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“What You Call Death” by Silver Birch

What is Death?

Another time Silver Birch answered questions put to him by a young American soldier, whose brother had recently passed on. His first point, said the guest, was very simple. Hannen Swaffer had told him that when he first manifested Silver Birch had difficulty speaking English. So what language did the guide originally speak? The guide replied:

“You see here a physical body – this that you call a medium, for the word means an intermediary, someone who is the instrument through whom something is sent. Now, there are various strata of life in our world. It is a world which is regulated by the spiritual growth of those who dwell in it. It is a graded life and in each grade – they all merge into one another – there are those who have attained that spiritual growth which enables them to dwell in that sphere or state or being.

“The longer you have lived in our world the further you are divorced from your world and the ties have become more or less sundered.

“I had attained some degree of spiritual growth in that time, and a call was made for many of us to return to help your world to teach some of the eternal verities, simple truths, principles, which had been forgotten, overlaid, which lay buried beneath a debris of falsity, superstition, ignorance, misconception and prejudice.

“In order to teach your world, I had to reduce my normal rate of vibration – that is the easiest way of explaining it to you – and in doing so sacrificed some of my individuality, for the nearer you come to earth, the less of the real you, the spiritual you, can be made manifest, and in order to achieve communication with your world I had to use a medium between my state of existence and yours.

“Now the language I speak in my own state, to which I occasionally return, is not the language of earth at all. We do not require your symbols in the world where I belong, but, to make myself understood in your world, I had to master your language.

“I was helped by those whom I regard as specialists and expert in it.” 

“Where did you come from originally when you were on earth?” asked the American, who was told:

“That does not matter. You will have to accept what I say if it appeals to your reason. If anything I say to you seems to outrage your common sense, reject it. If anything which comes to you through the lips of any instrument sounds to you as being unworthy of the source of its origin, do not accept it.

“I have been at work for many years in your world and I had to start with the handicap that I could only make my way by the reasonableness of the principles which I taught. These I am prepared to enunciate and to reason with anybody.

“I cannot claim to have any authority other than that which is contained in the truth of that which I teach. I claim that all these teachings bear the hall-mark of their own spiritual authenticity, that if they are subject to the analysis of reason, wisdom, common sense, they will pass all those tests and what is there is a philosophy, a truth, which will enable your world to find abiding peace, to banish the hatred, chaos, misery, iniquity, selfishness and all the evils which, alas, are far too prevalent.

“If I say to you I am Julius Caesar, that would not make what I say any more or less acceptable. The truth must be tested and established by the fact that it is true, not because it was uttered by one who has been invested with an aura of glory.”

”You say that you speak a different language from where you come…”

“You are putting questions to me, and what you are doing is first of all to have a thought in your mind. That thought is quite clear to your consciousness. You know what you are thinking, but to convey that thought to me you have to use a symbol, a symbol which has a meaning to others who understand that symbol. That symbol you call language, and the words you use consist of attempts to clothe your thought in a manner that will make the thought understandable.

“Your mastery over the language will determine whether you have suitably or unsuitably expressed the thought which is in your mind. But even if you had the mastery of a Shakespeare it would still be insufficient to express the totality of your thought, for your thought is immaterial and your language is material.

The one who hears these symbols, has, in turn, to translate them back into their original thought-form before he appreciates them, so that there is a long and cumbersome process at work.

“And often, because you have to materialise your thoughts, there is much friction, misunderstanding, simply because the words do not always convey what you have thought.”

“That is very true,” commented the soldier.

Silver Birch continued:

“Now if it were possible for you, without an intermediary of language, to convey the totality of your thought to another person, most of the problems, or rather many of the problems, which worry your world would disappear, for there would be no misunderstanding, no misconception, you would all know what you meant, there would be an end to all the vast diplomacy, all the needless equivocation.

“In my world our language is the language of thought; that is, we communicate with one another, once we have outgrown earthly habits, by mental communication, so that the language bar is no complication. A Frenchman can communicate with a Swede and an Eskimo with an Italian. It is the thoughts they are sending to one another, not the words, which are the symbol of the thought. That is quite clear, I hope.”

“Yes, I understand,” said the visitor.

“Now there are people who have passed away from this earth. Suppose we take musicians; could a person who passed away recently communicate with someone who passed away years and years ago?”

“Not necessarily,” answered the guide. “It depends on several factors. You must not think of yourself as a body with a spirit, but as a spirit with a body. You are living in a material world and are apt to think of the whole of life in material terms, but life is not material in essence, for the foundation and basis of life is immaterial. Its origin is not to be found in any of the properties of matter. You yourself are not material; your body is, but the real you is at present impalpable, unseen, intangible, unheard; the real you is a spirit.

“The quality of your spirit at any moment is determined by the way that you have lived your life. Thus the law applies to all and none has the power to thwart it. When I say the law, I mean the natural law, for the law is simply one of cause and effect.

“If you live a life of complete selfishness, you yourself are the one who bears the result of it, for a selfish life means a stunted spirit. If you have lived a kindly, tolerant, altruistic life, you yourself are the better for it, for your spirit has grown in stature.

This law applies to all.

“You are what you make yourself to be by your own conduct, by your own actions, by your own thought, by the whole of your life. And although that reality may not be visible in your world, the moment you pass the threshold of death, severing yourself from your physical body, you manifest as you spiritually are-no higher, no lower.

“You take with you just that character which you have moulded by your life. Your eternal possessions are the spiritual qualities that you have evolved by your daily life. That is why the law is so fair and so just, for it provides a standard of judgement about which no reasonable man could quarrel… Your associates are those of like spiritual growth and like spiritual mentality.”

“In other words,” said the American, “someone of another age but of the same spiritual mentality would be in the same spirit sphere.”

“Yes, that is so. It is not governed by years, it is not governed by physical age: it is governed wholly and solely by spiritual growth. And that is the tremendous difference between your world and our world.

“Here you are apparently on the same physical plane, meeting and mingling with people who are on different mental planes to yourself. In our world you are with those who are on the same spiritual altitude as yourself. That does not mean to say that you cannot hear famous musicians, but your life is lived amongst your spiritual equals, and that is determined by the law of spiritual gravitation which is infallible …

“Try to realise this. Your world for centuries has become coarsened through its materialism. Originally mankind was able to function on many planes of activity.

“Man was aware of the gifts of the spirit which are merely the expressions of the faculties that belong to his inner eternal reality. If you examine the records of the past, if you turn to your Bible, for example – although I do not confine myself to that book – you will find that the more you go back to primitive times, the more natural was the exercise of these psychic faculties. But, like all other faculties, they have atrophied through long disuse and the number of those today who can register the vibrations of the spirit is very, very small.

“You, all of you, are living in prisons. You have five tiny windows to your prison, and these five apertures are your physical senses. You are unaware of the millions of happenings around you unless they can be seen, smelt, touched, tasted or felt. But because you do not see the busy, teeming, active world around you, that does not mean to say it has no existence. It means only one thing, that you are unable to register its vibration.

“What you call death is the stilling of the physical body; it drops away unfortunately too often before the spirit is prepared, but once death takes place you are liberated, for your spirit leaves the prison of the physical body and expresses itself through that finer body, the body of the spirit, your etheric body, as it is sometimes called, which has been preparing itself for this dissolution. Once you are dead – as your world calls it – you have access to a far greater range, a range of life’s activity, than you had before because the whole realm of psychic faculty begins to work.”

“What you call death” is an extract from The Seed of Truth compiled by Tony Ortzen. Part of the teachings of Silver Birch.