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The Unobstructed Universe: Resurrecting Betty White

Posted on 03 January 2022, 10:45

Over a period of some 20 years, beginning in 1925, popular author Stewart Edward White (1873 -  1946) wrote 10 books dealing with communication from the spirit world.  They first came through the mediumship of his wife, Betty, (below) and then, after her death in 1939, from Betty through another medium.  The Betty Book, published in 1937, and The Unobstructed Universe, published in 1940, were both top sellers and are today considered classics in the metaphysical field.


Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, White graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 1895 and in 1903 received his M.A. degree from Columbia University.  His first book, The Westerner. was published in 1901, followed closely by The Claim Jumper and The Blazed Trail, the latter a best-seller and considered the best of his 40 or so non-metaphysical books. He (below) moved to California in 1903 and toured the state with his good friend, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, who referred to White as “the kind of young American who is making our new literature.”  During World War I, White served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of major. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society for his work in mapping German East Africa.


Elizabeth “Betty” Calvert Grant was born in Panama in 1880, but raised in Newport, Rhode Island by well-to-do parents. She lived in Bermuda, Florida, and Jamaica, before moving to California, where she married Stewart in Santa Barbara in 1904.

The Whites became interested in mediumship in 1919 after Betty discovered her ability to receive messages from purported spirits, referred to by her as the “Invisibles,” by means of automatic writing, trance voice, the direct voice, and clairvoyant sensing.  “I had paid such matters very little attention; and had formed no considered opinions on them one way or another,” White wrote of his attitude before 1919, going on to say that he considered himself a skeptic and that spiritualism had meant to him either hysteria or clever conjuring.

White emphasized that he and Betty were not interested in the usual communication from deceased relatives and friends, as they had suffered no recent bereavements.  Their interest was in exploration, to find out what life was all about and why.  They concluded early-on that the objective of the Invisibles was to awaken them to the spiritual forces about us and to recognize the need for a better balance between the spiritual and the material.

Betty’s development seems to have been very similar to that of Pearl Curran, the St. Louis, Missouri medium for the entity calling herself “Patience Worth,” which took place between 1913 and 1937.  White explained that Betty’s consciousness was not taken from her in the customary deep trance, describing it as more of a disassociated state.  However, she was unaware of her surroundings and went “somewhere else,” still retaining her faculties of thought.  He further noted that when he made a mistake writing down a word he had misheard, he was instantly corrected, even though Betty was lying below the level of the writing table with her eyes blindfolded. As an example, he wrote “attitude of mind” while taking dictation and was instantly stopped by Betty and informed that the correct wording was “altitude of mind.” 

“The pencil moved very slowly, and it wrote curiously formed script, without capitals or punctuation, or even spacing, like one long continuous word,” White explained the automatic writing by Betty.  Betty assured her husband that she had nothing to do with moving the pencil or forming the script, at least consciously.  Moreover, she struggled to understand what was written.  Concluding that it was either an outside intelligence or directed by Betty’s subconscious, they continued to experiment.

After a time, the words began to flow.  Betty blindfolded her eyes and looked away from the paper in an attempt to separate herself from the writing as Stewart sat next to her as an observer. The automatic writing continued for several months before some experimentation resulted in Betty becoming a trance-voice medium with Stewart recording her words in shorthand.  At times, she spoke in her own voice, at other times the Invisibles spoke through her and there was a marked change in voice, diction, and style. Occasionally, words would come through the direct-voice, independent of but near Betty.

Subconscious Coloring

“At present there is often considerable fluency, so that I have trouble keeping up with the transcription,” White recorded.  “On other occasions there seems to be difficulty. Sometimes the direct voice speaks, at others Betty herself reports word by word as through taking dictation, and again describes her impressions and experiences in her own way. Sometimes, if difficulty arises, all three methods are tried.” 

As White understood it, Betty would, through the superconsciousness, be brought in touch with realities which she absorbed directly, and with ideas which came to her in words heard with the “inner ear,” sometimes by mental impression.  These things were transferred down to her habitual consciousness and dictated to him. Betty often complained that what came through her was diluted and a “pale shadow of the actuality.” In effect, she had no vocabulary for them.

Betty further explained that for nearly three years she struggled for comprehension, passing from automatic writing to what she calls “a curious state of freed or double consciousness in which I absorb experiences directly, somehow, and Stewart records them in words spoken through me, or by me at first hand impressions.” 

White continued to wonder what part Betty’s subconscious played in the communication.  If it was coming from her subconscious, he reasoned, it was completely foreign to her usual consciousness and outside her remembered experiences.  “The value of the thing offered must lie in itself, regardless of its source,” he concluded, adding that if it originated in Betty she is more of a wonder that he had supposed.  He also considered the theory that she was tapping into some “universal mind.” He could not completely discount that theory, but saw it as nothing more than a far-fetched hypothesis to avoid accepting the spirit hypothesis.

So much of it was foreign to both Betty and himself that he wondered how it could be coming from the subconscious of either of them. He finally decided “to accept, as a fact, that we were receiving through Betty, from outside, and apparently discarnate, intelligences, a graded and progressing and logically acceptable instruction on how to get along in life.”  He and Betty nicknamed them the Invisibles, primarily because they insisted on remaining anonymous.  They had all the characteristics of a “Group Soul,” a number of spirits speaking as one.

“The balanced proportion, the balanced ration of life is the first thing to impress on the world,” the Invisibles communicated early in Betty’s mediumship. “Balance is the big thing to emphasize.  The world is crippled now because of its withered spiritual faculties.”  They explained that they were talking about the balance between the spiritual and the material, pointing out that overbalance on either side always results in trouble.

“Welcome and accept all natural human instincts, all the savoring of life, but permeate them with the vitality of the spirit,” the Invisibles continued. “Those who savor even the highest forms of life without this permeation of the spirit will stagnate, sink backward, imprison themselves in matter.  With them the spiritual sense becomes atrophied.”

The Invisibles discussed perception, elimination, impetus, assimilation, constructive prayer, personal responsibility, the substance of thought, and other subjects related to bringing the spiritual life in balance and harmony with the physical life or, in other words, stimulating the consciousness to partake of the higher consciousness. “The active life means constant inflowing and outflowing,” they stressed. “You must never, never forget to be constantly giving out…Without this giving out there is no circulation…your outgo must equal your intake.”

No Dead-Ends

Many of the teachings of the Invisibles had to do with showing that causes and effects are not isolated, but smoothly continuous – that there are no dead-ends, not even death itself. When White requested more scientific explanations, the Invisibles told him that they can give reality as they can manage to communicate it to him.  They cautioned him about being one of those “over-sane, over-cautious people who have never sensed intangible verities” and suggested that he escape more often from the limitations of his ponderable mind.

White noted that there were many distortions in the communication, what he called “interruptions from opposing forces.”  Betty learned to discern the “false messages” from those given by the Invisibles.  “The false messages had always been delivered with feverish haste and great force in contrast to the calm and deliberation of other communications, especially those from my father,” Betty explained. “This ‘cutting-in’ haste had the virtue of making me able to recognize instantly and discount anything thus received.” 

White eagerly questioned the Invisibles as to the nature of life on their side, but was informed that explaining the afterlife was not part of their mission.  Moreover, they told White that its detail is so unlike anything he knows about or can conceive of that any approximation on their part would convey false images. “If we gave detailed specifications of our life over here, it would be impossible thereafter to concentrate your attention on broad general principles,” they told him, “on the few simple lines of your effort.  It is painfully difficult to eliminate and economize your attention.  Only by shrouding other things in mystery can we occupy your minds in due proportion to the importance of the things we select.”

It was made clear to White early in Betty’s mediumship that the Invisibles could not interfere with the free will of humans, but he still wondered why they don’t reach out to more humans.  “It is hard for us to foresee here what will be the results of this more general belief and how much we dare reveal,” was the response. “The teachers are all very cautious, for reaction must be carefully reckoned before knowledge can be given out.  There is so much danger in the present situation that it is one of the first things we are cautioned about, when we are allowed to give communications: that is to be very watchful and not go too far, to move slowly and cautiously for the present.  We have to note results carefully.  It is the most intensive and comprehensive campaign that has ever been arranged over here, they say.” 

It was also explained to White that there is an ebb and flow to such revelation. “The flood of the spiritual interest will soon rise to its height for the present,” the Invisibles told him shortly after the end of the Great War, “and then gradually subside – at least the fashion for it will – and then we shall see what really came in with the flood.  Each tide brings a little more and we have to be content.”  They further informed him that they work in rhythm, “allowing the force of each wave of effect to gain the effect of its power, to fall and break, to ebb back in gatherance for a new surge.  The pause is fruitful.  It allows the scum and windrift and jetsam to be floated away, leaving the sands clean for a new impression.”

Their object, the Invisibles said, is not to convince the world of anything except the need for continued conscious spiritual growth. They noted that technical advances, namely radio and the automobile, were already running ahead of what people could assimilate, resulting in instability, and the same would happen if they offered too much spiritual growth to too many.  “The conviction of one thing or another – or another, will come naturally and easily and inevitably to each individual when he rises by his own specific gravity to that point.  It will come to the world generally only when the common consciousness, by its own specific gravity, has also risen to that point.”
The Invisibles stressed the need for Betty to develop what they called “habitual spiritual consciousness.”  But they didn’t want Betty to think this meant retirement into a cloistered nunnery.  “It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession,” they explained. “Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influences automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon, to lend a helping hand.”

The objective, they said, is getting to know the higher self “and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized.” Don’t cease the multitude of routine and mundane daily activities, they added, but make the gradual growth and expansion of the eternal self the major business of each day.

Next blog post:  January 17 (More about the Betty White story with the focus on what Betty communicated after her death).  Note:  Two of Stewart Edward White’s books –  “The Road I Know” and “With Folded Wings” are available at White Crow


Paul, this is perhaps where we differ. As you see it, “(t)he decisive question rather is whether the (ostensible) discarnate is making use of the medium’s voice or hand and thus working through the medium’s ‘psycho-physical complex’, which introduces the possibility of ‘coloring’ of the message through the influence of the medium’s mental contents, or whether the (ostensible) discarnate is not.”

As I see it, it is the medium through which ALL supernormal phenomena manifest, the medium being what the Celts refer to as a “thin space” between the “physical” and spiritual worlds. Thus whether the medium’s voice box is used to communicate, or whether a voice comes out of a trumpet, BOTH come through the same thin space. And, again as I see it, that thin space provided by the medium is the medium’s subconscious or unconscious.

Should we ever get to the point where we can communicate with the spirit world directly through a purely electronic medium, as you indicate we are advancing toward, then the human psyche would seem to drop out of the equation. I greatly appreciate the engagement with you on this and other subjects.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 18 Jan, 14:55

Dear Newton,
A word of additional clarification seems to be in order regarding direct voice mediumship and trance.  It is not the question of whether a medium goes into trance or not that is decisive - all mediums seem to do this to one degree or another, including physical mediums.  It may be light as with automatic writing or full as with Mrs. Piper or Mrs. Leonard.  The decisive question rather is whether the (ostensible) discarnate is making use of the medium’s voice or hand and thus working through the medium’s ‘psycho-physical complex’, which introduces the possibility of ‘coloring’ of the message through the influence of the medium’s mental contents, or whether the (ostensible) discarnate is not.
Independent direct voice mediumship is exactly that: the voice of the discarnate being is heard, not through the larynx of the medium, but typically at some distance, and - at least in controlled tests, as were conducted extensively by the SPR on Leslie Flint - with no possibility of normal speech by the medium.  Further, tonality, timbre and patterns of speech are typically clearly identifiable as belonging to the living individual prior to death in cases where the individual is known.  Certain cases, such as the English actress Dame Ellen Terry, who communicated on several occasions through Leslie Flint, have been subject to rigorous spectral (no pun intended) voice analysis and have been found to match recordings of the same individual made while they were living.
Even further on from the possibility of mediumistic ‘coloring’ of communicated messages, we have electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and instrumental transcommunication (ITC), which seek to do away with the necessity of a medium altogether. Anabela Cardoso, for instance, makes no mediumistic claims, and in David Fontana’s investigation of her EVP work, he successfully received communications from her radio setup even with her completely absent and unengaged, which further supports the understanding that whatever is going on has nothing to do with mediumship, at least from our side of the veil.  On the other hand, early ITC work - I’m thinking here of Spiricom - did seem to employ an element of mediumship.
A note on your conflation of the super-ESP hypotheses and potential subconscious ‘coloring’ of messages by a medium would seem to be in order.  To point to the latter, which seems very well established as a concern - one most often raised by (ostensible) discarnate communicators - in no way opens a path to the former.  We are talking about radically different phenomena and presumed capacities.
Finally, quite curiously, I stumbled across an old blog entry of Michael Prescott’s yesterday - titled “an end to hedging” - that you may find speaks to your condition: [].  This speaks to the question of the proper role of skepticism in this investigation.  Prescott, who for many years in his blog posts, cast a restrained, skeptical eye over the various phenomena related to the question of posthumous survival, eventually realized that he had studied the subject sufficiently that to maintain the same level of skepticism would have been disingenuous and that he had reached the state in his own studies and searching where it was time to put - as he said - ‘an end to hedging’ and to take a firm stand in favor of posthumous survival based squarely on his long study of the evidence in question.  I think this is exactly the right approach.  As long as skepticism is objective and not driven by ideological concerns - as with full-on debunkers - it always has a necessary and honored place in this endeavor.  Further, it is a proper and necessary stage that we must pass through - and indeed usually marinate in for a time - before any reasonable certainty can be claimed.

Paul, Mon 17 Jan, 16:36

Paul: Thanks for alerting me to all that exciting new material to explore and ponder. You are indeed a wealth of insight and information. But are you making too clean a distinction between direct and trance voice?

In his memoir, Stewart Alexander talks about how he was in trance when all those signs and wonders occurred in his circle, including direct voice communication. He explains that he struggled for years about whether the source of these phenomena were the spirits they claimed to be, or some part of himself.

I suppose it goes back to how one views the subconscious (what Freud called the unconscious): whether it can be bypassed in ANY contact between the living and the dead…on either end.

Bill: I agree with the gist of what you say about the Bible, both first and second testaments. As we must discern the spirits in mediumistic communication, so we must do so in understanding scriptural communication. Didn’t Imperator hammer that home repeatedly to Stainton?

Newton E. Finn, Sun 16 Jan, 22:52

Much has been written about Philip the imaginary ghost created by a group of Canadian researchers during the 1970s.  Many parapsychologists have concluded from this and other similar experiments that such spirit manifestations are no more than manifestations of the human mind. 

Allan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher, discussed this a hundred years earlier in his 1874 book, “The Book of Mediums” (published after his death).  Kardec wrote: “Frivolous communications emanate from light, mocking, mischievious spirits, more roguish than wicked, and attach no importance to what they say…These light spirits multiply around us and seize every occasion to mingle in the communication; truth is the least of their care; this is why they take a roguish pleasure in mystifying those who are weak, and who sometimes presume to believe their word.  Persons who take pleasure in such communications naturally give access to light and deceiving spirits.
Kardec added: “Just the same if you invoke a myth, or an allegorical personage, it will answer; that is, it will be answered for, and the spirit who would present himself would take its character and appearance.  One day, a person took a fancy to invoke Tartufe, and Tartufe came immediately; still more, he talked of Orgon, of Elmire, of Damis, and of Valire, of whom he gave news; as to himself, he counterfeited the hypocrite with as much art as if Tartufe had been a real personage.  Afterward, he said he was the spirit of an actor who had played that character.

Of course, one has to accept the spirit hypothesis in the first place to accept Kardec’s explanation.  Braude, Sudduth, et al begin with a non-belief in spirits, so they can never accept Kardec’s explanation. There is no blaming devious spirits if spirits don’t exist for those on the other side of the argument.

Michael Tymn, Sun 16 Jan, 22:35

“Marian apparitions”—not an area I’ve ever focused on.  I will look for Michael’s 10/13/16 blog.

Lee: “...Let’s for a minute assume all these people across the world for centuries now have not all been liars, mentally ill or mistaken, and some did actually witness -objectively and externally- the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Would this not mean that what is written in the Bible is ( mostly) true even though the Virgin Mary is only mentioned a few times? I keep thinking even though the Bible sounds like nonsense to many, it must be based on facts, not myths, if people have actually witnessed such apparitions.”

Many would agree that the bible, a work of literature, is a complex mixture of oral myth and history committed to less flexible writing at specific moments, slanted in accordance with the beliefs of the scribes involved then translated and copied, over and over, for centuries, ultimately read by those far removed from events described and the cultural mileau in which they existed.

In some places it’s definitely based on facts,  although facts perceived differently in corroborating material (compare OT to translated Assyrian clay tablets).  Not so in other places—clearly it’s quite fanciful in many places, while it’s also rife with inconsistencies in various parts (NT).

The tale of Moses floating in a basket as an infant is actually a modified version of the tale of Sargon of Akkad, 1,000 years older, that much older version seemingly created to justify the rule of a usurper. How about Pharoah’s efforts to eliminate all infants in an attempt to make sure Moses didn’t survive?  Compare that to Herod’s similar efforts ensure the infant Jesus didn’t survive (and the actual dates of Herod’s reign relative to the tale)—clearly an artificial (and mythical) parallel to make the NT seem credible.

Some teachings emphasize the importance of conscious beliefs in the creation of (physical) personal and mass realities but they are perhaps even more important when it comes to personal experiences of the “paranormal.”

Take someone who watched The Exorcist and assumed it was based on fact.  Compare their beliefs regarding ouija boards to those of adept users of the tool and any resulting experiences.

(I once encountered two extremely skillful ouija board users, a mother and daughter, the mom a published author who has forbidden me from mentioning her name when I tell the tale. Their use of an antique wooden board led to a very powerful and direct encounter with my “oversoul” as they operated the board. If I had believed that the use of a ouija board leads to demon possession, I wouldn’t have gone near it.)

Lastly, it’s unfortunate that your mother and her brother experienced what they did, not you—this makes your exposition a second hand account.  (When we read an account or testimony it’s always of this nature, so very different from actually experiencing anything of a “psychic” or “spiritual” nature directly.  This becomes yet more armchair analysis, viewed from a mental distance, and not using the intuitive abilities (or “inner senses”) that are invoked during such experiences.

So what’s really taking place during an experience of a “Marian apparition?”

I don’t know, but I am curious.  The man at the center of the Christian myth (not the literary character of the bible) certainly had a mom; she, like nearly all human personalities, would have been—(and is, in the timeless reality)—the aspect of a larger being and that particular “entity” might be amenable to communication.

(I might also ask the shade of C.E. Montague to investigate this mystery—he would have a very interesting take on this, I’m sure, although I’ve never thought of attempting to reach him until just now and am not sure how feasible such communication would be, but, as per Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s motto:  Quid Non!)

Bill Ingle, Sun 16 Jan, 20:07

Dear Newton,

As for whether “our subconscious selves are often the conduit” if/when “actual spirits communicate with us”, this may well apply to trance and mental mediumship, but I don’t really see it applying to direct voice mediumship, of which we have outstanding examples in the posthumous literature, such as Etta Wriedt, Emily French, John Sloan and Leslie Flint (on the latter, see  Direct voice mediumship is really a sub-variant of physical mediumship, rather than trance or mental mediumship, in which an ‘ectoplasmic voicebox’ – such is the mechanism conveyed to us – enables direct speech from the discarnate without the need to pass through the conduit of the medium’s subconscious self.  I personally place particular value on such communications specifically for that reason – the ‘external path’ of communication offered through independent direct voice enabling discarnate communication without the likely possibility of ‘coloring’ of the message by the mind of the medium.

Paul, Sun 16 Jan, 19:36


Interesting reference to the Jeanne Walker book—-I hadn’t heard of it, but was just able to pick up a copy for about $16…(the next available copy was for over $80!)

Don Porteous, Sun 16 Jan, 18:24

Thanks to all who responded to my question about whether fictitious personalities have been the subjects of mediumship. Yes, Eric, all things “real” and “fictional” have their ultimate source in God. Yes, Chris, there can be a thin line between these categories. Yes, Michael, the role of deceptive spirits must always be kept in mind. And yes, Don, “Philip the Ghost” is a good example of what I was trying to get at.

The undercurrent running through “Spirit Teachings” is Stainton’s persistent effort to determine whether he was dealing with some part of his own psyche or with independent entities. He finally came down on the side of the latter, but it was quite a struggle (to his credit).

Yet the larger question is whether the distinction really matters. If actual spirits communicate with us, then our subconscious selves are often the conduit. So the spirit explanation of mediumship and the living agent explanation are intertwined at the core, as others have observed.

Imperator would have me avoid trying to work all of this out and focus instead on the substance of the messages, the spiritual and ethical truths conveyed. Whether he’s an independent spirit or part of our higher selves or a blend of both, the question I’m to grapple with is not who he is, but who I am. That’s where I’ll leave it…for now.

Again, I appreciate the input and look forward, like all of his readers, to Michael’s next post.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 16 Jan, 17:20

Dear Newton,

A few quick thoughts to add to those already offered by Eric, Chris, Michael and Don.  First of all, with regard to mediums giving readings from people found to still have been living, we know from work on ‘crisis apparitions’ – particularly the early work by the SPR – that it is possible to have ‘phantasms of the living’ (as per the SPR title of that name) as well as of the dead, usually in situations of crisis.  If there can be crisis apparitions of the living, it would follow that there could be mediumistic communication with the living as well – however unusual such might be – which would point, not to a debunking of mediumship as contact with the deceased and forwarding of ‘super-ESP’ as an alternative hypothesis, but rather to some larger capacity for communication of the individual ‘spirit’ even while incarnate.

On the question of ‘super-ESP’ as an adequate hypothesis for mediumship, I’m of the general view that the final stake was driven into the heart of this particular view a century ago with the Cross-Correspondences, which were – as it well appears – specifically posthumously designed to defeat it.  And so they did, but their success in this has not been adequately recognized.  Certainly, Braude’s dismissal of the Cross-Correspondences in his own published work – including his recent Bigelow essay – has consistently struck me as completely inadequate to the subject.  Archie Roy’s “The Eager Dead” or Trevor Hamilton’s “Arthur Balfour’s Ghosts” do a far better job, not to mention H.F. Saltmarsh’s earlier work, “Evidence of Personal Survival from Cross Correspondences”.  That apart, the blog “Life in B Flat” has a good summary of some of the major lines of objection to the ‘super-ESP’ theory [], which I would recommend to your attention.

As for fictional entities, I would have to concur with Don Porteous (whom it is good to see again): the only instance I can readily recall is that conveyed in the work “Conjuring Up Philip”.  With that said, We have to recall the consistent testimony from the posthumous literature that their world is ‘ideoplastic’ – that it can be shaped by thought.  In this regard, a very interesting little book – rare as hens’ teeth – by Jeanne Walker, “More Alive Than Ever…Always Karen”, addresses the topic of ‘ThoughtForms’, specifically, that such thought forms created by discarnates are effective in our material world.  In this regard, any ‘fictional’ communicators – should they in fact exist, apart from the eponymous Philip mentioned above – might well be discarnate thought forms.  The antipodean afterlife researcher Geoff Cutler has made Walker’s work available in .epub format on his website here [].

Paul, Sun 16 Jan, 15:54

People who are out to debunk spiritualism will always find a way. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 16 Jan, 15:11

Dear Michael,

The following is something of an add-on to my comment of [Mon 8 Jun, 15:25] in your post: The YouTube channel “Timeline - World History Documentaries”, which puts out high quality documentary videos, has one on Lord Dowding, which I stumbled across this morning: “The Crucial Role Of Lord Dowding In Saving Britain | The Battle Of Britain | Timeline” []  The whole thing is well worth watching for historical interest, but the topic of Dowding’s interest in spiritualism and his active participation in ‘rescue circles’ to assist his newly deceased ‘chicks’ – the RAF fighter pilots serving under his command – is sympathetically addressed at the 34 min mark and on.  Dowding’s four books on spiritualism, published after his retirement from RAF Fighter Command, have all been reprinted by White Crow Press.

Paul, Sun 16 Jan, 15:05

. . . and, of course, all our familiar “reality” is largely what we call space. Even within the physical universe solid objects are nearly all space, surrounded, bounded, by electric fields that repel other electric fields, and so produce sensations in our nerves that we experience as solidity. It is easy then to see that other universes, interthreading our universe without communicating with it, do not need to be any more “solid” than ours in order to seem solid to the inhabitants of such universes. If such universes can be created by thought, as seems to be the case, where is the difficulty? One can even create the reality of a fantasy that isn’t physically possible, or communicator who doesn’t exist and never did. Such a being is simply a “thought form”, a being whose reality is imagined, a fantasy-reality of being-there. Perhaps this imaginative power is available to us here and now. All that seems to be needed to operate that creative power is one dimension more than our universe has, perhaps not even that. William Barrett’s testimony via Osborne Leonard, his wife Florence sitting, seems to evidence this, and our own physicists are realising that our universe is a great thought. Thought is creative. It needs no more “springy electric-field solidity” than that.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 16 Jan, 13:37


The only case that I’m aware of in that vein is the Canadian episode of “Philip the Imaginary Ghost” from the 1960’s or 70’s. You’ve probably read about it—-it’s in my book (Chapter 5 in the version you have, will be chapter 6 in the published version)—-but the gist of it is that a group of totally “normal” (non-mediumistic) researchers in the Toronto area decided to see if, by concocting a totally fictitious character, with an elaborate backstory,and trying to “communicate” with it, they could somehow induce the appearance of spontaneous psychic phenomena. The bottom line is that, after a year of complete (as expected) failure—-the phenomena did indeed begin appearing.

The entire story was presented in a book from, I believe the’70’s, called “Conjuring Up Philip”, by Iris Owen.

Don Porteous, Sun 16 Jan, 02:23


As Imperator and others have said, the deception of the low-level spirits was more than they had anticipated and that’s why they began pulling back. As I see it, the many cases that cannot be explained by deception speak for themselves. There is deception in all activity, especially in today’s politics, but that does not mean all activities are fraudulent or that all politicians are devious.

Michael Tymn, Sun 16 Jan, 02:01

Interesting thought, Newton, but is there a certain difference between reality and fiction? Fiction is a product of thought and what about reality? Is it not also the product of what our senses send to our thoughts and we interpret with our mind? If you believe in co-creation of the human beings…is it not that fiction becomes reality just by making thoughts real in the meaning of being observed by our other senses?
You even can make it stranger…what if those fictive figures are not fictive at all, but are real in an outer or even a parallel universe. Maybe mediums can have access to that. What if the strange dreams that we have, in which some known people and surroundings are combined with completely unknown figures and buildings, are nothing more than facts that happen in a parallel world where another facet of our Higher Self is also living his life and facing experiences and problems. What if the higher self sends the problem in a dream to us so it can see how we, in this universe, would deal with that problem. At the end the higher self (being in a timeless realm) learns from the interaction and experiences of the both worlds. How often are we waking up with a solution on a problem we took the night before to bed?
Maybe I’m thinking a bit to far and maybe is this thought one of slippery ice…or maybe it is not.

Chris, Sat 15 Jan, 21:59

Dear Newton,

The logic of the following is worthy of consideration.

1 “God” contains everything.
2 ‘Fictional’ or notional entities are contained in “God” (where else can they be?) and are ‘real’ because they are real fantasies, real ‘non-material creations’ of the mind (which is also a non-material entity having its existence in “God”.
3 They are therefore possible subjects of mediumistic observation or ‘comment’ or communication, and therefore NOT grounds for a wholesale rejection of the fruits of mediumship.

Another useful line of logical argument is that because “God” is eternal (ie totally WITHOUT time, timeLESS, not just immortal (undying) over an infinite span of time, and EVERYTHING exists ONLY in Him/Herself (including all ‘times’)(“we”, as Beings, Consciousnesses, Daseins exist perpetually “”“somewhere and somehow”“” in the Great All-being we call “God” (where else can we be). We, as our minuscule selves, suffer time. In “God” we do not suffer time (but we are not conscious enough of “God” to be conscious of our perpetual being-in-God; to reach that vastly higher consciousness we have to develop for a long long time - hence the seeming reality of lower and higher ‘heavens’ (and the somewhat conflicting pictures of ‘heaven’ and other spiritual ‘worlds’ that different enquirers via mediumship have discovered (for instance Geley’s smelly wet dogs), and hence also our consciousness of a non-entity that we suffer as the nuisance we call ‘time’).

And, to refer yet again to my views re Relativity, that is where Relativity Theory relates, whatever silent sceptics on the matter may think.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 15 Jan, 21:48

Here’s another question at the tail end of a post. How strong is the evidence, alluded to by Braude, Suddoth, and perhaps others, that mediums have given readings of, or engaged in communication with, not only people still living (arguably attributable to telepathy), BUT ALSO people who are entirely fictitious?

I don’t know about you, but if that evidence is strong, it would bother me a bit, tend to influence how I interpret what we talk about, make that super-psi alternative, which I’ve heretofore discounted, more of a player in my thinking.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 15 Jan, 20:24

Don, just received it. Thank you, and also a big thanks to Michael and Eric for bringing your attention to my interest in reading it.


Lee, Fri 14 Jan, 17:53


MSS has been sent…let me know when you receive it.

I forgot to add that you owe both Eric and Michael a
note of thanks, as they each reached out to alert me to your request…otherwise, I might not have seen it for a week or more.

Don Porteous, Fri 14 Jan, 17:14

Hi Don,

That is most generous of you. I would love to receive the pdf of your book. It sounds like quite the body of work at 600 pages. I will email you right now requesting it.

Thank you kindly for the offer,

Lee, Fri 14 Jan, 14:40

Dear Lee…

I just came across the conversation between you and Paul, etc. on the possible availability of some “Mary material” that might be relevant to the topics discussed here.
  Yes, I’ve done some extensive work in that area,discussed in my not-yet-published book “Spiritual Reality and the Afterlife: Materialism meets Immortality.” The manuscript of that book is presently in process of being formatted for release as an E-book through Amazon, which will hopefully occur sometime this spring. (At nearly 600 pages, it’s been impossible to pursue a print edition first.)
  IF YOU WOULD LIKE—-I’d be happy to send you a PDF of the manuscript in its current state, with the “Word” portion of the formatting still incomplete for the final two (out of 19) chapters, although they’re both perfectly legible. Just send (to my own E/M .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))the E/M address you want me to send it to and I’ll get it off to you.
  Just so there’s no confusion, the book covers more than just the “Mary material,” being a far-ranging exposition of the full scope of evidence for the actual reality of, and the actual survival of, our true spiritual selves. The Mary material per se, covers three full, and parts of several other chapters.

Let me know if you want it…

Don Porteous, Fri 14 Jan, 13:25

I just watched an interesting documentary about the Korean immigration to Hawaii between 1900-1920—roughly 17,000 immigrants during that period.  Most of the men came to work on the sugar plantations for $15 a month, but most of the women came as picture brides. Apparently, many of the picture brides came because Buddha wasn’t doing a good job of protecting them from the hardships of life, while Christian missionaries promised that Jesus would do a much better job than Buddha.  I gather that most of them were disappointed as the hardships of Hawaii were as great or greater than those in Korea. One picture bride had four servants in Korea, but ended up laboring with her husband for 10 or more hours a day on the plantation.  Many of the husbands lured them from Korea with pictures of themselves that were 15-20 years old.  Thus, the women were shocked when they got here and discovered “old men” waiting for them. Many wanted to head back to Korea, but there was no going back. Many of them stuck with their Christian faith, but there was no indication as to how many did. We still have a couple of Korean Christian churches here.

The thinking then doesn’t seem to have changed much today.  I frequently see comments on the internet asking why God is permitting Covid, leading to the conclusion that there is no God. No bearded protector in the sky, therefore no afterlife is the assumption.

Michael Tymn, Fri 14 Jan, 08:12


The needle on the gauge in my head has fluctuated in the high 90s over the past 20 years.  There have been times that it has gone to 100 and other times when it dips to 95%. It must have been at 100% when I wrote that book, my first.  It now seems to be stuck at 98.8%.  That 1.2% may be a pseudo doubt that permits me to keep searching. If I could settle in at 100% I might be inclined to do no further study in the matter, and then what will I do?  I’ll have to start reading novels and watching more sports on TV, maybe even professional wrestling. Not much else to do these days to avoid becoming a true philistine. 

I’m still thinking about the turnstile jumpers in Manhattan. Even though it is no longer a crime in New York, is it something that lowers one’s moral specific gravity and that he sees in his life review? Will he be jumping turnstiles in his limited after-death consciousness while seeing how the subway fares he didn’t pay might have helped others in need? If not a significant “sin” against humanity, where do you draw the line on theft?

Michael Tymn, Thu 13 Jan, 22:17

Michael, did you not detooth that 1.2% of doubt, caused by the possible existence of super-psi, in the opening portion of “The Articulate Dead”? You certainly pulled the tooth for me.

After stating your conclusion from years of research that spirit communication in genuine mediumship involves actual spirits, you say the following about the alternative cosmic computer or super-psi interpretation.

“Either that (actual spirit communication) or the communicating spirit is some component of the ‘Higher Self’ that is for the most part beyond human comprehension. ONE WAY OR THE OTHER (my caps), the survival of individual consciousness at death is indicated.”

Indeed. If THIS life is so mysterious, so complex, so miraculous that all the signs and wonders of mediumship are due to the actions of living agents, then what kind of beings are we, what kind of world are we living in?

One, as you say, in which an afterlife would still make perfect sense, albeit for a different reason.

Newton E. Finn, Thu 13 Jan, 16:34

Dear Lee,
The question of what is real and what is not is far slipperier and deeper than we ordinarily suppose.  Before going into that, however, let me concur in the main with Michael and his own particular path to settled conviction regarding posthumous survival.  Details would differ slightly - such is in the nature of things - but my own conviction was built up gradually over time and exposure to diverse material.  Such was the case also with Michael Prescott and I expect it is a common pattern for many.  It doesn’t have to be that way - someone could have, say, a near-death experience or a decisive personal encounter with a deceased loved one that in itself could put them over the line into personal conviction.  Nevertheless, such a ‘way’ can only be given - it cannot be followed.  The ultimate ground of conviction, when it is built up over time and exposure, is the consistency of testimony.  If, say, near death experiencers were saying one thing, drop-in communicators another, the dying in deathbed visions yet something else, and so on, no one - including myself - would take any of it very seriously.
But of course, all of this is, in a way, very ordinary, for it is the means on which we gain conviction - to whatever degree - on just about anything.  We look for agreement from multiple sources, we weigh the credibility of those sources - are they trustworthy, are they well-informed, do they have particular expertise, do they come recommended, are they balanced, sane and rational? - we look for disparateness and lack of correlation in the nature of such sources - are multiple sources truly independent, or are they merely repeating one another?  And so on.  Whether it is a policeman trying to figure out what happened at the scene of an accident or an independent observer trying to figure out what happened during the ‘miracle of the sun’ at Fatima- an event with mass witnesses - the approach is much the same.  In such a manner is ‘reality’ decided upon.  There are three other critical factors that also inform such an effort: a) what one takes as ‘baseline normal’, b) the degree of one’s personal skepticism, and c) what one can be bothered to look into (‘ars longa, vita brevis’).  All three vary from individual to individual.
Let me spend a little time with the question of what is ‘baseline’ normal.  We all start out as ‘naive materialists’ and most of us stay that way.  Not only does it seem obvious, but it is a position continuously reinforced by contemporary culture.  One way in which this may be incisively challenged is through the epistemology of philosophic idealism, which has a variety of expressions, both Western and Eastern (for the former, see, for example: George Berkeley, “Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous”; for the latter, see, for example, Greg Goode, “The Direct Path: A User’s Guide”).  Under careful analysis, it becomes clear that the material can, in fact, never be known, and that matter is at once an unfounded postulation and an ultimate abstraction.  Another way is through the study of traditional metaphysics, whether Eastern or Western, which asserts the singular, unitive reality of the Divine, the Real, which we are, as it were, always ‘swimming in’ and at deepest root always ‘are’, and yet, we perceive ourselves and the world as a collection of discrete, disparate objects.
Either way - or better, both in combination - works to dismantle the baseline normalcy of our naive materialism. The study of posthumous literature, which cuts hard against the only-this-worldly presuppositions of naive materialism, acts to further dismantle this view.  One is left, after a time, with the sense of feeling like a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind, or - more to the mark - like a half-sane man in the kingdom of the mad.  Which leads to the obvious question: what if what society generally takes to be baseline normal might better be considered as mass psychosis?  Where does that leave us?

Paul, Thu 13 Jan, 16:32


I loved The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books as a child. It is really interesting the point you make about Marian qualities found in the books.
Now that you point this out I will have to go back and read these books again.

Tolkien was brilliant.

Lee, Thu 13 Jan, 14:08

A big thank you to Dr. Pandarakalam, Paul, Newton and Michael for replying to my Marian apparition posts.

You have provided so much information I don’t know if I can respond to everything but I would like to make the following points:
m, it is mo
1) Dr. Pandarakalast interesting to learn that the first recorded Marian apparition occurred in India and only a few miles from where you were born. Despite having been communicating with you for years, I did not know about the above fact.
Dr. Pandarakalam was kind enough to send me some years back his book about the Medjugorje apparitions titled Like A Heavenly Breeze (A Doctors view of Medjugorje). I found this book to be of special interest because it includes a section on scientific experiments undertaken by medical doctors and scientists on the Medjugorje seers.Dr Pandarakalam met with and observed the seers.

2) Michael, I understand that some people take into consideration Marian apparitions as being evidential of an afterlife but I do not see this being the case in afterlife literature and the Bigelow essay contest further underscores how little attention is paid to such apparitions as being evidential.

As for delusions/hallucinations, nobody is better placed to weigh in on this matter than Dr Pandarakalam as he is a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia so perhaps he has something to add.

When I was looking into the claims made by mom I thought there must be a rational explanation (on the face of it Virgin Mary apparitions and consciousness survival sound like absolutely ludicrous concepts and claims). I looked at all potential rational explanations in attempt to discount the claim made by my mom and her brother so of course I looked into joint-hallucinations as a possibility and even spoke to other psychiatrists I know about this.

In my mom’s case there was no joint-hallucination (I dragged her in to speak with one of my psychiatrist acquaintances here as he was very interested in Virgin Mary apparitions and wanted to meet my mom to discuss her experience). This psychiatrist also specializes in schizophrenia so understands everything about hallucinations and delusions. He came away convinced my mom saw what she and her brother claimed to have seen.

A joint-hallucination is referred to as Folie a deux. This cannot explain my mom’s experience as her brother saw the apparition first, then immediately yelled “look, look!” an said nothing more- my mom rushed to him where they both then stood, without saying anything to one another, watching the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the pitch black kitchen (the apparition was very distinct, not the least bit blurry, to where one could clearly see her veil, hands in prayer, etc. glowing in white light). If my mom’s brother had first called to her to say something like “come look at some lady ghost (or Virgin Mary) floating across the wall,” I would think that there was a chance of a joint-hallucination where perhaps her older brother talked her into also believing she was seeing something that was not there. However, my mom’s brother said nothing after he called my mom to “look” and they both knew exactly what they saw after the apparition floated across the wall and vanished; only then did they begin to talk to one another excitedly about what they witnessed. As I noted previously, my mom told me had she witnessed this apparition on her own she would not have believed it and would have thought she had dreamed it all.

This is how a joint- hallucination works:

Folie imposée

Where a dominant person (known as the ‘primary’, ‘inducer’ or ‘principal’) initially forms a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and imposes it on another person or persons (the ‘secondary’, ‘acceptor’, or ‘associate’) with the assumption that the secondary person might not have become deluded if left to his or her own devices. If the parties are admitted to hospital separately, then the delusions in the person with the induced beliefs usually resolve without the need of medication.
Folie simultanée
Either the situation where two people considered to suffer independently from psychosis influence the content of each other’s delusions so they become identical or strikingly similar, or one in which two people “morbidly predisposed” to delusional psychosis mutually trigger symptoms in each other.

Lee, Thu 13 Jan, 13:08

The Kuravilangadu apparitional events have some of the patterns of the traditional approved apparitions of Mother Mary. A parapsychological approach to this visionary experience could add to its authenticity. All Marian apparitions have a common spiritual thread linking them. There was more than one percipient involved in this historical visionary experience making it a collective apparitional experience. In Lourdes, as per the instruction of the apparition, it was the visionary, Bernadette Soubirous who dug the soil from which the spring gushed out where as in Kuravilangadu, it was the apparition who dug the soil. Transforming the stones into bread to satisfy the hunger of the seers at Kuravilangadu involved psychokinetic -like manifestations from the part of the apparition.
Vision+ psychokinetic-like manifestation=apparition at the physical site.
James Paul Pandarakalam

James Paul Pandarakalam, Thu 13 Jan, 09:00

I wanted to add a point in correction to my earlier statement that the figure of Mary had a comparatively marginal role in Protestant, Anglophone societies.  There is a profound counterexample, one hiding in plain sight, as it were, in the work voted by repeated polls as ‘the book of the [20th] century’.  I’m speaking, of course, of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”.  Tolkien was a lifelong Catholic, with a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin.  In a letter to Fr. Robert Murray, a close friend of the family, he wrote:

“…I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded. The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like religion, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism. However that is very clumsily put, and sounds more self-important than I feel. For as a matter of fact, I have consciously planned very little; and should chiefly be grateful for having been brought up (since I was eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know…” [Humphrey Carpenter (ed.), “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien”, pg.172]

What is remarkable is that Tolkien’s devotion to Mary is only lightly disguised in the book itself, where both Galadriel and Varda, Queen of the Valar – named ‘Elbereth’ (Star-Queen), ‘Gilthoniel’ (Starkindler) and ‘Fanuilos’ (Ever-White) – share certain Marian qualities.  More remarkably, the two characters whose mission is at once most critical and most perilous – Frodo and Samwise – are, as it were, unwitting Marian devotees through their profound attachment to Elbereth, whom they invoke – or, more accurately, are invoked through – in moments of great danger.

The elves revere and venerate Elbereth, to whom they sing the following hymn, one reminiscent of Mary’s titles of veneration as ‘Queen of Heaven’ (Regina Caeli) and ‘Star of the Sea’ (Stella Maris):

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western seas!
O light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy Starlight on the Western seas.

Like the Blessed Virgin, Elbereth hears the pleas of both elves and men, coming to their aid.  When attacked by the Ringwraiths on Weathertop, Frodo spontaneously and unwittingly cries out to her:

“At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground, and he heard himself crying aloud: ‘O Elbereth! Githoniel!’ At the same time he struck at the feet of his enemy. A shrill cry rang out in the night; and he felt a pain like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder. Even as he swooned he caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand …. ‘Look!’ he [Aragorn] cried; and stooping he lifted from the ground a black cloak that had lain there hidden by the darkness. A foot above the lower hem there was a slash. ‘This was the stroke of Frodo’s sword,’ he said. ‘The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth.’”

Just so, as Sam confronts his death before the spider-monster Shelob, he too spontaneously and unwittingly invokes the aid of Elbereth:

“Even as Sam himself crouched, looking at her, seeing his death in her [Shelob’s] eyes, a though came to him, as if some remote voice had spoken, and he fumbled in his breast with his left hand and found what he sought: cold and hard and solid it seemed to his touch in a phantom world of horror, the Phial of Galadriel….And then his tongue was loosed and his voice cried in a language which he did not know:

A Elbereth Gilthoniel (O Elbereth Starkindler)
o menel palan-diriel,  (From heaven gazing-afar,)
le nallan si di’nguruthos!  (to thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death!)
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!  (O look towards me, Everwhite!)

And with that he staggered to his feet and was Samwise the hobbit, Hamfast’s son, again.”

This latter prayer might be compared in structure to the well-known Latin Marian hymn, the Salve Regina (‘Hail, Holy Queen’), which includes the passage:

“To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us.”

For both Frodo and Samwise, one might better say – innocent of such matters as they are – that they are prayed through by Elbereth more than that they pray to her.  The words – words they do not know – are put upon their lips to rise forth spontaneously and with great force and effect in their moment of greatest peril and need.  Here, we find a clear echo to Dante and St. Bernard’s great prayer which I quoted previously:

“Your loving-kindness does not only answer
the one who asks, but it is often ready
to answer freely long before the asking.”

Paul, Thu 13 Jan, 05:30

A further thought to my earlier comment: The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, Fatima, and Guadalupe, probably gave me 15 percentage points out of the 25 points I began with 35-40 years ago.  Medjugorje has added five points. Without those 20 points, I might now drop down to 78-80%, short of the strong conviction I now have.  So they are very meaningful to me.  smile

Michael Tymn, Thu 13 Jan, 05:23

Wow! So much to consider and respond to. Many thanks to all for the comments.  Just a few quick responses now.

I discussed the Medjurgorje apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) in my blog of October 3, 2016 and while I struggle to consider them and other apparitions I know of as conclusive enough to move me from doubt to the overwhelming or beyond a reasonable doubt level, they all factor in for me in moving me from around 25% or so 35-40 years ago to 98.8% today—in moving from doubt to a preponderance of evidence (51%) and continuing on up to a strong conviction (98.8%) As Sir Oliver Lodge said, it is the cumulative evidence that did it for him and so it is with me.

I don’t think the many witnesses to the apparitions of the Blessed Mother were “liars,” but I don’t know enough about the psychology involved in such apparitions to rule out hallucinations, delusional states, whatever, and it seems that nobody else really does.  So the BVM apparitions get about five points in my march from 25% to begin with to 98.8% now.  Then again, the 25% I began with was due in great part to my Catholic school days and hearing about the apparitions of the BVM. That was before Medjugorje, however, and was mostly from Lourdes and Fatima. Thus, Medjugorje apparitions added about five percentage points for me. Don Porteous has mentioned many others I was not aware of. 

Someone asked about Don Porteous sharing his study of the apparitions.  While I exchanged a number of email with Don, I am too disorganized in my old age to identify his email address in my address book.  It is not one that appears to include his name. If I can identify it, I will let him know of the request.

As I previously mentioned, I am satisfied with my 98.8% conviction and doubt that I can ever move higher. Even if my mother appeared to me tonight and told me about something only she and my brother know about—something from our childhood that I knew nothing about but which I am now able to confirm with my brother, there would still be that “cosmic reservoir” theory that has been called superpsi, super ESP, etc. that can’t be disproved.  And I like the answer given to Victor Hugo about the 1.2% doubt, i.e., that a little doubt is necessary for us to spiritually advance.

Michael Tymn, Thu 13 Jan, 04:14

Paul ( and others),

I forgot to ask this important question. Let’s for a minute assume all these people across the world for centuries now have not all been liars, mentally ill or mistaken, and some did actually witness -objectively and externally- the apparition of the Virgin Mary. Would this not mean that what is written in the Bible is ( mostly) true even though the Virgin Mary is only mentioned a few times? I keep thinking even though the Bible sounds like nonsense to many, it must be based on facts, not myths, if people have actually witnessed such apparitions.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Lee, Wed 12 Jan, 22:54


Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.
I will connect with Michael to ask if he knows Don Porteus to see if perhaps he can connect me to ask if Don can allow me to read his unpublished work. It sounds fascinating.

You obviously did not skip too many Sunday school classes! I say that as a compliment as you obviously know a great deal about Christianity, something I do not know a lot about, despite my mom being a Catholic by birth and having witnessed the Virgin Mary- I was never interested enough to try and read the bible -or learn about Christianity- as for many years I thought it was all just nonsense. I was around 18 when my mom first told me about her experience and I really paid no attention (my dad, who was a non-practicing Jew, never gave it much consideration either). By the way, my mom says that if she had witnessed the Virgin Mary alone, she would have thought she had hallucinated everything.

Paul, before writing more I need to point out, before I forget, another synchronicity. You posted about Baltic music- I was born in Lithuania as was my mom, and my dad was born in Latvia.

That is really interesting the points you raise explaining why Virgin Mary apparitions are not included as evidence of an afterlife. So we can blame the Protestants!:)  It is also very interesting how you note that posthumous literature does not allude to the Virgin Mary (I know she was rarely referred to in the bible but I did not realize that she is not mentioned in posthumous literature) and you pose a very compelling theory/explanation for this fact.

Thank you for including that beautiful prayer.

On the topic of Virgin Mary apparitions, I want to add that my mom’s family physician is a Coptic Christian and he told my mom that when he was 13, living in Egypt, he also witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary (obviously he was also either lying, hallucinating/dreaming or simply mistaken…).

I will leave you with the following tale as it may be of interest.

A psychiatrist I know here, who is now in his mid-70s, lived in Spain as a teen as his father was a surgeon for the US military on the base in that country. This psychiatrist befriended in Spain the son of the ambassador from Peru and was invited to Peru one summer to stay with his friend. One evening at dinner a guest arrived who happened to be a Nobel Prize winner in medicine. During this dinner this Nobel laureate told the psychiatrist and others at the table how when he was a teen he was visited by the Virgin Mary (in apparition form) twice, and was told by the Virgin Mary that he would go on and do great things in medicine (this was before he was even enrolled in university). Obviously, like everyone else who claims to have witnessed and/or communicated with the Virgin Mary,  he was either lying, pulling the legs of the guests at the dinner or he had simply hallucinated/dreamed the entire claimed experience. If you have interest to know the name of this Nobel prize winner I can email you in private as his family had never made public what my psychiatrist acquaintance told me. This Nobel laureate died in 1993.

Lee, Wed 12 Jan, 22:35

World’s First Recorded Apparitions at Kuravilangadu (Kerala, India)
Mother Mary has been manifesting at the physical plane ever since she has been assumed to Heaven to reconfirm the historical existence of Christ and His divine incarnation. They also offer evidence of discarnate existence. There are objective-subjective apparitions (through both physical and non-physical senses) and purely subjective apparitions (through non-physical senses only). The former may be called outward apparitions and the latter may be called inward apparitions. From a spiritual perspective, both are equally important. Collective percipience is suggestive off objectivity. Knock apparitions (Ireland) and Pontmain apparitions (France) were collective ones, but the apparition might not have been at the physical site. Holy Mary can appear to anybody and anywhere in the world. It is hard to say after such a long time of its occurrence which category, the visionary experience of Leopold’s mother and her brother belong to, but they appear authentic. Hope that they will bring about some spiritual fruits after all these years.
  It is the belief of the people of Kerala (India) that St Thomas brought Christianity to the Malabar costal area where Jewish population was involved in business activities. He converted some Jewish families to Christianity and a few High caste Hindu families as well. Christianity grew in the fertile sands of Hinduism. They are known as the Indian Christians of St Thomas.
  The first recorded apparition of Mother Mary took place 8 miles away from my birthplace in Kerala, India. Kuravilangadu has been a hilly place with spice cultivation and belongs to the district of Kottayam. Tending sheep has been the day-to-day job of the children of Kuravilangadu and on one early morning as usual, some children set out for tending sheep to the molehills of Kuravilangad. Hunger and thirst instigated by the scorching heat forced them to search for springs and edible roots and tubers in the surrounding area. Their search for food and water carried them a long way away from their homes and they got entrapped in the circuitous paths in the forest.
  The children were really in a helpless state, and they prayed to God for food and drink. As though it was a response to their fervent appeals, an aristocratic granny with a child carrying a cross in his hands showed to the children and it was an uninhabited forest.  The granny clearly comprehended the distress of the children and picked up stones and offered them to the children.  The stones in their hands were converted into bread and the children ate them. As they were thirsty, the Holy Lady dug up the soil in front of them with her finger. Water began to gush out of the hole like a spring precipitously. Having quelled their thirst and hunger, the children looked for the granny, but she had disappeared. It was already nightfall, the seers returned to their home in great astonishment. 
  As the children reached home, they described the whole incident to their parents, and how Holy Lady quenched their hunger.  Unable to believe their statements, the elders accompanied by the children soon set out to the forest. The children took the elders to the forest and to the site where they had the mystical experience. When they arrived at the drought-stricken spot, they were astounded to find a spring over bursting with crystal clear water in an otherwise dry land.  Blessed Virgin Mary, carrying infant Jesus, appeared once again, and instructed them to build a Church in her name at that very spot and she just disappeared. Mukthiyamma meaning Heavenly Mother is the local name given for Mother Mary. The story has some of the pattern of the traditional approved apparitions of Our Lady. It is believed that this event took place in the first century and the first church was built around 105 A.D. According to Kerala oral and written traditions, this was an authentic case of Marian apparition.
James Paul Pandarakalam

James Paul Pandarakalam, Wed 12 Jan, 21:49

For Lee, Paul, and other readers: How appropriate that another extraordinary woman, Patience Worth, rides to the rescue of Mary in assuring her a place in spiritualist literature. From Casper Yost’s book about Patience, these verses:

“Mary, mother, thou art the Spring
That flowereth, though nay man aplanteth thee.
Mary, mother, the song of thee
That lulled His dreams to come,
Sing them athrough the earth and bring
The hope of rest unto day.

Mary, mother, from out the side of Him
That thou didst bear, aflowed the crimson tide
That doth to stain e’en unto this day—
The tide of blood that ebbed the man
From out the flesh and left the God to be.

Mary, mother, wilt thou then leave me catch
These drops, that I do offer them as drink
Unto the brothers of the flesh of me of earth.
Mary, mother of the earth’s loved!
Mary, bearer of the God!

Mary, that I might call thee of a name
befitting thee,
I seek, I seek, I seek, and none
Doth offer it to me save this:
Mother! Mother! Mother of the Him;
The flesh that died for me.”

Newton E. Finn, Wed 12 Jan, 20:41

I wanted to post this portion of a previous comment as I would be very interested to know what forum members think re Virgin Mary apparitions in terms of being evidential of an afterlife. This is a topic of great interest to me given my mom’s experience (she is 79 and recalls the experience as though it occurred yesterday):

I believe there is something more to this life primarily because my mom and her brother, not long after ww2 in communist occupied Lithuania, witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary while home alone as children. They were not mistaken and they were not lying (their own mother did not believe them when she came home from work and listened to their fantastic claim).

I find it curious how Virgin Mary apparitions are very rarely if ever included as being strong evidence for an afterlife. I am not religious and my mom and her brother knew almost nothing about religion when they witnessed the Virgin Mary apparition. I wonder if some here could perhaps try to explain why such apparitions rarely, if ever, are included in afterlife discussions as being evidential yet deathbed visions of deceased family members, ndes with deceased family members and/ or Jesus are considered to be evidential by many. Virgin Mary sightings/ communications were not mentioned in any of the winning Bigelow essays, unless I am mistaken.

Is it perhaps because such claimed sightings cause cognitive dissonance for many who believe in the afterlife yet who claim religion to be nonsense,  so they naturally assume apriori that such sightings are hallucinations, dreams, outright lies, etc?

It was odd that Robert Bigelow said he would not accept any essays about religious figures (I wonder if that included accounts of Virgin Mary sightings/ communication).

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

lee katz, Wed 12 Jan, 17:03

​Dear Lee,

I don’t presently have access to my files, but one of the commenting compatriots to this blog - ​I believe it ​was it Don Porteus, if memory serves - has an entire unpublished manuscript comparing discarnate-related sources to the words conveyed by the Virgin Mary in her various apparitions.  I would recommend you get hold of this, as I think you would find it very salutary reading.  As to the question of why the apparitions of the Virgin Mary aren’t included among evidence for an afterlife, of course you are right - they should be.  What I think militates against this are two factors.  First, most of the cultural sphere of discussion of these issues - at least so far as we engage them here and as is represented in the main body of posthumous literature - is not just of Christian cultural heritage, but more specifically of Protestant cultural heritage.  In such a context, the figure of Jesus finds a ready home, but the figure of Mary is backgrounded to a considerable measure, in comparison to her role and presence in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.  The second is the loss or rejection of faith, starting within that same Protestant cultural sphere - sociologist of religion Peter Berger’s ‘gravedigger hypothesis’ - which pushed a figure such as Mary even further to the margin of ‘acceptable discourse’.

A point worth noting, however, is that this is not just on the incarnate side of things.  To my memory, I can’t recall a single instance in the posthumous literature in which Mary is mentioned or encountered, although there are numerous instances in which Christ is mentioned or encountered.  Is this not strange?  If Christ has a celestial reality and ‘life’, does it not immediately follow that Mary does as well?  Why, then, does she not figure in the posthumous literature we have?  I expect the answer is that the communicating discarnates are themselves overwhelmingly of Protestant cultural heritage - more specifically Anglosphere - and just as Mary figured little in their incarnate existences, so she figures little in their discarnate existences.  She belongs to a different cultural sphere, one that the discarnates of - for reasons we simply do not know - seem to be little engaged in ‘reporting back’ to their incarnate brethren.  On the other hand, we simply don’t have public apparitions of Christ in this world along the lines of the public apparitions of Mary.

As it has been nearly three weeks (!) since I last quoted from Dante, let me rectify that situation here with regard to the present topic.  In the final cantos of Paradiso (Cantos 31-33), Dante is guided to the final vision of “the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who at the beginning of Canto 33, delivers the following prayer of intercession to the Virgin Mary (tr. Alan Mandelbaum), a prayer so beautiful, my wife and I included it among the readings at our wedding:

“Virgin mother, daughter of your Son,
more humble and sublime than any creature,
fixed goal decreed from all eternity,

you are the one who gave to human nature
so much nobility that its Creator
did not disdain His being made its creature.

That love whose warmth allowed this flower to bloom
within the everlasting peace—was love
rekindled in your womb; for us above,

you are the noonday torch of charity,
and there below, on earth, among the mortals,
you are a living spring of hope.

Lady, you are so high, you can so intercede,
that he who would have grace but does not seek
your aid, may long to fly but has no wings.

Your loving-kindness does not only answer
the one who asks, but it is often ready
to answer freely long before the asking.

In you compassion is, in you is pity,
in you is generosity, in you
is every goodness found in any creature.”

Paul, Wed 12 Jan, 15:54

Hi Michael,
As one of your silent readers, I just wanted to take a minute to say “thank you” for all of your ongoing excellent blog posts.

Please keep them coming! Outstanding work!

Erich Newhill, Wed 12 Jan, 15:41

Bravo Bill.
“If you restrict yourself to reading about all things inner, you’ll short yourself in the being department.”

So true! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 12 Jan, 14:26

Dear Paul and dear Amos,

Briefly (it’s a very stressful day):

For Paul, science whether with capital S or not should be true knowledge (that’s Latin, sciere, ‘to know’, I think) and knowledge must be Godly, ie within the All-knowledge that is an aspect of the All-Being that is what we call “God”. Otherwise it ain’t knowledge, is it? (Of course, you know this, you hold this item of understanding in common with me and with a myriad others.) I think that sums that up;
hence -

For Amos, bravo! I think you have it perfectly right when you say: The ‘levels’ are so many ‘rungs’ of return on what the discarnate F.W.H. Myers termed the ‘ladder of consciousness’.  One ascends the ‘ladder’ though [but for ‘though’ read ‘through’] a metaphoric ascent in the quality of one’s inner being.  As one is fitted, so may one approach.”

That pretty much sums it all up! - AOD

And we can compare what Augustus Martin said to Anne Manning Robbins via Leonora Piper.

I am looking forward to Mike’s next blog because I know nothing of the Whites and am keen to learn.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Wed 12 Jan, 11:53

I want to thank you for taking the time to write that incredible response. There is a lot to digest there so it will require more than one reading.

Thanks again to all those having replied to my questions/comments. Much wisdom has been passed on.

I believe there is something more to this life primarily because my mom and her brother, not long after ww2 in communist occupied Lithuania, witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary while home alone as children. They were not mistaken and they were not lying (their own mother did not believe them when she came home from work and listened to their fantastic claim). That said, knowing in my heart that there is a non-physical realm I still struggle with the meaning of life, question whether our personal consciousness will survive death, etc.

On the topic of the Virgin Mary sighting, I find it curious how Virgin Mary apparitions are never included as being strong evidence for an afterlife. I am not religious and my mom and her brother knew almost nothing about religion when they witnessed the Virgin Mary apparition. I wonder if some here could perhaps try to explain why such apparitions rarely, if ever, are included in afferlife discussions as being evidential yet deathbed visions of deceased family members, ndes with deceased family members and/ or Jesus are seen to be evidential by many. Virgin Mary sightings/ communications were not mentioned in any of the winning Bigelow essays, unless I am mistaken.

Is it perhaps because such sightings cause cognitive dissonance for many who believe in the afferlife yet who claim religion to be nonsense,  so they naturally assume apriori that such sightings are hallucinations, dreams, outright lies, etc?

It was odd that Robert Bigelow said he would not accept any essays about religious figures (I wonder if that included accounts of Virgin Mary sightings/ communication).

Perhaps I should also post this question on Stafford Betty’s blog.

Lee, Wed 12 Jan, 11:19

One challenge I face here is writing in such a way that I don’t sound like a broken record.

How many other lifetimes has anyone here accessed, consciously?  How many probable selves who made different choices in your present lifetime, resulting in the creation of different personal realities—and unique space continua—has anyone here accessed, consciously?

If the answer to either is none, why not?  Techniques exist for exploring these areas and you have but to search diligently for them and practice them.

Closely related (terminology from different sources varies):  Have you ever, even briefly, consciously accessed what may be called your “inner self” or your “entity” (also “oversoul,” “essence, “greater self” etc.)?  (I distinguish between the two but view the inner self—on the other side of the personal subconscious—as part of the entity, and a part that is very conscious that it is such a part.) Neither inner self nor entity is physical (that which can be perceived by the usual physical senses).

Once again, there are a variety of techniques for accomplishing this.

If you’ve ever accessed any of these parts or regions of self, you will know that there is an “afterlife.”  Per Seth:  “You are as dead now as ever you shall be.”

This kind of knowing is foreign to present science, which is nearly completely useless in such endeavors. 

Further, after such access, existence of what some call “All” or “All That Is” becomes a quite sensible inference; this is no patriarchal deity, no being with exaggerated human attributes who smotes his enemies or knocks up virgins, but rather a continuation of ever greater regions of self beginning with your own inner self.

Are we living at the end of our present civilization?  I believe we probably are, but whenever anything ends, something new begins and this is already in process, but still somewhat off the radar screens of “official” belief.

I suggest what lies ahead involves the kinds of collective changes that result when ordinary everyday consciousness expands from what has been prevalent for thousands of years to one that includes a conscious awareness of other regions of self, but I also believe that there is no single future.

This last becomes apparent when anyone becomes consciously aware of probable realities and probable selves and there is a very powerful exercise for obtaining just such a conscious awareness—Practice Element 1.—in Jane Robert’s _The “Unknown” Reality_ Volume One, a Seth book. Doing it very often includes a very noticeable alteration in consciousness that extends into dreams.

(Many do not appreciate the Seth material and that’s fine with me; each to their own.) 

I’m familiar with many other sources, but owing to the way I came across Seth in 1982 while meditating—“seeing” a persistent interior image of the cover of _Seth Speaks_—then interacting with other Seth readers on-line beginning in 1995, the material has long been my primary source of inspiration.

I don’t find that interaction as enjoyable in these days of facebook and “likes” as it was in dial-up modem and ListServe mailing list days, before everything Seth ever said was digitized and made available in specialized search engines, which is one reason I seek out other places of interaction such as this one, in addition to valuing other sources, not just the Seth material.

When I took classes in mediumship, hardly anyone in them had ever heard of Seth, while the traditions & beliefs involved contradicted Seth’s teachings in various ways; even so, I found the experience quite rewarding, with unexpected consequences.

I prefer not to list or summarize my personal experiences (of a “psychic” nature) as I don’t wish to call attention to myself in that way but these have been very important in my search for understanding.

Although I am a cerebral person and have been an avid reader nearly my entire life, reading by itself pales in comparison to such experiences.

George Gurdjieff defined understanding as requiring both knowledge and being.  If you restrict yourself to reading about all things inner, you’ll short yourself in the being department.

Bill Ingle, Wed 12 Jan, 03:36

Dear Lee,

I wanted to also offer a reply to your concern that our collective ‘preoccupation’ with the question of survival might be “a way to try to escape from the reality of life.”  It’s a reasonable question to be sure.  In certain instances, it might very well be what you suggest.  Recent critiques of ‘spiritual bypassing’ (see the book of this title) in reference to spiritual pursuits at the expense of practical challenges might be viewed in a similar vein.  Nevertheless, my first thought is that, before such a judgment might possibly be arrived at, one must be quite clear as to just what ‘the reality of life’ is.  An image then came to mind, one involving the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ - one, I trust, many here will know (if not, might I suggest adding it to your list).  In brief, a man is wrongly imprisoned, and - after a time - it becomes clear he’s never going to get out on appeal.  His only hope lies in his own effort, scraping, scraping, bit by bit, through the days, months and years, until his liberation is at last an achieved fact.  Imagine a sympathetic fellow prisoner discovered him in his self-appointed task one night and appealed to his better judgment: “Man, what are you bothering with that for?  That’s just escapism!”  Another image, this time deep inside Plato’s cave, and a prisoner, weary of the shadow play of images on the wall before him, starts yearning for something half-intuited, something more real than all this and begins working at his bonds.  A fellow spectator-prisoner sees him at it and says, in Ancient Greek: “Man, what are you bothering with that for?  That’s just escapism!”  In either case, ‘escapism’ is in fact the only pragmatic, sane and reasonable choice.

A number of posthumous accounts relate that ‘earth life’, this ‘physical plane’, is something like a badly smudged copy of a pristine and unblemished original, that the ‘reality’ of such life - our life here in our sojourn - is a kind of ‘ersatz reality’.  In other words, Plato was right (he usually is), and that, here and now, we are in the cave - the ‘cave’ of limited sense impressions that we occupy on a daily basis.  This, of course, is the point of his allegory.  I am reminded here of one of the letters from C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters”  that specifically addresses the matter of ‘the reality of life’.  I assume everyone here knows of the work, but in brief, it is a masterful piece of fictional spiritual psychology in which an elder devil, Screwtape, tutors his young nephew, Wormwood, on the proper means of corrupting and capturing human souls.  To quote:

“The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favor, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real.’
     Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (oh, that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!) you don’t realize how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years’ work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument, I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control, and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line, for when I said, ‘Quite. In fact much TOO important to tackle at the end of a morning,’ the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added ‘Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind,’ he was already halfway to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of ‘real life’ (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all ‘that sort of thing’ just couldn’t be true. He knew he’d had a narrow escape, and in later years was fond of talking about ‘that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic.’ He is now safe in Our Father’s house.”
Here, obviously, I don’t wish to give emphasis to the ‘tempting’ aspects of the above discourse, but rather the incisive analysis of what is too often taken as ‘real life’.  I have come more and more to the point in my own engagement and consideration of posthumous and related matters that it is only properly through engagement with a wider sphere of consideration that we have any real idea how to structure and order our own lives.  Otherwise, we are too often left at the mercy of cultural fashion or societal opinion, much of which is self-evidently false and destructive.  Should we spend our days keeping up with the Joneses?  The Kardashians?  What about endless hours on Facebook or Twitter?  What cultural or societal voices inform us that the best way for one to spend one’s precious days is in the polishing of the mirror of one’s heart?  Will we read this in the pages of the New York Times?  (I keep looking there in vain, God knows why)  Will we hear about it on BBC News?  Will Science (with a capital ‘S’ - that’s for you, Eric) inform us of this vital task?  If we can ground ourselves in the larger vision conveyed through the posthumous literature or, just as readily, through the spiritual paths embedded within the world’s wisdom traditions, then we might just begin to have a grasp on what we are doing here, and just as importantly, what we should be doing here.  The alternative, too often and increasingly, is some version of Nietzsche’s nihilistic, narcissistic ‘Last Man’.
In my Christmas meditation in comment to a recent post, I had compared embodied life to a crucifixion or an exile.  But perhaps another metaphor might strike closer to the mark, that of a practicum.  A lovely fictional example that comes to mind in this regard is the short story by the fantasy novelist Connie Willis titled “Fire Watch”.  In brief, in the future, time travel has been invented, but due to the possibility of paradoxes disrupting the continuum, its use is restricted to historians.  A young Oxford history student is sent back in time to London during the Blitz, more specifically, to St. Paul’s Cathedral - Sir Christopher Wren’s great masterpiece, built after the Great Fire.  The story of how the cathedral was preserved from destruction during the Blitz when all around it lay in ashes and ruin - including the whole of nearby Paternoster Row, home of the London book trade - is a remarkable one known only to a few [see . ]].  In brief, volunteer civilians, many of them architects too old to serve in the regular forces, kept vigilant watch night after night atop the cathedral, armed only with sand buckets and ‘stirrup pumps’, as incendiary bombs rained down from the sky, threatening the set the structure ablaze.  (If you ever visit the cathedral, look for the fire watch stone, laid in the floor near its western doors: “Remember men and women of St. Paul’s Watch, who by the grace of God saved this cathedral from destruction in war, 1939-1945.”)  In “Fire Watch” this young history student is sent on his practicum, to St. Paul’s in the midst of the Blitz.  Of course, he is quickly overwhelmed by the chaos of the circumstances in which he is immersed and forgets just what he is doing there and what he is supposed to be about, what his purpose is and from whence he has come.  Only upon his temporal return to his proper future time does he fully recover himself.
This is, I propose, a fine allegory for all of us right now, in the midst of this world, having too often forgotten both ourselves and our proper purpose.  Our best, perhaps most vital task is to remember, to reorient, and it is precisely this that an engagement with the posthumous literature and with the question of posthumous survival can enable us, at least in part, to do.  But of course, simply reading - as vital and necessary as this is - is not enough.  We must also begin to work on ourselves.  Doing so in the midst of daily life and its demands is, precisely, our ‘practicum’.  Let me close with a humorous account (at least to me).  William Irvine, the academic philosopher who authored the bestselling “A Guide to the Good Life” and, more recently, “The Stoic Challenge”, is among the many modern interpreters of classical Stoicism who, as paid-up secular atheists, have no time for ancient Stoicism’s metaphysics or its deep concern with Divine providence.  In the latter work, he proposes, as a useful story, that when faced with a challenging situation in which one might adopt and apply Stoic strategies for greater peace of mind and composure of soul - say, getting cut off in traffic, being addressed with rudeness, being forced to wait for service, ... - that one pretend that one is being challenged by the (entirely fictive) ‘Stoic gods’ as a test of the maturity of one’s practice.  Of course Irvine means this as a firmly tongue-in-cheek matter.  But, if this life is a practicum of sorts, then Irvine is more or less literally correct in a way he himself would never accept.  We are ‘put in this world’, subjected to challenges and forced, through circumstance - much of it painful, dislocating and tragic - to work on ourselves in consequence, to practically ‘test’ our discarnate learning.  As Seneca said: “Fire tests [i.e. proves] gold, adversity brave men.”

Paul, Tue 11 Jan, 22:06

To the edifying comments of Michael, Paul, Eric, and others concerning our duty to develop habitual spiritual consciousness (as taught by The Invisibles), I would add only this: that this teaching pertains primarily to our growth in wisdom, which is but half, though an essential half, of our duties here on earth.

The other half, the harder half, is to grow in love via sacrifice of self. That higher self we are called to develop is in turn to be given back to other people, to the world, to God, because only in that giving back, in that giving up, can the higher self paradoxically be maintained and achieve its fullness or perfection.

The medium named Albert Schweitzer noted that the pursuit of spirituality can actually impede the ethical if it is seen as a standalone task, if the twin duty of sacrificial love is not simultaneously emphasized. Thus that strange teaching of Jesus that to save our life is to lose it, and to lose it, to save it.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 11 Jan, 17:23

Paul said,
“We, though our maturation, purification and expansion, are meant to become ‘like’ God, in growing into, instantiating and embodying the Divine qualities.  This is our path of return.  We return to the Divine by becoming more and more ‘like’ the Divine – in degree, although never in kind.  Our journey is that of our own self-transmutation.  This is why one’s discarnate ‘placement’ in an appropriate level – as analyzed so thoroughly by Robert Crookall in ‘The Supreme Adventure’ as will [well] as by Paul Beard in ‘Living On’ – is dictated by one’s quality of being or of consciousness.  The ‘levels’ are so many ‘rungs’ of return on what the discarnate F.W.H. Myers termed the ‘ladder of consciousness’.  One ascends the ‘ladder’ though a metaphoric ascent in the quality of one’s inner being.  As one is fitted, so may one approach.”

That pretty much sums it all up! - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 11 Jan, 17:12

I watched the video you recommended this morning. It was well done, beautifully photographed in 4D and meaningfully edited. Without being highly critical that’s about all I think I should say. It is always interesting to hear the opinions of others.  – AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 11 Jan, 17:01

Excellent comment of 01/11/22. If only everyone cultivated “habitual spiritual consciousness” civilization might be in a much better place. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 11 Jan, 16:53

Lee, I referred to the Thumbs up -sign. It is fine to see that you opened your mind to synchonicities, and I must say, it was quite a wonderful one, that interview . I personaly think that supreme value is indeed not only in the inside of us but also on the outside and is the connection between our ‘I am’ with ‘the other’ that makes us realise that supreme value. Also the comparison with the Russian dolls is in my opinion important.The smallest dolls thinks they are somehow separated from the rest but they are part of a greater doll ,that also can think it is separated but is in fact part of once again a greater doll, and you can go on forever. We are many small dolls part of a family, who is part of a community, who is part of a city, who is part of a province, who is part of a nation , who is part of a continent,who is part of earth, who is part of the solar system, who is part of the milky way, who is part of the physical galaxies, who is part of the combined dimensions and I certainly forgot some steps ,but at the End there is All That Is. The ultimate divine and the ultimate value. So let’s never forget that we are all connected and if every one of us lives his life with respect for his self and the other, I think that is a great value to live for.

Chris De Cat, Tue 11 Jan, 16:09


You write: “Lee,sometimes we need no words, just a sign will do:👍


Perhaps you can clarify. What kind of sing would you be referring too and what impact could such a sigh have?


Lee, Tue 11 Jan, 13:58

I did not mean to imply that all we do is focus on the afterlife and do nothing else. I was simply wondering if all of us on this forum spend some of our time reading, thinking and communicating about the afterlife as a means by which to escape life, for even a bit of time- whether it is just another form of escapism, no different from any other form of escapism?

IF someone spent all their time doing nothing but thinking about and discussing the afterlife that would likely qualify as an obsession (a mental disorder) and i doubt anyone here does nothing other than focus on the afterlife.

Lee, Tue 11 Jan, 13:55

Dear all,

Yet again, I believe, Michael (Tymn) shows the habitual spiritual consciousness that grows in many of us as we age. And yet again, his view is the considered and reasonable, and practical, middle-way view. I bet “God” goes shopping with him and his wife. I think I may say that my own spiritual concern is as serious, as perpetual and as central to every day’s minute-by-minute consciousness as the concern needed by some crisis that suddenly arises - and at 80 crises needing sudden remedy do still arise!

When faith languishes, as from time to time it does, often on account of rantings in favour of humanly devised religions, one searches one’s memories and finds again some experience to restore it, such as the time a voice spoke clearly “Go along Stanley Road at eleven o’clock.” and, the command being obeyed, as closely as circumstances permitted, a stolen tricycle was retrieved outside an address in Stanley Road, and, in answer to a request made at the time, my son is now a believer, for it was his tricycle that was retrieved, when he was four years old. Probably, we all have some such experience that we can value as evidence of the faithfulness of “God” that the afterlife we are now approaching will be real and joyful.

I believe a faith based on scientifically corroborated fact is far more reliable than a faith based on any of those human concoctions we call ‘religions’, so long as it does not forget “God”, and avoids that other human concoction, the worship of science itself - which would just be another variant among the worthless pile of humanly contrived religions. The truth of careful science has its being in the personal “God” Who contains all. An item of my trust now is that my son, a zealous believer, will now advance to the same minute by minute habitual spiritual consciousness, and throw away religion.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 11 Jan, 13:18


Your question to Newton suggesting that some people spend all their time thinking about the afterlife prompts me to wonder why you think that’s all they do. It may be that is all you see of them and suggests to me that you missed the last three paragraphs of this blog about developing “habitual spiritual consciousness.” (HSC)

I admit that, at nearly 85, I focus on the subject more than I did at age 35, maybe 90 minutes a day now reading and further studying the subject compared with 60 minutes a day at age 60 and possibly two minutes a day at 35, if that.  However, the ‘habitual spiritual consciousness’ kicks in frequently throughout the day in almost everything I do, whether it is watching a football game, as I just did, working in the garden, as I did before the game, shopping for groceries with my wife, as I did even before that, reading the morning paper over breakfast, watching cable news and attempting to make sense out of all the insanity in the world, talking with my brother over the phone about family, etc., etc., etc. It is difficult to measure the time spent in applying the HSC to more mundane activities, but I am thankful that I am able to. Had I remained with the Catholic Church I grew up in or with the Protestant churches I tried during my 30s, I don’t think I would have developed that HSC, even if I had listened to Bishop Barron. 

The 90 minutes I now spend each day is about the same as the time I devoted to training for marathons and other long distance races during my younger years (30 minutes at the downtown fitness center, not including showering, walking from office to the center, etc. during lunch break) and up to an hour after work, including running home from work) and I know many people who spend a hour a day at the fitness center in an effort to improve their health. So why not an hour a day developing HSC? I don’t think that converts to being “preoccupied” with the subject.  Perhaps all such activities are “escapes,”—escapes from the monotony and adversity of reality—but therein is the challenge of finding meaning in life, I think.

Today’s insanity news, was, for me at least,  hearing that the new district attorney in New York City will no longer consider turnstile jumping in the subways as a crime. I can no longer vault over a subway turnstile, but it made me wonder if a senior citizen could crawl under the turnstile and thereby avoid paying for the subway ride.  The news offered me an opportunity to dwell on the moral aspects of “turnstile jumping.’  Will the turnstile jumpers see all those acts in their life reviews, even though the DA says they are no longer crimes? What do you think?

Michael Tymn, Tue 11 Jan, 08:23

Lee,sometimes we need no words, just a sign will do:👍

Chris, Tue 11 Jan, 07:43

Dear Michael,

Your final quote from your original post inspired me to track it down in Stewart Edward White’s ‘Betty Series’ of books.  I quote the more complete passage below, which is critically important.

“The point toward which all this instruction trends is ultimate identification with your higher self. But first must come a vital effort to know that higher self, and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized.
This does not mean that you should cease to interest yourselves in the multitude of activities all around you—people and books and experiences—these are hourly food. But it does mean most emphatically that your major efforts should be in the recognition and cultivation and establishment of your inner being, the eternal part of you. The gradual growth and expansion of this eternal self is the major business of each day, whatever may be the pressure of obligations in your everyday life.”

- Stewart Edward White, “Across the Unknown” (Betty Series #2)

Another passage sheds further light upon this, in a manner remarkably resonant to my discussion of ‘tazkiyat an nafs’ – the purification and expansion of the soul – discussed in a comment to a recent post
[, comment tagged Sun 12 Dec, 18:34]:

Humanity’s most sacred duty became more and more plain to Betty, as she advanced in learning from her Invisibles, as the disciplining, training and perfecting of the ‘self’—each one’s own individual bit of the ‘image of God’. That method was the principal aim of her training as set forth in explicit detail in “The Betty Book” and “Across The Unknown”; and, from another angle and with even more detail, in “The Road I Know”. It was formulated and given, not as a religious dogma or cult, but as a daily spiritual ‘growing-in-grace’ exercise.
… “God, the Creator, is the ‘impetus’ back of all form, animate and inanimate. …each individualized bit of Consciousness here on earth, in the finite, is an expression of the Spirit of God—an ‘image’ of Him; that as such it is immortal since it is the same in kind though different in degree; that the ‘Alike-In-Kind’ always remains the same, but that the ‘Difference-In-Degree’ can be evolutionally lessened.”

- Stewart Edward White, “The Stars are Still There” (Betty Series #6)

We, though our maturation, purification and expansion, are meant to become ‘like’ God, in growing into, instantiating and embodying the Divine qualities.  This is our path of return.  We return to the Divine by becoming more and more ‘like’ the Divine – in degree, although never in kind.  Our journey is that of our own self-transmutation.  This is why one’s discarnate ‘placement’ in an appropriate level – as analyzed so thoroughly by Robert Crookall in ‘The Supreme Adventure’ as will as by Paul Beard in ‘Living On’ – is dictated by one’s quality of being or of consciousness.  The ‘levels’ are so many ‘rungs’ of return on what the discarnate F.W.H. Myers termed the ‘ladder of consciousness’.  One ascends the ‘ladder’ though a metaphoric ascent in the quality of one’s inner being.  As one is fitted, so may one approach.  Such is our entelechy.  Could we wish for anything else, anything finer?

Paul, Tue 11 Jan, 05:45

Basic questions about the afterlife are explored quickly, sharply, tenaciously in this video. Check it out if you’ve got 27 minutes to spare.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 11 Jan, 04:16

Here is an interview I just came across (it popped up on my Youtube) on life and meaning (a topic I had recently asked the folks on this forum to weigh in on):
It is from Bishop Robert Barron and I think it is a great interview (and I am not even religious).

It is quite the synchronicity as the video was only uploaded 2 hours ago and I do not even follow Robert Barron….

Perhaps it is of interest to others here.

Lee, Mon 10 Jan, 19:11


No doubt there are multiple, inter-related factors involved in the decline of our society, culture, and country, but we will have to agree to disagree as to the primary cause. The reason you list would be close to number 10 on my list.

Michael Tymn, Mon 10 Jan, 18:54

I am looking back at what I just wrote and see that I listed several things that enable a society or culture to survive.  I wrote that “lacking all of these things, such a society cannot survive very long.”  Actually, I should have said “lacking any ONE of those things, a society cannot survive very long. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 10 Jan, 18:50

At first glance I tended to agree with you but then again isn’t at least some of the social breakdown we see today due, in part, to fear of death from the corona virus?  But I take your point, generally absent imminent dangers, death anxiety probably does not produce a total breakdown of society such as we see in western society today. With the little I know about history of world societies and cultures it seems to me that those cultures that had some belief in an afterlife whether it be a “happy hunting ground” or ‘floating on a cloud playing a harp’ tended to be the most stable, at least for longer periods of time than cultures whose people found no goal or purpose in living and nothing to look forward to after death.

I think there is something more though. Lack of a cultural structure that promotes and sustains safety for its people, loving care and education for its children, family respect and integrity, trust and respect for neighbors, appreciation and thankfulness for the environment; lacking all of these things, such a society cannot survive very long. Sadly and frighteningly this absence is seen playing-out currently in the culture of America and other western countries.  The society is decaying from within—-perhaps due, at least in part, to failure of leadership by its elders.  People begin to act like animals, like children without a moral compass, without hope and driven by fear and hatred and a desire for satiety of all animal instincts until they all begin to prey upon one another and devour whatever it is that makes a society or culture civilized.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 10 Jan, 18:41

Dear Newton,

I empathise with your latest remarks, as all, surely?, must, but I think we do have a doorway into new positivity: Any small child of a loving and good parent, faced with a problem, will trust that parent to put it right, and to do so as urgently as it requires. If we had bad parents, critical and judgmental, full of tales of godly vengeance against the wicked (it was never against themselves, of course) and actually DO what they and their religion merely TOLD us we ought to do - trust the worker of miracles to whom nothing is as wondrous as the things WE in our childlikeness, think miraculous. For a good mother/father, what we children call miracles are easy. Trust God.

Perhaps covid will reduce Earth’s population to what it can sustain in an old restored natural economy/ecology, with continued life for those removed from Earth by a mere corona virus to better realms (so we need have no conscience for those so lucky as to be removed). Perhaps Russia will bring war to Ukraine and perhaps America will retaliate to the greater loss of both nations, but the end is not yet. Trust the Maker and Proprietor and absolute CONTROLLER to know exactly what to do to express love for all who trust, and even to convert all to that state of being eventually.

And a possibly amusing way of thinking trustfully, rather than of imminent woes for humanity? Remember Behemoth . . . who fears not though Euphrates (or was it Jordan?) rushes at his mouth.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 10 Jan, 17:55


I wonder whether the preoccupation by everyone on this forum over the question of consciousness survival is not in itself a way to try to escape from the reality of life…some choose drugs, others mindless television while others choose to spend their time thinking about and discussing - for years- the possibility of an afferlife.

Lee, Mon 10 Jan, 17:20

I am not persuaded by explanations of social breakdown predicated, in large part, on death anxiety on the individual level. Did not the ancient Jews and other cultures thrive for centuries without any belief in a meaningful form of immortality?

I suspect that what’s driving the swift devolution of so-called Western Civilization has more to do with a brute and brutal fact, known by thoughtful people since the early 1970s, that our way of life, into which we appear locked, is literally killing the planet.

Faced with the looming extinction not only of our individual lives but of human civilization itself—worse yet, of the magnificent global ecosystem which sustains all living things—who does not find it necessary to live in denial in order to put one foot in front of the other? Who does not flee to virtual reality when actual reality is so utterly demoralizing?

Then there are those of us who focus on an afterlife, the question being whether this is only another form of denial or, as we here hope and pray, a release from it, a transcendence of it via contemplation of a larger, truer context. Desperately we grasp for intimations of a better,  more beautiful world that awaits us, one beyond our power collectively to kill.

Newton E. Finn, Mon 10 Jan, 17:07

Dear Paul,

I am hugely grateful for your latest comment, which I agree must be a near-perfect specification for an all-inclusive idealist physics that will, at last, truly work.

I have twice asked the opinion regarding my image of a hierarchy of intermingling universes of an expert you mention by name, but have had no reply. (I suspect professional scientists do not like autodidact laymen who have seen something they have missed trying to get a little attention for their amateur ideas. As they might say here in Wales “Cofiwch Semmelweiss”, and do not make the same mistake again.” It would help if they did condescend to listen.

For what my opinion may be worth (again an amateur in music who, self-taught, has written a 6-minute long Introduction, Fantasia and Fugue) I agree with those who deplore the one-chord-plus-crude-rhythm noise of today that most take to be music.

I am not sure how closely these comments relate to the Whites, and to Michael’s blogs (long may they continue), but I welcome being welcomed to the discussions (but, as I have said before, I would like to see more ladies joining in).

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 10 Jan, 11:46

Dear Eric,

First of all, thank you for your very kind opening remark from your earlier comment.  I wanted to offer ten considerations regarding the ‘explanatory physics’ of incarnate and discarnate levels in reply to your most recent comment:

1) any such physics needs to take both consciousness and being as foundational to reality and not be a physics of matter, concerned with ‘material’ objects.
2) any such physics needs to account for multiple ‘nested’ bodies – physical, astral, mental, causal – that serve as suitable vehicles at different ‘levels’ or ‘planes’ of reality.
3) any such physics needs to accommodate both the possibly of moving ‘continuously’ between different ‘levels’ or ‘planes’ of reality – as from the lower to higher astral – while ‘expressing through’ a given subtle body throughout, yet at the same time also accommodate the possibly of moving ‘discontinuously’ between different ‘levels’ or ‘planes’ of reality, which requires a ‘death’ and shift of expression though a distinct, subtler body – as with the first death from the physical to the astral, or the second death from the astral to the mental.
4) any such physics needs to take into account how seers – such as Emmanuel Swedenborg or Rudolph Steiner – could ‘see’, through an act of meditative introspection, into discarnate realms and even interact with discarnate individuals.
5) any such physics needs to take into account how discarnate individuals – such as the discarnate Richard Hodgson or Frederic Myers – could ‘approach’ our incarnate reality sufficiently to allow interaction with ‘living’ mediums – such as Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard or Geraldine Cummins.
6) any such physics needs to take seriously the near-unanimous discarnate testimony that what distinguishes different ‘levels’ or ‘planes’ of reality is a ‘vibratory character’, one that is an expression of consciousness, and for which our present notions of vibration are but rough metaphors.
7) any such physics needs to take seriously that the notion of ‘higher’ or ‘extended’ spatial dimensions – as in fourth or higher dimensions – appears hardly anywhere in the posthumous literature, although it is entertained by certain living physicists, such as Bernard Carr.
8) any such physics needs to take seriously the multiple lines of discarnate testimony that the ‘external character’ of one’s discarnate experience is an outward, projected expression of one’s ‘internal character’ or quality of soul.
9) any such physics needs to take seriously that the ‘vibratory character’ of ‘higher’ vs. ‘lower’ levels – such terms being but spatial metaphors – is that of greater light, greater beauty, greater harmony, greater love, greater freedom, greater expansion, greater unity.
10) any such physics needs to take seriously the multiple lines of discarnate testimony that the ultimate underlying reality of all discarnate and incarnate levels – of the extended universe as a whole – is at once unitive and Divine.

Needless to say, no terrestrial physics we now possess, no matter how modified – neither classical, nor quantum, nor relativistic – can accommodate these many considerations.  We have no such ‘explanatory physics’, and any such as we might eventually have will have as much of a character of psychology as of physics.  Any present physical explanation we might bring to bear might at best serve as a rough, fragmentary metaphor – no more.

Paul, Mon 10 Jan, 05:45

I believe Paul hit the nail on the head with his quote of Michel Houellebecq.  I would add that of atheist/humanist Alan Harrington from his 1969 book, “The Immortalist”:

“An unfortunate awareness has overtaken our species.  Masses of men and women everywhere no longer believe that they have even the slightest chance of living beyond the grave.  The unbeliever pronounces a death sentence on himself.  For millions this can be not merely disconcerting but a disastrous perception.”

As Harrington viewed it, when people are deprived of rebirth vision, they “suffer recurring spells of detachment, with either violence or apathy to follow.”  Harrington saw mass-atheism as responsible for most, if not all, of society’s ills, including misplaced sexual energy.  “Orgies, husband and wife swaps, and the like, more popular than ever among groups of quite ordinary people, represent a mass assault on the mortal barrier,” he opined.
“The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness and insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death, represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody,” wrote Erich Fromm, another humanist philosopher, in Harrington’s book.

All that was said more than 50 years ago. Hollywood and Madison Ave have taken us to a much lower level since then. I can’t believe two of the commercials I saw on TV last night.  In one, two guys in a pie-eating contest start licking the berries off each other’s faces in delight.  In the other, a young girl throws a rock, which skips a half-dozen times off a lake, and then hits a fisherman and seemingly kills him or knocks him out.  End of commercial.  It was an advertisement for a sports drink of some kind. The world is going more insane every day.

Michael Tymn, Mon 10 Jan, 02:53

Dear all,

To (try to) clarify, following Paul’s reference to it, which suggests misunderstanding: The two (or more) interpenetrating universes I mentioned might be likened (very very crudely) to a well-shaken mixture of sugar grains and salt grains, with a sliver of air between each pair of ‘touching’ grains so that they do not in reality touch; or an emulsion of two immiscible liquids with the bacteria (us!) in one liquid unable to move into the other.

The way Relativity works leaves quintillions of lacunae around each of its light cones which are “places” that are not in fact in the universe (our own) that you are currently observing. As “time” flows the lacunae also ‘flow’, changing shape and position continuously. (Allow for the total inadequacy of verbal language.) The other universe (the one you are not in, and are not able to observe) ‘flows’ in the lacunae of your own universe. It is very very close, but completely beyond sensing by any means, including instruments of unimaginably fine sensitivity. It is not a matter of scale, or of rate of ‘vibration’. (Fully understanding the measuring techniques and the choice of entities to be measured in Tonomura’s experiment helps here. Page 272 of our book.) The means of cross-communicating between any two universes are available only to “God” or sporadically and inaccurately to mediums (whose activities need, do they not? to be allowed/sanctioned by “God”).

I postulate that the next higher universe has one more spatial dimension than ours, and its inhabitants are more capable than us, at least partly for that reason; communicators (Sir William Barrett (who specifically mentions the extra dimension he now has) and Phinuit and are on record as clearly stating this) often say they can observe us in our 3-space-1-time universe though we cannot see them in their four-space-1-(different)time universe.

I expect this makes “my” idea even more obscure, unless some of you have silently grasped the notion already. No-one tells me. No-one tells me. No-one tells me I am a crank either. A few who DO know their Relativity have thought that I do not understand it at all, but I think it is a very simple and fundamental necessary consequence of the finite velocity of light that professional physicists have not noticed because they are, and have long been, occupied with far more abstruse concepts within Relativity. Richard Conn Henry does not mention light cones in the paper I read. I only know some of the maths he cites. He is far above me - but the point I make remains. Perhaps it is too simple for professional physicists, below their dignity to dally with - and below their imaginative grasp.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 9 Jan, 22:11

Thanks Paul, for all of the examples of “heavenly choirs.”  My choice would be a choir that included Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraquael, Raguel, and Remiel as represented by the men’s choir “Chor Leoni.” Maybe it was the recording or the video but I prefer that choir over those that included the women’s voices. Those men all looked like Arch Angels to me. Absolutely perfect!

I haven’t decided yet on Bacci.  Time will tell whether or not his recordings of spirit voices and ‘choirs’ were legitimate.

There is a sadness that comes to me when I listen to that choir music.  A sadness when I think of the state of music in America and what is called “music” now.  How and why did we allow ourselves to sink so low?  “Rap” is not music.  Pity the poor children who grow up with that propaganda, that hatred and negativity blaring out of the speakers at home, on their phones and in their car all of the time. That noise doesn’t calm their minds and help them to structure their thinking in a positive way as the music of “Chor Leoni” does. It does just the opposite; it generates dissatisfaction, hatred and confusion.  Maybe that is partly why we, as a people seem to be in a state of discontent now. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 9 Jan, 21:40

To respond to Lee’s question about the decline of religion contributing to the loss of civility, I believe that is a big factor, but it goes much deeper.  As I have often opined, religion lost its way in stressing adoration of a puppet-master God rather than a belief in immortality while teaching a dichotomous afterlife of boredom at one extreme and anguish at the other. So even if religion in its present form were to be strengthened, I would not expect much of a change. This is what the Invisibles were saying 100 years ago.  Betty and the Invisibles further discuss this in the next blog post here.

Michael Tymn, Sun 9 Jan, 20:34

I must confess that I have never been a Robert Burns aficionado, but I did visit his home outside of Glasgow about 18 years ago and found it to be an interesting tour. I intended at the time to look more into his work, but I forgot about it.

Michael Tymn, Sun 9 Jan, 20:20

Dear Lee,

You may find much to chew on in the following review essay on the novels of Michel Houellebecq: [].  In brief, the loss of the domain of meaning and values, consequent with the loss of religious faith and the rise of a kind of soft, incoherent, half-engaged nihilism, leads to a kind of characteristic narcissism associated with Nietzsche’s portrayal of ‘the Last Man’, a kind of passive nihilist concerned above all with his own small comforts.  To quote from the review essay:

“The twentieth century, in its elevation of the values of entertainment and consumerism, has destroyed the more astringent codes which built prosperity, democracy and the mission to civilize. In so doing it engendered a particular type of personality. Well documented, especially in the work of Christopher Lasch, this is the narcissistic personality which dominates modern Europe . Such a personality, emerging at the end of a long period of hard effort to build civilization, is inadequate to the task of sustaining what sterner characters brought about. Regressive, indulgent, lacking that sense of the impersonal without which a public realm shrinks, this character-type is perfect for consumerism, routine compulsive work, mindless entertainment but tragically incapable of the self-transcendence needed to sustain the very values which made its emergence possible. Seeking easy and instant gratification, people of this kind will turn to nations where thrills are cheap and plentiful. The consequent sense of decline leaves only the residual desire for escape….Without some unifying principle, with all its disadvantages, society becomes atomised. Atomised individuals are ostensibly hedonistic, in fact narcissistic. They pursue pleasure compulsively. Pleasure becomes a form of escape. The desire to escape the ‘shitheap’ is festering in every mind. Escape, however, is illusory. There is no exit from history. Humanity can’t cease to be its own problem. Escape becomes its own trap.”

Paul, Sun 9 Jan, 19:46

Although I may be straying a bit far from topic, I wanted to add, as a coda to my reply to Amos on the powerful effect of certain music, the remarkable tradition of Baltic music.  One standout example is the
“Missa Rigensis” of the Latvian composer Uģis Prauliņš (b.1957), which has what I can only describe as a tremendous power of sanctity.  The following performance, by the Riga Dom Cathedral Boys’ Choir, is particularly fine:

It was also recorded by Trinity College Choir, Cambridge, under the album “Baltic Exchange”.  The liner notes to this album are particularly moving and worth quoting from at length:

“Singing lies at the heart of not just the musical, but the social and ritual life of the Baltic states. Important occasions, both private and public, are inevitably marked by the singing of songs. One might be forgiven for thinking that every second person in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is a member of a choir: amateur choral singing is taken very seriously and is of a very high standard, and several of the professional groups in the region must be counted among the great choirs of the world.
    For most of their history the Baltic nations were under occupation; when ordinary people had little access to education or professional music-making, singing (which is, after all, the most fundamental form of musical expression) was the one thing that couldn’t be denied them. As a result a rich repertory of folk songs evolved which still survives today. (In Latvia alone, for example, more than one million texts and over 30,000 melodies have been identified.) This is very much a living tradition—a great many of these songs are known and loved (and sung) by people from all walks of life, for even now they carry great emotional and cultural resonance.
    In the second half of the nineteenth century, during the first National Reawakening, mass song festivals were established in all three countries and these are still held every few years, bringing together thousands of performers in specially built amphitheatres to sing to audiences numbered in the hundreds of thousands. In the late 1980s these song festivals played a crucial role in strengthening a sense of national identity and aspiration and as a focus for political resistance to the Soviet tyranny. (This so-called ‘Singing Revolution’ is fascinatingly documented in Juris Podnieks’ film Krustcelš (‘Homeland’).) In 2003 UNESCO officially recognized the song and dance festivals of the Baltic countries as ‘masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’.”

The Baltic states, in their ‘Singing Revolution’, literally sung their way to liberation from the tyranny of Soviet occupation.  More on this remarkable struggle may be found here:;  As a New York Times reviewer of the latter remarked, “Imagine the scene in ‘Casablanca’ in which the French patrons sing ‘La Marseillaise’ in defiance of the Germans, then multiply its power by a factor of thousands, and you’ve only begun to imagine the force of ‘The Singing Revolution’.”

The entirety of Juris Podnieks’ “Homeland” may be found here: []  Worthy of particular attention are the mass choral sequences, filmed during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states, that appear toward the end of the movie, beginning at 46:20min and again at 56:25min and finally at 58:00min, when singing by candlelight, which is particularly moving, indeed transcendent.  If one has only limited time or interest, try from the 58:00min, which will, I think, not disappoint.

Paul, Sun 9 Jan, 19:29

A more direct evocation of celestial or posthumous ‘Highlands’ or ‘broad sunlit uplands’ – as gestured to in my prior comment to Amos – is ‘the High Countries’, a phrase employed by C.S. Lewis in the introduction to his allegory “The Great Divorce”, a work remarkably resonant with the posthumous literature.  In terms that Burns would wholly approve of, Lewis writes, as his allegorical passengers approach these ‘High Countries’:

“And I began to look about. … the solitude was so vast that I could hardly notice the knot of phantoms in the foreground. Greenness and light had almost swallowed them up. But very far away I could see what might be either a great bank of cloud or a range of mountains. Sometimes I could make out in it steep forests, far-withdrawing valleys, and even mountain cities perched on inaccessible summits.”

And later, when a passenger is invited to ‘migrate’ to these ‘High Countries’:

“Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.”

As if to make my association with Burns complete, Lewis even smuggles in a Scotsman, his beloved George MacDonald, whose book “Phantastes” had made such a profound impression:

“‘Where are ye going?’ said a voice with a strong Scotch accent. I stopped and looked…my flight had brought me to open country. I saw the mountains where the unchanging sunrise lay, and in the foreground two or three pines on a little knoll, with some large smooth rocks, and heather.”

Lewis might as well have been cribbing from the stanza in Burns’ “My Heart’s in the Highlands”:

Farewell to the mountains, high-cover’d with snow,
Farewell to the straths and green vallies below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods,
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

Finally, as a summary of the entire thrust and purpose of being, one entirely in keeping with the posthumous literature, Lewis writes, through the mouth of a character:

“Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains.”

That is a passage that might profitably be returned to, meditated upon and held close.

Paul, Sun 9 Jan, 19:25

This morning, while reading my alternative gospel, “Life of Truth,” which condenses and revises the canonical accounts into modern short story form, I was struck in a new way by the principal theme of Jesus’ prophetic ministry: the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we try to relate the afterlife teachings gleaned from mediumship to biblical language, the go-to phrase is Jesus’ allusion to his Father’s house having many mansions. Perhaps an even better link is Jesus’ constant reference to the Kingdom of Heaven (or, alternatively, of God).

What’s encompassed in or connoted by this metaphor? First, that there is an entire kingdom or realm ruled by God, completely responsive to His will, juxtaposed to, yet interpenetrating this kingdom of earth in which we find ourselves.

Second, that the task of earthly life is to live in the Kingdom of God as best we can and thereby help bring it on earth, as Jesus prayed. Third, that the ultimate goal, the end toward which all of this moves, is the transfiguration into spirit of the entire “physical” creation.

The last supper scene in “Life of Truth” attempts to convey aspects of this Kingdom dynamic. When Jesus’ followers quarrel about who will sit next to him, Jesus observes that in this world the great seek places of honor and enjoy being served, while in the Kingdom of Heaven the great are the humblest and the servants of all.

After Jesus has broken the bread (representing his body) and poured out the wine (representing his blood), he tells his followers that he will not sit at the table with them again until all is renewed in the Kingdom of Heaven. Until then, they will eat bread and drink wine with only a memory of him.

The scene ends with Jesus’ famous lament, uttered while looking out the window of the upper room at the lights of the city. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, he sighs, how I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you would not.

Unlike others, for whom an oppressive version of Christianity is something to be jettisoned, for me, raised in the warm, welcoming embrace of a liberal, loving church, this religion is the core of my spiritual identity. Spiritualism brought clarification and expansion rather than a much-needed alternative.

This is why I resonate so deeply with “Spirit Teachings,” essentially a work of Christian theological revision. I have little doubt that Imperator would approve of “Life of Truth,” written years before I met him or, rather, knew that I had met him and learned from him.

Those for whom spiritualism has provided an antidote to a toxic form of Christianity and are perhaps put off by the theology of “Spirit Teachings,” might consider taking half an hour to read “Life of Truth: a synoptic gospel.” The booklet’s on the Kindle under the pen name Theophilus.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 9 Jan, 17:47

Dear Amos,

I’m glad you were so touched by the performance of “My Heart’s in the Highlands”, which affects me very similarly.  It seemed a little forced to point out that ‘Highlands’ might well be taken as metaphoric for those ‘high places’ in posthumous reality, as per the title of one of the works of Rev. G. Vale Owen, “The Highlands of Heaven”.  One might just as well consider Churchill’s redolent phrase “broad sunlit uplands” from his ‘finest hour’ speech as being similarly metaphorically evocative of those ‘high places’ for which we long.  Everything is more elevated, purer, brighter, more joyous and yet more peaceful, more right and true, and, most importantly, more real.  But we know of such in our present state only though distant resonance with some deep place within us or through equally distant accounts at second or third hand.

There are songs, pieces, poems and passages that can have a similar effect – if perhaps in different registers – as we both experienced with the performance of Burns’ poem, evoking something deep within us.  In the case of music, I don’t know whether such is truly objective, but I suspect that the profundity or beauty of the music meets a readiness, a preparedness in the listener.  Although instrumental music can certainly have such an effect, for myself I find that choral music, usually of a sacred character, most readily does so.  A few examples:

J.S. Bach: “Mass in B Minor” (final movement): “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Grant Us Peace)
English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “Cherubic Hymn”
Arte Corale (Russian men’s choir)
From “The Soul of Eternal Russia: Russian Orthodox Hymns and Chants”
[; track 4, only a sample available for streaming, but the album is well worth purchasing if you can find it]

Ēriks Ešenvalds: “O Salutaris Hostia”
Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge

Anna Thorvaldsdottir: “Heyr Þú Oss Himnum Á”
Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis; Skylark Vocal Ensemble
[; ]]

There are so many more examples I could give, many – surprisingly – by contemporary composers (Ešenvalds and Thorvaldsdottir are but two examples). 

All of this reminds me of the recording of a of a ‘heavenly choir’ made by Marcello Bacci, a noted Italian researcher in ‘radio trans-communication’ or ‘direct radio voice’: [].  [more on Bacci here: ]].  I have found this intriguing since first coming across it.  To my ear, it sounds vaguely Russian Orthodox in temper, from the 19th century period that saw such composers as Sergei Rachmaninov, Alexander Gretchaninov and Pavel Tchesnokov writing sacred music for large mixed choirs. As a rather random point of comparison, listen to the opening of Tchesnokov Op. 40-2 “The Pre-Eternal Council” before the basso profundo enters [].  I could no doubt find closer examples with time.  For myself, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if heavenly choirs sounded Russian Orthodox. 

As a further nod to such music and as a tie-in to Eric’s comment regarding the ‘interpenetration’ of this world and the next, indeed that we are already, in some mysterious way, in that ‘other’ world even as we are in ‘this’ world, just as that ‘other’ world is somehow at once ‘here and now’ – as it were, “in the midst of the earth” – let me close with another Russian orthodox sacred choral piece:

Pavel Tchesnokov
“Spaseniye Sodelal” (Salvation is Created) [Kievan Synodal Chant]
Dale Warland Singers; Chor Leoni
[; ]]

The text, in Church Slavonic, reads:
Spaséñiye, sodélal yesí posredé ziemlí, Bózhe. Allilúiya.
Salvation is created, in midst of the earth, O God, O our God. Alleluia.

Paul, Sun 9 Jan, 17:40

A US professor of political science from George Washington University contends it is the decline in religion in America that is responsible for a decline in civility. I was wondering whether you agree and whether there are more elements at play.

“Could the decline of #religion in communities be at fault for the decrease in civility? Read what our panelist
@LaraMBrownPhD had to say about it.”

“Our founding fathers deeply believed that religion whatever denomination is what civilized you and allowed you to become an active citizen in public space because religion in its best form is about love and humility, and in its worst, it becomes about self-righteousness and power. And unfortunately, weve had both kind a decline in the people who say religion is important in their life and then those people who are deeply religious are also not necessarily engaged in the practice of humility and love in the way that many of their doctrines say they should be.”

Do you agree that the above is the main cause of declining civility in the US?


lee, Sun 9 Jan, 15:40

Dear all,

The apostle Paul and our admirably widely and deeply learned fellow commenter, Paul, both express the belief that we are made for another world. Even more seems to me to be true. The soul is ALREADY IN another world, which, indeed, it has never left. It finally manages to withdraw back into its group soul, in that other universe (call it a kosmos if you like) when it can, at last, let go of the dead weight of the physical body, which has been holding it down here since the beginning of its Earth-life of time. That is the realisation that Richard Conn Henry’s exposition of Relativity (very kindly sent to me by Newton) should be able to show to some of us. Henry’s grasp of the maths of Relativity is, of course, light-years above my autodidact head, but I have a little nonverbal, unmathematicised insight, and this has been my own view, my “seeing”, for years.

Quantum Theory, by contrast, is fraught with uncertainties and fantasies, some of the maths of which work without any inherent logic being apparent (eg Dirac’s equations). Relativity has no such uncertainties. It can be seen, understood, and explained as nothing more than geometry. The two domains of human knowledge, Relativity and QT, cannot yet be adequately harmonised. I know very little of the maths, as I have stressed, but I have a little insight. Possibly it is a greater insight than I have thought. The incompatibility results from a duality which scientists and philosophers refuse to acknowledge. They mostly hate dualisms. I believe it will, one day, be seen that Relativity has to do with the non-living world, the structure of the matter-universe. There is a very real duality that philosophers and scientists cannot deny between any one universe and next higher one. Quantum Physics, with its Heisenbergian uncertainties and Schroedingerian unpredictabilities, is the part of physical science that has to do with life, the way WE, the Heideggerian Dasein, the Being that is THERE, the Conscious Self, interfaces with and is trapped in this world until it floats invisibly away when the body fails. Much else could be said, but this should be sufficient to show the understanding. Picture in the mind at least two universes intermingling, the visible one around us, of three dimensions of space and one of time, and another of four dimensions of space and one of (its own) time and of the next higher stage of our livingness, our Dasein, our eternal presence to and within “God”, (Who has an infinitely large number of dimensions of space, but none of that fictional thing “time”, and therefore eternal, timeLESS. We are immortal, timeLESS, in Him/Her.

Written in haste - the comments are again not being notified to my email. I do not know why.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 9 Jan, 11:15

When speaking to the mouse, Burns says.

“Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That needs no translation. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 8 Jan, 18:15

Yes Paul,
I do find a profound resonance in the thoughts of C.S Lewis when he writes, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy. the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  And it is more than that.  It is that when I find in myself a profound sense of loss of the good and beautiful things which once were the heart and soul of a loving humanity, I look forward to finding it again in another world. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 8 Jan, 16:12

Why do tears stream down my face when I hear the song “My Heart’s in the Highlands”, when I hear that beautiful rendition of Burn’s poem?  And what a synchronicity when I read the stanza:

Farewell to the Highlands,
farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour,
the country of Worth ;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

“[T]he country of Worth;”, Patience Worth perhaps! Meaningful to me but to no one else.  Thanks Paul for a beautiful start to my morning. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 8 Jan, 15:27

Ah Paul,
Thanks for the Robert Burns poem.  For me, nothing compares with the original however good the translation may be.  I don’t know why but I have an affinity for the Scottish language, perhaps because of my love for the poetic writings of Patience Worth who was accused of using a mixture of English and Scottish words among others in some of her writing. (She said her mother was from Scotland.) But I think it is more than that, for me the language resonates in my soul as if I know it’s meaning without a translation even though I can’t exactly define some of the words.  I get a physical sensation of accordance, a tingling response, in my whole body when I read such words and actually ‘feel’ the meaning.  Visions almost appear—-well, actually do appear sometimes—- in my mind when I read Burns and Worth.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 8 Jan, 15:01

Dear Newton,

It is very interesting that you should mention Richard Conn Henry, as I was inspired to track down his principal articles - “The Mental Universe,” “Quantum Mechanics Made Transparent,” “The Physics of Our Universe,” “The Real Scandal of Quantum Mechanics” – late last year after seeing the film adaptation of the play “Copenhagen” (on Netflix, as I recall).  The first named article, which appeared in ‘Nature’, Vol 436.7, July 2005, is refreshing for his forthright assertion of the primacy of idealism over materialism: “As Sir Arthur Eddington explained: ‘It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.’”  As he states in the closing sentence of that article, “The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.” Even more pointedly, in his last named article above, he writes, “Sorry folks––stuff and nonsense! We know for a fact that the universe is not ‘made of’ anything. Get it through your heads, physicists! It is sometimes said that the only thing that is real are the observations, but even that is not true: observations are not real either. They, and everything else, are purely mental.”  Such an understanding of philosophic idealism, as given credence to by quantum mechanical theory, is entirely in keeping with the posthumous literature.

Paul Smith, Sat 8 Jan, 06:34

Dear Amos,

Regarding Burns and his poem, everyone knows the line “the best laid plans of mice and men…” – which was adapted by John Steinbeck as a novel title – but few know the line’s provenance.  I find that I am always deeply affected by the conclusion of the stanza, which immediately follows that famous line:

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

The entirety of the poem, including a fine rhymed translation into modern English, may be found here:

While we are on the subject of regret and longing in the context of Burns, perhaps I might close with nod to a lovely rendition of Burns “My Heart’s in the Highlands”, performed by the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir: [lyrics here: ]]

Here, although of course Burns is longing for his beloved Highlands, there is something also present of the spirit of haunting longing captured in the German ‘sehnsucht’, which C.S. Lewis wrote of so movingly: “that unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of ‘The Well at the World’s End’, the opening lines of ‘Kubla Khan’, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.”  Commenting in terms which cannot but find a profound resonance in a blog such as this, he observed, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Paul, Sat 8 Jan, 06:14

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is reported to have said that the ‘consciousness of humans and other animals is the same, only the form is different.’ I agree except that I think there is evolution of consciousness as there is of physical forms.  With each return to physical life, consciousness evolves to a higher level of understanding. Probably lower levels of consciousness don’t cogitate or ruminate over their existence.  They simply live their lives without concern for their eventual destiny either here or hereafter.  Each consciousness is a part of the Great Consciousness whether or not it is in a human form or in the form of the smallest living thing. Consciousness has no size—-no dimensions.  It is pure energy that from time to time occupies physical form.  – AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 7 Jan, 18:57

Picking up on AOD’s musings about our fellow creatures and Paul’s fetching poem about mice and men, I wanted to mention a scientific study I came across a number of years ago.

It had to do with cockroaches, and the scientists were trying to determine whether these primitive insects were essentially all the same, instinctively driven without individuality (as they assumed), or whether even cockroaches had something of their own character and personality.

Subjected to a variety of experimental settings, it turned out that there were smart cockroaches and dull ones, brave ones and cowardly ones, adventurous ones and conservative ones, etc. What stunned the scientists was that even on the level of a primitive insect, there were distinct character traits and expressions of individual personality.

My favorite mainstream scientist (astrophysics), Richard Conn Henry, led by quantum mechanics from atheism to deism (to escape solipsism), maintains that it is the miraculous nature of THIS life—even, it would seem, as lived by a cockroach—that provides the firmest foundation for belief in an afterlife.

Now Dick Henry hasn’t read Michael’s books or delved into the wonders of mediumship as we do here, but doesn’t this astrophysicist have a point, one made by many others: that an afterlife would be only a much smaller miracle in comparison to the life we’re experiencing right now?

Schweitzer observed that a reflective person begins his or her thinking with this recognition, that life itself is an utter miracle, while the unreflective person, however intelligent and educated, takes his or her life simply as a given fact and goes from there.

Kierkegaard, in turn, talks about the necessity of knotting the thread before we begin to sew, whether with a needle or with the mind. Is not the miracle of THIS life the knot that must be tied before real and lasting progress can be made in thinking about the next?

Newton E. Finn, Fri 7 Jan, 18:04

Interesting Paul, thanks for the quote from Robert Burns, one line of which I often utter in a garbled way when things don’t go as planned.

“The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”

Sometimes I say “Oft gang agley”  I don’t know how I know that line but it is probably thanks to my high school English teacher, Miss Elizabeth Graham, long since gone to her reward. - AOD.

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 7 Jan, 14:03

This morning I dreamed of being in a grey and uninviting city. The unhappy crowd was growing and there was a feeling of unsafety. I left my parked car and met someone who proposed to get away from the city. There was the police trying to control the mass and when we passed the barricades there was no more crowd. The other guy went for his car and picked me up at the highway. Then I woke up ,opened my eyes and saw a ball of light vanishing in great speed out of the room. I knew it was a visite from a spirit and I wrote a poem about the dream, although I did’t know the meaning of the dream. As the poem grew I pictured the athmosphere of the city ,but than I felt that there was need for a conclusion…we drove to a landscape of fields and meadows and stopped for a walk in nature to find our peace of mind back again looking at the gracious flowers and listening to the birds.
What I want to tell with this story is that no matter if it’s about a dream or a medium, the messages we get are translations and interpretations of our or their human mind. That is a correct statement of Betty, but I wonder it better to not have messages or don’t listen to them because of the translation or do they have their value ? With translating those messages I follow my gut feeling and often ,strangely enough, when I’m typing something that has not the right feeling, my keyboard starts to act weird.

Chris, Fri 7 Jan, 11:08

In my last comment, I stated that Dr. Stephen Iacoboni’s book, “The Undying Soul,” was the “most meaningful I have ever read.”  I meant to qualify that by saying that it is the most meaningful I had read dealing with the mindset of dying people.

As long as my fingers are now loosened up at my normal 100 wpm speed, I’ll add an interesting comment by Stewart Edward White dealing with life on the Other Side.

“[The Invisibles] say that any attempt at factual description must be translated from their terms to ours; that in these matters we simply do not speak the same language, that the translation is almost certain to be garbled. They instance the ‘brick houses’ and ‘cigars’ in ‘Raymond’ (by Sir Oliver Lodge). The ideas back of the words were genuine, but the brain of the receiving station translated that idea, whatever it was, into cigars and brick houses. Some association of ideas, possibly bodily ease and comfort, to [medium Gladys Osborne Leonard] was connoted by the comfortable smell of cigar smoke and shelter. Betty called any attempt at precise description of her present habitat as ‘getting Oliverlodgish.”  Better no picture at all than a false one, she says.”

Michael Tymn, Fri 7 Jan, 08:19

Dear Amos,

The opening statement of your most recent comment reminds me of the final stanza of Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” - written, so the story has it, after “Burns was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, which it needed to survive the winter,” - in which he comments that the mouse is favored in comparison to himself, in that “The present only toucheth thee”.  The last two stanzas read:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear![

Or, in modern English,

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes of mice and men
Go oft awry,
And leave us naught but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

Paul Smith, Thu 6 Jan, 23:27

“As Pavel withdrew from his physical body, Iacoboni witnessed a “celestial” apparition, a manifestation that was very convincing to him.” - I too am interested in his book. Witnessing end of life transitions - hospice workers and medical professionals have insight that doesn’t make it into a book. A co-worker shared with me her amazement in visiting a dying relative - seeing a ball of light exit the deceased and blaze a trail out of the room, across the floor and through the hospital door. Changed her mind about death.

WENDY GARRETT, Thu 6 Jan, 23:25

Dear Amos,

The opening statement of your most recent comment reminds me of the final stanza of Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse” - written, so the story has it, after “Burns was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, which it needed to survive the winter,” - in which he comments that the mouse is favored in comparison to himself, in that “The present only toucheth thee”.  The last two stanzas read:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear![

Or, in modern English,

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes of mice and men
Go oft awry,
And leave us naught but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

Paul, Thu 6 Jan, 22:16

Meaning, purpose and goodness as applied to life are all subjective evaluations restricted to the human species. One does not know whether other species have any thoughts about the meaning, purpose or goodness of life.  Probably they do not.  It is only when consciousness evolves to a higher cognitive ability does it consider life’s meaning, purpose and goodness. Those considerations are individualistic and based usually upon one’s actual life experiences influenced by culture, customs, religious beliefs, relationships, amount of formal and/or experiential education, physical and mental health, environment, and maybe the period of time in which one lives. One cannot generalize but most of us have a life of meaning, purpose and goodness however small.  It’s only that we don’t know what that is until we are able to look at it from ‘the other side’.- AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 6 Jan, 21:09

Thank you for bringing to my attention the book The Undying Soul. I will definitely buy it as you did a great job of selling it. It sounds incredibly interesting given that it was written by an oncologist.

I did not exaggerate when I said a retired family doctor friend (who was in his 80s) told me and my mom that he lost count of all the patients he had that were given terminal diagnoses and who almost went out of their minds,  in complete states of panic, rage, etc, at some point after receiving such news. I don’t doubt it as our ego has such a strong hold over most of us.

Lee, Thu 6 Jan, 20:24

Lee, I’m sure there are many exceptions to the tremble, despair, and panic state. I just can’t recall having met any.  I’m going to copy and paste a book review I did some years ago.  The book didn’t do especially well, but I thought it was the most meaningful I have ever read. The title of the book is “The Undying Soul,” by Stephen J. Iacoboni, M.D.

“ for many of us, ego had dominated soul for lifetime. It had the grip of a vice rusted shut, clamped tight upon his psyche unto his last breath and heartbeat.”

So writes Dr. Stephen J. Iacoboni of one of his dying patients in his book “The Undying Soul.”  After reading just the first chapter of this book, I was in such awe of the author’s writing and message that I assumed the book would be near the top of the best seller list, right up there with Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven.  I didn’t realize at the time that the book was published in 2010.  I had assumed it was a very recent release, and I was surprised to see that it was not highly ranked at However, I reserved further judgment until I was able to finish reading the book, after which I shook my head in bewilderment, still wondering why the book has not been a best seller.  As I see it, it should be the first book read in every college philosophy and religion class.  It should be required reading for every medical student, for every cancer patient, for every hospice patient, for every skeptic, for every pseudoskeptic, for everybody.  I believe it goes to the very heart of the chaos we have in the world today.

Iacoboni is an oncologist, who at the time of publication, had 28 years of experience and had witnessed many thousands of deaths, the majority of them people dying in a state of despair.  He began his medical career as a hard core atheist, commenting that “discussing a concept like soul was unthinkable.”  Fresh out of medical school, he wanted “to prove that science and logic could triumph over anything – even cancer.”  However, after establishing himself in his career, he began to realize that something was missing. Neither he nor his colleagues were able to offer any real comfort to those who had exhausted all medical treatment and were deemed terminal.  He observed an “unspoken conspiracy of silence” relative to imminent death among his colleagues and patients.  The medical approach to the spirit side of things was “not science, not our job.”  As a result, many patients expired whimpering and with gnashing of teeth. 

Iacoboni found that many cancer patients had unrealistic expectations and didn’t want their hopes dashed.  They pleaded for or demanded a cure.  While trying not to extinguish what little hope there might have been, Iacoboni tried to be more honest with them than other doctors.  Most of the terminal patients were, however, unable to accept the truth of their condition and lived their remaining days in a state of despair. 

“Never did we look for or try to save the soul of our patients,” Iacoboni offers.  “We were supposedly among the most brilliant medical investigators in the world, and yet we had no knowledge of or interest in that which mattered most.”

As Iacoboni came to see it, the real enemy is the fear of death – “a fear that can only be overcome by recognition that we each have a soul that will never die.”  He devotes separate chapters to different patients, using pseudonyms, of course, beginning with those who most feared death and died in anguish, before discussing several patients who quietly accepted their fate and departed with a puzzling serenity, seemingly even with eagerness and wonder. 

Phillip, one of the patients in the first category, was 60 years old and had just retired from a career in computer technology when he was diagnosed with an aggressive case of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  “Like me, Phillip had long before abandoned religious faith in favor of modern science,” Iacoboni writes. “Unlike faith, however, science provides no refuge when hope is gone.” As Phillip’s condition deteriorated and he marched toward the abyss in “utter isolation,” Iacoboni felt helpless, unable to offer him any comforting words. It was Phillip’s spiritually-deprived death – so like many others he had attended – that prompted Iacoboni to search for answers outside of mainstream medicine. But he was so locked into the dogma of science that he didn’t know where to look. “It wasn’t so much the fact of their deaths that bothered me,” Iacoboni explains.  “Rather it was the fact that they died without the comfort of finding peace with their hearts and souls before they passed on.”

He observed that so many people, so wrapped up in the “materialists’ narrow, spiritually crippling world view” had dismissed God in all the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives, then when facing imminent death, were desperate but didn’t know where to turn.

It was a man he calls Pavel from Ukraine who was to put Iacoboni “on the path toward discovering the undying soul.  All through his treatment for leukemia, Pavel displayed a certain grace and serenity.  “I had known other Christians who had faced their deaths fearlessly, but only a handful,” Iacoboni says, referring to Pavel, “Unfortunately, the majority of patients I’d watched die from cancer did not seem to derive significant comfort from their faith at the end…”  But Pavel remained upbeat, happy and gracious right up until the time his physical body expired.”  Moreover, Pavel rejected any sedatives, something Iacoboni had never witnessed and which he found “more mesmerizing than ten thousand ocean sunsets whereupon light fades to black.”  As Pavel withdrew from his physical body, Iacoboni witnessed a “celestial” apparition, a manifestation that was very convincing to him.

Iacoboni goes on to tell of several other patients who died “mystically.” The evidence that he received was very subjective – he refers to it as “other-worldly” – and probably won’t be all that meaningful to most readers.  What is meaningful is Dr. Iacoboni’s initial despair, his quest, his observations, his conversion and all of the wisdom that grew out of his spiritual awakening.

Michael Tymn, Thu 6 Jan, 19:47

There’s only one belief that is of any value, and that is that when we are ready to understand, all purpose will be revealed, all you have to do is keep the door open, which is why I come here.

As if, Thu 6 Jan, 19:41

Thank you all for taking the time to answer my question. There is a lot of great information being passed on by all of you and I greatly appreciate it. It is nice to be part of such a caring community of intellectuals who are seekers of truth.

Michael, I want to comment on what you said about knowing people who basically go into panic mode and lose their minds when learning of their terminal illness. A doctor friend of the family commented, after my died of terminal cancer , how he was amazed at how stoic my dad was during the entire ordeal. He died with great dignity, unlike many patients this doctor took care of, many of whom were given news of terminal illness and then went absolutely insane with panic, etc. Of course I don’t know if any of those who went into full panic mode after being diagnosed with a terminal illness believed in the afterlife, but I know my dad did not believe in an afterlife. My mom even told me not to bring up this possibility with him prior to his death.

I don’t know if I would have reacted as stoichly as my dad after he was told he had likely less than a year to live, and then suffered greatly with his liver cancer. I recall how once when I thought I had symptoms of cancer how my mind immediately started to jump into panic mode even though I believed that consciousness survives. Maybe it is not so much the fear of the possibility of non-existence but the fear of pain to come before death that causes some to go into complete panic mode, or perhaps indeed it is the thought of non-existence that sends many over the edge after being given a terminal illness diagnosis. My dad was a really strong man mentally, very dignified to the end, never complaining or asking why him. I hope he continues to exist and a reading I had with a spiritist church leader tells me he likely does, based on her being 100% correct about the 14 specific statements she made about him- over the phone without cold reading-  that she could not have known through normal senses (maybe she just had an incredible day guessing that day we spoke…).

I will re-read all the posts to my question as there is so much to ponder (I missed the bigger point from one of those who commented so I will need to carefully read that post again). Thanks again all for weighing in with your helpful input.

Lee, Thu 6 Jan, 17:54

Paul has offered a deep and powerful analysis of the devolution of the human spirit flowing from the rejection of a transcendent dimension. Michael has shared his personal experiences of friends who plunged from Paul’s first level of materialism to the horror of the fourth and final one. Now ask yourself whether any of Michael’s friends, suddenly beset by crippling existential despair, reduced to utter fear and trembling before the looming abyss, would snap their fingers (if they could, which, of course, they can’t) and be selfish enough in their agony to take EVERYTHING with them into nothingness—the existence and experience of every human being and every other creature, past, present, and future, everything that has ever been, is, or will be—to wipe out the entire universe as if it had never existed, as George Bailey wanted (pre-Clarence) to wipe out his individual life. THAT was my question to Lee in response to his. And if the answer is no, as I suspect it would be for any even momentarily reflective person, however excruciating his or her current suffering, then does that not indicate that this life, even without an afterlife, has some sort of inherent meaning or value? Does the fact that something does not last forever, as most things, perhaps all things, obviously do not, deprive that thing of any vestige of goodness? God forbid.

Newton E. Finn, Thu 6 Jan, 17:03

I apologize for not being able to respond to a couple of questions here, but I have had some conflicts, including a computer problem that AOL does not seem to know how to fix. After about 20 years with them as my internet carrier or whatever they are called, I might have to change.

I very much appreciate the comments by Brett and Chris and the comments and concerns of others. To Paul, I would say that I don’t recall the Gaelic Manuscripts, but I look forward to reading about them.

As for Lee’s question about the purpose of life, I would just boil it all down what others have said to the summary from Betty and The Invisibles in “The Unobstructed Universe,”—that it is all about developing and expanding individual consciousness, both in quality and quantity, and thereby contributing to the development and expansion of the whole.  Of course, one might then ask “to what end?” Betty and The Invisibles had not advanced enough to answer that question and so we return to Martin Luther’s comment to Victor Hugo about doubt and uncertainty being necessary for the human spirit to advance or spiritually evolve. There is so much abstruseness and abstractness in all of this that at some point we have to be content with our limited answers.

I have known many of those people Lee talks about as being content with facing extinction or obliteration, and it has been my observation that at some point they begin, as Kierkegaard put it, “trembling.”  The trembling eventually turns to fear, despair, and panic, if they live long enough. I can still hear a long-time friend crying and screaming over the phone about 24 hours before he gave up the ghost. A month or so earlier, when he received a terminal prognosis, he had a very rude awakening and the bravado he had previously displayed, including his indifference to the question of survival, began to quickly melt. I could cite a current case of a friend who recently lost a loved one now being in great despair while apparently becoming an alcoholic, but I dare not go into detail here.  I suspect that those who die accidentally before reaching that point have to deal with it on the other side, i.e., their limited consciousness does not permit them to fully awaken on the Other Side. As I further understand, it is easier to develop and expand consciousness on this side than the Other Side.

I don’t pretend to have many answers.  My objective is simply to pass on seemingly credible “teachings” supposedly coming to us from the spirit world. for whatever they are worth to the reader for him or her to ponder on and discern if there is such a need. I no doubt misjudge at times in selecting the “most credible,” but I give it my best shot.

Michael Tymn, Thu 6 Jan, 12:05

Oh, yes,I forgot an important remark:be open to recieve.You can not hear radiowaves without a radio!
So be open minded to the invisable.

Chris, Thu 6 Jan, 09:21

I said it before, Lee. Why not ask your question to the divine where you believe in (or are doubtful about) and ask for signs and synchronicities.We can only give advice, but nobody can convince you because you need to experience that yourself, it is your quest.

Chris, Thu 6 Jan, 09:17

Dear Lee,

Although for myself my doubts on the question of posthumous survival have been, in practical terms, resolved – apart from some residuum of minor unresolved matters – and while the ‘fact’ of posthumous survival clearly and powerfully gives meaning to this embodied life, my own understanding is that such meaning may be clearly and powerfully established apart from the question of survival.  The basic problem with adopting – even provisionally – the outlook of meaninglessness, of absurdity, is that it is impossible to do so fully without entering into self-contradiction.  The question we are facing here is that of nihilism, but the problem with contemporary nihilism, which is rampant if broadly unrecognized, is that it is a half-hearted, inconsistent affair.

This is what Nietzsche was pointing out in his famous “Parable of the Madman”.  One of the key lessons driven home by this parable is that humanity had yet to come to grips with the consequences of its rejection of the Transcendent: “‘I have come too early,’ he said then; ‘my time is not yet.’”  Nietzsche saw into the consequences of the death of God and the ensuing nihilism that this necessarily entailed in a way that, even today, few moderns truly have.  Yet Nietzsche, in an attempt to salvage and erect personal values, was himself blind to even further consequences of nihilism.  There are, it appears, four broad misapprehensive layers of nihilist conception that may be identified, nihilism’s ground – or “zero point” – being encountered only at the bottommost layer.  At each level, it might be said, God and all His consequences for the human spirit are put to death again, and more thoroughly, until at the last both He and we in consequence are entirely undone.  There is nothing more to be said, and indeed nothing more can be said, for at this level, all has been drained of its last coherence in a state of conception as uninhabitable to man as the furthest depths of space:

a) Naïve Naturalism/Secularism: God is Dead (Nietzsche’s Madman), but the sense of meaning is unaffected.
b)  First Level Existential Nihilism: Recognition of the loss of objective meaning and values, but the perception that these may be legitimately constructed and asserted anew by the individual.
c)  Second Level Existential Nihilism: Recognition of the loss of objective meaning and values and that any attempt to assert such individually is philosophically impossible.
d) Zero Point Existential Nihilism: Recognition that the very structures of one’s immediate conception – reason, truth, meaning, value, intention and so forth – are incoherent.
The problem is, most secular moderns are stuck at a), rather than seeing clear to d).  Thus, even the most truculent of reductive materialists are, in practice, inescapably incoherent in their materialism.  Indeed, any attempt to argue for materialism invokes an entire set of categories – consciousness, reason, value, truth – which stand in evidence of the Transcendent and have no place in a strictly materialist conception.  A quote from the late Roger Scruton’s valuable work, “An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture” (p.68), brings this point home with great force:
“To understand the depth of the. . . ‘as if’ is to understand the condition of the modern soul. We know that we are animals, parts of the natural order, bound by laws which tie us to the material forces which govern everything.  We believe that the gods are our invention, and that death is exactly what it seems.  Our world has been disenchanted and our illusions destroyed. At the same time we cannot live as though that were the whole truth of our condition.  Even modern people are compelled to praise and blame, love and hate, reward and punish.  Even modern people. . . are aware of self, as the centre of their being; and even modern people try to connect to other selves around them.  We therefore see others as if they were free beings, animated by a self. . . and with more than a worldly destiny.  If we abandon that perception, then human relations dwindle into a machine-like parody. . . the world is voided of love, [moral] duty and [aesthetic] desire, and only the body remains. . .”

There are numerous aspects of common and immediate experience that appear to point beyond a strictly materialist conception: the immediate experience of consciousness and the entire sensorium of qualia accompanying it, the experience of cognition and the sufficiency of reason to apprehend truths, the inescapable domain of ‘oughts’ – of values and morals – which again have no place in a realm of brute material facts, and the existence of ‘universals’ – of which mathematics furnishes many examples – which are quite self-evidently possessed of a reality that cannot possibly be grounded in materiality.  To put it pointedly, there are no transcendentals (meaning, reason, justice, …) without the Transcendent (God, the Divine, Universal Reason, …), but without the transcendentals, we are left with nothing…not even the capacity to assert existential despair.

Paul, Thu 6 Jan, 05:24

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Fallen Soldier Convinces His Famous Father of Life After Death – On September 14, 1915, Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge, the youngest of six sons of Sir Oliver Lodge, a distinguished British physicist and pioneer in electricity and radio, as well as the former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was killed in WWI action in Flanders. Read here
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