The Astral Stony Plane
The Second Subdivision of the Astral Plane
Below the Grey World there are lands of gloom and sadness, till you reach the land of total darkness. (John Heslop, FMABL, 7-8.)
The dark places (1) [lie] beyond the belt of mist that separates them from the light. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 104.)
(1) “The dark places” are the Stony Plane and the Dark Plane.
Above the murky ocean of mist and vapour a dull light rested from above but could no sink beneath the surface far, that ocean was so dense. And down into that we had to go. (Arnel in LBV3, 170, quoted in Dowding, MM, 60-1.)
So we took the path downwards and, as we went, the gloom became more gloomy and the chill more full of fear. But we knew we went to help and not to fear aught and so we did not hesitate in our steps, but went warily. (Arnel in LBV3, 170, quoted in Dowding, MM, 61.)
A little higher in the scale [from the Dark Plane], we have the congregation / of poverty-stricken souls, whose earth desire had been the gratification of their own selfish aims, with a complete disregard for the rights of their fellow men. They live in a sere and yellow world of sparse vegetation. Bleak expanses of sand and rock encompass them, symbolizing the mean conditions they were prepared to offer to others while they lived in the lap of luxury on earth. (Clifford McLean in LFM, 97-8.)
You will remember having seen some of these pathetic creatures and the dilapidated hovel in which they lived during your astral travels with me. Your mind shied away from the memory of the fouler regions. I do not blame you for this because those conditions were not pleasant to recall. However, I see you have a clear picture in your mind of the level that I am now discussing.
People who have attached great importance to their material earthly possessions find themselves frustrated here. They cannot bring these things with them, as all new arrivals to these realms must earn the right of possession, either by service to 0thers on earth or by spiritual service here.
These poor souls are reaping the harvest of their folly. They were selfishly grasping in their desire for material wealth and attained their earthly ambition at the expense of others. The vision of the suffering they have caused is ever before them, although they still refuse to accept that responsibility. Their minds still cling, tenaciously, to their desire for earthly possessions. These, literally, crumble away to dust and ashes within their grasp. The few paltry remnants of their earthly glory that they are able to draw to themselves by their strong concentration of thought have no place in the world of spirit and rapidly disintegrate. These things have neither use nor ornamentation here, where all things are composed of spiritual matter. (Clifford McLean in LFM, 98.)
I have seen hells of lust and hells of hatred; (1) hells of untruthfulness, where every object which the wretched dweller tried to grasp turned into something else which was a denial of the thing desired, where truth was mocked eternally and nothing was real, but everything—changing and uncertain as untruthfulness—became its own antithesis.
I have seen the anguished faces of those not yet resigned to lies, have seen their frantic efforts to clutch reality, which melted in their grasp. For the habit of untruthfulness, when carried into this world of shifting shapes, surrounds the untruthful person with ever-changing images which mock him and elude.
Would he see the faces of his loved ones? The promise is given, and as the faces appear they turn into grinning furies. Would he grasp in memory the prizes of ambition? They are shown to be but disgrace in another form, and pride becomes weak shame. Would he clasp the hand of friendship? The hand is extended—but in its clutch is a knife which pierces the vitals of the liar without destroying him, and the futile attempt begins again, over and over, until the uneasy conscience is exhausted. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXXVI.)
(1) If this were the Dark Plane, I would expect Judge Hatch to be describing malformed, disgusting beings. The fact that he does not persuades me to locate the spirits in the next plane up – the Stony Plane.
In the second sphere (below [you]) are those who have still further debased and degraded their bodies, and have even more completely missed their souls. In divers sections of this sphere, under the tutelage of such spirits as can reach them, are the besotted and debased drunkard, the loathsome sensualist who has cursed himself and ruined pure lives by his lusts. These are they who cannot rise because they have no desire for progress. They are permitted to return, if they desire it, in order that the prayers of those to whom they come may aid them. Nothing but prayer can make them better and save them from sinking lower and lower into depravity. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)
Many such people are helped by the very persons whose earth lives they made miserable if the latter have preceded them there and are sufficiently advanced spiritually to be prepared to offer their services.
The bonds of love and hate are closely interlinked. They appear as different sides of a coin. Thus you find that debts are often reversed on this side; for many an advanced soul feels that he owes a debt to the author of his bitter earthly misery. In overcoming this condition, he has learnt a spiritual lesson, earning advancement in understanding. This reward he now desires to share with his unwitting benefactor, when such a soul needs his help.
No coercion is used on this side. Helpers just cruise around looking for signs of improvement. Their presence adds warmth and light to which these souls in darkness, in time, respond. It is rather like the effect of sunshine on a garden. The seed is there, which struggles upward towards the light. Once it has expanded sufficiently to throw off its shell and desire the light, it starts to make the ascent. (Clifford McLean in LFM, 99.)
We have no illusions about ourselves and know jolly well that the job we are doing is as much for our own benefit as it is for those we are trying to help. (Clifford McLean in LFM, 99.)
We were walking along a great tract of barren country. The ground was hard under foot; the green of trees and grass was gone. The sky was dull and leaden; and the temperature had dropped very considerably. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 79.)
After a further passage through the mist, we found that it began to clear a little until it vanished altogether. We could now see our surroundings clearly. The landscape was bleak in the extreme with, here and there, a dwellinghouse of the meanest order. We came close to one of the latter and were able to examine it better.
It was a small, squat house, squarely built, devoid of ornament, and looking altogether uninviting. It even had a sinister look in spite of its plainness, and it seemed to repel us from it the nearer we approached it. There was no sign of life to be seen at any of the windows or round about it. There was no garden attached to it; it just stood out by itself, solitary and forlorn.
Edwin and our new friend [a spirit worker who came along with Ruth and Monsignor Benson] evidently knew both the house and its inmate quite well, for upon going up to the front door, Edwin gave a knock upon it and without waiting for an answer opened it and walked in, beckoning us to follow. We did so and found ourselves in the poorest sort of apology for a house. There was little furniture, and that of the meanest, and at first sight to earthly eyes one would have said that poverty reigned here, and one would have felt the natural sympathy and urge to offer what help one could. But to our spirit eyes the poverty was of the soul, the meanness was of the spirit, and although it roused our sympathy it was sympathy of another kind, of which material help is of no avail. The coldness seemed almost greater within than without, and we were told that it came from the owner of the house himself. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 80.)
We passed into a back room and met the sole occupant seated in a chair. He made no attempt to rise or give any sign of welcome. Ruth and I remained in the background while the other two went forward to speak to our unwilling ‘host.’ He was a man just past middle years. He had something of an air of faded prosperity and the clothes he wore had been obviously neglected, whether through indifference or other causes in the light of my earthly recollections I was unable to say. He rather scowled at the two of us as Edwin brought us forward as new visitors.
It was a moment or two before he spoke, and then he / railed at us rather incoherently, but we were able to gather that he deemed himself to be suffering under an injustice. Edwin told him in plain terms that he was talking nonsense because injustice does not exist in the spirit world. A heated argument followed, heated, that is to say, on the part of our host for Edwin was calm and collected, and, in truth, wonderfully kind. Many times did the former glance at Ruth, whose gentle face seemed to brighten the whole dingy place. I, too, looked at Ruth, who held my arm, to see how this strange man was affecting her, but she was unperturbed.
At length he quieted down and seemed much more tractable and then he and Edwin had some private conversation together. At the end of it he told Edwin that he would think about it and that he could call again if he wished and bring his friends with him. Upon this he arose from his chair, escorted us to the door, and showed us out. And I observed that he was almost becoming affable – though not quite. He stood at the front door watching us as we walked away, until we must have been nearly out of sight.
Edwin seemed very pleased with our visit, and then he gave us some particulars of the strange man.
He had, he said, been in spirit some years now, but in his earth life he had been a successful business man – successful, that is, as far as the earth-plane judges such things. He had not thought of much else than his business and he always considered that any means were justified in gaining his own ends, provided they were legal. He was ruthless in his dealings with all others and he elevated efficiency to the level of a god. In his home all things – and people – were subservient to him.
He gave generously to charity where there was likely to accrue the greatest advantage and credit. He supported his own religion and church with vigor, regularity, and fervor. He felt that he was an ornament to the church and he was much esteemed by all those connected with it. He added some new portions to the edifice at his own expense and a chapel was named after him as the donor. But from what Edwin had been able to glean from his story, he had scarcely committed one decent, unselfish action in the whole of his life. His motive was always self-aggrandizement and he had achieved his purpose on earth at the absolute expense of his life in the spirit world.
And now his grievance was that, after having lived such an / exemplary life – in his own estimation – he should be condemned to live in such comparative squalor. He refused to see that he had condemned himself to it and that there was none other to blame but himself. He complained that the church had misled him all along since his munificence had been received in such a fashion that he believed his gifts to the church would weigh heavily in his favor in the ‘hereafter.’ Again he could not see that it is motive that counts and that a happy state in the spirit world cannot be bought for hard cash. A small service willingly and generously performed for a fellow mortal builds a greater edifice in spirit to the glory of God than do large sums of money expended upon ecclesiastical bricks and mortar erected to the glory of man – with full emphasis on the donor.
The man’s present mood was anger, which was all the greater because he had never been denied anything whilst upon the earth. He had never been accustomed to such degrading circumstances as those at present. His difficulties were increased by the fact that he did not know quite whom to blame. Expecting a high reward, he had been cast into the depths. He had made no real friends. There seemed to be no one – of his own social position, he said – who could advise him in the matter. Edwin had tried to reason with him, but he was in an unreasoning frame of mind, and had been so for some long time. He had had few visitors because he repelled them and, although Edwin had made many visits to him, the result was always the same – a stolid adherence to his sense of injustice.
Upon Edwin’s latest call, in company with Ruth and myself, and with the friend whom we had met on the way, there were distinct symptoms of a coming change. They were not manifest at first, but as our visit drew to a close he had shown signs of relenting from his stubborn attitude. And Edwin was sure that it was due as much to Ruth’s softening presence as to his own powers of reasoning with him. He felt sure, too, that were we to return to him on our way back, we should find him in a different frame of mind altogether. He would be unwilling to admit too soon that the fault was his entirely, but perseverance will work wonders. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 80-2.)