Private Thomas Dowding, a 37-year-old British soldier, was killed on the battlefield in WWI. On March 12, 1917, he began communicating through the mediumship of Wellesley Tudor Pole. After floundering in the ethers, not even realizing he was dead for a time, as time goes on that side, he was met by his brother, William, who had died three years earlier, and began his orientation.
“Hell is a thought region,” Thomas Dowding communicated on March 17, 1917. “Evil dwells there and works out its purposes. The forces used to hold mankind down in the darkness of ignorance are generated in hell! It is not a place; it is a condition. The human race has created the condition.”
Dowding explained that his brother needed help on a rescue mission in what humans call hell. It involved a very depraved soldier who had been killed – a degenerate, a murderer, a sensualist, who died cursing God and man. He was drawn towards hell by the law of attraction. “My brother had been told to rescue him,” Dowding wrote through Pole’s hand. “He took me with him. At first I refused to go. Then I went…An angel of light came to protect us; otherwise, we should have been lost in the blackness of the pit. This sounds sensational, even grotesque. It is the truth.”
To be safe, Dowding was instructed to empty himself of “self” before undertaking the project. However, he failed to completely empty himself of self and felt a “strange allurement” about the atmosphere and hoped they might stay there. He “felt the giant lust of the human race. They thrilled through me. I could not keep them out…I cannot understand it. Something sensual within me leaped and burned.”
Seeing his attraction to the area, the angel and his brother refused to let him continue. “I waited for their return in what seemed to be a deep dark forest,” Dowding recorded. “There was no life, no light there. One felt stagnation everywhere. The angel said that was the most insidious kind of hell, stagnation, because no one recognized it as such.”
Dowding waited for his brother and the angel to return. “The darkness of the deep forests appalls, the loneliness is intense,” he continued. “At last, light is seen ahead. It is not the light of heaven; it is the lure of hell. These poor souls hasten onwards, though not toward destruction; there is no such thing. They hasten down into conditions that are the counterpart of their own interior condition. The Law is at work. This hell is the hell of the illusions and is itself an illusion. I find this hard to credit. Those who enter it are led to believe that the only realities are the sense passions and the beliefs of the human ‘I’. This hell consists in believing the unreal to be real. It consists in the lure of the senses without the possibility of gratifying them…Hell, apparently, or that part of it we are speaking about, depends for its existence on human thoughts and feelings.”
Purgatory and hell, Dowding learned, are different states. He was in purgatory. “We all must needs pass through a purging, purifying process after leaving the earth life. I am still in purgatory. Some day I shall rise above it. The majority who come over here rise above or rather through purgatory into higher conditions. A minority refuse to relinquish their thoughts and beliefs in the pleasures of sin and the reality of the sense life. They sink by the weight of their own thoughts. No outside power can attract a man against his own will. A man sinks or rises through the action of a spiritual law of gravity.”
And so it was that his brother and the angel failed in their rescue mission. “He would not come away,” Dowding communicated. “They had to leave him there. Fear held him. He said his existence was awful, but he was afraid to move for fear worse conditions befell. Fear chained him. No outside power can unchain that man. Release will come from within some day.”
Dowding returned to the Hall of Silence to ponder what he had just witnessed, determined not to return.
About the author
Major Wellesley Tudor Pole O.B.E. (23 April 1884 – 13 September 1968) aka TP, was an English writer, philosopher and mystic. He authored many essays and books and was a life-long spiritual truth seeker, being particularly involved with spiritualism and a movement devoted to the preserving the Chalice Well and Bride’s Mound of Glastonbury, England.
On a visit to Istanbul (then known as Constantinople) prior to the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, he heard of `Abdu’l-Bahá head of the Bahá’í Faith.
In November 1910 TP met `Abdu’l-Bahá and had the privilege of interviewing him over a nine day period in Cairo and Alexandria. The meeting must have had a profound effect on Tudor Pole, because he embraced the faith and for the following decades he would remain active in the Bahá’í Faith.
While a major in the British army Tudor Pole (in collaboration with Sir Winston Churchill) came up with the idea for ‘The Silent Minute’ which TP claimed was divinely inspired, and during World War II, all over Britain and the Commonwealth, millions of people joined together every evening at 9.00pm just before the news, to the chimes of Big Ben, to pray for peace.
Tudor Pole remarked at the time; “There is no power on earth that can withstand the united cooperation on spiritual levels of men and women of goodwill everywhere. It is for this reason that the continued and widespread observance of the Silent Minute is of such vital importance in the interest of human welfare.”
In 1917 he wrote Private Dowding: The personal story of a soldier killed in battle. In the introduction Tudor Pole explains how this encounter with the Deceased entity who called himself Private Dowding, was his first experience of clairvoyantly inspired automatic writing;
On Monday, 12th March 1917, I was walking by the sea when I felt the presence of someone.
I looked round, no one was in sight.
All that day I felt as if someone were following me,
trying to reach my thoughts. Suddenly I said to myself,
‘It is a soldier. He has been killed in battle and
wants to communicate.’ That evening I happened to
call upon a lady who possesses some degree of clairvoyant
power. I had forgotten about the soldier, until
she described a man dressed in khaki, sitting in a
chair near me. He was gazing intently in my direction.
She said he was mature, wore a small moustache, and
seemed somewhat sad. Not a very intelligent character
apparently, but an honest one. I came home and
sat down at my writing-table. Immediately my pen
moved. Did I move it? Yes, in an involuntary sort of
way. The thoughts were not my own, the language
was a little unusual. Ideas were mainly conveyed in
short simple phrases. It would really seem as if some
intelligence outside myself were speaking through
my mind and my pen.
Wellesley Tudor Pole continued to author several books including, The Silent Road, A Man Seen Afar, and Writing On The Ground, and in the 21st century, Private Dowding is still as enlightening as when it was written and considered by many, a ‘classic’ in afterlife literature.
If you would dwell in peace, learn to love deeply.
I hardly expected to hear from my soldier friend again. I had asked him previously why he enlisted so early in the war. He told me he was tired of being a schoolmaster, and the war fever would not leave him alone. Never have I met anyone less like a soldier! The poor man must have endured much hardship during his training, owing to his very sensitive and retiring disposition. He had told me that his name was Thomas Dowding, that in earth life he was a little short sighted, prematurely grey at thirty-six, and that he walked with a stoop. One wonders how he came to be accepted in those early days of the war, when so much fine physical material was available. He was evidently a scholar in his way; apparently well read in science, and mathematics. All his acquired learning seems to have dropped from him at death, and he becomes a little child groping his way amidst strange surroundings; lonely, bewildered. It is not easy to believe that I have imagined the whole of this experience; that Private Dowding is a figment without reality. This explanation is possible. I do not wish to brush it aside lightly, but it does not appeal to me. I can but record the experience as it came to me, and let my readers judge.
I now set down the next series of notes exactly as they reached me.
16th March 1917, 5 pm.
You will be surprised. I did not expect to speak to you again. I will tell you how it has come about. I have met the ‘Messenger’ again. I fancy he was looking for me. He wanted to know how I was getting on. I told him I had broken off communication with my earth friend, on his advice. He said he had been speaking to my brother and had learnt my history. My brother had told him how much consolation I derived from speaking to you. He then said that perhaps he had spoken a little hastily, without full knowledge of the facts. He did not think there would be much harm if I kept the channel open a little longer. He impressed on me the importance of reminding you that the conditions now surrounding me are impermanent, and to that extent, unreal. From his standpoint, the value of such messages as these depended upon the emphasis placed on this fact. The spiritual world is everywhere. The life of spirit is eternal, perfect, supreme. We humans hide from the light. We grovel among the illusions created by our thoughts. We surround ourselves with misconceptions. We refuse to rise into the Christ Sphere. The Christ Sphere is everywhere, and yet, by some strange paradox, we were able to shut it out from view. All these thoughts were new to me. I begin to see what is meant. If I did not do so, I could not pass the ideas on. You say these thoughts are quite familiar to you. I am surprised at this. What a little world I have been living in!
This Messenger evidently came from the Christ Sphere. Religion never meant much to me. Now I begin to see that one cannot live without it.
A great deal was said about reflection; how we can clear out our own poor thoughts illusions and allow the Christ power to reflect through us. Evidently this power is wonderful. The Messenger seemed to love to speak of it; yet he was in awe of it. It clears away illusions as the sun clears away fog. He said I am still living in a fog, a fog of my own creation and design. Well! well! Once I thought I knew a lot. Then I was sure I knew a little. Now I know I know nothing. It appears that the war is based upon an illusion. I wonder what my old Parisian friend would say to that! Since the Great War began, I believe people have thought it was the only reality on earth! Now I am told it is all based on illusion. I am told that lust for wealth (of one material kind or another) was the real cause of the war. Nevertheless, as a result of the war, all the nations engaged will be far poorer than they were before.
This idea had not crossed my mind. I was told another thing. Your war down there is being turned into a into a celestial instrument. it was put to me like this. Material forces are becoming exhausted—that is to say, the more they are use the less they achieve. Strange thought! People will realise that material force leads nowhere, is indeed an illusion. I cannot quite grasp the idea yet.
Apparently the impotent clash of conflicting material forces is creating a kind of vacuum. The Messenger said this fact implied a supreme mystery. Into this vacuum spiritual power is to be poured and poured. He had seen with his own eyes the Reservoirs. He spoke of these Reservoirs with bated breath. The light of Heaven is reflected in them. The Water of Life fills them. This Life is still beyond our conception. Our human life is but a shadow. High beings, God’s messengers, guard the sluice gates. They await the Word of command. Then will the Water of Life be released.
Already it is available to many. Do you remember that passage in Revelation about the river of the Water of Life, bright as crystal, proceeding from God?
The Messenger told me that we are entering into the period of revelations, when all prophecies will be fulfilled. These things are beyond me. While he was speaking, I felt as if I were suspended in space, without visible support. Those high and holy matters are of a spiritual nature. They do not belong to the realms of illusion. I cannot attain to such ideas. I hardly dare to contemplate them. I pass them on because I believe they may justify me in keeping the channel open between us. If I only report matters that interest me, connected with my present illusory surroundings, the avenue between us will close up. We cannot live on the celestial heights until we have completed our work in the valleys. That is how I feel. A friend of mine once tried to climb Mont Blanc. He turned back long before the summit was reached. He could not breathe in the rarefied atmosphere. The guides and the rest of the party went on. Alas that I should be one of those forced I to turn back. I never used my opportunities during earth life. My spiritual nature atrophied. You must excuse this self-analysis. . . . How wonderful it must be to be among those who never turn back! God willing, I will begin to climb. God willing, I too will never turn back! God willing, the whole human race will never turn back, now it has begun to climb. The Messenger said that a cycle was ending, that human life had just entered an upward arc. This conveys very little to me, but I pass it on. . . . I am sad. I am worth so little. I will come again.
16th March 1917, 8 pm.
When I left off speaking to you, my brother came up. He said I needed rest. He blamed the Messenger for telling me more than I could stand or understand. William took me to a Hall of Silence. I had never been there before. Heaven’s dome was above me. The silence of the spheres surrounded me. The loneliness of the desert was my only companion. There I seemed to remain a very long time, but time also is an illusion. The meaning behind this word still rouses conflicting emotions within me. Shall I be forever the slave of my own illusions? It is impossible to tell. I shall visit the Hall of Silence regularly. Strength and consolation came to me within its walls. All that the
Messenger had said came back to me. Understanding of many truths dawned within me. One great truth has become my constant companion. I sum it up thus: ‘Empty yourself if you would be filled.’ The Waters of Life can never flow through me until I have surrendered my whole self. I begin to see the wisdom of this. To you it may convey nothing. I have begun to try to pour myself away. It is a strange experience. Jesus talked of the children.
They entered heaven. The gateway was barred to the wise men. Children have little to unlearn. Although I know nothing, yet have I much to unlearn. This is indeed a paradox.
I believe this Hall of Silence is available to you also. Try to find the road that leads there. War roars through your lives. The thunder of it is everywhere. I am still unable to shut out its rumbling completely. Somewhere within the soul there is silence. Attain unto it. It is a pearl of great price. I speak of what I know. I do not think the importance of silence is dwelt on sufficiently in the Christian scriptures. I never remember being taught its vast import when on earth. I begin to realise what is meant by the Still small voice of God! I am now more myself. My brother has offered to let me help him in his work: I am glad. Goodnight.
17th March 1917, 5 pm.
I have looked into hell! I may have to return to that region. I shall be given my choice. Grant that I may be strong enough to offer myself freely. Hell is a thought region. Evil dwells there and works out its purposes. The forces used to hold mankind down in the darkness of ignorance are generated in hell! It is not a place; it is a condition. The human race has created the condition. It has taken millions of years to reach its present state. I dare not tell you what I saw there. My brother needed help. A soldier, who had committed very evil deeds, had been killed. I will draw a veil over them. He was a degenerate, a murderer, a sensualist. He died cursing God and man. An awful death. This man was drawn towards hell by the law of attraction. My brother had been told off to rescue him. He took me with him. At first I refused to go. Then I went. . . . An angel of light came to protect us, otherwise we should have been lost in the blackness of the pit. This sounds sensational, even grotesque. It is the truth.
The power of evil! Have you any idea of its mighty strength, its lure? Can that power be an illusion too? The angel said so. The angel said the power of hell was now at its supreme height. It drew its power from man! As man rose toward spiritual life the powers of darkness would subside and finally become extinguished. ‘Extinguished’ is my word. The angel said ‘transmuted.’ That conception is quite beyond me. We descended gloomy avenues. The darkness grew. There was a strange allurement about the atmosphere. Even the angel’s light grew dim. I thought we were lost. At moments I hoped we were lost, so strong is the attraction. I cannot understand it.
Something sensual within me leaped and burned. I thought I had emptied myself of self before undertaking this great adventure. Had I done so, I should have been safe. As it was, I should have been lost but for the angel’s and my brother’s help. I felt the giant lusts of the human race. They thrilled through me. I could not keep them out. We descended deeper. I say ‘descended.’ If hell is not a place, how can one ‘descend’? I asked my brother. He said we were not moving in the physical sense. Our progress depended on certain thought processes evoked by the Will.
It is all very strange to me. I now remember that the Messenger told me I was not to dwell on what I saw and felt in this dark region. Therefore I will hurry on and not dwell upon details. As a matter of fact, I never reached the point where the rescue was attempted. The angel and my brother went on alone. I waited for their return in what seemed to be a deep dark forest. There was no life, no light there. One felt stagnation everywhere. The angel said that was the most insidious kind of hell, stagnation, because no one recognised it as such. Contrary to belief, hell itself, or rather that part of it visited by my brother and the angel, is brilliantly lighted.
The light is coarse, artificial. It keeps out the light of God. In this awful glare the angel’s light nearly lost its radiance.
All this my brother told me afterwards. Those who die filled with thoughts of selfishness and sensuality are attracted down the grey avenues toward this hell of the senses. The darkness of the deep forests appals—the loneliness is intense. At last, light is seen ahead. It is not the light of heaven, it is the lure of hell. These poor souls hasten onwards, though not toward destruction; there is no such thing. They hasten down into conditions that are the counterpart of their own interior condition. The Law is at work. This hell is a hell of the illusions and is itself an illusion. I find this hard to credit. Those who enter it are led to believe that the only realities are the sense passions and the beliefs of the human ‘I’. This hell consists in believing the unreal to be real. It consists in the lure of the senses without the possibility of gratifying them. I was told a great deal more about this awful region, but I must not pass it on. The angel said that the ‘condition’ would ultimately dissolve into nothingness. Hell or apparently that part of it we are speaking about, depends for its existence on human thoughts and feelings. The race will never rise to greatness until the passions are controlled. This refers to nations and to individuals. On earth I was never interested in such matters. I did not realise the existence of the sexual canker at the heart of human life. What a terrible thing this is! Do not wait until you come over here. Set to work at once. There is no time to lose. Gain control of self. Then retain control by emptying yourself of self. All the thoughts of lust and passion, greed, hatred, envy, and, above all, selfishness, passing through the minds of men and women, generate the ‘condition’ called hell. Purgatory and hell are different states. We all must needs pass through a purging, purifying process after leaving earth life. I am still in purgatory. Some day I shall rise above it. The majority who come over here rise above or rather THROUGH purgatory into higher conditions. A minority refuse to relinquish their thoughts and beliefs in the pleasures of sin and the reality of the sense life. They sink by the weight of their own thoughts. No outside power can attract a man against his will. A man sinks or rises through the action of a spiritual law of gravity. He is never safe until he has emptied himself completely. You see how I emphasise this fact. Some of these thoughts came to me whilst I waited in that gloomy forest. Then the angel and my brother returned. They had found him for whom they sought. He would not come away. They had to leave him there. Fear held him. He said his existence was awful, but he was afraid to move lest worse conditions should befall him.
Fear chained him. No outside power can unchain that man. Release will come from within some day. Sadly we returned to our own places. I began to realise what power King Fear holds over nearly all of us. The angel said that Fear would be destroyed when Love came into her own. He said the time was coming. . . . I have much to think about. I am going into the ‘Hall of Silence. If I can return again, I will. Goodbye.
17th March 1917, 8 pm.
Soon after returning from the states of hell I met the Messenger again. He said I had not learned sufficient of the spiritual life to visit such dark regions with impunity. He took me with him toward a Mount of Vision. The light was dazzling. No doubt he thought such a pilgrimage would prove an antidote to my journey toward the demon realm. It was almost too much for me. I can remember little of what I saw. I gazed upon the Reservoirs of Illumination.
They were afar off. They nearly blinded me. The Messenger told me many things concerning the manifestations of God to man. He said a prophet of the Most High was in charge of each of the gateways to these Reservoirs of Light. When darkness and ignorance grew apace among men, the ‘Word’ was uttered. Then the prophet, whose turn it was to descend among men, made deep obeisance and opened wide his own gateway to the Reservoirs of Light. He descended to earthly regions that he might guide the spreading of the new illumination. The Messenger told me that one of these holy prophets fulfilled his divine mission during the last century. He said the illumination then released was about to spread through East and West. The prophet has returned to heavenly spheres—his work accomplished. His work would become manifest when the war was over. The war itself was an outward manifestation of the powers of evil in their attempt to obstruct the inflow of the light. It was very interesting, but beyond me. He said a spiritual revival was destined to take place within all the great world-faiths.
He said that unity would become established, that universal peace would become an accomplished fact. He seemed to imply that the golden era was at hand; nearer indeed than we could realise. He asked me to return to the Mount of Vision with him, but I feel I cannot, dare not do so. I am unworthy. I cannot unself myself sufficiently. Such heights are not for such as I am! I returned to my own place alone, by the force of an interior gravity. But I ask you to mark the Messenger’s words. He spoke of what he knew. Let his words blaze forth a channel through the minds of men.
I ask this of you: to make them known.
18th March 1917, 8 pm.
I have returned once more.
There are several things I want to say. I find it difficult to tell you what they are.
I will tell you why. I am a person who cannot pretend to teach or preach, I do not wish to do so. I am not sure enough of my own faith yet.
I feel it my duty to tell you some thing of what the angel and the Messenger said, not because I understand or believe it all, but because they have been good to me. They have recognised my ignorance, have not scoffed at my unworthiness. I have not come to you to preach, to show the way to heavenly states. I do not know my way there, so how could I guide you? You are probably nearer heaven than I, though still on earth. Because I pass on what has been told to me, do not think I am a ‘superior’ person. Do not think that all I say must be true. It may be. I cannot tell myself. I am grateful to you for listening to me. I am grateful to my brother for meeting me over here. Above all, I thank God for the Messenger who deigns to come and talk to me at intervals. I have met other people over here, and have been allowed to help one or two distressed souls. But I remain a lonely person, working out my own salvation in fear and trembling. Put fear behind you! That is one of the things I must say. I try to do it! Fear is a power opposed to life; it is the weapon of the Evil One. It is illusion. Can you believe what I say? Fear has no reality of its own. Its power is generated from within ourselves. Cast it out. Never fear again.
I want to say a few words about love—very few, because I know so little. Also because love is spoken about too much already, whereas it should be lived. If you would dwell in peace, learn to love deeply. Never cease from loving. Jesus said a good deal about love, if I remember rightly. Look up what He said and live it.
Love God by pouring yourself away. Love your fellows by giving them all you possess of light and truth.
Love LOVE for her own blessed sake. Such love will bring you nearer heaven.
I have spoken about illusion several times. I return to it once more. I begin to see that phenomenal existence, whether on earth or here, is so impermanent as to be unreal. This is a hard saying. I do not yet understand it.
Live above those conditions which, after much meditation, appear to you to be illusory. That is the best advice I can give.
The Messenger has spoken several times about evil. I cannot entirely shake off the effects of my visit to the lower regions, where evil reigns as lord and king.
It appears that evil is not real or permanent. Its power is permanent, but this power can be transmuted, until it serves ends that are divine.
More than this I cannot say, because I do not know. If you can realise that evil has no real existence and can be eliminated entirely from human life, you will have learnt much. Remember what was said about stagnation. Keep moving in some direction all the time. How was it that I lived so stagnantly whilst on earth? —Let my life be an example.
One other thought I wish to leave with you. The Messenger told me that we have entered the period of period of revelations.
The childhood of the race is nearly over. Vast spiritual purifying powers are waiting to be poured forth. Create vessels for this purpose! Make yourself a vessel that you may receive the gift of the Spirit. You will then require no teaching from outside. Revelation will come to you from within. Retire into the Hall of Silence. Think on these things. Think on these things. . , . The time has come for my withdrawal. I will ask the Messenger to bless your life and work. You are a soldier too. Your life will bring you many opportunities. You will be protected, safeguarded, illumined. Should it be your fate to come across to this region soon, I will try to meet you. I may be useful. But I do not think you are coming yet. I have said so much about myself! Only now, as I am leaving, do I speak of you. Forgive me. Once more, my friend, I thank you. I owe you more than I can repay. In some special manner you have buoyed up my faith when it would have failed me otherwise. God grant you understanding. God grant you peace. Goodbye.
Note by W. T. P.
I have not heard again from my friend. He has evidently passed beyond my ken. Probably he is already free from earth conditions and has entered upon the pilgrimage of selfless service.
I can quite believe that this is possible. His nature was au fond humble and childlike. The humility of the man was indeed very splendid. I hope we may meet again some day.
There are several points in his narrative worthy of comment. I must treat the whole experience as real. Otherwise it would not have been worthwhile setting down. To me, my communications with Thomas Dowding were so real that he seemed to be in the room sitting at my elbow, prompting my pen. I know there have been many books written containing messages said to have been passed down from another plane of existence. One cannot doubt the possibility of ‘spirit communion,’ as it is often called. It seems to me that there can be no final proof concerning these matters. One must be guided by the interior worth of the messages themselves. I tell you, for instance, that I am satisfied I have been speaking with a soldier who was killed in battle seven months ago. I have set down the experience in writing exactly as it came to me. I cannot, however, prove the genuineness of the experience to anyone else. I cannot even prove it finally to myself.
I will now comment upon Thomas Dowding’s statements and beliefs, in the search for interior evidences of their genuineness. It is evident that these messages come from a mind in a state consciousness not far removed from earthly existence, and not from any more spiritual source. I believe that the messages set down in a little book called Christ in You were received inspirationally in a manner akin to the experiences with which we are now dealing. The interior evidence of the Christ in You communications certainly points to their being genuine. The spirit of truth breathes from these pages, and therefore their actual source is a matter of little moment. Can the same be said of the messages from Thomas Dowding? They belong to a different order of communication and must be considered in light of their own internal worth.
In the first place, Dowding, or whoever is speaking, has no clear idea of what truth is. He emphasises the fact that he knows nothing. He passes on the information he receives from the ‘Messenger’ and the ‘angel’, but he cannot very often endorse the truth of such information in the light of his own experience. In one place, he says he is helping to ‘free himself’ (presumably from ignorance) by passing on the details of his life. As the record proceeds, one is forced to the conclusion that our friend finds the shackles dropping from him. The tone of his remarks begins to change. A new and more spiritual note becomes apparent. He takes more interest in what the Messenger tells him. He realises more and more the worthlessness of human ‘knowledge,’ and proceeds to empty his mind, that it may begin to reflect spiritual rather than earthly ideas. In a way, his humility and his confidence grow together, yet a certain diffidence is noticeable right to the end. One does not know why he felt impelled to communicate with earth, nor why he chose to ‘speak’ to one who was an entire stranger to him. He does not seem to think that doubt will be cast upon his story; indeed, he goes out of his way to say that my imagination has been ‘chained,’ and that his ideas are correctly taken down. The Messenger warns our friend against communicating with earth at all.
‘Do you know that most of what you have conveyed to your friend at the matter end of the line is quite illusory?’ This is a very perturbing thought to Private Dowding, but he is told that he will gradually discover the truth of what the Messenger tells him. Towards the end he does begin to disentangle that which is real in his life from the unreal, and does his best to tell us how he reaches his conclusions. On this point his final dictum is this: ‘Live above all those conditions that appear to you, after much meditation, to be illusory.’ He is forced to the conclusion that very little of his own earth life or of his present life can be termed ‘real’ in any final sense. Nevertheless, his faith in a spiritual life gradually grows, until he is able to exclaim: ‘There is something that lives and moves in me that is not illusion. That something will forge its way out into the light some day.’
It will be noted that I have called my friend Thomas Dowding. It is very difficult to get through names correctly. Dowding may have been our friend’s earth label, but I doubt if it is a matter of any importance. The only name he himself mentions is that of William, belonging to his brother, who meets him on the ‘other side.’ Names are evidently of no moment over there.
Finally, let me say a few words on the teaching that comes to our friend as he wanders about seeking for truth. To my mind, there is much of value and real beauty in the spiritual lessons conveyed to him by the personage he calls the ‘Messenger.’ Evidently only fragments of these messages have been passed on to us. I think our friend was unable to grasp the import of a great deal he was told, and feared to pass it on. Evidently he originates no teaching himself and is careful to point this out. He says: ‘I cannot pretend to preach or teach… I am not sure of my own faith yet.’ Then he goes on to explain why he feels it his duty to pass on the teaching of the angel and the Messenger. Personally, I consider that this teaching, whatever its actual source may be, is well worth careful attention and study. It certainly does not emanate from my own mind, conscious or, subconscious—that is, so far as one is in a position to judge. I realise that the mysteries of the subliminal and subconscious regions are still beyond our grasp.
Because of this, I say, study the teaching itself. Accept or reject it according to its own interior worth. Again and again I would urge the importance of studying the teaching in its relation to life as we now know it. Except in that aspect, no such communication from the other side can have any practical value.
Do not confuse the teaching with the simple record of Private Dowding’s surroundings. He tells us that from the standpoint of the Messenger the value of the messages depends upon the emphasis placed upon the fact of the impermanence of the conditions described, and it must never be forgotten, if the teaching in this narrative seems incomplete, that Private Dowding does not pretend to teach. He himself is still seeking, and that somewhat blindly. He says he knows nothing. His was not an enlightened soul. He passes on fragments of a teaching which he only dimly understands, and the value of these fragments to us must lie in our reading of their deeper meaning in relation to our own lives.
If his loneliness is not at first understood, we have to bear in mind that he made no profession of faith here, and consequently his vision of higher things must have been very dim on crossing over. It may be that all those who are without an appreciation of inner values, are, in a sense, in the same spiritual loneliness, shut off as they are from the perfect inviolable whole ‘by the fragmentary bodily senses, and by the limitations of the sense-intellect—that is to say, by the intellect that recognises only the testimony supplied by the senses and reasons from that alone’.1 And probably the ‘fog of our own creating’ is but the dark veil of separateness arising from this blindness of the soul. The man who lacks reverence is blind, for if he could see, he would have reverence; and the man who does not love is blind, for if he could see, he would love. In the Hall of Rest there came peace, and in the Hall of Silence there came understanding. These Halls are available to all here and now. If we can but enter the Hall of Rest, the senses are stilled, and we can then enter into the Silence, there to hear the ‘still small voice,’ and to understand. ‘Somewhere within the soul,’ we are told, ‘there is silence. Attain unto it. It is a pearl of great price.’ To enter into the Silence, to have vision, is necessarily to have reverence, to love, and to serve.
He urges us to control our affairs from without, to live widely, to pour ourselves away, not to live for self. ‘The spiritual world is everywhere; the life of spirit is eternal, perfect, supreme.’ The Christ spirit is, everywhere, and yet, by some strange paradox, we are able to shut it out from our view.’ ‘We are unable,’ says Private Dowding, ‘to clear out our own poor thoughts and illusions and allow the Christ power to reflect through us.’ And here the remark, ‘You evidently know nothing about crystals. I cannot impress your mind with the wonders of this place,” is of far-reaching interest as indicating the need of the faculty of understanding before the interior realisation of any truth becomes possible.
In the presence of the ” powers of darkness” he finds it necessary to empty himself of self. Gain control of self,” he tells us, ” then retain control by emptying your self of self.’ On the Mount of Vision the Reservoirs of Illumination nearly blind him. He says: ‘I feel I cannot, dare not, return. I cannot unself myself sufficiently.’ In the first of these experiences, the self he speaks of, the self that is illusion, the sense self, is drawn by the lure of the power of evil, and in the other it is blinded by the Light of the Reservoirs of Illumination. He returns to his ‘own place alone, by the force of an interior gravity.’ There is nothing indefinite, and there is much to ponder over in these experiences. We are told with the same certainty that vast spiritual purifying powers are waiting to be poured forth. ‘Create vessels for this purpose,’ says Private Dowding. ‘Make yourself a vessel that you may receive the gift of the spirit. . . Retire into the Hall of Silence. Think on these things. Think on these things.’ It is difficult to place too high a value on this teaching.
On page 29 he says, ’ I ask you to mark the Messenger’s words. He spoke of what he knew. Let his words blaze forth a channel through the minds of men. I ask this of you: to make them known.’ What is it that he is so definitely anxious to make known? The message of the existence of Reservoirs of Light, of the uttering of the Word, of the illumination about to spread through East and West, or of the establishment of unity and universal peace? Perhaps all of these things. And whether the Reservoirs of Illumination be the latent but unawakened and therefore unexpressed spiritual strength and capacity of the races we cannot tell, but the uttering of the Word and the coming of the Revealer of the Word brings illumination nevertheless surely to the hearts of men.
It is true that great spiritual movements were initiated last century. One of the most remarkable of these has centred in the East round the Persian prophet Bahá‘u’lláh. This Messenger of God has returned to his own high place, but his message of brotherhood and love begins to stir the hearts of men. Many of his prophecies have already been fulfilled. The ideals of unity and brotherhood for which he stood are spreading widely, despite the war. His Book of Laws remains to be made known to the world, but the inspiration which called it forth is certainly divine in origin. Bahá‘u’lláh’s son, the explainer of the message, whose name is Abdu’l Baha Abbas (servant of God), still dwells among men, controlling and directing the promulgation of a spiritual movement that seems likely to encircle the globe with the great ideal of unity. And in the West there is, among others, the wonderful spiritual movement known as Christian Science. It is perhaps the most remarkable religious revival initiated during last century in the Western world, and its growth and influence, particularly in America, is little short of marvelous.
The Messenger tells us that the light dawns within individuals first, and that its radiance spreads, that outwardly its influence will show itself in many great reforms, and that ‘great lamps will shine forth in East and West.’ Again I would say in Private Dowding’s words: ‘Vast spiritual powers are waiting to be poured forth. Create vessels for this purpose. Make yourself a vessel that you may receive the gift of the spirit.’ I would close by repeating what he says with reference to love, which, in my opinion, seals the whole experience with the stamp of truth. If you would dwell in peace, learn to love deeply. Never cease loving. Love God by pouring yourself away. Love your fellows by giving them all you possess of light and truth. Love LOVE for her own blessed sake. Such love will bring you nearer heaven.”
W. T. P.
19th March 1917.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published August 2012
Size: 229 x 152 mm