The Missing Witness for Life After Death
Posted on 06 December 2021, 9:43
In the trial summarized in my essay for the Bigelow contest eleven witnesses testified for the plaintiff, The Survival School, in its suit against The School of Materialism, aka The School of Nihilism. They included a judge, a physician, a lawyer, three chemists, a biologist, two physicist, a theologist, and a philosopher, all with impeccable qualifications. All began as non-believers or skeptics to some high degree, but, after extensive investigations, they were convinced that spirits exist, that many of these spirits once occupied earthly bodies, and that some are able to break through the veil separating our material world from the immaterial one and occasionally communicate with us, all of which leads to a compelling belief that consciousness does survive physical death.
A twelfth witness, Professor James Hyslop, (below) perhaps the most experienced of all in the area of psychical research, was scheduled to testify, but due to court-imposed restrictions, (viz. - the 25,000 word limit of the essay) and the fact that his research followed the other witnesses in time, his testimony was not heard in court. In his deposition, taken several months before the trial, Hyslop spoke extensively about the veridical evidence coming to him from his father, mother, wife, and other deceased members of his family through the mediumship of Leonora Piper. However, much of his testimony had to do with the modus operandi of mediumship.
Hyslop taught philosophy at Lake Forest University, Smith College, and Bucknell University before joining the faculty of Columbia University, where he served as professor of professor of logic and ethics. He later founded the American Institute for Scientific Research and succeeded Dr. Richard Hodgson in managing the American Society for Psychical Research. Hyslop received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and his doctorate in law from the University of Wooster. He authored three textbooks, Elements of Logic (1892), Elements of Ethics (1895), and Problems of Philosophy (1905).
Hyslop’s interest in psychical research came as a result of his friendship with Harvard professor William James and a sitting with Piper, the Boston medium discussed by two of the trial witnesses, Dr. Richard Hodgson and Sir Oliver Lodge. Hyslop’s research began around 1895 and became a full-time endeavor in 1905, continuing until his death in 1920. This abridged transcript of his deposition focuses on the methods of his research rather than on the evidential.
Professor Hyslop, please begin with the overall assessment of your research. What is your conclusion relative to the survival issue?
“Personally, I regard the fact of survival after death as scientifically proved. I agree that this opinion is not upheld in scientific quarters. But this is neither our fault nor that of the facts. Evolution was not believed until long after it was proved. The fault lay with those who were too ignorant or too stubborn to accept the facts. History shows that every intelligent man who has gone into the investigation, if he gave it adequate examination at all, has come out believing in spirits; this circumstance places the burden or proof on the shoulders of the skeptic.” (Hyslop, 1919, 480)
But why the continual resistance?
“In the first place, when we say to the average man that we can communicate with the dead, or that we have obtained through apparitions or mediumistic phenomena facts which prove survival, they see that we are implying communication as well as survival of the discarnate, and with it they assume that the process of communication is as simple as our ordinary social intercourse. They read the records which we present as if they were merely jotted down conversations with the dead conducted very much as we talk with each other. They make no effort to investigate the complexity of the process, but take the phenomena at their face value and ask no scientific questions. They read an alleged message as they would a telegram or an essay. They make no account of the conditions under which the message is transmitted when it claims to come from another world, but recognize exactly what the conditions are in the physical world…If a message, however, claims to come from the dead, they set up objections as if they knew exactly what the conditions are for the receipt and delivery of the communication. There is, after [so many years] of research by scientific men, absolutely no excuse for such conduct or ignorance…[Unfortunately], it is more convenient to laugh than it is to make an effort to ascertain the truth.” (Hyslop, 1918, 208)
I gather that you have studied Mrs. Chenoweth more than Mrs. Piper or any other medium. Would you mind explaining the basic protocol in your sittings with her?
“[Not at all.] I do not allow Mrs. Chenoweth to see the sitter at any time. She goes into the trance before the sitter is admitted into the room. Then the sitter occupies a chair behind Mrs. Chenoweth, who is in the trance and could not see the sitter even if she were normally conscious and her eyes open. Usually the sitter says little or nothing, often merely nodding or shaking his or her head. Before Mrs. Chenoweth comes out of the trance the sitter leaves the room and is therefore not seen by Mrs. Chenoweth in her normal state. Mrs. Chenoweth always remains upstairs before the sitting, and she never meets the sitter, unless I introduce her after a sitting, which has been done in but two or three cases, and that after the last of the series of sittings for the given sitter.” (Hyslop, 1925, 1)
The skeptics believe that she and other mediums are digging up information beforehand. What do you say to them?
“The slightest patient study both of the records as a whole and of the circumstances under which they were made would prove the impossibility of any form of fraud which could pay for itself. The slight remuneration which Mrs. Chenoweth receives does not even pay for her living, much less would it support in addition a detective bureau even to seeking for information about a single one of her own friends, to say nothing of strangers whom she would have to investigate at the ends of the earth. The man that clings to such a theory, after looking honestly at the facts, does not need to be taken seriously. Scientific progress cannot wait on such minds.” (Hyslop, 1925, 2)
Leonora Piper had a series of controls. Is that the case with Mrs. Chenoweth?
“[Yes.] There may be a whole group of personalities [involved] with [the] messages. This was perfectly manifest in the Piper case where the personalities called themselves Imperator, Rector, Doctor, Mentor, and others and had done so before in the case of Stainton Moses. The same group figures in the work of Mrs. Chenoweth and gave some evidence of themselves in the work of Mrs. Smead, Mrs. Verrall and others. It is only in well-developed mediumship that groups of them will easily manifest. Their product in communication might be a joint one and their several personalities indistinguishable, but in well-developed mediumship, at least after some practice, each individual personality can give evidence of himself.” (Hyslop, 1925, 27)
It is my understanding that a control is a spirit on the “other side” who is like a medium on that side, facilitating or passing on communication from the “communicator” to the “sitter” through the medium.
Do I understand correctly?
“[You do.] We have to reckon with what is always called the control, or the ‘guide,’ as it is sometimes called. We must remember also that the guide and control may be different personalities. They are not always, if ever, the same personality. It depends on circumstances. If you regard this control as a secondary personality state of the medium, you have all the complications of secondary personality in the case, serving as medium besides the automatic machinery of the living organism in the suspense of the control of the normal consciousness over it. But if you assume that the control is a spirit, as is more evidently the case for all who have intelligently investigated the problem, you have another mind beside that of the medium with which to deal in the problem. There is not only the third mind which we have called the medium but the fourth one complicating all its influences with those already complicated enough to make us wonder that we get any message at all from the dead.” (Hyslop, 1918, 213)
It does sound complicated.
“[Exactly!] All should remember the parlor game in which a few words are whispered into the ear of the one near you and from him to a third and a fourth person and so on, to find at the end that there is no resemblance to what was started. The same is likely to take place in spirit messages. The control must put the message through and it will take the color of his or her mind. Then it is doubly colored by the subconscious, sometimes by the normal consciousness of the medium as well. The fact that the incidents prove the personal identity of a deceased person and are not known by the medium suffices to justify the spiritistic hypothesis, though this origin does not prove the purity of the message, or that it came from the communicator directly. It may have been subjected to all sorts of modifications, phonetic, visual, or interpretative. Any man who does not make allowance for this is not fit to talk about the problem.” (Hyslop, 1918, 214)
Other researchers feel that there is more subconscious influence than you do.
“… I insist on drawing a very important distinction in allowing any influence at all to the subconscious. This is the distinction between the subconscious as function and the subconscious as content in the messages. By this I mean that the functions of the mind may act, whether consciously or subconsciously, in receiving and delivering messages, yet not supply any of the contents of them. If this view could be established it would deprive the skeptic of half his munitions of war. But I have not proposed any such view arbitrarily or for the purpose of getting an advantage in the discussion, but because the facts showed that the doctrine had to be maintained. It has distinct analogies in normal experience. One may tell a friend’s story in the language of that friend and in that way eliminate the action of his own mind upon it in all but the mere process of transmitting it. But if he allows his own interpretation of the story to be presented then the contents of his own experience enters into the material of his version of the story. When a man suppresses his own theories and interpretations to state any mere body of facts he eliminates the contents of his knowledge and confines himself to the bald narration of the facts. There is no reason, then, why the same process might not be effected with the subconscious of the psychic…At any rate, the possibility of distinguishing between the functions and the contents of the subconscious must be conceded in order to understand the non-evidential matter as a whole, and this without regard to the question whether it be spiritistic or not.” (Hyslop, 1925, 7-8)
The records suggest that a lot of “fishing” for information was going on by the medium or, if one accepts the spirit hypothesis, the control. Is that the case?
“Fishing and guessing do take place, and yet the phenomena are still genuine. The fishing and guessing are on the other side. That is, the psychic is not fishing and guessing to try the sitter’s response, but to try that of the communicator who labors under difficulties analogous to our communication over a telephone or whenever there are obstacles to communication with each other in normal life. Either the psychic or the control does not receive the messages or impressions clearly and has to guess at what they mean until the communicator assents to the right name or impression.” (Hyslop, 1925, 39)
How important is the trance state for good mediumship?
“The emphasis which has been placed upon the trance state in the discussions of the Piper case has often left the impression that a trance is a necessary condition for access to transcendental messages. But this is not true. It is only a condition that either removes ordinary objections and proves that we are dealing with unusual mental phenomena, as compared with normal consciousness, or that tends to improve the character of the messages. It is not a condition necessary to transmission, but only to its purity and to its more ready impressiveness on minds that have been accustomed to assume fraud and ordinary explanations. It has no other importance. In the case of Mrs. Chenoweth the normal [non-trance] communications are very meager, and indeed are very rare. All her phenomena have been accompanied by some sort of trance, light or deep.” (Hyslop, 1925, 3)
In what ways does the light trance differ from the deep?
“The prevailing condition at the time that I began my work with her was the Starlight trance. This was the one that was used for private sittings. It is a light and perhaps hypnoidal state in which there is apparently no anaesthesia, but complete amnesia. It is probable that there is anaesthesia, that is, normal anaesthesia, but subliminal hyperaesthesia. This would account for the amnesia which characterizes this trance. The process of getting communication in this trance is the pictographic or ‘mental picture’ method, at least for certain specific incidents and names. General communications in this state seem not be pictographic. But that is a subject for further study. The main thing is that the apperceptive or interpreting functions of the mind seem active in this hypnoidal trance, and they are bound to affect the nature of the messages, especially in the interpretation of the mental pictures.” (Hyslop, 1925, 3)
Please explain the pictographic process.
“We do not know in detail all that goes on, but we can conceive that a mental picture in the mind of a communicator is transmitted, perhaps telepathically, to the psychic (medium) or to the control; even though we do not know how this occurs, we can understand why the message takes the form that it does in the mind of the psychic and why the whole process assumes the form of a description of visual, or a report of auditory images. The whole mass of facts is thus systematized as a single process, whose specific form of transmission is determined by the sense through which it is expressed. It is apparent that the pictographic process introduces into the communication various sources of mistake and confusion, and thus explains much that the ordinary man with his view of the messages cannot understand. Mental pictures have to be interpreted, either by the control or by the subconscious of the psychic, probably by both.” (Hyslop. 1919, 117)
Why is it so difficult to get names through? Is it because many names do not lend themselves to the pictographic method?
“The difficulty of transmitting proper names has been one of great perplexity to students of this subject. At first the believer in fraud had no trouble in urging his explanation, but soon it became clear that the very uniformity of this difficulty was an evidence of some sort of genuineness in the phenomena. Though several efforts have been made, both by Dr. Hodgson and myself, to form some tentative theory that would partly account for the difficulty, it has never been wholly explained….In the first place [the records indicate] that Mrs. Chenoweth at once gets the initials of the correct names so often that we cannot attribute the fact to chance…[and] often when the initial of a correct name has been given the medium goes on to give the complete name, and often does it very promptly. But as often or more often the effort to give it shows a play about it which has all the characteristics of fishing and guessing…[but again] the fishing and guessing are on the other side. Either the psychic or control does not receive the messages or impressions clearly and has to guess at what they mean until the communicator assents to the right name or impression.” (Hyslop, 1925, 39-40)
The records indicate that some spirits are able to communicate through a medium without the assistance of a control. I believe you have referred to this as the “direct method.” Is the pictographic process still in play here?
“It is possible, perhaps probable, that the direct method as distinguished from the pictographic process may involve wholly different functions, and indeed the fact that it finds its expressions in the motor organism while the pictographic process is primarily sensory, rather makes [this view of less subconscious content] clear and decisive, even though there may be connecting links between the two methods. It may be that pictographic agencies prevail in all expression of thought, but they are not so apparent in the product of the direct method…Something also will depend on the nature of the medium and her development.” (Hyslop, 1925, 24)
I recall reading that the communicating spirit and/or the control must enter an altered state of consciousness on his or her side. Can you comment on that?
“Quite an important piece of evidence in this direction comes from this George Pellew [control]. In explaining the conditions for ‘communicating’ he once said after having satisfied Dr. Hodgson of his identity: ‘Remember, we share and always shall have our friends in the dream life, i.e., your life, so to speak, which will attract us forever and ever, and so long as we have our friends sleeping in the material world; you to us are more like as we understand sleep, you look shut up as one in prison, and in order for us to get into communication with you, we have to enter into your sphere, as one like yourself asleep. This is just why we make mistakes as you call them, or get confused and muddled, so to put it, Hodgson…you see I am more awake than asleep, yet I cannot come just as I am in reality, independently of the medium’s light.’” (Hyslop, 1919, 112)
Thank you, Professor Hyslop. Any concluding thoughts?
“[Yes,] the belief in immortality is the keystone to the arch of history, or the pivotal point about which move the intellectual, the ethical, and the political forces of all time. If science cannot protect our ethical ideals it will have to succumb to the same corrosion that has worn away the church. Something must put an end to the doubt. There are many situations in life that call for heroic measures, and skepticism on the outcome of life offers no inducement to the heroic virtues.” (Hyslop, 1919, 486)
Hyslop, James H., Science and a Future Life, Herbert B. Turner & Co., Boston, 1905
Hyslop, James, H., Life After Death, E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1918
Hyslop, James H., Contact with the Other World, The Century Co., New York, 1919
Hyslop, James H., Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, ASPR, New York, 1925
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.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.
Next blog, 20, December.
I think some credit should be given to Pierre and Marie Curie for their work with radioactivity in 1898 which Myers may have been aware of. (Myers died in 1901.) I think Marie Curie coined the word “radioactivity” so they say.- AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 21 Dec, 20:47
I would like to refer back to the disputed matter of Myers’ opinions communicated via Cummings to which David (Magnan) alludes on 18 December, 22.04. David, as I understand his words, feels doubt whether he (we) can accept the communication as genuine, in particular because David sees some of Myers’ statements as “known” by us to be unscientific. I trust I am not misunderstanding David. We do NOT know his statements to be unscientific.
I am far from an expert in physics or mathematics, (which shows, if I may say so, how woefully ignorant almost all of us are on those subjects) but I see clearly in the purported words of the discarnate Myers an understanding of physical processes that every professional physicist takes as proven in the 21st century. However, (and here’s the astonishing reality) these matters were not even known to expert physicists at the time Myers left this world (the year 1900, was it not? The same year as Max Planck’s very slow first recognition of the nature of what is called ‘black body radiation’, the very beginning of the beginning of the beginning quantum physics, a matter of which Myers during Earth-life COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE EVEN HEARD OF). He DIED that year!!!! In using the language that issued from Cummings’ pen he gives what any honest physicist of today would acknowledge to be a description of the process of radio-activity, the disintegration of atoms, a process that was not generally known in even a shallow way until the very late 1920s and 1930s, and remained unknown to the non-physicist until at least the advent of the “atomic bomb” in 1945. Myers, who left the manner-of-Being of Earthlings in 1900 is describing from another universe what is not even recognised in 2021 by Michael Tymn’s ‘congregation’ as ‘radio-activity’. A rather sobering failure of comprehension (failure of Heideggerian NON-VERBAL GRASP of an idea by the mind), and a failure even of the careful interpretation of mere language (as, eg, in translation from one current language into another contemporaneous language (eg present-day English into present-day French)). Considering the problems we all know exist in transmitting spirit-world non-verbal picture-thought using only the mental contents and entranced intelligence of a Medium on Earth, that is using her language and subconscious mental contents to reconstruct the spirit-world GRASP into meaningful words/sentences down here, it is astonishing that it could be done at all. (One is reminded of the wheels within wheels of Ezekiel, but I’m not going to look that up now). Yet Myers succeeds, having left a world that had no more inkling of radio-activity than the Medieval world, and a Medium who lacked scientific understanding. He (Myers) has learned in the spirit-universe something of what WE (a century later) call ‘radio-activity’, having himself left that world BEFORE EVEN MAX PLANCK had begun to see radio-activity and begin to understand what it is. (!!!!!!!) We have to “cut Myers some slack” as the relevant crude, colloquial usage goes. He understands radio-activity far better than most of us do even NOW, and he tries using the mind of Cummings, who undertood even less than we do, to convey his meaning. Please see what Myers is describing. In the 21st century we ought to know better than to misunderstand him in this way. I suspect that Myers knows more of the possibility of living “”””in the sun””””, in a universe untouched by the sun’s heat (Relativity, rather than the quantum physics of Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg and Schroedinger shows how THAT is possible.) And Myers left THIS world before either quantum physics or relativity even developed. Cut him some slack, stop choking on words, and SEE what he is trying to describe for Earth-minds.
Eric Franklin, Tue 21 Dec, 11:24
An excerpt from Roy Stemman, “Spirit Communication, The Extraordinary World of Mediums, Psychics and the Afterlife”, pp.58-9, regarding Geraldine Cummins and “Swan on a Black Sea”:
“Her crowning glory, however, is in my opinion the Cummins-Willett scripts. In 1957.W.H. Salter, honorary secretary of the Society for Psychical Research, wrote to Geraldine Cummins asking if she would take part in an experiment. She agreed to do so once she had returned to her home in County Cork, Eire. Two weeks later, he wrote again saying simply that a Major Henry Tennant hoped to receive a message from his mother. The result was 40 scripts, received over a two-year period, in which the mother discusses her life, her relationships with others and her involvement in psychic work.
Paul, Tue 21 Dec, 04:53
Major Tennant’s mother, it transpires, was also an automatic writing medium — Mrs. Winifred Coombe Tennant - but her true identity was hidden from her psychic colleagues behind the pseudonym of ‘Mrs. Willett’ because she wanted to keep her talent a secret. This is not surprising when one realises she was a Justice of the Peace and the first woman magistrate to sit on the Glamorganshire, Wales, County bench. She stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Liberal Party candidate in 1922, and was the first woman to be appointed by the British government as a delegate of the League of Nations Assembly. She died in 1956, a year before the request was sent to Geraldine Cummins. The scripts were published in Geraldine Cummins’ book “Swan on a Black Sea”, edited by Signe Toksvig, which has a long and masterly foreword by Professor C.D. Broad, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a leading psychical researcher. After examining alternative explanations for the Mrs. Willett scripts, he comments: ‘I found them of great interest, and I believe that these automatic scripts are a very important addition to the vast mass of such material which prima facie suggest rather strongly that certain human beings have survived the deaths of their physical bodies…’ Major Henry Tennant, who was initially sceptical, wrote to Geraldine Cummins after receiving the first communication to say: ‘The more I study these scripts the more deeply I am impressed by them.’ He found only one incorrect name, adding, ‘every other name and reference is accurate, and to me very evidential and at times surprising. There was no tapping of my mind because much appears that I never knew.’”
Might I gently suggest that you are not impressed by the Conan Doyle confirmation via Mrs. Osborne Leonard because a) it wasn’t Conan Doyle but Sir Oliver Lodge and b) you haven’t looked into it? To understand the true extent of the communication between Lodge and the deceased Myers through Mrs. Leonard, the best thing is to read Lodge’s “Raymond”, which goes into it in detail. Further, to dismiss Mrs. Leonard as ‘just one medium’ is to ignore the extensive vetting and confidence that senior members of the SPR, Lodge among them, had in her abilities as a trance medium. “Swan on a Black Sea” – recommended by myself and again by Amos – is a excellent place to start with Cummins. You might also look at Charles Fryer’s “Geraldine Cummins: An Appreciation”, reprinted by White Crow Books. Michael has a lovely review of the book on Amazon.
You might also take a look at Geraldine Cummins, “The Lines of Communication” from “Swan on a Black Sea” [http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/articles/cummins/communication.htm]
On a tangential note, the above main website, http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/, is a rich online resource associated with the SPR that I can’t recommend highly enough. Oliver Lodge’s “Raymond” – among a great many other volumes of note – is available in full: http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/library/lodge/raymond/contents.htm
Paul, Tue 21 Dec, 04:30
Newton asked if Geraldine Cummins was ever subjected to strict scientific scrutiny. My recollection is that Sir William Barrett had a number of sittings with her, but I am not sure they would be called “strict.” Beatrice Gibbs was a member of the SPR and was her assistant, but I don’t think Gibbs qualified as a “scientist,” however that is defined. The pearl-tie pin case comes to mind as one of the most evidential, although that came through when Geraldine and Hester Travers Smith were working the ouija board together. Hester was also a medium. In that case, Geraldine’s cousin, who had been killed in the Great War, came through and asked that his pearl tie-pin be given to his girl friend. He provided details. Neither Cummins nor Smith was aware of the girl friend or the tie-pin, but both the pin and the girl friend were located and the pin given to her. There are other evidential sittings, but I need to dig them out for a future blog. See my blog of May 6, 2013 in the archives for an interesting case involving Cummins. The book mentioned there is well worth the read. See
Michael Tymn, Mon 20 Dec, 22:20
Your rationalization of Cummins’ Solar Man and Venus and Mars communications from “Myers” in Byond Human Personality seems at least remotely plausible, though I find these rationalizations a stretch sometimes.
But I am not impressed by the Conan Doyle confirmation via Mrs. Osborne Leonard of Myers’ communications through Cummins, since this really is just one medium vouching for another, not communication of later verified information.
However, if Cummins’ “Swan on a Black Sea” does contain later verified paranormal communications, that does lend a lot of credence to her communications from “Myers”.
David Magnan, Mon 20 Dec, 18:22
Thanks, AOD. I also found Michael’s prior blog post about Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary, which indicates that veridical info was indeed conveyed via Geraldine Cummins.
Newton E. Finn, Mon 20 Dec, 15:24
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 20 Dec, 13:51
See “Swan On a Black Sea” by Cummins. I think you will find your answers there. This is a communication with Winifred Margaret Coombe Tennant and verified by her two sons. - AOD
Can Michael or Paul or anyone else tell me if Geraldine Cummins’ mediumship was ever subjected to strict scientific scrutiny? If so, did she provide veridical information about sitters? Nosing around on the net and quickly scanning this blog has yielded no answers to these questions. I very much take to heart Sir Arthur’s advice that without specific information coming through a medium that we can verify, we should put little stock in their “channeling” of more general information that we can’t.
Newton E. Finn, Mon 20 Dec, 04:41
The point I was at pains to make in my last comment is YET AGAIN (fourth or fifth time? Sixth?) that the universe “inside” our sun where spirit Beings MAY reside is NOT the physical-universe Class G star that Paul takes so much unnecessary trouble to describe, irrelevantly, that we perceive daily. Those Beings, if they really are there, are not inside our sun in the way we usually understand by that phrase. That sun does not even touch the universe of the Beings who may be living in the “”“"same”“”” space as our sun occupies. The universe of the purported Myers-Cummings Beings and our sun do not even touch. They are more distinct than the sponge and the cream of a Swiss roll. My hypothesis may be totally wrong, but no-one, no matter how qualified in relevant subjects (physics/maths/philosophy), has ever given me a half-cogent reason to doubt the possibility of such multiplicity of universes in the “”“"same”“”” space. Every space-time universe contains its flowing ‘Elsewhere’.
What on Earth am I talking about? You have only to ask, but almost no-one ever does. The comments on Mike’s blogs usually generate less DISCUSSION than they might, because they usually stop short, never receiving substantial response, but being used only as an opportunity to offer thoughts which will never receive response. Pity. Mike deserves better from us commenters.
Eric Franklin, Sun 19 Dec, 22:19
Two quick points in reply to your latest comment. First, with regard to Myers on the difference between solar and earthly atoms, the relevant passages are “Solar atoms are of a different type from earthly atoms – they perish with an inconceivable rapidity,” and “They quickly disintegrate, whereas the atoms of the earth alter very slowly under the corroding feet of the years.” This, of course, has nothing to do with, as you say, the “basic atomic structure at the micro quark level [as] unified under quantum mechanics, over all possible states of temperature and energies”. Rather, Myers is simply pointing out the incredible rapidity of disintegration of ‘solar atoms’ in comparison to ‘earthly atoms’, which – given the ravages of nuclear fusion upon atomic structure – is absolutely correct. So what is the problem? Second, in his discussion of both Mars and Venus, Myers is careful to point out that what he is discussing in each case is at a different vibrational ‘level’ than ours and therefore imperceivable by us or by our instruments in our present state. He is very explicitly not talking about ‘life’ in either case of a vibrational character identical to our own and therefore at least in principle knowable to us in our present state. For myself, given a) how far out from the common run such matters are, and b) how little correlating testimony we have concerning such matters, I’m happy to bracket the entire interplanetary business without it shaking my fundamental confidence in Myers’ posthumous testimony, which is so well established from so many other correlating sources. A point that should be mentioned concerning Geraldine Cummins and her reliability as an automist is that it is through her hand that we have what is perhaps the most evidential single set of scripts we possess, the Cummins-Willett scripts, published as “Swan on a Black Sea”.
Paul, Sun 19 Dec, 21:49
As an add-on to my earlier comment in defense of the posthumous Myers, I suggest you take a look at my further comment on [Sun 20 Sep, 22:39] under the post https://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/life_eternal_explained_by_titanic_victim, which was in fact a reply to a similar comment of yours under that post as that of yours below. But really, the cross-check that Sir Oliver Lodge carried out with Myers through the well-established British medium Gladys Osborne Leonard – in her own way, as remarkable and as vetted as the American Leonora Piper – should be entirely sufficient on its own account to put such concerns as yours and David’s largely to rest. To reiterate, from Lodge’s foreword to the original edition of “The Road to Immortality”:
“To clinch matters, I took an opportunity, when having a private sitting recently with Mrs. Osborne Leonard, to ask my old friend Myers, who was in touch with me through Raymond [Lodge’s deceased son], whether he knew anything about Miss Cummins’ writing, and whether he adhered to the things he was represented as saying in her script. His reply was to the effect that he had communicated through her, and that in a general way he had managed to get through what he wanted; though he admitted it was difficult, and he couldn’t be sure that it was always exact, but still on the whole he was willing to pass it on as fairly representing what he had intended to say.”
So, is everything that Cummins conveys as from the discarnate Myers in their two books necessarily reflective of his views? I think we have to say that, in the main, yes it is. That doesn’t mean that some issues might not be in error, for such communication is not free of difficulties even under fairly ideal circumstances. Here, as is a good guide generally, we ought to put greatest confidence in that for which we have cross-correlating testimony to from multiple unrelated sources. Other issues – including the one that David raises – may be bracketed, without dismissing the whole or even the bulk of the testimony that Myers has posthumously offered.
Paul, Sun 19 Dec, 19:37
Yes, Jon, and I’ve so enjoyed exploring the massive amount of material from Michael (and others) that White Crow Books graciously offers to all. May God bless each and every soul involved in the White Crow Books mission, which I would describe simply as the opening of minds and hearts. That Michael Tymn website Eric and I were shooting around (at least as I was playing with it) was WAY down the road, when Michael and the rest of us would be able to visit it only via mediumship. Right now and for the foreseeable future, the “action” is right here at this beautiful place.
Newton E. Finn, Sun 19 Dec, 19:08
Thank you for the detailed response. I actually would prefer to accept your rationale as to Cummins’ communications from Myers. I in fact considered the option of rather extensively and creatively rationalizing “Myers’” descriptions of stellar and planetary life. But this just seemed too ad-hoc to me, considering the points in the readings where there was clear conflict between channeling and science. For instance where “Myers” describes there being fundamental differences between the atomic structure of Solar atoms versus Earthly atoms. That is just plain wrong, since modern physics understands basic atomic structure at the micro quark level to be unified under quantum mechanics, over all possible states of temperature and energies. And it doesn’t seem possible for any organized structure which is at least semi-material (such as “Myers’” Solar spirit entities) to exist under these conditions especially within the Sun’s core.
Secondly, there are some of the other examples, such as “Myers’” descriptions of life on other planets of our Solar system, such as Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. For instance Venus, which was or will be inhabited according to these communications. Venus, which is now known to be a 900 degree super-hot hell with no water or oxygen.
“Myers”, from Beyond Human Personality:
“....I have learned from other travellers who have journeyed farther along the road, that, at one time, there was, or will be, incarnation on the planet Venus and that it implied, or will imply, existence differing in certain respects from the life of man. Thus the people of Venus might be called children of water and vapour. Their bodies, though in many respects similar in structure to those of man, vibrate with an intensity and are of a quality that suggest a different order of being from that of any inhabitant, savage or civilised, who lives or has lived, upon the densest of all planets.”
Note that scientific speculation up to that time was that Venus was a cloudy and watery planet that could harbor life. The communications reflect these contemporary cultural currents of thought.
Further, “Myers” expounds upon life and spirit incarnation on Mars, mainly in the past, much along the lines of speculation up to that time, with a planet-wide civilization adapted to conditions of cold and thin atmosphere, a la science fantasy writer Burroughs, and some astronomers who thought they detected intelligently constructed “canals”. We now know from decades of Martian exploration and orbiter photography that Mars is barren, frigid and lifeless (at least at the surface) and has been for billions of years. And there is no detected evidence of any past Martian civilization. Here again, there is in these communications clear influence from contemporary cultural currents.
Unfortunately this assessment of a part of the “Myers” communications through Cummins shows clear signs of at least this portion being strongly influenced or even of having been originated from contemporary culture. Accordingly, logically the rest of these communications may well have also been so strongly influenced.
David Magnan, Sun 19 Dec, 18:52
All of Michael’s blogs are available on this website.
Jon, Sun 19 Dec, 17:44
Eric, it would be thrilling if Michael’s work, books and blog together, could at some point be freely offered to all on one Michael Tymn website. No one has done more than Michael to resurrect and clearly relate to our postmodern world the forgotten truths and history of classic spiritualism, with a nod also going to others like Keith Parsons, who has made many high-quality YouTube videos on these same subjects. And it would be remiss to fail to mention AOD, whose own website put Patience Worth, perhaps the most precious gem of spiritualism, once again on public display.
As for Cummins’ channeling of Myers, David, I tend to agree with you, having experienced a disconnect between the thrust and spirit of “Human Personality” and “The Road to Immortality,” not to mention “Beyond Human Personality.” For me, this is not so much a matter of science but of ascertaining an author’s identity via the style and substance of a writing. Of course, we both could easily be wrong here (given the difficulties of communication with the departed which Hyslop describes), so let’s revisit that intriguing subject on an upcoming thread.
Newton E. Finn, Sun 19 Dec, 17:13
In reply to your comments regarding the veracity of Frederic Myers’ posthumous communications through Geraldine Cummins, let me say, first off, that the section on stellar life you are quoting from in “Beyond Human Personality” describes a mode of existence far beyond and off the beaten track from the mass of posthumous communications that we have. While there are a fair number of references to spiritual life associated with other planets and their associated ‘spheres’, there are very few to be found that touch upon the possibility of stellar existence. And yet there are a handful:
“Think what it means to study any of the great sciences from this side! To study the stars and suns, for instance, the homes of multitudes of spirits. For each planet has a spirit zone surrounding it to which their own spirits go. There is, of course, intercommunication between the planets, and we are made happy by visitors from far away zones. They tell us of a spirit life the same as ours, but of differing conditions in each planet; and that their bodies are made to conform to the conditions.” (Charlotte Dresser, “Life Here and Hereafter”, p.103)
“We see the soul of the stars, not their outer crust. …I know that the heavenly bodies have souls and are spirits as men have and are. These are the great planetary spirits. The star-beings are really spirits of the nature of the sun-spirit — celestial beings. There are also inter-planetary beings and inter-stellar spirits. The macrocosm, no less than the microcosm, is infinite—infinitely great, infinitely minute.” (Henry Thibault, “Letters from the Other Side”, pp.19-20)
That aside, it is important to recognize, in the passage you quote, that Myers is speaking sometimes from the point of view of ‘earthly matter’ and sometimes from the point of view of what we might term ‘spirit matter’. He describes the former as follows:
“Solar atoms are of a different type from earthly atoms they perish with an inconceivable rapidity….The atomic structure of the star which he has chosen Solar atoms are different from Earthly atoms for his abode is of so unusual a character it would astonish the earthly physicist. These atoms should be divided into two classes. Those in the first which I will name ‘radiant atoms’, differ from those in the second order in the apparent span of their solar life. They quickly disintegrate, whereas the atoms of the earth alter very slowly under the corroding feet of the years. Nevertheless, in the heart of the star, the physicist will find a condition analogous to water. This centre of stability when compared with the outer or radiant part may be regarded as steady though fluidic; is composed of a far heavier type of atom than those I have called radiant. It is not for me to discuss them in detail. If the human eye could exist in such conditions and register what it perceived, the core of this star would seem to represent a vast sea of boiling or bubbling water, a sea in inconceivable tumult.”
Here, let me quote, in comparison, from the Wiki article (I know, I know, Wikipedia….) on the composition of the solar core:
“The core of the Sun is considered to extend from the center to about 0.2 to 0.25 of solar radius. It is the hottest part of the Sun and of the Solar System. It has a density of 150 g/cm3 at the center, and a temperature of 15 million kelvins (15 million degrees Celsius, 27 million degrees Fahrenheit).
The core is made of hot, dense plasma (ions and electrons), at a pressure estimated at 265 billion bar (3.84 trillion psi or 26.5 petapascals (PPa)) at the center. Due to fusion, the composition of the solar plasma drops from 68–70% hydrogen by mass at the outer core, to 34% hydrogen at the core/Sun center.
The core inside 0.20 of the solar radius contains 34% of the Sun’s mass, but only 0.8% of the Sun’s volume. Inside the 0.24 solar radius is the core which generates 99% of the fusion power of the Sun. There are two distinct reactions in which four hydrogen nuclei may eventually result in one helium nucleus: the proton–proton chain reaction – which is responsible for most of the Sun’s released energy – and the CNO cycle.
The Sun at the photosphere is about 73–74% by mass hydrogen, which is the same composition as the atmosphere of Jupiter, and the primordial composition of hydrogen and helium at the earliest star formation after the Big Bang. However, as depth into the Sun increases, fusion decreases the fraction of hydrogen. Traveling inward, hydrogen mass fraction starts to decrease rapidly after the core radius has been reached (it is still about 70% at a radius equal to 25% of the Sun’s radius) and inside this, the hydrogen fraction drops rapidly as the core is traversed, until it reaches a low of about 33% hydrogen, at the Sun’s center (radius zero). All but 2% of the remaining plasma mass (i.e., 65%) is helium, at the center of the Sun.”
What we find, according to ‘conventional science’, is that the solar core – and stellar cores more generally – is comprised of a very hot, very dense ‘plasma sea’ undergoing continuous fusion reaction and that this ‘core composition’ is fundamentally distinct, both in terms of density and atomic composition, from the composition of the sun’s photosphere. So when Myers writes that ‘solar atoms’ “perish with an inconceivable rapidity”, under nuclear fusion that is exactly what is happening. Or when Myers writes that the star’s core is “is composed of a far heavier type of atom than those I have called radiant,” we may find here a ‘non-technical’ acknowledgement of the density of the core – “inside 0.20 of the solar radius contains 34% of the Sun’s mass, but only 0.8% of the Sun’s volume” – as well as the predominating composition of helium over hydrogen in comparison to reverse condition in the photosphere. Or when Myers writes that, “in the heart of the star, the physicist will find a condition analogous to water” that “may be regarded as steady though fluidic” and that “the core of this star would seem to represent a vast sea of boiling or bubbling water, a sea in inconceivable tumult,” this may quite reasonably be taken as a lay, ‘non-scientific’ representation of the incredibly hot, dense, roiling plasma sea in hydrostatic equilibrium that ‘conventional science’ knows to be present.
Now, if one assumes that Cummins was influenced subconsciously by conventional science in the section, that is a possibility that must be admitted. “Beyond Human Personality” was first printed in 1935. In comparison, British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington first suggested that stars draw their energy from the fusion of hydrogen into helium in his 1926 work “The Internal Constitution of the Stars”, which built off of the American physicist Johnathan Lane’s 1880 theoretical work on the internal structure of the sun. Could Cummins have absorbed some of Eddington’s findings at second hand and subconsciously ‘repackaged’ them in the section from “Beyond Human Personality” quoted? Possibly. At the same time, it could be exactly what it claims to be, namely, Myers, from his discarnate, lay (and quite possibly second-hand) perspective, offering a description that accords reasonably well with the more precise descriptions offered by solar astrophysics.
Now, as for the general reliability of Myers’ posthumous communications through Cummins, I suggest you take a look at my comment on [Sat 19 Sep, 03:43] under the post https://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/life_eternal_explained_by_titanic_victim. My own view is that the communications of Myers through Cummins are in fact the best, most reliable posthumous accounts we have. In that comment, I mention that I have an entire chapter of an unpublished manuscript dedicated to evaluating Frederic Myers’ discarnate bona fides. It would be far, far too long to offer up here, but let me share its concluding paragraph to drive the point incompletely home:
“To return once more to Myers and his two posthumously communicated volumes, we find, after tracing through the various lines of secondary testimony above, that, quite apart from the indirect recommendation yielded by both his incarnate and discarnate activities, as well as the demonstrated capabilities of his automist, Geraldine Cummins, there is yet another remarkable support for the reliability of his posthumous writings. Namely, the unprecedented situation of those writings being ostensibly recommended by those belonging to three distinct ontological categories: living individuals, as with researchers Oliver Lodge, Raynor Johnson and Arthur Oram, posthumous individuals, as with Maurice Barbanell, and angelic beings, as with Timestream’s Technician.”
Paul, Sun 19 Dec, 16:22
I just posted a comment and then saw Eric’s latest comment. My thanks also to him. As I have mentioned to Eric by email, much of what he states goes over my head, and I gather that it also goes over the heads of many others, but I get the gist of some of it and look forward to his further comments.
Michael Tymn, Sun 19 Dec, 13:45
I fully agree with David’s comment that much discernment is required when it comes to purported spirit messages from Geraldine Cummins or other seemingly credible mediums. If we can believe Imperator, the spirit world overestimated our ability to discern the messages and underestimated the ability of lower-level spirits to interfere with the messages, or words to that effect. Thus, they began pulling back during the late 1800s, well before Miss Cummins came on the scene, but they obviously didn’t completely withdraw.
No doubt Geraldine Cummins was a very intelligent and creative woman, but I still have to wonder if or how some of the “information” that came through her hand, such as that mentioned by David, got into her subconscious in the first place. The same goes for Pearl Curran, the medium for Patience Worth. In today’s world, it might be suggested that it all came from some radio or TV program. In Cummins’s case, she might have read books on the subject matter, but it seems a real stretch to believe that her readings extended to all the subjects that came through her automatic writing. The case of Pearl Curran seems to go far beyond any such possibility. It is much easier for me to believe that it came from the the spirit world—whether low-level (not necessarily evil), mid-level, or advanced spirits, including a group soul—than to believe in some kind of psychological absorption theory, but to each his own belief.
The mother-in-law of my wife’s sister once told me about her “psychic experience.” While watching TV one night during the early 1980s (I think it was about then) with her husband, she had the urge to write and went to the next room and began writing in a steno book. She didn’t know what she was writing, but it just flowed. She continued throughout the night, even though her husband tried to stop her, and filled 2.5 notebooks dealing with astronomy, which she knew next to nothing about. She reported the matter to her pastor, who told her that it was all demonic and never to do it again. She didn’t give in to further urges. She had never heard of “automatic writing” before I mentioned it and was hesitant to even talk about it. I think she considered that I might be an agent of the devil. Perhaps I am. She kept the notebooks and gave them to me. I read them, but it has been so long now that I can’t recall the content, except that it was very creative and included the term “black hole,” which she said she had never heard before. My recollection is that term “black hole” was not well known at the time, but I am not sure about that. She had no reason to make up the story and I doubt that she exaggerated any of it.
Thanks also to Newton for his encouragement and kind remarks. However, I have as much (or more) to learn as those contributing comments to this blog, and I confess that some of it goes over my head. I often hesitate to show my ignorance by attempting to respond to some of the comments. Actually, there are only four or five people regularly commenting here. There was a time not long ago that a particular blog got only two or three comments, and if those four or five stop commenting, it could very well go back to that. At the same time, I realize from my newspaper and magazine days that the vast majority of readers prefer not to comment.
On to my next blog, which will be posted Monday morning.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
Michael Tymn, Sun 19 Dec, 13:40
I want to say that, as I often do, I agree with Newton and add my support to his urgings concerning Mike Tymn’s marvellous blog and comment ‘column’. But I would like to add a few more points.
To David Magnan: If people would take some notice of the very simple, very elementary realisation that whole universes can thread through each other without being even aware of each other his doubts concerning Myers and Cummings might well resolve. And the argument for this is pure physics and maths - the most reliable authority, in humankind’s normal view. Two simple graphics based on Einstein’s Relativity show how our living Being, could live even in the sun. As Myers was not a physicist and as NO physicist understood Relativity at the time Myers left this world he can’t be expected to explain what today we see as “impossible” for reasons of physics (it ISN’T impossible). Just two diagrams show the possibility of what Myers describes as fact.
And to Newton himself: I have suggested in an email a few months ago that Mike Tymn not disperse his huge collection of books on the subject that brings his blogs into being and ourselves together as his ‘congregation’, but allow them and his blogs to become the Michael Tymn Archive of relevant documents. Do you agree, Newton? Where could the Archive be housed?
I have asked many questions, most recently whose opinions are so irksome as to arouse Amos’s disapproval, but my questions are almost never answered. As Newton says, all our opinions are valid, and material for discussion.
Just one more point: The ladies’ opinions are still absent. Please, ladies, do not allow the opinions of men to make you feel pushed out. Please tell us your thoughts. We want to learn and share.
If I had other points to make I have temporarily forgotten them, and I must also have my Sunday bath . . . so I now send this in some haste.
Eric Franklin, Sun 19 Dec, 10:54
There many mediumistically communicated books published during the “golden age” of Spiritualism. One of them was Geraldine Cummins’ communications from Frederic Meyers, entitled The Road to Immortality.
I completely accept the reality of the afterlife, the soul, reincarnation, and many spirit teachings. However, unfortunately I can’t place much credence in Cummmins’ mediumistic communications from Frederic Meyers, mainly because another compendium of teachings from Frederic Meyers through Geraldine Cummins, Beyond Human Personality, contains a number of statements and descriptions which are untenable scientifically - they conflict with known scientific fact. A major example is the section on “Solar Man”, in which it is claimed that for example, one stage of a soul’s journey consists of living in the Sun and in various other stars in the Universe, that Solar atoms are fundamentally different from Earthly atoms, etc. etc.
This and certain other sections of Beyond Human Personality seem most likely to be subconsciously generated fantasies fuelled by distorted interpretations of then current knowledge and speculations in astronomy and physics. Unfortunately this seems to reduce the credibility of much of the rest of these apparent communications.
And, unfortunately, this sort of interpretation may cover a lot of other channeled or mediumistically communicated volumes from this period. That is why I tend to place much more credence in the psychical research evidence.
The example of this alluded to above, from https://docest.com/beyond-human-personality-frederic-myers-via-geraldine-cummins-free-ebook:
The first steps to be taken in this direction lead to some individualised experience of stellar life. He assumes therefore the third disguise, and adopts the symbol of solar consciousness, the body of flame. He chooses to be born on a permanent or stable star within the Milky Way.
Life on the Fixed Stars
Solar atoms are of a different type from earthly atoms they perish with an inconceivable rapidity. But when the soul assumes the third disguise on the Fifth plane the pilgrim lives in a rhythm and time different from terrestrial time and exists in a kind of flux or flow.
The atomic structure of the star which he has chosen Solar atoms are different from Earthly atoms for his abode is of so unusual a character it would astonish the earthly physicist. These atoms should be divided into two classes. Those in the first which I will name “radiant atoms,” differ from those in the second order in the apparent span of their solar life. They quickly disintegrate, whereas the atoms of the earth alter very slowly under the corroding feet of the years. Nevertheless, in the heart of the star, the physicist will find a condition analogous to water. This centre of stability when compared with the outer or radiant part may be regarded as steady though fluidic; is composed of a far heavier type of atom than those I have called radiant. It is not for me to discuss them in detail. If the human eye could exist in such conditions and register what it perceived, the core of this star would seem to represent a vast sea of boiling or bubbling water, a sea in inconceivable tumult. However, we are at present concerned with the individual life of the traveller. He assumes a fiery body, that is to say a body consisting of radiant atoms. Necessarily it bears no resemblance to the human shape. On Eidos he learnt how to alter and yet to control his outward appearance, that lovely body which is the apotheosis of form as conceived in the human mind. So now, when in stellar life, he has developed and extended his imaginative and intellectual faculties to such an extent that he passes beyond human perceptive existence. With incredible speed his outward appearance changes, its astonishing transitions flowing rhythmically from design to exquisite design. In swift lightning flashes of ecstasy he vibrates in these successive bodies, thrilling and throbbing in a tremendous and brilliant world. Swept by solar tempest to the farthest limits of feeling he becomes so vividly perceptive he may be said to have reached a culminating plane of exalted stellar experience.”
David Magnan, Sat 18 Dec, 22:04
As this thread ends, and Michael is about to gift us with a new post, let me say something as strongly and clearly as I can, something that needs to be said. This blog of Michael’s is uniquely important! Where else can one go on the net and find such a variety of thoughts and opinions expressed, and often well expressed, on the things that really matter?—on the transcendent context of this life we’re struggling to live, and how that context should be reflected in our living of it. Let us not screw up this rare and vital dialogue, impede or diminish it, by interjecting petty personal BS, such as whether a particular comment is too long, whether someone who makes a long comment is hijacking this forum and should start their own blog, etc. If you don’t want to read and engage with a long comment, don’t read it and move on to others. If you disagree with the gist of a comment, GREAT—then either explain your disagreement respectfully, so we can all chew on the divergent views, or again simply ignore the comment and move on. This blog should be one of the most exciting and edifying websites out there, a place where people can express themselves about ultimate things as their minds and hearts lead them to, a place where we can learn from each other as we learn from Michael. One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to do my best to help this blog be all it can be, to speak my mind and heart whether that expression be long or short, and without regard as to whether anyone else may like what I say or not. And I will continue to read and ponder each and every comment from voices other than mine, especially those which take issue with me and thus may provide what Kierkegaard calls “the corrective.” I urge everyone who comments here, or is considering commenting here, to make a similar New Year resolution. Now with that off my chest, please, Michael, bring on that next post…and let’s have at it.
Newton E. Finn, Sat 18 Dec, 17:28
I wonder who it is whose opinions have prompted Amos to think his current comment especially pertinent at this moment. Openness of mind, and its closedness also, have many ways of both showing themselves and hiding themselves, and as our own view is in all instances at least somewhat short on both comprehensiveness and accuracy (as none of us is God) our own view cannot be a reliable measure of anothers’ prejudices. The conscientious reader of ‘Spirit Teachings’ begins to realise this, despite the cloying, irksome repetitiousness and Victorian complexity of Imperator’s style.
Eric Franklin, Fri 17 Dec, 09:34
One hundred years ago on September 18, 1921 Patience Worth said:
“I am amused at man! He mewls wisdom and drools philosophy as an infant; his lips drivel cocksurely loose-knit words, ill garments in which he lets his thoughts disport. Where is his soul? Retreated as a grim monk within a cell, waiting a single ray from the sun.
I am amused at man! It is a great game to count how many men think what their lips repeat, or repeat with their lips their thoughts, for the bigot self stands twixt the thought and utterance, weighing smugly, lest the beam tip awry and he who listeth to the prate shall see the utterer naked or in foolscap.”
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 16 Dec, 17:04
(Full Definition of bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.) - AOD
To clarify my prior comment, here’s a quote from “Spirit Teachings” which captures in a nutshell what I believe to be the overriding mission of spiritualism: “to spread abroad the knowledge of a higher and purer religion….” Is it not precisely this knowledge that the NDEr often searches for in his or her attempt to reintegrate with this world after having had a glimpse of the next? By the way, I had to chuckle when I realized that at the end of my prior comment, I foolishly put the word “experience” after NDE, the “E” of course standing for that very word. Am I alone in having difficulty with the overuse of acronyms?
Newton E. Finn, Wed 15 Dec, 16:00
Well-chosen words, Chris, about the larger context of this blog and those who participate in it. May we be worthy of those words. During my devotional reading this morning of “Spirit Teachings,” a thought occurred to me which I would like to share. The thought has to do with a potential linkage, perhaps even union, of classic spiritualism (now on the fringe of things) and NDEs (the hot spiritual topic of the day). As discussed in Dr. Greyson’s “After” and other NDE literature, NDErs come back with the overwhelming sense that the afterlife and reality in general are “much bigger” than what they had been taught in their traditional religions (if they had any). Thus these NDErs often grope for alternative words and concepts to point to and digest these new realities they have experienced so briefly, yet so vividly and indelibly. What, I wonder, might happen if an NDEr, ideally from some sort of Christian background, were given a copy of “Spirit Teachings” to assist him or her in processing the life-changing experience that must now be grappled with over the remainder of a lifetime? I have a feeling that this book (and others like it) might be of immense value, and that classic spiritualism could accordingly be revived and enriched, again become cutting-edge, by making this crucial contribution to the understanding and, especially, the living out of the NDE experience.
Newton E. Finn, Tue 14 Dec, 15:43
The light was and is always present, you just have to see it. That’s why it is important that those who see the light send it to places and minds covered in darkness. Not to give them solutions , but to enlighten their minds so they can see where their paths lead to. The specific solutions they must find for themself. But the light that is send to them will make them able to see in their darkness and will chase that away. There are many on this blog who know that light and are able and are sending the light to others.
Chris, Tue 14 Dec, 07:38
Having discussed, in my most recent comment, the framing of our life and afterlife as a purgatorial pilgrimage, and of ‘purgatorial striving’ in terms of the purification and growth of the soul – the soul’s cultivation in fact – as represented in Qur’anic and Sufi terms as ‘tazkiyat an-nafs’, here let me widen that consideration a bit further by speaking, in terms specific to the discarnate literature, of ‘vibration’ and ‘consciousness’. Frederic Myers, in his posthumous work “The Road to Immortality”, repeatedly refers to the ‘ladder of consciousness’ and this is consistent with numerous other accounts. The posthumous ‘levels’ or ‘domains’ are in consciousness and of consciousness. A point made by the discarnate collaborator of another ‘A’ author – August Goforth, author of “The Risen” – one fully concordant with those made by the ‘three Arthurs’ [Findlay, Conan Doyle and Ellison] of my earlier comment, is that:
“Every person experiences an individualized transition, in-formed – or manifested – by their unique ‘fingerprint’ of vibration. This vibration is both qualitative and quantitative in continually varying amounts. In the Risen geographies, vibration is tantamount to aware consciousness – which is significantly different than that which August has called “conscious awareness.” Rather than try to explain this in terrestrial terms, I ask that you just contemplate the different feelings that come with the different arrangement of these two words.” [http://augustgoforth.blogspot.com/; Sunday, April 14, 2013]
Two points stand out in this passage. First, the mention of both qualitative and quantitative aspects to ‘vibration’. Second that “vibration is tantamount to aware consciousness”. This latter statement is perfectly in accord with the best testimony we have as to the nature of the discarnate levels, as is – most crucially – that one’s “unique ‘fingerprint’ of vibration” determines one’s transition and posthumous ‘sorting’, ‘placement’ or ‘assignment’ as a newly discarnate soul – the matter of ‘sorting’ being discussed with particular thoroughness in Robert Crookall’s extraordinarily valuable book “The Supreme Adventure” – which is described as into a ‘domain’ characterized by a particular vibration, which might be said to be ‘resonant’ with the quality and character of one’s own being.
Of course, this leads to the dominating question: how is one to best engage in this improvement in ‘quality of consciousness’ or ‘raising of vibration’, to the betterment of one’s own soul and sorting? The statement of Frances Banks in Helen Greaves’ “Testimony of Light” is germane: “And there are three ways in which to carry it out here. By self-judgment, and true assessment of experiences; by service to one’s fellows; and by aspiration.” (p.60) This is a summary worth committing to memory and reflecting upon frequently. Another, related passage, from the same: “The vision is still with me, complete and satisfying; the hope of further teaching and progress. I must make myself ready by continued service, as well as my facing myself and learning of my defects, ready for that transition to a sphere for which my whole soul yearns.” (p.75)
This is very beautiful and no doubt very sound. I do wonder, however – and this is perfectly in keeping with vibration as “tantamount to aware consciousness” – whether it is truly an objective statement or is in some way colored by Frances Bank’s particular formative temperament and background as an Anglican nun. If we consider matters in terms of the three ‘margas’, or paths, of Hinduism – karma-marga (the path of duty), bhakti-marga (the path of devotion) and jnana-marga (the path of knowledge, specifically “the use of meditation with concentration, preceded by a long and systematic ethical and contemplative training, to gain direct insight into one’s identity with Brahman”, or the Absolute) – Frances Bank’s statement is largely one of karma-marga (service) accompanied by bhakti-marga (aspiration). There is little in the statement suggestive of jnana-marga. In fairness, little in the discarnate-related literature speaks to this third path – which is very much a minority path even in this world – which is why “The Green Book”, extracted from Theon Wright’s “The Open Door” – which I’ve had occasion to mention previously – is so remarkable a document.
In further fairness to Frances Banks, for whom it is impossible not to have tremendous affection, are these late statements from “Testimony of Light”, which are entirely in keeping with those of the “Master” of “The Green Book”: “And more and more I become thankful for the Reality which, God be praised, was there beneath the skin, all the time. This is the Self which is now becoming more and more outstanding, more revealed, more substantial.” (p.124) “This is the next step in progression, the stepping out of illusion into the consciousness of the functioning of the Higher Self, an emergence into a wider consciousness and an awareness of Spiritual Beings and of Forces from the All-Creative Mind of God. This is a gradual process and may take years (in earth consciousness of time) to fulfill. I feel as though I am starting on a Path of Light which leads upward and onward into Realms of unimaginable beauty and wonder and of which I have, as yet, but the faintest glimmer of comprehension.” (p.125) This, too, is a means – perhaps the ‘best’ or ‘ultimate’ means – of ‘raising’ one’s “aware consciousness”, and thus one’s ‘vibration’ and concomitant ‘placement’.
Paul, Mon 13 Dec, 15:07
The last phrase of my prior comment should read: “including those who sit in the back and commune with us in silent pondering.” I have no idea where “the road” came from, but perhaps some spirit took my declining typing skills as an opportunity to remind us that we are not merely stationary but traveling down a road together.
Newton E. Finn, Mon 13 Dec, 13:59
What an affirmation of Michael’s work that it engenders conversations like this one! We may not always agree fully with one another—thank God, for that would make us a cult—but again I feel impelled to say that we are indeed a congregation of kindred spirits…including those who sit the roadin the back and commune with us in silent pondering.
Newton E. Finn, Sun 12 Dec, 21:03
I appreciate the gesture of your quoting from Scripture, given our recent butting of heads on the question of the pertinence of religion. As for the passage, you essentially have it. The quote in full is “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (KJV: Ecclesiastes 12:13). In this regard, it is worth noting that two of the three authors quoted from in my prior comment specifically mention parenthetically that the basic orientation that one would best adopt is in concord with the principal message of religion, taken in the main.
From Conan Doyle, “The answers to the latter query do in the main justify the views already held by most religions, and show that the path of virtue is also the road to ultimate happiness.” From Ellison, “Price wrote his paper along these lines before the information about near-death experiences was available. So far as they go, these experiences appear to confirm his views. Scriptural writings appear to do the same.” I didn’t pick the passages for these nods of general agreement – rather, they were more or less selected at random, but the agreement was there anyway.
Now of course, discarnate haranguing against ‘creeds’ or ‘empty rituals’ – as, say, Imperator or Silver Birch are wont to do on occasion – is not particularly helpful if it is simply at the level of vague bombast, which, frankly, it too often is. Which creeds? What rituals? Sometimes, they get down to details, and then I tend to agree with them. Are individuals automatically ‘saved’ through the vicarious atonement of Christ. Are individuals ‘saved’ through a mere verbal assent to faith? Is Christ co-equal with God, or identified ‘as God’ under Trinitarian doctrine? My own answers would run, ‘no’, ‘no’, and ‘no, but requires further theological explication’. But of course, if we take the first two points as particularly relevant to the matter at hand, there is no point in saying that such answers are typical of ‘religion’ taken in the main – they are not – nor even of Christianity, taken in the main – again, no. So what is being challenged is the view – not uniformly held and altering over time – of a particular sect, typically associated with Protestantism, of a particular religion, Christianity.
And yet, matters are likely less simple and cut-and-dried that we imagine. Here, let me share two passages, both from Dante’s “Purgatorio” [and here, perhaps a nod to Stafford Betty’s most recent post is in order]. In the first, Dante and other purgatorial pilgrims have just disembarked at the base of Mount Purgatory. They are all standing about, not sure what to do, when Dante meets a former friend, the musician Casella, who begins to sing some of Dante’s own poetry, such that all in the group are soon drawn to listen. Suddenly, Cato of Utica – the guardian of the entrance to the mountain, in life a hero of the Roman republic and noted Stoic known for his stern moral integrity – bursts upon them [Purgatorio Canto II:115-133 (tr. Mark Musa)]:
“What negligence to stand around like this!
Run to the mountain, shed that slough which still
does not let God be manifest to you!”
“Run to the mountain!” It is no mistake that the first volume of Thomas Merton’s published journals bears this title, nor that his famous autobiography is titled “The Seven Storey Mountain”. It is the record, in both accounts, of a purgatorial journey, “along the journey of our life.” [Inferno Canto I:1 (tr. Mark Musa)] Martin Lings, who, in his book “Shakespeare’s Window into the Soul,” offers some of the most spiritually penetrating analyses of the Bard’s plays and characters, often discusses the latter as ‘purgatorial pilgrims’ whose own travails and struggles, risings and fallings, are so many mirrors held up to ourselves. We, too, are purgatorial pilgrims, here and now, and the sooner we recognize this to be the case – the sooner we ourselves begin to ‘run to the mountain’ – the better.
The second passage, from the immediately following canto, relates the fate of Manfred, a notorious sinner and excommunicate, who tells Dante of his final moments of life, struck down in battle [Purgatorio Canto III:118-123 (tr. Mark Musa)]:
“As I lay there, my body torn by these
two mortal wounds, weeping, I gave my soul
to Him Who grants forgiveness willingly.
Horrible was the nature of my sins,
but boundless mercy stretches out its arms
to any man who comes in search of it.”
This is a classic ‘deathbed conversion’, of the kind that should bear no salvific legitimacy, and yet it does. In his dying moments, something turns in his heart and he, turning to God, finds ‘boundless mercy’. Yet, far from landing in some heavenly height, there he is: practically at the very base of purgatorial striving, with a long road ahead of him, but nevertheless ‘turned round right’ and on his way. The clear echo to numerous posthumous accounts should be evident.
Let me close by shifting tack within the same topic to an entirely different tradition, that of Islamic Sufism, and quote a long, but highly pertinent passage from a leading scholar in the field, William Chittick [William C. Chittick, “Sufism: A Beginner’s Guide,” ch.4], in which he discusses the Sufi term tazkiyat an-nafs, and expression indicating at once purification and growth of the soul. To my mind, this term encapsulates precisely what is required of us, according to the main testimony of posthumous accounts, if we would ‘do well’. The ‘work’ of tazkiyat an-nafs is precisely that of our purgatorial striving on the pilgrimage of our life and afterlife. From Chittick:
[An expression that] “has often been taken by Sufi teachers as the definition of the path to God is tazkiyat an-nafs, a phrase that is usually translated as ‘purification of the soul.’
Paul, Sun 12 Dec, 18:34
The phrase is derived from a Koranic verse that I would translate, with some hesitation, as follows: ‘By the soul and That which shaped it, and inspired it to its depravity and its godwariness. Prosperous is he who purifies it, and failed has he who buries it’ (91:7–10). According to this verse, only those who purify their souls achieve ‘prosperity.’ The Koranic context makes clear that this prosperity pertains to the next world and that the prosperity of this world is irrelevant, if not positively dangerous. Those who fail to purify their souls and instead ‘bury’ their souls – as if they were hiding their souls under the ground – will not be prosperous. Instead, they will be miserable when they move on to their final home, whether or not they consider themselves prosperous here.
Like all translations of Koranic passages, this translation is problematic and tentative. To begin with, ‘purify’ is definitely a misleading translation for tazkiya. All the dictionaries tell us that tazkiya has two senses, though the lexicographers disagree as to which sense is more basic. One meaning of the verb is to purify and cleanse, the other to augment and increase. Hence tazkiyat an-nafs, as the Koran commentators recognize, can be understood to mean both ‘purification’ of the nafs and ‘augmentation’ of the nafs. Most commentators stress the first meaning, apparently for theological reasons. After all, the primary task of Muslims is to submit themselves to God, and this cannot happen until they rid themselves of things that God does not like. This can be called ‘purification.’ However, it is obvious that the soul also needs to grow and to increase in stature with God’s help. Bringing about this growth can also be called tazkiya. Thus, two things need to take place, and both are implied in the word tazkiya – purification and augmentation. We can also consider purification as occurring simultaneously with the soul’s growth and increase, and thus the two senses of the word coalesce.
The complementarity of these two meanings can be seen in some of the ways in which the word tazkiya is used. The dictionaries tell us that it can be employed for planting seeds or raising cattle, in which cases it means neither to purify nor to augment, but something that combines these two senses. When seeds are planted in the ground, they are purified of everything alien to them and exposed to God’s bounties – earth, water, and sunlight. This prepares the way for the seeds to increase and grow. Those who plant the seeds neither ‘purify’ them nor ‘augment’ them. Rather, they put them into a situation where they can thrive, prosper, and bring out their own potentiality. Hence tazkiyat an-nafs means not only ‘to purify the soul,’ but also to allow the soul to grow and thrive by opening it up to the bounty of God. A better translation might be ‘cultivation of the soul.’”
Dear Paul and all,
I am glad you are still actively commenting, because your latest comment by yourself and the three Arthurs seems a succinct distillation of the whole matter. The proverb-writer wrote something like “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and obey his commandments . . .” I forget the rest of the quotation, if there is more, and I have no Old Testament here to check whether I have the quotation precisely right.
Eric Franklin, Sun 12 Dec, 12:58
They are beautiful, those last comments. Some have a direct connection with the spirit world. I wished we could use a direct connection with all of humanity to spread those beautiful thoughts.😉
Chris, Sun 12 Dec, 12:09
The facts that science wants to discover (leaving aside the question of whether it succeeds or not) must be part of God Himself. The facts must be consistent with (and exist consistently within) their Creator, Who is totally self-consistent and encompasses all facts, (and encompasses all silly fantasies as the facts of silliness - I trust that is understandable by all of us - a fantasy is a fact, but not a fact of reality. It is a fact of the fantastical kind.).
The events taking place regarding Galileo, Bellarmine, Savonorola, the Pope, and all other persons, are similarly facts within God, but not all those facts are what we would call truths.
Newton has, I believe, the right conclusion concerning the practical, that we have to trust, and so live our lives in conscious trust, whatever the facts, scientific or other, that we can never be absolutely certain about. All facts, and all our imperfect understandings thereof, are within the Great All Who, we believe, is trustworthy. One of the apostles said somewhere that we are “shut up to faith” which is 16th century-speak for “we have no alternative but to trust God” Who alone knows what we merely strive to discover and prove, and who, we probably all agree, is the only being knowledgeable and trustworthy enough to rely on.
Writing this has been interrupted by a friendly neighbour keeping a protective eye on me - God’s servant? demonstrating the point? I hope, despite the interruption, it speaks a little wisdom in ordinary language.
Eric Franklin, Sun 12 Dec, 10:12
I had intended to step back from commenting for a time, yet Newton’s latest comment has, in the words of Michael Corleone, ‘pulled me back in’. Interestingly, the point he raises is one I have been (re)pondering on very recently. Let me share here some choice passages from some very recent (re)readings that touch upon this very matter:
First, from Arthur Findlay’s “The Way of Life” (1974), three discarnate communications through the direct-voice medium John Sloan:
“You are all weaving the web of life for yourself. You are all weaving personality and character on earth. You are living a life that will go with you when you pass the barrier, and fit you into the condition on this side that you have prepared for yourself on earth.”
“Our world is very real to us, but the conditions in which we find ourselves depend on the condition of our mind. If we wish it we can be surrounded by beautiful country. Our mind plays a large part in our life here. Just as we live in surroundings suitable to our mental development, so we also attract to ourselves minds of the same type as our own. Like attracts like in this world. So also like attracts like so far as your world and our world are concerned. The evil-minded here are attracted by the evil-minded in your world, and the good here by the good with you.”
“What kind of life awaited this multitude of new arrivals, was once asked by one of us, and this is what we were told: ‘It depends much upon the condition of their life before they came to this side, and their inclination to aspire to the higher life. If they have not had that desire in earth life, they will not so speedily advance.’”
Next, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The After-Life as Seen by Spiritualists,” Ch.XI of his “The History of Spiritualism,” Vol II (1926), a summary statement based upon his broad experience of the subject and deep familiarity with the literature available at the time, including many unpublished communications that people had shared with him:
“The Spiritualist has one great advantage over those of the older dispensations. When he establishes communication with intelligences upon the Other Side who once inhabited earthly bodies, he naturally questions them eagerly as to their present conditions, and as to the effect which their doings here have had upon their subsequent fate. The answers to the latter query do in the main justify the views already held by most religions, and show that the path of virtue is also the road to ultimate happiness. A definite system is presented, however, for our consideration which greatly elucidates the vague cosmogonies of former ages.
… Those who have really begun that existence find themselves in that stratum of life which corresponds to their own spiritual condition. It is the punishment of the cruel, the selfish, the bigoted and the frivolous, that they find themselves in the company of their like, and in worlds the illumination of which, varying from mist to darkness, typifies their own spiritual development. Such an environment is not a permanent one. Those who will not make an upward effort may, however, remain in it an indefinite time, while others who turn an ear to the ministrations of helpful spirits, even of rescue circles upon earth, soon learn to struggle upwards into brighter zones.”
Finally, from Arthur Ellison, “What is it Like After Death?” from his “The Reality of the Paranormal” (1988), past president of the SPR, commenting on the philosophic speculations on the nature of the afterlife by philosopher H.H. Price:
“A mind-dependent world would tend to be a wish-fulfilment world….In case you think this is too good to be true it is easy to argue that it is the reverse. There would be many next worlds, not just one, and the world each of us could expect after death would depend on the kind of person we are. It is easy to see that some people’s next world would be more like purgatory than paradise because they have conflicting desires.
…It is clear that such unpleasant experiences would not be literally punishments. They would he inflicted by no external judge but each person’s purgatory would be just the automatic consequences of his or her own desires. The life after death, on these arguments, would be an expression of what each person truly is - it will all depend on what we have made of ourselves during earthly life. At first sight one might think that an image world contained no hard facts and so there was nothing objective. However, a man’s or woman’s character is objective in that it exists whether we like it or not. The next world as pictured would be subject to law but not to the laws of physics: such laws might be more like the laws of psychology. If we dislike the image world our memories and desires create for us - if when we get what we want we are horrified - we have to set about altering our character, and this might be a long and painful process.
…Price wrote his paper along these lines before the information about near-death experiences was available. So far as they go, these experiences appear to confirm his views. Scriptural writings appear to do the same. I do not think that Price was far wrong in his descriptions of the hypothetical ‘next world’. Certainly they agree very well with the evidence presented earlier in this book. Perhaps, if we think there is something significant and possibly important and true in these views, it might be a good idea to start to improve our characters right now! It could be much more painful to let the next world do it for us!”
The fact that the authors are all Arthurs is hardly a coincidence – rather, I had dipped into ebooks/efiles under the same folder that were named by author and title and sorted alphabetically. They were literally the first three. The fact that their views are so concordant is hardly surprising to those familiar with the broader literature, for such views as these are present – indeed foregrounded – throughout practically the entirety of it.
Now, to the substance of Newton’s comment, which is absolutely spot on – so much so that we fail to take it to heart very much at our peril. Once one has sufficiently absorbed the testimony of this literature to both get clear and get confident, then what remains – and it is a very large project indeed – is to take it with the earnestness it deserves and set about putting one’s life in order. I say this as one in need of the lesson as much as anyone else, much as Seneca, in his letter to Lucilius (Letter 27), answers his friend’s query, “Are you giving me advice? Have you already advised and corrected yourself? Is that why you are at leisure to set others straight?” with the reply “I am not so persistent that I will seek out cures while I am sick, but I will talk to you about our common suffering and share remedies as if I am lying in the same hospital. So listen to me as though I am talking to myself: I will let you into my intimate thoughts and reckon up with myself in your company.”
The worst mistake would be to make a fetish of the knowledge of posthumous things – as precious as this is – to think that such makes us special or puts us above the common crowd, yet fail to heed it, to work upon ourselves, to purify ourselves. How to begin? One could do far worse than to heed the advice of Plotinus:
“Go back inside yourself and look: if you do not yet see yourself as beautiful, then do as the sculptor does with a statue he wants to make beautiful; he chisels away one part, and levels off another, makes one spot smooth and another clear, until he shows forth a beautiful face on the statue. Like him, remove what is superfluous, straighten what is crooked, clean up what is dark and make it bright, and never stop sculpting your own statue, until the godlike splendor of virtue shines forth to you.” [Ennead I.6.9]
Paul, Sun 12 Dec, 05:24
Newton E. Finn (quoting): In “Contact With The Other World,” Hyslop points out that it was Christianity’s adoption of a cosmology that caused it to falter when it was shown that the earth revolved around the sun. Had Christianity stuck with elemental principles, he maintains, axioms like the Fatherhood of God, the Golden Rule, and eternal life, Christianity would have been impervious to inevitable shifts in the interpretation or understanding of physical reality….....
Hyslop’s opinion apparently reflects the predominant view of his time on the conflict between Science and Faith. Since then, academic history evolved to a different perception of the issue at stake. To quote a Berkeley historian of ideas from an informal exchange with me :
“[T]he controversy between [Cardinal] Bellarmine and Galileo was based on Augustinian biblical interpretation, on both sides. They accepted that Augustine’s argument that a sound proof in natural philosophy must overthrow a literal reading of a biblical text. They disagreed about what would constitute such a proof.
Galileo insisted that mathematics and looking through his newfangled telescope could suffice to disprove geocentrism, Kepler’s elliptical orbits and the Jesuits’ observations of cometary structure and orbits. Never mind that the Jesuits had seen them through telescopes but he hadn’t.
Bellarmine and successive Popes had no problem with Galileo advancing such notions as hypotheses, as their long discussions with him over decades demonstrate. They did not accept that his methods constituted sufficient proof to overthrow traditional readings of the relevant texts, as Galileo persistently insisted they did. Neither mathematics nor observation had previously been regarded as providing anything more than probable explanations in natural philosophy.
The real issue between Bellarmine and Galileo was about Aristotelian methodology. There were several kinds of Aristotelianism available. All of them emphasized that true scientia could only be created through the operation of logic. However, at Padua [where Galileo lived for many years], Averroes was the filter through which Aristotle was read, probably because of the strength of the medical school there. Among medical teachers, Averroes remained the central text until well into the 17th century. At Padua the strength of his influence encouraged a revival of the Aristotelian commitment to empirical enquiry [...]
Galileo claimed that he had proved the real, as opposed to hypothetical, motion of the planets around the sun in perfectly circular motion, on the basis of his mathematics and the use of his newfangled telescope. He was absolutely committed to circular motion, as an expression of the perfection of God, even when the Jesuits told him they had both observed and calculated the elliptical motion of a comet, cutting across the planetary orbits. Galileo had been ill at the time and denounced the observations as an illusion, but his a priori commitment makes it unlikely that he would have accepted elliptical motion even if he had been looking.
Bellarmine held to the traditional view, that proof required logic. [...]
[Galileo] was overconfident, having been a Medici courtier, where definitive proof was not required of him but only elegant presentation. He also felt sure that he would be protected by his personal friendship with the Pope, something so well known that it became a major talking point in his favourite daughter’s nunnery.
He pushed it too far, not only publishing his ideas in the form of a dialogue but casting the Pope in the role of the simpleton, by putting his sceptical questions into that character’s mouth.
The distinction between the kinds of argument required for philosophical proof and those required for religious belief is a very old one. Indeed, what became modern scepticism was originally promoted by religious refomers such as Savonarola, precisely because they wanted to drive logic out of religion and back into areas where it was more appropriate.”
(end of quote)
As you can see, the issues are pretty intricate. They’re also different from those in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In Eastern Orthodoxy, much less importance is given to scholasticism: to logical, rational arguments. The basis is rather on prayer, prayer as a form of introspective meditation as a way to access the word of God. God is conceived of an ultimate unknowable principle. Maybe as a result of this attitude, there has been historically little to no crises or conflict in the Eastern Orthodox Christianity’s relationship to scientific discoveries. Yet, one might point out that Eastern Orthodoxy also rejects, say, mediumship. That’s a valid point that I’m not equipped to comment upon.
Dorian JR, Sat 11 Dec, 21:24
It seems to me that we incarnate beings have a two-fold task: first, to come to an awareness, each in our own way, that there is a transcendent context in which we live our earthly lives; and second, to then struggle to live our earthly lives in light of that larger context. The trap, I fear, for those who understand this two-fold task, is to concentrate too much on the first part, trying to achieve an unachievable state of clarity about it. This can sometimes distract us from concentrating sufficiently on the second part, the embodying of compassion via ethics both personal and social. Faith, as I see it, is the commitment to live the compassionate, ethical life without complete clarity about its transcendent context—being willing to live in trust, as Eric puts it, that all will be well.
Newton E. Finn, Sat 11 Dec, 16:31
Dear Mike Tymn,
Thank you for your comment on your own blog, substantial and well-argued as always, referring me to your blog of March 2018. I have read that blog. I take it that Frank Juszczyk has been a recipient of surgery on his etheric body through George Chapman, and this is how he is now convinced of what we all strive to believe, namely the survival of our real, conscious essence after the failure of the physical body. I, too, received a kind of preparatory healing from George Chapman’s son Michael, who lives quite near my own home, as described in a comment from me a few weeks ago. In brief, I felt a very strong and steady sensation of my hair standing on end throughout the whole of Michael Chapman’s healing, then received a new lens by Patricia Bath’s ultrasound disintegration/vacuum procedure about a year later, suffered not a single moment of the usual pain after that operation (by Mr Devarajan at Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth on 16 December, 2018), and now have sight in BOTH eyes which my optometrist, Mr Hughes of Lampeter, says is stable and good. Now, I have sufficient reason to be convinced of survival, just as, it seems, Frank Juszczyk is. I expect my pisteuein (trust) in a God of love will still sometimes falter, to my shame, but I will try to keep any doubts at bay. Thank you for the blogs that provide us all such encouragement to be(come) what we ought to be in a world made and sustained by a loving and trustworthy Great Being, and in higher worlds in due time.
Eric Franklin, Sat 11 Dec, 10:01
Yes, past-life studies have contributed much to the conviction that consciousness survives death, but there are different interpretations of it all. For one, there is the belief that unadvanced spirits are possessing those who report past lives. There is also the school that holds only a very small part of the overall personality reincarnates. To quote the discarnate Frederic W. H. Myers: “When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth. And often a half-truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement. I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern of karma I have woven for him on earth.”
Both of those two explanations still suggest survival even if not in the way the more orthodox belief does.
And then there is the super-psi or living-agent psi idea, which is too complex to get into here. However, some advocates of that idea see it as opposing survival.
Michael Tymn, Fri 10 Dec, 22:15
See my blog of 12 March 2018 in the archives at left for more information on Frank Juszczyk. Yes, his comments are appreciated, even if they go over the heads of some of us. He speaks from personal experiences than not everyone has had.
Michael Tymn, Fri 10 Dec, 22:04
Dear Frank Juszczyk and all others,
Thank you for your latest comment. It describes in slightly different words from those I would have chosen, exactly the view I have been trying to spread for at least a year past, against strong but mistaken opposition if I may say so. Frank, are you a professional physicist? I shall not be surprised if you tell us that you are. Even if not, you perceive the physical and mathematical reality that we, RIGHT NOW, our conscious SELVES, are not in this physical universe but only (as it were) suspended upside down into the prison of the physical from a higher universe altogether. We simply CONTINUE IN THAT HIGHER UNIVERSE WHEN WE “DIE” OUT OF THIS ONE. And other universes are just as “solid”-seeming as this one in which we stub our toes on stones that are overwhelmingly empty space.
What distresses me is that the grasping of this is so simple, but almost none do in fact grasp it. You obviously DO more than grasp it, Frank - and thank you for taking the trouble to express it to us all. Please teach us more. May I ask again, “are you a professional physicist or mathematician”? I shall not be surprised if you are.
So much more could be enthusiastically said, but you, Frank Juszczyk, have described something people find very difficult to understand, and said it very well.
Eric Franklin, Fri 10 Dec, 10:57
I just have to add my observation to any discussion of human existence with out a physical body: Reincarnation research has shown in more than 2500 cases that some young children remember who they were in their previous incarnation, the existence of that person is discovered, researchers meet with that person’s family, the child is taken to that person’s family, and the child exhibits emotions appropriate to that persion he/she has claimed to be in his/her past life. I don’t know how many cases there are where all of these conditions are true, but if even one case is genuine, it proves that that one mind (the memory, at least) is independent of the physical brain.
Bob Gebelein, Fri 10 Dec, 09:58
As always, Mike Tymn’s eagerly-awaited blog arrives two days later, here in Wales, UK, than you others receive it.
There is a little matter of understanding which needs a little light shed upon it. Newton will tell us more correctly than I can. The word ‘faith’ as used in the Bible, which of course has been the major influence on us in the Christian part of the world, does not mean a list of tenets we have to believe, a system of doctrines. The word is, I understand, typing it in Arabic letters, not Greek, the Greek word PISTEUEIN. It means TRUST. It does NOT mean “Give assent to the following series of religious propositions or you’re damned:”.
One can picture oneself a small child, hand safely but gently in the hand of Granddad/Grandma, on the way to - what do you Americans call it? - the candy store.
Once the burden of striving to get one’s catechismal tenets of belief-in-that-other-sense-of-‘doctrines’ right is removed from our shoulders we can walk half a step behind the Great Being in Whom we trust that all will be well because that’s the way the Great Being Her/Himself wants it, and indeed the way He/She WILL make it, if we PISTEUO.
Eric Franklin, Fri 10 Dec, 09:00
Frank Juszczyk, Fri 10 Dec, 00:16
Your work is of course valuable for both its intelligence and its rarity. Most people need someone like you to create a bridge for their understanding. For me, as you know, all doubt has been erased. The thing that sticks in most people’s craw is that the spooks are really no different than they are. We presume spirits can walk through solid walls because they are immaterial, but it’s really because our walls actually have no substance. The spooks are more real than we presume ourselves to be. Aren’t we as much spirits as they are? We have just adopted a form like an avatar in a video game in order to meet the requirements the game. We’re really not human at all. We are “alters” as Bernardo Kastrup would say, meaning alternate localizations of consciousness out of the universal one. We aren’t clever apes and we don’t inhabit a physical time/space continuum. Once the skeptics drop all that pretense, which allows them a world of excuses for their inadvertent stupidity (we’re only human after all), we can all proceed to unite with the nature we share with our spook friends because the essential reality is the same. We have just elected to adopt some very limited perceptions and confine ourselves to whatever experience they can offer us.
“Are our moral preferences true or false, or are they only odd biological phenomena, making things good or bad for us, but in themselves indifferent?”
It’s no wonder with thoughts like this that William James was considered smart. As Patience Worth reportedly said, “There is no evil; only dreams gone awry.” (Or something to that effect!) - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 8 Dec, 18:42
AOD: Concerning the issue of the universe’s moral coherence, William James explained what I mean by faith: “The question of having moral beliefs at all or not having them is decided by our will. Are our moral preferences true or false, or are they only odd biological phenomena, making things good or bad for us, but in themselves indifferent? How can your pure intellect decide? If your heart does not want a world of moral reality, your head will assuredly never make you believe in one….” Your response to me reveals this kind of faith, the recognition that you, at least in some cases, choose to see ultimate things as they ought to be or would like them to be. With deep respect, I urge you not to be ashamed of this subjectivity but to embrace it.
Newton E. Finn, Wed 8 Dec, 17:58
I don’t know how to respond to your latest comment because I am probably the person commenting here that is most deficient of any knowledge of theology and the history of religions. To me ‘faith’ is synonymous with ‘belief’ but I suppose if I believe something is true—- rather than knowing something is true—- that that may come up short as compared to faith because in my uneducated mind, faith is based upon religious convictions of which I have little or none. For me I either believe something is true, based upon evidence or in some cases (I am ashamed to say) based upon my own intuitive understanding of what appeals to me as something the ‘ought to be true’ or maybe what I would ‘like to be true’. It is kind of like if I created the world and physical reality, this is what I would create if I were God. My belief is usually based upon something that makes sense to me rather than any instruction (I want to say dogma) from various and sundry religions which I would accept on faith alone.
I don’t understand your definition of “alter” but I take it to mean perhaps a subconscious personality of Pearl Curran or perhaps as used in psychiatric cases as a dissociative identity or an older definition as an alternate personality of someone who has ‘multiple personality disorder’, a term now out of use. The classic case might be considered to be Dr. Morton Prince’s Sally Beauchamp case where his patient exhibited several different “alters” which Morton Prince was able to fully merge together except for one who continued to remain active within the main personality. (which to me throws shade on Morton Prince’s whole study and report of alternate personalities)
For a long time, I favored the idea that Patience Worth was a past life of Pearl Curran or that some of the female characters in Pearl’s stories, e.g., Theia in “The Sorry Tale” or “Hope” in “Hope Trueblood or Telka in “Telka” were past lives of Pearl Curran and that idea still seems viable to me. But thanks to Michael Tymn, I also have considered the group soul idea that Patience and Pearl may have been part of a ‘group soul’ and that the differences in writing style provided by Pearl Curran may have come from several different entities rather than from just one—-Patience Worth. The real problem with the Patience Worth case is as Casper Yost pointed out, the problem of knowledge. That is, where did Pearl Curran obtain the extensive knowledge of language, customs and people of previous eras without extensive education or exposure to them?
Even though I don’t understand these current discussions of theology and religion and cannot intelligently participate, I welcome them and try to find education in them. Thanks for your input, Newton. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 7 Dec, 22:51
Again, AOD, your contributions to this budding discussion are appreciated. What would be the result, I wonder, if it could somehow be demonstrated that Patience was but an “alter” of Pearl; that NDEs have an adequate physical explanation; that all the signs and wonders of mediumship, past and present, stem from this-worldly super-psi powers? Farfetched possibilities in toto, yes, but still worthy of philosophical consideration.
Would this not be where the rubber hits the road when it comes to the basing of one’s spirituality or religion on evidence instead of faith? While faith can be bolstered by evidence—as Michael’s books, blog, and the reading they inspired have certainly bolstered mine—the absence or undermining of evidence does not cause the foundation of faith to collapse.
In “Contact With The Other World,” Hyslop points out that it was Christianity’s adoption of a cosmology that caused it to falter when it was shown that the earth revolved around the sun. Had Christianity stuck with elemental principles, he maintains, axioms like the Fatherhood of God, the Golden Rule, and eternal life, Christianity would have been impervious to inevitable shifts in the interpretation or understanding of physical reality.
Newton E. Finn, Tue 7 Dec, 21:12
I like yoursummary.
Tricia, Tue 7 Dec, 20:00
Pearl Curran pleaded with Dr. Prince that he”. . . remove for good from the minds of the public that I am a medium with a gold shingle and trances? Please, please, please. Remember I’m an Episcopalian! It’s your duty.” [Dr. Prince was an Episcopalian minister]
Pearl Curran may have said this but whether she wanted to be a medium or not, she acted like one in many ways very similar to Geraldine Cummins who described her communication experiences to be similar to the way Pearl Curran received her information, that is, by means of visual imagery and at times clairaudience. At least on one occasion, Curran reported that she actually saw the spirit of her friend’s husband in the room when she was receiving a message.
It was Emily Grant Hutchings who got Curran started on the Ouija board when she brought one to Curran’s house for an evening’s entertainment. Initially they made contact with Hutchings’ father I think but I have not seen anything documented that Curran received information from any one other than Patience Worth. If Patience Worth was part of a group soul, there is nothing documented that any entity other than Worth communicated with Curran.
As an aside, Emily Grant Hutchings claimed that she received messages from Pearl Curran’s deceased father, from Patience Worth and from Mark Twain through the medium Lola V Hays.
I didn’t mean to sway this conversation to Patience Worth. I just wanted to add information to flesh-out the character of Dr. Hyslop. I think there may be a tendency to put these old psychic investigators on a pedestal and forget that they and their mediums were real men and women with human frailties. Hyslop did eventually meet with Pearl Curran and Patience a couple of times and whatever friction there was between them was somewhat resolved.
The Patience Worth case may not have been the type of evidence that Hyslop was looking for and whatever reason he had for not giving it much attention is probably the same reason that most people today interested in psychic phenomena don’t care much about it. It does not provide the ‘spooky’ evidence of apparitions, levitations, apports, ghostly lights, direct voice or other phenomena usually associated with darkened rooms and flamboyant mediums. On the other hand, Hyslop may have felt like a ‘johnny-come-lately’ to this case since it was well under way before he met with Pearl and Patience and perhaps he just wanted it to fade away without his imprimatur, However in my opinion the Patience Worth case has not been adequately explained and taken as a whole quietly provides, in some form more spiritual in nature, the best evidence of spirit survival. - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 7 Dec, 15:05
I agree that Hyslop was too hasty in dismissing Pearl Curran, especially since he had never met her. He also avoided physical mediumship. His focus was on mental mediumship involving communication from various discarnates. Patience Worth was not really a “mental medium” in that respect. Are you aware of any communication from “spirits” other than Patience Worth? I’m not. The fact that what Patience had to say far exceeded the education and experiences of Pearl Curran is seemingly evidential in itself, but it wasn’t the type of evidence that Hyslop was looking for.
Michael Tymn, Mon 6 Dec, 23:30
Thank you, AOD, for your comment explaining so helpfully and revealingly the James Hyslop/Patience Worth (dis)connection. I don’t know how many of the Bigelow essays you’ve read or scanned, but Patience is MIA in at least the vast majority of them. What a glaring omission in putting forward the most compelling evidence of the afterlife!
Newton E. Finn, Mon 6 Dec, 18:30
I think Dr. Hyslop was quite a character. Certainly he had the credentials and standing as a highly educated man but like all people who achieve some academic standing he after all was a human male with feet of clay at times,so to speak. He was arrogant and self satisfied that he and he alone had the final say on what constituted survival of spirits and which reports were acceptable as evidence and which were not acceptable. I think he was respected by his acquaintances and peers but such respect was more out of kindness and acknowledgement of his tenuous health and understanding that he was a dedicated man in his pursuits, However he could at times be arrogantly prejudiced and biased in his beliefs related to survival and evidence for it.
Dr. Hyslop criticized the Patience Worth case, not so much because it may have been spurious but because he didn’t like the way the Casper Yost presented the case to the general public in the first published book about Patience Worth. It was not “scientific”. Yost was a newspaper man not a ‘scientist’ and wrote about the Patience Worth case more from the viewpoint of one interested in literature than one interested in proving survival of the human spirit. Hyslop’s criticisms of Pearl Curran, her husband, Casper Yost and others, which were published in the Journal of the A.S.P.R. proved to be false and such criticisms were retracted by the Society after Hyslop died.
Dr. Walter Franklin Prince was a good friend of Hyslop and he kindly addressed Hyslop’s criticisms of the Patience Worth case. Prince said that, “...Dr. Hyslop was filled with contempt for everything that savored of scientific cowardice or neglect of psychical problems, and for every sort of unscientific handling of these problems. If ever he was betrayed by emotion, if ever he was unjust, it was in such relations. And sometimes, when disgusted by an exhibition of evasion and pseudo logic in dealing with the subjects in his special field, he gave utterances to expressions not so carefully verified as were his conclusions on the basis of experimentation. And sometimes, in a case of this sort, even if it were only that he was not able to induce a person to agree to his particular methods of examination, he a little too readily listened to the unverified assertions of other and inimical persons. “
The person providing unverified assertions to Dr. Hyslop was Emily Grant Hutchings whom Dr. Prince knew about but did not name. Emily and her medium, Lola V. Hays provided written gossip about Pearl Curran and her husband to Hylsop for a time and eventually met with him. These two women apparently charmed Hyslop into believing their gossip about Pearl Curran. (Curran and Hutchings had a falling-out early in their contact with Patience Worth. and for a while were not on speaking terms.) Eventually Dr. Hyslop made an effort to contact Patience Worth himself, through Mrs. Chenoweth and planned to write a report or study about Patience Worth but he was ‘beat to the punch’ when Casper Yost published his book first.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 6 Dec, 17:43
A telling example given by Dr. Prince concerned comments by Hyslop about Dr. Grenfell, a medical missionary in Labrador. Dr. Hyslop was not aware of Dr. Grenfell’s missionary work but without any actual knowledge of Dr. Grenfill, Hyslop wrote about him “that it is largely his success in filling his stomach that determines his attitude toward things.” “The only reason some people have for worshiping nature or God is their success in filling their stomachs at the expense of others and of the efforts to establish human brotherhood. ” “The good doctor. . . takes his patient’s fees and praises God to evade the recognition that, but for their dues he would be starving.” Dr. Prince explains that, “Dr. Hyslop did not happen to know who Dr. Grenfell was, and had in mind a city doctor receiving patients with fat fees in his comfortable office, and possibly he had an even chance of being right. But Dr. Grenfell happened to be the medical missionary in Labrador, one of the most heroic, laborious and self-sacrificing of men.” = AOD
In preparation for commenting on this post, I read Hyslops’ “Contact With The Other World,” having struggled a while back to read one of his prior books. I (similar to some of his colleagues) find Hyslop tedious and confusing when he analyzes specific mediumship communications, yet clear and compelling when he talks about spiritualism in general. Here’s a couple of quotes from Chapter 27 of “Contact” to supplement the “testimony” Michael has elicited.
“The spiritualists forgot that Christ had deplored the interest of the people in his miracles or psychic phenomena, and had urged the promulgation of the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount as the object of his coming…. (T)here is no reason for concerning ourselves with immortality unless it has an influence on ethical life. Spiritualism shows no interest in either science or religion. Unless it reforms its methods it is doomed to extinction. Its first duty is to take part in the world’s ethical redemption.”
Throughout my comments on Michael’s blog, I’ve been hammering on this point, but Hyslop hit the nail on the head much better than I could ever dream of doing.
Newton E. Finn, Mon 6 Dec, 16:13
It seems that nowadays the ‘direct method’ is more frequent than the other method. Trance mediums are in a few minutes taken over by their spirit guides (Suzanne Giesemann, Elaine Thorpe, Lee Carroll). There is some progress made in the way of communication between the Spirit and earthly realm.
chris, Mon 6 Dec, 10:48
Maybe the Soul phone will be the next step?
I specially like the conclusion: science without the open mind for searching for answers on the afterlife matters is going the same way as the dogmatic religions. They are both frozen in time.
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