the matter is perfectly clear. We have shown the necessity of having a vehicle made of the materials of any world wherein we wish to function. We usually obtain a physical vehicle by going through the womb, or perhaps in a few special cases, from a particularly good materializing medium, but where it is only necessary to work upon the brain and influence someone else to act, we need but a vehicle made of such ether as may be obtained from fumes of many different substances. Each kind attracts different classes of Spirits, and there is no doubt that the incense burned at meetings where the conspirators were successful was of a low and sensual order and attracted Spirits who had a grudge against humanity in general and the King of Serbia in particular. These malcontents were unable to injure the king himself, but used a subtle influence which helped the conspirators in their work. The released murderer who has a grudge against society on account of his execution, may enter low gambling saloons where the fumes of liquor and tobacco furnish ample opportunity for working upon the class of people who congregate in such places, and the man whose spiritual sight has been developed is often sadly impressed when he sees the subtle influences to which those who frequent such places are exposed. It is a fact, of course, that a man must be of a low caliber to be influenced by low thoughts, and that it is as impossible to incite a person of benevolent character to do murder--unless we put him into a hypnotic sleep--as to make a tuning fork which vibrates to C sing by striking another attuned to the key of G. But the thoughts of both living and dead constantly surround us, and no man ever thought out a high spiritual philosophy under the influence of tobacco fumes or while imbibing alcoholic stimulants. Were capital punishment, newspaper notoriety of criminals, and the manufacture of liquor and tobacco eliminated from society, the gun factories would soon cease to advertise and go out of business along with most of the locksmiths. The police force would decrease, and jails and taxes would be correspondingly minimized.
When a person enters Purgatory he is exactly the same person as before he died. He has just the same appetites, likes and dislikes, sympathies and antipathies, as before. There is one important difference, however, namely, that he has no dense body wherewith to gratify his appetitites. The drunkard craves drink, in fact, far more than he did in this life, but has no stomach which can contain liquor and cause the chemical combustion necessary to bring about the state of intoxication in which he delights. He may and does enter saloons where he interpolates his body into the body of the physical drunkard so that he may obtain his desires at second hand, as it were, inciting his victim to drink more and more.
Yet there is no true satisfaction. He sees the full glass upon the counter but his spirit hand is unable to lift it. He suffers the tortures of Tantalus until in time he realizes the impossibility of gratifying his base desire. Then he is free to go on, so far as that vice is concerned. He has been purged from that evil without intervention of an angry Deity or a conventional devil with hell's flames and pitchfork to administer punishment, but under the immutable law that as we sow so shall we reap, he has suffered exactly according to his vice. If his craving for drink was of a mild nature, he would scarcely miss the liquor which he cannot there obtain. If his desires were strong and he simply lived for drink, he would suffer veritable tortures of hell without need of actual flames. Thus the pain experienced in eradication of his vice would be exactly commensurate with the energy he had expended upon contracting the habit, as the force wherewith a falling stone strikes the earth is proportionate to the energy expended in hurling it upwards into the air.
Yet it is not the aim of God to "get even;" love is higher than law and in His wonderful mercy and solicitude for our welfare He has opened the way of repentance and reform whereby we may obtain forgiveness of sin, as taught by the Lord of Love: the Christ. Not indeed contrary to law, for His laws are immutable, but by application of a higher law, whereby we accomplish here that which would otherwise be delayed until death had forced the day of reckoning. The method is as follows:
In our explanation concerning the subconscious memory we noted that a record of every act, thought, and word is transmitted by air and ether into our lungs, thence to the blood, and finally inscribed upon the tablet of the heart: a certain little seed atom, which is thus the book of the Recording Angels. It was later explained how this panorama of life is etched into the desire body and forms the basis of retribution after death. When we have committed a wrong and our conscience accuses us in consequence, and this accusation is productive of sincere repentance accompanied by reform, the picture of that wrong act will gradually fade from the record of our life, so that when we pass out at death it will not stand accusingly against us. We noted that the panorama of life unwinds backwards just after death. Later in the purgatorial life it again passes before the spiritual vision of the man, who then experiences the exact feeling of those whom he has wronged. He seems to lose his or her identity for the time being and assumes the condition of his one time victim, he experiences all the mental and physical suffering himself which he inflicted upon others. Thus he learns to be merciful instead of cruel, and to do right instead of wrong in a future life. But if he awakens to a thorough realization of a wrong previous to his death, then, as said, the feeling of sorrow for his victim and the restitution or redress which he gives of his own free will makes the suffering after death unnecessary. Hence "his sin is forgiven."
The Rosicrucian Mystery Teaching gives a scientific method whereby an aspirant to the higher life may purge himself continually, and thus be able entirely to avoid existence in Purgatory. Each night after retiring the pupil reviews his or her life during the day in reverse order. He starts to visualize as clearly as possible the scene which took place just before retiring. He then endeavors to view impartially his actions in that scene, examining them to see whether he did right or wrong. If the latter, he endeavors to feel and realize as vividly as possible that wrong. For instance, if he spoke harshly to someone, and upon later consideration finds it was not merited, he will endeavor to feel exactly as that one felt whom he wronged and at the very earliest opportunity to apologize for the hasty expression. Then he will call up the next scene in backward succession which may perhaps be the supper table. In respect of that scene he will examine himself as to whether he ate to live, sparingly and of foods prepared without suffering to other creatures of God (such as flesh foods that cannot be obtained without taking life). If he finds that he allowed his appetite to run away with him and that he ate gluttonously, he will endeavor to overcome these habits, for to live a clean life we must have a clean body, and no one can live to his highest possibilities while making his stomach a graveyard for the decaying corpses of murdered animals. In this respect there occurs to the writer a little poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
Thus the pupil will continue to review each scene in reverse order from night till morning, and to feel really sorry for whatever he has done amiss. He will not neglect to feel glad either when he comes to a scene where he has done well, and the more intensely he can feel, the more thoroughly he will eradicate the record upon the tablet of the heart and sharpen his conscience, so that as time goes on from year to year, he will find less cause for blame and enhance his soul power enormously. Thus he will grow in a measure impossible by any less systematic method, and there will be no necessity for his stay in Purgatory after death.
This evening exercise, and another for the morning, if persistently performed day by day will in time awaken the spiritual vision as they improve life. This matter has, however, been so thoroughly treated in number 11 of the lecture series "Spiritual Sight and Insight" that it is unnecessary to dwell upon the matter further in this place.