Found in the Coleman collection this striking pamphlet. The collection consisted of 3000+ books and booklets on parapsychology, spiritualism and the occult accumulated by a zetetic Bedford scientist determined to disprove all aspects of the paranormal. This pamphlet by Shaw Desmond from 1946 is actually quite late in the day for spiritualist and psychic publications. They were at their height in the early 1930s. There is a theory that they blossomed in the 1920s with the business of putting grieving parents in touch with their dead soldier sons…In the age of Dawkins these pamphlets are still published but the flood has (sadly) become a small stream. Shaw Desmond (1877-1960) was an Irish novelist, poet, founder of the International Institute for Psychical Research in 1934, and author of many works on the afterlife and several Scientific Romances- some dystopian and possibly influenced by Olaf Stapledon. He appears as himself in Haunted Palace(1949), a documentary, directed by Richard Fisher, in his role as a ghostbuster. There is more on Desmond at the at the SF Encyclopedia.
Supposing someone came up to you and said: “My dear fellow, I have just made a discovery which has given me a new lease of life. It has made me happy. It costs nothing!” What would you think?
You would think your friend was mad.
When he went on: “And not only that. I have found out that I am immortal and with it the secret of perpetual youth.” What would you think?
If he insisted upon continuing and said: “My dear chap, death is a superstition. Positively, I have proved that there are no dead! In fact, nobody has ever died.”
You would then possibly send for a policeman or ambulance.
Yet every word that man had said to you was true. Millions today know it to be true by actual demonstration. In our day it is a mark of ignorance not to know that these things are true.
Well, my dear fellow–if you will allow me to call you “my dear fellow,” I shall hope to prove to you beyond any doubt whatever in these pages that what that man said was true and that you yourself, if you care to take the trouble, can prove the same.
If it were true that we did not die, think what a difference that would make to our lives today and tomorrow. If it were true that we do get “a second chance,” and that there literally is “a place where dreams come true,” think what that would mean to your home life and your future.
Now if you will patiently read what follows, you may have reason to bless the day you found this little booklet. To paraphrase some famous words: “You have a world to gain–you have only your chains to lose!” But the world you will gain will be something infinitely more worth while than the gold and silver of this earth–it will be a world of delight and fulfillment.
This is not a religious tract. This is a sober scientific statement. The world which I am offering you is no tinsel Paradise in which you only play harps and sing hymns–it is a world as solid and satisfying as this but without its heartaches.
You can have it for the asking.
NOBODY HAS EVER DIED
PEOPLE TODAY WANT PROOF
I never ask another man or woman to believe anything I cannot believe myself.
My nature is rationalist. I can only believe, for instance, in a world of spirit if I myself, in one way or other, have visited that world, have spoken with and seen its inhabitants. Nor do I know of any direct way in which a spirit can manifest himself to a man on this earth except by speaking with him and showing himself to him.
I think it is as silly for a man to say : "I believe in a world of spirit because I have faith," as it would be for me to say : "I believe that Santa Claus is a living man even though I have never seen him."
People often ask: “How can you believe that we survive death when nobody has ever returned from the Next World in order to tell us about it?” My reply is: “You make a statement which has no foundation, because many people actually have returned from the Next World to tell us about it. I myself have spoken with many such people.”
To which my friends will insist: “But how can there be a Next World when I myself have never seen it or spoken with people who have come back from the grave?” To which, in my turn, I reply: “You believe that Rutherford split the atom even though you never met him or saw him do it. Because something has not happened to you does not mean that it has not happened to anybody.”
Faith is a fine thing, but it can be but an introduction to proof. The Churches for instance, have overdone it. They say: “You must believe in our heaven and hell because you must have faith.” When you ask them to prove the existence of these places, they invariably fall back upon: “But you must have faith!”
We who live in the twentieth century demand proof. It is not sufficient to tell us: “You must have faith.” We live in an age of science and of proof.” It is a case of “Demonstrate or be damned!”––much as the theologians say: “Believe or be damned!”
I will try to give you full proof that we men and women do survive death and that there is actually no death. What there is, is a laying down of a body of flesh and blood much as we lay down a worn-out suit of clothes. And even then we do not lay down the inner or etheric body, which is also a body of substance, although one of airy substance, and one infinitely more living and vibrant than the body in which I am writing these words. It is this body we carry into the Next World.
“How do you know this?” you will naturally demand.
“Because the etheric or soul-body has been observed by many thousands of persons at one time or another.”
“Oh, but that is what is called ‘superstition’,” you will come back.
“You do not say you are superstitious because you see and speak with other men and women every day, do you?”
“But that is speaking with living men and women.”
“But the men and women beyond death are also living. They are really much more living than we, because they are not weighed down by a heavy body of flesh and blood with all the ills to which the flesh is heir,” I answer.
“Ah, but the men and women we see and speak with every day are not spirits, but creatures of flesh and blood.”
To which I respond: “But they are spirits. Even in the Bible it stands: ‘Man is a spirit.’ Surely you don’t think that the difference between a spirit and a man is one of body–that the man has a body and that the spirit has none? You’ve got it upside down.”
“You mean that this would be putting the cart before the horse?”
“Then you mean to tell me that those who live in the spirit world are just as real as we––and just as living.”
“Not only just as real, but sometimes just as solid.”
“Surely you are pulling my leg? You can’t have a solid ghost.”
“Who said you couldn’t? Not I. Nor one of the greatest scientists who ever lived––Professor Charles Richet, who actually in his own laboratories measured his heavily materialised ghosts for height and weight––tested their blood pressure and heart beat––and did many other things still more extraordinary.”
“But he must have been a crank––you can’t trust cranks.”
“Perhaps you yourself may in this one thing be a crank without knowing it, and I, personally, loathe cranks. A crank is a man or woman who either believes something fanatically without proof, or refuses to believe something about which complete proof has been given. Now complete proof has been given of the existence of the ghost, whether tenuous or solid, and Professor Richet experimented for thirty years.” But he must have been a crank from the first go off, or he wouldn’t have wasted his time in trying to prove unprovable. He simply asserted his ghosts. He was a dogmatist. I hate dogmatists.”
“Who is the crank and who the dogmatist now? You or Richet? He started out with the same theory as yours–that all Sp[iritualists were cranks, and set one of the finest brains in Europe to prove it, whereas what against his wish he really proved after thirty years’ work was that ghosts do exist and that they are sometimes, I do not say always, solid.”
“One last ‘but.’ But he was only one scientist–one man.”
“To which I answer, my friend, and for the last time: Not only Professor Richet but some of the greatest minds in every branch of science agree with his major facs, these men including a past President of the British Association, the world’s foremost scientific body.”
“That is exactly what I am going to do in the pages which follow. What a man asks for proof, I know that that man has begun to think.”
HOW YOU SPEAK TO THE DEAD
People are funny !––always of course except you and me. They constantly ask me: “What is the use, anyhow, of speaking with the dead? Is it that they know so much more than we? Are they always wiser and better?”
Apart from the comfort of speaking with those whom we have temporarily lost by death, we do sometimes contact the greater, higher spirits who, always without seeking to compel, give us at times valuable advice. Also, to cut ourselves off from the vast resources of the worlds of spirit would be as silly as, on our earth, cutting ourselves off from the worlds of science and religion–and by “religion” I do not necessarily mean the organised dogma of the Churches.
Otherwise, the bulk of average spirits communicating are no wiser than we of earth–sometimes less wise. In fact, many of the ordinary communications from the world beyond the grave would have been better left unsaid. Nothing can so easily debase as a credulous belief in everything that comes over and, on the other hand nothing so help and vitalise as some of the communications.
After a time one learns by a sixth sense to distinguish between the true and the base when one speaks to and sees his or her dead.
You may think that when I say that we have spoken with and seen our dead, “there is a trick in it.”
There is no trick. I have before me the records of 181 of my own meetings with the dead, and I know of thousands of others. In these records, made immediately during or immediately after these meetings, there are given the conversations with the dead, these often being taken down in shorthand as they were heard, together with the places, names, conditions, temperature of rooms, and a score of other details.
These 181 meetings were made under watertight conditions. Locked and guarded doors. At times, scientists present. People there who intimately knew the “speaking dead” when they were “alive,” and so were able to verify minute details peculiar to these so-called dead people.
No wonder that world-names like those of Professors Bozzano, Richet and Larkin, the last-named the Director of the Lowe Observatory of California, have all been compelled in the end to accept nearly every major conclusion set out in this little booklet. Many of them fought the evidence for years, but its persistence and sheer factual power convinced them that man and his comrade woman survive the death of the physical body. Of such names, I give about a score in my various writings.
Now, you who read these words are not forced to believe what these men belive if you have not proved it for yourself. Here I am going to tell you how to do this yourself.
First of all, you will ask how is this done?
When I spoke directly with my friend, Temple Thurston, the playwright and author of The Wandering Jew, I did not have to listen to him through his use of a meduim’s voice. He spoke to me direct before a large number of people out of the air. When I challenged his identity, even though his spirit body was there in the room with me, he gave me the special name that I alone had for him when he was on earth.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author of Sherlock Holmes, and a keen Spiritualist, some time after his death, entered the room to discuss with me certain plays I was writing, and in proof of his being Conan Doyle, when I challenged him, he told me the place where he and I had separately and by chance sheltered in a doorway opposite Victoria Station, London.
Actors like Neilson-Terry and Rudolf Valentino when I was present, after death, held long conversations with their relatives and friends in the laboratory which is usually called “the séance room.” They sent messages being coherent and their contents recognisable. The communication of “the handsomest man in the world,” Rudolf Valentino, as he was once known to millions of radio fans, was of a remarkable nature and known only in its details to a lady present who had been a close friend and to whom he had specially come through from the grave to speak.
And, it may interest you to know that Rudolf on the Other Side still continues to practise his art, and that over there they have theatres and cinemas, schools and churches.
What, then, is the machinery by which the spirits of the dead communicate with the living?
In the first place, they do almost exactly what you and I do if we want to speak to a friend at a distance. They use a sort of “telephone,” which they call a “Voice-Box” and which can be seen by any clairvoyant.
“But what is a clairvoyant?” you will ask.
A clairvoyant is a man or woman who has the power of what is known as the “extended vision and hearing.” They possess an “ear” and “eye” which are so sensitive that they can hear and see things we ordinary people cannot hear or see, because we cannot “pick up” the vibrations.
We are all radio-sets, more or less. It is a scientific fact that the ordinary human only hears and sees a tiny fraction of the sounds and sights which are going on all round him. Bats emit a high and piercing note all the time they are flying, but to us they are silent, for our coarser ears cannot “pick up” the sound.
The clairvoyants, however, literally see and hear into the Next World. They hear the ever-living dead speak and they see them move about. Thousands have seen that great medium, Estelle Roberts, on the Queen's Hall and Albert Hall platforms, describe minutely and accurately the sayings and doings of the dead on the platform and from the audience receive grateful thanks and with it proof of her accuracy. Only a lunatic would deny the fact that she really saw and heard the dead–but our world is full of lunatics!
My own dead I have seen and heard sometimes in good, even strong light, yet I do not pretend to clairvoyance in the ordinary sense. For these dead have been heard by scores of people in the same room.
The "Direct Voice" of the dead man out of the air can be heard by anyone, including one of a powerful bass, speaking at the same time in different parts of the room–one of them, the bass, coming from above our heads. The direct voice is the actual voice of the dead man as it was on earth and can be readily recognised.
Sometimes, however, the dead man or woman speaks through the larynx sometimes conscious. But in either case, you need to have a medium just as in a radio set you need a battery, for in the world of psychics it is the medium who is the battery, giving the power. She or he is, in a word, a long-distance telephone and televisor, and even on our earth you cannot use your telephone or televisor without electricity.
Let us now look upon the rooms or laboratories for communication on either side of the grave, the people in them, and what they do and how they do it.
In the séance room, in this world, you will usually find (a) the medium or power-battery seated in his or her chair and, when a trance medium, permitting himself or herself to go into the deep sleep of trance, or if not a trance-medium, then throughout will sit conscious but quiescent: (b) the "sitters" or visitors, numbering say, anything from half-a-dozen to half-a-hundred: (c) those set to guard the locked door, and (d) any scientists present with their cameras or other checks.
There will be often in the room a gramophone, as music enormously helps the setting into movement of the vibrations between the worlds of the living and the dead, although the music is shut off when the Guide comes through to speak.
In the chamber on the Other Side, as we know from what they tell us and from what the clairvoyant sees and hears, there will be (a) the Guide, or controlling spirit, who will sometimes be of lofty mind and sensitive affection: (b) his spirit "sitters," being the dead who wish to speak to the living, if we are still to use terms which have little meaning as both sections are alive: (c) the spirit doorkeepers or "Watchers," who in the world of spirit prevent interference or "impersonation" by mischievous spirits much as the policeman on earth shoos away urchins who wish to break up a street meeting: and (d) the "Voice-Box" which resembles in effect, a telephone booth, into which the dead who wish to speak enter, something that takes a lot of practice.
Our earthly telephone carries our puny human voice even to Australia by relaying and amplifying it as does a microphone, so enabling the Australian listener to pick it up. The "Voice-Box" does the same, but by so reducing the vibrational rate of the spirit voice that it is possible for the slower earthly ear to pick it up and understand it. And remember, once more, that the Direct Voice can be heard throughout a large hall by everybody.
Something which brings me to this quite simple subject of vibration. It is really quite easy to understand.
WHY WE ALL CAN'T SEE THE DEAD
You and I here and now are able to speak together by "vibration." If the chords of the larynx and of the ear did not vibrate at the same rate in both of us, you would not hear what I said or I hear what you said.
The reason the man in Melbourne hears me when I speak from London is because my voice is vibrating at the same rate as the human voices to which he is accustomed. But if anything goes wrong with the long-distance telephone, instantly, and because the rate of vibration of our voices is changed, the talk becomes "muzzy" and muddled. It is only when the instrument is put right that our voices again become clear.
I have told you about the bat, and why we don't hear its high-pitched squeak. If there were no human telephone or medium on this side of the grave and on the other side no "Voice-Box" to synchronise or match the vibrations of the voices of the dead and living, we should hear nothing in our séance room, and they would hear nothing in their spirit world.
Now the reason the living cannot see the dead or hear the dead is because the body of flesh and blood, including the eye and ear of that body, vibrates at a much slower rate than the eye and ear of the spirit world, because that eye and ear is made of something like ether and is called "etheric." But the moment the dead man or woman deliberately, by a thought-process, reduces the rate of his or her vibrations, he or she instantly begins to come into view. This process is called "materialisation."
I might illustrate this by taking a thin rod of steel and, bending it back, release it. Instantly it disappears because the rate at which it is vibrating is too fast for the ordinary eye. But, as its oscillations become slower, it gradually comes into view or "materialises."
The same is true of a buzz-saw in the timber yard.
When at rest, you can see the saw suspended on its bed. Touch the electric switch and instantly the saw begins to revolve, faster and faster, until it gradually disappears from sight as our slower eye refuses to pick up the increased rate of vibration.
People say: "There can't be ghosts for you can't see them!" Suppose you apply this to our buzz-saw and, not seeing the saw as it revolves like lightning, put your hand down into the saw-bed, you will find yourself without a hand!
They say "seeing is believing," but science tells us that we only see the equivalent of an inch out of a thousand miles of the sights and sounds available if we only knew how to see and hear them.
That is why so many scientists of our day are becoming "Spiritualists." Their own science teaches them what I have set out above, and why they did not see all this half a century ago is not for me to say, for it was all staring them in the face. Not to believe in survival today is, in certain scientific circles, to be written off as "old-fashioned"! Yesterday it would have been written off as "superstitious."
So do we find that as the "Voice-Box" reduces the rate of vibration of the spirit etheric body, so on this side do we sometimes have the reverse process. That is to say, our flesh and blood vibrations can, under certain circumstances, be so immensely heightened and quickened that, even though not naturally and normally clairvoyant, we do for moments see into and hear the Next World.
This quickening up of our earth vibrations until they match or synchronise with spirit vibrations may be caused by one of several things. The ecstasy of prayer can lift us for a moment into the sight of the angelic. Or, if we drug ourselves by alcohol or cocaine, as De Quincey proved, we can find ourselves forced into one of the fast-moving worlds of the Astral, or "Next World," but in this case, not "heavens" but hells. This accounts for the terrible sights, which are real sights as the psychiatrist is beginning to realise, seen by the man in "D.T.s" or by the opium-smoker. Or the same result may be accomplished by a shock, as many have experienced.
I have some fifty cases of people seeing their dead beloved ones when they had been shocked into it by memory or accident. In the extremity of fear or of love, the soul of the human being seems to take wings unto itself and fly upwards into the regions of the blest . . . or downwards into the regions of the cursed.
A certain Scots doctor, himself a deep sceptic, told a little Yorkshireman, who was a friend of mine and the then editor of London's leading magazine, the London, that whilst he refused himself to believe, there was one occurrence he could never explain away.
My little friend has just lost his own dearly loved daughter, age five or six, and his own heart was breaking when he asked his doctor, the Scot mentioned, whether he believed that he should meet his little girl on the Other Side of death?
"I dinna ken," replied the doctor. "I only know that one of my patients, upon entering his study, saw his dead mother standing before his study desk. She was as real and solid as in life, so much so that he verily believed she had returned from the grave in the flesh. He stopped dead at the sight of her, crying: 'Mother! Mother!' The next instant a great beam overhead crashed down upon the chair he would have been occupying at that moment had his mother not stopped him, the chair being smashed with the desk to splinters. His mother had come back to warn him."
If such an occurrence was solitary, one might put it down to coincidence or to a fevered imagination. I have, however, many other cases in which men and women have come back from the dead to warn their loved ones against impending disaster. I knew a famous Shavian actress who for years played the lead in the Bernard Shaw plays all over the world, and who, being driven by a New Zealand friend in that country towards a headland, received the unmistakable warning that there was about to be a collapse of the precipice. Telling the driver to drive furiously past the headland, they had scarcely cleared it when with a thunderous roar the whole headland collapsed, falling upon the road over which they had just been driving. This lady had several similar experiences of psychic warning, and I never knew her to be wrong in her psychic powers or in her conclusions.
The truth is that our dead often see what we are doing, hear what we are saying, and watch over and guard us. They can often see us when we cannot see them. Sometimes, they call out to us to prevent us doing something we should not do.
What and who was it that shouted to me a little while ago as I was about to descend from a L.M.S. train? The shout was terrific and caused me to halt in what I was doing. I believed that a man near me had cried out, but he had heard nothing, nor had anyone else in that carriage.
Who was it that only two weeks before writing these words and during a visit to a friend's house said distinctly, in regard to a certain medical anatomical conversation, the very words which were essential to complete that conversation?
I say in all soberness that not only have I met my own Guardian and spoken with him, but that all human beings have such guardians, of whom they are usually unaware until death.
God is with us every moment of our lives. He sends to us our guardian spirits, who are with us sleeping and waking, lying down and standing up. No man or woman who reads these words, need ever again be lonely. "We are not alone."
Often when we are in the depths from which we learn our lesson of life, we have with us friends of the angelic worlds. When our human friends desert us, our spirit comrades are with us.
I can bring into my witness box not one, but a hundred and one men and women who know this. Not from blind "faith" or the credulity which orthodox religion so often mistakes for faith, but from actual experience.
What is that experience?
It is the experience of actually seeing and speaking with these greater beings. It is the experience of watching them, sometimes in light, gradually materialise and then speak with us. An experience which on the day I write these words is that of hundreds of thousands the world over.
To see the angelic visitants, to hear their voices, does not need clairvoyance. Many who have never had a trace of clairvoyance have seen them and spoken with them, as will emerge as we go on in a search after truth in which we have nothing to fear but everything to gain.
I MEET MY DEAD
A single personal experience is worth a ton of theory. I, who know so many of the world's greater and lesser scientists, have often said this to them when they refused to believe the plain evidence of survival which in any other field than the psychic they would at once accept. To a roomful of scientists I once said: "Even you can't argue with what the French call the fait accompli or accomplished fact."
All the sceptical scientists on earth could not argue away my various meetings with my own son, Jan, who passed over to the world of spirit when he was ten. He was a luminous boy of great warmth and with a sense of humour which he may have got from his Irish father!
Jan has come through to me again and again. Some clergymen and priests tell us from their pulpits that it is a great sin to speak with the dead, even though the Lord and Master they follow persistently spoke to the world of spirit. If ever there were a great Spiritualist, it was the gentle Jesus of Nazareth, and if ever a single being demonstrated that death was not the end, it was this greathearted man, in whome divinity so strongly showed intself, when He Himself rose from the dead.
Yet the very Churches who teach all this refuse to practise what they preach and demonstrate, as do the Spiritualists, that the spirits of the dead live and return.
Well, if it be wicked to speak with our dead, I can only say that I am glad I am wicked. Jan, when coming up to my knee on one occasion to whisper so that the others present might not hear his private conversation about intimate home affairs, gave me then and at other times love and wise counsel.
His messages to his mother and sister were often so deeply moving and, at the same time, so veridical, that I could scarcely wait until I got home to give them. Now, nobody but Jan and I knew of some of these things, and the constant and silly contention of the sceptic that "nothing has ever come over from the Other World which was not known to someone in the séance room, and was therefore invented" is damnable nonsense. Many times have I and others received information about things totally unknown to anyone in the séance room, including of course, ourselves. I have elsewhere given the places and times and the witnesses to such messages.
One March evening I went to the house of a friend who was also a medium of power. Nothing was wanted to give an atmosphere of serenity and beauty to what I have to record.
There was in the March evening outside the hint of spring and the little circle of people who had gathered to meet their beloved spirit guide were sober decent folk. In that circle from time to time we had the relations of famous actors; professional men, such as doctors and scientists, ordinary folk, from artisans to middle class, and, very occasionally, men whose names were known throughout the world, from royalty upwards or downwards, as you choose to regard it. This little upper chamber was a veritable Parliament of Man, pioneer of the day when there will be only "men and women," and neither duke nor dustman. And it was in that room that I first saw a real attempt to translate the Christianity into practice of which the greater spirit guides so often speak, all of them regarding Jesus the Nazarene as their inspirer.
As the music of the gramophone was heard to break the stillness of the evening, playing Liebestraum, it seemed to open the door to the world of spirit. If you cared to put it that way, Liebestraum might be called the guide's "signature tune"!
The mother and I, the father of our little son, being believers in survival, had not repined at his passing. Nevertheless, it broke the chain of the family–nothing could replace the link–but those who have lost a child will understand. Yet, in the secret places of my heart, I hoped one day to speak to my boy even whilst I was still on the earth. For a long time, I waited, hoping against hope–and then it happened.
Here are the notes made at the time by a shorthand writer of an experience which has since been duplicated many times.
The room was in stillness. Only the breathing of the "sitters" could be faintly heard. The gramophone was playing as though far away. We were waiting for something.
A Voice came out of the stillness :–
Spirit Guide: You have a boy over here, Mr. Desmond?
Shaw Desmond: Yes.
Spirit Guide: He is here. He is not very big yet.
Shaw Desmond: Is he not grown up, yet?
Spirit Guide: He is what I call "a nice young man." (He meant of course a boy, a grown up, as this boy was only ten when he passed over.)
Shaw Desmond: Thank you.
Spirit Guide: This boy when in the earth life was not like ordinary people. (The guide meant that the boy had certain striking and other characteristics which separated him from the ordinary run of humanity.) You understand me?
Shaw Desmond: Perfectly.
Spirit Guide: You know that he will himself talk to you, and I want you to know that you can be very proud of him.
Shaw Desmond: I was always proud of him. I knew he would be helped.
Spirit Guide: I thought you would like to know.
There was an interval, and then:
Voice: I want my father.
The effect of this voice breaking into the stillness out of the air is indescribable. It was my boy Jan's voice and this was the first time I had heard it since he had died.
Sitter: Tell us who you are.
Voice: I am trying. (It was obvious that whatever the method of production of this "Direct Voice," is was difficult for one who was obviously new to the "Voice-Box.")
Shaw Desmond: You are for me. You are doing very well, darling.
Voice: It was difficult for me to speak. But I shall soon manage it.
Shaw Desmond: Your mother and your sister knew I was coming here tonight.
The Voice came again with such a quiet passion of longing and affection as may not be set down in words. The longing and affection as may not be set down in words. The child spoke of matters affecting his mother and sister entirely unknown to anyone there except myself. His mother had been very ill and had found it difficult to walk, although I had said nothing about it, and Jan told me her symptoms and that I was not to worry about it as "the guides of the spirit world are at work on her as she sleeps."
The proof came at once, for she quickly recovered the use of her legs and was able to move about the house for the first time for many months.
I may say that there is a note beneath this record as follows: "I have never used Jan's name or given any evidence whatever at these séances." Yet again and again he came through, the voice sometimes coming from above my head, sometimes in a whisper at my knee. I had spoken with my dead.
IS IT WRONG TO MEET OUR DEAD?
This extraordinary question is often asked me, especially by members of the orthodox Churches. It is "extra-ordinary," because the Early Church was basically Spiritualist and speech with the dead by "the Voices," of which we read in the epistles of Paul, seems to have been nearly as common as speech with the living.
Now, I don't suppose Saint Paul would have spoken with his dead if it were wrong. He himself was a Spiritualist, in every sense of that often much abused word, and if the reader cares to read such Spiritualist passages as I Cor. xii, 10, and I Cor. xiv, he will find that I am speaking the truth. But there are a dozen other passages in the epistles proving the same thing.
It is no use saying to a clergyman or a layman who has already made up his mind against it that it is not only not wrong but right and deeply spiritual to speak with our dead. When a man or woman comes into a problem with a closed mind, neither God nor man can bring conviction to that mind. Also, such men or women have full right to their opinion, just as you and I have to ours–only they have not the right to refuse to face the evidence.
If such closed minds say it is wicked to speak with the world of spirit, then Jesus and Paul were "wicked." Both spoke with the spirit world, and constantly, unless we have no confidence that the New Testament record of these particular passages is true.
But what is the real idea behind such refusal to face the facts? I always like to get at the other fellow's mind.
It is, I think, the feeling that whilst it was quite right to speak with your dead two thousand years ago it is not right now, because we are of a different spiritual stuff from such great ones as those I have mentioned. Yet the whole theory of the Christian Church rests above all else upon man and woman's survival of the death of the body and, above that again, on the proof of that survival. If it does not rest on that, then on what does it rest?
For if man and woman have no soul to pass on to the Next World, then there would be, to use the common phrase, no "souls to be saved."
Also if there be no souls, then all our sufferings and joys on this earth are meaningless and without avail. No longer can we say that it is by suffering we learn to prepare ourselves for the Higher Life. No longer can we call upon God, whatever view we may take of God, to help us, for even He cannot help something which is going to cease to exist within a handspan of say seventy years–something that makes all life purposeless.
If it was right to speak with the great dead two thousand years ago, it is right to do so today. As the foundation of nearly every religion in the world is Spiritualism and spirit communication either by prayer or directly, then it seems to a sane man or woman that this is an eternal principle. The day that communication between the Two Worlds ceases means the end of religion, but as it never has ceased, and never will cease, neither will religion.
The truth is that there are a hundred good reasons for spirit communication and not a single one against it on the other side. If any real objection could have been brought forward to such communication, be sure that the orthodox religion, which fears the living competition of Spiritualism for the human mind, would have brought it forward.
When the professional platitudinarians of our pulpits can find no other objection, they state, entirely without foundation, that "spirit communication sends people into asylums." In a fairly recent examination into this statement, it was found that in our asylums there was not a single case due to "dabbling in Spiritualism." In my long experience of psychical research, I cannot remember a single case of serious mental disturbance arising from communicating with the Next World. On the other hand, I have seen some thousands of men and women comforted beyond belief by the assurance that their loved ones not only awaited them on the other side of the grave, but that even whilst they themselves still remained here in the flesh those same loved ones watched over them and could see them. Quite probably, such comfort has saved people bereaved from going into an asylum.
If communication of this kind spelt insanity, then it is curious that some of the first psychiatrists of our day not only are themselves spirit communicators, but have no hesitation in recommending a sane course of Spiritualism to their patients. I know of a great psychiatrist, an Englishman, who, if erudition be qualification, has the following letters after his name, M.D., Ph.D., M.A., F.R.G.S., who for many years has been effecting cures through spirit communication. Also he declares in his work as a psycho-therapist that he is a confirmed Spiritualist, and as he happens to hold the highest offices and was a member of the British Medical Association (executive council, 1934-5), it is difficult to shake his bona fides. Nor is he the only one.
I have before me one of his major works which he inscribes: "To my friend Shaw Desmond, in memory of We do not Die, and of the great work he is doing for Psychic Science," which places beyond question his professional belief that psychical research is a "science," and that he himself is a Spiritualist.
One of the half-dozen leaders in psycho-analysis of Great Britain, a Harley Street medical man who is the Director of one of the greater universities, himself told me that one of the things which make him a Spiritualist was the fact thatm after the death of his little daughter, her photograph was "miraculously" lifted from its place and dropped before him. This gentleman has now made public declaration to his fellow scientists that, after examining the evidence thoroughly and for many years, he has no doubt whatever that the balance of that evidence is in favour of survival after death.
Now if "Spiritualism" were a menace to mind, is it likely that two of the greatest living psychiatrists would make such statements?
In the Church of England alone, there are to my knowledge some three hundred clergymen, who were, and for all I know still may be, banded together into a Confraternity of Spiritualism. Some of these men are of high office in their Church and at least a few of them had the courage to stand by my side some years ago on the stage of a London theatre to testify to their belief in Spiritualism. Many such fear to testify publicly to the faith that is in them, for, as one of them said to me: "We know that if we say we believe in Spiritualism, we have no chance of preferment."
I go further. In that same Church, there are today scores of clergymen who have told me and others that they are Spiritualists at heart, but that they fear to come out because of their bishops, who are often the secret enemies of the teaching and proof of their Master that the soul survives death. This fear comes from the feeling that, if the masses once understand what the saner Spiritualism is trying to teach, they will flock out of organised religion and into the ranks of Spiritualism. Nevertheless, that day is coming.
[Second and Last part to follow shortly]