WHEN WE DIE - Exploring the Great Beyond
by Geoffrey Farthing
About the Author
A Description of the After-Death States and Processes
GEOFFREY A. FARTHING WAS BORN in England in December 1909; educated conventionally at two boarding schools; matriculated London University, became apprenticed into electrical engineering, attended night school at the Manchester College of Technology of which he became an Associate; served six years in the Army in the Royal Signals, leaving the service as a Major.
He has lectured in many countries around the world and has held most positions in the Theosophical Society in England [Adyar], including a spell as General Secretary (1969-72).
He has written a number of theosophical books: Theosophy, What's It All About; Deity, Cosmos and Man; and Exploring the Great Beyond; and has given the prestigious Blavatsky Lecture at the Annual Convention of the English Theosophical Society on "Life, Death, and Dreams" in 1972. He served a term as a member of the Society's General Council at Adyar, India, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Federation for a number of years.
In our author's mid-teens there occurred an event which had a profound effect on him. He was taken to visit an aunt of his maternal grandmother who at that time was very aged and bedridden. He was taken into the bedroom with his mother and had a few words with the old lady who seemed quite lucid. She recognized his mother but until she was told she did not know who the boy was. Mother and Great-Aunt had a few words and then Great-Aunt fell silent. After a few moments her left fore-arm which was above the bed-clothes and resting on her chest went limp and fell by the side of the bed. There was no apparent change in the old lady except that her eyes became fixed. She was dead.
Questions then started to arise in our author's mind. Exactly what had happened? Someone said that her soul had departed. From his attendances at church the boy knew that such a departing meant that the soul had either gone to heaven or hell. Apart from very vague descriptions of these places he had not really any idea what or where they were.
He had heard about the tortures of the damned and their eternal ages in hell-fire but where was such a fire and how could whatever have left the old lady be in any way combustible? He asked a few people, including the local parson, whom he thought ought to know the answers about these things, but it seemed they had nothing really of value to tell him. He was still at school and his form-master happened to be a clergyman. He asked him some of these questions but got no real answers.
Later on he discovered from newspaper articles and in magazines with photographs of spiritualistic phenomena about ectoplasmic appearances of the dead, about haunted houses and poltergeists. How did all these happenings relate to what had happened to his Great-Aunt? Could she come back as an ectoplasmic form? Would she have anything to do with haunting houses, causing distress to the occupants? Could she be the means for the irrational and destructive things that he had heard were done by 'spirits'?
Over the years these and other questions were raised many times. This was the era of 'Kuda Bux' firewalking and the stories of gifted mediums getting long, intelligent and intelligible messages from 'the other side.' He read books of letters from deceased children, of much comfort to their parents and others. These letters were sometimes in a long series, lasting a number of years. Who was writing them? If it was in fact 'the dead' what was the means of communication? Why did only certain people receive them? Were they really genuine? These were the days of the great spiritualists like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Crookes, Stainton Moses and others, many of them prominent in public life. The subject of spiritualistic phenomena was therefore worthy of serious consideration, but it was also a subject for considerable speculation. It seems that a wide variety of phenomena were real enough, but what the factors were in their production seemed to be a matter of opinion. The spiritualists with one accord said that they were the spirits of the dead, but some of the researchers expressed doubts about this.
Coupled with his literary explorations into the world of spiritualism, our author's questioning went further afield. It went into the origins of the Universe, how it was governed, what our relationship to it was. All these questions in conventional thinking involved God, but who, what, or where was God, and where did he come from? What was this mighty power which was possessed by an entity which could create and determine the movements of all the stars in the heavens? Where did the infinite variety and design of living things come from? What laws governed the periodical
appearance of things and their disappearance? It was obviously these laws which encompassed the processes of birth and death. What really did happen after death?
There were some avenues of exploration of this last subject in the Tibetan and Egyptian Books of the Dead: on the one hand seemingly explicit, on the other extraordinarily uninformative unless one knew the secret of the symbolism. Where did one look for worth-while information?
By a series of seeming accidents our author eventually found the Theosophical Society in London with its very comprehensive library. On putting some of his questions to the librarian he was given a number of books which purported to tell in considerable detail what happens when we die. These seemed plausible and related the subject quite closely to a comprehensive philosophical structure of the whole Cosmos. Our author felt reasonably confident that now he was indeed getting answers to his questions.
At the end of the Second World War, however, he was suddenly presented with a copy of The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett link. In this there was also an account in considerable detail of the after-death states. These did not in many important particulars accord with what he had learnt before. This raised serious difficulties. Both parties claimed to know what they were talking about: one by clairvoyance and the other by spiritual perception of a different and higher order. The Masters' account also accorded in its main particulars with what he had learned previously of the nature of the overall cosmic scheme.
Granting the Masters a higher authority in this matter, by reason of their more developed faculties, he made the decision to adopt their account of what happens in the hereafter together with their overall picture of the nature and workings of Cosmos. It is this account of the after-death states which is given in this book.