The World Beyond (56) Leslie Howard, and Vale Owen’s “Beyond the Veil.” Where is the Soul? Francis Crick’s “Astonishing Hypothesis.” The scientific world-view is incomplete. Swedenborg was first of all a material scientist until a spiritual experience shattered his professional beliefs.
We visit the Spirit World regularly while we sleep. Without sleep and this daily connection with our true home there, we would gradually go crazy. Sleep deprivation demonstrates this. Though the scientific and medical explanation for the results of lack of sleep differ from what we know from our spiritual experiences.
Most of us have little knowledge of the Spirit World, and can conduct our lives without ever realising that there is a greater reality beyond. Scientists above all for the most part find no trace of the soul beyond the body and brain and they, like Francis Crick, Oliver Sachs, Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan, believe in the mechanistic, objective practical world of matter with nothing alive or conscious beyond it. Spiritual visions and experiences of the soul, they say, are the results of the functions, or malfunctions, of the brain – not much more than epileptic fits or random firing of the synapses - and therein lies the source of all the products, phenomena and predictions of our mediums and mystics ! Francis Crick the geneticist has put forward his “Astonishing Hypothesis” which sums up this belief. The soul lies embedded in the molecular and genetic systems within the body, and no type of consciousness or spirit exists at all, beyond the body. Hence, there is no life after death, and therefore no further [or prior] existence.
This seems quite nonsensical to most of us , who either through our religious beliefs or spiritual experiences, or through plain common sense, know that there is far more to life than the sum of our parts, though admittedly our physical existence in our body is a very complex process. But even a scientist like Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) tried to prove that the seat of the soul was to be found in the cortex of the brain, the power of which then circulated with the blood throughout the body. He was the most prominent and respected scientist in the Baroque age of Enlightenment, in which his contemporaries were J.S. Bach, Frederick Handel, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Voltaire and Beaumarchis and many well-known scientists. For thirty years he was a mining engineer, and author of several scientific books. But his materialist theory of the soul fell apart in 1743 when he had a profound religious experience in which God spoke to him, and told him that he had been chosen to unfold the spiritual sense of the Holy Scriptures. His spiritual eye opened up, he became clairvoyant and telepathic, and through his dreams and visions which he recorded in his spiritual diary for nineteen years between 1746 and 1765, and in his many spiritual and theological books, we have a comprehensive guide to the Spirit World. Though the accounts of his visions were couched in the language and imagery of the Protestant theological beliefs of the times, they correspond quite compatibly with those of Modern Spiritualism, some of which we have been looking at in this series of articles. In all events, for him, the former scientist, the soul and spirit were no longer to be found in the body or brain, but had their source and origin, as we now know, in the Spirit World, or in the greater, unknown reality beyond the reaches of scientific investigation, or human understanding.
I do not discount the value of the work of our modern scientists. I respect and admire their dedication to the search for the truth, in their various discliplines, but I challenge their attempt to find the whole truth of life within the confines of their narrow specialisation. Each branch of science has its own paradigm and area of activity. What is true at one level of activity is not necessarily so at another. Similarly, in the subject of spirituality, experts in the field of the soul and spirit are those who have practice, experience and ability there, namely, mediums, mystics, some priests and philosophers, and trained psychical researchers.
Scientists, spiritualists, mystics and mediums complement each others’ knowledge and expertise, each providing information on different levels of the spectrum of consciousness. The search for the truth is not a competition to prove who is right so much as a cooperative effort to assemble the many facets of truth so as to form the total picture or symphony of life. As long as we recognise that what each provides at their level of understanding may not apply on all levels. Each is part of the very complex and evolving web or network of probabilities, possibilities and variations. This modern world-view suits the movement towards a more democratic society and civilisation. The fixed, hierarchical orders of the past, where class and caste systems and strict definitions were the norm, are no longer compatible with either modern physical, biological, social or spiritual science.
At the present moment I am re-reading Swedenborgs works, originally written in Latin, and now translated by members of the Swedenborgian Church, the writings of the Brazilian Francisco (Chico) Xavier about the Spirit World, written in Portuguese, which I have yet to finish reading and then translate before reviewing for an article here, and those of Vale Owen.
This is a cue to return to the actor Leslie Howard, mentioned in a recent article, and his interest in Spiritualism, along with other outstanding servicemen like Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, and leading scientists like Sir Alister Hardy, James Hyslop aand Sir Oliver Lodge. Leslie served in France during World War I, as did Oliver Lodge’s son, Raymond, and was one of the combatants who suffered from shell-shock, now relabelled P.T.S.D The two factors which ensured his recovery were to accept his therapist's advice to take up acting, which became a successful career for him, and to study Spiritualism as he searched for the meaning and purpose of life, not surprisingly when so many of the comrades around him were being killed. He read the spiritual best-sellers of the day, including "Raymond" by Sir Oliver Lodge, which came out in 1916, and the several volumes of " Life beyond the Veil" by Vale Owen, which were serialised in Lord Northcliffe's newspapers, and published in book form from 1920 onwards. He was by no means the only actor to be interested in psychic matters. At the present time, a number of actors have shown a serious interest in the subject of spirituality, including Clint Eastwood (Hereafter), Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Joyce de Witt (Three’s a Crowd), Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke), Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Cheers), Robert Hardy (All Creatures), Mike Farrell (Mash, Providence), Bruce Willis (Sixth Sense) and Shirley Maclaine.
I thought it would be appropriate here to include passages from Volume I of “Beyond the Veil,” in which the communicators describe the activities on some of the lower planes of the Spirit World. Like Emanual Swedenborg, Vale Owen kept a Spiritual Diary, and these excerpts are taken from entries for September and October, 1913, a year before the outbreak of the First World War:-
Let me say that we do not lightly leave our beautiful home to come down into the mists which surround the earth sphere. We have a mission and a work in hand which some one must do, and there is joy in the doing of it. A little time since—to speak in earth phrase—we were sent into a region where the waters were collected into a large lake, or basin, and round the lake, at some distance from each other, were erected buildings in the form of large halls with towers. They were of varied architecture and design, and not all builded of one material. Spacious gardens and woods surrounded them, some of them miles in extent, and full of beautiful fauna and flora, most of the species known on earth, but also some which would be strange to you now, although I think that at least a proportion of them lived once on earth. That is a detail. What I wish to explain to you is the purposes of these colonies.
They are for nothing else than the manufacture of music and musical instruments. Those who live there are engaged in the study of music and its combinations and effects, not only as to what you know as sound, but also in other connections. We visited several of the great houses and found bright and happy faces to welcome us and show us over the place; and also to explain what we were able to understand, and I frankly confess that was not much. Such as I personally did understand I will try to explain to you.
One house—or college, for they were more like colleges than manufactories, when I come to think of it—was devoted to the study of the best methods of conveying musical inspiration to those who had a talent for composition on earth; and another house gave attention rather to those who were clever at playing music, and others to singing, and still others made a special study of ecclesiastical music, and others concert music, and others operatic composition, and so on. The results of their studies are tabulated, and there their duty ends. These results are studied again by another class, who consider the best method of communicating them to composers of music generally, and then another body do the actual work of transmission through the veil into the earth sphere. Here are pointed out to them the objects of their endeavours, namely, those who are likely to prove most ready of response to their inspiration. These have been carefully selected by others who are trained in selection of such. All is in perfect order; from the colleges round the lake to the church or concert hall or opera house on earth there is a chain of trained workers who are constantly active in giving to earth some little gift of heavenly music. And that is how all your best music comes to you…… Yes, you are quite correct. Much of your music is not from us; and much is sullied in its passage. But that is not the fault of the workers from those spheres, but lies at the door of those on your side of the veil, and those on this side who are of the loomy regions and whom the character of the composer gives a foothold to tamper with that which comes from us here.
Vale Owen asks the the spirit:- What are the towerss for?
I was just going to explain that to you. The lake is of vast extent, and the buildings at some little distance from it on all sides. But at certain times, previously arranged, the workers of some of these colleges, and now and again all of them, send certain of their company to the tower top and, when all are assembled, then a concert, literally true to its name, is held. They all practise something they have previously agreed upon together. On one tower will be instrumentalists of one class, on another those of another class, and on the third vocalists; and on another, another class of vocalists; for there are many classes, not only four, as usually with you, but many toned voices. And other towers are devoted to other workers whose actual duties I could not understand. From what I could make out, some of these were expert in harmonizing the whole, or part, of the volume of sound combined from the different towers. But I want to get on to the description of the thing itself—the concert or festival, or whatever you like to call it. We were taken to an island in the midst of the lake, and there, in a beautiful scene of trees and grass and flowers and terraces and arbours of trees and little nooks and seats of stone or wood, we heard the festival.
First there came a chord, long and sustained, growing louder and louder, until it seemed to invade the whole landscape and waterscape and every leaf of every tree. It was the key given to the musicians on the various towers. It died into silence and all seemed very still. Then, gradually, we heard the orchestra. It came from many towers, but we could not tell any single contribution apart. It was perfect harmony, and the balance of tone was exquisite. Then the singers took up their part. It is of no use for me to try to describe this music of the heavenly spheres in earth language, but I may perhaps be able to give you some idea of the effect. riefly, it made everything more lovely—not only beautiful, but lovely, too—for there is a difference in meaning of these two words as I use them here. All our faces took on a more lovely hue and expression, the trees became deeper in colour, and the atmosphere grew into a vapour of tints like a rainbow. But the vapour did not obscure anything; it seemed to bring everything nearer together rather. The water reflected the rainbow tints, and our clothing became more intensified in colour. Moreover, the animals and birds about us also responded. One white bird I remember especially. Her beautiful milky feathers gradually grew brighter and, when I saw her last, before she flew into a grove, she shone like gold burnished and glowing, like a transparent light or fire. Then, as the mists slowly faded away, we all became, and everything became, normal once again. But the effect remained, and if I could give it a name, I should say it was “peace.” That, then, is one little experience which I had in the Home of Music. What we heard will be discussed again and again by meetings of experts, a little altered here, and a little there, and then some use will be made of it; perhaps at some great service of thanksgiving here, or some reception of spirits come over from the earth life, or some other function. For music enters into so many phases of our life here, and, indeed, all seems music in these spheres of light—music and blended colour and beauty, all breathing love among all, and to Him Who loves us as we are not able to love. But his love draws us onward, and, as we go, is all about us, and we must inbreathe it, as we do the beauty of His presence. This we cannot choose but do, for He is All in All here, and love is a delight which only you will understand when you stand where we have stood, and heard what we have heard, and seen the beauty of His presence, breathing and shimmering all around and above and beneath, as we learned some little more of his love. Be strong and live the valiant life, for the end is worth the cost, as we ourselves have proved.
Good night, dear lad, and remember that sometimes in your sleep we are able to waft some faint echo of such music as this into your spiritual environment, and it is not without its effect on the aspect worn in your mind by your next day'’ life and work.
Wednesday, October 1, 1913.
What we said last evening relative to the House of Music was but an outline sketch of all that we heard and saw; and we only went over part of the place. We are informed, however, that it is of much larger extent even than we thought at the time, and extends far away from the lake into the mountainous country outlying the plain in which the lake lies. In those mountains there are other colleges, all linked up with those we saw by means of a kind of wireless telephony, and a co-operative work is continually going on.
On our way back to our own home we turned aside to see another new thing. It was a plantation of very large trees in which was built another tower, not a single column, but a series of chambers and halls, with pinnacles and turrets and domes of manifold colours. These were all in the one building, which was very high and also spacious. We were shown within very courteously and kindly by one of the dwellers there, and the first thing that struck us was the curious aspect of the walls. What had from the outside appeared opaque, from the inside was translucent, and, as we went from hall to hall, and chamber to chamber, we noticed that the light which filled each was slightly different in tint from the one which led to it—not of different colour, for the variance was not so marked as that, but just a slight degree deeper or lighter. In most at least of the smaller compartments the light was of one definite and delicate hue, but every now and then, after passing through a more or less complete series of chambers, we came to a large hall, and in this hall were gathered all the component tints of the surrounding chambers. I am not quite sure whether I am exactly correct in saying that all the smaller laboratories only distilled one tint, but am telling you as nearly as I can remember. There was so much we saw that it is difficult to separate all into details; and it was my first visit. So I do not vouch for more than a true description of the general scheme. One of these halls was the Orange Hall, and in it were all the tints of that primary, from the faintest of light gold to the deepest of deep orange. Another was the Red Hall, where hues were ambient all about us, from the faintest rose-leaf pink to the deepest crimson of the rose or dahlia. Another, the Violet Hall, was radiant with hues ranging from the most delicate heliotrope, or amethyst, to the dark rich hue of the pansy. And now I must tell you that there were not only more but several more of these halls devoted to those tints which you do not know, but which you call the ultraviolet and the ultra-red, and most wonderful they are. Now, these rays are not blended together in one hue, but each tint was distinct in its gradation, and yet all harmonized wonderfully and beautifully. You are wondering to what purpose these buildings are put. They are for studying the effects of colours as applied to different departments of life, animal, vegetable and even mineral life, but the two former chiefly, together with clothing. For both the texture and the hue of our garments take their quality from the spiritual state and character of the wearer. Our environment is part of us, just as with you, and light is one component, and an important one, of our environment. Therefore it is very powerful in its application, under certain conditions, as we saw it in these halls. I am told that the results of these studies are handed on to those who have charge of trees and other plant life on earth and other planets. But there are other results which are too rare in nature for such application to the grosser environment of earth and the other planets, so, of course, only a very small part of these studies is handed on in your direction. I am sorry that I can tell you little more, partly because of these same limitations, and partly because it is rather scientific and out of my line. But this I may add, for I inquired while there. They do not gather the primary colours together in one hall in that colony. Why, I do not know. It may be, as some of my friends think, who understand these matters better than I do, that the force generated by such combination would collectively be too tremendous for that building and require a specially constructed one, and that, probably, away in some high mountain; as it is possible, they told me, that no vegetation would live within a long distance of such a place. And they add that they doubt whether people of the degree we met could safely control such forces as would be generated. They think it would require those of much higher state and skill. But away in another higher sphere there may be, and probably is, a place where this is done, and that place in touch with the one we saw. Judging from the way things are ordered here, that much is almost certain.
We left the colony, or university, as it might be called, and when we were at some distance away on the plain where we could see the central dome above the trees, our guide, who had come with us to speed us on our way, told us to stop and see a little parting surprise which the chief had promised to afford us. We watched and saw nothing, and, after a while, looked at our guide, questioningly. He smiled, and we looked again. Presently one of our party said “What colour was that dome when we first paused here?” One said, “I believe it was red.” But none could be sure. Anyway, it was then a golden tint, so we said we would watch it. Sure enough, presently it was green, and yet we had not seen it change, so gradually and evenly was the progress from one colour to the other made. This went on for some time, and it was extremely beautiful. Then the dome disappeared utterly. Our guide told us it was still there in the same place, but the disappearance was one of the feats they had managed to accomplish by combining certain elements of light from the various halls. Then above the dome and the trees—the dome still being invisible—there appeared an enormous rose of pink, which slowly deepened into crimson, and all among its petals there were beautiful forms of children playing, and men and women standing or walking and talking together, handsome, beautiful and happy; and fawns and antelopes nd birds, running or flitting or lying among the petals, whose shapes swelled like hills and mounds and landscapes. Over these wells ran children with the animals, playing very happily and prettily. And then it all slowly faded away, and all was blank. We were shown several of these displays as we stood there. Another was a column of light which shot up vertically from where we knew the dome was, and stood erect in the heavens. It was of the purest white light, and so steady that it looked almost solid. Then came a ray from one of the halls obliquely and gently struck against the side of the column. Then came another from another hall, of a ifferent colour—red, blue, green, violet, orange; light, middle and dark, of all colours you know, and some which you do not know—and they all lodged against the white column about half way up. Then we saw the oblique lines of light taking shape, and they lowly became each a highway with buildings, houses, castles, palaces, groves of trees, temples and all manner of such, all along the broadways. And up these ways came crows of people, some on foot, some on horseback, and others driving in chariots. All of one shaft of light were of one colour, but manifold in hues. It was very lovely to see them.
They approached the column and halted a little distance from it all round . Then the top of the column opened out slowly, like a beautiful white lily, and the petals began to curl over, and lower, and ever lower, until they overspread the space between the people and the column. And then the base of the column began to do the same, until it formed a platform, circular in shape, between the different shafts of light, from the column to so far as the places on each causeway where the people halted. Then they could move onward. But they mingled now, and their horses and conveyances, each retaining it own tint and colour, but mingling with the rest. And we became aware that what we were looking at was a great multitude of lovely and happy people, gathered as if for a feast or festival, in an enormous pavilion of varitinted light. For their hues were now reflected against and into the roof and the floor, or pavement, and most wonderful was the radiance of it all. Slowly they formed into groups, and then we noticed that the centre column was piped like a great organ, and we understood what to expect. And it came very soon—a great burst of music, vocal and instrumental, a grand Gloria in Excelsis to Him Who dwells in the light which is as darkness to His children, even as our darkness is as light when He sheds down on us a ray of His present power; for Omnipotent is the King Whose Light is life to all his children, and Whose glory is reflected in the light such as we are able to endure. Something like that they sang, and then all that, too, faded away. I expected they would retrace their steps along the causeways, but these were withdrawn, and apparently it was unnecessary. Your time is up, dear lad, so we must stop regretfully, with our usual love to you, my dear one, and those who love you and us, as we love them. God be with you, Who is Light, and in Whom no darkness can find a place to rest.
Thursday, October 2, 1913.
“Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” That is the message we would impress on you now. Do not lag behind in the way, for light is shed along it which will show you the path, and, if you hold fast to your faith in the All Father and His dear Son our Lord, you need have no fear of any beside. We write this on account of certain lingering doubts still about you. You feel our presence, we know, but our messages have taken on such a complexion as to seem too fairy-like to be real. Know, then, that no fairy story ever written can equal the wonder of these Heavenly Realms, or the beauties of them. Moreover, much of the description you read in fairy books of scenery and buildings is not altogether unlike many things we have seen here in this beautiful land. Only a little yet have we been able to learn, but, from that little, we are convinced that nothing which can enter into the creative imagination of a man while in the earth life can equal the glories which await his wondering intellect when he puts off the earth body, with its imitations, and stands free in the light of the Heavenly Land.
Now, what we wish to try and tell you to-night is of a rather different order from our former messages, and has regard rather to the essential nature of things than to the phenomena of life as displayed for our instruction and joy. If a man could take his stand here on some one of the high summits with which this landscape is crowned, he would behold some rather strange and unfamiliar sights. For instance, he would probably first observe that the air was clear, and that distance had a different aspect from that it wears on earth. It would not seem far away in the same sense, for, if he wished to leave the summit on which he stood and go to some point near the horizon, or even beyond, he would do so by means of his will, and it would depend on the quality of that will and his own nature, whether he went fast or slow; and also how far he could penetrate into the regions which lie beyond the various mountain ranges and whose—I suppose we shall have to use the word— atmosphere is of rarer quality than that in which his present lot is cast. It is on account of this that we do not always see those messengers who come to us from the higher spheres. They are seen by some better than by others, and are only truly and definitely visible when they so condition their bodies as to emerge into visibility. Now, if we go too far in their direction—that is, in the direction of their home—we feel an exhaustion which disables us to penetrate farther, although some are able to go farther than others. Again, standing on that summit, the observer would notice that the firmament was not exactly opaque to the vision, but rather in the nature of light, but light of a quality which intensifies as the distance from the surface of the landscape increases. And some are able to look farther into that light than others, and to see there beings and scenes enacting which others less developed are not able to see. Also, he would see all around him dwellings and buildings of various kinds, some of which I have described. But those buildings would not be merely houses and work places and colleges to him. From each structure he would read not its character of those who built it and those who inhabit it. Permanent they are, but not of the same dull permanency as those of earthy. They can be developed and modified and adapted, in colour, shape and material, according as the need should require. They would not have to be pulled down, and then the material used in rebuilding. The material would be dealt with as the building stood. Time has no effect on our buildings. They do not crumble or decay. Their durability depends simply on the wills of their masters, and, so long as these will, the building stands, and then is altered as they will.
Another thing he would notice would be flights of birds coming from out the distance and going with perfect precision, to some particular spot. Now there are messenger birds trained on earth, but not as these are trained. In the first place, as they are never killed or ill-used, they have no fear of us. These birds are one of the means we use to send messages from one colony to another. They are not really necessary, as we have other quicker and more business-like ways of communication. We use them more as pretty fancies, just as we use colours and ornaments for beauty’s sake sometimes. These birds are always making flights, and are dear loving creatures. They seem to know what their business is, and love to do it. There is a tale here that once one of these birds, in his eagerness to outstrip his fellows, overshot the others and projected himself into the earth sphere. There he was seen by a clairvoyant man, who shot at him, and so astonished was the wanderer—not at the shooting, but at the sensation which he felt coming from the man’s thoughts— that he realized that he was not in his right element somehow, and as soon as he realized that, he was back again here. What he had felt coming from the man’s brain was the resolution and desire to kill, and, although he knew it was something uncanny, when he came to try to tell his other bird friends he was at a loss, because nothing of the kind is known here, and he could no more describe it than a bird from this realm could describe his life to one of the earth sphere. So the other birds said that, as he had a tale to tell which he could not, he was to return and find the man and ask him what word he should use. He did so, and the man, who was a farmer, said “pigeon-pie” would best describe his idea. The bird returned and, as they could not translate the term into their language, or make any meaning of it, they passed a resolution to the effect that whoever should wish to visit earth in future should place himself under guard until inquiries had been made as to whether he was in his own proper sphere or no. And the moral of it all is this: Keep to your own appointed task which you will understand, , and where you will be understood by those who are your fellow-servants in the work; and do not be too eager to shoot ahead before you are sure of your ground, or “atmosphere,” or, thinking you are going forward, you may find yourself in a sphere which is below the one from which you started, and where the highest beings of that sphere are less progressed, in many ways, than the lowest of your own, and much less pleasant as company. Well, that is a light story as a little interlude, and will serve to show you that we can laugh here, and be foolish wisely, and wise foolishly, on occasion, and that we are not grown-up much in some things since we left your earth and came over here. Good-bye, dear; keep up a merry heart.
Friday, October 3, 1913.
When you are in any doubt as to the reality of spirit communion think of the messages you have already received and you will find that in all we have written we have preserved a clear purpose throughout. It is that we may help you, and through you others also, to understand how natural all is here, if wonderful also. Sometimes, when we look back upon our earth life, we feel a wistful longing to make the way of those still there a little clearer and brighter than was our own in our forward glances into the future life. We did not understand, and so we went on in uncertainty as to what really awaited us. Many, as we know, say that this is good, and yet, as we view things from our present vantage ground, we cannot agree that uncertainty is good when a definite goal is to be won. Certainty, on the other hand, gives decision and conduces to courageous action, and if we may be given to implant in just a few of earth’s sojourners the certainty of life and brightness here for those who fight the good fight well, we shall be amply repaid for our journeys hither from our own bright home in light.
Now let us see if we can impress you to write a few words of the conditions which we found when we arrived here—the conditions, that is, of those who pass over here when they first arrive. They are not all of an equal degree of spiritual development, of course, and therefore require different treatment. Many, as you know, do not realise for some time the fact that they are what they would call dead, because they find themselves alive and with a body, and their previous vague notions of the after-death state are not, by any means, lightly thrown away The first thing to do, then, with such as those is to help them realize the fact that they are no more in the earth life, and, to do this, we employ many methods. One is to ask them whether they remember some friend or relative, and, when they reply that they do so but that he is dead, we try to enable them to see this particular spirit, who, appearing alive, should convince the doubter that he is really passed over. This is not always the case, for the ingrained fallacies are obstinate, and so we try another method. We take him to some scene on earth with which he is familiar, and show him those whom he has left behind, and the difference in his state and theirs. If this should fail, then we bring to his recollection the last experiences he underwent before passing, and gradually lead up to the time when he fell asleep, and then try to connect up that moment with his awakening here. All these endeavours often fail—more often than you would imagine—for character is builded up year by year, and the ideas which go to help in this building become very firmly embedded in his character. Also we have to be very careful not to overtax him, or it would delay his enlightenment. Sometimes, however, in the case of those who are more enlightened, they realize immediately that they are passed into the spirit land, and then our work is easy.
We once were sent to a large town where we were to meet with other helpers at a hospital to receive the spirit of a woman who was coming over. These others had been watching by her during her illness, and were to hand her over to us to bring away. We found a number of friends round the bed in the ward, and they all wore long dismal faces, as if some dire disaster was about to happen to their sick friend. It seemed so strange, for she was a good woman, and was about to be ushered into the light out of a life of toil and sorrow and, lately of much bodily suffering. She fell asleep, and the cord of life was severed by our watching friends, and then, softly, they awoke her, and she looked up and smiled very sweetly at the kind face of one who leaned over her. She lay there perfectly happy and content until she began to wonder why these strange faces were around her in place of the nurses and friends she had last seen. She inquired where she was, and, when she was told, a look of wonder and of yearning came over her face, and she asked to be allowed to see the friends she had left.This was granted her, and she looked on them through the Veil and shook her head sadly. “If only they could know,” she said, “How free from pain I am now, and comfortable. Can you not tell them? “ We tried to do so, but only one of them heard, I think, and he only imperfectly, and soon put it away as a fancy. We took her from that scene, and, after she had somewhat gained strength, to a children’s school, where her little boy was, and, when she saw him, her joy was too great for words. He had passed over some years before, and had been placed in this school where he had lived ever since. Then the child became instructor to his mother, and this sight was a pretty one to see. He led her about the school and the grounds and showed her the different places, and his schoolmates, and, all the while, his face beamed with delight; and so did the mother’s. We left her awhile, and then, when we returned, we found those two sitting in an arbour, and she was telling him about those she had left behind, and he was telling her of those who had come on before, and whom he had met, and of his life in the school, and it was as much as we could do to tear her away, with a promise that she should return soon and often to her boy. That is one of the better cases, and there are many such, but others are otherwise. Now, while we waited for the mother who was talking with her son, we wandered over the grounds and looked at the various appliances for teaching children. One especially engaged my attention. It was a large globe of glass, about six or seven feet in diameter. It stood at the crossing of two paths, and reflected them. But as you looked into the globe you could see n9ot only the flowers and trees and plants which grew there, but also the different orders from which they had been derived in time past. It was very much like a lesson in progressive botany, such as might be given on earth and deduced from the fossil plants of geology. But here we saw the same plants alive and growing, and all the species of them from the original parent down to the present representative of the same family. We learned that the task set for the children was: to consider this progression up to this particular plant or tree or flower actually growing in that garden and reflected in the globe, and then to try to construct in their minds the further and future development of that same species. This is excellent training for their mental faculties, but the results are usually amusing. It is the same study which full-grown students are also at work upon in other departments here, and is put by them to a practical end. One of them thought it would be a useful method to help the children to use their own minds, and so constructed the ball for their especial use. When they have thought out their conclusion, they have to make a model of the plant as it will appear after another period of evolution, and fearful and wonderful some of those models are, and as impossible as they are strange. Well, I must not keep you longer, so we will continue when you are able to write again. God bless you and yours. Good night.
Reviewed from “ The Life Beyond the Veil: Book !. The Lowlands of Heaven.” By Rev. G. Vale Owen. Thornton Butterwoth Limited, London. June 1920.
Other references: “The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul: by Francis Crick. Macmillan, 1994.
The works of Emanuel Swedenborg, including “Heaven and Hell,” “Spiritual Diary” (several volumes), “A Spiritual Key,” “Arcana Celestia,” and “The Word Explained.”
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