Chapter 6: SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Edwin told us that a very large majority of people are no sooner arrived in Spirit than a burning enthusiasm overtakes them as the Spirit world reveals itself to them in the new life, and they immediately want to rush back to the Earth and tell the world all about it. He had already explained to me some of the difficulties in my own suggestion of returning.
Another very natural tendency was to ask numberless questions upon this life in general, and he remarked that in this both Ruth and I had exercised quite an unusual restraint! Certainly I had refrained from asking too many questions, but then, Edwin had explained as much as we should be able to understand as we proceeded. I confessed, though, now that he broached the matter, that there were many things about which I should very much like to know. Ruth said she had the same feelings, and that doubtless many of our queries coincided. The difficulty was where to begin.
We had allowed our journeyings to bring forth their own problems for Edwin’s solution, but there were other considerations of a general nature which arose from the contemplation of Spirit lands as a whole. One of the first that arose to my mind as we sat on the grass, with heavenly flowers round about us, was the extent of this realm in which we were now living. It reached as far as the eye could see – and that was a great deal farther than we could ever see upon the Earth-plane on the finest and clearest day in the summer. This in itself was too wonderful for words, but it also gave an indication of the immensity of this particular realm. And we had only seen the tiniest fraction of it so far! We still thought in terms of Earthly distances. Was there any boundary to this realm? Did it stretch still farther beyond the range of our vision? If there were any termination, what was beyond? Could we go and see for ourselves?
Certainly there was a boundary to this realm, Edwin explained to us. And we could go and see it for ourselves whenever we wished. Beyond this were other and still more realms. Each soul as it passed into Spirit passed into that realm for which it had fitted itself when upon the Earth – into that realm and no other. Edwin had in the beginning described this land as the land of the great harvest – a harvest that is sown on Earth. We could judge for ourselves, then, whether we considered that harvest a good one or a poor one. We should find that there were others infinitely better – and others infinitely worse. In plain words, there are other realms immeasurably more beautiful than that in which we were now happily living; realms of surpassing beauty into which we cannot penetrate until such time as we have earned the right to enter, either as visitors or as inhabitants. But though we may not pass into them, the glorious souls who dwell in them can come into realms of less celestial rarity, and can visit us here. Edwin himself had seen some of them, and we hoped to do so as well. Indeed, they constantly make visitations to consult and converse with the dwellers here, to give advice and help, to give rewards and commendations, and there was no doubt but that my own matter could be placed before one of these master souls for his guidance upon it.
At certain times, too, these transcendent beings make special visitations when the whole realm is celebrating a great occasion, such, for example, as the two major Earth festivals of Christmas and Easter. Ruth and I were very astonished at the latter, because we thought them both to be so essentially of the Earth. But it was the manner of celebrating them, and not the festivals themselves, which was particular to the Earth. In the Spirit lands both Christmas and Easter are looked upon as birthdays: the first, a birth into the Earth world; the second, a birth into the Spirit world. In this realm the two celebrations synchronize with those upon the Earth, since there is then a greater Spiritual link between the two worlds than would be the case if the festivals were held independently of season. It is not so, however, in the higher realms, where laws of a different nature are in operation.
On the Earth-plane the anniversary of Christmas has remained fixed for many centuries on a certain date. The exact day of the first Christmas has been lost, and it is impossible now to ascertain with any precision, by Earthly means, when it occurred. Even were it possible, it is too late to make any alteration, since the present fixture has been established by long tradition and practice. The feast of Easter is movable – a stupid custom, since oft-times the chosen date bears no relation to the first and original date. There is some hope that a change will be made, and the feast stabilized. In no sense are we subservient to the Earth in these matters, but at the same time a foolish obstinacy would lead us nowhere. Therefore it is that we co-operate with the Earth-plane in our united rejoicings.
The higher realms have their own very good reasons for what may seem to be a departure from a recognized order. Such reasons do not concern us – until we ourselves pass to those higher states.
Beyond those two great festivals we do not have much else in common with the Earth world in the matter of feasts. The most of the latter are merely ecclesiastical feasts which have no significance in the broadest sense, since so many are the outcomes of religious doctrines which have no application in the Spirit world. The feast of Epiphany, for example, is founded upon a very colourful story, and was in ancient times celebrated by the people in a secular fashion as well as a religious. It is now solely religious and of very little moment here. The feast of Pentecost is another instance of the Church’s blindness. The Holy Spirit – to use the Church’s phrase – has been, is, and always will be descending on all those who are worthy to receive it! Not upon one specific occasion, but always.
Both Ruth and I were very interested to learn how Christmas was celebrated in these realms, since, on the Earth, beyond a few church services, the feast of the Nativity has developed into a secular affair, the main feature being that of prodigious eating and drinking. Edwin told us that in Spirit we can experience the same degree of happiness as is the case on Earth where that happiness is the outcome or expression of kindness; where our merrymaking is blended with the knowledge or the remembrance of whose day we are celebrating. Those of us who wish – and there are many such – can decorate our houses and dwelling-places with evergreens, as we were accustomed to do on Earth. By evergreens I mean those particular trees and shrubs that are so-called on Earth. Here everything is eternally ‘evergreen’! We join together in merry company, and if it is felt that the time would not be right without our having something to eat, then, is there not a superabundance of that most perfect fruit, that I have told you about, to delight the hearts of the most fastidious?
But I have only told of the more personal side of this feast. It is at this time that we have visitants of the higher realms to see us, perfect beings, among whom is he whose Earthly birth we are celebrating. And these beauteous souls have but to pass upon their way to fill us with such an ecstasy of Spiritual exaltation as to remain with us for long after their return to their high estate.
At Easter time we have similar visitations, but there is a far greater degree of rejoicing, because to us the birth into the Spirit world must, by the very nature of things, be of far greater significance. Indeed, when once we have left the Earth-plane we are inclined to forget our Earthly birthday, since the greater contains the lesser. It is only our Earthly connections, if we have any, that will serve to remind us.
I have enlarged upon this subject somewhat to try to show that we are not living in a state of fervid religious emotion for all eternity. We are Human, though so many people still on the Earth plane would have us to be otherwise! Such people will inevitably be in the same relative position as ourselves one day, and nothing is so calculated to instill humility as the realization of what one once held as firm and decided opinions.
I have digressed a little from our first topic as we threw ourselves on the grass, but in our conversation one thing led to another until we seemed to have wandered some way from our course.
Mention has only been made of the higher realms. What of the lower spheres that Edwin spoke about when I referred to the boundaries of this particular realm? We could visit them whenever we desired. We can always proceed to a realm lower than our own, while we cannot always mount higher. But it was by no means advisable to wander into the lower spheres except under expert guidance or before proper tuition had been given. Before informing us more fully upon this subject, Edwin advised us to see more of our own pleasant land first.
And now as to what constitutes the precise boundaries of this realm. We are accustomed to a knowledge of the rotundity of the Earth and to seeing with our eyes the distant horizon. In contemplating this world of Spirit we must abandon in many respects that idea of distance which we measure with the eye, since distance becomes annihilated by our immensely rapid means of transit. Any suggestion of terrestrial flatness is soon dispelled by the view of hills and rolling downs.
Again, the atmosphere is crystal clear and our sight is not limited by the instrument of a physical body. We are not confined to keeping our feet on the ground. If we can move ourselves laterally over these lands by the power of our thought, we can also move ourselves vertically – Edwin told us. And I must say that this had never occurred to Ruth and me as yet. We were still in some ways limited by our Earthly notions and habits of thought. If we could sink beneath the waters without harm, but rather with enjoyment, then, of course, we must be able to mount into the ‘air’ with the same safety and enjoyment! Ruth did not express any very keen desire to do so – just yet! She preferred to wait, she said, until she had become more thoroughly acclimatized. I wholeheartedly shared her sentiments in the matter, which caused our good friend the greatest amusement.
I n alluding to these few features I have done so because the Earth world has always looked upon the Spirit world as being relatively up or down. These are really considerations of a highly scientific nature, and I am not competent to enlarge upon them; moreover, as an inhabitant of these lands my whole outlook, both mental and Spiritual, has had to undergo sweeping and fundamental changes, in spite of the fact that I had some small knowledge before I passed over. It is really of little moment to know the precise location of the Spirit world with its many realms or spheres.
Where is the boundary between the Earth world and the Spirit world? Upon the instant of my passing, of which, you will remember, I was fully conscious, when I arose from my bed in response to a very definite urge, at that moment I was in the Spirit world. The two worlds, then, must inter penetrate one another. But as I moved away under the support and able guidance of Edwin, I was conscious of moving in no definite direction. I might have been traveling up, or down, or along. Movement, there certainly was. Edwin later informed me that I had passed through the lower spheres – and unpleasant ones – but that through the authority of his mission of coming to help me into my realm, we were both fully protected from any and every description of unpleasant influences. We were, in effect, completely invisible to all but those of our own realm and higher.
The transition from one realm to another is gradual as far as outward appearance is concerned, as well as in other respects, so that it would be difficult to assign to any particular locality the designation of boundary. That is exactly how the boundary our own realm are situated. They seem to melt almost imperceptibly into one another.
Edwin now proposed that by way of practical illustration should go and see one of these boundaries that had perplexed us so much. We again placed ourselves under Edwin’s expert guidance, and we moved off.
At once we found ourselves upon a very wide expanse of grassland, but we both noticed that the turf felt less soft beneath our feet; it was, in fact, becoming hard as we walked along. The beautiful emerald green was fast vanishing, and the grass was taking on a dull yellow appearance, very similar to Earthly grass that has been scorched by the sun and has lacked water. We saw no flowers, no trees, no dwellings, and everywhere seemed bleak and barren. There was no sign of Human life, and life seemed to be rapidly disappearing from beneath our feet, as by now the grass had ceased altogether, and we were upon hard ground. We noticed, too, that the temperature had fallen considerably. Gone was all that beautiful, genial warmth. There was a coldness and damp in the air which seemed to cling to our beings, and cast a chill over our very souls. Poor Ruth clung to Edwin’s arm, and I am not ashamed to say that I did the same, and was very glad to do so. Ruth then visibly shivered, and stopped abruptly, imploring us not to go any farther. Edwin threw his arms around both our shoulders, and told us that we had no need to be the least afraid, as he had the power to protect us fully. However, he could see the state of deep depression, as well as oppression, that had fallen upon us, and so he turned us gently round, placed his arms about our waists, and we once more found ourselves sitting beneath our own lovely trees, with the glorious flowers close beside us, and our own warm air once more closing upon us with its heavenly balm.
It is perhaps superfluous to add that Ruth and I were both glad to be back again in the city. We had been only on the threshold of the lower spheres, but we had gone far enough to gather more than an inkling of what lay beyond. I knew that it would be some time yet before I would penetrate there, and I could now clearly perceive the wisdom of Edwin’s admonitions.
As we were on the subject of these Spiritual boundaries, and in spite of the fact that we had temporarily ceased our explorations, I could not refrain from asking Edwin about the frontiers of the higher realms. I knew that there could not possibly be anything unpleasant about these, and so I hinted that, by way of contrast and to offset our recent chilling experience in the other direction, we might perhaps visit the border through which our celestial visitants pass. Edwin said that there was no objection whatever, and so once again we started off.
Again we found ourselves upon grassland, but with a striking difference. The turf upon which we were walking was infinitely softer than that of the interior of the realm. The green of the verdure was even brighter than we had thought possible. The flowers were growing in still greater profusion, and the intensity of colour, of perfume, and of health-giving power transcended anything we had encountered. The very air seemed to be imbued with rainbow tints. There were few dwellings at the spot where we were immediately standing, but behind us were to be seen some of the most stately and beautiful houses I have ever seen. In these houses, so our friend told us, lived wondrous souls who, though nominally belonging to our own realm, were by virtue of their Spiritual progression and particular gifts and work, in close contact with the higher realms, into which they had full authority and the requisite power to pass upon their various occasions. Edwin promised that we should return to this place after we had seen as much of the city as we wished, and there we could discuss – in one of the houses – my future work, as well as Ruth’s. He had taken Ruth under his wing, and for her part she expressed her gratitude for his kindness in doing so. It had several times crossed my mind what form of Spiritual work I could engage myself upon, as soon as I had become sufficiently familiar with the new life and the new land.
Just as we had been heavy with chill and oppression at the borderline of the dark spheres, so were we now warmed and filled with such an elation that we were almost silent in wonderment. As we moved along, bathed in radiance, we felt such a Spiritual exhilaration that Edwin’s description of the visitations of personages from the higher realms at once came to my mind, and I almost knew what to expect when I should be fortunate enough to witness such a visitation. Standing here, one had the overwhelming desire to strive for that progression that would entitle one to inhabit one of the lovely houses, and to qualify for the honour of serving one of the dwellers in this higher sphere at whose gateway we were standing.
We walked a little way forward, but we could proceed no farther. There were no visible barriers, but we felt that we could not breathe if we went onward. The whole atmosphere was becoming so much the more rarefied the farther we penetrated that in the end we were bound to retrace our steps on to our own ground.
I could see many souls dressed in the most tenuous of garments, the soft colors of which seemed hardly to belong to them but to float about the fabric of their robes – if fabric one can call it. Those of them who came sufficiently near smiled to us with such a friendly greeting that we knew we were not in any way intruding, and some waved their hands to us. My friend told us that they were aware of our purpose there, and for that reason they would not approach us. They would allow us to enjoy our experience by ourselves, and quietly to absorb the beauties and splendors of this wonderful borderland.
And so, rather reluctantly, we turned; and we quickly found ourselves back in the city in our former spot under the trees. We both felt more buoyant than ever after this brief visit, and I am sure Edwin did too, notwithstanding his having been in Spirit much longer than we had.
We did not speak for a little while after our return, each of us engaged upon our own thoughts, and when we finally broke our silence, it was to ply our good Edwin with questions. To enumerate all these questions would be tedious, so I will give, in a consecutive form, Edwin’s answers as a whole.
First, with regard to the lower spheres, whose threshold had so depressed us. I have since visited them in company with Ruth and Edwin, and I have made expeditions through them, just we are now making through our own realm. I therefore do not want to anticipate what I wish to say later as to our experiences there. For the present, then, I will only say that when we paid our visit to the boundary, we made our way there directly and rapidly, and we had no consciousness of the intermediate states through which we passed. It was for this reason that our sudden change of environment was so noticeable. Had we made our progress slowly we should have perceived the gradual decline of all those pleasant and enjoyable features that constitute the heaven of this realm. And those who dwelt within this area of decline are in the same relative position to ourselves in respect of movement; they would be inhibited from passing higher just as we were on the borders of that higher realm.
The same conditions obtained in our journey to the borders of the higher realm. We traversed the distance so quickly that we were unable to observe the gradual alteration in our surroundings. Otherwise we should have seen the country taking on a higher degree of etherealization, a greater intensification of colour and brightness, observable not only in the physical features of the realm, but also in the Spirit raiment of those whose homes approximated the more closely to the border.
To visit the lower realms it is necessary to have – for one’s own protection – certain powers and symbols, of which Edwin told us he was in full possession. Such places are not for curiosity seekers, and no one would be foolish enough to go there for any purpose other than a legitimate one. Those who wander in that direction alone, without authority, are soon turned back by kindly souls whose work it is to save others from the perils that lie beyond. Many souls are continuously passing backwards and forwards across that sad border in the performance of their work. It is true that we saw no signs of anyone near us when we were there, but like ourselves when we made our journey there, they move quickly to their destination.
At the border to the higher realms there is no need for such sentinels to keep others from crossing, because the natural law prevents it. When those of a lower realm travel to a higher, it is always by authority, either vested in the traveler, or in some other person of a higher sphere, who will act as escort. In the former case, such authority takes the form of symbols or signs that are given to the holder, who will always and upon every occasion receive – even unasked – every assistance he may need. Many of these symbols have the power in themselves of preserving the traveler from the overwhelming effects of the higher Spiritual atmosphere. This latter would not damage the soul, of course, but a soul thus unprepared would find itself in much the same situation as upon Earth when one emerges into brilliant sunlight after a prolonged stay in complete darkness. But as in the case of the Earthly sunshine one can, after a suitable lapse of time, become again perfectly at ease in the normal bright light, it is not so in the case of the higher realms. There is no such adaptability there. The ‘blinding’ effect will be continuous to one of a lower state. But with a perfect dispensation, means are provided so that the visiting soul shall undergo no Spiritual discomfort or unhappiness. And that is just what one would expect, since such visits are made for happy reasons, and not as tests of Spiritual stamina and endurance. When it is necessary to make a journey to even higher spheres, it then becomes imperative, in many cases, that an inhabitant of those realms should, as it were, throw a cloak over his charge, in just the same way as Edwin, upon a lower scale, threw his protecting arms about us when we journeyed to the lower sphere.
Such, in substance, was what Edwin told us in reply to our many queries.
We now felt that we were sufficiently ‘rested’, and upon Edwin proposing that we might care to resume our inspection of the city we accordingly did so.
Chapter 7: MUSIC
Music being such a vital element in the world of Spirit, it is not surprising that a grand building should be devoted to the practice, teaching, and the fostering of every description of music. The next Hall that our friend took us into was entirely dedicated to this important subject.
When I was on Earth I never considered myself a musician, in an active sense, but I appreciated the art without very much understanding it. I had heard some splendid vocal music during my brief sojourns at different times in one of our metropolitan cathedrals, and I had had some very scanty experience of listening to orchestral music. Most of what I saw in this hall of music was new to me, and a great deal of it very technical. I have since added appreciably to my small knowledge, because I found that the greater the knowledge of music the more it helped one to understand so many things of the life here, where music plays so important a part. I do not suggest that all Spirit people should become musicians in order to comprehend their own existence! The imposing of such a condition upon us would never be consonant with the natural laws here. But most individuals have some latent, innate musical sense, and by encouraging it here, so much the greater can be their joy. The latter, in effect, is exactly what I did. Ruth already possessed some extensive musical training, and so she felt very much at home in this great college.
The Hall of Music followed the same broad system as the other Halls of the arts. The library contained books dealing with music as well as the scores of vast quantities of music that had been written on Earth by composers who had now passed into Spirit, or by those who were still upon the Earth. What are called upon Earth ‘Master-Works’, were fully represented among the musical scores upon the shelves, and I was interested to learn that there was hardly a work that had not since been altered by the composer himself since coming into Spirit. The reasons for such ‘improvements’ I shall make plain later on. As before, the library provided a complete history of music from the very earliest times, and those who were able to read music – not necessarily instrumentally, but with a familiarity of what the printed notes indicated – were enabled to see before them the great strides that the art had made during the ages. Progression, it seems, has been slow, as in other arts, and freakish forms of expression have obtruded themselves. Needless to say the latter are not entertained here for reasons connected with those that inspire composers to alter their works after passing here.
Also contained in the Library were so many of those books and musical works that have long since disappeared from Earthly sight, or else are very scarce and so beyond the reach of so many folk. The musical antiquary will find all those things that he has sighed for on Earth, but which have been denied him, and here he can consult, freely, works that, because of their preciousness, would never be allowed into his hands on Earth. Many apartments were set aside for students who can learn of music in every branch, from theory to practice, under teachers whose names are known the Earth world over. Some there are, perhaps, who would think that such famous people would not give their time to the teaching of simple forms of music to simple lovers of music. But it must be remembered, as with the painters, composers have a different appraisement of the fruits of their brains after passing into Spirit. In common with us all here, they see things exactly as they are – including their compositions. They find, too, that the music of the Spirit world is very different in outward results from music performed on Earth. Hence they discover that their musical knowledge must undergo sweeping changes in many cases before they can begin to express themselves musically. In music, it can be said that the Spirit world starts where the Earth world leaves off. There are laws of music here which have no application to the Earth whatever, because the Earth is neither sufficiently progressed on the one hand, and on the other because the Spirit world is of Spirit, while the Earth world is of matter. It is doubtful if the Earth-plane will ever become ethereal enough to hear many of the forms of Spirit music in the higher realms. Innovations have been tried, so I have been told, on the Earth-plane, but the result is not only barbaric, but childish as well. Earthly ears are not attuned to music that is essentially of the Spirit realms. By some strange chance Earth people have essayed to produce such music on the Earth-plane. It will never do – until the ears of those still incarnate have undergone a fundamental alteration.
The many types of musical instrument so familiar on Earth were to be seen in the College of Music, where students could be taught to play upon them. And here again, where dexterity of the hands is so essential the task of gaining proficiency is never arduous or wearisome, and it is, moreover, so much more rapid than upon the Earth. As students acquire a mastery over their instrument they can join one of the many orchestras that exist here, or they can limit their performance to their many friends. It is not by any means surprising that many prefer the former because they can help to produce, in concert with their fellow musicians, the tangible effects of music upon a larger scale when so many more can enjoy such effects. We were extremely interested in the many instruments that have no counterpart upon the Earth-plane. They are, for the most part, specially adapted to the forms of music that are exclusive to the Spirit world, and they are for that reason very much more elaborate. Such instruments are only played with others of their kind for their distinctive music. For that which is common to the Earth, the customary instrument is sufficient.
It is natural that this building should be possessed of a concert hall. This was a very large hall capable of seating comfortably many thousands. It was circular in shape, with seats rising in an unbroken tier from the floor. There is, of course, no real necessity for such a hall to be under cover, but the practice merely follows others in this realm – our own dwelling-houses, for example. We do not really need those, but we like them, we have grown used to them while upon Earth, they are perfectly natural to life, and so we have them.
We had observed that the Hall of Music stood in grounds far more extensive than those we had already seen, and the reason was soon made clear to us. At the rear of the Hall was the great centre of concert performances. It consisted of a vast amphitheatre like a great bowl sunk beneath the level of the ground, but it was so large that its real depth was not readily apparent. The seats that were farthest away from the performers were exactly upon ground level. Immediately surrounding these seats were masses of the most beautiful flowers of every possible hue, with a grassy space beyond, while the whole area of this outdoor temple of music was encompassed by a magnificent plantation of tall and graceful trees. Although the seating arrangements were upon such an expansive scale, much more so than would be at all practicable upon Earth, yet there was no sense of being too far from the performers, even in the farthest seats. It will be recalled that our vision is not so restricted in Spirit as upon Earth.
Edwin suggested to us that we might like to hear a concert of the Spirit world, and then he made a strange proposal. It was that we should not take our places in the seats of the theatre, but that we should take up a position at some distance. The reason, he said, would be manifest as soon as the music began. As a concert was due to start very shortly, we followed his mysterious suggestion, and seated ourselves on the grass at some considerable distance from the actual amphitheatre. I wondered whether we should be able to hear very much so far away, but our friend assured us that we should. And, indeed, we were joined by numbers of other people, at that very moment, who, doubtless, had come for the same purpose as ourselves. The whole place, which was empty when Edwin had first brought us in, now contained many people, some strolling about, and others, like us, seated contentedly on the grass. We were in a delightful spot, with the trees and flowers and pleasant people all about us, and never have I experienced such a feeling of real, genuine enjoyment as came upon me at this moment. I was in perfect health and perfect happiness, seated with two of the most delightful companions, Edwin and Ruth; unrestricted by time or weather, or even the bare thought of them; unhampered by every limitation that is common to our old incarnate life.
Edwin told us to walk over to the theatre and look down over the seats once again. We did so, and to our astonishment we found that the whole vast hall was packed with people, where there was not a soul to be seen but a short time before. The musicians were in their places awaiting the entrance of their conductor, and this great audience had arrived as if by magic – or so it seemed. As it was apparent that the concert was about to begin, we returned to Edwin at once. In answer to our question as to how the audience had arrived so suddenly and unperceived, he reminded me of the method of bringing together the congregation of the church that we had visited in the first days of our travels. In the case of this concert, the organizers had merely to send out their thoughts to people at large who were particularly interested in such performances, and they forthwith assembled. As soon as Ruth and I had shown our interest and desires in these concerts, we should establish a link, and we should find these thoughts reaching us whenever they were emitted.
We could, of course, see nothing of the performers from where we were situated, and so when a hush came upon all around us, we were thus sufficiently informed that the concert was to begin. The orchestra was composed of some two hundred musicians, who were playing upon instruments that are well-known to Earth, so that I was able to appreciate what I heard. As soon as the music began I could hear a remarkable difference from what I had been accustomed to hear on the Earth-plane. The actual sounds made by the various instruments were easily recognizable as of old, but the quality of tone was immeasurably purer, and the balance and blend were perfect. The work to be played was of some length, I was informed, and would be continued without any break.
The opening movement was of a subdued nature as regards its volume of sound, and we noticed that the instant the music commenced a bright light seemed to rise up from the direction of the orchestra until it floated, in a flat surface, level with the topmost seats, where it remained as an iridescent cover to the whole amphitheatre. As the music proceeded, this broad sheet of light grew in strength and density, forming, as it were, a firm foundation for what was to follow. So intent was I upon watching this extraordinary formation that I could scarcely tell what the music was about. I was conscious of its sound, but that was really all. Presently, at equal spaces round the circumference of the theatre, four towers of light shot up into the sky in long tapering pinnacles of luminosity. They remained poised for a moment, and then slowly descended, becoming broader in girth as they did so, until they assumed the outward appearance of four circular towers, each surmounted with a dome, perfectly proportioned. In the meanwhile, the central area of light had thickened still more, and was beginning to rise slowly in the shape of an immense dome covering the whole theatre. This continued to ascend steadily until it seemed to reach a very much greater height than the four towers, while the most delicate colors were diffused throughout the whole of the etheric structure. I could understand now why Edwin had suggested that we should sit outside the theatre proper, and I could follow, also, why composers should feel impelled to alter their Earthly works after they have arrived in Spirit. The musical sounds sent up by the orchestra were creating, up above their heads, this immense musical thought-form, and the shape and perfection of this form rested entirely upon the purity of the musical sounds, the purity of the harmonies, and a freedom from any pronounced dissonance. The form of the music must be pure to produce a pure form.
It must not be assumed that every description of discord was absent. To lack discord would be to produce monotony, but the discords were legitimately used and properly resolved.
By now the great musical thought-form had assumed what appeared to be its limit of height, and it remained stationary and steady. The music was still being played, and in response to it the whole colouring of the dome changed, first to one shade, then to another, and many times to a delicate blend of a number of shades according to the variation in theme or movement of the music.
It is difficult to give any adequate idea of the beauty of this wonderful musical structure. The amphitheatre being built below the surface of the ground, nothing was visible of audience, of performers, or of the building itself, and the dome of light and color had all the appearance of resting on the same firm ground as were we ourselves.
This has taken but a brief while in the telling, but the musical thought-form occupied such time in formation as would be taken by a full-length concert on the Earth-plane. We had, during this period, watched the gradual building of the outward and visible effect of music. Unlike the Earth where music can only be heard, there we had both heard and seen it. And not only were we inspired by the sounds of the orchestral playing, but the beauty of the immense form it created had its Spiritual influence upon all who beheld it, or came within its sphere. We could feel this although we were seated without the theatre. The audience within were basking in its splendor and enjoying still greater benefit from the effulgence of its elevating rays. On the next occasion we should take our places in the huge auditorium.
The music at last came to a grand finale, and so ended. The rainbow colours continued to interweave themselves. We wondered how long this musical structure would survive, and we were told that it would fade away in roughly the same time as would be taken by an Earthly rainbow – comparatively a few minutes. We had listened to a major work, but if a series of shorter pieces were played, the effect and lasting power would be the same, but the shapes would vary in form and size. Were the form of greater duration, a new form would conflict with the last, and the result to the eye would be the same as two different and unconnected pieces of music, when played together, would be to the ear.
The expert musician can plan his compositions by his knowledge of what forms the various harmonic and melodic sounds will produce. He can, in effect, build magnificent edifices upon his manuscript of music, knowing full well exactly what the result will be when the music is played or sung. By careful adjustment of his themes and his harmonies, the length of the work, and its various marks of expression, be can build a majestic form as grand as a Gothic cathedral. This is, in itself, a delightful part of the music art in Spirit, and it is regarded as musical architecture. The student will not only study music acoustically, but he will learn to build it architecturally, and the latter is one of the most absorbing and fascinating studies.
What we had witnessed had been produced upon a scale of some magnitude; the individual instrumentalist or singer can evolve on a greatly reduced scale his own musical thought-forms. In fact, it would be impossible to emit any form of musical sound deliberately without the formation of such a form. It may not take definite shape such as we saw; that comes from more experience, but it would induce the interplay of numerous colours and blending of colours. In the Spirit world all music is colour, and all colour is music. The one is never existent without the other. That is why the flowers give forth such pleasant tones when they are approached, as it will be remembered of my early experience with flowers. The water that sparkles and flashes colours is also creating musical sounds of purity and beauty. But it must not be imagined that with all this galaxy of colour in the Spirit world there is also a pandemonium of music going on unremittingly. The eye is not wearied by the fullness of colour here. Why should our ears be wearied by the sweet sound the colours send forth? The answer is that they are not, because the sounds are in perfect accord with the colours, as the colours are with the sounds. And the perfect combination of both sight and sound is perfect harmony.
Harmony is a fundamental law here. There can be no conflict. I do not suggest that we are in a state of perfection. We should be an immensely higher realm if we were, but we are in perfection in so far as this realm is concerned. If we, as individuals, become more perfect than the realm in which we live, we, ipso facto, become worthy of advancing to a higher state, and we do so. But while we are where we are, in this realm or higher, we are living in a state of perfection according to the limits of that realm.
I have dwelt rather at length upon our musical experiences because of the great position of music in our lives and in the realm in which we are living. The whole attitude to music held by so many people of the Earth undergoes a great change when they eventually come to Spirit. Music is looked upon by many on the Earth-plane as merely a pleasant diversion, a pleasant adjunct to the Earthly life, but by no means a necessity. Here it is part of our life, not because we make it so, but because it is part of natural existence, as are flowers and trees, grass and water, and hills and dales. It is an element of Spiritual nature. Without it a vast deal of the joy would depart out of our lives. We do not need to become master-musicians to appreciate the wealth of music that surrounds us in colour and sound, but as in so many other features of this life, we accept and enjoy to the full, and in the enjoyment of our heritage we can afford to smile at those who persist in believing that we live in a world of emptiness.
A world of emptiness! What a shock so many people have upon their coming into the Spirit world, and how immensely glad and relieved they are to find that it turns out quite pleasant after all; that it is not a terrifying place; that it is not one stupendous temple of hymn-singing religion; and that they are able to feel at home in the land of their new life. When this joyful realization has come to them, some of them are reminded that they looked upon the various descriptions of this life, that have come from us from time to time, as ‘rather material’! And how pleased they are to discover that it is so. What is it, if it is not ‘material’? The musicians that we heard playing were playing upon very real, solid instruments from very real music. The conductor was a very real person, conducting his orchestra with a very material baton! But the beautiful musical thought-form was not so very material as were its surroundings or the means to create it, in just the same relative way as an Earthly rainbow, and the sun and moisture that cause it.
At the risk of making myself very tedious I have reverted more than once to this strange fallacy that the world I am living in, here in Spirit, is vague and shadowy. It is strange that some minds strive always to banish from the world of Spirit every tree and flower, and the other thousand and one delights. There is something of conceit in this—that makes such things exclusive to the Earth world. At the same time, if any soul thinks that such things have no business to exist in the Spirit world, he is at liberty to abstain from both the sight and enjoyment of them by betaking himself to some barren spot where his susceptibilities will not be offended by such Earthly objects as trees and flowers and water (and even Human beings), and there he can give himself up to a state of beatific contemplation, surrounded by the heavenly nothingness that he thinks should be heaven proper. No soul is forced into an unwilling task here, nor into surroundings that he considers uncongenial. I venture to assert that it will not be long before such a soul emerges from his retreat and joins his fellows in the enjoyment of all the delights of God’s heaven. There is just one fault – among one or two others – that the Earth world possesses: the overwhelming superiority, in its own mind, over every other world, but principally over the Spirit world. We can afford to be amused, though our amusement turns to sadness when we see the distress of souls upon their arrival here, when they realize that they are, at last, faced with eternal truth beyond question or doubt. It is then that humility so often sets in! But we never reproach. The reproaching comes from within each soul itself.
And what, perhaps, it will be asked, has all this to do with musical experiences? Just this: that after every new experience I have thought the same thoughts, and very nearly spoken the words to both Ruth and Edwin. Ruth has always echoed my words; Edwin has always been in agreement with me though, of course, what we were seeing was not new to him by any means. But he still marvelled at all things here, as indeed do we all, whether we have but just arrived, or whether we have been over here many years of Earth time.
As we walked along after the concert, Edwin pointed out to us the dwelling places of many of the teachers in the various halls of learning, who preferred to live close to the seats of their work. They were, for the most part, unpretentious houses, and it would have been comparatively easy to guess the occupation of the owner, so we were told, from the various evidences within of their work. Edwin said that we should always be welcome should we ever wish to call upon any of the teachers. The exclusiveness which must necessarily surround such people when they are incarnate vanishes when they come into Spirit. All values become drastic altered in such matters. The teachers themselves do not cease their own studies because they are teaching. They are ever investigating and learning, and passing on to their pupils what they have thus gained. Some have progressed to a higher realm, but they still retain their interest in their former sphere, and continuously visit it – and their many friends – to pursue their teaching.
But we have already spent some time on this subject, and Edwin is waiting to take us on to other places of importance in the city.