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In Times of War, ed. by Jonathan Beecher

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.
We have guided missiles and misguided men. “

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

INTRODUCTION

****

In 1947, with the world shaken by the death toll of two global wars, a Doomsday Clock was created as a symbol of the likelihood of a global manmade catastrophe such as a nuclear war. The clock was originally set at seven minutes to midnight, midnight being the end of the world, at least, as we know it today.

The clock is maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board,  a group of scientists and thinkers who monitor sciences, technology and anything that could be a global threat to humanity. As of January 2018 the clock is set to two minutes to midnight.

During the past month, President Trump has announced that the USA is pulling out of the long-standing Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty citing Russia’s development of weapons, which allegedly breach that agreement.
Some commentators think Trump’s departure from the thirty-one year old treaty will increase the likelihood of a nuclear war with Russia, while others insist America needs to increase its nuclear capability to counter the rising military might of China.

Meanwhile, 5,500 miles from Washington DC, in Sochi, Russia, President Putin recently delivered his annual speech and added to the brouhaha when he said: “Only when we become convinced that there is an incoming attack on the territory of Russia, and that happens within seconds, only after that we would launch a retaliatory strike.” He continued: “The aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and he will be destroyed. … We would be victims of an aggression and would get to heaven as martyrs, while those who initiated the aggression would just die and not even have time to repent.”

In the secular West, church congregations might be in decline but more than a hundred years since the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared, “God is dead,” it seems the Lord is still evoked by leaders when they feel the need to justify their actions.

Speaking of evoking God, a movie is screening in American theaters. The Trump Prophecy is about retired firefighter Mark Taylor, who, while having treatment for PTSD in 2011, claimed he received a message from God telling him that Donald Trump would be the next president. The message began: “I’ve chosen this man Donald Trump for such a time as this. For, as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be to the United States of America, for I will use this man to bring honor, respect and restoration to America.”

Mark isn’t the first person to claim to deliver a message from God, although, as far as I know, as a rule, God doesn’t appear to pick leaders, at least not since the days of the Old Testament and Muhammad.

For thousands of years messages purporting to come from dimensions beyond our physical experience have been reported by deceased people who are not claiming to be God, via mystics, priests, mediums, shamen, near-death experiencers, ayahuasca drinkers, psychedelic drug takers, channelers, lucid dreamers, out-of-body experiencers, remote viewers, psychic sensitives and ordinary people.

During the first half of the twentieth century, with the advent and aftermath of two world wars, dead soldiers, airmen, and sailors were reportedly lining up in the astral trying to get through to the living to let us know they had survived their physical deaths … and the messages keep on coming to this day.

Having passed the hundred-year anniversary of the end of World War One, we could be forgiven for wondering if we will experience World War Three in our lifetimes. Given the rhetoric from the leaders of certain nations and the media, it will be remarkable if we don’t.

Why all this anger and fear-based politics? What are people afraid of? Many people’s biggest fear seems to be losing control of their lives and dying. I can empathize with the fear of losing control of one’s life. I recently watched both my parents suffer strokes, and, in events lasting not more than a few minutes, they both permanently lost control of their mental and physical lives—just like that.

A fear of loss of control or injury might be a good thing. It might stop us from walking across the street and getting hit by a truck. It might encourage us to live healthier lives in order to stave off self-inflicted debilitating illnesses. But why the fear of death? Birth and death are the most natural things we ever do. Many of us go to sleep every night without worrying about not waking up, so is the fear of death that many experience, a fear of what might happen after death? For some it definitely is and that’s understandable. Two thousand years of being told we are going to the “good place” or the “bad place” must have had a conscious and unconscious influence on what we think and what we do.

Maybe we should pay more attention to some of these alleged after-death communications, if only to help us to navigate the post-death state when the time comes. If there’s nothing, as atheists proclaim, … no harm done.

What happens after we die? It’s a natural question, because, if we conclude that we continue to exist in some form, then the next question might be, do our thoughts and actions here influence our continued existence there? All religions say they do to a varying degree.

Is there a heaven and hell? And what of the purgatorial state that so many Christians reject? If there is nothing, we’ll never know, but if, having died, we find ourselves aware of our continued existence, it might be useful to hear what others, who claim to have experienced death and who tell us they are further along the path, have to say.

There have been many accounts from people who claimed to have died in battle and lived to tell the tale. Their experiences are especially interesting because most have died as a result of violence and they often paint a vivid picture of their post-death state—their bodily state, if we can call it that—their psychological state and their subsequent philosophical worldview.

Can we trust what the communicators tell us? Who knows? Why do we trust some people and not others? We just do. Some Christians don’t like the idea of after-death communication, possibly because the author of “Leviticus” in the Old Testament said: “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31). After all, who wants to be defiled? But in the New Testament Jesus reportedly said: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4), and Jesus again: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

In life we tend to test others to see if we trust them and we judge them by their words and actions. We know them by their fruits.

What follows is a collection of accounts written down by a variety of individuals, some notable, all seemingly sincere, who took the time to delve into the compelling world of after-death communication.
~ J. Beecher, Guildford, United Kingdom. November 12, 2018.


“One great truth has become my constant companion.
I sum it up thus: Empty yourself if you would be filled.”
~ Private Dowding

1

PRIVATE DOWDING

~ Wellesley Tudor Pole

Major Wellesley Tudor Pole OBE, a.k.a. TP, (23 April 1884 – 13 September 1968) 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 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 for a period during World War Two, all over Britain and the Commonwealth, millions of people joined together on certain evenings at 9.00 p.m. 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 below, Tudor Pole explains how this encounter with a deceased entity who called himself Private Dowding, was his first experience of clairvoyantly inspired automatic writing.

Introduction

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’s 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.

Some of the ideas are not in conformity with preconceived notions of my own. The messages I received in this manner from “Thomas Dowding,” recluse, schoolmaster, soldier, are set down exactly as they reached me.

Wellesley Tudor Pole
Bournemouth
20th March 1917

The Wilderness

12th March 1917, 9 p.m.

I am grateful for this opportunity. You may not realize how much some of us long to speak to those we have left behind. It is not easy to get messages through with certainty. They are so often lost in transit or misinterpreted. Sometimes the imagination of the receiver weaves a curious fabric round the thoughts we try to pass down, then the ideas we want to communicate are either lost or disfigured.

I was a schoolmaster in a small East Coast town before the war. I was an orphan, somewhat of a recluse, and I made friends but slowly. My name is of no importance; apparently names over here are not needed. I became a soldier in the autumn of 1915, and left my narrow village life behind. These details, however, are really of no importance. They may act as a background to what I have to say.

I joined as a private and died as a private. My soldiering lasted just nine months, eight of which were spent training in Northumberland. I went out with my battalion to France in July 1916 and we went into the trenches almost at once. I was killed by a shell splinter one evening in August and I believe that my body was buried the following day. As you see, I hasten over these unimportant events, important to me once, but now of no real consequence. How we overestimate the significance of earthly happenings. One only realizes this when freed from earthly ties.

Well, my body soon became cannon fodder, and there were few to mourn me. It was not for me to play anything but an insignificant part in this world-tragedy, which is still unfolding.

I am still myself, a person of no importance, but I feel I should like to say a few things before passing along. I feared death, but then that was natural. I was timid, and even feared life and its pitfalls. So I was afraid of being killed and was sure it would mean extinction. There are still many who believe that. It is because extinction has not come to me that I want to speak to you. May I describe my experiences? Perhaps they may prove useful to some. How necessary that some of us should speak back across the border! The barriers must be broken down. This is one of the ways of doing it. Listen, therefore, to what I have to say; physical death is nothing. There really is no cause for fear.

Some of my pals grieved for me. When I “went West” they thought I was dead for good. This is what happened. I have a perfectly clear memory of the whole incident. I was waiting at the corner of a traverse to go on guard. It was a fine evening. I had no special intimation of danger, until I heard the whizz of a shell. Then followed an explosion, somewhere behind me. I crouched down involuntarily, but was too late. Something struck, hard, hard, hard, against my neck. Shall I ever lose the memory of that hardness? It is the only unpleasant incident that I can remember. I fell and, as I did so, without passing through an apparent interval of unconsciousness, I found myself outside myself! You see I am telling my story simply; you will find it easier to understand. You will learn to know what a small incident this dying is.

Think of it! One moment I was alive, in the earthly sense, looking over a trench parapet, unalarmed, normal. Five seconds later I was standing outside my body, helping two of my pals to carry my body down the trench labyrinth towards a dressing station. They thought I was senseless but alive. I did not know whether I had jumped out of my body through shell shock, temporarily or forever. You see what a small thing is death, even the violent death of war!

I seemed in a dream. I had dreamt that someone or something had knocked me down. Now I was dreaming that I was outside my body. Soon I should wake up and find myself in the traverse waiting to go on guard. It all happened so simply. Death for me was a simple experience: no horror, no long-drawn suffering, no conflict. It comes to many in the same way. My pals need not fear death. Few of them do; nevertheless there is an underlying dread of possible extinction. I dreaded that; many soldiers do, but they rarely have time to think about such things. As in my case, thousands of soldiers pass over without knowing it.

If there be shock, it is not the shock of physical death. Shock comes later when comprehension dawns; “Where is my body? Surely I am not dead!’ In my own case, I knew nothing more at the time than I have already related.

When I found that my two pals could carry my body without my help I dropped behind. I just followed, in a curiously humble way. Humble? Yes, because I seemed so useless. We met a stretcher party. My body was hoisted on to the stretcher. I wondered when I should get back into it again. You see I was so little “dead” that I imagined I was still (physically) alive. Think of it a moment before we pass on. I had been struck by a shell splinter. There was no pain. The life was knocked out of my body … again, I say, there was no pain. Then I found that the whole of myself—all, that is, that thinks and sees and feels and knows—was still alive and conscious! I had begun a new chapter of life. I will tell you what I felt like. It was as if I had been running hard until, hot and breathless and I had thrown my overcoat away. The coat was my body and if I had not thrown it away I should have suffocated. I cannot describe the experience in a better way; there is nothing else to describe.

My body went to the first dressing station, and after examination was taken to a mortuary. I stayed near it all that night, watching, but without thoughts. It was as if my being, feeling, and thinking had become “suspended” by some power outside myself. This sensation came over me gradually as the night advanced. I still expected to wake up in my body again, that is, so far as I expected anything. Then I lost consciousness and slept soundly.

No detail seems to have escaped me. When I awoke, my body had disappeared! How I hunted and hunted! It began to dawn upon me that something strange had happened, although I still felt I was in a dream and should soon awake. My body had been buried or burned, I never knew which. Soon I ceased hunting for it. Then the shock came! It came without warning suddenly. I had been killed by a German shell! I was dead! I was no longer alive. I had been killed, killed, killed! Curious that I felt no shock when I was first driven outside my body. Now the shock came, and it was very real. I tried to think backwards, but my memory was numb (it returned later).

How does it feel to be “dead?” One can’t explain, because there’s nothing in it! I simply felt free and light. My being seemed to have expanded. These are mere words. I can only tell you just this: that death is nothing unseemly or shocking.

So simple is the “passing along” experience that it beggars description. Others may have other experiences to relate of a more complex nature. I don’t know.

When I lived in a physical body I never thought much about it. My health was fair. I knew very little about physiology. Now that I am living under other conditions I remain incurious as to that through which I express myself. By this I mean that I am still evidently in a body of some sort, but “I” can tell you very little about it. It has no interest for me. It is convenient, does not ache or tire, and seems similar in formation to my old body. There is a subtle difference, but I cannot attempt analysis.

Let me relate my first experience after I had somewhat recovered from the shock of realizing I was “dead.” I was on, or rather above, the battlefield. It seemed as if I were floating in a mist that muffled sound and blurred the vision. Through this mist slowly penetrated a dim picture and some very low sounds. It was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. Everything was distant, minute, misty and unreal. Guns were being fired. It might all have been millions of miles away. The detonation hardly reached me; I was conscious of the shells bursting without actually seeing them. The ground seemed very empty. No soldiers were visible. It was like looking down from above the clouds, yet that doesn’t exactly express it either. When a shell that took [my] life exploded, then the sensation of it came much nearer to me. The noise and tumult came over the borderline with the lives of the slain. A curious way of putting it. All this time I was very lonely. I was conscious of none near me. I was neither in the world of matter nor could I be sure I was in any place at all! Just simply conscious of my own existence in a state of dream. I think I fell asleep for the second time, and long remained unconscious and in a dreamless condition.

At last I awoke. Then a new sensation came to me. It was as if I stood on a pinnacle, all that was essential of me. The rest receded, receded, receded. All appertaining to bodily life seemed to be dropping away down into a bottomless abyss. There was no feeling of irretrievable loss. My being seemed both minute and expansive at the same time. All that was not really me slipped down and away. The sense of loneliness deepened.

I do not find it easy to express myself. If the ideas are not clear, that is not your fault. You are setting down just what I impress upon you. How do I know this? I cannot see your pen, but I see my ideas as they are caught up and whirled into form within your mind. By “form” perhaps I mean words. Others may not feel this loneliness. I cannot tell whether my experiences are common to many in a like position. When I first “awoke” this second time, I felt cramped. This is passing and a sense of real freedom comes over me. A load has dropped away from me. I think my new faculties are now in working order. I can reason and think and feel and move. Once I read a book about this afterlife. It spoke of “planes” and “bodies” and “cycles” and “auras.” I think a man named Sinnett or Symons wrote it. It purported to deal with the history and geography of this afterlife. I cannot confirm its descriptions from my own experience. I am simply myself, alive, in a region where food and drink seem unnecessary. Otherwise “life” is strangely similar to earth life. A “continuation,” but with more freedom. I have no more to say just now. Will you let me return another time and use your mind again? I shall be so grateful.

Taken from In Times of War: Messages of Wisdom from Soldiers in the Afterlife by Jonathan Beecher, published by White Crow Books.

 
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The Orpheus Motif in North America: The Comanche tradition – To give the reader a general idea of the form taken by the Orpheus tradition in North America, I reproduce the version of the Comanche Indians, here published for the first time. It was communicated to me orally by the late Dr Ralph Linton, who noted it down in the course of his field-studies among the Comanche (1933). Particular interest attaches to the Comanche narrative, for it is the first recorded Orpheus tradition from the more easterly Shoshonean groups. No account is given of it in Wallace and Hoebel’s Comanche monograph, which is otherwise a valuable source for the religion and folklore of this tribe. Read here
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