'When We Die ...' -
Chapter 8, Psychic and Spiritualistic Phenomena

Compiled by Geoffrey Farthing

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A comprehensive description, in outline, of the processes and subjective states in the period between lives, with some information about spiritualistic and psychic phenomena.

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In what has been written so far there has been much information as to the nature of spiritualistic phenomena and the nature of the entities from which communications are received. The rule appears to be that, except in the case of suicides and accidents, including premature sudden deaths such as soldiers killed in battle, no Ego can communicate with the living. Communication is mostly from the accidents (and suicides) where the severance from the sixth and seventh principles, of the personality elements has not taken place. Communication can take place with "shells", as now defined, but of course only after the Egoic entity has left and is not, therefore, involved in such communication.

The only other kind of contact with the departed is when a pure medium can raise his or her consciousness to that of an Ego in Devachan.

Confirmation on these points was sought a number of times and the answers provide not only the required confirmation but useful additional information. For example (P. 121: 124): " ... very often as I understand the spirits of very fair average good people dying natural deaths, remain some time in the earth's atmosphere - from a few days to a few years - why cannot such as these communicate? And if they can this is a most important point that should not have been overlooked."

(P. 129: 133): "'The Spirits of very fair average good people dying natural deaths remain ... in the earth's atmosphere from a few days to a few years', the period

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depending on their readiness to meet their - creature not their creator; a very abstruse subject you will learn later on, when you too are more prepared. [Note: This information is not in the extant letters.] But why should they 'communicate'? Do those you love communicate with you during their sleep objectively? Your Spirits, in hours of danger, or intense sympathy, vibrating on the same current of thought - which in such cases, creates a kind of telegraphic spiritual wires between your two bodies - may meet and mutually impress your memories; but then you are living, not dead bodies. But how can an unconscious 5th principle (see supra) impress or communicate with a living organism, unless it has already become a shell? If, for certain reasons they remain in such a state of lethargy for several years, the spirits of the living may ascend to them, as you were already told; and this may take place still easier in Devachan, where the Spirit is too much engrossed in his personal bliss to pay much attention to an intruding element. I say - they cannot."

Then another difficulty was raised, (P. 121: 124): "And ... it is a fact that thousands of spirits do appear in pure circles and teach the highest morality and more- over tell very closely the truths as to the unseen world (witness Alan Kardec's books pages and pages of which are identical with what you yourself teach) [Allan Kardec, French teacher and systematizer of Spiritism for which he laid the foundation with the five books] and it is unreasonable to suppose that such are either shells or bad spirits. But you have not given us any opening for any large number of pure high spirits - and until the whole theory is properly set forth and due place made for these which seem to me a thoroughly well established fact, you will never win over the spiritualists."

The answer again (4, P. 130: 133) is as follows: "I am sorry to contradict your statement. I know of no 'thousands of spirits' who do appear in circles - and

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moreover positively do not know of one 'perfectly pure circle' - and 'teach the highest morality'. I hope I may not be classed with slanderers in addition to other names lately bestowed upon me, but truth compels me to declare that Alan Kardec was not quite immaculate during his lifetime, nor has he become a very pure Spirit since. As to teaching the 'highest morality', we have a Dugpa-Shammar not far from where I am residing. Quite a remarkable man. Not very powerful as a sorcerer but excessively so, as a drunkard, a thief, a liar, and - an orator. ... This Shapa-tung Lama, when thirsty, can make an enormous audience of 'yellow cap' laymen weep all their yearly supply of tears, with the narrative of his repentance and suffering in the morning, and then get drunk in the evening and rob the whole village by mesmerising them into a dead sleep. Preaching and teaching morality with an end in view proves very little."

We are given an explanation (P. 99: 101) of more of the various kinds of psychic phenomena. "Some of the phenomena called psychography (though more rarely) are also real. The spirit of the sensitive getting odylised, so to say, by the aura of the Spirit in the Devachan, becomes for a few minutes that departed personality, and writes in the handwriting of the latter, in his language and in his thoughts, as they were during his lifetime. The two spirits are blended in one; and, the preponderance of one over the other during such phenomena determines the preponderance of personality in the characteristics exhibited in such writings, and 'trance speaking'. What you call 'rapport' is in plain fact an identity of molecular vibration between the astral part of the incarnate medium and the astral part of the dis- incarnate personality." Here follows some technical explanations on "rapport". The word astral here would

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appear to be used unusually in connection with the personal residue of the fifth principle of the departed, and the higher mind of the medium. As the qualification "personality" is used however it might be that it is the shell of the departed and the fourth principle of the medium that is meant. If this were so the medium's rapport would not be with the Devachanee, the Ego. Some of the Master's views and comments on spiritualism should be noted. In the section on "Exceptions", i.e. those who died violent deaths, and suicides, we saw how a "borrowed life" through mediums adversely affected their skandhas and hence their next lives. They will get "a new body, with far worse tendencies and passions than was the one they lost". The passage (P. IIO: II3) goes on, "All the future of this new body will be determined thus, not only by the Karma of demerit of the previous set or group [Note: of skandhas] but also by that of the new set of the future being. Were 'the mediums and Spiritualists but to know, as I said, that with every new 'angel guide' they welcome with rapture, they entice the latter into an Upadana [Note: fulfilment of desire] which will be productive of a series of untold evils for the new Ego that will be born under its nefarious shadow, and that with every seance - especially for materialization - they multiply the causes for misery, causes that will make the unfortunate Ego fail in his spiritual birth, or be reborn into worse existence than ever - they would, perhaps, be less lavishing in their hospitality."

"And now, you may understand why we oppose so strongly Spiritualism and mediumship .... it is not against true Spiritualism that we set ourselves, but only against indiscriminate mediumship and - physical manifestations, - materializations and trance-possessions especially. [P, II 2: II4.] Could the Spiritualists be

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only made to understand the difference between individuality and personality, between individual and personal immortality and some other truths, they would be more easily persuaded that Occulists may be fully convinced of the monad's immortality, and yet deny that of the soul - the vehicle of the personal Ego; that they can firmly believe in, and themselves practice spiritual communiations and intercourse with the disembodied Ego of the Rupa-Loka, [Note: of DevachanJ and yet laugh at the insane idea of 'shaking hands' with a 'Spirit' !; ... "

Another passage (P. 252: 255) is interesting, "There is one general law of vision (physical and mental or spiritual) but there is a qualifying special law proving that all vision must be determined by the quality or grade of man's spirit or soul, and also by the ability to translate divers qualities of waves of astral light into consciousness. There is but one general law of life, but innumerable laws qualify and determine the myriads of forms perceived and of sounds heard. There are those who are willingly and others who are unwillingly blind. Mediums belong to the former, sensitives to the latter. Unless regularly initiated and trained - concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg ... - no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly." Surely we ought to note this carefully.

Some further information on the capabilities of "Shells" ought to be noted. Carrying on with the theme that memory is one thing and perceptive faculties quite another, we have (p. 169 : 173) "Thus with a shell; once in the aura of a medium, all he perceives through the borrowed organs of the medium and of those in magnetic sympathy with the latter, he will perceive very clearly - but not further than what the shell can find

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in the perceptive faculties and memories of circle and medium - hence often the rational and at times highly intelligen t answers; hence also a complete oblivion of things known to all but that medium and circle. The shell of a highly intelligent, learned, but utterly unspiritual man who died a natural death, will last longer and the shadow of his own memory helping - that shadow which is the refuse of the sixth principle left in the fifth - he may deliver discourses through trance speakers and repeat parrot-like that which he knew of and thought much over it, during his life-time. But find me one single instance in the annals of Spiritualism where a returning shell of a Faraday or a Brewster (for even they were made to fall into the trap of mediumistic attraction) said one word more than it knew during its life-time."

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