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Man and the Spiritual World

The Spiritual World is Everywhere, and Interpenetrates the Physical.

So accustomed are we to think and speak of the World of Spirit as occupying a defined and particular spot in the universe, and as being altogether detached from the physical man and the physical earth, that to many it is a novel and startling thought that the Spiritual World (or to use a more accurate term—the Spiritual Universe) extends everywhere. And yet, undoubtedly, this is a great truth disclosed by the Bible.

That Book, indeed, shows that there are particular spheres or localities in the Spiritual World, but it also shows that the World itself extends far and away beyond them. It cannot be restricted to any one spot or spots, for the reason that there is no point in all the vast universe where it is not.

Co-extensive with creation, it fills all space and, interpenetrating the physical, makes this earth or any other planet, any district, house, room, or place whatsoever as much a part of the Spiritual World as any other region where there is life and intelligence.

But this is not all. The Bible shows that the Spiritual World also interpenetrates us and reaches to the interior part of our being. From Genesis to Revelation that World is represented as being so interwoven with man and his surroundings that, although still living on the plane of the physical and clothed with flesh, he may, nevertheless, be in the very midst of the Spiritual, and in a number of cases be conscious of its nearness, and sensible to its realities.

Further, it shows that what is needed to make a man conscious of the closeness of the Spiritual, and to see and hear that which encompasses him is not the bringing of the Spiritual World to him, or him to that World, but the opening of the faculties of the spiritual part in him—his own spirit-body. To put it in scientific language, it is a case of 'adaptation to environment.'

Thus, a person before dying is not outside the Spiritual World, although, the eyes and ears of his inner body being unopened, and the veil of flesh interposing, the perception of it may be wanting. The Spiritual presses upon him, but he may not be en rapport with it.

Again, a person whose earthly body has just died is as much in the Spiritual World within the four walls of his death-chamber as he would be had his released spirit-body been transported to the other side of the furthermost star.

Let me illustrate what I mean by this last statement; seeing that it is a common error to suppose that a person must go a long distance away from this earth before he can get into the Spiritual World. Take the case of anyone dying. The spirit of that person, enclosed in its spiritual envelope, is then liberated from its tabernacle of flesh and leaves the dead thing behind. If (as is probably the case) that liberation takes place in the room in which the death occurred, there must be a point of time when, in that chamber, there are, distinct from one another, the dead body and the spiritual man who has shortly before been encased in it. But he is now no longer on the plane of matter: the medium through which he was able to be in contact with the physical has been cast aside. He is on the plane of spirit. He is in the Spiritual World of which that death chamber is a part. Wherever he may go subsequently, he will not be more a spiritual being in a Spiritual World than he is within those four walls. Outside that room he will find a wider scope for exercise and observation, but the principle of his being, and the principle of the World to which his being belongs, will not be altered. We do not alter the nature of a fish or the nature of the element for which it is adapted, when we take the little creature from the tank in which it first came into adjustment with the water and put it into the lake. In both places it is in its world.

This would seem the place to record a remarkable statement sent to me for perusal a short time since. It appeared in the form of a letter to one of the papers, and was written by a medical man who gave his own experience of dying, after having been restored to earthly life after that event. The statement was countersigned by two other doctors who were medically attending him. The gentleman had had a severe illness, and himself knew at last that there was no hope of his recovery. About an hour before the change came, he states that he was suddenly conscious that there was within his body a something that seemed as if it were floating in much the same way as a boat moored to a quay floats with the rise and fall of the water. Presently he became conscious of another sensation. It was as if a number of tiny cords or fibres along both sides of his entire body were being snapped one after another. The sensation was not painful. This went on for some time, until at length it seemed as if this floating something were contracting upward from the feet. Soon the contraction extended as far as the knees, and then he knew that the parts below that point were dead. The contraction continued until the centre of the body was reached, and then he was aware that all below the waist was likewise dead. Later he could feel that the contraction had extended to his chest, and lastly to his head. Then came an oblivion, and his next consciousness was that he himself was out of his body and standing beside the bed. He could see he was still in shape, but seemed to be a little taller than he had been in his other body. He distinctly remembered seeing one of the doctors feel for the pulse, and the other place his hand over the heart of the motionless form. He saw also his wife and daughter kneeling on either side of the bed, both weeping. He tried to arrest their attention, but could not, and although he spoke to them they did not hear his voice. Then he moved across the room and lingered a moment at the door watching the scene. An impulse was drawing him away from the death-chamber. He distinctly remembered passing down the staircase out of his house into the garden, where he particularly noticed the redness of the ground washed by the heavy rains. Anon, he came to the road and brushed by several persons who evidently were not conscious of his presence. Then a darkness and a numbness fell upon him, and his next consciousness was that he was in bed, a tenant again of his earthly body.

Now, all this we admit might be easily attributed to no more than a mental impression, but for one fact. Both the doctors who countersigned that statement positively assert that their friend had actually died. As medical men, they declare that all the acknowledged signs of death were present, and append their names to the declaration.

The testimony of the doctor who had the experience was given after he had been restored to health, and I see no reason for doubting that his spirit-body really did leave its earthly tenement and came back to it as the spirit-body of Lazarus did.

If that be so, then here is an illustration of the interpenetration of the spiritual and the physical. That doctor in his spirit-body, when in his house, his garden, and by the roadside, was in the Spiritual World.

One can hardly read his experience as to the snapping of those internal cords without recalling the words, 'Or ever the silver cord be loosed' (Eccles. xii. 6 v.).

There are two important reasons that we must briefly notice which justify the belief that the Spiritual interpenetrates the physical, quite apart from all explicit statements of the fact.

The first is, it would be impossible for man to be essentially a spiritual being were it not so. We believe that within the earthly body of a person there dwells a soul, and that in its nature is spirit. But suppose that the Spiritual did not interpenetrate the physical; suppose that the Spiritual World did not touch (as it were) the man until he stepped out of the flesh—what then? We contend that it would be impossible for his spirit and its enveloping spirit-body to exist. They would have no sphere in which spirit-life would be possible. To imagine a spirit living in an environment made up of nothing but the physical is as unscientific and absurd as it would be to suppose that a fish could live in a glass bowl without any water. Death (as we have already stated) launches a person more fully and consciously into the Spiritual World, as birth introduces an unborn child more fully and consciously into the physical world; but in neither case would there have been any life at all to advance unless there had been a previous living in a sphere of the nature of that to which advancement is made.

The physical nature of the unborn child could have had no existence except within the radius of the physical; nor could our spirit have come into being, and maintain that being as a sojourner in the flesh, except within the radius of the Spiritual.

Whether within or without the physical body, whether here on earth, or progressing in Paradise, or blest in Heaven, no spirit can exist outside the Spiritual World.

This, then, is what we have to realise, viz., that Man, now while living in the earth-life, is in two Worlds—the Material and the Spiritual—and is vitally connected with both. He maintains his physical being because of the nearness and interpenetration of the physical, and he maintains his spirit's existence because of the interpenetration of the Spiritual.

Thus, the Spiritual World is not far away, and unrelated to him as he lives out the first stage of his existence on earth. It is very, very close—so close that it is within him: he lives, and has his spiritual being in it.

If it were not so, then it seems to me that we must admit that the Materialist is right, and Man, in a world uninterpenetrated by the Spiritual, can be no more than a highly - organised piece of animated matter.

We glance now at the other reason that makes it a credible belief that the Spiritual interpenetrates the physical.

Without this interpenetration, in what way can we account for the wonders connected with Matter?

For example, Matter assumes a variety of forms, as seen in the bodies of men, animals, birds, fishes, insects, and the forms of trees, flowers, grasses, etc. All these things are characterised by life. Look at a human hand, a bird's wing, a fish's fin, a worm's elastic length. What do you see in them? Design—yes, marvellous contrivances towards foreseen ends. Examine a butterfly, a flower, a fruit-blossom, a fern-leaf. To what do they point? To exquisite harmony and beauty in colour and shape.

But whence this life, this design, and harmonious beauty? Do you say, as some do, that the cause lies in Matter itself, which has the power of expressing itself in these ways? Surely that cannot be right or sensible.

Matter in itself, apart from a quickening and moulding touch—an interpenetration from without—is a dead thing; and no dead thing, nor any number of configurations of dead things, can possibly produce a living form. Whatever potentialities are resident in Matter have been infused into it. That is admitted by the best scientists of the day.

Again, no one will suppose that an atom or a molecule is gifted with forethought. But adaptation to ends presupposes forethought. How do we account for the design that is everywhere seen? Do dead and mindless particles without forethought create that attribute when they mass themselves under certain combinations? Such an idea seems to require a considerable amount of blind credulity.

Once more, Matter in itself can have no discernment of colour and shape. How, then, is it able, simply by its own inherent powers and resources, to unerringly arrange its atoms on the lines of harmony and beauty?

These are considerations, we think, that point to there being a penetration of the Spiritual into the physical. There could be no life, design and beauty in the material world without it.

How infinitely reasonable the thought that God being a Spirit, at the base of all material existence lies spirit, and that the works of Nature are but His thoughts and spiritual energies materialised!

'Spirit aye shapeth Matter into view,
As Music wears the forms it passes through.
Spirit is lord of substance, Matter's sole
First Cause and forming power and final goal.'

But further, material things are the correspondences to things existing in the realm of spirit. They are coarser representations of them; their counterparts on a lower plane of being. The originals are spiritual, not physical. The flower you hold in your hand is a correspondence. Its prototype is in the Spiritual World. It is a spiritual idea printed in the book of Matter.

That physical body of yours, too, is a correspondence. Its archetype is a spirit-body within it, and that latter belongs also to the Spiritual World.

The material flower will fade, and the material body will be disintegrated, and its component parts will form other objects, but their prototypes will remain.

Was not that thought in the mind of St Paul when he wrote, 'The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal' (2 Cor. iv. 18 v.)?

Then lastly (for we can now but barely touch this vast subject), it is because the Spiritual streams into dull, inert, mindless Matter that physical things are what they are.

Why is one flower so different from fifty other kinds growing in the same soil? What lies behind its distinctive form? Something—science cannot tell what. We think it to be an interpenetrating spiritual principle that has given to the particles drawn from the ground and atmosphere the constructive touch that builds up the body of that flower.

There is our earthly body. What lies behind the form of that? Again we reply, 'spirit.' It is an in-dwelling spirit-body that gives the moulding touch to the ever-changing atoms of which our outer body is composed. So much so that very often a man's character and disposition are stamped upon his face.

These, then, are thoughts that impel us to the belief that the Spiritual and the physical overlap.

It remains for us to show that the Bible most emphatically teaches that the Spiritual World interpenetrates Man and his earthly environment.

To give the whole testimony of the Book on this point would entail the reproduction of the greater part of its contents. We can, therefore, only adduce some of its statements. But these will suffice to put the reader on a track of interesting thought that he can follow for himself.

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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Thoughts of the Spiritual" (1905 American Edition)
"Problems of the Spiritual" (1907 UK Edition)

Rev. Arthur Chambers Returns From "Death" To Speak Through The Zodiac Circle
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