II – Chapter 11: OCCUPATIONS
The Spirit world is not only a land of equal opportunity for every soul, but the opportunities are upon so vast a scale that no person still incarnate can have the least conception of its magnitude. Opportunities for what? – it will be asked. Opportunities for good, useful, interesting work.
I hope that, by now, I have sufficiently indicated that the Spirit world is not a land of idleness, not a land where its inhabitants spend the whole of their lives in a super-ecstatic atmosphere of religious exercises, formally offering up ‘prayer and praise’ to the Great Throne in a never-ceasing flow. There is an uninterrupted flow, most certainly, but it comes about in a very different way. It surges up from the hearts of us all, who are happy to be here, and thankful withal.
I want to try to give you some slight idea of the immensity of the range of occupations in which one can become engaged here in these realms.
Your thoughts will at once turn to the many and varied occupations of the Earth world, covering every shade of Earthly activity. But behind the Earth world’s occupations is the ever-driving necessity of earning a living, of providing the physical body with food and drink, clothing and a habitation of some sort. Now, you already know that these last four considerations have no existence whatever with us here. Food and drink we never need; the clothing and the habitation we have provided for ourselves by our lives upon Earth. As our lives have been on Earth, so will our clothing and our domicile be when we come to Spirit lands. We have, as you see, no physical necessity to work, but we do have a mental necessity to work, and it is because of the latter that all work is a pleasure with us here.
Imagine yourself in a world where no one works for a living, but where everyone works for the sheer joy of doing something that will be of service to others. Just imagine that, and you will begin to understand something of the life in Spirit lands.
A great many Earthly occupations have no application whatever to the Spirit world. Useful and necessary as they are, they belong essentially to the Earthly period of life. What, then, becomes of people who occupied such a position as I have just mentioned? They will discover, immediately they are fully aware of their new state, that they have left their Earthly avocation behind for ever. They will see that the Spirit world does not offer the same or similar work for them. But this does not cause regret or unhappiness, because the need for physical subsistence no longer exists with them, and in place of it such people feel gloriously free to engage themselves in some new work. They need never wonder what they are fitted for; they will soon find something which attracts their attention and draws their interest. And it will not be long before they are joining their fellows in learning some new occupation, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
So far, I have merely referred to work in the abstract. Let us be more specific, and consider some of the business of the Spirit world. First, let us take what we might call the purely ‘physical’ side of Spirit life, and for the purpose we might pay another visit to the city.
On the way there we walk through many beautiful gardens, which at some period have all been designed and created. Here, shall we say, is the first means of employment that we come across. Scores of people upon the Earth-plane love gardens and gardening. Some have engaged in the latter as their calling, and enjoyed doing it. What better than to continue with their work here in the Spirit world, unrestrained by physical exigencies, free and unhampered and with the inexhaustible resources of the Spirit world at their command? Their occupation is their own. They can – and do – stop whenever they wish, and they can resume whenever they wish. And there is no one to exert his will upon them. And what is the result? Happiness for themselves, because by creating a beautiful work of horticultural art they have added more beauty to an already beautiful realm, and in doing so they have brought happiness to others. So their task goes on, altering, rearranging, planning, beautifying, building anew, and ever acquiring skill and still greater skill. Thus they continue until such time as they wish to change their work, or until their Spiritual progression carries their on to fresh fields of endeavor in other realms.
Now let us go into the Hall of Music, and see what work we can find there. Someone, of course, had to plan, and others to build the Hall itself. I have already given you an account of the building of an annex to the Library. In all major building operations the method followed is the same, but the methods of the Spirit world have to be learnt, and the work of the architects and builders, with their various expert assistants, is among some of the most important in the Spirit world. As all descriptions of employment are open to anyone who has the taste for such work, that of the architect and builder is, likewise, free to all who express a preference for continuing their Earthly occupation, or who wish to turn to something new. The wish to do so is really all that is required, although, naturally, an aptitude is a great help. But it is very surprising how quickly efficiency is gained by the stimulus of desire. The ‘wish to do’ becomes translated into the ‘ability to do’ in a very short time. Keen interest and predilection for the work are all that are asked.
Inside the Hall of Music we find libraries of music, where students are busy at their studies, and pupils with their musician teachers. Most of the people whom we meet thus are learning to be practical musicians; that is, they are learning to play some one or more instruments. And someone has to provide them with the necessary instruments. The Hall of Music does that, but somebody must create them for the hall of music. And so the instrument makers of the Earth-plane find themselves at home in their craft if they wish to continue with it in the Spirit world.
Now, it may be suggested that a lifetime on Earth spent in one particular form of work would be quite enough for the average person, and that when he comes into the Spirit world the last thing he would want to do would be to take up again his old Earthly occupation with its interminable routine and drudgery. But bear in mind all that I have told you about the freedom of these realms, and the fact that no one is compelled, either by force of circumstances, or from the mere need of subsistence, to do any work at all in the Spirit world. Remember that all work is undertaken willingly, freely, for the love of doing it, for the pride in creating something, for the desire of being of service to one’s fellow inhabitants and to the realm in general, and you will see that the maker of musical instruments – to adduce one occupation among thousands – is just as happy as we all are in these realms. So he continues to make his instruments, brings happiness to himself and to so many other people, who will pleasurably and usefully bring joy to still more through the creation of his mind.
Incidentally, I should mention that it is not imperative that one should acquire a musical instrument solely through the Hall of Music. Any person who is skilled in the fashioning of such instruments would be only too willing to provide another person with anything he might require musically. In many a home here there reposes—and not as a mere ornament! – a beautiful pianoforte, built by clever hands, who have learnt the Spirit methods of creation. These things cannot be bought. They are Spiritual rewards. It would be useless to try to possess that to which we have no right. We should simply find ourselves without it, and with no means of getting it. No one could create it for us, whatever it might be. If they were to try, they would find that their power would not function in that direction. If you were to ask me who or what governs these things, I could only tell you that I do not know, beyond knowing the fact that it is the operation of a Spirit law.
Before we pass on from the Hall of Music, we might just look at the Library. Here are musical scores by the thousand, together with the various parts from which the instrumentalists play. Most of the large orchestras here obtain their music from the Hall of Music. It is free for all to borrow whenever they wish, but someone has to duplicate it. And that is another important and productive occupation. The librarians who take care of all this music, and who attend to people’s wants in this connection, fulfill another useful task. And so the details could be multiplied, covering the whole range of musical endeavor, from the person who does no more than love and enjoy music to those who are instrumentalists and leaders in the musical art.
In the Hall of Fabrics we shall find the same industry, the same happiness among all those who are working there. At any moment I am at liberty, if I wish, to join the students there who are learning to weave the most exquisite fabrics. It happens, however, that my interests lie elsewhere, and my visits to the Hall are for purpose of recreation only. Ruth regularly spends a certain time there studying, and she has become an expert in weaving tapestries. It is part of her Spirit-life occupation, and it is part of her recreation also. She has produced some beautiful tapestries, of which Edwin and I possess two choice specimens hanging upon our walls.
We can obtain all the different materials we need from the Hall of Fabrics, or, as in the case of music, we can ask some craftsman to make what we require. We shall never have a refusal, nor shall we have to wait an interminable time before we receive what we want. There are plenty of craftsmen to supply the needs of all of us.
In the same Hall there are students learning the art of designing, and they are instructed by masters in the art. Experimentation is continually going on in producing new types of cloth and new designs. These various materials have nothing whatever to with our own Spirit clothes. That is a personal matter. The products of the Fabric Hall are used for general purposes; such as, for instance, in the garniture of our homes and in the larger halls and buildings. In the case of the historical pageants, which I mentioned to you, those who organize them exact a heavy contribution from the Hall of Fabrics for all their authentic costumes.
Now, I have given only two or three examples of what it is possible for a person to do here. There are thousands more, covering as great a field of activity as there is to be found upon the Earth-plane. Think of the doctors who come into the Spirit world, and still carry on their work here. Not that we need doctors, but they can work here with their colleagues in investigating the causes of sickness and disease upon the Earth-plane, and they can help in alleviating them. Many a Spirit doctor has guided the hand of an Earthly surgeon when he is performing an operation. The Earthly doctor is, probably, perfectly unaware of the fact and would ridicule any suggestion that be is receiving assistant from an unseen source. The doctor in Spirit is contented to serve without acknowledgment from him whom he serves. It is the successful issue that he is concerned about, not who shall have the credit. The Earthly doctor, in such cases, makes some illuminating personal discoveries when be finally comes into the Spirit world.
The scientist, too, continues his researches when he comes here. In whatever branch of science he may be concerned, he will find enough, and more than enough, to engage his attention for a long time to come. And so with the engineer, and scores upon scores of others. Indeed, it would be impossible, or if not impossible, a little tedious, perhaps, to run through the long list of occupations so well known upon the Earth-plane, of which we have a counterpart in the Spirit world. But by now you should have some idea of what the Spirit world has to offer. All that we have in our Halls and our houses, in our homes and in our gardens, has to be made, to be fashioned, or created, and it requires someone to do it. The need is constant, and the supply is constant, and it will ever be so.
There is another department of industry, though, which is vitally necessary, and it is peculiar to the Spirit world.
The percentage is low, deplorably low, of people who come into the Spirit world with any knowledge at all of their new life and of the Spirit world in general. All the countless souls without this knowledge have to be taken care of, and helped in their difficulties and perplexities. That is the principal work upon which Edwin, Ruth and I are engaged. It is a type of work that appeals to many of the ministers of the church of whatever denomination. Their experience upon Earth stands them in good stead, and all of them – perhaps I should say all of us! – know that we are now members of one ministry, with one purpose, serving one cause, and all of us possessed of the same knowledge of the truth of Spirit life, without creed, without doctrine or dogma, a united body of workers, men and women.
In the great Halls of Rest there are expert nurses and Spirit doctors ready to treat those whose last Earthly illness has been long and painful, or whose passing into Spirit has been sudden or violent. There are many such homes, especially for the latter. These homes are a standing monument of shame to the Earth world, that they should be obliged to exist at all. Passings may be sudden and violent – that is inevitable at present, but it is to the eternal shame of the Earth world that so many souls should arrive here in woeful ignorance of what lies before them. These Halls of Rest have multiplied very considerably since I first came into the Spirit world, and consequently the need for more nurses and doctors has been more pressing. But that is always supplied.
As this service belongs exclusively to the Spirit world, we have special colleges where those desiring to take up this particular work can become fully conversant with it. Here they learn much that scientifically concerns the Spirit body itself, and the Spirit mind. They are given a general knowledge of the ways of Spirit life, since they will have to deal with people who, for the most part, have no knowledge whatever of their new state. They will have to know the facts of intercommunication between our world and yours, since such numbers of people ask about this important matter the instant they realize what has taken place in their lives. It is astonishing how many of them want to rush back to the Earth-plane to try to tell those they have left behind of the great discovery they have made of the fact that they are alive and in another world!
In numbers of cases people require a long rest after their dissolution. They may be awake during the whole of this period of rest, and those in attendance have to be a storehouse of information. The attention of such souls is usually about equally divided between the Spirit world and the Earth world. It requires a high proportion of general Spirit-world knowledge, as well as tactfulness and discretion, upon the part of all the nurses and doctors.
By making mention of any particular occupation I do so entirely without prejudice to any other, and not because those which we have discussed have any pre-eminence over others. One or two of them have been chosen to present to you because they have the appearance of being so very ‘material’, and to point what I have tried to demonstrate repeatedly before – that we are living in a practical Spirit world where we are busy upon our own individual and useful tasks, and that we are not spending the whole of our Spirit lives in a high state of religiosity, nor perpetually absorbed in pious meditation.
But what of the person who has never done a useful thing during his Earth life? All I can say is, that such a person will not find himself in these realms until he has worked his way here. Entrance is by service alone.
To make a complete list of all Spirit occupations would take a very large volume to do so, for they seem to be inexhaustible. Indeed, my mind becomes almost numbed at the thought of their countless number, and of my inability to do justice to so vast a subject. In the scientific sphere of labour alone, thousands upon thousands of people are happily employed, whether it be upon probing the secrets of the Earth-plane, or in investigating those of the Spirit world.
Science and engineering being closely allied in the Spirit world, far-reaching discoveries are constantly being made, and inventions are ever being perfected. These inventions are not for us, but for you – when the time is ripe, and that is not yet. The Earth world has given a poor exhibition of what has been sent through to it from the Spirit world, by putting to base uses what has been given for its benefit. Man has exercised his own free will, but he has been exercising it in a direction that ultimately brings destruction. The mind of man is but in its infancy, and an infant becomes dangerous when he has free use of that which can destroy. Hence, much is held back from the Earth world until man has reached a higher state of development. That day will assuredly arrive, and a torrent of new inventions will come pouring through from the Spirit world to your world.
I n the meantime, the work goes on, research, investigation, discovery, and invention, and it is work that absorbs great hosts of interested people, and provides them with useful employment in their Spirit life. Nothing ever disturbs the ordered routine of our work. While the work continues, we may be retiring from it for a space, either to rest or to follow some other line of endeavor. We have no disputes, no domestic upheavals, no rivalries that produce dissatisfaction and unpleasantness. We have no discontented folk. We may have the urge to be doing something of greater moment, but that is not discontent, but the prompting from within that denotes the steps of our Spiritual progression. The humblest of us is made to feel that whatever his work, however insignificant it may appear beside other and seemingly greater tasks, he is performing something vital and significant that will bring with it its own inevitable reward that none can withhold from us, none can take away. In the Spirit world, to work is to be profoundly happy – for the many reasons that I have given you.
There is none here who would not endorse my words wholeheartedly and unreservedly!
II – Chapter 12: FAMOUS PEOPLE
To leave the Earth world and to take up permanent residence in the Spirit world is not such a personal upheaval as some people might be disposed to imagine. It is true that for a great many all Earthly ties are severed, but when we pass into the Spirit world we meet again those of our relatives and friends who have passed over before us. In this respect we start a fresh period in our lives, apart altogether from the new life that begins with our entry into the world of Spirit.
The meetings with relations and friends are something that must be experienced in order to grasp the full significance and joy of reunion. Such meetings will only take place where there is mutual sympathy and affection. We will not, for the moment, consider any other. These gatherings will continue for some while after the arrival of the new resident. It is natural that in the novelty both of surroundings and condition some time should be spent in a grand exchange of news, and in bearing of all that has transpired in the Spirit lives of those who have ‘predeceased’ us. Eventually that time will come when the newly-arrived individual will begin to consider what be is to do with his Spirit life.
Now, it might be said that with most of us on the Earth-plane we have a two-fold existence – our home life and the life connected with our business or occupation. In the latter we associate perhaps, with an entirely different group of people. It is therefore in the natural order of things, here in Spirit, that much the same state of things should also exist. The scientist, for example, will meet, first of all, his own family connections. When the question of work is broached he will find himself among his old colleagues who have passed into the Spirit world before him, and he will again feel more than at home. And he will be more than overjoyed at the prospect of the scientific research that stretches before him. It is the same with the musician, the painter, the author, the engineer, the doctor, the gardener, the stone mason or the man who weaved carpets in a factory, to mention but a fraction of the many occupations both of the Earth and Spirit worlds. It will be seen from this that the question which puzzles many folk, namely, what becomes of the famous people in Spirit world? – practically answers itself.
Fame in the Spirit world is vastly different from fame in the Earth world. Spiritual fame carries with it distinctions of a very different order from the Earthly distinctions, and it is gained one way only – in service to others. It sounds almost too simple to be feasible, but such is the case, and nothing will alter it. Whether the Earthly famous will reside in the realms of light immediately after their dissolution remains with themselves. The law applies to all irrespective of Earthly position.
A certain inquisitiveness concerning the general fate of those well known upon the Earth-plane, is possessed by most people who are in their early days of psychic study. The mere fact of their being well known is sufficient. But none calls forth more curiosity than the historically famous people. Where are they, the masters in all branches of Earthly endeavor, the names that are familiar in the history books? They must be somewhere. Most certainly they are. A good number of them are to be found in the dark realms where they have been living for countless centuries, and they are more than likely so to continue for more countless centuries. Others are in those exalted realms of light and beauty, where their noble lives upon Earth have found their just reward. But there are many, a great many, who will find themselves within these realms whereof I have tried to give you some account.
I cannot do better than give you an example, of which, for our present purpose, I have gathered a few details.
It concerns the passing into the Spirit world of a Royal personage. I take this case because, although an extreme one, it demonstrates more clearly than any other the principles that govern life in general in the Spirit world.
In this particular case we knew beforehand that this personage was about to come to the Spirit world. His own countrymen were naturally interested in what was about to take place. His own family, in common with any other family here, were ready and awaiting his arrival. A short illness was the occasion of his passing here, and as soon as dissolution had taken place he was taken to the home of his mother, who had everything in readiness for him. The home is an inconspicuous one, similar, broadly speaking, to others here about. The news had spread that he had at last arrived. There was no universal rejoicing, such as might take place upon the Earth-plane following a safe home-coming, but happiness was felt for all those who were directly concerned with the arrival in the Spirit world of this well-known and much-loved figure. And there he remained for a time, enjoying a seclusion and freedom of action and a simplicity of life that had been denied him upon the Earth-plane. He needed rest after his active life and the illness that terminated its Earthly span. Numbers of people who had formed part of his official circle as well as his private circle, and who had passed on before him, had called to inquire after him, but they had not seen him as yet. There had been, of course, a grand family reunion, and as soon as he had rested sufficiently, he issued forth to see the wonders of his new life.
He retained to a noticeable extent his former and usual personal appearance. The signs of illness and bodily and mental fatigue had disappeared, and he looked some years younger. The rest had achieved its purpose as unfailingly as usual.
As he walked abroad he was recognized for what he had been, and respected for it, but he was still more honoured and respected and loved for what he now was. Now, you may think that as soon as he met and mingled with his own countrymen, the latter would have shown some embarrassment, perhaps, and exhibited a general air of diffidence such as they would have done, perforce, upon the Earth-plane. But during that period of recuperation much had been explained to him as to the conditions of life in the Spirit world, its methods, its laws, and its pleasant customs. Such revelations had filled him with happiness, and he knew that as soon as he left the seclusion of his mother’s house to venture abroad, he could do so with a freedom that is only to be found in Spirit lands, where the inhabitants would regard him in the light in which he would wish to be regarded—that of a plain man desirous of joining with his fellow beings in their happiness and their rejoicings. He knew that he would be treated as one of themselves. When, therefore, in company with members of his family, he walked through these realms on the voyage of discovery that is such a common sight among the newly-arrived, he did not experience in himself or cause in others any feelings of mental discomfort. No one referred to his Earthly position, unless he himself broached the subject, and then there was no suspicion of inquisitiveness or ignorant curiosity.
You may think that one who had occupied so elevated a position upon the Earth-plane would engender in the minds of others here thoughts of sympathy with such a change of relative position that had taken place. But no such feelings of sympathy are ever wished for, nor extended, in these realms in such cases, for the very good reason that the occasion for them never arises. We have left our Earthly importance behind us, and we do not refer to it except to show, by our own experiences, to others still incarnate, just what to avoid. We do not revive our memories for the purpose of self-glorification, or to impress our hearers. Indeed, they would not be in the least impressed, and we should only succeed in making fools of ourselves. We recognize the truth here, and our true worth is for all to see. It is Spiritual worth, and that alone, that counts, irrespective of what we were upon the Earth-plane. Perspectives and view-points are completely altered when one comes into the Spirit world. However mighty we were upon the Earth-plane, it is Spiritual worth only that takes us to our right place in the Spirit world, and it is the deeds of our life, regardless of social position, that at our transition will assign to us our proper abode. Position is forgotten, but deeds and thoughts are the witnesses for or against us, and we become our own judges.
It is not difficult to see, then, that when this Royal personage arrived in the Spirit world, like others of his family before him he found himself faced with no difficulties or awkward situations. It was just the reverse, for the whole situation seemed to simplify itself, and provided its own solution. Now, what applies in this extreme case, applies equally to all who were famous upon the Earth-plane. But how does this affect some well-known scientist, let us say, or a musical composer, or a painter? To us – and to themselves – they will be learners, and humble learners, too, in whatever branch of science or art their Earthly lives led them. To you, still incarnate, they are famous names, and when we have occasion to refer to them in speaking to you we use those names by which they are familiar. Here, in the Spirit world, they dislike to be referred to as masters or geniuses. Their names, however famous, mean nothing to them personally, and they sternly repudiate anything that even remotely approaches the hero-worship that the Earth world accords them. They are just one of ourselves, and as such they wish to be – and are – so treated.
In the Spirit world the Law of Cause and Effect (Karma) applies equally to all people, regardless of their former Earthly status. This Law is no new thing. It has always been in existence, and so every famous name that is to be found within the chronicles of nations comes strictly within the jurisdiction of this Law. The soul who passes his Earthly life in obscurity, known only to one or two people, is subject to this same Law just as much as the soul whose name is a household word among nations. In living in these realms one is inevitably bound, sooner or later, to encounter some person whose name is known to all upon the Earth-plane. But these famous folk have no attachment to the Earth world. They have left it behind them, and many of those who passed to here hundreds of Earthly years ago are glad to have no occasion to recall their Earthly lives. Such numbers of them suffered a violent transition that they are happy to consider their present only, and leave their past sealed up in their memory.
The people of the Earth world may think it strange to walk through these realms and mingle with persons who lived on the Earth-plane hundreds – and, in some cases, thousands – of years ago. A meeting of the past, as it were, with the eternal present. But it is not strange to us here. It may be so for the newly-arrived, but then there are many other things that may seem strange – at first. Discretion is something we soon learn to exercise, and it is embodied in our never prying into the facts and circumstances of other people’s Earthly lives. That does not mean to say that we are debarred from discussing our Earthly lives, but the initiative always comes from the person concerned. If he wishes to tell anyone of his life on Earth he will ever find a sympathetic and interested ear awaiting him.
You can see, then, that our Earthly lives are very strictly our own. The discretion that we exercise is universal among us – we show it and we receive it. And whatever our former position upon Earth, we are united in these realms, Spiritually, intellectually, temperamentally, and in such Human traits as our like and dislikes. We are one; we have achieved the same state of being upon the same plane of existence. Every fresh face that enters these realms receives the same heartfelt welcome, without reference to what he was upon Earth.
One will meet many people here, who were famous upon Earth, in all sorts of places and pursuing all sorts of occupations, some of the latter a continuation of their Earthly calling, and some, perforce, entirely new. All alike are approachable without formalities of any kind whatever. We need no introductions to men and women whom the Earth knows as famous. Their gifts are at the disposal of all, and happy, indeed, are they to assist another who comes to them for help in any difficulties, whether it is in art or science, or in any other form of activity. The great, who have gained their greatness through the various expressions of their genius, consider themselves but the lowly units of a vast whole, the immense organization of the Spirit world. They are all striving – as we are too – for the same purpose, and that is Spiritual progression and development. They are grateful for any help towards that end, and they are glad to give it wherever possible.
The riches and honours of the Earth world seem very tawdry and trumpery by comparison with the Spiritual riches and honours that are ready to be won here. And those riches and honours are within the grasp of every soul the instant he enters the Spirit world. They are his Spiritual birthright, of which no one can deprive him, and it rests with himself just how long it will be before he gains them. Earthly greatness may seem very tangible while we are in the midst of it. Just how tangible it is can be seen as soon as our dissolution takes place. Then we find that it is Spiritual greatness that is concrete and permanent. Our Earthly prominence just melts away as we step into the Spirit world, and we stand revealed for what we are, not for what we were.
Several of the Earth world’s famous people have spoken to me of their awakening in the Spirit world, and they have told me of the shock of revelation they received when they beheld themselves for the first time as they really were.
But oft-times greatness of Earthly position goes hand in hand with greatness of soul, and thus Spiritual progression and development continue without intermission from the moment of dissolution.