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Proof of Survival by Lord Dowding

I think that Raymond is a very important book because its main purpose appears to be to convey to the world proof of human survival after death. This proof is conveyed by the publication of a series of messages from Raymond Lodge, the son of Sir Oliver Lodge, the famous scientist and author of the book. Sir Oliver claims to show beyond reasonable doubt that he and his family were in fact in communication with Raymond and no other, because certain items of information were received. This information would be known to Raymond and to certain members of his family, but would be unknown outside the immediate family circle, and certainly unknown to the mediums through whom the majority of the messages were transmitted.

This desire to establish proof of identity runs through the whole series of messages, and Raymond himself eagerly enters into the spirit of the enterprise; so much so that, long after Sir Oliver and the more sceptical members of his family have been completely convinced of the reality of the communications and the identity of Raymond, tests and cross checks continue to be devised.

Raymond was Sir Oliver’s youngest surviving son, born in 1889. At the outbreak of war 1914 he was an electrical and mechanical engineer in his brothers’ works, and, although he had no personal or family association with military life or ideas, he volunteered for service in September, 1914, and was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the South Lancashire Fusiliers. His battalion went to Flanders in March 1915, and he was killed in action near Ypres in September 1915, at the age of 26.

The first message which Sir Oliver received in connection with the death of his son was a premonitory one emanating from a distinguished psychic investigator named Myers who had died in Rome when Raymond was about twelve years old. The message was received in America on August 8th, 1915, and intimated that Sir Oliver was about to receive a heavy blow, but that he (Myers) would operate to soften and mitigate its effects. References to Myers and his association with Raymond in the afterlife are frequent throughout the book.

The next piece of evidence adduced by Sir Oliver is that descriptions were received, from two mediums independently, of a group photograph taken in France, in which Raymond appeared.

The photograph was described, in messages purporting to emanate from Raymond, before the negatives reached England where the prints were made.
Later messages describe Raymond’s work (helping those killed in action through the first stages of their new consciousness) and tell of his meeting with a sister who had died in extreme infancy, and with a brother who had never drawn the breath of life. These have both reached maturity. He makes little jokes, e.g., “a Roland for your Oliver,” meaning that Sir Oliver had recently acquired a son-in-law named Rowland.

He gives his own nickname and that of a brother. He gives the names of songs which he used to sing.

At a certain sitting he shows detailed knowledge of what had happened at a previous sitting with a different medium in another place.

He describes a lopsided bathing tent (broken in a gale and mended by the family) at the seaside, and a “sand yacht,” running on wheels, which he and his brothers had spent many hours in building. He asks: “Do you remember a bird in the garden?” “Do you remember Mr. Jackson?” “Put him on a pedestal.” Mr. Jackson was the name of Lady Lodge’s peacock which had just died.

He was to be stuffed, and Lady Lodge had shown the taxidermist a wooden pedestal on which the bird was to be mounted.

The messages were mostly received through various mediums, but some came through “table tilting” in the family circle. These last were intimate and almost boisterous affairs as if Raymond were in the room and skylarking with his family (e.g., trying to make the table climb up on to the sofa).

“All very trivial,” perhaps you say, “and unworthy of the attention of students of a serious subject.” Yet I don’t know that I should quite agree with you. If the intention of the messages was to carry conviction of survival and identity, it would be just these little family jokes and memories which would be emphasised.

The messages were by no means all of this nature. Some of them gave details of Raymond’s life and surroundings, and there was one message, suppressed by Sir Oliver from the highest motives, which indicated that Raymond was privileged to witness one of those Manifestations which, as will be seen later, appear to constitute no uncommon element in the education of the afterlife.

These messages will be more appropriately mentioned as cross references later on when I am trying to build up a composite picture of life after death from the materials at my disposal; but there is one item which must be dealt with at some length here, because it is a ridiculous detail which has wrecked the whole credit of the book with superficial readers, or rather with those who read nothing but prefer to form dogmatic opinions at second hand. I refer to the mention of cigars, and whisky-and-soda in the afterlife.

People say “Raymond” is supposed to drink whisky-and-soda. There cannot be any whisky-and-soda in the afterlife. Therefore the book must be rubbish, and a distinguished scientist like Sir Oliver Lodge must be suffering from senile decay, or else he would never have allowed it to appear over his name.” In the first place, since accuracy has its value even in controversy, it may be just as well to see what was said. This is the passage: “He says he doesn’t want to eat now.

(He is Raymond; the medium is speaking.) But he sees some who do; he says they have to be given something which has all the appearance of an earth food.

People here try to provide anything that is wanted. A chap came over the other day, he would have a cigar. ‘That’s finished them,’ he thought.

He means he thought they would never be able to provide that. But . . . they were able to manufacture what looked like a cigar. He (Raymond) didn’t try one himself, because he didn’t care to; you know he wouldn’t want to. But the other chap jumped at it. But when he began to smoke it he didn’t think so much of it; he had four altogether and now he doesn’t look at one. They don’t seem to get the same satisfaction out of it, so gradually it seems to drop from them. But when they first come they do want things. Some want meat and some strong drink, they call for whisky-sodas. Don’t think I’m stretching it, I tell you that they can manufacture even that. But when they have had one or two they don’t seem to want it so much—not those who are near here. He has heard of drunkards who want it for months or years over here, but he hasn’t seen any. Those I have seen, he says, don’t want it anymore.” Now all this certainly seems very odd at first sight, but it all hangs together with the idea, which is inherent in all the messages dealing with the subject, that the personality and mentality of spirits when first leaving the human body is quite unchanged, and that they commonly fail for some time even to realise the fact that they are dead. It is no good making up one’s own ideas about the next world, and then rejecting evidence simply because it does not it in with those ideas.

The Living Dead Man, for instance, has a most amusing chapter about a woman who still lives in a boarding house, eats three meals a day, and complains of the coffee. And Private Dowding knows a quaint old French editor who has made himself a nice little office, full of typewriters and tape machines, from which he watches with absorbed interest the progress of his beloved paper under the management of his son.

All these puerilities, of course, only attach to those spirits who have no desire to progress beyond their earthly ideas; and I should guess that in most cases the phase is purely temporary.

The Scripts of Cleophas is mentioned here chiefly as evidence of the reality of communication. The messages came to a lady who played hockey for Ireland, whose education was in no sense classical, and whose interests lay in quite other directions.

The book purports to reveal the contents of three early Christian parchments, long since destroyed. It has been submitted to eminent Hebrew scholars who are impressed by the wealth of detailed knowledge disclosed. Quite apart from its evidential value for my purposes, it is of absorbing interest for its own sake. It gives a detailed account of the character of the apostles and their vicissitudes in the early days after the Crucifixion. It, and its companion volumes, Paul in Athens and The Great Days of Ephesus, show St. Paul in a kindlier light than that shed on him by the “Acts” or by his own Epistles.

The Eternal Question  [by Allen Clarke] is a book calculated to bring conviction concerning the facts of Survival and Communication, rather because of the homely nature of its contents, than because of any circumstantial revelation of life after death. The author was a journalist and the editor of a small paper in the Northern Midlands. He married and lost his first wife (V-) after only four months of happy married life. He was a free thinker and a strong opponent of Spiritualism, which he frequently denounced in his articles.

His second wife (E-), unknown to either of them, was a strong medium, and after the death of one of their children she fell into a series of trances in which the first wife, V-, appeared with the dead baby.

These trances occurred sometimes at inconvenient moments and places, and E-used to fall down unconscious in conditions which were very alarming, although she was never on any occasion injured in the least degree.

The last trance communication from V occurred at the house of some friends when the author wanted to catch the last train home.

Consequently V-was somewhat brusquely repelled by a fellow-guest, and she never again came in circumstances where communication could be made.

A spirit-photograph and many other psychic experiences are included, but the main value of the book perhaps lies in the humdrum setting of the events, and it may carry conviction to those who have an ineradicable suspicion of paid mediums.

I might add that, pending the publication of the report referred to in Chapter 2, it is perhaps not unreasonable to adduce as confirmatory evidence of Survival and Communication the action of the Church of England in suppressing the results of its own inquiry into these matters.

This is all that I propose to adduce in the way of direct evidence —not from lack of material but from lack of space. I ought, however, in fairness to the materialist to give an explanation which purports to cover the automatic receipt of messages dealing with subjects unknown to the recipient, or indeed to any person on earth, without admitting the agency of discarnate spirits.

If I may take as representative the explanation proffered in the Introduction to The Gate of Remembrance, by F. B. Bond (who conducted excavations at Glastonbury Abbey), the theory is as follows:

“The embodied consciousness of every individual is but a part, and a fragmentary part, of a transcendent whole, and within the mind of each there is a door through which Reality may enter as an Idea—Idea presupposing a greater, even a cosmic Memory, conscious or unconscious, active or latent, and embracing not only all individual experience and revivifying forgotten pages of life, but also Idea involving yet wider fields, transcending the ordinary limits of time, space and personality.”

This explanation can be made to cover the case of a charwoman producing a script in Sanskrit; and you must judge for yourself whether its acceptance does not involve a greater strain on the credulity and imagination than the acceptance of the simpler notion that discarnate spirits are sending messages to people on earth.

But, however received, the messages remain on record, whether transmitted by intelligent beings, or extracted by a lucky dip from the Cosmic Vat. It is my task to examine and correlate these messages, and not to enter into endless discussion about their origin.

You may think that the composite picture which they present is altogether false and misleading, you may have your own ideas about the future life, but you cannot be sure that you are right, and if you should find that, after all, the progress of the spirit is more or less on the lines which appear to emerge from these messages, then you will not find yourself in a state of complete lostness and bewilderment, and you will be glad that you have read this book.
“Proof of Survival” is a chapter from Many Mansions by Lord Dowding, published by White Crow Books

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