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EXPLORING THE GREAT BEYOND -
In this chapter we review some of the accounts of happenings given in previous chapters and some of the explanations, when any were given. We also offer some explanations for other types of happenings relating them to the Occult data outlined in Chapters 5 to 10. Readers will no doubt have noticed that whereas, taking incident by incident, there seem to be almost an infinity of psychic occurrences of one sort or another. These can in fact be grouped into a relatively few categories.
There is the whole field of Spiritualistic-type phenomena. This in itself includes a wide range, as listed by Col. Olcott and incorporated in the story of the Eddy brothers.
Then there is the whole gamut of phenomena that we have included under the name of magic.
If we recapitulate some of the explanations already given in connection with the specimen cases cited, we will see patterns from which we can deduce principles, and these should enable us to find explanations to fit most of the particular cases we are likely to come across. In Chapter 3, we gave accounts of what happened during three kinds of séances, the dark circle, the light circle, and the open materialization sessions, also in the light. Incidentally, for ease of expression we use, in this chapter, the word "spirits" in the ordinary sense for any entity that manifests at a séance or elsewhere, although, as has been pointed out, no actual spirits are involved.
In the dark circle the effects were mostly aural but some were tactile, and there were some apports. The considerations here are, first, the presence of the medium Horatio. Without the presence of a medium or a mediumistic person, phenomena of these kinds cannot happen. The medium's part is primarily to provide the psychic energies and secondly to act as an intermediary between the next world and this. The next world in this case is the Astral Light and its denizens.
We now know what these denizens are. In this case they are elementals, but that does not explain why they did what they did nor why particular spirits such as Mayflower and George Dix happened to manifest. We can, however, guess at an explanation. The Astral Light, certainly at its lower levels, is in a degree spatial, and things and entities in it have locations, as evidenced by the numberless stories of haunted houses and places. This means that in the vicinity of the Eddy homestead there were Astral Light images of things, creatures and people associated with the place, only needing a sufficiently powerful medium to evoke them and given them physical form. When, however, there were visiting members of the audience, spirits associated with, and generally known to them came through. This was also the case with the Eddy family. Relatives from the 'other world' often visited them. This indicates that spirits have an 'affinity' for people as well as places and that, in these cases, they can transcend the limitations of physical space. This 'affinity' will arise from and in the astro-mental auras of the people present. When H.P.B. arrived at the homestead, spirits from her rich past, far from Chittenden, manifested at her bidding, and they had no connections with the place other than that she was there. She explained that all the spirits that visited the Eddy séances were merely astral portraits, 3-D but empty shells, of the deceased.
But to return to the dark circle happenings, if we have accounted for the manifestation of particular spirits at those sessions, it becomes fairly obvious that what they did was in character. Having got a particular spirit at the homestead and at the time of the sessions, what he or she did was according to the traits of the spirit and not, in the ordinary way, at the choice of the medium.
As to how the spirits produced their effects, we again have some interesting clues. One, already quoted, is provided by the clairvoyant's description of what was happening during the very noisy dance of "the howling, leaping, skylarking Indians," who made such a racket on the instruments provided. She saw the spirit forms handling the instruments. This means two things; one, that the forms were partly materialized or she could not have seen them, and, two, that the materialization was dense enough to enable the spirits to pick up the instruments and move them about. We then have another question. How were the sounds made? This is possible in two ways. Either air was blown into the horns or mouth organs by materialized astral mouths, or the sounds were otherwise
produced. This same alternative is present in the case of singing and speech. Either vocal chords are materialized and air is passed through them or the sounds are astrally produced.
A number of considerations arise. We remember, for example, that Mrs. Cleveland felt Honto's heart-beats. This however does not argue that in fact there was a heart beating. What Mrs. Cleveland felt was a vibration of the materialized skin. Was there anything inside Honto's apparition? We have two statements relevant to this. Col. Olcott describes the partial materialization, in a cabinet, of a face. It had an outer skin more or less complete but he saw through the open lids that the eye sockets were empty. H.P.B., herself a clairvoyant, describes the apparitions as shells, as mere portraits. To this last she adds, "produced by the elementaries." This is important. An elementary would normally occupy another realm - the Kama-lokic one of the Astral Light. Here, we are told, they can produce a simulacrum form at astral, psychic levels. We can imagine how hard it would be to distinguish such a form produced by an elementary from an Astral Light "portrait" enlivened by an elemental. But we digress. We are making the point that it is unlikely that sounds are produced by air-blowing spirit lips. How then are they produced?
We have some information concerning spirit sounds in a description of how astral bell sounds are produced. Elementals are the operative agents in the Astral Light, they "materialize" the sound as air waves so that it can be heard by physical ears. The note and quality of the sound is set in the imagination of the operator, a magician or a medium. We are told that the process of determining the pitch of the sound is the same as that used when a person decides to whistle a particular note. The lips, tongue, cheeks, etc., assume automatically but exactly the right position for the precise note to be produced almost as soon as the whistler has decided what note he wants. So an elemental will pick up a note, mentally desired, and immediately reproduce it.
In the case of the production of the characteristic sound of the voices of spirit relatives and friends, the remembered sound of these would be in the minds of the people in the audience. So too, would the sound of common musical instruments.
We do however come up against some difficulties in deciding the true origins of some phenomena. No one in the audience could have heard George Dix's actual voice or that of Mayflower because both of them had died decades earlier. We can only assume that
such attributes as tones of voice and mannerisms of speech of ex-personalities are somehow also part of the Astral Light portrait of hem. There is justification for this too. In explaining how it came about that a young girl under hypnosis came to be speaking the language of ancient Egypt, H.P.B. said that by some affinity the girl was contacting the still persisting astral image of a woman from those times. This phenomenon is again different from that which occurs when the Ego, from its vast memory, speaks through an entranced or somnambulistic but present personality.
So we can fairly safely assume that the vocal and instrumental sounds in both the dark and other circle sessions are astral sounds produced by elementals taking their cue and material either from the living people present, or from the astral images of the departed. It may be, however, that with stringed instruments, provided they were in tune, the spirit could pluck or bow the strings and so produce music. If the instruments had strings missing or they were out of tune it would mean that the sounds, to be in tune, must have been astrally produced. This must have been the case with the harmonicons that were out of order.
In the light circle and the materialization sessions, much of the phenomena were of the same category but of different magnitude. In the light circle, hands appeared, writing materials were used, handwritings and the signatures of dead people reproduced. Instruments were played, but this time the audience could see them being moved about.
The dynamics of the performance would be the same as for the dark circle happenings, the elementals manipulating the astral forces. It is interesting to note here that a degree of materialization of, and the assumption of form by, the elementals accompanies the psychokinetic phenomena. In the light circle, hands were often seen doing the writing or moving the instruments. When the clairvoyant watched the Indian dance, she saw the "spirit" figures handling the instruments, indulging in the wild dances and howling. The materialization is an ectoplasmic condensation of material drawn from the medium, from his Linga-Sarira and, because often during such phenomena the medium loses weight, from his physical body also. This is not improbable when we consider the Occult teaching that the material form of man is condensed round the astral mould or body, which precedes it in its formative period and is an exact double of it throughout the life of the body. "Etheric" substance (ectoplasm) exuded from the medium could then well take with it
some elements from the physical material of the medium's body. It is very interesting and Instructive to note that nature's creative process whereby from the moment of conception to maturity the forms of things and the physical bodies of man and beast are filling out the pre-existing astral mould or double, is the same as that whereby all apparitional phenomena, in the séance room or otherwise, are produced. (See S.D., 11, 737)
In the case of intelligent communication from the "other side" through an ordinary medium, the elementals would be picking up unuttered thoughts either from the medium or from the audience, the members of which (and the medium of course) might be quite ignorant of what was going on. These thoughts would acquaint the "spooks" of topical information and of what those in the audience wanted to see or hear. In the case of a magician the whole process the summoning of the elementals, the forms they assumed and their actions - would be under his control.
As mentioned earlier, we are not told how this is done, but we do know that part of the secret is in "communication." By this we mean that while in the ordinary way "spooks," i.e., elemental ensouled astral forms, cannot see physical humans, they can be made to do so. Remember H.P.B.'s description of the Indian spooks in Central Park. It seems also that not only can psychics see spooks but they can cause the spooks either to see or not to see them.
The author has met mediums who have told him that, for example, they could see an entity haunting an old property but if they did not want an encounter they could remain invisible to the spook. If, however, they wanted to communicate they had to allow themselves to become visible.
Olcott tells a tale of how H.P.B. was once employing an earthbound elementary of an old scholar to turn up some passage she wanted from a book in his astral library. On one occasion some humorous incident arose involving the old man. She warned Olcott not to laugh "inwardly" as the old man would then hear him and be offended.
So here, we may have some clues as to the way of communicating with elementals. Somewhat significant in this connection is H.P.B.'s question to Judge: "But my dear fellow, do you think I will give you a patent elemental extractor? -----not yet -----" (See Chapter 10). This not only implies, and confirms other stories, that she had control of the elementals, but that she could have
passed such control on to Olcott. Presumably she had this ability conferred on her by her Master.
The materialization sessions at the Eddys are remarkable to us now not so much for the actual fact that they took place as for their magnitude, multiplicity, and quality. They were mediumistic feats probably unequalled in all the annals of spiritualism. There was also so much of apparent intelligence about the apparitions as almost completely to justify the view that they were in fact the proper spirits of the dead.
In his book, Olcott, who at this time was unacquainted with the occult account of the happenings says, at the end, that he felt the phenomena were so significant an experience and brought so much comfort to the bereaved, that more should be known about them and the whole field examined and publicized. There were children who recognized their parents and vice versa; there was George Dix who apparently discerned the true nature of Dr. Beard; there was the occasion when Olcott "sent back" a spirit-produced plaited wreath because he wanted some seashells on it such as he had seen on another. The circlet was returned to him at a séance a day or two later, complete with shells; there is the case of the Witch of the Mountain with her minor miracles, and so on.
Do not all these demonstrate the presence of intelligent spirits as well as a degree of self-determinism? Such seemingly is not the case, and to prove it we have the remarkable case already quoted in Chapter 12 of the deceased father who came to visit his dissolute son's laid-out body. The father's ghost left behind verifiable evidence, not otherwise available, of his son's debts. In spite of all circumstantial appearances this was, in fact, not evidence of the return of the old father's real spirit but of his earthbound Kama-rupic shell.
It is interesting to learn from this case how long the shell, as such, can survive with a medium's connection to sustain it. A distinction must be made between the survival time of the shell and the period of gestation during which the Ego is assimilating the spiritual content of the late personality's experience. As we have seen, that period is much longer than that of the after-death survival of the Kama-rupa itself. Again it would appear that the non-dimensional, non-temporal nature of the higher mental realms is involved in the assimilation process, which would involve the inner principles and not the actual form substance of the Kama-rupa.
The Kama-rupa itself would be, as we have seen, of Astral Light 'matter' with spatial and temporal characteristics akin to those of the contents of the lower psychic realms.
We should note, too, that whereas images in the Astral Light remain forever, the personal vehicles of man do not. His body dies, his Linga-Sarira disintegrates, his Kama-rupa disintegrates, his lower mental principles persist only as elements within the skandhas. The importance of this is that no elements of the personal man can possibly persist as such, in the ordinary way, in the after-death realms. There is no "astral” body in which he can function, either in sleep or in death on the "astral” plane, except his Mayavi-rupa and, unless he is something of an adept, he cannot be conscious in this. Its fleeting production and projection at death, for example, is the result of intense feeling and thought of the dying person. Likewise after death, as a form, it is short lived, (unless created by a high adept). Its thought elements being of the higher mind, become the property of the Devachanic entity.
In view of the fact that so much has been written about what is termed the "astral" plane in much literature purporting to describe that realm, we must look at the feasibility of its existence against the data given us about the Cosmic planes and the corresponding principles in man's constitution. First we must look at what is commonly said in pseudo-occult literature about this "astral” plane. It is, we are told, a realm of the inner planes of being wherein a man, either in sleep or after death, can be conscious in his "astral" body. It is described as a place where the landscape, buildings, and people are much the same as they are here, but usually glamorised. People apparently carry on their lives there objectively much as they do here. But there are significant differences. If a man wants anything he has just to think of it and he has it. If he wants to be someplace other than where he is, he has just to wish to be there. There are palaces and castles, gardens, city squares, paved roads, houses and all the amenities of earth life. People do not need to eat but apparently they do. People ply trades, practice skills, attend schools and so on. The accounts vary but this gives a general picture. Old people, shortly to die, often have visions of "heavenly" places, gardens, and so on, with their children or loved ones in them. These visions are instanced as glimpses into the "astral” world where the dying person will soon be. Occultism, however, tells us that these visions cease at death.
Now we must ask where could such a place as this astral plane be? It could be, It obviously has been, actually experienced by psychically endowed persons. But what is it and where Is It? It could be Kama-loka experienced in a Kama-rupa. But the Kama-rupa is an apparitional form separated from the man's other principles only after death when it forms the "shell", and we have seen that this only has a borrowed, reflected consciousness. Whatever was seen by a live seer (unless he were Initiate) would be a creation of the seer in the Astral Light (the second Cosmic principle). It would be entirely subjective to him and not shared by anyone else; it would have no objective reality. It could be an experience of the kama-loka but, in this case, we must remember the nature of this “plane" as told us by H.P.B. It is properly the plane of feeling, inner feeling, as opposed to physical sensation. This feeling faculty underlies our every emotion and desire.
The karmic plane, like every other, has its seven subplanes. Their characteristics reflect those of the main planes to which they correspond. We could perhaps sense something of the nature of these subplanes by analogy. The lowest would correspond to the physical plane. It is difficult to imagine what Kama-physical would be but it would be the subplane of the grossest kamic material. It would be the realm of form and action. The next subplane, the Kama-astral, would by correspondence be the one that reflected or became conditioned by the thoughts and feelings generated by any living entities capable of thought and feeling, most commonly men. The kama-pranic subplane would be, as our Prana is, an energizing plane. The fourth would be Kama-kamic, surely the realm of emotion itself, with all its turbulence and power to affect us. Would not the nature of the Kama-manasic subplane be the level of wishful thinking, the daydream level, wherein, however, the Kama element would tend to make us try to realize our desires? The Kama-buddhic subplane would surely be the one of aspiration, or spiritualised desire, wherein our teacher or guru or patron saint or Deity itself would arouse in us the highest devotion. The Kama-atmic plane would be the one of volition, where our determination to do what our feelings inspired us to do, would arise. This last would be the level of will.
These subplanes are neither good nor bad in themselves but, considering man's state of development and the emphasis most of us place on our appetites and wants, and how much time we spend
thinking about them, we see this realm as the one of arch-selfishness. At the same time, it is where our animalistic tendencies are reflected. These could of course be refined or they could be bestial, but they are the least worthy of human beings.
So the Kama-loka takes on the atmosphere of evil, or at least impurity. At its lowest levels its habitués' forms would he crudely bestial, even satanic. H.P.B., on being asked about the possibility of our entering this realm in sleep, said that if one did, one would probably bring on a nightmare. Even if we are considering the kamic elements and habitat of pure, innocent people where could the astral plane, as described, be? In reality, it looks as if it does not exist, at least in the way so often described.
It might not be difficult to imagine what kama-physical could mean in terms of form but, just as the physical body is that which during life gives expression to and is the centre for all man's other principles, so is the grossest plane of Kama. After death, not before, the kama-physical form becomes the Kama-rupa. Before death man is a unit, a whole being; he does not have a series of separate "bodies".
There is more to understand about this fourth, the kamic principle of man. As we have seen, it is always in close association with the lower sub principles of Manas, and the combination is referred to as Kama-Manas. This, as said before, is man's psyche, his mortal soul. But we must note what we have been told about it. First the sub principles of Manas in their combinations will be manas-physical, manas-astral (second principle), manas-pranic, and the lower elements of manas-kamic. In the scale of principles Kama is the fourth, midway between the first and seventh. It is the point at which the higher mind, so to speak, meets the lower mind. The middle kamic-sub principle of Manas, therefore, is important as the bridge or, as some say, the barrier between upper and lower mind. This barrier, technically referred to as Antahkarana, becomes the bridge between our Spiritual Self and our ordinary self, as we make it to be so.
We must also notice that associated with the Manas aspect of Kama-Manas is the Mayavi-rupa, or thought body. Both these forms, the Kama-rupa and the Mayavi-rupa, can become visible under certain circumstances to a non-psychic observer. It is interesting to note that they, in the ordinary way, assume the form of the personal physical body. The Kama-rupa becomes the pattern for the form assumed by the materialized elementary at séances.
The Mayavi-rupa is the projected body which is sometimes seen by relatives of a recently deceased person. But the Mayavi-rupa is also the form that can be consciously created by an adept in whatever form the adept chooses, even that of an animal, so it is said. There have been cases in which such an adept has apparently been seen in his ordinary body in two places, remote from each other, at the same time, and in these cases so perfect has been the mayavic likeness that it could not be distinguished from the adept's physical body. Further, in such instances, its behaviour is that of an ordinary man. It can act and converse exactly as its original. Now this again is important. Consciousness can be transferred to the Mayavi-rupa but not to the Kama-rupa (the sometimes called "astral" body). After death, it is said, the Kama-rupa has only a dim, reflected or borrowed consciousness of its own. It is no longer a vehicle of consciousness for the Ego.
We saw earlier how at death the Antahkarana ceased to be the means of communication between the Ego and the personal mind and that its remains survived as the "shell", its consciousness becoming that of the Kama-rupa. We were told that in sleep the antahkaranic consciousness was "drunk or insane", with the personality only half awake. How much more rudimentary and vague therefore would this consciousness be in death?
Reverting to our consideration of the astral plane, it would seem that it is a plane of illusion, at psychic levels, wherein the seer sees his own creations; and it must be within the Astral Light with its numerous "mansions." The perceiver in whom the feeling of identity is retained could be regarded as an "astral" entity functioning in an "astral" body. But psychic vision, or clairvoyance, is a developed faculty of the proper astral vehicle (second principle) and it should be noted that this is dormant in sleep, and nonexistent very soon after death. Things seen in real astral travel in the Mayavi-rupa are of the physical world, not the psychic.
So what, in terms of Occult philosophy, is it that could possibly give us an account, as it is claimed some departed spirits do, of the after-death states? How have we got the idea that there is such a thing as survival in "astral" form? Because living clairvoyants and "spooks" have told us so. But we have seen that the living clairvoyant can only he seeing into the Astral Light, and even that only so far as his faculties are developed to penetrate. The "spook" is not seeing anything consciously in the ordinary sense of that word.
Nothing said here should be taken as gainsaying the possibility of
psychic vision. The author himself knows the reality of that from firsthand. He has had one significant experience of this. During the war, in Scotland, on a breathtakingly beautiful early August afternoon, he came out of a fairly dark Nissen hut into the brilliant light of day and proceeded to walk down a driveway. There was a wide valley to his left and a fir-lined low hill to his right. As he walked he noticed that the valley seemed to be filling up with light. But it was no ordinary light; it was scintillating, opalescent, and it quickly assumed the shape of a very large oval upright rainbow, as if the bottom ends had been drawn together. The paler colours were on the outside, and the heart appeared as dense gold. The whole was a prospect of living light. This lasted for some minutes, during which he was aware not only of the huge "presence" but of the avenue of trees, the soldiers doing their maintenance work on the vehicles under the trees, the crunch of his army boots on the gravel. Slowly the vision faded. When it had gone, the whole scene seemed dull by comparison, even though the sun still shone unobscured. There was a certain sadness, too, at its ending.
This vision was certainly not a physical experience. No one else saw it. At the time, the author had done little reading in occult matters and did not know what the beautiful apparition was, having nothing to compare it with, and for himself, he still does not know. But in the interim he has come across pictures illustrating what clairvoyants have seen under similar circumstances. They say the form is that of a high-grade nature-spirit, or kind of superelemental. It would be very difficult to believe that it was hallucination or that it had been induced by anything other than the sudden awareness of the sheer beauty of the scene.
The point of the story is twofold. First, for the author, at any rate, it demonstrated beyond doubt that there is a kind of vision other than the normal; second, it illustrates that in these fields where normally we have no experience, we do not know what we are "seeing" when we do "see" something. Incidentally, the impression was certainly a visual one; no sound attached to it but it did evoke affection, a warmth of feeling.
In view of the mass of statements and beliefs to the contrary about what has been said in this chapter concerning the astral world or plane, particular note should be taken of it. The realization of its implications will be distasteful and even devastating to those who have firmly held the view that the astral plane and astral people in it are realities. A plea, however, is made here for an open-minded
look at these comments which insofar as they accord with the whole teaching of Occultism are justified. Any beliefs to the contrary, if examined against the total picture, will be found to be inconsistent in some particular or other, and therefore reasonably untenable. In spite of some remarkable instances, in particular cases, which would seem gainsay the occult view, the whole history of death back into the dim past of traditional custom and lore, reflected in most modern thought and practice, confirms it. Except for the effects of what the dead have done in their lives and, in some cases, their place in history, they never affect the course of things. The raising of, or commune with, the dead has always been regarded as unhealthy, abhorrent, and even dangerous. Until the relatively recent times of modern spiritualism, the necromancer has been regarded as dread and evil.
Perhaps we have present-day materialism on the one hand, and the teaching of eternal heaven or hell, instead of grand cycles of coming and going as post-mortem states, on the other, to thank for our present fear of death and our anxious desire to prove survival. And survival here means in terms of our present personalities with which we are so closely identified, in circumstances approximating those we are used to during our earthly lives. Occultism teaches survival, but in terms of our being divine spiritual entities of a glory and power, and in a habitat, as yet undreamt of by any but its students. Occultism is real "spiritualism."
Two extracts from Masters' letters are important as explaining the nature of the consciousness of shells and how they can give intelligent answers to questions, as well as how communications can be received from the real spirits of the departed.
The first extract is from one of the Master's letters telling us how “shells" can, on occasions, give highly intelligent answers to questions.
This formed part of the answer to the question, "But what is then 'the nature of the remembrance and self-consciousness of the shell?' " Another part of the answer was "no better than a reflected or borrowed light. 'Memory' is one thing, and 'perceptive faculties' quite another". (M.L.. p. 173, 2nd ed; pp. 169-70, 3rd ed.)
The second interesting passage describes how it is that a sensitive can reproduce not only the handwriting but the very thoughts of the departed.
This passage was apropos the communication of those still on earth with loved ones in Devachan. It goes on, however, as follows:
As said, we have not attempted to be exhaustive in this chapter on explanations, mostly restricted to spiritualistic phenomena. There is much else to be explained about the states of consciousness attainable by an adept. He can see objectively into the psychic realms. He can see the creations of the projected thoughts and feelings of living people and the subjective and self-created environment of the Devachanee. As we saw in Chapter 10 , “A clairvoyant can only see the sights properly belonging to the planes his development reaches to or has opened. And the elementals in these planes show to the clairvoyant only such pictures as belong to their plane. Other parts of the idea or thing pictured may be retained in planes not yet open to the seer. For this reason few clairvoyants
know the whole truth."But the adept is in a different case. He can see into the remaining planes; he is not subject to the same limitation and therefore illusion. Another important point that must be made is that an adept of high grade will have attained Egoic consciousness. This means he will have Egoic perception. This is incomparably greater than any clairvoyance at psychic levels. The psychic realms and their contents become objective to the Egoic seer because he is no longer in or of them.
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