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Problems of the Spiritual


IX. Apart from direct communications from them, how may we best realize that the Departed, are still living, and in relationship with us?

By the term "direct communications," the Questioner is of course, referring to the manifestation to persons in earth-life of those who have "passed over," in such a way as to cause themselves to be seen, or heard, or their presence felt. It has been shown in another part of this volume that this power of manifestation is not granted to all in spirit-life; and that, in many cases in which it is granted, the manifestation may not be made, because the necessary conditions may be lacking. The one on the earth-plane may be so psychically undeveloped as to render the Departed one wholly incapable of making his presence realizable. The spirit-friend may be near us—so near, that were the faculties of our interior spirit-body opened (as were the spiritual eyes of the young man in the Bible story, and the spiritual eyes and ears of the three Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration), we should see him, and hear him speak to us.

But in the case of many who long for such a manifestation of departed ones, the interior powers are as yet unopened. Those dear ones may come to us, and we may not possess the ability to register their presence. By such psychically undeveloped ones, it is asked—How may we best realize that the Departed are still living, and in relationship with us? The answer is a simple one.

The first and greatest of all means for the attainment of this is by praying for them.

Those teachers of the Christian Religion who discountenance Prayer for the Departed rob the bereaved of one of the greatest consolations that the Gospel can give. They deny to them just the one thing of all others which is most needed in that experience of separation and loss which comes with death. A beloved one is taken from us; the bond which linked us to that one appears to have been ruthlessly broken; the being himself has passed beyond the reach of our sight and touch; and the teachers of that School of religious thought to which I have alluded, tell us that to pray for him is foolish, useless, Popish and wrong. Some of them will tell us (as they have told me) that the mere suggestion of praying for the Departed arises from the Devil. And so the poor mourner is left to get over his bereavement and distress in the best way he can. The most that the theology of that School can offer, is a hope that at some distant day we may see again the ones whom we have lost. Will this kind of teaching comfort and satisfy a poor saddened heart, or brighten a darkened life? We assert emphatically that it will not. If Death removes from you one who is very near and dear to you, you cannot be comforted until you hold the conviction that that one is still living and still in relationship with you. The old theological notion as to death will not give you this conviction. I have received hundreds of letters from mourners in which it has been confessed that the thought of a resurrection and re-union at a distant day has brought not the slightest sense of relief to them. The mourner who is unable to realize that his departed beloved one is still living and still in relationship with him, is in much the same case as Martha was when her brother died, and she discovered that the doctrine of the resurrection of a dead man at the end of Time, was but a poor solace to her whose heart was crying out for a living brother.

How suggestive that Gospel story is! Lazarus had died, and Jesus was on His way to the mourning sisters. He is met by Martha, who sorrowfully reproaches Him for His delay in coming—"Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Note how the Saviour leads the mind of the woman to a conception of dying, not contained in the teaching of her day; viz. that Death involves no cessation of being. From the starting-point of the religious thought accepted by her, He will lift her to the perception of a far grander and more comforting truth.

"Jesus saith unto her—Thy brother shall be raised." There is a ring almost of impatience and disappointment in the rejoinder of Martha, as if she said—"Oh! I know that; from my childhood I have been taught to believe that; I know that he shall rise in the Rising at the last day. But, Lord Jesus, it does not meet my case in the slightest degree. Is there nothing more you can tell me? It is of the present and not of the future I am thinking. It is the thought of a dead brother and our relationship broken by Death which darkens my mind and breaks my heart. 'The last day' is so far off, and so detached from my present life and experience. In the meanwhile—what? Oh! I want, I want a living brother."

How splendidly was the answer to that cry of the woman's heart voiced by Jesus, in that declaration that physical death touches not the man, but only "the tabernacle" of him. "I, Myself, am the Rising and the Life; he that is trusting in Me, though he be (as you call it) 'dead,' yet he shall live; and everyone who is living and trusting in Me, shall by no means die all through the aeon. Trustest thou this—this glorious truth I declare?" (John xi. 25 and 26.)

Poor Martha! She did not answer that question of Jesus; but we can believe that henceforth she would no longer regard Death as the Extinguisher of man's being, and the Destroyer of the relationships of Love. The truth unrealized by the Rabbis was disclosed by the Christ.

I have said that Prayer for the Departed, more than anything else—more than all the reading of devout books on Heaven and the Future, and all our fond recollections of those who are gone—will give us the conviction that the latter are still living, and that the relationship between them and us is still maintained.

Try it. Pray for that dear one whom God has called hence, and in whom your whole soul and life, perhaps, was wrapped up. Pray for him or her; not once, nor twice, but every day and anywhere; and gradually there will come to your poor bereaved soul the glorious assurance that the one you love—though the earthly body lie crumbling in the dust, is a being of life and thought, and of continued love for you. Gradually such prayers will make you realize that the World of Spirit is close to you now; that already you partly live in it; and that Death which calls your dear ones more fully into it, does but usher them into a higher domain of life and thought, where naught begotten of Love shall suffer loss.

There is another way, less potent than Prayer, by which we may assist ourselves in realizing that our departed ones still live and are still in relationship with us. It is by making the effort to calm the mind when under the experience of bereavement and sorrow. Excessive grief, and still more despair, raise a barrier which prevents many a dear one on the Other Side from coming near to us. Rebellious and hopeless sorrow is a hindrance to them in fulfilling a Divine mission of comforting the broken-hearted. Uplifting and helpful thoughts and soul-impulses projected by them to us are often not received, because the receiving mind is so engrossed with its own thoughts and emotions, as to make it insensible to an impact from without. The "still, small voice" by which God would speak to us through the mediumship of spirit-minds, cannot be heard until there comes the calm after the storm, the earthquake and the fire.

Be quiet, be trustful, be expectant. Make the effort to get the mind, at times, into a condition of passivity; to take it off the thought of one's self; to thrust into the background of consciousness for a while the fact of one's own suffering and loss. Then, when the tumult of grief has thus been stilled, when the mind has been turned from the thought of the self to the thought of the living dear one Behind the Veil—then let the words of prayer ascend. The calm, the love, the heroism, the determination to trust God on our part, will constitute the conditions whereby the Departed, although visually and audibly unmanifested to us, may come very near to us, and touch us in the higher parts of our being— our mind and spirit.

In this way, we may realize their presence and feel their maintained connectedness with us. Although we may not possess the psychic gifts that others have, our experience may be akin to the experience of a gentleman whose letter has reached me as I write this. He states—"Seventeen years ago, I lost my young wife after a week's illness. To my surprise, amid the depths of horror and loss, I found a strange exhilaration, and a consciousness of her real presence, which never left me. I speak of this as an actual experience of real life. I am convinced that the incident of what we call 'death' to our physical bodies is powerless to destroy either character or companionship."

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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Man and the Spiritual World" (1903 UK Edition)
"Thoughts of the Spiritual" (1905 American Edition)

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

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