THE IRON GRIP OF MATTER
TO a man dwelling in the “invisible” there comes a sudden memory of earth.
“Oh!” he says. “The world is going on without me. What am I missing?” It seems almost impertinence on the part of the world to go on without him. He becomes agitated. He is sure that he is behind the times, left out, left over.
He looks about him, and sees only the tranquil fields of the fourth dimension. Oh, for the iron grip of matter once more and to hold something in taut hands!
Perhaps the mood passes, but one day it returns with redoubled force. He must get out of the tenuous environment into the forcibly resistant world of dense matter. But how? Ah, he remembers! All action comes from memory.
It would be a reckless experiment had he not done it before.
He closes his eyes, reversing himself in the invisible. He is drawn to human life, to human beings in the intense vibration of union. There is sympathy here—perhaps the sympathy of past experience with the souls of those whom he now contacts, perhaps only sympathy of mood or imagination. Be that as it may, he lets go his hold upon freedom and triumphantly loses himself in the lives of human beings.
After a time he awakes, to look with bewildered eyes upon green fields and the round, solid faces of men and women.
Sometimes he weeps, and wishes himself back. If he becomes discouraged, he may return—only to begin the weary quest of matter all over again. If he is strong and stubborn, he remains and grows into a man.
He may even persuade himself that the former life in tenuous substance was only a dream, for in dream he returns to it, and the dream haunts him and spoils his enjoyment of matter.
After years he grows weary of the material struggle: his energy is exhausted. He sinks back into the arms of the unseen, and men say again with bated breath that he is dead.
But he is not dead. He has only returned whence he came.
WHERE SOULS GO UP AND DOWN
MY friend, there is nothing to fear in death. It is no harder than a trip to a foreign country—the first trip—to one who has grown old and settled in the habits of his own more or less narrow corner of the world.
When a man comes out here, the strangers whom he meets seem no more strange than the foreign peoples seem to one who first goes among them. He does not always understand them; there, again, his experience is like a sojourn in a foreign country. Then, after a while, he begins to make friendly advances and to smile with the eyes. The question, “Where are you from?” meets with a similar response to that on earth. One is from California, another is from Boston, another is from London. This is when we meet on the highroads of travel, for there are lanes of travel over here, where the souls go up and down as on the earth. Such a road is generally the most direct line between two great centers, but it is never on the line of a railway. There would be too much noise. We can hear sounds made on the earth. There is a certain shock to the etheric ear, which carries the vibration of sound to us.
Sometimes one settles down for a long time in one place. I visited an old home in the State of Maine, where a man on this side of life had been stopping for I do not know how many years; he told me that the children had grown to be men and women, and that a colt to which he became attached when he first came out had grown into a horse and had died of old age.
There are sluggards and dull people here, as with you. There are also brilliant and magnetic people, whose very presence is rejuvenating.
It seems almost absurd to say that we wear clothes, the same as you do, but we do not seem to need so many. I have not seen any trunks, but then I have been here only a short time.
Heat and cold do not matter much to me now, though I remember at first being rather uncomfortable by reason of the cold. But that is past.
A RENDEZVOUS IN THE FOURTH DIMENSION
YOU can do so much for me by lending me your hand occasionally, that I wonder why you shrink from it.
This philosophy will go on being taught in the world and all over the world. Only a few, perhaps, will reach the depth of it in this life, but a seed sown today may bear fruit long hence.
Somewhere I have read that grains of wheat, which had been buried with mummies for two or three thousand years, had sprouted when placed in good soil in our own day. It is so with a philosophic seed.
It has been said that he is a fool who works for philosophy instead of making philosophy work for him, but a man cannot give to the world even a little of a true philosophy without reaping sevenfold himself, and you know the Biblical quotation which ends, “and in the world to come eternal life.” To get, one must give. That is the Law.
I can tell you many things about the life out here, which may be of use to others when they make the great change. Almost everyone brings memory over with him. The men and women I have met and communed with have had more or less vivid recollection of their earth life—that is, most of them.
I met one man who refused to speak of the earth, and was always talking about “going on.” I reminded him that if he went on far enough he would come back to the place from which he started.
You have been curious, perhaps, as to what we eat and drink, if anything. We certainly are nourished, and we seem to absorb much water. You also should drink plenty of water. It feeds the astral body. I do not think that a very dry body would ever have enough astral vitality to lend a hand to a soul on this plane of life, as you are doing now. There is much moisture in our bodies over here.
Perhaps that is one reason why contact with a so-called spirit sometimes gives warm-blooded persons a sense of cold, and they shiver.
It is something of an effort on my part also to write like this, but it seems to be worthwhile. I come to the place where I feel that you are.
I can see you better than most others. Then I reverse; that is, instead of going in, as I used to do, I go out with great force and in your direction. I take possession of you by a strong propulsive effort.
Sometimes the writing has stopped suddenly in the midst of a sentence. That was when I was not properly focused. You may have noticed when reversing and shutting away the outside world, that a sudden noise, or maybe a wandering thought, would bring you right out again. It is so here.
Now, about this element in which we live. It undoubtedly has a place in space, for it is all around the earth. Yes, every tree visible has its invisible counterpart. When you, before sleep, come out consciously into this world, you see things that exist, or have existed, in the material world also. You cannot see anything in this world which has not a physical counterpart in the other. There are, of course, thought-pictures, imaginary pictures, but to see imaginatively is not to see on the astral plane—not by any means.
The things you see before going to sleep have real existence, and, by changing your rate of vibration, you come out into this world—or rather you go back into it, for you have to go in, in order to come out.
Imagination has great power. If you make a picture in the mind, the vibrations of the body may adjust to it if the will is directed that way, as in thoughts of health or sickness.
It might be well as an experiment, when you want to come out here, to choose a certain symbol and hold it before your eyes. I do not say that it would help to change the vibration, but it might.
I wonder if you could see me, if just before falling asleep you should come out here with that thought and that desire dominant in your mind?
I am strong today, because I have been long with one who is stronger, and if you want to make the experiment of trying to find me this night, I may be able to help you better than at another time.
There is so much to say, and I can seldom talk with you. If you were differently situated and quite free from other things, I could perhaps come often. I am learning much that I should like to give you.
For instance, I think I can show you how to come out here at will, as the Masters do constantly. At first I took only your arm to write with, but now I get a better hold of the psychic organization. I saw that I was not working in the best way, that there was a waste somewhere, so I asked the Teacher for instruction in the matter. By this new method you will not feel so tired afterwards; nor shall I.
I am going, now, and will try to meet you in a few minutes. If the experiment should fail, do not be discouraged, but try again some other time. You will know me all right, if you do see me.
YOU will be interested to know that there are people out here, as on the earth, who devote themselves to the welfare of others.
There is even a large organization of souls who call themselves a League. Their special work is to take hold of those who have just come out, helping them to find themselves and to adjust to the new conditions. There are both men and women in this League. They have done good service. They work on a little—I do not want to say higher plane than the Salvation Army, but rather a more intellectual plane. They help both children and adults.
It is interesting about the children. I have not had time, yet, to observe all these things for myself, but one of the League workers tells me that it is easier for children to adjust themselves to the changed life than it is for grown persons. Very old people are inclined to sleep a good deal, while children come out with great energy, and bring with them the same curiosity that they had in earth life.
There are no violent changes. The little ones grow up, it is said, about as gradually and imperceptibly as they would have grown on earth. The tendency is to fulfill the normal rhythm, though there are instances where the soul goes back very soon, with little rest. That would be a soul with great curiosity and strong desires.
There are horrors out here—far worse than the horrors on earth.
The decay from vice and intemperance is much worse here than there. I have seen faces and forms that were really frightful, faces that seemed to be half-decayed and falling to pieces. These are the hopeless cases, which even the League of workers I spoke about leave to their fate. It is uncertain what the fate of such people will be; whether they will reincarnate or not in this cycle, I do not know.
The children are so charming! One young boy is with me often; he calls me Father, and seems to enjoy my society. He would be, I should think, about thirteen years old, and he has been out here some time. He could not tell me just how long, but I will ask him if he remembers the year, the calendar year, in which he came out.
It is not true that we cannot keep our thoughts to ourselves if we are careful to do so. We can guard our secrets, if we know how. That is done by suggestion, or laying a spell. It is, though, much easier here than on earth to read the minds of others.
We seem to communicate with one another in about the same way that you do, but I find, as time goes by, that I converse more and more by powerful and projected thought than by the moving of the lips. At first I always opened my mouth when I had anything to say; it is easier now not to do so, though I sometimes do it still by force of habit. When a man has recently come out, he does not understand another unless he really speaks; that is, I suppose, before he has learned that he also can talk without using much breath.
But I was telling you about the boy. He is all interest in regard to certain things I have told him about the earth, especially aeroplanes, which were not yet very practicable when he came out.
He wants to go back and fly in an aeroplane. I tell him that he can fly here without one, but that does not seem to be the same thing to him. He wants to get his fingers on machinery.
I advise him not to be in any hurry about going back. The curious thing about it is that he can remember other and former lives of his on earth. Many out here have no more memory of their former lives, before the last one, than they had while in the body. This is not a place where everyone knows everything—far from it. Most souls are nearly as blind as they were in life.
The boy was an inventor in a prior incarnation, and he came out this time by an accident, he says. He should stay here a little longer, I think, to get a stronger rhythm for a return. That is only my idea. I am so interested in the boy that I should like to keep him, and perhaps that influences my judgment somewhat.
You see, we are still human. You asked me some questions, did you not? Will you speak them aloud? I can hear.
Yes, I feel considerably younger than I have felt for a long time, and I am well. At first I felt about as I did in my illness, with times of depression and times of freedom from depression, but now I am all right. My body does not give me much trouble.
I believe that old people grow younger here until they reach their prime again, and that then they may hold that for a long time.
You see, I have not become all wise. I have been able to pick up a good deal of knowledge, which I had forgotten, but about all the details of this life I still have much to learn.
Your curiosity will help me to study conditions and to make inquiries, which otherwise I might not have made for a long time, if ever. Most people do not seem to learn much out here, except that naturally they learn the best and easiest way of getting on, as in earth life.
Yes, there are schools here where any who wish for instruction can receive it—if they are fit. But there are only a few great teachers. The average college professor is not a being of supreme wisdom, whether here or there.
THE PATTERN WORLD
THERE is something I want to qualify in what I said the other day: that there is nothing out here which has not existed on the earth.
Since then I have learned that that statement is not exactly true. There are strata here. This I have learned recently. I still believe that in the lowest stratum next to the earth, all or nearly all that exists has existed on earth in dense matter. Go a little farther up, a little farther away—how far I cannot say by actual measurement, but the other night in exploring I got into the world of patterns, the paradigms—if that is the word—of things which are to be on earth. I saw forms of things which, so far as I know, have not existed on your planet—inventions, for example. I saw wings that man could adjust to himself. I saw also new forms of flying-machines. I saw model cities, and towers with strange wing-like projections on them, of which I could not imagine the use. The progress of mechanical invention has evidently only begun.
Another time I will go on, farther up in that world of pattern forms, and see if I can learn what lies beyond it.
Bear this in mind: I merely tell you stories, as an earthly traveler would tell, of the things I see. Sometimes my interpretation of them may be wrong.
When I was in the place which we will call the pattern world, I saw almost nobody there—only an occasional lone voyager like myself. I naturally infer from this that but few of those who leave the earth go up there at all. I think, from what I have seen, and from conversations I have had with men and women souls, that most of them do not get very far from the earth, even out here.
It is strange, but many persons seem to be in the regular orthodox heaven, singing in white robes, with crowns on their heads and with harps in their hands. There is a region which outsiders call “the heaven country.”
There is also, they tell me, a fiery hell, with at least the smell of brimstone, but so far I have not been there. Some day when I feel strong I will look in, and, if it is not too depressing, I will go farther—if they will let me.
For the present I am looking about here and there, and I have not studied carefully any place as yet.
I took the boy, whose name by the way is Lionel, out with me yesterday. Perhaps we ought to say last night, for your day is our night when we are on your side of this great hollow sphere. You and the solid earth are in the centre of our sphere.
I took the boy out with me for what you would call a walk.
First we went to the old quarter of Paris, where I used to live in a former life, but Lionel could not see anything and, when I pointed out certain buildings to him, he asked me quite sincerely if I were dreaming. I must have some faculty which is not generally developed among my fellow citizens in the astral country. So when the boy found that Paris was only a figment of my imagination—he used to live in Boston—I took him to see heaven.
He remarked: “Why, this must be the place my grandmother used to tell me about. But where is God?”
That I could not tell him, but, on looking again, we saw that nearly everybody was gazing in one direction. We also gazed with the others, and saw a great light, like a sun, only it was softer and less dazzling than the material sun.
“That,” I said to the boy, “is what they see who see God.” And now I have something strange to tell you, for, as we gazed at that light, slowly there took form between it and us the figure which we are accustomed to see represented as that of the Christ.
He smiled at the people and stretched out His hands to them. Then the scene changed, and He had on His left arm a lamb, and then again He stood as if transfigured upon a mountain; then He spoke and taught them. We could hear His voice. And then He vanished from our sight.
FORMS REAL AND UNREAL
WHEN I first came out here I was so interested in what I saw that I did not question much as to the manner of the seeing. But lately—especially since writing the last letter or two—I have begun to notice a difference between objects that, at a superficial glance, seem to be of much the same substance. For example, I can sometimes see a difference between those things which have existed on earth unquestionably, such as the forms of men and women, and other things which, while visualized and seemingly palpable, may be, and probably are, but thought-creations.
This idea came to me while looking on at the dramas of the heaven country, and it was forced upon me with greater power while making other and recent explorations in that which I have called the pattern world.
Later I may be able to distinguish at a glance between these two classes of seeming objects. For example, if I encounter here a being, or what seems a being, and if I am told that it is some famous character in fiction, such as jean Valjean in Hugo’s Les Miserables, I shall have reason to believe that I have seen a thought-form of sufficient vitality to stand alone, as a quasi-entity in this world of tenuous matter. So far I have not encountered any such characters.
Of course, unless I were able to hold a conversation with a being, a form, or saw others do so, I could not positively state that it had an essential existence. Hereafter I shall often put things to the test in this way. If I can talk to a seeming entity, and if it can answer me, I am justified in considering it as a reality. A character in fiction, or any other mental creation, however vivid as a picture, would have no soul, no unit of force, no real self. Whatever comes to me merely as a picture I shall try to submit to this test.
If I see a peculiar form of tree or animal, and can touch and feel it, —for the senses here are quite as acute as those of earth, —I know that it exists in the subtle matter of this plane.
I believe that all the beings whom I have seen here are real, but, if I can find one that is not, a being which I cannot feel when I touch it and which cannot respond to my questions, —I shall have a datum for my hypothesis that thought-forms of beings, as well as things, may have sufficient cohesion to seem real. It is undoubtedly true that there is no spirit without substance, no substance without spirit, latent or expressed, but a painting of a man may seem at a distance to be a man.
Can there exist deliberate thought-creations here, deliberate and purposive creations? I believe so. Such a thought-form would probably have to be very intense in order to persist.
It seems to me that I had better settle this question to my own satisfaction before talking any more about it.
A FOLIO OF PARACELSUS
THE other day I asked my Teacher to show me the archives in which those who had lived out here had recorded their observations, if such existed. He said: “You were a great reader of books when you were on the earth. Come.”
We entered a vast building like a library, and I caught my breath in wonder. It was not the architecture of the building which struck me, but the quantities of books and records. There must have been millions of them.
I asked the Teacher if all the books were here. He smiled and said: “Are there not enough? You can make your choice.”
I asked if the volumes were arranged by subjects.
“There is an arrangement,” he answered. “What do you want?”
I said that I should like to see the books in which were written the accounts of explorations which other men had made in this (to me) still slightly known country.
He smiled again, and took from a shelf a thick volume. It was printed in large black type. “Who wrote this book?” I asked
“There is a signature,” he replied.
I looked at the end and saw the signature: it was that used by Paracelsus.
“When did he write this?”
“Soon after he came out. It was written between his Paracelsus life and his next one on earth.”
The book which I had opened was a treatise on spirits, human, angelic, and elemental. It began with the definition of a human spirit as a spirit which had had the experience of life in human form, and it defined an elemental spirit as a spirit of more or less developed self-consciousness which had not yet had that experience.
Then the author defined an angel as a spirit of a high order, which had not had, and probably would not have in future, such experience in matter.
He went on to state that angelic spirits were divided into two sharply defined groups, the celestial and the infernal; the former being those angels who worked towards harmony with the laws of God; the latter being those angels who worked against that harmony. But he said that both these orders of angels were necessary, each to the other’s existence; that if all were good the universe would cease to be; that good itself would cease to be through the failure of its opposite—evil.
He said that, in the archives of the angelic regions, there were cases on record where a good angel had become bad or a bad angel had become good, but that such cases were of rare occurrence.
He then went on to warn his fellow souls who should be sojourning in that realm in which he then wrote, and in which I knew myself also to be, against holding communion with evil spirits. He declared that in the subtler forms of life there were more temptations than in the earth life; that he himself had often been assailed by malignant angels who had urged him to join forces with them, and that their arguments were sometimes extremely plausible.
He said that, while living on earth, he had often had conversations with spirits, both good and bad, but that while on earth he had never, so far as he knew, held converse with an angel of a malignant nature.
He advised his readers that there was one way to determine whether a being of the subtler world was an angel or merely a human or an elemental spirit, and that was by the greater brilliancy of the light which surrounded an angel. He said that both good and bad angels were extremely brilliant, but that there was a difference between them, perceptible at the first glance at their faces; that the eyes of the celestial angels were aflame with love and intellect, while the eyes of the infernal angels were very unpleasant to encounter.
He said that it would be possible for an infernal angel to disguise himself to a mortal, so that he might be mistaken for an angel of light, but that it was practically impossible for an angel to disguise his real nature from those souls who were living in their subtle bodies.
I will perhaps say more on this subject another night. I must rest now.
A ROMAN TOGA
ONE thing which makes this country so interesting to me is its lack of conventionality. No two persons are dressed in the same way—or no, I do not mean that exactly, but many are so eccentrically dressed that their appearance gives variety to the whole.
My own clothes are, as a rule, similar to those I wore on earth, though I have as an experiment, when dwelling in thought on one of my long-past lives, put on the garments of the period.
It is easy to get the clothes one wants here. I do not know how I became possessed of the garments which I wore on coming out, but when I began to take notice of such things, I found myself dressed about as usual. I am not yet sure whether I brought my clothes with me.
There are many people here in costumes of the ancient days. I do not infer from this fact that they have been here all those ages. I think they wear such clothes because they like them.
As a rule, most people stay near the place where they lived on earth, but I have been a wanderer from the first. I go rapidly from one country to another. One night (or day with you) I may take my rest in America; the next night I may rest in Paris. I have spent hours of repose on the divan in your sitting room, and you did not know that I was there. I doubt, though, if I could stay for hours in your house when I was myself awake without your sensing my presence.
Do not think, however, from what I have just said, that it is necessary for me to rest on the solid matter of your world. Not at all. We can rest on the tenuous substance of our own world.
One day, when I had been here only a short time, I saw a woman dressed in a Greek costume, and asked her where she got her clothes. She replied that she had made them. I asked her how, and she said:
“Why, first I made a pattern in my mind, and then the thing became a garment.”
“Did you take every stitch?”
“Not as I should have done on earth.”
I looked closer and saw that the whole garment seemed to be in one piece, and that it was caught on the shoulders by jeweled pins. I asked where she got the jeweled pins, and she said that a friend had given them to her.
Then I asked where the friend had got them.
She told me that she did not know, but that she would ask him.
Soon after that she left me, and I have not seen her since, so the question is still unanswered.
I began to experiment to see if I also could make things; it was then that I conceived the idea of wearing a Roman toga, but, for the life of me, I could not remember what a Roman toga looked like.
When next I met the Teacher I told him of my wish to wear a toga of my own making, and he carefully showed me how to create garments such as I desired: To fix the pattern and shape clearly in my mind, to visualize it, and then by power to desire to draw the subtle matter of the thought-world round the pattern, so as actually to form the garment.
“Then,” I said, “the matter of the thought-world, as you call it, is not the same kind of matter as that of my body, for instance?”
“In the last analysis,” he answered, “there is only one kind of matter in both worlds, but there is a great difference in vibration and tenuity.”
Now the thought-substance of which our garments are formed seems to be an extremely tenuous form of matter, while our bodies seem to be pretty solid. We do not feel at all like transparent angels sitting on damp clouds.
Were it not for the quickness with which I get over space, I should think sometimes that my body was as solid as ever.
I can often see you, and to me you seem tenuous. It is all, I suppose, the old question of adjusting to environment. At first I could not do it, and had some trouble in learning to adjust the amount of energy necessary for each particular action. So little energy is required here to move myself about that at first, when I started to go a short distance—say, a few yards—I would find myself a mile away. But I am now pretty well adjusted.
I must be storing up energy here for a good hard life when I return to the earth again. The hardest work I do now is to come and write through your hand, but you offer less and less resistance as time goes on. In the beginning it took all my strength—now it takes only a comparatively small effort. Yet I could not do it long at a time without using your own vitality, and that I will not do.
You may have noticed that you are no longer fatigued after the writing, though you used to be at first.
But I was speaking of the lack of conventionality out here. Souls hail each other when they want to, without much ceremony. I have seen a few old women, who were afraid to talk to a stranger, but probably they had not been here long and the earth habits still clung to them. Do not think, however, that society here is too free and easy. It is not that, but men and women do not seem to be so afraid of each other as they were on earth.
A THING TO BE FORGOTTEN
I WANT to say a word to those who are about to die. I want to beg them to forget their bodies as soon as possible after the change, which they call death.
Oh, the terrible curiosity to go back and look upon that thing which we once believed to be ourselves. The thought comes to us, now and then, so powerfully that it acts in a way against our will and draws us back to it. With some it is a morbid obsession, and many cannot get free from it while there remains a shred of flesh on the bones, which they once leaned upon.
Tell them to forget it altogether, to force the thought away, to go out into the other life, free. Looking back upon the past is sometimes good, but not upon this relic of the past.
It is so easy to look into the coffin, because the body, which we wear now, is itself a light in a dark place, and it can penetrate grosser matter. I have been back myself a few times, but am determined to go back no more. Yet some day the thought may come to me again, with compelling insistence, to see how it is getting on.
I do not want to shock or pain you—only to warn you. It is sad to see the sight which inevitably meets one in the grave. That may be the reason why many souls who have not been here long are so melancholy. They return again and again to the place which they should not visit.
You know that out here if we think intently of a place we are apt to find ourselves there. The body which we use is so light that it can follow thought almost without effort. Tell them not to do it.
One day, while walking down an avenue of trees—for we have trees here—I met a tall woman in a long black garment. She was weeping—for we have tears here also. I asked her why she wept, and she turned to me eyes of unutterable sadness.
“I have been back to it,” she said.
My heart ached for her, because I knew how she felt. The shock of the first visit is repeated each time, as the thing one sees is less and less what we like to think of ourselves as being.
Often I remember that tall woman in black, walking down the avenue of trees and weeping. It is partly curiosity that draws one back, partly magnetic attraction, but it can do no good. It is better to forget it.
I have sometimes longed, from sheer scientific interest, to ask my boy Lionel if he had been back to his body, but I have not asked him for fear of putting the idea into his mind. He has such a restless curiosity. Perhaps those who go out as children have less of that morbid instinct than we have.
If we could only remember in life that the form which we call ourselves is not our real immortal self at all, we would not give it such an exaggerated importance, though we would nevertheless take needful care of it.
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.
Most of the men and women here do not know that they have lived many times in flesh. They remember their latest life more or less vividly, but all before that seems like a dream. One should always keep the memory of the past as clear as possible. It helps one to construct the future.
Those people who think of their departed friends as being all-wise, how disappointed they would be if they could know that the life on this side is only an extension of the life on earth! If the thoughts and desires there have been only for material pleasures, the thoughts and desires here are likely to be the same. I have met veritable saints since coming out, but they have been men and women who held in earth life the saintly ideal, and who now are free to live it.
Life can be so free here! There is none of that machinery of living, which makes people on earth such slaves. In our world a man is held only by his thoughts. If they are free, he is free.
Few, though, are of my philosophic spirit. There are more saints here than philosophers, as the highest ideal of most persons, when intensely active, has been towards the religious rather than the philosophic life.
I think the happiest people I have met on this side have been the painters. Our matter is so light and subtle, and so easily handled, that it falls readily into the forms of the imagination. There are beautiful pictures here. Some of our artists try to impress their pictures upon the mental eyes of the artists of earth, and they often succeed in doing so.
There is joy in the heart of one of our real artists when a fellow craftsman on your side catches an idea from him and puts it into execution. He may not always be able to see clearly how well the second man works out the idea, for it requires a special gift or a special training to see from one form of matter into the other, but the inspiring spirit catches the thought in the inspired one’s mind, and knows that a conception of his own is being executed upon the earth.
With poets it is the same. There are lovely lyrics composed out here and impressed upon the receptive minds of earthly poets. A poet told me that it was easier to do that with a short lyric than with an epic or a drama, where a long-continued effort was necessary.
It is much the same with musicians. Whenever you go to a concert where beautiful music is being played, there is probably, all round you, a Crowd of music-loving spirits, drinking in the harmonies. Music on earth is much enjoyed on this side. It can be heard. But no sensitive spirit likes to go near a place where bad strumming is going on. We prefer the music of stringed instruments. Of all earthly things, sound reaches most directly into this plane of life.
Tell that to the musicians.
If they could only hear our music! I did not understand music on earth, but now my ears are becoming adjusted. It seems, sometimes, as if you must hear our music over there, as we hear yours.
You may have wondered how I spend my time and where I go. There is a lovely spot in the country, which I never tire of visiting. It is on the side of a mountain, not far from my own city. There is a little road winding round a hill, and, just above the road, is a hut, a roofed enclosure with the lower side open. Sometimes I stay there for hours and listen to the rippling of the brook, which runs beside the road. The tall, slender trees have become like brothers to me. At first I cannot see the material trees very clearly, but I go into the little hut, which is made of fresh clean boards with a sweet smell, and I lie down on the shelf or bunk along the wall; then I close my eyes and by an effort—or no, it is not what I would call an effort, but by a sort of drifting—I can see the beautiful place. But you must know that this is in the night time there, and I see it by the light of myself.
That is why we travel in the dark part of the twenty-four hours, for, in the bright sunlight, we cannot see at all. Our light is put out by the cruder light of the sun.
One night I took the boy Lionel there with me, leaving him in the hut while I went a little distance away. Looking back, I saw the whole hut illuminated by a lovely radiance—the radiance of Lionel himself. The little building, which has a peaked roof, looked like a pearl lighted from within. It was a beautiful experience.
I then went to Lionel and told him to go in his turn a little distance away, while I took his place in the hut. I was curious to know if he would see the same phenomenon when I lay there; if I could shed such a light through dense matter—the boards of the building. When I called him to me afterwards and asked if he had seen anything strange, he said: “What a wonderful man you are, Father! How did you make that hut seem to be on fire?”
Then I knew that he had seen the same thing I had seen.
But I am tired now and can write no more. Good night, and may you have pleasant dreams.
Letters from a Living Dead Man: The Anthology is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon.