Chapter 1: THE FLOWERS
After I had passed into the Spirit world, one of my earliest experiences was the consciousness of a feeling of sadness, not of my own sadness, for I was supremely happy, but of the sadness of others, and I was greatly puzzled to know whence it came.
Edwin told me that this sadness was rising from the Earth world, and was caused by the sorrow felt at my passing. It soon ceased, however, and Edwin informed me that forgetfulness of me by the Earth people had already set in. That experience alone, my good friend, is one that can be relied upon to induce feelings of humility, if no humility before existed!
I had, I assure you, set small store by popularity. The discovery, therefore, that my memory was fast fading from the minds of Earth people occasioned me no distress whatever. I had written and preached for the good they might do, and that, as I now learnt, was microscopically small. I was told that many people, whose public favour was considerable when they were incarnate, discovered, when they had shed their Earthly bodies, that their fame and high favour had not preceded them into the world of Spirit. Gone was the admiration which had been their common everyday experience. It naturally saddened such souls to leave behind them their Earthly prominence, and it gave them something of a sense of loneliness, the more so when, in addition, the Earth world quickly forgot all about them.
My own Earthly reputation had been of no very great magnitude, but I had managed to carve a niche for myself among my co-religionists.
My transition had been calm and peaceful, and unattended by any unpleasant circumstances. It was no wrench for me to leave the Earth world. I had no ties but my work. I was, therefore, greatly blessed. Edwin told me of others whose passing was extremely unhappy, and whose Spiritual state upon their arrival here was still more unhappy. Many, who were great upon Earth, found themselves very small in Spirit. And many, who were unknown upon Earth, found themselves here so Spiritually well known as to be almost overcome by it. It is not all, by any means, who are destined for the beautiful realms of eternal sunshine and summer.
I have already given you a glimpse of those realms of darkness and semi-darkness, where all is cold and bleak and barren, and wherein souls have their abode, souls who can rise up out of the darkness if they so wish it and will work for that end. There are many who spend their heaven visiting these dim regions to try to draw out of their misery some of these unfortunates, and to set them upon the path of light and Spiritual progression.
It has been my privilege to go with Edwin and Ruth to visit the dark places beyond the belt of mist that separates them from the light. It is not my purpose to take you into those realms of misery and unhappiness just yet. Later on I shall hope to give you some account of our experiences. For the moment there are other – pleasanter – matters upon which I should like to speak.
There are many souls upon the Earth-plane who seek to probe the manifold mysteries of life. They propound theories of divers kinds purporting to explain this or that, theories which, in the course of time, come to be looked upon as great truths. Some of these hypotheses are as remote from the truth as it is possible to imagine; others are merely nonsensical. But there are also people who refuse even to think for themselves, and who stolidly uphold the belief that while they are incarnate they are not meant to know anything of the life of Spirit that lies before them all. They affirm that it is not God’s purpose that they should be told of such matters, and that when they come to Spirit they will know all things.
These are two extremes of thought – the theorists and the partisans of the ‘closed door’. Both schools receive some severe shocks when they enter Spirit lands to live for all time. Individuals with strange theories find those theories demolished by the simple fact of finding themselves faced with the absolute truth. They discover that life in the Spirit world is not nearly so complex as they would have it to be. In so many instances it is vastly simpler than life upon Earth, because we do not have the problems that constantly harass and worry Earth people, problems, for example, of religion and politics, which throughout the ages have caused social upheavals that are still having their repercussions in the Earth world at the present time. The student of occult matters is apt to fall into the same error as the student of religious matters. He makes assertions every bit as dogmatic as those that emanate from orthodox religion, assertions that are mostly as far from the truth.
The period of time in which I have lived in the Spirit world is as nothing – nothing! – by comparison with some of the great souls with whom it has been my privilege to speak. But they have shown me something of their vast store of knowledge, things that is, that my mind was capable of understanding. For the rest, I – in company with millions of others – am perfectly contented to wait for the day when my intelligence is sufficiently advanced to grasp the greater truths.
A matter that gives rise to some perplexity concerns the flowers that we have in the Spirit world. Some would ask: why flowers? What is their purpose or significance? Have they symbolical meaning?
Let us put the same questions to Earth people concerning the flowers that grow upon the Earth-plane. Have the Earthly flowers any special significance? Have they some symbolical meaning? The answer to both questions is No! Flowers are given to the Earth world to help to beautify it, and for the delight and enjoyment of those who behold them. The fact that they serve other useful purposes is an added reason for their existence. Flowers are essentially beautiful, evolved from the Supreme Creative Mind, given to us as a precious gift, showing us in their colourings, in their formations, and in their perfumes an infinitesimally small expression of that Great Mind. You have this glory upon the Earth-plane. Are we to be deprived of it in the Spirit world because it is considered that flowers are rather Earthy, because no deep, abstruse meaning can be assigned to their existence?
We have the most glorious flowers here, some of them like the old familiar cherished blooms of the Earth-plane, others known only to the Spirit world, but all alike are superb, the perpetual joy of all of us who are surrounded with them. They are divine creations, each single flower breathing the pure air of Spirit, and upheld by their Creator and by all of us here in the love that we shower upon them. Had we no wish for them – an impossible supposition! – they would be swept away. And what should we have in their stead? Where, otherwise, would the great wealth of colour come from which the flowers provide?
And it is not only the smaller growing flowers that we have here. There is no single flowering tree or shrub that the mind can recall that we do not possess, flourishing in superabundance and perfection, as well as those trees and shrubs that are to be seen nowhere else but in the Spirit world. They are always in bloom, they never fade or die, their perfumes are diffused into the air where they act like a Spiritual tonic upon us all. They are at one with us, as we are with them.
When we are first introduced to the flowers and trees and all the luxuriance of Spirit nature, we instantly perceive something that Earthly nature never seemed to possess, and that is an inherent intelligence within all growing things. Earthly flowers, although living, make no immediate personal response when one comes into close touch with them. But here it is vastly different. Spirit flowers are imperishable, and that should at once suggest more than mere life within them, and Spirit flowers, as well as all other forms of nature, are created by the Great Father of the Universe through his agents in the realms of Spirit. They are part of the immense stream of life that flows directly from Him, and that flows through every species of botanic growth. That stream never ceases, never falters, and it is, moreover, continuously fed by the admiration and love which we, in this world of Spirit, gratefully shed upon such choice gifts of the Father. Is it, then, to be wondered at, when we take the tiniest blossom within our hands, that we should feel such an influx of magnetic power, such a revivifying force, such an upliftment of one’s very being, when we know, in truth, that those forces for our betterment are coming directly from the Source of all good. No, there is no other meaning behind our Spirit flowers than the expressed beauty of the Father of the Universe, and, surely, that is enough. He has attached no strange symbolism to His faultless creations. Why should we?
A large majority of the flowers are not meant to be picked. To pick them is not to destroy them – it is to cut off that which is in direct contact with the Father. It is possible to gather them, of course; no disastrous calamity would follow if one did. But whosoever picked them would certainly regret it very deeply. Think of some small article that you possess and treasure above all your other Earthly possessions, and then consider deliberately destroying it. It would cause you extreme sadness to do so, although the loss incurred might be intrinsically trifling. Such would be your emotions when you heedlessly culled those Spirit flowers that are not intended for gathering.
But there are blooms, and plenty of them, that are expressly there to be picked, and many of us do so, taking them into our houses just as we used to do on Earth, and for the same reason.
These severed flowers will survive their removal for just so long as we wish to retain them. When our interest in them begins to wane they will quickly disintegrate. There will be no unsightly withered remnants, for there can be no death in a land of eternal life. We simply perceive that our flowers have gone, and we can then replace them if we so wish.
Chapter 2: THE SOIL
To obtain an adequate idea of the ground upon which we walk and on which our houses and buildings are erected, you must clear your mind of all mundane conceptions. First of all, we have no roads as they are known on Earth. We have broad extensive thoroughfares in our cities and elsewhere, but they are not paved with a composite substance to give them hardness and durability for the passage of a constant stream of traffic. We have no traffic, and our roads are covered with the thickest and greenest of grass, as soft to the feet as a bed of fresh moss. It is on these that we walk. The grass never grows beyond the condition of being well-trimmed, and yet it is living grass. It is always retained at the same serviceable level, perfect to walk upon and perfect in appearance.
In such places where smaller paths are desirable, and where grass would seem unsuitable, we have such pavements as are customary in the Earth world. But they are constructed of very different materials. The paving is, for the most part, a description of stone, but it is without the usual dull drabness of colour. It closely resembles the alabaster-like material of which so many of the buildings are constructed. The colors vary, but they are all of delicate pastel shades.
This stone, like the grass, is very pleasant to walk upon, though, naturally, it is not as soft. But there is a certain quality about it, a certain springiness, if one may so term it, something like the resilience of certain Earthly timber that is utilized in the making of floors. That is the only way in which I can convey any idea of the difference between Earthly stone and Spirit stone.
There is never, of course, any unsightly discolouration to be observed upon the surface of these stone walks. They always preserve their initial freshness. Often the pavements reveal a network of delightful designs formed by the use of different coloured materials, and blending harmoniously with their immediate surroundings.
As one approaches the boundaries to the higher realms, the pavements become noticeably more translucent in character, and they seem to lose some of their appearance of solidity, though, indeed, they are solid enough!
When one draws near the boundaries of the lower realms, the pavements become heavy in appearance, they begin to lose their colour until they look leaden and opaque, and they have the semblance of extreme solidity – almost like the granite of the Earth-plane.
Round about our own individual homes we have lawns and trees and flower-beds, with trim garden paths of stone similar to that which I have just described to you. But of bare ‘Earth’ you would see little or none. Indeed, I cannot call to mind ever having seen any such bare plots, for here there is no neglect through indifference or indolence, or from other causes that are all too familiar to specify. Where we have earned the right to possess our Spirit home we have also within us the constant desire to maintain and improve upon its beauty. And that is not very difficult to accomplish, since beauty responds to, and thrives upon, the appreciation of it. The greater attention and recognition we give to it, so much the greater will be its response, and it assumes to itself still greater beauty. Spirit beauty is no abstract thing, but a real living force.
T he view from my own home here is one of green fields, of houses of charm pleasantly situated amid woods and gardens, and with a distant view of the city. But nowhere are there to be seen any ugly tracts of bare or barren ground. Every inch that presents itself to the eye is cared for, so that the whole landscape is a riot of colour, from the brilliant emerald green of the grass to the multi-coloured flowers in the gardens, coronated by the blue of the heavenly sky above.
It may be wondered of what is the actual ground composed in which the flowers and trees are growing – is it Earth of some sort?
There is soil, certainly, but it has not the same mineral constituents as that of the Earth-plane, for it must be understood that life here is derived directly from the Great Source. The soil varies in colour and density in different localities in just the same way as upon the Earth-plane. I have not investigated it closely, any more than I took particular heed of Earthly soil. I can, however, give you some small idea of its appearance and characteristics.
Firstly, then, it is perfectly dry – I could detect no trace of moisture. I found that it ran off the hand in much the same way that dry sand will do. Its colours vary in a wide range of tones, but never does it approach the dark heavy look of Earthly soil. In some places it is of fine granular formation, while in others it is composed of much coarser particles – that is, relatively coarser.
One of the unexpected properties of this soil is the fact that, while it can be taken into the hand and allowed to run from it smoothly and freely, yet when it is undisturbed it remains fully cohesive, supporting as firmly as the Earthly soil all that is growing within it.
The colour of the ‘Earth’ is governed by the colour of whatever botanic life it supports. And here again there is no special significance, no deep symbolical reason for this particular order of things. It is simply that the colour of the soil is complementary to the colour of the flowers and trees, and the result, which could not be otherwise, is that of inspiring harmony—harmony to the eye, harmony to the mind, and the most soothing musical harmony to the ear. What better reason could there be? And what simpler?
Assuredly, this world of Spirit is not made up of a bewildering series of profound and complex mysteries, explicable only to the few. There are mysteries, certainly, just as there are upon the Earth-plane. And just as there are great brains upon the Earth-plane who can solve those mysteries, so here there are greater brains still – immeasurably greater – who can provide an explanation when our intellects are ready to receive it and understand it.
But there are many people in the Earth world who earnestly believe that we in Spirit live in a continual state of religious emotion, that every concomitant of Spirit life, every form and degree of personal activity, every atom of which the great world of Spirit is composed, must have some pious, devotional signification. Such a stupid notion is wide, very wide of the mark. Search through the Earth world, and do you find any such unnatural ideas attached to the multiplicity of life that lies within it? There is no religious import in a beautiful Earthly sunset. Why should our Spirit flowers -to take one instance among many – have any other reason for their existence than that which I have already given you, namely, a magnificent gift to us all from the Father of us all for our greater happiness and enjoyment?
There are still many, many souls on Earth who solemnly uphold it as an article of ‘faith’ that paradise, as they call it, will be one long interminable round of singing ‘psalms and hymns and Spiritual canticles’. Nothing could be more fantastic. The Spirit world is a world of activity, not indolence; a world of usefulness, not uselessness. Nothing in the Spirit world is useless; there is a sound reason and purpose for everything. Neither the reason nor the purpose may be plain to everyone at first, but that does not alter the truth of the matter.
Boredom can find no place here as a general state of affairs. People have been known to become bored, but that very boredom begets their first step – or their next step – in Spiritual progression through their engaging in some useful work. There are myriads of tasks to be performed – and myriads of souls to perform them, but there is always room for one more, and it will ever be so. Am I not living in a world that is both unlimited and illimitable?
We do not inhabit a land that bears all the outward marks of an Eternal Sunday! Indeed, Sunday has no place, no existence even, in the great scheme of the Spirit world. We have no need to be forcibly reminded of the Great Father of the Universe, by setting aside one day to Him, and forgetting Him for the rest of the week. We have no week. With us it is eternal day, and our minds are fully and perpetually conscious of Him, so that we can see His hand and His mind in everything that surrounds us.
I have deviated a little from what I set out to tell you, but it is expedient to emphasize certain features of my narrative, because so many souls of the Earth world are almost shocked to be told that the Spirit world is a solid world, a substantial world, with real, live people in it! They think that that is far too material, far too like the Earth world; hardly, in fact, one step removed from it, with its Spirit landscape and sunshine, its houses and buildings, its rivers and lakes, inhabited by sentient, intelligent beings!
This is no land of ‘eternal rest’. There is rest in abundance for those who need it. But when the rest has restored them to full vigour and health the urge to perform some sensible, useful task rises up within them, and opportunities abound.
To return to the particular characteristics of Spirit soil.
As we approach the dark regions the soil, such as I have described to you, loses its granular quality and its colour. It becomes thick, heavy, and moist, until it finally gives place entirely to stones, and then rock. Whatever grass there is looks yellow and seared.
As we draw closer to the higher realms the particles of the soil become finer, the colours more delicate, with a hint of translucency. A greater degree of resilience is at once observable underfoot when walking upon the thresholds of these higher realms, but the resilience comes as well from the nature of the realm as from the distinct change in the ground.
On close examination the fine soil reveals almost jewel-like qualities both of color and form. The particles are never misshapen, but conform to a definite geometric plan.
Ruth and I plunged our hands into some of the soil and allowed it to trickle through our fingers in a gentle stream. As it descended there issued from it the sweetest musical tones, as though it were falling upon some tiny musical instrument and causing the keys to produce a ripple of sound.
A keen ear will hear many musical sounds upon the Earthly seashore as the water sweeps back and forth over the beach, but no keen ear is necessary to hear the rich harmonics when the ground of the Spirit world is made to speak and sing.
The sounds emitted in this way vary as much as the colour and elements themselves vary. They are there for all to hear, and they can be produced at will by the very simple action I have described.
How is this brought about, you will ask?
Colour and sound – that is, musical sound – are interchangeable terms in the Spirit world. To perform some act that will produce colour is also to produce a musical sound. To play upon a musical instrument, or to sing, is to create colour, and each creation is governed and limited by the skill and proficiency of the instrumentalist or singer. A master musician, as he plays upon his instrument, will build above himself a most beautiful musical thought-form, varying in its colours and blends of shade in strict accordance with the music he plays. A singer can create a similar effect in relation to the purity of the voice and the quality of the music. The thought-form thus erected will not be very large. It is a form in miniature. But a large orchestra or body of singers will construct an immense form, governed, a course, by the same law.
The musical thought-form produces no sound itself. It is the result of sound, and is, as it were, a self-contained unit. Although music will bring forth colour, and colour will yield music, each is restricted to the one resultant form. They will not go on reproducing each other in a constant, unending, or gradually diminishing, alternation of colour and sound.
It must not be thought that with all the vast galaxy of colours from the hundreds of sources in the Spirit world, our ears are being constantly assailed with the sounds of music; that we are living, in fact, in an eternity of music that is sounding and resounding without remission. There are few minds – if any – that could possibly endure such a continuous plethora of sound, however beautiful it may be. We should sigh for peace and quietness; our heaven would cease to be heaven. No, the music is there, but we please ourselves entirely whether we wish to hear it or listen to it. We can completely isolate ourselves from all sound, or we can throw ourselves open to all sound, or just hear that which pleases us most.
There are times upon the Earth-plane when you can hear the strains of distant music without being in any way disturbed by it; on the contrary, you may find it very pleasant and soothing. So it is with us here in Spirit. But there is this great difference between our two worlds – our potentialities for music of the highest order are immeasurably greater than are yours upon the Earth-plane. The mind of a Spirit person who has a deep love of music will naturally hear more, because he so wishes, than one who cares little for it.
To revert to the experiment that Ruth and I carried out when we let the soil run through our fingers. We both of us derive great enjoyment from listening to music, Ruth much more so than myself, since she has been trained in the musical art and therefore has a higher appreciation and grasp of musical technicalities. I have told you how, the instant the soil left our hands, we could hear the delightful sounds issuing from it. Another person performing the same action, but who possessed no particular musical susceptibilities, would scarcely be conscious of any sound at all.
The flowers and all growing things respond immediately to those who love them and appreciate them. The music that they send out operates under precisely the same law. An attunement upon the part of the percipient, with that with which he comes into contact or relationship, is a prerequisite condition. Without that attunement it would be impossible to be conscious of the musical strains that issue forth from the whole of Spirit nature. By Spirit nature I mean, of course, all the growing things, the sea and lakes – indeed, all water – the soil, and the rest.
The greater the power of the individual of appreciating and understanding beauty in all its multifarious forms, the greater will be the out-flowing of magnetic force. In the Spirit world nothing is wasted nor expended uselessly. We never have forced upon us something that we do not want, whether it be music or art, entertainment or learning. We are free agents, in every sense of the term, within the confines of our own realm.
It would be a most terrifying thought to imagine that the Spirit world is one immense pandemonium of music, continuing ceaselessly, totally unavoidable, presenting itself on every conceivable occasion and in every possible place and situation! No! – the Spirit world is conducted on much better lines than that! The musical sounds are most certainly there, but it rests solely with ourselves whether we shall hear them or not. And the secret is personal attunement.
There are people upon the Earth-plane who possess the ability of mentally isolating themselves from their surroundings to such a degree that they can become oblivious to all sounds, however intense, that might be going on around them. This state of complete mental detachment will serve as an analogy – though a rather elementary one – of the effect that we can produce upon ourselves in Spirit, to the exclusion of such sounds as we have no wish to hear. Unlike the Earth world, we do not need to bring to bear any great force of concentration. It is but another process of thought, just as we use our minds to effect personal locomotion, and after a brief sojourn in Spirit we are soon able to perform these various mental functions without any conscious effort. They are part of our very nature, and we are merely applying, in an extended form, without Earthly limitations and restrictions, mental methods that are perfectly simple to apply. On the Earth-plane our physical bodies, in a heavy physical world, prevented similar mental processes from producing any physical result. In the Spirit world we are free and unfettered, and those actions of the mind show an instant and direct result, whether it be to move us with the quickness of our thought, or whether it be to shut out any sight or sound that we do not wish to experience.
On the other hand, we can – and do – open our minds and attune ourselves to absorb the many glorious sounds that come rising up all round us. We can open our minds – or close then – to the many delectable perfumes that Spirit nature casts abroad for our happiness, and contentment. They act like a tonic upon the mind, but they are not forced upon us—we merely help ourselves to them as we wish. It must ever be borne in mind that the Spirit lands are founded upon law and order. But the law is never oppressive nor the order irksome, because the same law and order have helped to provide all the countless beauties and wonders of this heavenly realm.