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Spirit Guidance: How to sift the wheat from the chaff

Posted on 29 June 2016, 10:45

Many people, including myself, pray asking for guidance from Spirit, and listen to the still small voice.  We usually hear some kind of answer. But does it come from Spirit, or does it come from our imagination? Earlier in my spiritual journey I joined a group called Subud, a product of Indonesian Islamic mysticism. It claimed to have no theology, but rather provided an openness to whatever God may be. At the time I was filled with longing to find what God was like without being influenced by church, Bible, and other people’s opinions.

Subud is not for everybody, but for the two years that I participated, it was of great help. First of all they provided an environment where I could seek a free-from-preconceptions God. But secondly they provided a means of sifting the wheat from the chaff. It worked like this: when we felt in a state of openness to Spirit, each person would ask a mental question and listen for the answer that was received. We might write down our “receiving”. We might also invite a friend to “receive” on the same question. Or we might “receive” again ourselves. This was called “check receiving” If we had the same “receiving” on all occasions, then we felt we had a real answer and that it was wheat and not chaff.   

A similar cast of mind characterised the dozen or so people who were to question the spirit of Stephen the Martyr between 1973 and 1980.  Was it even remotely possible that we were really and truly communicating with such an entity? When his picture of reality differed from those of our churches, was he right? As the supposed Stephen was speaking through the mouth of Thomas Ashman the medium, how much of what Stephen said was contaminated by the mind of Thomas? And what was Stephen doing talking to such a strange group of people in such an out of the way country as New Zealand? Much “check receiving” required! 

The supposed “Stephen’s” love, humility, and patience in his teaching, the constant synchronicities that surrounded our encounters with him, gradually led us to accept that he was who he said he was. We noted how his teachings coincided or did not coincide with our understandings of the teaching of Jesus.  I continued to be troubled by the question whether Stephen’s thoughts were contaminated by the mind of Thomas, until the time came when Stephen spoke those words in his native dialect of Greek. It took almost thirty years to understand the full implications of those words.  But this form of “check receiving” provided close to absolute proof that we had been hearing from the historical Stephen. My problem now is that few people have the linguistic and historical knowledge to understand why it is proof.

Dr Roy L. Hill is author of Psychology and the Near Death Experience, Searching for God published by White Crow in 2015.  It is an admirable book, which I have read twice so far. He builds up a convincing picture of spiritual reality through the comparison of a collection of accounts of more than three thousand NDEs,  He considers that the NDEs provide an entirely consistent picture of non physical reality, regardless of their provenance, or the country, culture or time. According to Subud an NDE is definitely a “receiving”, so in putting all these experiences side by side and comparing, is a tremendous example of “check receiving” which might lead a reader to agree with Roy Hill that this is a true picture of the reality that a discarnate soul can encounter, if it is not too defended.. We can accept the combined story as fact. We are on firm ground here.

Readers might like to read quotes from his book: 

Hill was kind enough to review Afterlife Teachings of Stephen the Martyr.  I take the liberty of quoting it here, because it shows “check receiving” at work:

“As someone somewhat skeptical of medium work, I was skeptical buying this book. However, the theological meat was without precedent. Not standard Evangelical Christian fare, Stephen’s words respected Biblical teachings but more from a near death experience point of view. In other words, what he was saying was consistent with people who had interacted with spiritual beings while in heaven. Yet, in some ways, Stephen goes further in explaining some of the biggest theological questions in a coherent manner. For these reasons, I became a believer. Even if one is not, the content in this book will give any spiritual seeker much to ponder. This is one of the most intriguing spiritual books I have read - and I have read many. Thus, I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to go deep.”

His comments inspired me to “check receive” for myself: the comparison between the Stephen book and NDEs.  On quick reading of Hill’s book I could see how NDEs did give actual examples of what Stephen had been talking about. Why didn’t I go through Hill’s book and make a comparison table between the NDEs and Stephen’s teaching? I spent some hours doing so and it became very clear that what Stephen had said more abstractly the NDEs were depicting in actual experience. In so many cases I could present one of Stephen’s teachings and present an NDE that would illustrate it.

Scientists like to express things mathematically. If we can count and measure we have fact.  But experiences are facts too. And if most experiences confirm each other then we seem to have a more universal fact.

In 1996 physicist Dr John Moss published a book called What do you think of Christ?  Amazon describes it: “The author examines what ‘the best modern spirits and mystics’ say about Christ, from Wellesley Tudor Pole, to Rudolf Steiner to St. Francis”. Moss makes many comparisons with “our” St Stephen.  He provides another example of “check receiving”, and compares spiritual teaching through a variety of mediums.  John was a highly spiritual man, and his work in this book, was his own personal effort of obtaining a clearer view of the reality that was so real to him.

Another way we “check-receive” is by noting the effect an event has on us emotionally and spiritually. An English bishop wrote about Stephen’s teaching, “”– I have been very affected by it. What comes to mind immediately is: 1. the sense of life after death being very close, very normal and not very intimidating; 2. Stephen’s experience of being at first after his death very tied up with his identity as Stephen but later leaving that behind and only picking it up again in order to communicate with Thomas and the others; 3. the way in which individuality becomes much less important but that nevertheless the ‘ego’ is not something to be avoided but something which contributes to this experience of being part of the whole.”

Wendy Zammit was moved to write, “Stephen emerges as very balanced loving and non-judgemental presence with a similar energy to the speaker in A Course in Miracles and Conversations with God.

Bruce Scott-Hill wrote, “The use continuously of parables by St Stephen can itself be surely regarded as an initial striking ‘test’ for the validity of his teachings as being those truly of a saint (but now as a higher being in an afterlife). As one continues to read, for myself the conviction becomes overwhelming. First one becomes aware of not only the quality - including the rationality, depth and wisdom of all his teachings; but also the wonderful and careful explanations (unusual and helpful) that St Stephen gives for each of them.”

I would like here to make a brief notice about the important work of Dennis Grega and his associates with their and These must be the best sites that exist on the web, where they list and compare spiritual writings, and do so in some depth.  Read this link, and scroll down to see how they treat Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr.

Stephen’s last words to us were “For what truth I speak is but my truth; my truth comes only from my experience, and alas, my judgements.” He emphasised that teaching can become distorted coming through a medium, and that we need to “check-receive” through prayer, through dream, synchronicity, deep sensing and feeling, and all means available.  This is how we separate the wheat from the chaff in such matters.

He is seeking to help us to realise who we are, eternal spiritual beings having an educational experience in the physical.  We learn the centrality of love often from its lack.

What is required is for us to awaken out of our sense of false separateness, out of our prejudices and houses of belief is to be open to the Spirit in all through all and above all.

Subud had it that we needed to be Opened to Spirit, and we had Opening ceremonies.

When we had performed spiritual exercises where we practised being obedient in all things in Spirit, we would receive and then check receive.

Stephen was our Opener, and helped us in our Receiving and Check Receiving. We were led to submit to Spirit, and to be observant in the ways that Spirit led us.

Stephen was our brother helping us to be aware of the divinity within, and to live according to our higher natures, and be sensitive to our souls attempting to guide our physical minds.

I have been using Subud terms. But basically we are thinking in terms of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son.  So many of us have gone into a far country and wasted the enormous gifts bestowed on us by our heavenly Parent. What is required is not that we should be punished for our sins, but with all our baggage of wrong doing and guilt repent and come back to our Parent who, so far from punishing, comes rushing towards us with the open arms of love.  Stephen said of God, “What is it that God will give us? All that he has to give.”  That is what we shall “receive” when we repent and come to him.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
His latest book, Into the Wider Dream: Synchronicity in the Witness Box is published by White Crow Books.

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The Five notes of Attunement of the Close Encounters UFO. O   O   O   O   O​

Posted on 01 June 2016, 9:45


“I proclaim myself, I reveal you.. think about it!” That was a translation of five words in ancient Greek that St Stephen the Martyr spoke through medium Thomas Ashman, (Iacho me, phaino se, phrontizesthe)

It is a profound statement. Those words invite us to think and feel deeply what is really happening when we say the word “I”.  Usually, when we say “I” we are focusing on this physical me who is speaking. But I am also a soul. Our very soul is often involved when we say the word “I” . But yet I am also a “child of God”: I am a participant in Universal Spirit. Universal Spirit is whole and non-dual. The fact is that when we say, “I”, we are saying it at the physical level, soul level and Spirit level whether we know it or not. We cannot separate ourselves from All That Is.

To think of oneself only as a physical “I” is limited and shallow, and our unity with the soul “I” and the Spirit “I” seems lost. Love, creativity and wholeness turn into their opposites.  What we call “evil” makes itself known.

Getting in sync with higher levels of self is the objective of each of our lives in many reincarnations.

St Stephen’s words seem to mean, “I, universal Spirit, proclaim myself, I reveal what you really are.” There are heights and depths in each of us beyond our knowledge, beyond our imagination.
When we pray for others, we put ourselves in the presence of Spirit, and a higher level of ourselves seems to kick in, the soul. as “I” pray for the well- being of another..

When we see things from the point of view of the Whole we see things sub specie aeternitatis, from the point of view of eternity.

We are all really “Holy Trinities” in these three levels of saying “I”.  Each of can be described as “Father” or the universe of Spirit, “Son” or the physical self and mind, and “Holy Spirit” or soul. And the source of all the problems of humanity is when our physical selves and minds get out of synch with the higher levels

What led up to St Stephen saying those words, “I proclaim myself, I reveal thee,.. think about it?”

Our medium, Thomas, had an experience of something like a UFO hovering about his car, and asked about it. Stephen agreed that it was a real experience, but of no great significance. I followed on with a question of my own, relating to the strange pattern of synchronicities that we had been experiencing

“There is a German word Gestalten: If you look between two heads facing each other, noses three inches from other, you can see the space between as a vase. If you look from the “Vase” you will see the faces. It depends on the focus. Now it sometimes seems to me, if we look at each other, that it is almost the pattern between us that is important, rather than we ourselves. It is almost as if we represent the thought of the One Thinker, and that these patterns reproduce themselves over and over again.”

Stephen answered: “Take this into your everyday life; look at the void, the pieces we feel are not filled, and ascribe to that the substance. [On the other hand] regard what has been filled, like the past, and our history, as making place for the substance. It is a difficult concept to grasp.”

Michael: “But it seems necessary, this thought, to explain the interlockings, the patternings.”
[We already had several years of striking and puzzling synchronicities or interlocking of events.]

Michael: “I get that impression from the interlockings of meaningful coincidence. Sometimes it feels as if my consciousness lies between you and me, or between Olive and me, or between the fireplace and me.

But I can only infer this, for to me my consciousness feels mainly in my head. When my body dies will my consciousness fit into the space between? Or will I have no consciousness?”

Stephen: “We forget that there are two parts of us, this that thinks, and has bodies, and this that is of the Creator, which is the space maker.

But the pattern is determined by the Creator, and these lives that we find so confusing and so unsatisfying, we are told by the Lord, are necessary, so that the space and emptiness can be created and experienced, to enable what has substance, the true Substance, to be placed there.”

[For a fuller version of this conversation, go to p,197 of my Afterlife Teachings ]

Stephen then spoke the FIVE Greek words which can be translated as “I proclaim myself, I reveal thee, think about it.”

I said to Stephen, “The true Substance” is the “God” part of us. The highest level of what we can mean when we use the word “I”.”

Stephen later went on to say, “[We need to] recognise that Reality, the Substance, does have an outline, and do not confuse reality with what is without Substance, and appears to us in the physical. Think then of this, that if the mind that was the contour, whether [or not] it be at the opposite side of the Substance is immaterial, that if it were to touch the outline, then they touched the Substance, and then of course the thoughts coincided.

“It cannot be surprising that this is the case. For touch one of my ears (I should say, “Touch one of Thomas’ ears”) then the other ear would be aware. Not the space or air which surrounds Thomas, but the ear has been touched, and all that “Substance” is aware.

Things that you have in the true void or non-Substance [i.e. physical reality] are of no value other than they are an outline. These things that our Lord spoke of, when he spoke of the camel, and using the camel as the thread to the needle, [contrasting] Substance, and non-Substance. For it would be easier to use the camel as the thread, than to turn what is nothing into something.”

It would of course be good to quote the whole chapter, but this can’t be done here.
My friend Rene, (Irene), was often amongst those questioning Stephen. Later it became apparent that on the evening that Stephen had spoken his five words, friend Des (a gifted psychic) had been at home trying to find five notes on his piano, my future wife Gertrud was dreaming of five philosophers stones,  a teacher friend was making five connections to a “UFO” he had constructed in his classroom. On the same night in a fifth location my friends Peter and Marcia were meditating and they felt led to a piece in August 21, 1978 issue of The Christian Science Monitor which read:
Message Received:
Sudden sun bursts…in your thought
The tree at your window… takes leaf in your book
Unannounced five birds
five shadows
gather print in their wings
move within the branches’ tracery
that grows through the words
their meanings alight
Notes on the stave of the tree, they remain
after the birds are gone, after the words fly free.
The eye becomes the ear.
You’re wondering why
in all this sun, in all this gentle urging
five sounds frame one

[Iacho       me     phaino   se,  phrontizesthe ]

[The five notes of the Close Encounters UFO were reproduced here in musical notation. I have placed Stephen’s five Greek words below them.]

It was a day or so before the people in the five locations became aware that the five events had occurred. We could see that each of the events in each of five locations, was being experienced by our physical selves, all of us were focusing on the physical “I”; the experience struck deep for us, so we were all aware of our spiritual “I”; but then when we grasped the meaning of the whole 5X5 experience, we could see that the highest or deepest level of ourselves was creating all of these events.  This highest level is the level we all have in common, the level of the “I” that all at all times can speak, namely the Creator of All that is, Universal Spirit, “God the Father” if you like. The highest level of us all had orchestrated the events that we had just been experiencing.  It was a very strong experience for us all.  Previously I had quite a number of dreams preparing us for the time when we heard of and saw Stephen Spielberg’s film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  These too would have been orchestrated by the “I’ we all have in common, the Creative Spirit.

Why were the Five Notes important? Because they were the sounds by which the Spiritual UFO attuned itself to the physical earth.  And our very conversations with Stephen were a process of similar attunement. Our hearts and minds, were so to speak lifted up to heaven.

A period of time then elapsed, and I wrote an article about the experience for what was then called the Journal of the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, but which is now called the Journal of the Academy of Spirituality and Consciousness Studies.

A further period of time elapsed until I received this letter from a then stranger to me, Professor Stephen Rosen, of the department of psychology, Staaten Island, New York.

“I have had an experience that might interest you, one I would like to share. But first, let me introduce myself. I am a college professor in the City University of New York. My interest - really a passion - centres
on the transpersonal, evolutionary aspects of parapsychology, and of science (e.g. theoretical physics, foundational mathematics in general.

For the past several years I’ve been working towards expressing my theme in a way that would communicate to a broad-spectrum audience.

I’ve been writing a “metaphysical novel” that deals essentially with these synchronistic linkages attending the evolution of consciousness.

“Last Wednesday afternoon, I was working in the basement office of my New York suburban home, feeling enthusiastic about approaching the climax of my project. The three central characters, in the course
of their development, have just listened to the theme “Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “Sandy” remarks that it reminds her of the movie “Close Encounters”. I want to portray her as singing the
five-note musical signature phrase. Can I use musical notation in my manuscript? Specifically how would it be done? (I do not know musical notation).

“At that moment, my father-in-law called down to me, telling me that the mail had just arrived. I opened the envelope from the ARPR, removed the latest issue of the Journal, thumbed through its pages and quickly discovered your article on synchronicity by spotting your splendid musical staff.”

[See my Into the Wider Dream at page 147.]

NOTE; For more than ten years the late Professor Mary Rose of Baltimore and I have explored personal experiences of synchronicity and pondered their meaning. I have also been involved with Professor Steven Rosen philosopher now of Vancouver. It would be of interest to read the quite long essays they have written in relation to Into the Wider Dream at Amazon. Remarks about Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr will also be of interest.

NOTE:  When Moses and Jesus said: I AM

When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he asked him his name. And the reply was I AM.  I AM that I AM.  God is using I AM in the universal sense. He is All That Is.  When Jesus is quoted as saying I AM the way, I AM truth, I AM life, he is using “I” at the highest and widest level, the “I” that he employs is the same as the one all humanity can jointly use. We are all “children of God” and therefore have the possibility of saying I AM from that perspective.  There is no mystery about the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, if we can accept that there are these three levels of saying the word I AM; and if Jesus can be described in terms of that doctrine so can you and I, and that Jesus came to show us in word and deed how we might recognise that we are Holy Trinities too.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
His latest book, Into the Wider Dream: Synchronicity in the Witness Box is published by White Crow Books.

Read comments or post one of your own
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Spirits and Crime by Carl Wickland – Habits, desires and inclinations are rooted in the mind and remain with the individual after he is freed from his physical body, until they are eliminated by the will. The spirits of many criminals, murderers, those who were executed or are seeking for revenge, remain indefinitely in the earth sphere and often endeavor to continue their former activities and to carry out their evil designs through controlling the bodies of mortals who are sensitive to their influence. Read here
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