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Stafford Betty:  No Pretender, No Player, No Wimp

Posted on 30 June 2014, 17:54

A roving reporter for a TV talk show program recently stopped people on the street and asked them to name the person they admired most.  The first person named Johnny Depp, a movie actor best known for portraying a pirate.  I was puzzled that a person whose main contribution to humanity is pretending to be a pirate could be so admired.  Bad enough that a person would admire a pirate, but a pirate pretender, a fake pirate?  Another person named Tiger Woods, an athlete who doesn’t seem to do much more than hit little white balls into holes in the ground, as the person he most admired.

Other people also named actors and athletes. Since acting and sports are all about pretending and playing, what does that say about our modern world, about reality?  In effect, we have replaced the real world with a fantasy world. And we reward the pretenders and players with ridiculous contracts so that we can escape into their fantasy world.

I got to wondering whom I would name if stopped on the street by that roving reporter.  It definitely would not be a pretender or a player, which meant that the person’s name would mean little to the reporter or the audience.  I decided I would name Stafford Betty (Below).

betty

The reporter would no doubt ask me to identify Stafford Betty and I would respond by telling him that he is a professor of religious studies and philosophy at California State University in Bakersfield, California.  But I would have to go on to explain that Dr. Betty is not your garden variety academician, certainly not your run-of-the-mill professor of religion or of philosophy.  He is very much a maverick when it comes to philosophy and the teaching of religion.  Unlike so many other educators, he doesn’t beat around the bush on topics that others find too risky, too unconventional, or too “unscientific” to discuss or even consider.  He has done extensive research in such subjects as mediumship, past-life studies, near-death experiences, and death-bed visions, separating the wheat from the chaff in his efforts to reconcile these phenomena with religious dogma and doctrine and with accepted scientific truths.  He has arrived at a reality that makes so much more sense than that offered to us by either orthodox religion or mainstream science, and, in spite of peer pressure to back away from his unorthodox and “unscientific” beliefs and teachings he has refused to “wimp out,” as others have.

According to one survey, roughly 70 percent of academic philosophers are atheists or lean in that direction, while only 16 percent believe in God, the remainder falling in an “other” category, apparently agnostic.  Such numbers certainly suggest that the younger and future generations are having their minds plowed with a materialistic philosophy, one called “humanism,” which essentially says, “eat, drink, and be merry” now, because tomorrow you’ll be extinct.  While this humanistic “living in the moment” philosophy works for some in their younger years, when they are busy raising a family and pursuing careers, it fails most people in the second half of life, as they approach the abyss into what they see as “nothingness,” because it offers no hope.  No hope results in despair.  The best way to counter despair is to jump into that fantasy world, admiring pretend pirates and people who hit little white balls into holes. 

“Most of us are addicted to earth’s immediate pleasures and unaware of our hidden depths and destiny,” Betty begins his latest book, Heaven and Hell Unveiled. “We get a little help from our religious leaders, but we need much more.” 
 
Betty’s focus is on the real life, not the pretend life.  He is concerned with the two most important questions that face humans: What is this life all about?  What happens after death? He has devoted much of his life to finding answers to these questions and has come up with some reasonable and credible answers.  He shared some of these answers in an earlier book, The Afterlife Unveiled, a 2011 publication, but has added to that in his latest release, published by White Crow Books.  “The first book mainly deals with the nature of the afterlife in general – a subject recently treated by quite a few other writers,” he explains the difference.  “[My latest] book emphasizes what we are expected to do there if we are to advance and not return to earth for another try. As I did the research and then the writing, I had the feeling I had stumbled on something new.” 

As Betty further explains, he lost his faith during his mid-twenties and despaired at the thought of a world without meaning followed by extinction.  However, he overcame his despair when he discovered the riches of spirit literature.  He found “a joyous, compassionate, loving, powerful, boundless, light-filled Reality at the hub of the universe with an outreach that extended to the epicenter of my soul, a Being that would resonate with a Buddhist as well as a Christian.  A God roomy enough even for an atheist.” But he is quick to admit that he is not a mystic, medium, or saint, and that he doesn’t have everything figured out.  “I’m an aspiring seeker and a pretty good researcher,” he states. “And I can tell you this with some assurance:  We are all about to enter a fascinating world.  And the more we know about it, the less scary death will be – at least if we are basically decent people.”

Although most of orthodox religion believes that the book of revelation is long closed, Betty’s research suggests that revelation is still coming to us in many ways, including communication from the spirit world.  A number of distinguished scholars and scientists, including Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, Sir William Crookes, a pioneering chemist, and Sir William Barrett, a respected physicist, all discovered the same thing that Betty is now writing about long before he was even born. But materialistic science so feared a return to religious superstition and folly that it refused to seriously consider the research of those distinguished men.  Much of their research remained in dust-covered cabinets until recently when Betty and others began dusting off those old cabinets and unlocking the drawers. 

“The best of spirit communicators are driven by love for our sorrowing world,” Betty writes. “Often they see the root of the problem in materialist philosophy that denies the reality of spirit.” 

He goes on to quote one apparently advanced spirit communicator of the last century:  “At the root of all your evils is…ignorance of spiritual law.  Do you not realize that, once the gospel of materialism and all the self-interest it teaches is exploded forever, you have rid the world of its greatest curse?...Men have built their lives upon false foundations.  Nations have tried to organize their policies on the principle of national self-interest.  Dictators have risen and have become tyrannical, only because they have been subservient to the gospel that might is right.  Do you not see how necessary this knowledge is, not only to the individual, not only to the nation, but to the whole world?”

A big part of the problem, as Betty sees it, is that Christianity is too hung up on “seeing God face to face” and believing that “heaven” is a 24/7 worship service.  He points out that our spirit friends don’t claim to see God, and their lives are filled with all kinds of activity other than worship.  In a chapter entitled “The Divine Source,” Betty offers a comment by the discarnate John Thomas to his son Drayton Thomas, a Methodist minister, through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard, one of the most credible mediums in the annals of psychical research.  When the father told the son that he had never seen God, the son asked his father if we will ever be able to see God.  “I do not think that, as you develop and progress, you will wish to see Him,” the father responded.  “You will not wish to limit Him in that way…you would have brought Him down, made Him into a Being only one-millionth part of that which He is.”

Another very thought-provoking comment came from the discarnate Frederic Myers, when he communicated that “God does not love.  For love is a human virtue that is like a flame that leaps up and down.”  Myers went on to say that “if God possessed love, as man understands it, the history of the world would have been changed rather for evil than for good.  God is greater than love.  That is the phrase you should utter.” 

While the world’s major religions all tell us that we will be judged after death, the testimony collected by Betty indicates they are wrong in the details.  “Nowhere is there mention of a God sitting on a throne with scepter in hand,” he writes.  “Nowhere does it seem that some external being of any kind does the judging.”  Rather, Betty’s research indicates, we are judged by our own spirit selves.  And rather than ending up in the blissful heaven or horrendous hell taught by orthodox religion, there are many stages, spheres, or planes, the soul gravitating to the place he or she has earned by his or her works in the material life and then progressing from there.  Betty quotes another spirit source:  “[The afterlife] is no sensuous ease in a heaven of eternal rest; no fabled psalm-singing around the great white throne, whereon sits the God; no listless, dreamy idleness, cheaply gained by cries for pity or by fancied faith; none of these…”

The unthinking non-believer might jump to the conclusion that Betty is promoting the afterlife to the detriment of this one. However, such is clearly not the case.  He is concerned with making this life a more meaningful one by understanding what comes after death and being better prepared for it.  He admits to hitting little white balls into holes now and then and maybe even occasionally taking in a pirate movie to escape the turmoil of modern living. 

As Thomas Carlyle, the renowned nineteenth-century philosopher saw it, the real heroes of our world – those who should be most admired – are the men and women who concern themselves with figuring out the mysteries of life, including the unseen world.


Heaven and Hell Unveiled: Updates from the World of Spirit by Stafford Betty is published by White Crow Books and is available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.


Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014

 


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The Death Process as Described by Andrew Jackson Davis

Posted on 16 June 2014, 9:08

Andrew Jackson Davis (August 11, 1826 – January 13, 1910) is remembered as a “seer” – in effect, a clairvoyant able to enter into a higher state of consciousness and access information otherwise unavailable to humans. In a trance state, he could diagnose illnesses and recommend cures and give lengthy lectures on esoteric subjects, in spite of the fact that he had a very limited education.  He is said to have been able to read closed books and to see the body as if it were transparent.  He discussed the existence of Neptune and Pluto before their actual discoveries, predicted air travel, and discoursed on the theory of evolution a decade before Darwin published On the Origin of Species.  His primary teachings, however, were on death and man’s state after death.

davis

Known as “The Poughkeepsie Seer,” Davis (above) authored many books.  In his book, The Temple, he described the death process as he observed it:

Death is the word used to signify ‘the end of life,’ spoken by persons who see not that seeming death is really ‘the beginning of life,’ and the opening of the sacred volume of eternity.  But let us peer through the seeming, into that which is within the veil.

“The person is now dying; and it is to be a rapid death.  Observe something about temperature.  The feet are cold; the hands hot and white; a coldness pervades the entire cuticle.  See?  What is that accumulating in the atmosphere just over the pillowed head?  It is an ethereal emanation – a golden magnetic halo – a throbbing, almost self-conscious atmosphere.

“The bodily temperature is now lowering rapidly.  The coldness has extended upward from the toes to the knees, and from the fingertips to the elbows; while, in exactly the same ratio, the emanation has ascended higher over the head.  The arms are now cold to the shoulders, and legs to the hips; and the emanation, although not higher in the air, is more expanded, with a compact white center, resembling the bright nucleus of a miniature sun. This brilliant central spot, is, in very truth, the brain of the new spiritual organism now forthcoming.

“The death-cold steals over the heaving breast, and around on either side the temperature is greatly diminished.  Look now! The psychic emanation contains some proportion of every principle composing the soul – motion, life sensation, ethers; essences, vital magnetism, vital electricity, instincts – and, much enlarged by accessions, it has floated up in a compact mass, and now occupies a higher altitude near the ceiling.

“Now the lungs have ceased to breathe, the pulse is still, the physical heart is motionless; while the brain cells, the corpus callosum, the medulla, and the spinal cord and ganglia, are ablaze with contractive and expansive energies, which gently pulsate and seem to direct and govern themselves by a kind of automatic self-consciousness.  See!  The negative (gray) substance of the brain is interiorly throbbing – a slow, measured, profoundly deep throb – not painful, but massive and harmonious like the deep heart-beat of the sea.

“Look up! The exalted emanation, obedient to its own changeless laws, is now elongated, and has attained a position at right angles with the horizontal body below.  Behold!  See how the outline of a beautiful human form is being fashioned within that emanation.  Beneath it is still tied by a white life-cord to the medulla and the corpus callosum within the brain.

“You observe that a very fine vitalic thread still connects the vortices and central fibers of the dying brain with the lower extremities of the exalted outlined human being in the atmosphere. Notwithstanding the existence of this life thread, which acts like a telegraphic conductor – conveying messages in opposite directions at the same moment – you observe that the shadowy image enveloped in a golden emanation, continues almost imperceptibly to ascend skyward.

“There! What do I now see?  A symmetrically shaped human head rising above the mass – slowly, beautifully rising out of the golden cloud of substantial principles.  And now appear the outlines of a spiritual countenance – a quiet face and full of beauty, surpassing the power of words to delineate.  Look again!  behold emerging the fair neck and beautiful shoulders; and see! as we gaze, out come one after the other, in a rapid succession, as if influenced and directed by the wand of a magician, all the parts of a new body – a bright, natural looking, yet spiritual image – only a little less than the deserted physical body, a perfect re-appearance of the person in the immediate heavens, prepared to accompany the celestial group of superintending intelligences to the Summerland.

“What was that?  In the twinkling of an eye the vitalic electrical telegraphic thread was snapped – the yet lingering particles and principles were suddenly attracted upward and absorbed into the spiritual body – and lo! the new organization is free of terrestrial gravitations, is instantly and absolutely independent of the weights and cares that chained it firmly imprisoned to earth.  (Those only are free at death who have lived righteously.  Any enthralling passion, the least feeling of duty undischarged, of injustice committed, holds the spirit to earth, as a ship is fastened by a heavy anchor.  Only the pure are free.)

“Here now behold a true, substantial, immortal, spiritual body.  It was sown in darkness and dishonor; it is raised in beauty and brightness. Behold the contrast – the vastly wide difference – between the interior and outward.  Cast your eyes around the room.  There are many friends, aged relatives, and little children, in the death chamber; they mourn, without the comfort even of blind faith; they grieve, with only the whisperings of hope to the doubting ear; they gather around the prostrate, cold body; they press together the lids of the sightless eyes; in silence and in sorrow they withdraw from the scene; and now other hands commence those final preparations with which the living consecrate the dead.

“But let us open our brighter eyes – the eyes that we shall all have when clothed with the deathless garment of immortality.  See! The newly organized spiritual body – surrounded by a group of guardian angels – moves gracefully off in the direction of celestial shores.  The arisen personality follows a vibrating thread of magnetic attraction, which while the dying mutations were in process we noticed penetrating the apartment and fastening itself to the earthly brain of the resurrected.  It comes floating down from the sensorium of superior intelligences – a golden fibrillous stream of telegraphic light – sent from on high, to greet with love and guide with wisdom the newly arisen.  The thought-laden love-thread tranquilly draws the new born higher up and farther away.

“Over the velvet lands and flower fields of the celestial country the bending bow of eternal promise is visible, filling with indescribable beauty the boundless ocean of world-laden skies, which cover the infinite loveliness the immeasurable zone-lands of the Hereafter.”


A Body Blown to Bits

At the Civil War battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, Davis witnessed a soldier blown into many parts by a cannon ball.  “I saw that all the particles streamed up and met together in the air,” he wrote.  “The atmosphere was filled with those golden particles – emanations from the dead – over the whole battlefield.  About three-quarters of a mile above the smoke of the battlefield – above all the ‘clouds that lowered’ upon the hills and forests of black discord, there was visible the beautiful accumulation from the fingers and toes and heart and brain of that suddenly killed soldier.  There stood the new spiritual body three-quarters of a mile above all the discord and din and havoc of the furious battle! And the bodies of many others were coming up from other directions at the same time.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014

Next blog post: June 30


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Why “Higher Truths” Have Been Rejected By Humans

Posted on 02 June 2014, 9:51

Why don’t they say something meaningful?  Why not tell us about how they live in the spirit world?  Why not give us a cure for cancer?  Why so much trivial stuff, like what happened to Uncle Jerry’s gold watch?  Such were the questions often asked by skeptics about messages purportedly coming from spirits in the early days of psychical research.  The same questions are still asked today. It is something of a Catch 22 situation; that is the “trivial stuff” is evidential and designed to convince people of the reality of spirit communication and a spirit world, while communication setting forth “higher truths” are not subject to validation or verification. 

Such skeptics only show their ignorance, as there were volumes of messages coming through mediums in those early years about the nature of the afterlife and its relationship to the material world.  As pointed out in my last blog post here, Adin Ballou,  possibly the first serious psychical researcher, explained some of it in his 1852 book, but much more was set forth by Judge John Edmonds and Dr. George T. Dexter in their 1853 book, Spiritualism, most of it purportedly communicated by the spirits of Emanuel Swedenborg, (below) a renowned 18th Century scientist, and Francis Bacon, a distinguished 17th Century scientist and philosopher. Not long after that, still in the 1850s, French researcher Allan Kardec provided a wealth of information supposedly coming from a number of advanced spirits, including Swedenborg.  Still in the 1850s, Robert Hare, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned inventor, recorded many messages relating to the nature of the afterlife and the laws governing it. 

swedenborg

Ballou noted that a number of mediums had been discredited and branded charlatans because the words supposedly coming from great minds in the spirit world were not consistent with their styles or modes of expression when in the earth life.  He concluded that these great minds in the spirit world, realizing how difficult it is to find a medium with the necessary intellectual capacity to convey their message, concerned themselves more with communicating fundamental principles and ideas than with the verbiage.  “I read communications purporting to come from these illustrious sources with a good deal of distrust,” he offered. “Yet, I cannot doubt that some of them are substantially authentic and reliable. 
These, however, are not all invulnerable to the objection.  A part of them exhibit the defects complained of.  How is this to be accounted for?  By making due allowances for the imperfection of the mediums. Perhaps not one in fifty of those yet developed is susceptible of sufficient spiricity to be a clear intellectual medium and at the same time passive enough not to perplex the impressions and expressions of a communicating spirit.  Yet, without this strength, clearness, and complete passivity of the medium, no spirit can be expected to give his own peculiar language.  The medium is a sort of amanuensis, translator, or interpreter of the spirit’s leading ideas.  In this character, mediums will exhibit, in various degrees, the defects of their own respective rhetoric.  Unless their perspicuity, force, and command of language be equal to that of the mind communicating through them, the same result will follow, as when an accomplished mind in the flesh is obliged to write or speak through a clumsy amanuensis, translator, or interpreter.” 

Ballou wondered why messages coming through mediums sometimes reflected their own ideas.  “In such cases the mediums are of recent development and very imperfect, or else, for the time being, are in an impassive, feverish state, greatly influenced by positive minds near them,” he opined. “These exercise a strong physical influence, and either suspend, or warp and deflect the action of the spirit attempting to respond.”

Edmonds, (below) who served as Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, also took note of   conflicting messages.  As he understood it, spirits do not become all-knowing once they enter the spirit world and thus they sometimes disagree with each other.  Much depends on their degree of advancement.  One of the problems was that spirits in the lower realms – the less advanced ones – could more easily communicate with people on earth than those spirits in a much higher vibration.  “There are at times contradictions and inconsistencies in spiritual intercourse, as all must be aware, but there is one remarkable fact, viz., that amid all these incongruities – through all mediums, whether partially or highly developed – from all the spirits who commune, whether progressed or unprogressed, there is a universal accordance on one point, and that is that we pass into the next state of existence just what we are in this; and that we are not suddenly changed into a state of perfection or imperfection, but find ourselves in a state of progression, and that this life on earth is but a preparation for the next, and the next but a continuation of this.”

edmonds

In fact, Edmonds, who set out to debunk mediums, developed mediumistic abilities of his own and soon recognized that most messages were subject to “moral taint” – that is, influenced by the mind of the medium.  “Take my own mediumship as an illustration.  The visions which I have are impressed on my mind as vividly and distinctly as any material object possibly can be, yet in giving them to others, I must rely upon and use my own powers of observation, my own memory, my own command of language, and I not infrequently labor under the difficulty of feeling that there is no work known to me that is adequate to conveying the novel ideas communicated. I am often conscious that I fail, from poverty of language, in conveying the sentiment I receive with the same vigor and clearness with which it comes to me.  So it is also with what I may call the didactic teachings through me. Sometimes the influence is so strong that I am given, not merely the ideas, but the very words in which they are clothed, and I am unconscious of what I am going to say until I actually say it.  At other times, the thought is given me sentence by sentence, and I know not what idea or sentence is to follow, but the language used is my own and is selected by myself from my own memory’s storehouse.  And at other times the whole current of thought or process of reasoning is given me in advance, and I choose for myself the language and the illustrations used to convey it, and sometimes the order of giving it. But in all these modes there is more or less of myself in them, more or less of my individuality underlying it all.  It must indeed be so, or why should I speak or write in my own tongue rather than in a dead or a foreign language unknown to me?”

Nevertheless, Edmonds’s daughter, Laura, seems to have been a much more advanced or developed medium, as she spoke only English and a smattering of French in her conscious state, but spoke Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, Hungarian, and Indian dialects fluently when entranced (or rather the spirits spoke the languages using her voice mechanism).  Still, the spirits were limited in what they could communicate through Laura and other more developed mediums.

As an example of the problem, let’s say that Albert Einstein, now in the spirit world, wants to communicate an important scientific fact to a scientist still in the flesh here on earth.  Unless he can find a medium with a very high IQ who is conversant in the particular science and in mathematical ways of expressing ideas, he will fail.  If he succeeds in finding a very smart medium but one still lacking in the necessary intelligence, it is probable that whatever Einstein has to say will come out distorted and convoluted, so much so that it is meaningless or worthless.

If some medium were to approach a famous scientist and tell the scientist that Einstein has some important information to communicate to him or her, the scientist would no doubt sneer at the very suggestion and tell the medium to get lost.  Thus, it is not likely that Einstein will even make the attempt, nor is it likely that some scientist on the other side who possibly knows the cure for cancer will be able to communicate it.  However, he might attempt to impress some ideas directly on the brain of a scientist whom he deems capable of understanding them, but such impressions are also subject to misinterpretations and distortions as they are filtered through the brain of the earthly scientist.  Still, such inspirational impressions are considered by many familiar with mediumship to be a big part of advances in knowledge, even if the person receiving the inspiration doesn’t realize where the ideas are coming from and takes all the credit for him- or herself.

The bottom line to all this is that there are different kinds of mediums and they vary significantly in ability, depending on a number of factors, including passivity and development.  The messages coming through them can be “colored” or tainted by their own minds as the ideas are filtered through their brains, but when those messages are contrary to what the medium believes and consistently come through other mediums, we should consider the possibility that there is some truth in them.

It was Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist, mathematician, inventor, statesman, author, and mystic,  credited with making significant discoveries in astronomy, anatomy, chemistry, and geology, who, according to spirit messages, worked with Benjamin Franklin in the spirit world, and figured out how to communicate through people who came to be called mediums by means of “raps,” “taps,” and “table tilting – so many raps, taps, or tilts of the table for each letter of the alphabet.  Considering the many messages he sent through several mediums, including the famous Andrew Jackson Davis, in those early years of mediumship, he seems to have had a mission – one of enlightening the world to the true nature of both this world and the spirit world.  In fact, the two volumes published by Edmonds and Dexter contain over 1,000 pages with hundreds of ideas or “truths” for the most part foreign to religious, philosophical, and scientific beliefs of the day.  But because what Swedenborg and Bacon communicated was not totally consistent with what they believed in the flesh – either in thought or in manner of expression – the skeptics attacked it as fraudulent and the religionists called it demonic.

Swedenborg, Bacon, and other “great minds” in the spirit world provided us with answers to nearly all the questions people had and still have about the nature of reality, but 160 years later it is still ignored.  Clearly, there is no point in other great minds from the spirit world attempting to educate and enlighten us, as few, if any, would believe it to be true.  “Yeah, yeah, and what does Cleopatra have to say?” would be the smug, self-righteous reaction.  How sad!!!

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014

ext blog post:  June 16


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