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The Cell, the Soul and “Reincarnation by Michael Cocks

Chapter 6

The Cell, the Soul and “Reincarnation”

The renowned Rev. Dr Leslie D. Weatherhead makes a great number of interesting points in his book The Christian Agnostic (1965) regarding a Christian view of reincarnation. He remarks that Jesus is quick to correct error but his silence is noted when corrective speech would have been so easy on the occasion when our Lord Himself asked of His disciples: “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” and they said, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” [Mt 16:14, Mk 6:15, Lk 9:8-9] “Is it not extraordinary that He did not tell them not to talk nonsense?”

We can also note that: (1) Stephen says Joseph and Mary were Essenes; (2) as our Part Four study indicates, Stephen himself was an Essene too and (3) Josephus in De bello Judaico 2.8 wrote of the Essenes, “They say that all souls are incorruptible but that the souls of good men are only removed into other bodies.” 

Weatherhead writes, “Only in AD 553 did the Second Council of Constantinople reject it [reincarnation] and only then by a narrow majority. If some view of reincarnation had not been widely held in the early Church, it would have been pointless to have discussed it in a church council.” [Quotations from pp 209-210].

I do agree with the points that Weatherhead is making. I must point out that Stephen himself is not discussing simple “reincarnation” whereby the soul migrates from one body to the next. It seems rather that Stephen is exploring the matter in relation to the “Communion of Saints”, the communion of the living and the dead in Christ, where the experiences of all belong to the whole. This happens to be Weatherhead’s view, namely that if we are to have a Christian view of reincarnation we will need to see it in terms of the Body of Christ or the Communion of Saints.

It is a picture of souls inseparably part of the One, experiencing and acting through personalities and bodies and having access to the experience of all others. Is this not implied in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21?: “I pray that they all may be one, as you Father are in me, and I in you, so they will be in Us” or in Ephesians 4:6: “One is God the Father of all, He who is above all, works through all and is to be found in all.”]

47. The Continuous Self and Reincarnation.

[If it were possible to perceive souls as entities, separate from each other, then Stephen here would be talking about reincarnation as commonly understood. But since there is no such separation, Stephen’s teaching is more about the Communion of Saints, the unity of living and the so-called dead.]

Stephen: You have questions of course?

Michael:  The question on our minds is the nature of what one could call the Continuous Self. Now to talk to you, is to talk to a person with feelings recognisably the same as my own, who experiences and reacts in ways that I might experience and react in. I think of you and then I think of myself, of how my continuous self has worn [other personalities] and myself and confusion begins to come to my mind, because I cannot, we cannot, quite formulate the question.  Gerald, just now, to try and express his feeling, has drawn a wheel, with the continuous self as the hub of the wheel and each spoke, each part of the tread, covering fresh ground, rough or smooth, and there is choosing at the hub. Stephen, can you talk about this?

Stephen: I shall be delighted to.

Firstly let me again correct a misapprehension that we are all inclined to be under whilst we are in the physical body, and that is the feeling of separateness.

You will find that you are thinking of separateness when we refer to Stephen, or to Michael and “Charles” [a supposed former incarnation of M’s] as if they were truly separate.

Think of the wheel and the external perimeter of the wheel as the Whole continuously with the spokes from the exterior going through the centre, being experiences of the Whole.

The experience of the spoke belongs to the Whole and is the experience of the Whole; the spoke itself is only the instrument of the Whole. *
Think of this concept now and ask your question again, at some other opportunity.

* [In the Upanishads] “the totality of existence is compared to a wheel, and of this wheel the Lord is both the hub and the rim whereas individual ‘selves’ are the spokes that connect the two: they are inseparable from God but they are not identical with him.” [Article on “Hinduism” in Man, Myth and Magic, p.1313]

Michael:  All right. But I think of “Charles” as dead. We have also been thinking of wholes. For instance, we have been thinking of what they call a natural theology that will embrace in one whole, animals, snakes (which someone said they did not like) and ourselves into the one Whole. So much of our thinking has so far simply involved the growth of the individual human soul. Can you speak of the Whole?

48. “Christian” being the name that defines the pursuit of what is Christ.

Stephen: You can see even whilst you are speaking where your confusion is.

At one time, we ask a question of the continuous self of an individual.

Now we ask the same question, but of the Whole.

Think again simply of the parable of the Gardener.

He did not make flowers or a border.

He made a garden where each of these parts are [make up] a garden.

The teaching of this you already have.

Let me again make this clearer, for it may answer another question. Many felt troubled when the question “What is a Christian?” was asked. You have even asked this, this night. Perhaps if I answered this question for you, it will answer many questions you may wish to ask.

“Christian” is the name that defines the pursuit of what is Christ. The example of the successful pursuit was in our Lord who indeed was the Christ.  Therefore, a Christian in the terms that you wish to think or, indeed, in the terms in which you should think, should be defined as:

“Any cell, each and any part of the continuous self, which acts in   a like manner (in pursuit of what is Christ)”; whether it is called Christian, “yellow” or “rain” is immaterial.

For to be Christian is to be conscious not of separateness but to be conscious as part of the Whole.

In the past, for joining of the Whole, parts of the Whole had experiences, continued to choose and gained further experiences in differing incarnations. This is the case with the part of the Whole with which we are blessed, called Michael. He is also a part of the Whole that gained the experience of “Charles”. And backwards as it shall be forwards.

The knowledge of this part of the Whole (which is also called Michael) which was to be gained through experience was decided before the separateness of Michael was felt.

Therefore we can say that the experiences gained would be of the whole self of Michael, the choosing of the whole self of Michael.

But let this not go as far as to specify details of the incidents that occur to the body which the Whole, through Michael, is using.

For this body has a mind that has many functions.

This body has a mind that can be influenced and this body was chosen by the Whole through the whole self, the continuous self of Michael, because of its situation and because of the probability of the influences that will be made to bear on the mind of that body that we know as Michael.

Incidents will happen that were not planned and yea even should not be planned; but the total of the experience of that part of the whole which is the whole self of Michael (whilst that part is in the body) was requiring that total experience, not the separate incidents.

Should it be necessary for the “Charles” - Michael* to become a “George”, then it will be decided at which stage the “George” should possess a body, where the body should be situated and also the time in evolution, when it would gain the experience that the part of the whole (which the whole self of Michael) wishes to obtain.

* Charles is a presumed former incarnation

I need to feel and grasp this, and to grasp that I am Michael, that Michael is Stephen and that what I experience now is experience for the You which is also I.

I need to feel and grasp that this is so, that I am but a part that could be described as a spoke in the “wheel” which is the Whole and that together at the outside perimeter we cannot be separated.

Michael:  I get confused about this Whole. Are not you, Stephen, also Bill and Olive and everyone else as well as Michael?

Stephen: We are all each other though we are not sharing at this time the incidents of the separate bodies.

But the experience that we are sharing in these separate bodies belongs to us all.

For to be Christian is to be conscious, not of separateness, but to be conscious as part of the Whole. This is the starting point, in thinking about this Christian version of “reincarnation”. No question of a separated soul leaving a body, and then entering another. I am but a spoke in the wheel which is the Whole and “at the outside perimeter we cannot be separated. 

On the one hand, Stephen gave us reincarnation names that at first embarrassed us and then led us to self-centred feelings of importance; then, on the other hand, he said that we are all each other, including of course, you the reader. You could say that Stephen was the cause of emotional disturbance for which we needed prolonged counselling before we put things into proportion. Those of us who were talking with Stephen were learning about our own spiritual selves but the message that we hope will be heard is that we are all spokes in the wheel and most of what is said of us can be said of everybody.

49. I am called by an unwelcome name.

Stephen: You might recognize me as distinct from Thomas! You have questions?

Michael: I have questions and I am pleased that you are here to answer them. I am asking them because perhaps they are questions that trouble me more than the group. I was confused about an answer you gave to a former question. When I asked about mental disorders I heard you as saying “mental disorders are confused with spiritual orderliness”. I thought it should have read “disorderliness”.

Stephen: It would have been correct to have written “disorderliness” rather than “orderliness”.

Michael: What is the distinction between a mental disorder and a spiritual disorder?

Stephen: Your questions, Michael, can be apparently simple. Try to imagine the concept that the physical mind is a manifestation of the physical body. Then with regard to our true self, or cell, should the body that is being used have physical or mental defects, it does not necessarily follow (in fact it is most improbable) that the cell which is part of the Whole would manifest any defect of a similar nature.

Michael: This is what I have felt on two or three occasions this week when, to my surprise, a service of worship went, what I felt, entirely right! It surprises me when things go completely right. On Sunday night we had ten people and it appeared to me that at least two of them were speaking with your voice or with the voice of the Source. We felt close to each other in love and caught up into the Whole. Although with our physical selves we might have disagreed, yet we felt one so I felt no disorder. And I felt this again on Wednesday, that there was no disorder when we had been bickering almost and yet underneath there was no disorder.

Stephen: And this surprises you, Michael?

Michael: Yes it does … although, when I say that we felt caught up into God, of course then there can be no disorder…

Stephen: Pray continue.

Michael: Well, there are two things that would relate to this. Let us take Judas.  Was there a disorder in him? In his cell?

Stephen: Again, you have asked two different questions. Was there a physical (and this includes mental) disorder within the person, or is there a disorder in the cell that was known as Judas? Now why each cell and soul has been separated from the Source and has come away as such…

Michael: As you have said, to correct a mis-arrangement, or disorder. Therefore, the cell is disordered.

Stephen: The word disorder is only the best concept available but you do have the correct concept. Do not confuse cell disorder as being the same concept as physical disorder*

*Remember Stephen’s words already quoted “the mis-arrangement of the self-consciousness, or cell, that acts as I have said, through the emotions, taking and acting upon the emotions or the sense-consciousness of the body, and not of the spirit, or God-consciousness.”

Michael: We are not to think of “badness” or “sickness” with regard to the cell?

Stephen: That is correct ... Judas.

Michael: What did you say?

Stephen: Judas, to continue; to answer your question. The re-arrangement that was necessary for the cell and the cell’s choice in the purpose that it should serve in the body of Judas, though unconsciously so, and any disorders that the physical body of Judas may have had, can be considered two entirely separate discussions. Of the physical body that was Judas I know little.

Let us think about the experience and the guidance necessary to carry out the purpose, not only of the cell that was Judas, but also of many close cells that were in physical bodies near what was the body of our Lord:

I would have to start even before the birth of our Lord’s body, and explain happenings which have neither been written down or in most cases even been remembered.

Therefore let it be sufficient to say that Judas the man, or the physical manifestation, may indeed have caused experiences that added in a minor degree to those things that needed correcting but the consciousness of the cell that chose and was assisted in doing those things that needed to be done, was the cause of other mis-arrangements being corrected.

On the one hand, we have the separateness of the life experience that was Judas. It was not unique, it gained way and lost way, as all of us do whilst we are in the physical body.

This was the pattern.

This was no more startling, in that it was Judas, than it would be even in yourself.

The purpose and the usage for the Lord’s purpose of the cell that was recognizable as Judas is another story which at some time you will know of.

Am I clear with this answer? For I wish to be.

Michael:  I think when I hear it [the recording of this conversation] it may become clearer because as you speak my mind flits back to the name you called me by.

Stephen: We have again now, Michael, developed our separateness. If we did this of course the burden of Nero could fall heavily on a non-illustrious shoulder at some later time. Therefore do not be concerned for the burden that may be thought of as being Judas … it would not rest upon you.

Michael:  It sounds like saying that I was that cell but that we are yet one and share it.

Stephen: You have answered yourself well. We are but one and share it [the burden]. Is there clarity in the concept of the two actions that are now possible: that which is the mental-physical attitude and its actions and those actions that are required by the cell, from the cell to the group, to the group from the Source?

Michael: This feels clear to me. Now could I approach this question from a different angle? You - talking to me. It seems natural, and feels natural but is miraculous to my mental self.

Stephen: Indeed, it is miraculous. That Thomas should speak in the same manner is likewise. Let me explain more. Consider Thomas. For it is necessary that this time he is not with us. Let us consider the physical mind of Thomas.

Then we add to that the cell that has knowledge of what requires re-arranging. That knowledge must work in harmony with but with influence on the physical mind.

The cell chose that body which we see here now for the probabilities in time, environment and many other things.

The experiences that happen to the physical mind and how the influence of the cell can guide, the influence the cell exerts on the physical mind and the success or otherwise of that influence, are the means by which that mis-arrangement may be corrected. Therefore, we have a mind that is completely free in choice to think and act as it wishes.

The exercise is then that the cell records experiences and gains knowledge on how to influence [the physical mind]; the cell’s success is measured and the mis-arrangements are corrected by the influence that the cell has on that mind, leaving it always, the physical mind, with its free will.

Michael:  Just as you are having practice in doing now.

Stephen: Exactly. But whereas I the cell have the body of Thomas I am not hampered (poor word) by the physical mind which has choices of its own. It is the cell that activates. The cell, as you see, is (not to use another wrong word) as dexterous as the physical mind in manipulating the body. It can but physically stimulate some simple electrical impulses that operate the features and voice. When the physical mind is not currently attached, or present, (and again, please do not think that Thomas may be a distance away) when the physical mind is not attached as it normally would be the cell-mind can only operate limited bodily functions.

Michael: Hearing this makes me feel like a puppet; when I die is it that the strings are cut and I the puppet fall lifeless to the floor…and where am I? All my thinking is gone!  Yet I guess, dear Stephen, that this will not be so.

Stephen: Michael, dear Michael, this is exactly what happens, of course. When the cell is rearranged or the body can no longer function for the purpose or becomes aged or is destroyed, then all that is left is the shell.  The mind for a short time relatively speaking is still in a mind body and can gain further experience whilst the cell transcends finally out of its separateness to the Whole.

If there are further rearrangements to be made, then the cell does not transcend completely into oneness. It retains separateness until what has remained of the mind, such as personality, and I think you might say some character traits and some traits that will influence the shape of the physical features in a minor way, are then, with the cell, transferred into another physical body.

[Following on after his own previous words, after a break when we changed the tape and Stephen rested Thomas. He takes up the body of Thomas:]

Therefore, as we have just demonstrated, the whole process can begin again.

Michael: Might I ask, Stephen: you are here when we request that you talk to us, but what are you doing when we are not requesting? Because you have a life of your own. You cannot just be there, day after day, waiting for us to call you.

Stephen: I can explain this better. Michael. When you are not talking where are you? I do not have a life of my own but I have a life of our own. Where does Michael go when he is no longer conscious?

Michael: Where does the candle flame go when it is blown out?

Stephen: Michael delights me at times. For, Michael, you know your answers so well.

Michael: I don’t know - to talk about the candle-flame only confuses my material mind. Because Stephen, you are me, I am Olive and Olive is you and so on. We are part of the tree and we are caught up into the whole when we receive and yet, surely, you said, I remember, you said to be you is like swimming in the ocean and to be a thousand miles away and to caress a friend.

Stephen: This is the conscious (or what is remaining of the conscious) mind of Stephen, not cell. Not the cell as such.

Michael: Yet the conscious mind of Stephen remains?

Stephen: In part. Think of it like this. I shall demonstrate. [Lifts leg.] In this body as a whole we have nerves that we can think of as the conscious mind of the individual person.  We have in this body, muscles that we may think of as the cell and its conscious mind.

Therefore, if I move this body, my [Stephen’s] conscious mind has activated the conscious mind of the cell (the muscles) which has moved the body. The feeling that has come to the conscious mind (of the individual) is the nerves. In the demonstration, the nerves represent the personality of Stephen, the muscle is the conscious mind of the cell.

Michael:  I begin to understand, so… I think perhaps that we can experience this now, in the physical body. Would this be right?

Stephen: This would be correct.

Michael:  Because when we had the experience of group receiving, the group all reported that they felt caught up into the spirit of God. Perhaps this is the muscle?

Stephen: This is very close to correct. Remember that I give the closest approximation that I am able, and that approximation that you have given is sufficient. I must soon depart. Even I begin to talk of departing. I must return this body to Thomas.

[I see this session as containing some of Stephen’s basic teaching. Remember his earlier words: “The knowledge of this part of the Whole (which is also called Michael) which was to be gained through experience was decided before the separateness of Michael was felt.” We could substitute the name “Judas” here, or, in general, the name of the reader. “We are all each other” and, as we have noted from Stephen’s parable of the Reflections in a pool, we are basically spiritual entities learning about ourselves and experiencing by immersing our consciousnesses in the pool, or in the physical.]

50. More about that unwelcome name.

Stephen: The atmosphere of inquiry! Therefore, let us inquire.

Michael: Are you aware of the conversation we have been having?

Stephen: Of parts only.

Michael: Would you speak of the drama, the part that Judas had to play in the drama?

Stephen: Your choice of the word “drama” does, I am afraid, cause amusement. But it is correct, nevertheless, for the events were dramatic. Two concepts you must have: firstly, the conscious physical being that was Judas; the second concept is the cell that must influence.

The cell being part of the Whole influences to a purpose.

Therefore, we are in a position when we must say two things of Judas: firstly, to use a concept that you often use, [from the point of view of the cell] Judas must have indeed been a saint! But were physical thinking beings to judge him a second time then surely Judas must be a sinner!

The cell that was influencing Judas of course was part of the Source and the purpose of that Source was achieved by the influence that was placed upon the physical Judas.

Can you not see how this can be so? 

Let us not think of Judas, let us think even of “Geoffrey” [or the reader].

Let us consider the actions of Geoffrey, be they good, bad, or even ... questionable: the cell that bears influences on Geoffrey, influences for a purpose. That cell has (these words are not quite apt) corrections that itself must make. It does this by influencing the physical mind, causing probable noticeable actions of that physical mind and body. Success in doing this assists not only the Divine purpose but also the correction of that cell. But it will be sufficient to say that the cell that was influencing the physical Judas at that time was indeed successful in the purpose of the Source. It is known and must be realized that because the cell must continue exercising such influence through other incarnations, it follows that the cell did not complete the correction of the mis-arrangements or disorder that was desired.

Therefore, we have the free and thinking will of the conscious mind that was Judas, we have the cell disorder that must be rearranged and we also have the purpose of the Source. The first two must and always will be subservient to the latter.

I must leave you with the concept here:

That you should think of yourself as the root of a plant which to grow has to experiment and explore to gain the food for the plant.

It does not sink into the soil with certainty. It senses and feels and instinct guides it.

Not all the roots are successful in their quest for the nourishment of the plant but by spreading in all directions they enable the plant to remain upright in the ground.

Therefore, do not always expect that, before you undertake the mental search, you will be instructed.

The direction in which you are probing is not necessarily to bring the nourishment that you are seeking.

For remember that even the cell that influences you or your conscious mind must be subservient to the purpose of the Source.

But let us think more of what troubles you and that of which I feel you would have your mind eased.

The purpose, the Divine purpose, the purpose that is from the Source, the purpose of the actions of Judas at the time, that purpose has been fulfilled and therefore it would hardly be necessary to re-enact our drama even for practice!

Be not concerned, for should each conscious mind know of previous actions that it had taken, even though by its own free will, each conscious mind would prefer not to believe that it had been reincarnated.  They would disassociate themselves very promptly from what had gone before. For that reason, it is not considered advisable for conscious minds to have knowledge of previous happenings and associations.

You can see why it is avoided except for a purpose which is generally the purpose of the Source. It is only when instruments such as ourselves are directed, and my receiving is such, that these things are disclosed. You will recall that when left to my own judgement, quite often I decline to satisfy curiosities such as this!

Michael: But when you spring Judas on me it arouses more curiosities.

Stephen: Unfortunately, but in your case I assure you, fortunately, what is, can never be sprung upon us! No more than I could disclaim what I know of my previous incarnations although well I may wish. But that is another story.

51. Stephen on Essenes now.

Michael: Tom wrote about the Essenes…

Stephen: We speak of the Essenes, for it is but a name of people who feel and believe in the same manner. Look around you - the Essenes are with us now and are very apparent! Not all believing all, but many believing part. God bless you all.

52. Stephen reminds us not to see our incarnations too concretely.

Stephen: We say many things that repeat themselves throughout the ages; they tell us the same thing. Is this surprising? For what we are, in truth, is no more than what we are. We may if we wish continue to clothe ourselves and seek for ourselves even finer garments than those which we originally had. But with the age [Aquarius] that we are in now, when we talk of ages, we shall find that with the water, the foundations of this clothing we have cast upon ourselves will be as firm as those of the house that was built on sand, and will wash away. For no matter how often we clothe ourselves, the [spiritual] garments, like the physical garments with which we clothe ourselves, can never be permanent. Even if we were to paint our skins it would not hide us for long. For we are there but we cannot feel the sun for often we are clothed. The helmet that we have upon our heads often has the visor covering the face and if we were to speak in such a position we would hear but echoes and we would hear the same thing again. We might say, “This is what I heard, echoes”. The echo will continue until the helmet is lifted, for there will be no need to echo or no need to speak of what is, for we will see, feel the warmth, breathe in the air that is there, that has never gone, that can never be taken away.

There, that is serious, is it not!

Michael:  Unfortunately, my helmet, dear Stephen, is still on my head therefore I have to ask questions.

Stephen: Therefore, dear Michael, I shall echo what you ask!

Michael:  Well, you have spoken of the reincarnation thread with perhaps a hundred-thousand time-names, of the droplet of rain in the ocean. Can you give me an image which will combine these in my feelings?

Stephen: Rather that I should take away a little of the echo, for the image that we build [repeated] even a hundred thousand times, brings to mind the thread *that we seek.

[Elsewhere Stephen cautions against taking the thread image too seriously and also the tapestry made from the threads.  The tapestry itself could be seen as a sheet of glass, even as an ocean]

* It is possible that, in a certain sense, some of the people in this book who are questioning Stephen, had aspects of themselves alive when Jesus was alive and were Essenes in contact with Jesus. The names of those aspects are changed, except that of Judas. When this whole section has been read, it will be plain that we are not dealing with “reincarnation” as commonly understood. There may be thousands of “Judases” alive today, their incarnational threads interwoven in an infinitely complex tapestry of other threads where ultimately we are all each other . None of us has the slightest memory of these ancient aspects of ourselves.

Your ocean I shall heat for you and it shall become steam and the steam shall vanish and become the whole of the universe.

For you will not restrict me, Michael, to even an ocean!
You have taken me now from a thread, to one that was stoned, and down through the ages until I, and we, Michael, were first guilty of the separation [eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge].

I will not stay there; I will take you with my Stephen until now we are the universe.

We often look from the sky invertedly, backwards, to dispel that whence Stephen comes.

Turn and face the sky!

The stories that we are shown, the teachings that we are given, and the things we had learnt, show to us whence we came so that we might know where to go.

Let us look at the elements of the Stephen; for which came first - the Stephen [or] the pool [or ocean] that became wet, that became heated, that became the steam?

So we might say, “In the beginning we were wet, then we became warm, now we are coming away - I know this because I have been there and I am travelling from there, not to there.” It is this that we must know; we say this is the truth. 

But when we have done this often enough in our mind we will see and be clear that it is a pointless journey, for we do not change; we have travelled nowhere.

Let us stop the movement and become what we are - all of these things. For we are neither separately the steam, nor the wetness, nor the invisible, not separateness but together, we are what is.

Therefore, Michael, and Thomas and all others, we do not go back to be Jacob or Judas; we go forward to what we are - where the vision must expand, as does the steam.

We might take care lest we even ascend the ladder of Jacob -to get nowhere! - lest we say and know “I am here” as with Thomas and his exercise when he, without his body, travelled across the room, to open his non-existent eyes and see what was there, what he knew was there, from a different angle. Needless to say, he did not succeed in his attempt to travel. For all that was there was Thomas. Without needing to use a mirror each of you look at yourselves. You can but see part of the Whole.

It is pointless to travel the journey, in which you might stand off to look at just who you are and then to have this knowledge. To stand off from yourself cannot be, for we are one: we cannot separate from each other, or be different. We may recognise parts of us but we cannot stand off to see all of us. Nor can we ask, “Should I be this, or this?” Or say, “That is good and the other is bad.” Or ask, “Which is me?” Or say,

“The good will balance the bad.”

Should I perhaps say that when I speak like this I am speaking nonsense! For in this vision I have of me I create a falsehood that bears no relation to the truth. I am neither good nor bad, except as I would see myself in relation to this… or this.. [gesturing]
So the question becomes, “How should I look at myself?” The answer is, of course, “You cannot, for you are unable to.”  The limitations of what your physical body can see and know are the limitations that your search for knowledge imposes on yourself. These imaginings and judgements are the clothes by which you cover yourself.

Let them wash away.

As for me, I shall clothe myself in the clothes of a saint and depart, leaving Thomas with his body that he might be a saint also! God bless you all!

[On another occasion] Michael:  I cannot frame this question correctly, because you are part of us. But if you were not using this body and if it were possible for you to think in separateness, would you be thinking in symbols?

Stephen: We even speak of thought as if it were a tangible and real thing.
For thought can only be the instrument of the thing that conveys meaning to the mind.

Then the next instrument is the thought.

How can I separate myself from you or from the wind, from what is there and all that is?

See how difficult it is to think of us as the Whole when we can say in wonderment and we can say with our mirror mind [The mind of our Earthly consciousness],

“How do I think when I am not me?

When even I am someone else?”

All that is “knowledge”, is not knowing.

But knowing is all knowledge and all One.

We can understand Stephen at the beginning better as we thought we understood Michael and Thomas. It becomes less easy to understand Stephen as it becomes less easy to understand Michael. For the unreality of both is like a cloud.

Michael: I understand the unreality of distinctions. The time may come when I fully understand…but I do not yet.

I asked you this a long time ago and you laughed at me. I said “Do you know all things?” And you laughed. But you did not know about President Kennedy. So you are a centre of consciousness.

Stephen: For you asked me, “Do I know this thread?” But there is no thread.  Am I aware of the experience and of the consciousness of the Whole? That one can die and another can die in their bodies and the flesh of those bodies can rot. This I can be aware of. But this thread that we have visioned upon the sheet of glass, I would have to look into your mind and be your mind and be the mind of those threads that we have raised up.

53. Being reincarnate a thousandfold.

Michael:  Olive was saying to me that she had the feeling that as Christ also spoke of himself as being a thousandfold, so too this could be said of Anne and Jacob. What do you think about that?

Olive: I am not going to give up!

Stephen: This answer is most difficult. The understanding of the phenomenon is sometimes beyond even myself but hear me now. Even as I speak through this body, I am Stephen and reincarnate possibly a thousandfold. The confusion is not in the reality of this. It is on in the concept of your conscious mind where it can but think of one body, where you are so mentally confined as to think of this [spirit being confined to one body]. Even with those you love, you still feel separated physically. You are conscious of the gap that is between you, yet you know and yet you feel that you can reach out and touch and caress the ones that you love be they a thousand miles away. Because of the physical function of the brain that has to associate, has to balance, has to move the limbs, has to operate the heart, lungs, the blood vessels, the antibodies, that has to compensate and balance the body when it moves and the million other physical things, the mind imposes upon the power of thought a confinement to that body. That poor physical mind. The innumerable duties that it needs to perform and yet always to serve the purpose we must ask more of it. Glad I am that I am not restricted forever in your body, Thomas, for the burden is very great and one I would feel myself unworthy to undertake at this time.

To return to the question: blame not your mind for feeling restricted in the body, understand that yourself are more and that when you come out of that body you will fully understand that what is you, Anne, is you in any form.  For it is not logical that you could restrict the whole of you in one body for I cannot do that, not because it is impossible, but because it would take greater courage than that and only One has ever done it and will do so again. [The Cell of Jesus expresses itself in only one body, and will do so again…at the Second Coming?]

Olive: I know these things, Stephen; how do I know them?

Stephen: Bless you Olive. Would I but be able to take all of you out, Anne, I would, everybody that you may be. I would do it. Forgive this poor answer … You have other questions? (If you have the strength!) The strength is Thomas’s.

Michael:  I was going to ask what it was like to be you. But you have said it, as best as I think I can understand. I cannot understand that you can have a thousand consciousnesses, but in some ways I am glad that you are not just for us because that makes me feel more comfortable.

Stephen: My consciousness, as is your consciousness, is a thousandfold, is not divided, it is the guest in many physical thoughts, brains, or what you think of as consciousnesses, the whole of me…

Michael: All right … now reading what you had said to Tom and Olive in their record and also looking at what I seem to have received myself, I seem to have had experience of what is called the group mind. Is the group mind myself in multiplicity?

Stephen: No. This is the short answer. I can explain it like this: Anne and I and many others are of a group. The consciousness that is in each of you may be separated in separate consciousnesses but they are part of the group, and even you will see this on the physical plane.

*There is an interesting book by Michael Newton: Journey of Souls, [1998] in which he describes sessions under hypnosis where subjects are questioned about their state between incarnations. I do gain the impression that Newton’s approach is serious and trustworthy. At pages 151-5 he relates a session dealing with multiple incarnation, then comments: “Most of my colleagues who work with past life clients have listened to overlapping chronologies from people living on Earth in two places at once. Occasionally, there are three or more parallel lives. Souls in almost any stage of development are capable of living multiple physical lives, but I don’t see much of this in my cases.”

Olive: The trouble is that we all belong to one another in the group. We cannot abdicate this.

Michael: We are all leaves on the one tree, if I understand you correctly. Stephen, was I present at the time of our Lord?

Stephen: You were present and therefore you are now present.

Michael:  It is very good to speak to you like this. It gives me a feeling of being expanded to what I am, to what I was, what I shall be.

Stephen: Only, what I AM.

54.  On being realistic about ourselves.

Michael: Your teaching Stephen, always feels true to me. Yet this very teaching, and more especially the knowledge of who some of us have been, becomes a burden and a source of anxiety for me, for I feel much responsibility and accountability to the Father for the use of what I know. I feel my own sinfulness and, indeed, a stagnation and a caught-upness in the events of my own past. I am also caught up in the imaginings that a great and glorious event must be wrought in the material world by an assemblage which includes Jacob and Anne, Judas and others, under the teaching of Stephen and somehow I have an important part to play in this happening. Might I add that I am talking about my imaginings… my thinking says, “Accept what comes, step by step, and be content with not knowing”... but my imaginings nevertheless often confuse me.”

Stephen:  The self-imposed discipline, of course, says that Michael should accept what comes without question but we are not made this way. That this assemblage of “great” persons should be gathered together with Stephen who is also “great”, must have some “great” object is the question that is asked. Let us say this, and let the mind not be so disciplined, but let the mind say that at one time all of these “great” personages were in close proximity with the Lord Jesus for a great purpose, not under noms de plume or in diverse bodies, but there as they were and as they were created. At this time what were the “great” things that they did themselves? Think, Michael, then look at the things that these same personages are doing now, then explain to your reasoning the difference, if you can find one. Are their achievements “separated” again from what they have achieved before? Would their purpose be different? This is what we would expect; but your discipline is an advantage, that we should always listen, that the Father may, if it be His will, use any of us - His creation - as instruments for a purpose, in a particular way that may be needed.  What we should do is to remain attentive, for the need may come that we be used in a particular way but let us not fail to recognise that we are now being used for the purposes of the Father in a way that we, as personages, have always been used.

Michael:  Thank you Stephen. Another question which arose out of the last time, was the strand and the thread, a thousand - shall we say - Judases or Annes in one thread… I wonder whether the number of people who have Judas at one end of the strand increases as time goes on? Whether perhaps we should use the image of a tree. Could you perhaps give me a concept? And is there a limit to this? Does the number of strands become infinite or is there a time when there can no longer be more?

Stephen: First, let me take away the appendages that we have had. We shall speak of Judas, for that is the name of the time of that self which is still now. When we should speak of such a time to distinguish it from many parallel times or times of different threads we name that time and the time that we speak of and wonder of as the time of “Judas”. Is that not clear to you?

Michael: That is clear.

Stephen: The time of that thread now is called “Michael”, the length of that thread has many points of time, both incarnate and in other states and other places; each is recognised by its Time Name. That we be made aware of a Time Name is for the purpose always of partial recall of an experience that would be advantageous for the needs of the Time Name now. The question you ask, only the Father could answer, for you ask to come beyond and see the pattern and the texture of the whole of the tapestry.

55. Experiences are like ripples on a lake.

Bill: If I may be permitted, Stephen, do you recall at our last evening together, last Sunday - you mentioned about experiences and happenings occurring for the benefit of Us at a given moment of time, and you recommended that we do not hang on to those experiences too long, but take the meat out of them and use them, because in a few hours time, in a few days time, in a few weeks time, we are different people.

Stephen:  To remember experiences is not harmful, but to attempt to retain that which is no longer is futile. We spoke of our continuous selves when we spoke of the non-retention of those experiences, therefore think of ourselves, our continuous selves as a body of water. Think of a disturbance caused in that water that creates ripples, such as you might have should a droplet of water fall upon the surface. Each of those expanding ripples is in itself an experience, and part of the lake; for the lake to attempt to be that experience in perpetuity as we know is futile, for the experience and the ripple is part of the lake, not the lake part of the ripple.

If we see Charles as a ripple, and the experience of that ripple still there on the lake, the oxygenation that was gained by the lake through the raising up of the ripple that was Charles and of the parallel ripples that have been many others - many other experiences - all contributed to the life of the lake. They all assisted in their time, and during that experience giving life and replenishing to the lake that which may have been evaporated from the lake. This is the purpose of the ripple. This is also, if you think well, what may be the purpose of us all, for often one law that governs one part of life is applicable to all others.

56. Previous lives - Reincarnation.

[The crying baby had been removed from the room]

Stephen: And did you really want to deprive Jonathan of my august company? [To Olive, the baby’s mother.] ... Michael?

Michael:  I am surprised that I take your presence so naturally.

Stephen: But it would be more surprising if my presence were unnatural. Then, I confess I would give fright to myself!

Michael:  Would you speak on Reincarnation?

Stephen: Reincarnation? First then let us be clear in our mind about what is the truth. As always the truth is simpler than we can conceive. Let us take this one physical life of Michael. In this life that has worn this body of Michael, how many different beings has this Michael been? He has been as Jonathan, the babe. That Michael is no longer this babe, makes him different, but the same person. As a small boy in his school, Michael was again a different person to that babe. As a young man with the experiences of that young man, again Michael changed and he was a different person. When he was first married and became a father, vastly different again to the babe, but yet the same person. This then is the truth of how we change.

Do not take from my words that in earlier lives we were less knowledgeable or not as well developed as we may be here.  It comes almost to Olive’s mind that maybe Jonathan is better developed or has a clearer sense of seeing than he might do as an adult. So it would be the case with the other Michaels in different lives. It is not as a school where one progresses as one learns more, for in truth the first time that we came as babes we had then with us all that we shall ever have. We have neither gained nor lost what the Father has given to us but we have merely used this in many ways for the purpose of each other and of all of us, and of Us. To attach to Michael’s physical life a greater importance, to any one state, or any one of those physical Michaels would, as we can see, be a delusion and a mistake. We simply say of ourselves that I was younger and when I was younger I did many things in this manner and now that I am older I do the things in a different manner. Simply this. No more.

Then we look for a concept by which we might explain to others why this might be necessary, and, knowing that the truth is visible to all of us, we take an example from what is known and what can be seen in the physical realm and what is in the physical knowledge.

All of us might be compared to the cells which are the pattern of creation.  That then is sufficient. That gives an association.

It is not the whole knowledge that we would have difficulty in understanding, but be assured that whole knowledge and the whole of the pattern are similar.
Or like the whole of the universe and the whole of creation, this pattern and the method are always the same. The analysis of the details is often very different.  But the purpose, the object and the final goal of all things are the same. We start to develop and finally to be exactly as everything is at this moment.

I have said that the journey that we have in our minds, the development and the concept of what we are, why we are here, often misleads.

Surely, as when we were babes, the pattern worked that we would be another, and older, as time went by. But at each time, as with this child now, it is what is.

We do ourselves less than justice when we imagine that our temporary existence is only part of the purpose, and in itself not important, for nothing of God’s creation can be without importance.

Look about you: is not all this that we perceive of great importance, all important at all times as well as at this moment? So when we speak to others of reincarnation or of the continuance of the creation which is us, we speak also of the importance of being what we are as we are now. Not of the importance of what we were or what we might be.

If Judas, who in a previous life was one with great skill of hands but unimportant in his society, had known then of the importance that he would gain he would have stopped living as the one skilled with his hands and would have lost all that he might gain in the present.

So it is not always good - often I have shown a reluctance to do so - to tell someone of the memory which is theirs, for fear that they might lose what they have now and what they can gain for themselves in the future.

For it would be ridiculous if Michael now developed the personality of Michael the babe or even if he were to develop the personality of Michael the aged man.

When [Michael was Charles] that was the experience from which Charles-Judas-Michael gained. He could not gain from the experience of Michael for he would have to go beyond death to become aged, to become a babe and all would be confusion. Would we thus then put poor Charles in the position where he would have to live through death and through Michael? If we would not impose this on Charles let us not then impose Charles upon Michael.

Mention, as you will, the different lives that all of us may lead. Specify not the particular, for it might lead others to impose upon themselves what is no longer their experience. No gain would come to them from this, only the loss of what they truly are and what is offered to them now.

Let not the sun of this day be the strong wind and the discomfort of a little while ago, for each is necessary, as is the case now with the sun.

Use the concept that you know of this physical life and the cell, but make clear that this is a concept of the understanding, not a law by which we must live or divine instruction from the Father. Simply say this is how one of us understands what we call reincarnation.

Think of friends gathered talking about their past common life. When someone speaks to another of his days at school that brings into the mind of his listeners the days when they were at school. They cannot conceive or truly picture the teller’s schooldays, but only their own.

Simply say that you have had your other lives in other bodies, as you have had other lives in this one body. They are to have, as we have, memories.

“The Cell, the Soul and Reincarnation” is an extract from Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks


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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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