The Theosophical Forum – March 1937



If someone you love had just fallen asleep after a weary day of illness would you rush at him and wake him up to ask his advice about something important to yourself? Yet this is just about what we try to do when we seek to call the souls of our departed back into the troubles of this world. Unfortunately, there is nothing as a rule more selfish than personal grief. It centers entirely in my sufferings, my loss my loneliness; and considers the peace of the departed not at all. But — and how fortunate for them! — we cannot really disturb the dead in this way. We may, if we are selfishly violent and persistent enough, delay their blessed release into the peace and bliss of spiritual rest. But eventually they must slip away from us. And then because of our blind and ignorant selfishness. We shall not be able to keep in touch with them, as explained in our last talk.

Here is where you will be sure to ask about spiritualistic "messages." And you will remark that such communications have brought comfort to thousands. True enough. That kind of synthetic satisfaction is always ready to hand. But that is false communication with our dead. It really has nothing whatever to do with the departed Spirit-soul when we sit in at seances we are a good deal like the pathetic little dog listening to "his master's voice." Literally, that is all we are getting — an astral phonograph record thrown off by the shell, the mental-emotional energy-complex left behind by the departed. A bona fide medium can so to speak wind up this astral record. Some kind of parrot-message is the result — providing of course that the message is genuine, which all too frequently it isn't.

This shell or psychological complex of the departed is a left-over from the life just closed. After the death of the physical body it is sloughed off or laid aside by the Spirit-soul like a discarded glove. Does not a glove after long wear take on the characteristics of the wearer? How often a glove, or some other personal belonging, will be treasured for just this reason. It seems to hold the very atmosphere of the beloved dead. Actually, it does. It is saturated with his aura as the saying goes, his life-vibrations. How much more then will this be the case with the mental vesture, the shell or complex of lower psychological energies thrown aside by the dead. It is from this garment of mortality, this astral shell, that the messages of the seance-room are released. The elements which make up this shell belong to the temporary and material parts of the just-closed life. They were the man's disturbing loves, his hatreds, passions, emotions, and memories of a personal nature. These must be left behind if the man himself is to rest from "life's fitful fever." So after death the Spirit-soul casts these aside and clothes itself in the light of eternity. It then becomes invisible, and unapproachable to all but the Spirit-souls of those who unselfishly love it.

Now this psychological shell is far more durable than the physical body, being made of mental or ethereal substance. Of course, if left alone it too will in time dissolve away. But if it is agitated by our violent grief or stimulated by ignorant mediums it can be held together and made to last for many years and so delay the Spirit's passage into complete rest. Perhaps you see now why the communications psychically galvanized out of this soulless complex are always so parrot-like. Details of the past life or thoughts may be given accurately but it seems safe to say that no genuine "news from the other side" has ever been received through ordinary mediums. The "spirits" of great men always utter the flattest platitudes. And nothing has ever been added to discovery in Science or in any other department of human thought by the murky echoes from seance-rooms. As for the hypothetical "Summerland," what is it but another parrot-reproduction of imperfect conditions of this imperfect world? It is merely another kind of Fool's Paradise. And the fact that thousands of sad and sincere hearts have found comfort in a belief in this so-called Summerland proves nothing.

There is too a decidedly unhealthy atmosphere about this kind of absorption in the affairs of the dead. A candid examination of all the phenomena of Spiritualism by one who has no emotional axe to grind will soon send him back to the sane light of the normal world. And this even though he may admit that many of the manifestations are facts. But he will see them as unwholesome facts fit only for the impersonal research of the ethical-scientific spirit.

Theosophy assures us that if we will lift our inmost hearts daily in pure unselfish aspiration, if we will constantly try to live our ideals, we shall be able to have communion with the Heavenworld of our dear ones. We shall not communicate with them. We cannot see or hear or touch. But we shall know, and knowing be at peace.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition