The Theosophical Forum – November 1940


Four years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of the Church of England, set up an inquiry into "spiritualism." The Committee of twelve reported a year ago, but until now, the report has not been published.

An English Psychic Journal says that nine of the more influential members of the Committee reported that "spiritualism is true." In reply, Lambeth Palace issued a statement that this is "unauthorised and inaccurate." Also that "it is not proposed to publish the report at present, as further investigation is required."

It is a strange dilemma, the only escape from the horns of which is through Theosophy.

Elsewhere a very able writer, very positive and convincing, tells the world, and especially the military world, that "there is no death." He has proof, he says, consisting of the usual psychic manifestations. But these proofs are very unsatisfactory, since they make out that the "dead" are rather less intelligent than the very average man, though capable of certain psychic faculties which seem wonderful simply because we are not accustomed to them; in themselves they are of no ascertainable value at all.

The greatest difficulty appears to be that some people report phenomena of a certain class, and others do not believe these phenomena occur. Those who experience them give an explanation which is obvious to themselves, but discourages belief on the part of others who are more reasoning than psychic, more intellectual than emotional or sentimental. And sentiment plays a great part in the matter.

A very fair statement of the case that will please few is that the phenomena are seen and heard, but that the explanations of them are very wide of the mark.

A person is seen or heard, so it is thought, and the mere sight or statement is accepted without question. But if a mischievous schoolboy telephoned in his best mimicked voice that he was the one now dead, people would not invariably accept that as proof of his statement. Nor if he could imitate the figure or reproduce the thoughts of the dead person would it be any proof at all that he is the dead person. If one thing is certain it is that these psychic appearances, etc., have, in general, a rooted faculty for imitation. Why, is a question well answered in the older Theosophical literature.

One who can coolly analyse the phenomena is struck by the fact that in practically no case has any information been given which is of the slightest use or more than can be learned among living men. It is a fact that a "spirit" once stated the "truth of reincarnation," to use as loose a phrase as the one we started with in our quotation about spiritualism, but nobody seems to have paid much attention — it was not orthodox, perhaps. It was certainly exceptional.

Why not accept the obvious deduction from this and say that the so-called spirits are in no way higher than or superior to ordinary living men, that is, that they are not "spiritual," but psychic, and no more.

There are people whose sentimental nature is tremendously attracted by the mortal remains of their beloved dead. But most realize that the body is not the dead friend or relative, and are very content to let it disintegrate.

Would anyone like to have his thoughts immortalized? I think not. Why not let them die, too, and disintegrate? Why not, as the next step, let the psychic nature die and be purified in nature's way? The man is more than all these. Let him rest, so far as he needs rest and as long as he needs rest. But that higher and highest part of him that is above even the need of rest, let it seek its own place so long as it will.

Can anyone imagine the man trying to come back to communicate with the, to it, childish brains it left behind? I cannot. But I can imagine the man in his own sphere of consciousness, free from earthly psychism — earthly, sensual, devilish, as an old Christian in the Bible calls it — saying, "Let those who love me come to me, when they are asleep, perhaps. Then let them take back what they can to their brains and bodies and minds. But I want none of their earth-life here. Time enough when I have to go back to it. I need my rest from it first."

It all seems so strange, all this effort to drag a man back from his happiness to our muddy world, when he is free. Is it because we are too indolent to make an effort to rise to where he is — not where his body is, nor his psychic cast-offs, nor his unspiritual thoughts, but where he is himself?

Meanwhile all the healthy instinct of a balanced mind rebels against these dealings with the dead, the worship of the dead, as it is called in the East.

The Churches would find new life if they could recall the old teachings on these matters in their early lodges and seek what lies above and beyond all that is material, psychic, mentally intellectual, and lead their peoples upwards instead of into the byways of the desert. Let them recognise by all means that certain phenomena do occur of a psychic sort, but let them study their old teachers and realize that these phenomena have nothing whatever to do with their beloved dead, who have gone far, far beyond such trivialities.

There are no dead men — but they leave a lot of dead garments behind them. And the so-called dead men come back in due time to take new garments, new bodies. It is not fair to them to try to drag them down before their time, even if the efforts are so feeble that they are fruitless, except as disturbing the order of nature and her provisions for their needed rest between two lives on earth.

"Why seek ye the living among the dead?"

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