When I woke up and stayed a bit longer in bed (it is wet and cold in Belgium for the moment) ,I was thinking on de subject of this article ’ the judgement after death’. The most important item of that judgement is the life review mentioned in countless NDE’s and teachings .
Chris, Sun 5 Dec, 09:12
I was wondering:
what if the pentecost experience of the apostles was a individuel but at the same time collective intermediate life review they got. The light descended on them, they changed and got courage to spread the message.
what if the climbing numbers of NDE’s including a intermediate life review nowadays is nothing more than a experiment or sort of testevent to see what effect they have on those people. Do they change their life and habits, do they return to love theirselfs and their neighbour, do they return to have compassion and do they work on a better world with respect for all that is?
what if on a certain night the divine light descend on us all or awakens inside us and we all have a realistic dream including such a intermediate life review, where is shown the good ,the bad and the ugly of our thoughts and actions. And that we also see the cause and effect of those deeds on others? A dream played in an environmentbof divine love.
Wouldn’t that create or have the effect of a mass awakening, so we are still able to change for the better in this actual life, undo as much as possible the wrong and and restore our connection to the divine.
I responded earlier today to your question (about the poem), but as it hasn’t shown up yet, let’s try again.
When it “came to me” that night, the first two stanzas arrived “full formed” as you term it, essentially verbatim as shown. For the rest of it,I did have an immediate “sense” of where it might be going, but it took some manipulating and polishing—particularly in the “intermediate” third stanza.
All in all, as stated, I was not anything remotely close to being a poet before this, and have not done (or even attempted) anything of a poetic nature since. I remain most curious as to what or who the motyivating source might have been…
Don Porteous, Sat 4 Dec, 21:44
You are welcome to have the last thousand words expounding a total misunderstanding of me and what I have said.
Here is my reply: ” “.
Eric Franklin, Sat 4 Dec, 21:21
Eric, this is again weird. I was thinking about the lack of women on this blog, when I wrote the example about the use of ‘the Father’ and the position of women in Islam. (2dec) So I would also encourage more women to participate on this blog. I think that the feminin look on things can be quite refreshing.
Chris, Sat 4 Dec, 21:05
And Paul, I’m a big fan of the Green book and the teachings of Master Mind too. There is a lot of wisdom in his teachings. It was one of the first articles when I discovered this blog…so also a thank you to Michael!
Eric, your comments about gender and participation in these conversations on Michael’s blog are interesting to me.
I think women are generally more spiritual than men, due in part to women being more centered on relationships and emotions. Of course, there may instead be simply a difference in how men and women express their spirituality.
As far as this blog is concerned, it is mainly devoted to debate and explication of esoteric understandings of various spiritual traditions, and also of analysis of the evidentiality of paranormal psychical phenomena to there being an afterlife.
Both areas are in large part intellectual and may appeal less to women in general than to males, who tend to be more “left-brained” (though the validity of the left-right brain paradigm is today being seriously questioned).
David Magnan, Sat 4 Dec, 19:58
I’m surely not alone in desiring that Paul and Eric amicably agree to disagree, given that their debate IMHO is more a matter of form of expression than content of thought. I say this because I have rarely encountered a religious thinker as comprehensive in his knowledge as Paul, OR a soul as sensitively religious, deeply reverent, as Eric. Come on guys, you’re on the same team. And yes, Eric, where are those of the other gender to enrich our conversations?
Newton E. Finn, Sat 4 Dec, 19:21
The first two stanzas came “fully-formed” and essentially verbatim. For the rest of it, I had an immediate “sense” of where it might go, but it did take some adjusting and polishing (particularly the third, or “intermediate” stanza).
The bottom line though, is that I was NOT a poet before this came to me…and I certainly haven’t been a poet since. With regard to the “technical” niceties you mention, I’m as curious as you are as to what (or who) the source of them might be…
Don Porteous, Sat 4 Dec, 18:02
Amos seems to be right about Matt Frazer’s gift of mediumship. Thank you, Amos, for giving us the link. Possibly modern mediumship is increasing, not decreasing, as part of an ongoing increase of public awareness the world certainly needs to develop if it is to save itself from all sorts of problems it has made for itself. But I have one huge reservation about Frazer or anyone like him. As I have lamented before, there is a total lack of reverence towards a Great Being. I would never consult any medium I saw to be so lacking. What do others think? On that matter of what others think, has anyone else noticed (and this too I have lamented before) there are no ladies taking part in the published commentaries around Mike Tymn’s blogs. Have we males pushed them aside? NOT intentional in my case, nor other cases, I think. So, Ladies, if you have any thoughts on the blogs PLEASE offer them for the moderator to pass them for publication. Let us all hear what you think.
Eric Franklin, Sat 4 Dec, 16:05
The exchange between us has become tedious and distasteful to me, as I expect it has to others here, but it seems necessary to add the following specific points. First, in your attempt to plumb the depths of my subconscious in your comment of [Thu 2 Dec, 22:57], I’m afraid you’ve missed the rather clear intention of my words regarding the tentative relying upon expertise: Just as there are better and worse plumbers and better and worse dentists, so there are better and worse spiritual guides. One does not reject plumbers and dentists categorically in consequence, nor does one conclude one’s own amateur efforts at these activities would be superior to even a subpar professional. This is, I trust, to state the obvious.
But since we are stooping to the psychoanalysis of interlocutors, might I gently point out that your own categorical rejection of religion seems a straightforward, textbook case of the theory of the ‘defective father’ in the psychology of atheism? Here, see Paul Vitz’s “Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.” An astonishingly large number of prominent atheists – Hobbes, Freud, Marx and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, to name a few – had fathers toward whom they felt hatred or contempt. Others – including Russell, Sartre, Camus and Nietzsche – had absent fathers, fathers who died in their early childhood. You write [Fri 3 Dec, 20:23], “My father was a mental tyrant and a member of an extremely fundamentalist sect that I left decades ago.” Your own situation is somewhat differently situated than that of an atheist, insofar as you have categorically rejected religion, but – to your own very great credit – not the Divine. I would ask you to consider, however, and in all honesty of self-examination, whether it might the case that your own animus toward religion is grounded in similar psychological motivations? You had a religious father toward whom you felt antipathy – for no doubt good reasons. Is there not an evident path from your rejection of him to your rejection of his ‘extremely fundamentalist sect’ that you ‘left decades ago’ to your categorical rejection of religion as such?
Having previously pointed out three self-contradictory elements in your own categorical rejection of religion [Wed 1 Dec, 20:35], let me point out another. Your central, entirely correct point, that, as you say, “we, being Beings, are already one with the Great All” [Thu 2 Dec, 22:57]. But of course, you only have this vital truth through the intermediation – whether directly or at one remove – of the very traditions you are rubbishing and rejecting. The point you have stated is, of course, the central thesis at the core of all the religions, as expressed most evidently in the Perennial Philosophy. Here, see Aldous Huxley’s “The Perennial Philosophy” and “The Divine Within”, Whitall Perry’s “A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom” or the metaphysical writings of Ananda Coomaraswamy (“Coomaraswamy, Volume 2: Selected Papers: Metaphysics”). To quote the opening para of Huxley’s “The Perennial Philosophy”, which fully establishes my point:
“PHILOSOPHIA PERENNIS the phrase was coined by Leibniz ; but the thing the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds ; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. A version of this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principal languages of Asia and Europe.”
You say that this vital truth “was NOT scripturally grounded, when it FIRST dawned in a human mind…was NOT a written tradition.” [Thu 2 Dec, 22:57] No doubt. The Upanishads were, to the best of scholarly judgment, orally transmitted long before they were committed to writing. Such was the case also with the Qur’an. Other examples might also be noted. But what of it? Again, if it weren’t for the origination, preservation and transmission of this vital truth, which has been the role of the religious traditions in their highest function, you wouldn’t know of it and neither would I. Could we get it from posthumous communication? Not at all readily – thus the remarkable value of the aforementioned teachings received and collected by George Wright as “The Green Book” [https://www.scribd.com/document/458590330/George-Wright-The-Green-Book-The-Philosophy-of-Self-A-Reconstruction].
Let me conclude, then, by suggesting that, in your rubbishing and rejecting of the very religious traditions that have been the preservers, transmitters and, dare I say, originators of this vital truth, are you not, in fact, engaged at once in an act of self-contradiction but also of profound ingratitude?
Enough. Let that be an end of it.
Paul, Sat 4 Dec, 13:41
That is a very wonderful poem [Fri 3 Dec, 13:54] you’ve shared, not only in its expressed meaning but also its poetic form and structure, which is really quite exquisite, with its internal rhymes, rhythm, assonances and allusions. Did this come to you full formed, like Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”, or was it polished? From your initial description, it appears the former, which makes it all the more remarkable.
Paul, Sat 4 Dec, 12:19
In reading my latest post please omit the words “that is better”.
Also, I forgot to compliment Don on his poem.
Another thought, around Mike Tymn’s questionings about when the soul joins the foetus: Perhaps the moment depends on the character of the pre-existing soul. Some are, apparently, very eager to start embodied life. They like life on Earth. They perhaps incarnate early in the biological pregnancy. Others do not want to (re)incarnate down here. Perhaps they enter the foetus as late and unwillingly as they can. I may have been one such. My birth followed a still birth a year before. Perhaps the soul intended for THAT foetus did not want to incarnate either. Perhaps the soul knew what would follow, and chose to refuse to incarnate. Haraldsson describes a case of someone who later in life knew he had refused to incarnate in one womb, and had moved on to incarnate in another womb further along the street and in a foetus of the other sex(!) leaving the first mother-to-be to grieve a still birth.
I said I myself did not seem to want to incarnate. My father was a mental tyrant and a member of an extremely fundamentalist sect that I left decades ago. I had good reason to be reluctant to incarnate in his wife’s foetus, and so to have to endure such a father. No wonder I was reluctant. And I did not breathe for ten minutes after my birth. The whole matter of incarnation is more complex than we know, and the individual instances more varied.
Eric Franklin, Fri 3 Dec, 20:23
Here is a most recent Matt Frazer video. There is no way he could have known anything he told this mother beforehand or by cold and/or hot reading. His gift is truly amazing. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 3 Dec, 19:06
Dear Mike (Tymn),
In response to your comment that the soul may enter the foetus at different stages of its development and that that implies that it pre-exists, I think that in several senses it is true and axiomatic that it MUST (and DOES) pre-exist. But there are two PERSPECTIVES we have to take account of: 1 the top-down view, as ‘God-like’ as we can manage, and 2 our own bottom-up view, the HUMAN view upward from down here on the microscopic Earth.
Attempting to delineate distinctly these distinct views: 1 God is timeless and therefore contains the foetus and every event that ever happens to it, including the ‘time-ly’ process which makes it an adult after a while ON EARTH, a realm of ‘time’. Our immortality is a FACT because, but only because, ‘we’, whatever we are, for instance the Heideggerian Dasein each of us is, has its existence IN God, and can have no other existence because God is ALL. Christians can be satisfied with this because there are passages in the Bible which clearly suggest this interpretation. Newton will quote them, perhaps. I don’t want this comment to get too long or too difficult.
2 From the other perspective, our own view, peering up out of a dark hole towards the light of the sky, a perspective in which ‘time’ exists (in God all dimensions of ‘time’ that are ‘real’ ONLY in lower universes are ‘static’ space to God - hence the word ‘eternal’) we usually, habitually, perhaps blindly, see as beginning shortly after conception when the lady’s belly begins to swell (here the limitations of our 5-sense human science restricts almost all of us, most scientists themselves included).
The two perspectives are chalk and cheese, of course, but both are contained in the integral and harmonious Inventor of both chalk and cheese.
As always, a rush of thoughts off the top of my head. No doubt when I re-read this I shall want to improve it. An obvious improvement would be to heed Don (Porteous’s) advice and keep the sentences shorter and simpler. Sorry, Don.
There’s more to say, as always, and less to say, much to perceive wordlessly.
Eric Franklin, Fri 3 Dec, 18:23
In light of the truth that Michael and we readers share, that each human being must find his or her own way to be “in but not of the world,” to connect with the divinity both inside and outside us, are we perhaps quibbling too much over words, slipping into the abstract theological disputes which Imperator discourages? That question asked, thanks, Don, for a beautiful and helpful piece of poetry; and Chris—I do think you’re a medium given the broader, deeper view of mediumship I put forward in a prior comment some deemed inappropriately long. I’ve become more and more convinced that spiritualism did not dwindle after the world wars but evolved in the direction indicated by Imperator; i.e., away from continual direct communication with the departed and toward the spiritual influence and ethical import of the message they had already fully conveyed for our time.
Newton E. Finn, Fri 3 Dec, 16:54
Re: your comment about the abortion question and the “varying times of soul attachment”—-while I can’t immediately put my hands on the references, I do recall that other spirits have made more definitive (and totally contradictory) statements—-with one saying that soul attachment occurs “at conception” and another saying that that it doesn’t occur “until birth.”
Not much help from our friends on this particular point I’m afraid…
Don Porteous, Fri 3 Dec, 16:28
Don, it’s a very beautiful poem, congratulations. For me it is every time a very special experience when it’s happening and I am hugely thankful for it. Even when I wrote the books inspiration came and a lot of synchonities happened to confirm what I wrote. However I don’t think I’m a medium…I never see or hear spirit, It is never automatic writing of typing as I search for the words (but they come quickly) and change them until I got the right gutfeeling. I don’t know any spiritguide name or so but I’m just thankful. I am convinced that it is within everybody his possibility to have a simular experience. Just open your mind and soul and ask the questions to who you believe in, what you want to know.Look out for dreams, signals and inspiration. They often come in the middle of the night or when I am in nature. Success to all of you.
Chris, Fri 3 Dec, 14:52
Your nocturnal poetic experience struck a familiar chord with me, as I had a nearly identical experience some years ago, at a time when I was deeply immersed in the research for my book. While lying in bed at two or three in the morning, the following words all of a sudden just began appearing in my head…
“Whispers from a distance
Breathings from afar
Whispers of existence…
Beyond all physicality
Beyond the looming bar
Whispers of Reality,
Beyond our brief mortality…
Yet word you’ve heard, so clear, so cold,
Foretold direct from logic’s door
Of Fate’s all-ending final score
Intoned by woe-filled voice of yore
So quoth the dark one…NEVERMORE.
Reply the whispers: Yet…WE ARE.
The life is gone.
The LIFE is now!
The life, so dear, so near, so far
Though gone…We never cease to be
The thought, the love, the Soul is free
Through infinite eternity…
Whatever the “source,” that remains, as far as I can recall, the one and only serious poem that I’ve ever written in my entire life.
Don Porteous, Fri 3 Dec, 13:54
Chris’s comment that there are “countless versions of truth,” often comes to mind when I read about the abortion issue here in the United States, which I did today. I can’t recall the source or reference, but it seemed credible and made sense at the time I read it many years ago. A supposedly advanced spirit was asked at what point in the pregnancy a soul attaches itself to the fetus. The response was something to the effect that it varies. Some souls attach themselves early in the pregnancy, others not until late in the pregnancy. Even after they attach themselves, they might go back and forth between realms. It was said that even after birth, the soul frequently leaves the body it has attached itself to, the detachments being fewer as the baby develops.
Of course, all that assumes the pre-existence of the soul, something not considered by the pros and the cons in the abortion debate. If pre-existence is a fact and if it is a fact that souls attach themselves to the fetus at different points in the pregnancy, then, here also, truth has many shades of gray.
Michael Tymn, Fri 3 Dec, 06:43
Regarding your latest comment, may I point out that I am not a child and hat I do not have the mind of a child? And that I am known to be rather skilful in the use of words? Just over half the words of Dr Lockhart’s book, which you may possibly have on your shelves, ‘The Subtle Energy Body’, are mine, including what has been described as a better explanation of Alain Aspect’s Paris experiments of 1982 that is better than the explanation in Wikipedia (which I have never seen)?
May I also point out that in your latest comment there are verbal ambiguities? Words, as I have said, are NO GOOD. We have to arrive at (non-verbal and non-verbalisable) (Heideggerian?) graspings by the conscious Dasein. Traditions stand blocking the way to the kind of realisation that is needed, as Einstein, and all quantum physicists too, would tell you.
Eric Franklin, Thu 2 Dec, 23:19
You write: In any other human domain, we recognize specialized expertise and are prepared to look to it and at least tentatively rely upon it.
What betrays the fallacy your subconscious knows is here is your phrase ‘at least tentatively’. You evidently do ’see’ the truth of what I am saying, but you hurry on, preferring the error of familiar traditions already set in parchments, in translations, in error. It is precisely that little phrase that shows my seeking for DIRECTLY IMPARTED understanding to be correct, and the reading of an imperfect instruction book, which is what a tradition is, otiose at best, misleading at worst.
I will be content to point out just one other similarly crucial mistake of logic that you make: You write:
Now, nidihyasana - contemplating upon ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ - might well seem like the kind of thing you [Eric] are proposing, but in fact the practice is entirely scripturally grounded.
But that realisation, grasping the truth that we, being Beings, are already one with the Great All, was NOT a recorded humanly authored teaching, was NOT scripturally grounded, when it FIRST dawned in a human mind. It was NOT a written tradition. It was probably a very quiet inner first seeing of a truth. It only BECAME “grounded in scripture” when an attempt was made to write it down in order to purvey the understanding, the illumination, to others. QED. Have you never heard the saying that if one has both God and church membership one actually has LESS THAN God? That denominations are tombstones of past revivals? These pulpit aphorisms indicate the truth I contend for. What I am saying is that to start with any written tradition and therefrom attempt to find the inner realisation that first gave rise to the written tradition is very nearly impossible. The tradition gets in the way, blocks the road. Reality, truth, is NOT scripturally grounded. As soon as it has become scripture it has become an inaccurate (ergo unavoidably misleading) book of instructions. Words are ambiguous. Revelation is not. The remedy is to receive the illuminating non-verbal realisation direct from the source of truth. Chris, who often dreams poems in the night, is nearer the true way than the expert in traditions.
Eric Franklin, Thu 2 Dec, 22:57
The question of the suitability of words to attain to the Wordless is a critical one. If I might stay for the moment with the question of - as you phrase it - “establishing Tat Twam Asi”, one might think that this is best done by engaging in a ‘wordless’ spiritual practice such as meditation, but in fact this has been specifically rejected by no less an authority than Shankaracharya. In ch.18 of his “Upadesasahasri”, in discussing the realization of ultimate reality (Brahmavidya), he treats in detail why a) the ‘right’ words are absolutely essential and b) why any ‘practice’ cannot be the immediately proximate cause for the liberative realization of ‘That Thou Art’. There are two principal underlying reasons supporting Shankara’s claim. First, activity and knowledge are incommensurate, such that one cannot be the proximate cause of another. Second, our ‘ignorance’ (avidya) of ultimate reality is a notional one. This requires a bit of explanation. Consider two situations: in the first, your wife is standing outside of the doorway, out of sight; in the second, your wife is standing in front of you, but for some reason (a new hairstyle, a long period of separation, mental confusion,...) you don’t recognize her. If a friend says to you in the first case, “Your wife is here”, you can’t establish that on the basis of his words alone. You have to go to the doorway and look. However, if a friend says to you in the second case, “Your wife is here”, you can establish recognition solely on the basis of his words. The right words in the right situation are exactly what are needed to prompt recognition. This is, according to the teaching, exactly analogous to the situation we face with regard to ultimate reality. It is ‘here and now’, but due to our ignorance (avidya), we can’t see it. Contemplation upon the meaning and significance of ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, as informed by the Advaitic teaching tradition, is the equivalent to pondering upon your friend’s statement that “Your wife is here”. Not just any words will do, but rather it is the Mahavakyas, the great Upanishadic sayings, that can ‘trigger’ such a realization.
Let me give another, quite different instance of the crucial impact of words. One of the most beautiful books on the spiritual life ever to have been penned is the anonymous Russian work known in English as “The Way of a Pilgrim”. This is a very simply told account of one man’s transformation of soul through the faithful and assiduous practice of the Jesus Prayer, or Prayer of the Heart. This simple prayer of a few words - “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” or, more simply, “Christ have mercy” - is the spiritual engine that powers Orthodox Christian spirituality. It is nothing less than the embodiment of St. Paul’s dictum to “pray without ceasing”. The great 19thC Russian spiritual director St. Theophan the Recluse summed up the practice in the following pregnant words: “The principal thing is to stand before God with the mind in the heart and to go on standing before Him unceasingly day and night until the end of life.” The words of the Jesus Prayer are not simply words, but rather have a power, a specific virtue: that of turning otherwise ordinary, fallen men and women into saints.
Words, the right words, heard and applied in the right way, have the capacity to at once illumine the mind and purify the heart. They are not ends in themselves - clearly - but they are - just as clearly - efficacious and legitimate means to the ends to which they direct.
Paul, Thu 2 Dec, 20:00
Here are some words of the medium known as the Nazarene, a teaching subject to misinterpretation and distortion as noted by Michael. These particular words are apropos to the interchange between Eric and Paul and also to the judgment/salvation topic of this thread. The exact wording comes from my alternative Jesus story, “Life of Truth: a synoptic gospel,” but it is a famous parable known to all. “Everyone who hears my words and DOES them (emphasis added) is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. The rain poured down on the house, the flood came, the wind beat against the house, but it would not fall. But everyone who hears my words and does not DO them (emphasis again added) is like the fool who built his house upon the sand. The rain poured down on the house, the flood came, the wind beat against the house, and great was the fall of it.” Could there be a clearer teaching about the centrality of what (the medium) Kierkegaard called “the ethical,” that which (the medium) Schweitzer said was the only doorway to genuine spirituality?
Newton E. Finn, Thu 2 Dec, 17:47
This post of me can be a bit weird ,but never the less I give him here. Following this item about God, religions and their icons, I asked a few days ago before I went to sleep to God to give me a clue.
That night I had a dream, wake up and had a suddenly inspration to a sort of poem (that happens frequently to me)
Ir goes (translation from Dutch):
’ There is only one Truth
but there are countless versions
all are truth
you only get that version
that you understand
a version that you can’t yet handle
would only cause you to panic
and would flee you away from the truth.’
I always thought that about religions the message is important and not the messenger, but this was partly wrong: the message is the most important part but you must know the messenger and his timeframe. Like with mediums and spirit teachers , in the messages they bring, they always use the vocabulary and mindset from the mediums. The version depends on how the messenger was educated, lived and talked and the culture and habits of that timeframe. So messages can differ ,but the core must be similar.
Chris, Thu 2 Dec, 08:32
For example ...why does Jesus speaks of ‘the father’ and are women in Islam treated less…it’s my opinion that it is caused by the timeframe of that period. The messages would not be accepted and understand in that period and cultural environment if God would be mentioned otherwise. It’s a pitty that we and the world understand this not enough.
The more an individual is enlightened and developped the version that he or she can handle will evolve.
The 4 books I wrote (in Dutch) are about celestial Truth and one has as title ’ The ultimate truth of things’. I understand know that it is my truth , expressed in my words and mindset en my timeframe , what does not mean that it can be of no use to others! But I can accept that there will be other and more developped versions of the truth as humanity awakens more and more on a physical, spiritual and interdimensional level.
So my conclusion: accept those messages as a version of the truth but never forget the timeframe and mindset of the messenger.See through that timeframe and eliminate those things in your truth following your mindset and development.
Thank you for your new comment. It is late at night here, and I, at 80, have a very busy, taxing day tomorrow. (I have to supervise the transport of over a tonne of building material some miles to my little eco-scheme site. At my age I cannot do the job. I started to do it myself a week or two ago, and achieved half of it, but will now pay a contractor to do the rest.) One of your arguments is clearly false but I cannot stop to frame the words that might succeed in showing this tonight. I may be able to respond more fully tomorrow, after its tasks are done, but that is uncertain. What is certain is that any response will be WORDS, mere words, (we all have nothing else) not any kind of reality even if the words are attempting to say what is true. Imagination will be required in interpreting my words (if I can find time to write them. My comments are almost always hastily written after blood pressure and other pills, and before breakfast, and I could always improve my comments greatly, given a chance to edit them later). It is the successful interpretation and imaginative reconstruction in the mind of my MEANING (not my words) that will have some value (if readers achieve the correct mental construction). ALL the sources of authority you cite and/or quote are MERE WORDS. All the supposed authorities are mere verbal records. So in fact you are, throughout your comment, proving MY point, and demonstrating the inadequacy of YOUR OWN argument. You actually demonstrate precisely what I am arguing. You have HUGE knowledge and understanding (that is obvious) but you are exemplifying my point nonetheless.
I MAY say more tomorrow, but I may decide not to try to explain in words what CANNOT be explained in words.
My words here are, of course, totally inadequate. A direct revelation in human minds without any words would be an event on an altogether higher plane so I shall shut up so that it may perhaps happen.
Eric Franklin, Wed 1 Dec, 23:50
Although I recognize all the negatives associated with orthodox religions, I still see most of those religions as preferable to nihilism. I have a number of relatives and friends who are devout Christians and I am sure their faith provides a peace of mind that they wouldn’t have if they were nihilists.
Next to Imperator, I value the words of Silver Birch, who said: “The Nazarene is one of the hierarchy behind all the directives we receive when we leave your world occasionally to fortify ourselves to cope with our mission and to glean more of what it is we have to achieve.
“I have a great reverence for Jesus, the Nazarene, a wondrous example of what the power of the spirit could achieve when divinity assumes human form and gives to those available simple but profound teaching that love is a power that solves all problems when people allow themselves to be animated by it.
“The object of the Nazarene’s mission was to demonstrate spiritual reality. If the Nazarene were to appear in your world today and to repeat what he said 2000 years ago, I doubt it anyone would listen.”
The problem seems to be that many of his teachings have been distorted and subject to self-serving interpretations by religious hierarchy.
Michael Tymn, Wed 1 Dec, 21:51
To a degree, I sympathize with your expressed view regarding “the best soil” for the growth of ‘spiritual awareness’. Nevertheless, the way to the Formless appears overwhelmingly to be through form, rather than directly. A very clear means to see this is to consider those figures who are broadly considered to be profoundly spiritually mature - St. Francis, Rumi, Kabir or Shantideva, to name but a few examples. Almost without exception, those figures didn’t ‘go it alone’, but rather were nourished through the particular religious and spiritual forms in which they were embedded. It is simply not the case, either historically or cross-culturally, that such figures invariably or even largely arose outside of any religious form, the religious forms themselves being nothing but shallow, blind dogmatism without light or grace. Such is what the ‘take’ on religions that you offer would suggest, but it is simply not borne out in actuality. Rather, while religious traditions invariably have a ‘human margin’ - which you are quite right to gesture to - they nevertheless have been the fertile soil for both illumination and sanctity in the form of both sages and saints, who are at once the fruit and proof of such traditions. “By their fruits you shall know them.” By contrast, one of the clearest marks of the deficiency of secular modernity is precisely the lack of such fruits arising directly out of its perspective and ‘resources’, such as they are.
As to your view of religion, there are at least three problems with it:
First, it is self-contradictory at one remove. If you are rejecting ‘bottom up, ignorance-only human fabrications’ and I hear about this (as I have here), then I am forced to take one of two paths: i) I reject your view, or ii) I accept your view, but then realize that it itself does not escape from its claim, being eminently a ‘bottom up, ignorance-only human fabrication’ (call it ‘Franklinism’), in which case I am forced to reject your view after all, and by its own insistence.
Second, it ignores the role of expertise. In any other human domain, we recognize specialized expertise and are prepared to look to it and at least tentatively rely upon it. If my sewage is backed up, I call a plumber. If my tooth chips, I call a dentist. And so on, ad nauseum (in which case, I call a gastroenterologist). In your view, the spiritual life is the sole exception to this rule, the only legitimate path - or at least the best one - being to ‘go it alone’. But why should one think this would be any more fruitful than ‘going it alone’ in repairing one’s sewer line or crowning one’s teeth? Indeed, even in the case of true prodigies - such as in music and mathematics - who could, far better than most, ‘go it alone’, they instead go off to Juliard or Cambridge to polish and perfect their art under the tutelage of skilled mentors working within a rich tradition of knowledge and accomplishment.
Third, it does happen that certain exceptional individuals can, as it were, sit quietly in a room with themselves and achieve through this means an opening to grace and illumination. Sometimes such an opening becomes the founding impetus to a given religious tradition. Think, for instance, of Mohammed in spiritual retreat in a cave on Mt. Hira or of the Buddha in meditation under the Bodhi Tree. Such individuals have, as it were, followed your advice regarding “the best soil”, yet despite that, their teachings, arising from this, would be rejected by you.
Regarding your concluding appeal that “God seems to like prepared, but clear, soil for establishing Tat twam asi [Thou art That]”, it is very interesting and telling that you should choose such phrasing, for of course the statement ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ is at once eminently religious and scriptural, being the most significant of the Mahavakyas (‘great sayings’) found in the Upanishads - after the Vedas, the central and most authoritative scriptural source within Hinduism. How is one to ‘establish Tat Tvam Asi’? The school of Advaita Vedanta, which arguably engages this very matter most significantly, lays out a threefold pedagogy: in Sanskrit, sravana, manana and nidihyasana - hearing the teaching, considering the teaching, contemplating the teaching. Now, nidihyasana - contemplating upon ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ - might well seem like the kind of thing you are proposing, but in fact the practice is entirely scripturally grounded. Further, nidihyasana is ultimately considered by that tradition to not be other than sravana, the studying of the scriptures (the Upanishads and other scriptural texts) with a spiritual master or guide (a guru). The leading treatment of this very matter - of “establishing Tat twam asi,” as you express it - is the scholarly work of Neal Dalal, particularly his doctoral dissertation, “Texts Beyond Words” [available in pdf: ]https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/18421]. His work serves, in essence and in detail, as a very thorough repudiation of the view you have offered.
Paul, Wed 1 Dec, 20:35
Paul’s “view is that the collective discarnate testimony we possess is best treated as a precious ancillary to the religious traditions – more particularly to a given individual’s particular faith tradition – even if this will, in the nature of things, lead to a certain tension with the narrower aspects of one’s faith.” This insight accords with my own discovery of spiritualism as an amplification of the unorthodox Christianity I had come to years before. For me, this amplification came not so much via a fuller description of the afterlife but in learning how angels/spirits play such a crucial role both in our individual lives and in the world in general. While angels have always been present in Christian tradition, their significance has been underplayed to say the least. The abiding ministry of the “good” angels/spirits to those of us still in the flesh is a beautiful and comforting thought. But the relentless undermining of the good, true, and beautiful by the “bad” angels/spirits, while it helps to explain our troubled world, is scary and daunting, is it not? Continual spiritual warfare, on the personal and social levels, seems to be our lot, and our task seems to be to make the best of it, again on both levels, by our growth in love and wisdom and then acting—risking and sacrificing—accordingly. As Eric implores us: “Please remember words (alone) are no good.”
Newton E. Finn, Wed 1 Dec, 17:04
While agreeing with Newton’s latest comment, I believe no religion is better than any one of the religious systems mankind has constructed throughout history. They are all bottom-up, ignorance-up human fabrications, even if good in parts. That unreliable system of barely-conscious animal surmising began before history even began to be recognised and recorded at all. Of course, we have to avoid the antireligions, such as humanism and satanism, all of which would be even worse than any human invention (including this description, of coourse). Surely the best soil in which God can grow spirituality, spirital awareness, is not any identifiable, distinguishable, nameable religion, each of which is necessarily partial and at least partly wrong, but the positive fertile CONSCIOUS NOTHING in which spirituality arises unimpeded, by direct mediumship, like artistic inspiration, quietly and directly from the “mind of God”. Please remember words are no good. What I intend to point to cannot be said, but must be ‘seen’. God seems to like prepared, but clear, soil for establishing Tat twam asi.
Eric Franklin, Wed 1 Dec, 08:50
Thank you very much for your kind word regarding my comments (and Eric, I’ll watch those typos). To clarify, I’m completely of your own mind with regard to the importance of choosing a tradition. I may cite multiple traditional sources, but I would never suggest one cobble together a spiritual path in that manner. I don’t really think such an approach can be spiritually fruitful. With that said, there can be – and historically have been – instances of limited spiritual borrowing across traditions. One thinks of the centering prayer of contemporary Christian monastic contemplation, which borrows from Zen Buddhism, or of Jewish medieval Safed spirituality, which borrowed from Islamic Sufism, or of Indian Sufis of the Chishti order who borrowed from Hindu yoga. But such borrowings don’t go so far as to ‘break the form’ of a given religion and are very far from any contemporary ‘New Age’ smorgasbord approach to spirituality.
The real question here – and it is not one I presently have the time to adequately address – is the possible relation between a given religious faith and practice, on the one hand, and the collective testimony of discarnate communication, on the other. There are many shallow religious individuals – some in positions of religious authority – but ultimately, a religion has to be judged by its best lights, by the best of what it has to offer. The same is also true of the discarnate testimony we possess. My own view is that where this discarnate testimony shines, and really offers a vision, clarity and guidance to be found nowhere else, is in its description of posthumous existence, both its nature and its stages. However, in other domains such as metaphysics, ontology, spiritual practice, spiritual guidance and formal supports such as sacred art, there are clear limitations in this collective testimony. By way of example, the most comprehensive spiritualist texts – such as those by Allan Kardec or William Stainton Moses – tend, for all their value, to show poorly in comparison to traditional spiritual sources, such as the aforementioned Igumen Chariton’s “The Art of Prayer” on spiritual practice or Shankaracharya’s “Vivekachudamani” on metaphysics.
Although spiritualists often engage in shallow polemics against ‘creedal dogma’, ‘blind faith’ and ‘ossified or corrupted religion’ – often prompted by similarly shallow polemics by the religious against discarnate communication – these are essentially unsubstantial attacks, often amounting to no more than throwaway lines. My own view is that the collective discarnate testimony we possess is best treated as a precious ancillary to the religious traditions – more particularly to a given individual’s particular faith tradition – even if this will, in the nature of things, lead to a certain tension with the narrower aspects of one’s faith. The discarnately communicating Myers, for example, may be seen in such a light, insofar as he is explicitly supportive of the teaching of Christ, while providing a deeper discarnate view than is readily available in the Churches. Swedenborg, also, may be seen in such a light.
Paul, Wed 1 Dec, 05:29
That was a most uplifting NDE story from C. Thomas Perry. Thank you, AOD, and all who commented on the video, for prompting me to watch it. From the gist of his posts, I surmise that Paul (whose comments I love regardless of length) is a proponent of the perennial wisdom tradition, which recognizes, like Imperator, the spiritual validity (and limitations) of all traditional religions. One section of that school, however, suggests that while all such religions are valid vehicles of spiritual elevation, it is preferable to choose one religion to follow rather than switch back and forth—a little of this, a little of that. The idea is that well-worn paths up the mountain are likely to move one along faster and farther than picking and choosing among them. No doubt, we cannot help but create our own paths to a certain extent (each of us working out our own salvation in reverence, if not fear and trembling). But what about this idea of committing to one faith tradition (however loosely or beyond orthodoxy) in order to receive its full nourishment, as opposed to dining alone at a spiritual smorgasbord?
Newton E. Finn, Tue 30 Nov, 20:16
A small big point regarding Paul’s latest comment: for ‘casual’ read ‘causal’ - almost a kind of precise contrary with only a single letter misplaced! An easy keyboarding slip, but showing how careful we should be. I once read a book that was half full of repeated instances of this very same important typo. With a few other merely verbal points an extremely good post, I think myself, expressing a great deal of holistic truth. Thank you, Paul.
And thank you Amos, for the link to the very comforting video of Dr. C. Thomas Perry on podcast #221 of Jeff Mara. -AOD
For any of us, surrounded by life’s crises and vulnerabilities, and feeling alone, such an account of the reality above ours down here is very welcome indeed.
Eric Franklin, Tue 30 Nov, 12:03
In reply to Michael’s query [Sat 27 Nov, 06:49] as to whether it may be the case that Christ, Mohammed, Buddha and other religious figures are of unequal advancement, I think we need to be epistemically modest in such matters. Again, as I stated previously below, what we need to recognize is that the discarnate-related literature as we have it is not a wide-ranging, cross-civilizational collective testimony, but rather the collective testimony of a particular ‘civilizational sector’ of discarnate reality, which happens to correlate with the historically Christian West. Voices of other discarnate ‘civilizational sectors’ are largely absent from our knowledge, although other such discarnate ‘civilizational sectors’ must certainly exist. As such, we are getting, to some degree, a slanted understand of matters – a slant that is likely to affect most significantly matters of cultural and religious understanding as they apply to discarnate experience.
None of this should be particularly surprising. An extreme case is the book “Swan on a Black Sea”, which is evidentiarily compelling – in fact, one of the most evidentiary writings we possess – yet it becomes clear that the deceased interlocutor, Winifred Margaret Coombe Tennant, is essentially carrying out a posthumous existence carefully isolated in her own narrow frame of reference, much as some incarnate British grande dame of her class and generation might do. Even the discarnate Frederic Myers, dead for twenty-five years of our time, having died the ‘second death’ out of the third (astral) and into the fourth (casual) plane, and so hardly a discarnate newcomer when having communicated back through Geraldine Cummins – nevertheless comes off to a large extent as basically that which he was in life: a Victorian Englishman of Christian formation steeped in Classical learning.
It is to state the obvious to observe that Christ is unquestionably the central figure of Christian civilization, yet just as unquestionably not the central figure of other civilizations. What of these other exalted spiritual figures, who are themselves ‘central’ to their own civilizations? In this regard, there is a very interesting passage in the book “Chapters of Experience”, communicated by the discarnate Douglas Conacher in the course of a long series of conversations with his wife via Leslie Flint’s direct voice mediumship, which form part of the Woods-Green archive. Conacher states: “Many people say: ‘Some of the teachings of the Buddha are very akin to the teachings of the Christ’, or ‘Many of the teachings of the Christ are not exactly dissimilar to the teachings of Mohammed’ and so on. Well, of course, all these great teachers are quite often of the same spirit. By that I do not mean that they are the same individual, which is quite different. There is such a thing – of which, possibly, the people on earth have no realization – as the group spirit, as well as the universal spirit. Many of these great teachers and prophets are of the same group who come from a very, very high sphere, a very advanced stage of being, and have at different periods of history chosen to return under a different guise.” (p.55)
This is a heady thought, one that is very attractive: that the ‘central spiritual figures’ of humanity – such as Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Lao Tzu and Moses – are all members of the same exalted group soul and, as such, are “members of one another”. Given that – as witnessed to through the collection of quotes I offered in a comment [Sun 21 Nov, 21:01] to the post immediately prior – souls tend toward a greater unification, not only with the Divine but also with each other, as they ‘ascend’, it would follow that such exalted, ‘high’ souls would be even closer in consequence than those of a ‘typical’ group soul. Thus, to conceptually separate them out as individual, isolated figures – as they were known on earth – may actually be a rather misleading way to understand them in their full, ‘ascended’ reality.
Paul, Tue 30 Nov, 04:28
Here is an intense NDE of Dr. C. Thomas Perry on podcast #221 of Jeff Mara. -AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 29 Nov, 15:22
For the consideration of Michael and his readers: a very short piece (by a retired bishop) reviewing a fairly short book (by a prominent theologian). Both, I submit, are prime examples of that liberal Christian tradition that was—and is—the intellectual heir of classic spiritualism. Would Imperator approve?
Newton E. Finn, Sun 28 Nov, 02:01
DMT, Interesting talk, a different approach but I believe it fits quite well with this board…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnRonUztpLA
Gavin Doyle, Sat 27 Nov, 23:36
Disclaimer, I am not promoting substance abuse.
I’m looking forward, Michael, to your post about Dr. Hyslop, who apparently once taught, ages ago, in the college I attended. I read one of his books but found it tough going, having to machete my way through dense verbal foliage to get to the clear, straight pathway of his thought. It probably didn’t help that I had a cheap Kindle edition apparently created from photos of pages, a format which made the page-by-page enlarging of font size (required by my ageing eyes) a tricky and frustrating process. Nevertheless, I could tell that Dr. Hyslop was sharp, so I’ll leave it to you to reveal how deeply he cuts into all things afterlife.
Newton E. Finn, Sat 27 Nov, 20:14
I made a little reseach on NDERF with the search button.Jesus:460 ,Buddha:28 Krishna:7, Mohammed:3 and I looked at those 3 and they were not really used in a Islamic context.
Chris, Sat 27 Nov, 17:18
What is the meaning of this strange result?
oké NDERF is perhaps English en Western orientated but there are NDE’s from other languages and places.
I don’t think that it is a matter of advancement…the many aunts and uncles that people meet in their NDE confirms that,I suppose.
chris, Sat 27 Nov, 12:46
There can be a multitude of reasons why the number of encounters with several icons of religion differ so much in NDE’s.One can be that they less expect an encounter with their icon.For example the visibility of Jezus in Christianity is far greater than of Mohammed in the muslim world. The statues of Christ are countless. On the other hand that is not the case with Buddha and the Hindu deities.
Other possibility is that they maybe don’t need a NDE: maybe they choose to stay in the afterlife when they get the choice or that they don’t know what is happening and they are convinced that it is merely an illusion of their sickness or accident.
Other factor can be the fear of telling to others.
In some religions you can not always say what you want and I’m not familiar enough with the other religions to know where that is the case about the content of a NDE.
Strange enough it seems not only be the case with NDE’s: what about the number of spirit teachers of other religions? I remember the Confucius poem and a Chinese spirit talking to a New Zeeland family. I also know several native american teachers and hindu spirits and I assume that in the Tibetan bhuddist tradition there is room for bhuddist spirits ,but does any one know a muslim spirit teacher?
Wish we could ask that at the known spirit teachers😃.
Chris’s comment about Mohammed, Buddha and other religious icons not being mentioned as much as Christ seems to be based on an assumption that they are all equal in advancement. Perhaps that is not the case. I’m not saying it isn’t, but it is something to consider.
Michael Tymn, Sat 27 Nov, 06:49
Thanks to Newton for the directed verdict. I might add the trial was cut short due to the 25,000-word limit and therefore the plaintiff’s 12th witness, Professor James Hyslop, was not called to testify. He was probably the most knowledgeable of all the witnesses, but he was the latest in time. His deposition was taken several weeks before the trial and will be discussed in the next blog.
Thanks to all others for the comments thus far. They leave much to ponder on.
Michael Tymn, Sat 27 Nov, 06:30
Exactly! And I think a few people get away with not paying taxes.
Jon, Fri 26 Nov, 23:28
Jon, 25 Nov, 10:26:
I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said the only certainty in life is death and taxes, but I’m not certain that’s true either.
Ben Frank was only half right. Death is not real.
Rick Darby, Fri 26 Nov, 23:02
Amos,thanks for the link.
Chris, Fri 26 Nov, 10:32
As I recall, in “At The Hour of Death” by Osis and Haraldsson, people in India who were dying or had a near death experience reported visits by Indian deities and experiences in agreement with Indian religious philosophies or dogmas. I may misremember, as it was some time that I read that book but I don’t think that any of the people in India reported meeting Jesus. You might be interested in that book for non-Christian reports. AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 25 Nov, 23:12
It is a bit weird that in the afterlife conversations Christ is often mentioned and seldom Mohammed ,Boeddha or the other religious icons.
Chris, Thu 25 Nov, 21:07
That is also the case in most of the NDE’s I’ ve read. Maybe it would be interesting to collect more profound NDE’s from non-Christian cultures to compare the stories and content. If there is a great similarity ,we are a step nearer to the truth I think, because the coloration of the input is more divers.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 25 Nov, 18:51
I agree. Tom Rruffles makes some insightful comments. -AOD
Just finished reading Michael’s Bigelow essay. IMHO, his finest work—the most succinct, the most clear, the most direct, the most compelling summation imaginable of his decades of diligent research and investigation of afterlife evidence from the mid 19th through the early 20th centuries. Liked Michlove’s essay and no doubt will like others. Absolutely LOVE what Michael has given here to us and to the world. Were he never to write another word (God forbid), he’s said all that need be said to demonstrate the existence of the afterlife. Directed verdict, with no possible ground of appeal, for the Survival School. Next case.
Newton E. Finn, Thu 25 Nov, 18:25
The bulk of what follows was originally offered up in a comment to a post of Michael’s now long in the past, but it is so germane to the present posted topic that I think it important to share it once more here.
The question of the posthumous sorting of the individual, for good or ill, should be understood to be the most crucial, decisive and urgent question that one existentially faces and should, in consequence, be treated with utmost seriousness. How should the individual properly order himself for the sake of its own felicity or salvation? Despite the urgency of this question, it is severely underaddressed in the spiritualist or posthumous literature. This is a glaring deficiency, since it is the principal thing that must be known.
Frederic Myers, with his typically uncommon thoroughness, addresses this in “The Road to Immortality”, Ch.8 and again in “Beyond Human Personality”, Ch.14 and, to summarize, recommends that the progression of the soul is best attained through love conjoined with wisdom; the right kind of loving oriented to the right object and end, that object and end being the absolute beauty of the Divine, and the most perfect example of that love conjoined with wisdom being Christ. One finds the same concern for rightly ordered loving in Plato’s “Symposium” with the prophetess Diotima’s instruction to Socrates to love the Good [Myers, ever the astute Classicist, makes reference to this in the second source given]. The same essential teaching may be found shot through Dante’s “Commedia”, as articulated by Marc Cogan, in his “The Design in the Wax”. As one of the central cantos in the “Purgatorio” makes clear, embodying the metaphor of a seal or design placed in wax, the entire range of human possibilities, for good or ill, turns on the nature and orientation of the love borne by the soul: [“Purgatorio” 18:34-9; tr. Mandelbaum] “Now you can plainly see how deeply hidden truth is from scrutinists, who would insist that every love is, in itself, praiseworthy; and they are led to error by the matter of love, because it may seem – always – good; but not each seal is fine, although the wax is.” The souls in “Inferno” are cursed by misdirected love, those in “Paradiso” blessed by love properly directed.
Swedenborg, in the central section of “Heaven and Hell”, introduces the notion of the dominant or ruling love of an individual [para.477], which one bears within oneself and which is the determinant of one’s posthumous destiny: “We are our love or intention after death” [para.479] In this realm, as in so many others, Heraclitus’ maxim holds true: “Character is destiny.” The Quran similarly: [91:5-10, tr. Arberry] “By the heaven and That which built it and by the earth and That which extended it! By the soul, and That which shaped it and inspired it to lewdness and godfearing! Prosperous is he who purifies it, and failed has he who seduces it.” Similarly, the Bhagavad Gita [7:23] “Verily, ephemeral is the gain of the ignorant; they who worship deities go to these deities, and they who love Me go to Me.” To summarize the matter: How should one love? One should love both wisely and deeply. What should one love? One should love the Divine and others in light of the Divine. This is all very well understood, even to the youngest catechumen: [Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30] “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Herein we find also the mystery of judgment upon the soul. The soul, by the nature or character in which it has been formed, bears its own evidential record and its own deciding judgment. The law of affinity, which is discussed or alluded to in practically every relevant discarnate source, governs this. The soul, out of its formed nature, is compelled by affinity to seek out those posthumous circumstances – those environs and companions – that conform to its nature. As Myers, quoting St. John, expresses in his discussion [“The Road to Immortality”, Ch.3] of the posthumous destiny of disordered souls: [Rev. 22:11] “He that is filthy let him be filthy still.” Similarly, as the Quran expresses: [17:14-6, tr. Arberry] “We shall bring forth for him, on the Day of Resurrection, a book he shall find spread wide open. ‘Read thy book! Thy soul suffices thee this day as a reckoner against thee.’ Whosoever is guided, is only guided to his own gain, and whosoever goes astray, it is only to his own loss.” Similarly, the Bhagavad Gita [16:21-2] “Threefold are the gates to hell where man perishes: lust, anger, and greed. Therefore, one has to renounce these three. The one who has freed himself from these three gates of the darkness makes his own good…and attains the Supreme Goal.” The etheric or imaginal realm within which the soul finds itself after death is, in the soul’s experience, the externalization of the soul’s own qualities. What is experienced as felicity or wretchedness is simply the externalized experience of one’s own nature.
As all this makes clear, the primary task and goal of embodied human existence is the purification and maturation of the soul, the shaping of it toward its proper end, consummation and felicity. This has been the universal aim of religious traditions and the particular aim of the spiritual paths that they variously incorporate. Here also we touch upon traditional teachings regarding virtue and vice, which must be understood as so many traces, marks or habits imposed upon the soul. The soul and its formed nature are its own inheritance upon death; everything of its physical existence is stripped from it – its body of flesh, its possessions, its worldly power and prestige. It is left with itself, whether expansive or contracted, whether purified or corrupted. It must, in the fullest sense, live with itself, for good or ill. In light of this fullness of understanding, we may perceive the crucial importance of spiritual practice. The soul must be properly shaped. This shaping encompasses the moral and civic education necessary for the individual to function within society and for society to function as a whole, such as found, for instance, in the cardinal virtues first adumbrated by Plato and later adopted by the Christian Fathers. It further encompasses the spiritual virtues necessary for the proper return to God. If this kind of education is neglected, the result is the “men without chests” that C.S. Lewis portrays in the first chapter of his “The Abolition of Man”. The lived consequences are disastrous; the posthumous consequences are worse, precisely because it is the soul that shapes its own experience in this domain. The moral and civic virtues are fundamentally necessary; this is, however, a beginning of the soul’s formation, not an end. Beyond this, there is spiritual practice, which some – though certainly not all – are called to as a further state in the soul’s maturation.
We carry ourselves – only ourselves – into the next life, and ‘what’ we are determines ‘where’ we will be. It is really that simple. A particularly pithy statement by the “Technician”, the ‘angelic’ figure assisting the Luxembourg ITC group, drives this essential understanding home: “Heaven is in man and those who have heaven within themselves go to heaven. Heaven is in all those who recognize what is of God and let themselves be guided by the Divine. The priority and basic concern of every religion has always been the acknowledgement of God! [“Breakthroughs in Technical Spirit Communication”, Ch.3][cf. Luke 17:21 “The kingdom of God [heaven] is within you.”]
The discarnate literature speaks of affinity where Dante would speak of love, but really, these are two ways of expressing the same thing. St. Augustine, in his “Confessions” [13:9.10], famously wrote “My love is my weight.” This may be taken as a precise formulation of fact in relation to posthumous reality, for affinity acts, both in principle and in practice, as an attractive force, essentially analogous to gravitation, one’s ‘weight’. Affinity is love. One bears an affinity for what one loves. This is why discarnate reunions are so easy and why it is one’s nearest and dearest who come to greet one, whether in near death experiences, deathbed visions or the final passing. Dante, whose graphic depictions of the afterlife would seem to accord so poorly with the discarnate literature, nevertheless, in the essence of his message, has it exactly right: if you would do well – would gain felicity – then love well and direct your loving aright. That is all you need to know in essence.
And yet… Here, let me quote from the English Orthodox Christian, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, “I recall a story told of that great Victorian, Thomas Carlyle. Returning from church one Sunday morning, as he sat down to lunch, he said to his mother, in a bad temper, ‘I cannot think why they preach such long sermons. If I were a minister, I would go up into the pulpit and say no more than this: Good people, you know what you ought to do. Now go and do it!’ ‘Aye Thomas,’ said his mother. ‘And would you tell them how?’” The mention of Kallistos Ware here is telling on another level, given what a significant role he has played in the English translation of “The Philokalia”, hands-down the most influential text on Orthodox Christian spirituality. Or one might mention the briefer, more accessible but no less profound work of Igumen Chariton (abbot of Valamo monastery), “The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology”, one of the few books I know of – in any tradition – upon which one might build an entire spiritual life. There is nothing like either of these works in the whole of the spiritualist and posthumous literature.
This brings me full circle to my essential point. The posthumous literature that we have is, for those with ears to hear, a precious resource, the most comprehensive and satisfying description of posthumous reality that we have from any source, including the religious traditions taken in all their philosophic, mystical and spiritual richness. Yet, we should also acknowledge what this literature does not adequately address and be fully prepared to seek better sources elsewhere. This pertains most critically to the question of spiritual maturation and purification so crucial to our own posthumous felicity.
Paul, Thu 25 Nov, 16:11
Here is a post by Tom Ruffles of the SPR re the Bigelow contest and his thoughts on the essays (I wholeheartedly agree with him). He also mentions Michael Tymn:
Lee, Thu 25 Nov, 14:19
The following is something of an add-on to Eric Franklin’s reply to Gavin Doyle’s earlier comment. I want to particularly remark on Gavin’s statement, “It is like the spirits have a definitive agenda that being denigrating Christ or his church, not Vishnu or Mohammed but Christ specifically, has any one else made this observation.” A very important ‘framing observation’ to bear in mind with regard to the discarnate-related literature we have is that it is almost entirely a product of an Anglophone – and to a lesser extent European – cultural matrix, one historically Christian. A natural consequence of this fact is that, although such figures as Vishnu or Muhammad – or indeed many others one might name – are not ‘rubbished’, they are not praised either, for the very simple reason that they don’t come into accounts we have at all. I can count on two fingers the slightest references to Muhammad in this literature, both of them highly obscure, and can’t think of a single reference to Vishnu; the only reference to the Buddha I can recall is that of Myers’ comparing him unfavorably to Christ.
This takes me to your second claim, that the discarnate-related literature somehow denigrates the figure of Christ. It is the case that it does not support Trinitarian doctrine, but it is very far from the case that Christ is denigrated. To the contrary, in any mentions to Christ that appear in this literature – and there are a fair few – he is portrayed as a figure of exalted spiritual majesty and grace. Here, let me share just one, the description given by Sir Oliver Lodge’s deceased son, Raymond, who perished as a young man in the Great War. He was, as he relates at one point, permitted to briefly see the ‘Highest Sphere’ where he encountered Christ:
“I felt exalted, purified, lifted up. I was kneeling. I couldn’t stand up, I wanted to kneel.
Mother, I thrilled from head to foot. He didn’t come near me, and I didn’t feel I wanted to go near him. Didn’t feel I ought. The Voice was like a bell. I can’t tell you what he was dressed or robed in. All seemed a mixture of shining colours.
No good; can you imagine what I felt like when he put those beautiful rays on to me? I don’t know what I’ve ever done that I should have been given that wonderful experience. I never thought of such a thing being possible, not at any rate for years, and years, and years. No one could tell what I felt, I can’t explain it.
Will they understand it?
I know father and you will, but I want the others to try. I can’t put it into words.
I didn’t walk, I had to be taken back to Summerland, I don’t know what happened to me. If you could faint with delight! Weren’t those beautiful words?
I’ve asked if Christ will go and be seen by everybody; but was told, ‘Not quite in the same sense as you saw Him.’ I was told Christ was always in spirit on earth—a sort of projection, something like those rays, something of him in every one.
People think he is a Spirit, walking about in a particular place. Christ is everywhere, not as a personality. There is a Christ, and He lives on the higher plane, and that is the one I was permitted to see.” [Sir Oliver Lodge, “Raymond,” pp.231-2]
I am particularly struck here by the fact that he was so overwhelmed by majesty, beauty and joy of the encounter with ‘the living Christ’ that, as he relates, “I didn’t walk, I had to be taken back to Summerland.”
Paul, Thu 25 Nov, 14:10
Gavin Doyle writes: Having spent years investigating spiritualism I began to see a pattern fall in to place especially concerning Leslie Flint communications. It is like the spirits have a definitive agenda that being denigrating Christ or his church, not Vishnu or Mohammed but Christ specifically, has any one else made this observation.[?]
Gavin’s meaning is not clear, and “detective” thought cannot discover it with certainty, but I think what he intends to say is that enthusiastic (evangelical) Christians have always emphasised what they consider the unique claim by their religion to have unique status, authority and power; “there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved” [than Yahshua’s name. Corollary: All others are impostors]. This supposed uniqueness is over-emphasised when the claim is quoted by Christians because other sayings of Yahshua himself modify, even mollify, it, making it less extreme in its true meaning and application. Furthermore, the word ‘name’ is used, I believe, in an Aramaic way to mean more than what WE mean by the phrase ‘in the name of’ (“in the name of the law”, for example). Yahshua’s own usage of the phrase would mean “in the whole manner or character of Yahshua”, a rather wider and more comprehensive body of meaning, and less legalistically exclusive. Newton Finn will be able to tell us whether my understanding is correct. Also, Yahshua said on one occasion that he had “other sheep that are not of ‘this fold’ “, ie not of the nation of Israel. Again Newton and others will know better whether I am correct. And there are other clues to the truth that Yashua’s own teaching is rather more accepting of us humans than the evangelicals of today believe.
What we need to note here is that the Christian claim to uniqueness and exclusive truth is not correct. They have SOME truth. Evangelical Christians often make the offensive claim to have the unique way to salvation, and to be the God-appointed official dogmatisers on the whole matter. No other religion, as far as I know, makes any such claim about itself. Christianity’s claim to be the only correct religion is itself a unique claim to unique custodianship of truth - no other religion shows such arrogant lack of humility - and the claim is uniquely wrong. I think some in today’s Christian church are able to say honestly that they do not subscribe to this view any longer. They are (but perhaps rather slowly) learning. The Christian church must now realise that many of its own prelates from the recent past (eg Dean Inge) have looked into what we call spiritualism and have found in its beliefs and evidences a pearl of great price which shows a corpus of valid beliefs without horrible and atavistic anomalies such as blood sacrifice to expiate sins. (These vile atavisms linger, today, in such ‘regional culture’ as the cruelties of the Spanish bull-fight and bull-burning.)
But it has been remarked too, on Michael Tymn’s Blog, that there are other worlds no higher than our own. Dennis Bradley is not the only one who writes of spirit communicators who seem very like ourselves, and who actually state that their world is very like the one they inhabited before finding themselves where they are now. Stainton Moses seems to have been taught by higher spirits. There is a lesson for us all in these facts. We would be well-advised to live as if in preparation for life in the ethically and spiritually highest world we can imagine so that we do find ourselves there when we leave this rather low universe for our next.
Eric Franklin, Thu 25 Nov, 11:01
I think “The Siren Call” is a worthwhile read. I didn’t feel it was creepy. It’s about a journalist who attended seances and built relationships with the communicators, but when he investigated who they claimed to be (which included travelling to the other countries), he could find no evidence they existed.
In a world where we look for certainty in our lives it’s as a cautionary tale, because there is no certainty (in my humble opinion).
I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said the only certainty in life is death and taxes, but I’m not certain that’s true either.
Jon, Thu 25 Nov, 10:26
My wife, who passed in 2014 and with whom I have maintained contact ever since, told me simply and unequivocally, “Don’t feel guilty about anything.” This is alarming news for most humans who believe in some type of cosmic justice. After a lifetime of making comparisons, they are confident that some sort of comparative standard holds true in the Afterlife. Apparently not. Settling scores is not part of the wholeness to which we aspire.
Frank Juszczyk, Thu 25 Nov, 05:26
Gavin: Thanks for the suggestion, but I haven’t read “Siren Call” and don’t intend to…after reading the below-linked review/summary of its contents. What Michael does here and in his books is the polar opposite of the creepy, highly disturbing exploration, apparently made at tragic cost, described in “Siren Call.” Low-level, deceptive, and manipulative spirits are warned about from the get-go in “Spirit Teachings” and other classics of spiritualist literature. Indeed, we are strongly dissuaded from the continual and promiscuous seeking out of signs and wonders, intended only to attract our initial attention to the spirit world. No doubt there can be a very dark and dangerous side to communication with the departed and/or other spirits. Yet Michael’s work, and those who value it, seem to me to be seeking only the fullest experience of God’s love, however differently this sublimest reality may be (and always imperfectly) described.
David: When I was a young man, I visited a stunningly beautiful Bahai Temple near my home and read through the literature made available to guests. As I walked out the door, I remember thinking that Jesus would be very comfortable worshipping his Abba right here.
Newton E. Finn, Wed 24 Nov, 23:40
thank you for the interesting information about the Baháʼí Faith. I wasn’t even aware that such religion existed.
I, too, agree with Bahai regarding this matter: “...the Baha’i belief system does state that human individuality is eternal, certainly extending to all stages of the afterlife. It is never lost. Unlike many currents of Idealistic and far Eastern thought, which hold that the human individuality is temporary and merges into the One, or into the Oversoul or whatever.”
Kalervo, Wed 24 Nov, 22:24
Thanks to all for the kind comments so far. I’m doing my best to shed a few pounds as it could affect my moral specific gravity.
For those interested, the Bigelow essays are now posted at https://www.bigelowinstitute.org/contest_winners3.php
The also-rans are now in alphabetical order.
Michael Tymn, Wed 24 Nov, 22:19
The Bigelow essays have just been posted:
Hopefully Robert will now follow up with funding of unique scientific experiments to try to take this field of study to the next level. I think one can only get so far discussing/debating the same “evidence” year after year…
Lee, Wed 24 Nov, 20:50
Every one seems to search for God but nobody seems to find or is able to see that God. If you believe in God as All That Is , just look around you…all that you see is God…but the main problem is ...you never will be able to see all of God at once. It’s like the cells in our body. There are part of the body but can never see the whole picture at once…they have to believe that there is a body… a human oneness. I think God is closer than you think, we are always part of that God.
Chris, Wed 24 Nov, 19:28
I would reccomend those interseted in this blog might read The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts: A Riveting Investigation Into Channeling and Spirit Guides
Gavin Doyle, Wed 24 Nov, 19:03
by Joe Fisher
I think a break from exclusive attention to the relationship of Spiritualism with Christianity (especially with hellfire-and brimstone fundamentalism) is in order.
I am not a Baha’i but I have long admired its enlightened tenets and its life and spiritual style taught by Baháʼu’lláh in the 19th century. It is interesting that the Baha’i belief system does not include reincarnaton or mediumistic communication, which denial would be a major problem for modern spiritual people versed in the realities of psychical-paranormal phenomena.
It is also interesting that the Baha’i belief system does state that human individuality is eternal, certainly extending to all stages of the afterlife. It is never lost. Unlike many currents of Idealistic and far Eastern thought, which hold that the human individuality is temporary and merges into the One, or into the Oversoul or whatever. I agree with Bahai in this case.
Another factoid of this enlightened belief system is that contrary to Christianity, children brought up in a Baha’i family are enjoined to investigate different spiritual traditions and are free to choose whether or not they want to remain a Baha’i.
The most important basic principles:
The oneness of mankind.
The oneness of religion.
Independent investigation of truth.
Religion as a source of unity.
The evolutionary nature of religion.
Harmony between religion, science and reason.
Peaceful consultation as a means for resolving differences.
Needless to say, this enlightened spiritual system does not include hellfire and damnation.
A little more detail, from Wiki:
“The Bahá’í writings contain many references to spiritual qualities and values that individuals should strive to develop. The elements of good character include, among others, trustworthiness, truthfulness, faithfulness, sincerity, purity of motivation, service, justice, moderation, cleanliness, dignity and avoiding backbiting, balanced by reason and knowledge.
God is described in the Baháʼí writings a single, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end. The Baháʼí teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, or to create a complete and accurate image of, by themselves. Therefore, human understanding of God is achieved through his revelations via his Manifestations. In the Baháʼí religion God is often referred to by titles and attributes (e.g. the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving), and there is a substantial emphasis on monotheism. The Baháʼí teachings state that the attributes which are applied to God are used to translate Godliness into human terms and also to help individuals concentrate on their own attributes in worshipping God to develop their potentialities on their spiritual path. According to the Baháʼí teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection and being of service to humankind.
The Baháʼí writings state that human beings have a “rational soul”, and that this provides the species with a unique capacity to recognize God’s station and humanity’s relationship with its creator. Every human is seen to have a duty to recognize God through His messengers, and to conform to their teachings. Through recognition and obedience, service to humanity and regular prayer and spiritual practice, the Baháʼí writings state that the soul becomes closer to God, the spiritual ideal in Baháʼí belief. When a human dies, the soul passes into the next world, where its spiritual development in the physical world becomes a basis for judgment and advancement in the spiritual world. Baháʼís’ believe in the eternal life of the soul rather than reincarnation. Heaven and Hell are taught to be spiritual states of nearness or distance from God that describe relationships in this world and the next, and not physical places of reward and punishment achieved after death. See Baháʼí Faith on life after death.
The Baháʼí view of God is essentially monotheistic. God is the imperishable, uncreated being who is the source of all existence. He is described as “a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty”. Though transcendent and inaccessible directly, his image is reflected in his creation. The purpose of creation is for the created to have the capacity to know and love its creator.
In Baha’i belief, although human cultures and religions differ on their conceptions of God and his nature, the different references to God nevertheless refer to one and the same Being. The differences, instead of being regarded as irreconcilable constructs of mutually exclusive cultures, are seen as purposefully reflective of the varying needs of the societies in which the divine messages were revealed.
The Baháʼí teachings state that God is too great for humans to create an accurate conception of. In the Baháʼí understanding, the attributes attributed to God, such as All-Powerful and All-Loving are derived from limited human experiences of power and love. Baháʼu’lláh taught that the knowledge of God is limited to those attributes and qualities which are perceptible to us, and thus direct knowledge of God is not possible. Furthermore, Baháʼu’lláh states that knowledge of the attributes of God is revealed to humanity through his messengers.”
David Magnan, Wed 24 Nov, 17:50
I agree with Newton Finn (22 Nov, 17:18). Hell-and-damnation for sinners is passé in the great majority of Christian churches and denominations. It may still exist in a dim corner of the official theology but few, including priests and ministers, believe or make a point of it.
Yes, spiritualists are capable of taking a no-parley-with-the-heathens attitude toward the Christian faithful (or those who at least faithfully attend services). Many Christians are ignorant of or hostile to the evidence from psychical research, but surely not all of them. If “enlightened” students of psychic phenomena bash Christians — or adherents of any established religion — because of stereotypes, they aren’t likely to open many minds.
Anyway, Michael, I am confident that if you come up for judgment before God you have nothing to worry about. Your life, including all you’ve done in gathering clues about the afterlife for those of us trying to understand, will be appreciated by the Highest.
Rick Darby, Wed 24 Nov, 15:59
Having spent years investigating spiritualism I began to see a pattern fall in to place especially concerning Leslie Flint communications. It is like the spirits have a definitive agenda that being denigrating Christ or his church, not Vishnu or Mohammed but Christ specifically, has any one else made this observation. Such observations provide a huge pointer and tell me I really should not be engaging with low level lying spirits. Incidently I believe it was only one spirit that communicated with Leslie as anyone can discern on listening to several supposedly different voices, so there is a lye straight off the mark. Just observe what Helen Duncan has to say about her original spirit intermediate, foul mouthed aggressive and then we have strange demonic looking beasts appearing with Franek Kluski, it all looks like bad news in the long run. While I am here I feel it pertinent to mention my research on DMT, I am reaching exactly the same conclusions, experimenting with a ouija board led me again to reach the same conclusion many years ago. The writing is on the wall.
Gavin Doyle, Wed 24 Nov, 14:47
I’ve been re-reading Michael’s unusual, illuminating, and underappreciated book about the Titanic. This time, when I hit the engrossing material about William Stead, I HAD to pull up “Letters from Julia” and dive into that. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an author who opens more doors of discovery than Michael. As Thanksgiving draws near, let’s keep him in mind as we express gratitude for the blessings so graciously showered upon us.
Newton E. Finn, Wed 24 Nov, 01:14
We don’t know nearly enough about exactly what the relevant ‘measures’ of posthumous sorting are. I would be extremely hesitant to say that one’s ‘beliefs’ or ‘faith’ are irrelevant to this. If I wanted to take a more narrowly Christian view on the matter, I might say that the Catholic view on things, broadly taken, is closer to the mark than the Protestant view, insofar as a) both faith and works are vital to one’s posthumous ‘salvation’ (however conceived), and b) there is the foundational notion of a purgative - a middle, or middling - posthumous reality, falling between heaven and hell, the planes of light and the planes of darkness. And yet, I think perhaps the Hindu teaching of ‘vasanas’ or ‘dominant traits or tendencies’ is closer yet to the mark. Where one ‘goes’ is determined by what one ‘is’. Even better, one ‘goes’ to what one ‘is’ - the posthumous teachings on the externalization of the soul speak to this. So, what is decisive for one’s posthumous sorting is one’s ‘nature’, taken in a broad sense, and this ‘nature’ is certainly informed not only by acts but also by beliefs - both works and faith - but beyond and more fundamental than either works or faith. Here, I am reminded of a passage from Plotinus that “our work is done better when our face is turned toward the One, even though our back is turned toward our work.” How we orient ourselves, very much including our assent to or rejection of reality claims, matters. To quote the title of the famous book by Richard Weaver, ‘ideas have consequences.’ Perhaps the ‘idea’ that has the largest consequence is the rejection of the Real, a rejection that is invariably bound up not only with the intellect, but the sensibility and will as well.
Paul, Tue 23 Nov, 21:04
I loved your conversation with God. Given that I have sinned much more than you, I now have no doubt there is no hope for me. Thanks for pointing this out (not)!
Lee, Tue 23 Nov, 16:59
Long before Michael introduced me to spiritualism, I had similar views of God, Jesus, and the afterlife, views which I had come to from WITHIN the liberal mainline Christian tradition, dominant in the northern half of the U.S. for several decades following the world wars. And I was far from alone in this orientation, never having heard a single sermon about hell and damnation in all the years I attended worship services. What spiritualists often seem to overlook is that many, many Christians are not fundamentalists or evangelicals (who unfortunately get most of the media attention) and, in significant ways, share with spiritualists certain understandings of ultimate things. Front and center here is the rejection of a salvation hinging on intellectual assent to doctrine. The literature of liberal Christianity, both in theology and Biblical criticism, is massive, as broad as it is deep, yet spiritualists can apparently be as unfamiliar with it as materialist scientists are of psychical research and spiritualist literature. This is IMHO a terrible shame, because the constant erection and knocking down of a Christian strawman—representing only the most narrow, mean-spirited side of the faith—runs the risk of alienating potential spiritual allies, millions of open-minded, open-hearted, non-dogmatic yet devout followers of the Chairman of the Board.
Newton E. Finn, Mon 22 Nov, 17:18
Interesting as always. Respect yourself and the other. That is all it takes to get that morality. Easy to say, not always easy to perform.
Chris, Mon 22 Nov, 16:01
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