The Hindu Spirit and the Anglican Priest (Part 2 of 2)
Posted on 16 May 2016, 16:35
This is a continuation of the last blog post, dated May 2. The Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, was introduced to a young trance medium and, after the young man went into a trance state, a voice began speaking in Hindustanee. According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state. At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India. The dialogue, as recorded by Chambers continued:
Chambers: In what way does a spirit’s control injure the person controlled when the spirit is actuated by nothing beyond the mere desire of physical contact?
Answer: In the same way that the stronger mind of a teacher of low moral tone will injure the boy placed under his guidance. The spirits who control from no motive of love, but only to satisfy a longing for the physical, are low in the scale of moral being; as low, and often far lower, than those they control. No good can come from such.
Chambers: But how comes it that this longing for the physical remains in anyone who has passed from this world into the Spiritual? Does not the change of the plane of existence obliterate it?
Answer: No. There are numbers in the Spirit World, who, when living in your world, never lifted their thoughts and desires above the material. In tastes and inclinations they were “of the earth, earthy.” They entered Spirit life in that state, and, untrained in the Spiritual, it is strange and distasteful to them. They carried their instincts with them and longed to be back in the physical. Sometimes they are permitted to gratify their longing, and then there happens that which is recorded in your New Testament – evil spirits control the bodies and minds of men. Christ, when on earth, could see such spirits and they could see Him, and it was His mission to cast them out.
Chambers: This, if true, is a terrible fact.
Answer: Yes, and it explains a great deal of the awful crime that stains your earth. If you could see, as we on this side do, you would behold your gin-palaces and drinking saloons thronged with troops of spirits, who in earth life had been drunkards, gamblers, and fornicators. Earth-bound, and no longer able to satiate their still-existing desires, they seek a gratification in frequenting their old haunts, and inciting others to sin. Every unrepentant spirit let loose by the hangman is a menace to society. Have you never noticed that after an execution three or four murders follow in rapid succession? Can you not see the cause of this?
Chambers: Will you tell me – is there not a great danger in regard to spirit-control?
Answer: Most certainly. That is why, in olden times, all intercourse with “familiar spirits” was forbidden to the Israelites. The spirits who were then controlling men were evil. They were the spirits of men who in earth-life had lived in the grossest vice and impurity. Nothing but evil could ensue from such control as that, and as the Israelites themselves, at that period of their history, were but little advanced in their knowledge of a Life Beyond, as seen in the earlier books of the Bible, they were forbidden an intercourse with spirits whose earthly surroundings had been of such a character as to make them spirits of low moral type. Probably you will have noted that the age in which intercourse with familiar spirits is so discountenanced yields a very great deal of testimony in regard to intercourse with spiritual beings of an exalted class. For instance, angel-visits were frequent, and a servant of God after death – the prophet Samuel – in spite of the existing prohibition, appeared to the women of Endor, and spoke to King Saul.
Later on, you find an apostle of Jesus Christ – who himself knew a great deal about the Spiritual World – showing that he was sensible of the danger underlying spirit-control, while acknowledging the possibilities of good in it. He wrote, “Believe not every spirit; but test the spirits, if they are of God.”
Chambers: Then persons who are under the control of low spirits may be deceived?
Answer: Yes. When the prophets of old, to whom spiritual control was a common experience, threw themselves open to the control of ignorant and lying spirits, they became no longer prophets of God, but false prophets. What do you imagine the words mean – “A lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets”?
Chambers: Do you assert that persons can be ignorant and untruthful in the Spiritual World? Does not their entrance into that World at once enlighten them and make lying impossibility?
Answer: Persons enter the Spiritual World with precisely the same character, enlightenment and disposition as that which they leave your world, and go into a sphere for which they are fitted. And there they remain until, mentally, morally, and spiritually advanced, they are fitted for a higher sphere. You in your world have persons of all sorts and classes. So have we in our World; persons depraved, ignorant, cruel; others, not so morally bad, but ignorant of God and truth; some, partially enlightened, but exhibiting good traits of character and desire; others, better, wiser, nobler and so on, until a class of spiritual beings is reached, so exalted in knowledge and excellence that many of us never, as yet see them.
Chambers: Then I gather from your teaching that a person who has but just entered the Spiritual World may not be much better off than in this world?
Answer: As regards his character, on entering our World he is exactly what he was on leaving yours; good or bad; godly or ungodly; ignorant or enlightened; or in any condition that lies between these extremes. What you call the “act of dying” does not alter the character of a person; he that is unjust will be unjust still; he that is filthy will be filthy still; he that is righteous will be righteous still; and he that is holy will be holy still. As regards, however, his surroundings, he is better off with us than with you. Every sphere of spiritual life, even the lowest, is interpenetrated by influences and ministries of good flowing into it from higher spheres. Consequently, from the lower spheres there is a constant emigration of spirits who are responsive to the good, and these pass to higher planes of life and thought.
Chambers: But this fact is not grasped by great numbers of Christians; how is that?
Answer: Because so many of your teachers are purblind; they read the Bible, and fail to see the truths it proclaims. What, for example could more plainly assert the truth of spirits progressing than the statement of an apostle that Christ in our world preached to, and reclaimed, a great number of spirits who in earth-life had been godless and debased? The fact is, the importation of Western ideas into Christianity has acted banefully upon the latter. Old Roman conceptions have made your theology hard, cruel and loveless; God is viewed as an Almighty Magistrate, instead of a Father, and punishment is vindictive, instead of remedial.
Chambers: Are all in your World readily responsive to the leadings and impulses of good?
Answer: No, any more than persons in your world are. Some have shaped such characters while in the earth-life that for long after they come to us they remain insensible to good, and only along the highway of bitter experience can they rise to the better. Some, on the other hand, have developed such noble characters on earth as to start in Spirit-life in a high sphere, and these pass easily onward.
Chambers: Do you assert that all will ultimately yield to good?
Answer: We in this life do not possess foreknowledge any more than you do; but we know that God is supreme, and the ever-widening stream of tendency is towards Him. But why ask me about this matter? You, as a clergyman, believe the Bible, do you not? Consult the Book. Does it not tell you that God will one day be “all in all”; that every will in His universe is ultimately to bow to Him; and that His Christ will not rest so long as one lost sheep has not been found?
Chambers: Yes, that is so; but hundreds of thousands believe in an everlasting Hell. Must there not be a basis for that idea?
Answer: Undoubtedly. That terrible libel on the power and goodness of God is built up on two words in your Bible wrongly translated.
Chambers: Which words?
Answer: You know them; I have heard you speak about the mistranslation. (The words referred to are found in Matt. xxv. 46 v.) Every scholar knows that the Greek of this passage [translates to] an age-long pruning (not everlasting). “Pruning’ is a discipline with a view to improvement.
Chambers: Many of the things you have told me appear like familiar truths, and yet I cannot tell when, or where, I learned them. Is this not strange?
Answer: No; you have been taught them.
Chambers: By whom?
Answer: By several in our world who are guiding you.
Chambers: But am I not controlled?
Answer: Not physically, but you are mentally. They impress your mind with a thought, and you clothe it with language and ideas.
Chambers: Is this possible?
Answer: Read your Bible for the answer. Inspiration (or as it should be more correctly termed) “spiritual suggestion” is a fact.
Chambers: Are men, then, still being guided in this way?
Answer: Yes, many are. Have I not told you that a great wave of spiritual energy is now passing from our World to yours?
Chambers: May we hope, then, that men, as time goes on, will better understand the truth concerning the Spiritual than they have hitherto done?
Answer: Most assuredly. Have you not, yourself, received the testimony of hundreds that they are craving for clearer light than the schoolmen give? That craving is the forerunner of enlightenment.
Chambers: Will the Bible be superseded?
Answer: No, but it will be better understood.
According to Chambers, the “voice” coming through the uneducated young man then spoke for about 15 minutes about God and the fact that character finds its highest development when Self-hood is absorbed in love and concern for others. Chambers said that he had listened to the sermons of many noted preachers “but no one of them has equalled, in sublimity of idea and charm of diction, this sermon.” When it was finished, the young man fell gently backward in the chair and after about three minutes and several convulsive twitches he opened his eyes, seemed dazed, as if awakening from sleep, recovered himself and asked for water.
Later in the evening, Chambers talked with the young man, but the contrast was marked – only the mind of the ordinary young man expressed itself. “I leave the reader to explain this incident by whatever hypothesis he may please,” Chambers ended the story. “That of control by some intelligence superior to the medium’s own seems to me to be the most reasonable one.”
Next blog post: May 30
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.