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The Voice: Was It Really Confucius Speaking?

Posted on 22 April 2013, 14:16

If I were to rank all the books I have read on paranormal subjects as to intrigue, first place would likely come down to three books – Psychic Adventures in New York, The Mystery of the Buried Crosses, and The Case of Patience Worth, not necessarily in that order.  However, the first one is my favorite, even if easily the shortest of the three books.  My more detailed account of the story appears in the current (May/June) issue of Atlantis Rising magazine, but there wasn’t space enough in that article to offer the fascinating dialogue that took place between Dr. Neville Whymant (below) and the “voice,” so I thought I would do it here.


Whymant, the author of the book, was a professor of Oriental literature and philosophy at the Universities of Tokyo and Peking and then a professor of linguistics at Oxford and London Universities.  He served as Far East editor (1926-27) of the New International Encyclopedia (1926-27) and was on the editorial staff of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1927-29).  He was also a foreign correspondent for the London Times (1929-31) and from 1947 to 1950 was an adviser to the embassy of the Republic of China in London.

He was said to be conversant in 30 languages, including several dialects of Chinese.  Among his other books were Chinese and Greek Philosophical Parallels (1917) and , The Psychology of the Chinese Coolie (1920). He does appear to have been someone to put his scholarly reputation on the line with a story that most rational people would consider absurd

Whymant’s experience took place during October 1926 at the New York City Park Avenue home of Judge and Mrs. William Cannon with direct-voice medium George Valiantine.  Whymant had come to the United States to study the languages of the American Indian when the Cannons invited him to their home. They explained that Valiantine had been giving sittings at their home for some time, but only recently a voice that sounded like Chinese was coming through.  They hoped Whymant would be able to interpret.  Whymant said he was highly skeptical and searched the room completely before the seance began.  His skepticism began to erode when his deceased father-in-law came through and spoke to his wife in the same characteristic drawl, reminiscent of the West County of England.  Whymant doubted that Valiantine could have researched his wife’s history and so accurately simulated her father’s accent.  But the most intriguing voice was yet to come.  At first it came through in an ancient Chinese dialect, which Whymant had difficulty understanding.  He asked the voice if he could speak more modern Chinese. The following dialogue then took place in Mandarin, with Whymant keeping detailed notes.

The Voice: “Greetings, O son of learning and reader of strange books!  This unworthy servant bows humbly before such excellence.”

Whymant: “Peace be upon thee, O illustrious one.  This uncultured menial ventures to ask thy name and illustrious style.”

The Voice:  “My name is K’ung, men call me Fu-Tsu, and my lowly style is Kiu.
(This was the given name of Confucius.)  I wasted more than three score years and reached the end of no road.  Peace upon thy house May I know thine honourable name and illustrious style?”  (Whymant still wondered if this was some kind of prank, though he could not imagine any trickster knowing such perfect Chinese, especially the ancient dialect, which was known to very few people, but he decided to play along.)

Whymant: “My humble name is Wang, and men call me Wen-tsu.  My despicable style is Wen-Tsu-Tsang.  I have thrown away two score years in folly and I lack understanding.  Will the Master teach me words of wisdom?”

The Voice: “Alas, my shade is that of a single hair and knowledge is not in me.  What is the honourable question?”

Whymant: “This stupid one would know the correct reading of a verse in Shih King.  It has been hidden from understanding for long centuries, and men look upon it with eyes that are blind.  The passage begins thus:  Ts’ai t’asi chuan erh….”  (Whymant was unable to complete his question before The Voice responded.)

The Voice: “It should be read this way, O master of mysteries (The voice here intoned the poem throughout and on Whymant’s asking for it again, it was repeated.) Thus read, does not its meaning become plain?”

Whymant: “Indeed, O leader of the wise ones, it shines with a myriad lights. There are other things which I would ask of thy wisdom.”

The Voice: “Ask not of an empty barrel much fish, O wise one!  Many things which are now dark shall be light to thee, but the time is not yet.  They shall yield to thy touch in a time (day) which is not yet born.”

Whymant:  “Shall I ask of one passage in the Master’s own writing?  In Lun Yu, Hsia Pien, there is a passage which is wrongly written.  Should it not read thus:...?” (As Whymant began to recite the passage, the voice again interrupted.)

The Voice: “That it may be understood by those who sincerely seek what is hidden in the symbols.  It was a mistake of those who tried to see in darkness, and wrote that which they did not understand.”

Whymant: “There are many dark places, O leader of the thoughtful ones, and I fear they may not be made plain.”

The Voice: “Fear not.  There are those who love learning, and they will not let the treasure lie hid.  Even as thou hast done with Mongolian, so thou shalt do with the problems of my old home.  Those old Mongols waited long for one such as thou art….”

Whymant: “Long years have I sought to give the message of the East to the West, but the clinking of money in the market and the clanking of wheels in the factories have driven away the poor sound of my croaking voice.”

The Voice: “There are those, O silver-tongued, who wait for instruction from thee.  They will listen patiently and long, for they will love thy teaching.”

Whymant: “Where shall I find such, O wise one?”

The Voice:  “They shall find thee!  From long searching shall they come, having sought thee out.  Rest, my son, and do not strive too eagerly.”

Whymant:  “I will seek peace.”

The Voice:  “I go, my son, but I shall return… Wouldst thou hear the melody of eternity?  Keep then thine ears alert…”

Whymant attended 11 additional sittings at the Cannon home, conversing with spirits in Hindi, Persian, Basque, Sanskrit, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Yiddish, Hebrew, German and modern Greek.  Upon returning to England, he told the story to Sir Oliver Lodge, a world-renowned physicist and psychical researcher, who then arranged to have Valiantine tested by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR).  However, the SPR researchers heard only “whispers,” some of which sounded like Chinese to them but were unclear. When the SPR asked Whymant to listen to the gramophone recording of the voices, he couldn’t make them out, either.  One SPR researcher, in her report, pointed out that there are many “Chinamen” living in America and Valiantine probably learned a little Chinese from them, enough to make Whymant think that he was hearing Chinese and he subconsciously filled in the blanks. It was an explanation suggesting that Whymant was a complete fool.  It also suggested that Valiantine learned enough of 13 other languages spoken through Valiantine’s mediumship to further dupe Whymant and also that he memorized the poems of “Confucius,” or Whymant just imagined he heard the voice recite a lengthy poem and also imagined that “Confucius” explained the mistakes in one of them. 

Valiantine was said to have had his good days and his bad days, the latter being the result of a lack of harmony or too much hostility by the sitters. Indications were that the SPR researchers were hostile toward Valiantine, thereby defeating good phenomena.  While skeptics scoff at such an explanation as self-serving, such was found to have been the case by many more sympathetic researchers.

At the urging of Lodge, Whymant first told the story in the April 1928 issue of the Journal for The American Society for Psychical Research .  He said that he tired of telling the story so many times and put it into a book so that he wouldn’t have to tell it again.

Valiantine’s reputation suffered a severe blow in 1931, when an attempt was made to fingerprint a spirit claiming to be the recently-deceased Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes series.  As it turned out, however, the print obtained was that of Valiantine’s big toe.  Valiantine claimed that he had no idea how his toe became imprinted in the plaster cast.  It was surmised by Valiantine’s supporters that devious low-level spirits interfered and had a good laugh, but debunkers saw it as evidence that Valiantine was a fraud, even if the direct-voice phenomenon could not be so easily dismissed.  If Valiantine was a fraud, could he have been so brilliant as to learn more than a dozen languages, including an ancient Chinese dialect, and to have memorized the poems of Confucius, yet so dumb as to think his toe print would match up with Doyle’s thumb print?

Many other people reported hearing from deceased loved ones through Valiantine’s mediumship and were convinced of the genuineness of it.  British playwright H. Dennis Bradley, also very skeptical at first, told of a 1923 sitting with Valiantine in which he carried on a conversation with his deceased sister, Annie.  Bradley prefaced his report by saying that his sister was a purist in her choice of words and spoke in an odd way.  “When she addressed me after ten years of silence, she said sayings in her own characteristic manner,” Bradley reported.  “Every syllable was perfectly enunciated and every little peculiarity of intonation was reproduced.  We talked for fifteen minutes, and about such subjects as only she and I could have known.”

Lodge told Whymant that it was not necessary to assume that it was Confucius himself communicating with him. His research suggested that superior spirits, as Confucius may have been, have no need to be identified with their teachings delivered while on earth and are represented by “group souls” who take the famous name to appease us, as it is the teaching, not the teacher, that is important. 

Psychic Adventures in New York has been republished by White Crow Books and is available at

Michael recently gave an interview to and it can be found here.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

Next blog post:  May 6.

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Michael & The Motorcycle: A Tale of Two Worlds

Posted on 08 April 2013, 15:26

Retired from full-time college and university teaching of cultural anthropology and sociology, Paul Biscop, Ph.D. (below) now has more time to focus on his duties as resident medium at the Two Worlds Spiritualist Centre in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He recently related a very interesting story to me involving communication from a family member who died last June.


On the day of the death, Biscop received a call from his cousin Mary, who lived on the east coast of Canada, informing him that Michael, (below) her daughter-in-law’s 16-year-old younger brother, had been killed in a motorcycle accident . Biscop had never met Michael and barely knew Taryn, his sister.  “I knew only that young Michael had grown up the youngest child in a troubled household; that he was a nice kid, but a bit wild,” Biscop said.  “His parents had finally separated, and he had spent several years moving around to different family houses.”


As soon as Mary gave him the news, Biscop immediately sent out thoughts to young Michael’s spirit workers and friends for his safe transition to the Other Side. “My many years of mediumship had made it abundantly clear to me how good it was to do such a thing, no matter what the circumstances of the passing,” Biscop continued the story.  “Violent and unexpected passings were, I knew, particularly troubling for the newly deceased.

Thoughts and prayers for the deceased make it easier for others to help the person, when the person does not know to ask for help.”
Sometime before the funeral, Michael’s family asked to talk to Biscop about death and dying.  “While they knew that I was a medium, they had not met me and their only knowledge or experience was within the cultural framework of orthodox Christianity,” he recalled.  “So I agreed to speak to them all on the speaker phone on the Sunday after the Friday funeral.”

Biscop shared his beliefs based on his experience as a medium, informing them that the person who dies violently feels no pain, that she or he leaves the body before the moment of death, and then enters into a kind of recuperative sleep-like state on the other side… usually. As he later learned, however, that was not quite Michael’s experience.

As he was talking with the family, he became aware that several people from the spirit side were wishing to speak to them. They told him that they were there with Michael and that he was just beginning to “wake up” on their side. The communicators identified themselves by name and relationship.  Biscop didn’t know any of them, although he recalled that Michael’s mother, Karen, spoke to him about one of them in the past.
“Listening in on the speaker phone, the family was astonished at this communication,” Biscop said, “both because of the detail as well as the contents of the messages. Though they knew a little bit about mediumship, they had never personally experienced the profound ability of evidential mediumship to move and comfort the bereaved.

The next evening, in Biscop’s home circle in Nanaimo, one of those spirit people from the previous day, came to him with a short message from Michael.  He asked that it be passed on to his mother, Karen, and his sister, Taryn, who is married to Mary’s son. “The message made no sense to me, at least,” Biscop continued the story, “but I hoped that it would to Taryn and Karen. It was about a Teddy Bear.  Michael asked me, through the intermediary spirit, to tell them that he still missed his Teddy Bear. I thought it most peculiar for a sixteen-year-old motorcycle driving boy to be talking about his Teddy Bear!  In any event, the four-hour time difference between the coasts meant that I could not forward the message until later.”

When Biscop passed on the message to Karen and Taryn, it made no sense to them, either. Later that day, however, they phoned Michael’s father, Karen’s ex-husband, with whom Michael had been living, to share the message and experience with him.. He knew immediately what the message meant. The giant Teddy Bear was still sitting in the bedroom Michael had occupied when living with his dad. He apparently had won it at a carnival game. 

Throughout the following weeks, Taryn began reading about mediumship and learned of a visiting Spanish medium, a young man who was doing private readings and offering short psychic development workshops to groups of people in Halifax, not far from where she lived.  She then booked a reading with him. As told to Biscop, Michael communicated with Taryn through the young Spanish medium, informing her that help arrived from the spirit world because of Biscop’s spirit “intervention.” Michael went on to say that he had lain beside his dead body at the accident scene for about two hours, not knowing what to do, until the “intervention team” arrived to help him. The medium also gave other evidential information to Taryn.

More recently, Biscop’s centre was hosting a visiting medium, Bruce Mason. 

“Normally, I don’t expect to receive a message from another medium at the centre any more than I am likely to give a message to the worker at another church,” Biscop told me. “We’re all there for the rest of the congregation, so we avoid such other’s message work.” However, Mason tuned in to a young man who had died “not long ago, in a motorcycle accident.” and asked if anyone could place the situation.  No one responded, but several people began pointing to Biscop in the back of the hall.  When the connection was made, Michael reiterated how much Biscop had helped him.  “He said he was doing well there on the other side, and was ‘going to school again,’ though he didn’t specify what kind of school,” Biscop explained.  “He passed on greetings to his sister and mother, if I recall correctly, and ended by saying he had a new job on the other side: He had joined my cheering section.” Biscop e-mailed Taryn about the message and she responded that she had had a very unusual experience that very morning. Out of nowhere, a slide show about Michael that had been filed away on the computer started playing without anyone having opened the program. 

A Strange Portrait

Biscop had earlier told me a very intriguing story about a portrait he drew in pencil and pastel chalk in 1960, where he was 17.  “It was a portrait from my own mind, and not from a photo of a live model,” he explained. “I did not know why I seemed compelled to do this portrait – it was an unusual experience – nor did I know who she was.”  Feeling a strong connection to the picture, Biscop called her “Marianne,” after a Harry Belefonte song of the times. 

Years later, in 1969, when Biscop was exploring mediumship, he sat with a Montreal medium named George Harris.  None of the deceased relatives mentioned by the medium registered with Biscop, nor did it make any sense to him when Harris said that the name Andrew was held dear to his mother’s heart.  Over the years, Biscop sat with other mediums, a number of them informing him that he had a sister in spirit, which Biscop denied.

When he was 43, however, Biscop was informed by his parents that he had been adopted at age five months.  That prompted him to begin a search for his biological roots.  Working with Parent Finders Canada and with his own spirit connections, Biscop identified his birth mother and found the executor of her estate. From her, he found out that he had an older sister named “Marianne,” who had died when just a week old, and that his mother’s father was named Andrew.  Marianne (below) would have been about 20 at the time Biscop drew her portrait and that age is about what she appears to be in the portrait.  Many spirit messages suggest that those who die young continue to grow and develop in the spirit world. 


“If you were to look at the photos of my birth mother and her husband, you would see a striking resemblance to the young woman in my portrait, as you would see the strong resemblance of my own to my mother,” (below) Biscop continued. “So I did indeed have a very important connection to both the name of Andrew, and to an unknown sister, whose name was Marianne.”


Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores. 

Next blog:  April 22

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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