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An “Interview” with Hester Travers Smith

Posted on 31 May 2016, 8:26

A resident of Dublin, Ireland, Hester Travers Smith (1868-1949) was the daughter of Professor Edward Dowden, a distinguished Shakespearian scholar, and the wife of a prominent Dublin physician. She was primarily a ouija board medium, sitting regularly with a small group of friends, including Lennox Robinson, a world-renowned Irish playwright, and the Rev. Savell Hicks, M.A.  Sir William Barrett, the distinguished physicist and psychical researcher, was a close personal friend and also attended a number of sittings with the group. Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous automatist in history, was introduced to mediumship by Travers Smith, who is referred to in books by Cummins by her maiden name, Hester Dowden. (Below). Travers Smith was also an automatic writing medium.

This “interview” with Travers Smith is based on her 1919 book, Voices From the Void, published by E. P. Dutton & Co.  Except for words in brackets, inserted to permit a flow and the occasional omission of transitional words, the responses are verbatim from the book.  The questions have been formed to fit the “responses.”

Miss Travers Smith, would you mind elaborating a little on your experiences in mediumship?

“[Certainly], I have never attended a séance for materialization; I have never seen a ghost.  Nearly all my experiences have come to me through automatism.  I must confess that for some time past I have been quite clear and decided on one point – in feeling that the subliminal self accounts for much and many things, but not for everything.  I am convinced, in fact, that external influences of some nature work through us, using our senses, eyes, ears, brains, etc., their messages, however, being highly colored by the personalities of their mediums.  I feel sure that hardly any of the communications I have had are entirely due to subconsciousness.”

By “automatism,” I take it you are referring to the ouija board and automatic writing.  Do you use a special ouija board?

“The best ouija board, the one I invariably use myself, is a card table covered with green baize, on which the letters of the alphabet, the numbers from 0 to 9, and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are laid, cut separately on small pieces of cardboard; over this is placed a sheet of plate glass, the same size as the table.  The traveler consists of a small triangular piece of wood, about half an inch thick, shod with three small pieces of carpet felt and having on top a piece of soft rubber material on which the fingers rest.”

Do the words come slowly?
“I think the experimenters, who try the ouija board, will, if they have any psychic power, soon be amazed at the rapidity with which the traveler flies from letter to letter.  The cooperation of two automatists seems best; three seems to create confusion … I can answer for myself, and I believe for my fellow sitters, that never in the course of all the months we sat together did we see the board while communications were coming through, nor did any of us know at the time what these communications were, as they were recorded in silence by a friend, who was obliged to take them down in shorthand, such was the rapidity with which the traveler moved from letter to letter.

I understand that many of your messages came through while you and the other sitter were blindfolded, a third person recording the messages.  Is that common?

“The gift of ‘seeing without eyes’ is certainly comparatively rare.  I have sought diligently for mediums who possess the power of working blindfold, and find they are few in number.  In fact, I have only met four out of the many I have tried who have this gift.  I generally distinguish a blindfold worker by the fact that before he has had any suggestion that we should close our eyes he will close his of his own accord, and prefer to sit without looking at the letters.  Blindfold sitting is very exhausting as a rule.”
When there are two sitters, does one usually supply most of the power?

“The [spirit] control will generally say he requires ‘a negative and a positive.’  What this means exactly it is hard to understand, but from watching many combinations at the ouija board, I have gathered that a ‘positive’ medium receives the message through his or her brain and transmits it to the board, while a negative possesses the driving force.  I mean that, apparently, one sitter supplies mental, and the other muscular power.”

You have stated that results weren’t as good when Lennox Robinson was not sitting with you.

“It seemed that the really marvelous power of ‘seeing without eyes’ rested largely, or perhaps completely, with Mr. Robinson. (Below).  After he had left Dublin and the circle was broken, the Rev. Savell Hicks and I tried repeatedly to get messages blindfolded, but without success.  I have succeeded in getting blindfold work through with other mediums, but none of them have the rapidity and certainty possessed with Mr. Robinson.”


You also mention in the book that results are often slow, uncertain, and cannot be forced. Would you mind elaborating a little on that?

“Indeed, one asks oneself whether time is well spent seeking for the few grains of gold one finds in the huge dust heaps of disappointment and dullness.  The value of these golden grains seems immense when one has wandered about in a Hades of dim trivialities and even absurdities, spending evening after evening receiving messages from known, or unknown persons of a kind which would not do credit to a very mediocre letter writer.  Yet, these communications purport to be what the unknown control has an ardent desire to get through from the world of mystery to those still alive!  Many times I have felt inclined to give up this apparently hopeless pursuit, elusive and as it is.”

What about automatic writing?

“This mode of communication has produced most interesting results without doubt, but there are objections to it. A pencil is held generally between the first and third fingers of the hand of the medium; it touches the paper, and as a rule, after some preliminary flourishes and twirls, the pencil begins to write coherent words and messages.  These messages vary according to the communicator, and the handwriting changes as different personalities appear.  Sometimes the writing is that of a child, then of an old person, etc. One of my objections is that the script is generally difficult to decipher, as the pencil cannot be lifted as in ordinary handwriting, and the manuscript is full of scrawls and hard to read.  This is not my only objections on automatic writing, which, for some unknown reason, leads in certain cases to continual pain in the arm, an irresistible desire to write, nervous upset, and consequent physical prostration. However, without doubt, most interesting and evidential results have been obtained by automatic writing, and my objections to this method do not hold good in all cases.”

Can you generalize in describing a routine case of apparent communication?

“In almost all cases where a discarnate spirit professes to speak, I ask for an account of his passing over.  These accounts vary very little; they all retain the same features, though some are more detailed than others.  In all cases, a period of darkness is described as occurring almost immediately after death.  This darkness appears to be a penance or purgatory for the soul left thus in lonely and silent meditation, and it is evidently a period of considerable suffering.  Yet, during this time of darkness the spirit seems to be permitted to speak to those on earth if such opportunity be offered it.  This state does not seem to last long, not more than a week or ten days, so far as I can judge from communicators who come repeatedly and speak of their present condition.  They frequently say that when the light came, someone was near them, who led them away to the place where their ‘work’ was.  What the nature of this ‘work’ is, they seem unable to explain.”

In your book, you mention some communicators having had a vision of the body before the darkness enveloped them.

“[Yes,] frequently when soldiers killed in battle have spoken they became aware that they had died.  They tell how the battlefield lay below them, with all the horror of its details, and how they saw their own bodies lying on the field. Sometimes the vision extends, and they see the body being carried away and buried.  In the same way, some of those who die in their beds describe the body lying there as when the spirit rose from it.  They can see the nurses preparing it for burial, the coffin, etc.”

Do the same spirits come through again and again?

“From reviewing hundreds of messages from those who have passed away, I gather that the spirit retains its earth memory for a time.  The time seems to vary with the nature of the individual.  The more rarefied and exalted the soul during its earth life, the shorter its span of earth memory seems to be after it has passed through the barrier.  These more highly developed souls seem gradually to rise into a region from which it is perilous to touch the earth atmosphere, except for a few minutes at a time. After this, they disappear altogether.”

Would you mind relating a specific case?

“Quite lately I had an instance of this.  The communicator was a connection of my own, a very refined, gentle, intellectual personality in his earth life.  He came to the ouija board repeatedly for some time while I happened to be in touch with his family, and spoke in a way which was very evidential to them; he appeared to find it impossible to communicate for more than a few minutes at a time.  Then there would be a long pause, and he would come again.  He told us that after a time he would be unable to speak.  He had died very suddenly, and seemed to have passed quickly to a state of great peace and happiness, though he gave us no account of his surroundings or occupations; he said it was forbidden, and would, in any case, be incomprehensible to those still alive.”

Do you have a theory as to how a particular spirit is drawn to your séance room?

“This is a question I almost invariably put to controls and communicators, and their replies to the question are almost always the same.  They state that a bright light attracted them – and the stronger the medium, the brighter the light.  When I am sitting myself, and ask, ‘What attracted you to this room?’ the answer generally is, ‘I saw a woman wrapped in flame.’ Sometimes they describe a brilliant light on the head of the medium, but as psychic strength increases the light seems to envelop the whole body of the sensitive.” 

I understand that you have had several spirit controls.  Can you tell us a little about them?  

“At the second or third sitting of the circle, Peter Rooney made his appearance.  He stated that he was an American Irishman; that he had had a most undesirable career and spent much of his life in jail; that ten days before he communicated with us he had thrown himself under a tram-car in Boston and had been killed.  Sir William Barrett, having made careful inquires from the Governor of the State prison at Boston, Mass., and from the Chief of Police in that city, found Peter Rooney’s tale an entire fabrication.  A certain Peter Rooney had fallen from a tram-car in August 1910, had suffered from a scalp wound but was alive in 1914, as far as could be ascertained.”

So did you confront the alleged “Peter Rooney” about that?

“On being upbraided by us for assuming a name and identity not his own, Peter admitted that he had no desire that we should know who he was, and that he had adopted this name as ‘it was as good as any other.’  He stated that he had been interested in psychical research in his lifetime, and wished to assist investigation of supernormal phenomena now that he had ‘passed over.’ He refused absolutely to give us any further information about himself.  Peter has a burning desire to shine as a ‘test’ control; he prefers us to work blindfold, and he is rashly desirous to attempt experiments. He is most uncertain in results, but, given a quiet room and his own mediums, he can do remarkable things.  He is a rather primitive creature, has very strong likes and dislikes, and is very vain and fond of a display of his powers … He rather despises sittings with open eyes, and unless a medium is present who has the quality necessary for blindfold sitting he seldom comes.”

I understand that Astor is a frequent control.

“[True]. He professes to be the ‘guide’ of an intimate friend of mine, Miss Geraldine Cummins, who lives in my house.  We frequently sit together, and Astor appears invariably and opens the séance. He controls Miss Cummins’ hand most powerfully; all the force, mental and physical, seems to come through her, and I add probably a kind of balance only.  Astor is, of course, chiefly interest in Miss Cummins’ concerns, but in so far as hers are connected with mine, he is deeply interested in me also, and often devotes most of his attention to me at a sitting … Astor is an intelligent creature, not given much to flattery – indeed, often very plain-spoken.

Wasn’t one of them a Hindu spirit named Shamar?

“[Yes]. Shamar has undertaken to conduct most of my sittings lately; she devotes herself to cultivating my powers by sending me genuine communications.  She says she is very fond of sending me messages from living persons who are asleep or drowsy.  In these cases, absolute proof is, of course, possible sometimes.  Twice lately I had conversations with friends who stated they were in a drowsy state, and the information I received through them proved true in every respect.  So far as I know her, Shamar is sincere; she makes no magnificent promises, and she has been very faithful in bringing interesting communicators.”

Thank you, Ms. Travers Smith.  Any parting thoughts?

“I have had some evidence which, if not entirely convincing, points so strongly to the fact that we survive what is called death that it requires more credulity to doubt the fact than to believe it… [However], if I may venture to advise persons who long to speak once more with those they have loved, who have vanished into darkness, I should say it is wise and sane not to make the attempt.  The chances against genuine communication are ten to one; the disappointments and doubts connected with the experiment are great.”

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.

Next blog post: June 13

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The Hindu Spirit and the Anglican Priest (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 16 May 2016, 16:35

This is a continuation of the last blog post, dated May 2.  The Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, was introduced to a young trance medium and, after the young man went into a trance state, a voice began speaking in Hindustanee.  According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state.  At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India.  The dialogue, as recorded by Chambers continued:

Chambers: In what way does a spirit’s control injure the person controlled when the spirit is actuated by nothing beyond the mere desire of physical contact?

Answer: In the same way that the stronger mind of a teacher of low moral tone will injure the boy placed under his guidance.  The spirits who control from no motive of love, but only to satisfy a longing for the physical, are low in the scale of moral being; as low, and often far lower, than those they control.  No good can come from such.

Chambers: But how comes it that this longing for the physical remains in anyone who has passed from this world into the Spiritual? Does not the change of the plane of existence obliterate it?

Answer: No.  There are numbers in the Spirit World, who, when living in your world, never lifted their thoughts and desires above the material. In tastes and inclinations they were “of the earth, earthy.”  They entered Spirit life in that state, and, untrained in the Spiritual, it is strange and distasteful to them.  They carried their instincts with them and longed to be back in the physical.  Sometimes they are permitted to gratify their longing, and then there happens that which is recorded in your New Testament – evil spirits control the bodies and minds of men.  Christ, when on earth, could see such spirits and they could see Him, and it was His mission to cast them out.

Chambers: This, if true, is a terrible fact.

Answer: Yes, and it explains a great deal of the awful crime that stains your earth.  If you could see, as we on this side do, you would behold your gin-palaces and drinking saloons thronged with troops of spirits, who in earth life had been drunkards, gamblers, and fornicators.  Earth-bound, and no longer able to satiate their still-existing desires, they seek a gratification in frequenting their old haunts, and inciting others to sin.  Every unrepentant spirit let loose by the hangman is a menace to society.  Have you never noticed that after an execution three or four murders follow in rapid succession?  Can you not see the cause of this?

Chambers: Will you tell me – is there not a great danger in regard to spirit-control?

Answer: Most certainly.  That is why, in olden times, all intercourse with “familiar spirits” was forbidden to the Israelites.  The spirits who were then controlling men were evil.  They were the spirits of men who in earth-life had lived in the grossest vice and impurity.  Nothing but evil could ensue from such control as that, and as the Israelites themselves, at that period of their history, were but little advanced in their knowledge of a Life Beyond, as seen in the earlier books of the Bible, they were forbidden an intercourse with spirits whose earthly surroundings had been of such a character as to make them spirits of low moral type.  Probably you will have noted that the age in which intercourse with familiar spirits is so discountenanced yields a very great deal of testimony in regard to intercourse with spiritual beings of an exalted class.  For instance, angel-visits were frequent, and a servant of God after death – the prophet Samuel – in spite of the existing prohibition, appeared to the women of Endor, and spoke to King Saul.

Later on, you find an apostle of Jesus Christ – who himself knew a great deal about the Spiritual World – showing that he was sensible of the danger underlying spirit-control, while acknowledging the possibilities of good in it.  He wrote, “Believe not every spirit; but test the spirits, if they are of God.”

Chambers:  Then persons who are under the control of low spirits may be deceived?

Answer: Yes.  When the prophets of old, to whom spiritual control was a common experience, threw themselves open to the control of ignorant and lying spirits, they became no longer prophets of God, but false prophets.  What do you imagine the words mean – “A lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets”?

Chambers: Do you assert that persons can be ignorant and untruthful in the Spiritual World?  Does not their entrance into that World at once enlighten them and make lying impossibility?

Answer: Persons enter the Spiritual World with precisely the same character, enlightenment and disposition as that which they leave your world, and go into a sphere for which they are fitted.  And there they remain until, mentally, morally, and spiritually advanced, they are fitted for a higher sphere.  You in your world have persons of all sorts and classes.  So have we in our World; persons depraved, ignorant, cruel; others, not so morally bad, but ignorant of God and truth; some, partially enlightened, but exhibiting good traits of character and desire; others, better, wiser, nobler and so on, until a class of spiritual beings is reached, so exalted in knowledge and excellence that many of us never, as yet see them.

Chambers: Then I gather from your teaching that a person who has but just entered the Spiritual World may not be much better off than in this world?

Answer: As regards his character, on entering our World he is exactly what he was on leaving yours; good or bad; godly or ungodly; ignorant or enlightened; or in any condition that lies between these extremes.  What you call the “act of dying” does not alter the character of a person; he that is unjust will be unjust still; he that is filthy will be filthy still; he that is righteous will be righteous still; and he that is holy will be holy still.  As regards, however, his surroundings, he is better off with us than with you.  Every sphere of spiritual life, even the lowest, is interpenetrated by influences and ministries of good flowing into it from higher spheres.  Consequently, from the lower spheres there is a constant emigration of spirits who are responsive to the good, and these pass to higher planes of life and thought.

Chambers: But this fact is not grasped by great numbers of Christians; how is that?

Answer: Because so many of your teachers are purblind; they read the Bible, and fail to see the truths it proclaims.  What, for example could more plainly assert the truth of spirits progressing than the statement of an apostle that Christ in our world preached to, and reclaimed, a great number of spirits who in earth-life had been godless and debased?  The fact is, the importation of Western ideas into Christianity has acted banefully upon the latter.  Old Roman conceptions have made your theology hard, cruel and loveless; God is viewed as an Almighty Magistrate, instead of a Father, and punishment is vindictive, instead of remedial.

Chambers: Are all in your World readily responsive to the leadings and impulses of good?

Answer: No, any more than persons in your world are.  Some have shaped such characters while in the earth-life that for long after they come to us they remain insensible to good, and only along the highway of bitter experience can they rise to the better.  Some, on the other hand, have developed such noble characters on earth as to start in Spirit-life in a high sphere, and these pass easily onward.

Chambers: Do you assert that all will ultimately yield to good?

Answer: We in this life do not possess foreknowledge any more than you do; but we know that God is supreme, and the ever-widening stream of tendency is towards Him.  But why ask me about this matter?  You, as a clergyman, believe the Bible, do you not? Consult the Book.  Does it not tell you that God will one day be “all in all”; that every will in His universe is ultimately to bow to Him; and that His Christ will not rest so long as one lost sheep has not been found?

Chambers: Yes, that is so; but hundreds of thousands believe in an everlasting Hell. Must there not be a basis for that idea?

Answer: Undoubtedly.  That terrible libel on the power and goodness of God is built up on two words in your Bible wrongly translated.

Chambers: Which words?

Answer: You know them; I have heard you speak about the mistranslation.  (The words referred to are found in Matt. xxv. 46 v.)  Every scholar knows that the Greek of this passage [translates to] an age-long pruning (not everlasting).  “Pruning’ is a discipline with a view to improvement. 

Chambers: Many of the things you have told me appear like familiar truths, and yet I cannot tell when, or where, I learned them.  Is this not strange?

Answer: No; you have been taught them.

Chambers: By whom?

Answer: By several in our world who are guiding you.

Chambers: But am I not controlled?

Answer: Not physically, but you are mentally.  They impress your mind with a thought, and you clothe it with language and ideas.

Chambers: Is this possible?

Answer: Read your Bible for the answer.  Inspiration (or as it should be more correctly termed) “spiritual suggestion” is a fact.

Chambers: Are men, then, still being guided in this way?

Answer: Yes, many are.  Have I not told you that a great wave of spiritual energy is now passing from our World to yours?

Chambers: May we hope, then, that men, as time goes on, will better understand the truth concerning the Spiritual than they have hitherto done?

Answer: Most assuredly.  Have you not, yourself, received the testimony of hundreds that they are craving for clearer light than the schoolmen give?  That craving is the forerunner of enlightenment.

Chambers: Will the Bible be superseded?

Answer: No, but it will be better understood.

According to Chambers, the “voice” coming through the uneducated young man then spoke for about 15 minutes about God and the fact that character finds its highest development when Self-hood is absorbed in love and concern for others.  Chambers said that he had listened to the sermons of many noted preachers “but no one of them has equalled, in sublimity of idea and charm of diction, this sermon.”  When it was finished, the young man fell gently backward in the chair and after about three minutes and several convulsive twitches he opened his eyes, seemed dazed, as if awakening from sleep, recovered himself and asked for water.

Later in the evening, Chambers talked with the young man, but the contrast was marked – only the mind of the ordinary young man expressed itself.  “I leave the reader to explain this incident by whatever hypothesis he may please,” Chambers ended the story. “That of control by some intelligence superior to the medium’s own seems to me to be the most reasonable one.”

Next blog post: May 30

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.

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What the Hindu Spirit Told an Anglican Priest

Posted on 02 May 2016, 13:06

As the Rev. Arthur Chambers, the vicar of Brockenhurst and associate of King’s College, London, saw it, Christian teachers and writers had failed to provide sufficient information about the afterlife. They had “so enshrouded it, as it were, in mental mistiness, that to many it has seemed a vague, inhuman and unreal existence, a veritable ‘world of shadows’.”  Thus, Chambers took it upon himself to further study the subject and report on it, which he did in an 1894 book, Our Life After Death, and again in a 1900 book, Man and the Spiritual World.

Chambers’s studies included sitting with a young trance medium, although he does not use the word “medium” to describe him.  He was simply a young man, the acquaintance of a friend, “who had recently manifested extraordinary powers that astonished himself and upset the ideas of the members of the religious community to which he belonged.”  He was told by those members that the cause of what he had exhibited was Satanic, but Chambers was more open-minded and decided to talk with the young man.  He discovered that “he was by no means a well-educated person.  He dropped his aspirates, made grammatical blunders, and badly constructed his sentences.”  After Chambers talked with him for some time, the young man appeared to faint and remained motionless for about five minutes. 

“My friends had previously seen him in this condition, and told me he was under control, and in a trance-state,” Chamber wrote, taking careful notes. 

The man raised himself in the chair, his eyes still closed, and commenced to speak in a language unknown to Chambers.  A lady in the group who had lived in India for several years said she recognized it as Hindustanee.  According to the friends of the young man, he did not know the language in his normal state.  At some point, the young man began speaking in English with the accent of a person from India. The following lengthy conversation was recorded and reported in the 1900 book.

Chambers:  You claim – do you not – to be a spiritual intelligence speaking through the physical organs of Mr. A?

Answer: Yes.

Chambers:  Who are you?

Answer: I am a man who lived in India, when in the earth-life, and spent a great portion of my time in studying the truths that relate to this World in which I now am.

Chambers:  Is Mr. A. conscious that you are speaking through him?

Answer: No.  The controlling power of his material body, which is his spirit-body, is in a state of unconsciousness, and I am exercising the control.

Chambers: If you, as you say, are taking the place of the spirit in Mr. A. in regard to his physical body, has his spirit left that body?

Answer: Yes.

Chambers: Where is it, or rather, where is he?

Answer: In this room, in a state of unconsciousness.

Chambers: But how can that be? Can a man’s spirit leave his body before death?

Answer: Most certainly it can, and does, at times.  But you as a teacher of the Bible should know that truth.

Chambers: Does the Bible then declare it?

Answer: Most assuredly.  Does not an apostle say that he was caught up into the third sphere of the Spiritual World; and yet his earthly body did not die until some years afterwards?

Chambers: Yes, I am familiar with that statement; but St. Paul himself did not seem to be quite sure whether he was in his outer body, or out of it.

Answer: This is quite possible.  Many persons, after passing through what you call “dying,” having left the earthly body behind, do not, for a while, realise that it has been cast off.  They are still, after the change, so really men and women.  The apostle when he had the experience mentioned was out of his earthly body, and the latter was in a state of trance.

Chambers: When the spirit of a person is outside his body, is the connection between the spirit and the body maintained?

Answer: Yes, were it not, the earthly body would die.

Chambers: Would it under such circumstances be possible to break the connection between an external spirit and its earthly body?

Answer: Yes.  A sudden shock might bring it about.  Hence to violently arouse a person in a state of trance – when very often the spirit is absent from the body – is very dangerous.  It may break the connection, and then the body would die.

Chambers:  I have taught and still teach that the separation of the spirit and spirit-body from its earthly encasement takes place shortly after the death.  Am I right in this?

Answer: No: you are wrong.  The separation takes place immediately before
the death of the body.

Chambers: That rather astonishes me.

Answer:  I will explain.  A little while before death, the spirit-body of a person releases itself from the physical form and floats at full length above the latter, with which it is still connected by something not unlike a fine cord.  The physical body, as yet, is still alive, but it no longer contains the man. He is in the spirit-body, but unconscious.  When that fine spiritual cord is snapped, the separation is effected, and the material life expires.  You have the physical counterpart of this cord in the connection that exists between mother and the babe at birth.  The severance of a cord is the preliminary entrance of both the man and the babe into a higher plane of being.

From this point on the dialogue is abridged.

Chambers: What is your object in controlling the body of Mr. A?

Answer: To establish a communication through him with the world I have left.

Chambers: For what end?

Answer: To try and convince men of the fact of a World of Spirit.

Chambers: But surely, that fact is acknowledged, is it not?  We Christians, for example, acknowledge it.

Answer: Yes; in a way.  Your Bible is full of testimony regarding it, and you profess to accept its teaching; but not one in every thousand who attend your churches grasps the truths concerning the Spiritual World that Scripture declares.

Chambers: Is that not too sweeping an assertion?

Answer: No; you well know that many who read their Bible school themselves to think that all the spiritual facts recorded therein actually did take place thousands of years ago; but ask them to believe that like things are happening now; what will they say? Will they not declare it to be incredible and absurd?

Chambers: Are they wrong?

Answer: Why ask such a question! Do you suppose that the Spiritual World is now different from what it was before, and at the time when Christ sojourned on your earth? Nearly all the phases of spiritual manifestation described in the Bible are present occurrences.

Chambers: If that be so, how comes it that the truth is not better realised?

Answer: Because the tendency of men’s minds is too materialistic.  When that is the case, a revelation of the Spiritual becomes more difficult.

Chambers: Why?

Answer: Because of the feebleness, through disuse, of internal faculties by which the Spiritual can be approached.  You have the correspondence of this in the physical world.  Were you never to use your eyes and your ears there would come a time when, although the organs might still remain, it would be exceedingly difficult to get those eyes and ears to perceive sights and sounds which exercised eyes and ears can perceive.

Chambers: Do you imply that many Christians who believe in a World to come fail to perceive the whole truth concerning the Spiritual?

Answer: Most certainly I do. If you doubt this, question them on the point.  Will you find more than one in every hundred, or thousand, who has any idea of a Spiritual World, except as a far off Heaven at a future time?

Chambers: I am afraid your assertion is true. ...Is it granted to all who leave the earth-life to set up – as you claim to be doing – this phase of communication with the physical?

Answer: No; many wish to do so, but are not permitted.

Chambers: Why so?

Answer: In the case of many spirits, the wish does not spring from a desire to benefit you on the earth plane, but from a mere longing for contact with the world they have left.

Chambers: Is this longing wrong?

Answer: It is harmful unless dictated and sanctified by the promptings of love and unselfishness.

Chambers: Explain, please; I do not fully understand you.

Answer: If a spirit, not prompted by love and unselfishness, control a person, he harms both himself and the person he controls.

Chambers: In what way does he harm himself?

Answer: By retarding his progress in the Spiritual World.  The desire to continue in close contact with the physical, for the sake of contact itself, checks his advance on a higher plane of life and thought.  In the case, however, of physical contact being desired only that love and unselfishness may find a field of exercise, the spirit is unharmed, nay more, he is often advanced by the experience.  Thus, the contact of Christ with the physical did not diminish aught from the moral and spiritual excellence of His being. His love and unselfishness grew grander thereby.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

To be continued on May 16

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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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