What the Hindu Spirit Told an Anglican Priest
Posted on 02 May 2016, 12:06
As the Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, saw it, Christian teachers and writers had failed to provide sufficient information about the afterlife. They had “so enshrouded it, as it were, in mental mistiness, that to many it has seemed a vague, inhuman and unreal existence, a veritable ‘world of shadows’.” Thus, Chambers took it upon himself to further study the subject and report on it, which he did in an 1894 book, Our Life After Death, and again in a 1900 book, Man and the Spiritual World.
Chambers’s studies included sitting with a young trance medium, although he does not use the word “medium” to describe him. He was simply a young man, the acquaintance of a friend, “who had recently manifested extraordinary powers that astonished himself and upset the ideas of the members of the religious community to which he belonged.” He was told by those members that the cause of what he had exhibited was Satanic, but Chambers was more open-minded and decided to talk with the young man. He discovered that “he was by no means a well-educated person. He dropped his aspirates, made grammatical blunders, and badly constructed his sentences.” After Chambers talked with him for some time, the young man appeared to faint and remained motionless for about five minutes.
“My friends had previously seen him in this condition, and told me he was under control, and in a trance-state,” Chamber wrote, taking careful notes.
The man raised himself in the chair, his eyes still closed, and commenced to speak in a language unknown to Chambers. A lady in the group who had lived in India for several years said she recognized it as Hindustanee. According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state. At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India. The following lengthy conversation was recorded and reported in the 1900 book.
Chambers: You claim – do you not – to be a spiritual intelligence speaking through the physical organs of Mr. A?
Chambers: Who are you?
Answer: I am a man who lived in India, when in the earth-life, and spent a great portion of my time in studying the truths that relate to this World in which I now am.
Chambers: Is Mr. A. conscious that you are speaking through him?
Answer: No. The controlling power of his material body, which is his spirit-body, is in a state of unconsciousness, and I am exercising the control.
Chambers: If you, as you say, are taking the place of the spirit in Mr. A. in regard to his physical body, has his spirit left that body?
Chambers: Where is it, or rather, where is he?
Answer: In this room, in a state of unconsciousness.
Chambers: But how can that be? Can a man’s spirit leave his body before death?
Answer: Most certainly it can, and does, at times. But you as a teacher of the Bible should know that truth.
Chambers: Does the Bible then declare it?
Answer: Most assuredly. Does not an apostle say that he was caught up into the third sphere of the Spiritual World; and yet his earthly body did not die until some years afterwards?
Chambers: Yes, I am familiar with that statement; but St. Paul himself did not seem to be quite sure whether he was in his outer body, or out of it.
Answer: This is quite possible. Many persons, after passing through what you call “dying,” having left the earthly body behind, do not, for a while, realise that it has been cast off. They are still, after the change, so really men and women. The apostle when he had the experience mentioned was out of his earthly body, and the latter was in a state of trance.
Chambers: When the spirit of a person is outside his body, is the connection between the spirit and the body maintained?
Answer: Yes, were it not, the earthly body would die.
Chambers: Would it under such circumstances be possible to break the connection between an external spirit and its earthly body?
Answer: Yes. A sudden shock might bring it about. Hence to violently arouse a person in a state of trance – when very often the spirit is absent from the body – is very dangerous. It may break the connection, and then the body would die.
Chambers: I have taught and still teach that the separation of the spirit and spirit-body from its earthly encasement takes place shortly after the death. Am I right in this?
Answer: No: you are wrong. The separation takes place immediately before
the death of the body.
Chambers: That rather astonishes me.
Answer: I will explain. A little while before death, the spirit-body of a person releases itself from the physical form and floats at full length above the latter, with which it is still connected by something not unlike a fine cord. The physical body, as yet, is still alive, but it no longer contains the man. He is in the spirit-body, but unconscious. When that fine spiritual cord is snapped, the separation is effected, and the material life expires. You have the physical counterpart of this cord in the connection that exists between mother and the babe at birth. The severance of a cord is the preliminary entrance of both the man and the babe into a higher plane of being.
From this point on the dialogue is abridged.
Chambers: What is your object in controlling the body of Mr. A?
Answer: To establish a communication through him with the world I have left.
Chambers: For what end?
Answer: To try and convince men of the fact of a World of Spirit.
Chambers: But surely, that fact is acknowledged, is it not? We Christians, for example, acknowledge it.
Answer: Yes; in a way. Your Bible is full of testimony regarding it, and you profess to accept its teaching; but not one in every thousand who attend your churches grasps the truths concerning the Spiritual World that Scripture declares.
Chambers: Is that not too sweeping an assertion?
Answer: No; you well know that many who read their Bible school themselves to think that all the spiritual facts recorded therein actually did take place thousands of years ago; but ask them to believe that like things are happening now; what will they say? Will they not declare it to be incredible and absurd?
Chambers: Are they wrong?
Answer: Why ask such a question! Do you suppose that the Spiritual World is now different from what it was before, and at the time when Christ sojourned on your earth? Nearly all the phases of spiritual manifestation described in the Bible are present occurrences.
Chambers: If that be so, how comes it that the truth is not better realised?
Answer: Because the tendency of men’s minds is too materialistic. When that is the case, a revelation of the Spiritual becomes more difficult.
Answer: Because of the feebleness, through disuse, of internal faculties by which the Spiritual can be approached. You have the correspondence of this in the physical world. Were you never to use your eyes and your ears there would come a time when, although the organs might still remain, it would be exceedingly difficult to get those eyes and ears to perceive sights and sounds which exercised eyes and ears can perceive.
Chambers: Do you imply that many Christians who believe in a World to come fail to perceive the whole truth concerning the Spiritual?
Answer: Most certainly I do. If you doubt this, question them on the point. Will you find more than one in every hundred, or thousand, who has any idea of a Spiritual World, except as a far off Heaven at a future time?
Chambers: I am afraid your assertion is true. ...Is it granted to all who leave the earth-life to set up – as you claim to be doing – this phase of communication with the physical?
Answer: No; many wish to do so, but are not permitted.
Chambers: Why so?
Answer: In the case of many spirits, the wish does not spring from a desire to benefit you on the earth plane, but from a mere longing for contact with the world they have left.
Chambers: Is this longing wrong?
Answer: It is harmful unless dictated and sanctified by the promptings of love and unselfishness.
Chambers: Explain, please; I do not fully understand you.
Answer: If a spirit, not prompted by love and unselfishness, control a person, he harms both himself and the person he controls.
Chambers: In what way does he harm himself?
Answer: By retarding his progress in the Spiritual World. The desire to continue in close contact with the physical, for the sake of contact itself, checks his advance on a higher plane of life and thought. In the case, however, of physical contact being desired only that love and unselfishness may find a field of exercise, the spirit is unharmed, nay more, he is often advanced by the experience. Thus, the contact of Christ with the physical did not diminish aught from the moral and spiritual excellence of His being. His love and unselfishness grew grander thereby.
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
To be continued on May 16