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EXPLORING THE GREAT BEYOND -
Most of us in the course of our lives come across many strange occurrences, directly or indirectly. We cannot account for them by anything we know. Speculations and theories abound, as do questions, but there are no glib answers.
More than likely, we think of the expression "the great beyond" as applied to some after-death sphere (if we accept that we survive at all and "go" anywhere), vaguely regarded as the realm of soul and spirit. These terms are seldom defined but we sense, and often accept, that they refer to an immaterial condition of being associated, in the minds of most of us, with heaven-and even, for some, with hell. But again, our ideas on these matters are nebulous and we certainly do not normally give them much attention. We accept the great beyond as some possible hinterland of existence. In some equally vague way, most of us also connect spiritualistic phenomena-ghosts, poltergeists, messages through mediums, and other similar happenings-with souls and the mysterious "somewhere" which they inhabit.
We could question where this might be and what in facto souls or spirits are. For example, if they are not material, just what are they? They are obviously not "nothing". They can, or so it seems, cause things to happen in the physical world. A "nothing" could not do that.
Then, if we can believe what we are told or read, there are people possessing powers which are unexplainable. Some can prophesy correctly; some can heal. Some can apparently bend nails and spoons and other hard objects without obviously applying force. Some can diagnose disease, and others, seemingly, perform bloodless operations - actually making incisions in
patients - without anaesthetics and without causing pain. These are some of the phenomena we are becoming accustomed to hearing about in the West. In the East there is a very ancient tradition of wonderworking which persists to this day. There are fire walkers, people with true vision of distant places, and those able to dematerialise, transport, and rematerialize objects. There are endless travellers' tales of what most of us can only regard as miracles.
It is, of course, very hard for us to regard these abnormal occurrences as real. It may be that many are fakes - mere conjuring - but surely so much could not be said on the subject by so many people, over so many years, in so many places, if they were based on pure fantasy or make-believe. Where there is so much smoke there surely must be some fire.
In any case, the arch-debunker of our times, modern science, has now begun to investigate the manifestations of some of these unusual powers, and although it cannot explain them it is satisfied that some very extraordinary things do happen, often under stringent test conditions. In the case of healers, too many people improve in health, are relieved of painful symptoms and will testify to the fact, for all the healings to be dismissed as non-events. It seems that at least some of the "spirit" healers of the Philippines and South America are in this category, in spite of persistent attempts to prove them frauds. Whatever modern wonderworking fakirs and yogis may still exist in the East, they have their Western counterparts, although perhaps not quite so gifted, in such persons as Uri Geller, Matthew Manning, Edgar Cayce, and a host of mediums able to produce more or less spectacular phenomena, e.g., Rosemary Brown and her "spirit" inspired music, and Mrs. Cowan and her novels.
All these powers and happenings seem to relate to areas of effectual functioning and being not accessible to the rest of us. The mediums usually do not hesitate to ascribe what they can do to the spirits of the dead. The healers will often say that God is working through them. The modern young wonderworkers such as Geller and Manning admit they do not know how they do what they do; they just have the power to do it. In diagnosing, Manning says a Dr. Penn is operating through him. But Dr. Penn is dead, so how is this accomplished? What is equally puzzling is that Dr. Penn's diagnoses are so often correct, even though no actual physical examination of the patient takes place.
This book is offered to the interested and inquiring layman to help him survey the field of the extraordinary, the abnormal, the very unusual. It offers for his consideration, as at least feasible theories, some explanations of these strange happenings in the light of certain concepts (some would call them data) of the normally hidden side of things. He may be surprised to learn how much can be offered for his attention.
Nothing in this book is claimed as the author's direct knowledge; all is the result of his reading and study. That reading, however, has been relatively deep and extensive. Nor is it claimed that the data, however much they may be regarded as hypotheses, have been presented without error or distortion. To ensure such accuracy, direct knowledge of the things written about would be required. Extensive literature on the subject, however, clearly suggests that such knowledge and powers - far transcending those of the ordinary man - have been possessed by some who could use them at will. Perhaps such individuals still exist today. But they would have to be initiates into, or adepts of, the mysteries of Nature, knowing what they were doing and how they did it. Something will be said later about these initiates.
It is hoped that this book will at least call attention to the literature on the subject and stimulate an interest in it. The benefit to be derived by humanity from the knowledge thus gained would be the eradication of the commonly held idea that the great beyond is forever unknowable by man. This may be so while his natural faculties, even when extended by his sophisticated instruments, are so very limited. The belief that the great beyond is unknowable is at the back of much superstition, particularly where there is much other fundamental ignorance. The fields of healing and religion are two such areas. Much is known in both fields - for example, in terms of the reactions of the body, say, to drugs in the one case and in terms of mystical experience in the other. But in terms of life itself there is immense ignorance of ultimate causes and the overall and deep effects of treatment in the one, and of the sources and ultimate powers underlying religious experience, even the most genuine, in the other. In other words, neither science nor religion gives completely satisfactory explanations of the "whys and wherefores" of existence generally, nor of individual existence in particular. The literature, however , dispels something of this darkness, first by giving us some idea of the nature of the great beyond and second by making us aware of
man's potential, but normally undeveloped, faculties of knowing and power.
Further, the literature introduces us to a new idea of the enormity and complexity of the cosmic process in both time and space. We learn, too, that everything in the whole scheme is an element in and has a part to play in that vast process. Such an element is humankind as a whole. But we exist as individuals, and that means you and me. So we have our significant parts to play, individually and collectively, in this grand scheme of things.
The book is roughly in three parts. The first part describes some of the more extraordinary and unusual happenings-things we hear about but seldom, if ever, experience for ourselves, including what can and does go on in spiritualistic séances.
It is contended that there are far too many well authenticated examples of these out-of-the-ordinary occurrences for us to be able to dismiss them as coincidence or trickery or delusion. Science, as we have seen, is taking notice. People, apparently with strange powers, are being investigated, and it is beginning to be accepted that the8e powers may be genuine. Explanations are still in the realm of mystery, but certain physiological states, and the reactions of some of these persons when performing their feats, show up on instruments during the investigations. For example, in some cases, unusual brain wave patterns manifest.
The second part of the book contains an outline of the information available concerning the inner nature of man and cosmos, and of those aspects having relation to strange phenomena. This might be regarded as a section of technical data. It is followed, in the third part, by more examples of unusual happenings, some very remarkable, with explanations in terms of the technical data given in part two.
It must be stressed that only some aspects of an enormous field of inquiry are stressed. Traditionally, knowledge of these things has existed since the dim ages of prehistory. It is mirrored in innumerable tales in the folklore and myths found in all parts of the world. These are the stories of great beings, warriors, giants, magicians good and bad, fairies, gods, angels, saints, devils, and so on. Some of these stories have been incorporated in religious literature. Some of them find echo in the experiences, visions, etc., told to psychologists by subjects under analysis. An extensive symbolism is, it seems, in the collective unconscious. But how did it get there?
An important point is made at the end of the book that most of the phenomena, in and to do with, the great beyond are not properly to be regarded as spiritual, even if they are spiritualistic. The realm of Spirit proper is only in the higher reaches of the great beyond.
For some readers the book will be a first incursion into a strange territory. The great beyond is vast, immeasurable, with not just many but numberless "mansions" in it. Anyone being introduced to it cannot fail to be impressed with its scope and depths, the might of its powers, the wonder of its infinite complexity and, of inestimable importance to each of us, the awful intimacy which it has with each of us. In it - and this will surely be the initial excitement - will be found answers to so many questions that otherwise must remain mostly, or completely, unanswerable. Perhaps the reader will not be able to accept all, or even some, of these answers, but if he reads what is given with even a partially open mind, he must surely be brought to the conclusion that, fiction or not, here is a theory of the nature and workings of cosmos at all levels of being that is consistent throughout, comprehensive, and, with a little effort on his part, comprehensible. There is no other such theory. The fact that it does explain, however unsatisfactorily to those of us who may have other ideas in certain areas, not only the phenomena mentioned but so many of the experiences of life in its various aspects - plus the fact that into it fits all that has truly been discovered by science - must surely give it a validity denied to any other hypothesis.
A few special words from languages other than English, mostly Sanskrit, are used in places, but it is hoped that their meanings have been made quite clear .One reason for their use is that many of them are already in fairly common use and they do have precise meanings. The meanings sometimes ascribed to them now, however, are often misleading and can make nonsense of the otherwise grand philosophy which they express. The ancient sages used them accurately.
This introduction would not be complete without reference to religion because the great beyond has always been its special province. Many of us have lived our whole lives with many beliefs, some firmly held, some not, concerning that realm, what goes on there, what our relationship is to God who - it is commonly accepted - inhabits it, and so on. Such believers, if they are interested, are requested to read as open-mindedly as possible
what is given here, not rejecting anything, however strange or even unpalatable it may at first seem, and then to think about it. If then they prefer their own beliefs, they then can revert to them with no harm done. They will just have seen another point of view.
If, however, what is written here can be accepted as at least a working hypothesis, then much can grow out of it. As we have said, the theory is completely validated in the light of our experiences of life. We begin to feel we know something, whereas before we did not. With this confidence we can go on to see what the Ancient Wisdom, as the knowledge is sometimes called, has to say on other important matters, such as the various qualities and powers of life as potentialities or as actually expressing themselves in living things; the nature of divinity in terms of the nature of cosmos; the origin of our world and ourselves; how we came to be as we are with our senses and faculties; the long term processes and aims of evolution, and so on.
A whole new universe of ideas and thought can open up to us. Unfortunately, the knowledge cannot be obtained in digest or tabular form for quick assimilation. It has to be earnestly sought and then contemplated long and carefully. This effort of itself modifies our thinking: some previously undeveloped internal faculties of understanding begin to manifest themselves. With this development our horizons also expand and we begin to glimpse vistas of the "Great Beyond" undreamt of in our present philosophies.
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