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Problems of the Spiritual


VII. Why do not ALL the Departed manifest themselves to those whom they have left behind?

We can conceive of there being several reasons why they do not do so.

I. Many who have passed into Spirit-life have no desire to renew any intercourse with the world from which they have passed; and apart from the question of a ministry to us, entrusted, we believe, to many of the Departed, the fact of having, or not having, a desire to re-establish earthly relationships will largely determine whether they do or do not re-establish the same.

Now, in the case of many who depart this life, the world they have left behind exerts an enormous attracting power upon them. Spiritually undeveloped and unattuned for their new environment, their tastes and desires gravitate earthward. This class experience a desire to renew, if possible, their intercourse with the mundane. But there are a great number who pass hence, in regard to whom the world exerts no sufficiently attracting force to draw them back to it. Death has launched them into a new life, and they are devoid of any longing for the persons and things connected with the old. They resemble those in this world who are able to sever themselves from past associations, to betake themselves to another country and other surroundings, and never afterwards to feel any desire for that which has been left behind.

This, we think, is so with regard to many of the Departed whose earthly lot was one of predominating suffering, or difficulty, or disappointment. It is so, we think, in the case of those whose "sunshine of life" went with the dear ones taken from them by Death. To them the new life with its reliefs and possibilities and its re-unions with those "loved long since, and lost awhile," causes all their interest in the old life to recede into the background of their consciousness, and at length to wholly fade away. If such as these come back at all, it is not from a desire to re-connect themselves with a world with which they have done, but to discharge some mission of good entrusted to them.

Again, there are others of the Departed who have no desire for renewed intercourse with this world, for the reason that they have never cultivated the qualities of love and sympathy. The greatest of all attracting forces in the universe is Love. It is the mighty power which, according to our Lord, will ultimately bring about the accomplishment of God's Purpose to save the world. "I, if I be lifted up (if I make this supreme sacrifice of Myself for the sake of Love) will draw all unto Me" (John xii. 32). Love is that principle which can attract spirit-beings to the surroundings of the Physical, who feel none of the attracting forces of evil. It drew the exalted Spirit-Christ from the highest spheres of life and experience to the circumscription of earthly existence. It has drawn angels to this world, and it can draw spirit-men and women as God's instruments for blessing and helping us.

Now, the Departed ones, between whom and others in the earth-life there exists no bond of love and sympathy, will feel naught of that higher impulse of the soul which expresses itself in a longing for those who have been left behind. The attracting power of Love, of spiritual affinity, will be wanting.

There are many who answer to this; many men and women who go out of this world unloving and unloved; who are not bad enough (as in the case of debased ones) to be brought again into contact with the Physical by the irresistible attraction of evil; but are not spiritually developed enough to experience any drawings of Love.

II. Another reason why all departed ones do not manifest themselves, is to be found, we think, in the act that the manifestation of which the Questioner is thinking, involves the reconnection of spirit-beings with the Physical world. This, we conceive, may in many instances be incompatible with growth and advancement in spirit-life. The conditions under which a spirit is able to manifest himself—using the term to convey the idea which is generally meant, viz., that a spirit should make himself visible, or express himself through the mediumship of the mind and bodily organs of another—implies association with the Physical. This is so with regard to materializations, trance-utterances and automatic writings. The communicating spirit in such cases of manifestation brings himself into close association with the surroundings of the Physical; and these surroundings are lower in degree than those of his new life and environment. This close association with the lower—especially if it be a maintained one, may constitute a very real obstacle to the discarnate one adjusting himself to the higher spiritual experiences. His advance may be retarded thereby. By maintaining his association with the Physical world, it may be harder for him to become en rapport with the Spiritual. God may see it to be as undesirable and harmful to him to re-establish a contact with the Physical, as a Principal of a College might deem it undesirable for a student, designated for high culture, to associate with the unlearned and unrefined. We believe that this is one of other reasons why those who pass out of earth-life with some attunement for spiritual development, are not very often permitted to manifest themselves through those channels of communication which involve a re-contact with that which is connected with the Physical—such manifestations, for example, as are obtained at Séances. The spirits who are able, through the instrumentality of the Physical, to materialize, are not, as a rule, advanced or spiritually developed ones. They are, certainly, not beings on the higher, or highest, planes of spiritual life and experience. Such communicators, so dependent on conditions pertaining to the Physical—whose efforts are rather to manifest themselves objectively than subjectively—are feeble and disappointing in their utterances, as compared with those spiritual communicators who speak to many on the higher plane of mind and spirit. The trance-utterances and the inspirational writings exhibit the control of a higher order than any which is presented in a materializing circle.

Then again, this view of the matter is supported by the fact that, although at the outset of spirit-life many of the Departed find it possible to renew their association with the Physical, it afterwards becomes increasingly difficult for them to do so. Their advance in the Other World makes it so; and at length there comes a time when such intercourse is made impossible. Advance in the Spiritual, places them altogether out of reach of the Physical. Communication in that case between them and those in earth-life can only then be on the plane of the Psychic and the Mental.

Nor is this a mere conjecture. There are many instances which go to show that as a spirit advances to higher experiences in the Spiritual World, it becomes more and more difficult to adjust himself to Physical conditions which are necessary, in order that he may objectively manifest himself to those on earth.

I have personal friends who have seen once,—in some cases twice—and no more, those who have appeared to them after death. One gentleman, known to me, had seen and spoken to his departed wife on many occasions, both by night and day, during a period extending over a year. He was an unimaginative, practical man, a lawyer, and he prefaced his statement to me by saying—"I am going to tell you something which is a solemn fact; but which I hardly expect you will believe; although you are a parson, and teach people that there is a Life Beyond." He assured me that he had seen his wife after her death on many occasions. That at one of the appearances to him she had earnestly begged him to withdraw from a certain commercial enterprise upon which he had made up his mind to embark because it would mean financial ruin to him. He was so impressed by what she said that he acted on her advice, and saved himself from that which, as was shown afterwards, would have been disastrous.

After a while, the visits of this Spirit-wife became less frequent, and at length the reason was explained. On the last occasion she appeared to her husband (he has rejoined her now), she told him that she felt that that manifestation would be her last to him in this world. She said that on entering into Spirit-life her love for him, and his psychic condition had made it comparatively easy for her to objectively manifest herself to him. But as time went on, and her attunement with the World of Spirit had grown, she had found it becoming more and more difficult to retain her relationship with the Physical. She felt that no longer would she have the power of objectively manifesting herself to him. But still she would be constantly near him; in closer communion with him than she had ever hitherto been. Her inability to any longer approach him through the mediumship of the Physical would only mean a still closer and more real approach. Henceforth, the communication between him and her would be on a higher level. Obedient to the demands of Love, her rising and developing mind and spirit would constantly touch and help and bless his mind and spirit. Her prayers for him and his prayers for her were to strengthen and perfect the bond between them. The union of mutually loving souls could never be dissolved, because God is Love. In this world, he would, probably, never see her again; but on the Border-line and Beyond, where the limitations of the Physical are for ever cast aside, she would meet him, greet him, love him as she loved him now, and would be his pioneer to higher life.

From that day, until he himself passed Beyond the Veil, this friend constantly felt the presence of his departed wife, but never again saw her.

From what has been said, it will be seen that another reason can be assigned for the fact that not all the Departed are permitted to visibly manifest themselves to us.

But it must not be supposed that this inability of dear departed ones to do this, is to be interpreted as meaning that they are unable to approach us and unable to come into vital touch with us. The contrary is the truth. Their ascension to higher life and experience renders them capable of establishing a communication on a higher plane of being—on the plane of mind and spirit.

Many communicators from the Other Side, denied the power of visibly manifesting themselves to us here, because their advancement will best be served by the denial, can come into a communication with us closer than that which any materializing spirit can effect. The concomitants of the Physical may play no part in the contact; but the mind and spirit of the discarnate one and the mind and spirit of the earth one may come into conjunction. The being on the earth-plane may receive all sorts of uplifting and helpful influences from the being on the spirit-plane. The sudden feeling of restfulness which comes to a poor distressed and perturbed one; the unexpected ray of something akin to the light of Hope which darts across the darkness of a saddened heart; the new impulse which challenges our right to surrender ourselves to despair and mental misery, and bids us to try to be brave and patient and unrebellious; the cause that leads us to make the earnest determination to trust God, to pray to Him amid the darkness of our grief and bereavement; yes, and that thrill of relief which comes from the thought of re-union—all this, we believe, may be the result of an impact of a spirit-mind, energizing under higher conditions, upon the mind of a dweller upon the earth.

"Nonsense; a slight to the Holy Spirit of God!" say some who know little about Spiritual realities. "Not so," say we, "the blessing and uplifting is all from God. If discarnate spirits lift us Godward and heavenward, the power of the Holy Ghost is behind that uplifting. God is only dealing with us, as He always deals with men: He blesses us through our fellows. Why consider it a disparagement of the power and work of the Holy Ghost, that a departed one should be God's instrument in teaching and blessing us, when no Christian would dream of entertaining such an idea in regard to an angel, or an earthly preacher or teacher of God and righteousness?

Do let us be logical. God's principle of blessing man through man obtains in the World of Spirit as it does here.

III. There is another reason why not all of the Departed manifest themselves to us. It lies in the fact that many of us are so psychically undeveloped as to render it impossible for them to do so. Love may attract them to us; they may have an intense longing to be with us; there may be, moreover, an earnest desire to help us, and yet they may be wholly unable to set up a communication of which we may be sensible. Why is this? The cause may be with us. We may be so mentally and psychically constituted as to lack that which is a necessary condition of manifestation. Our spiritual self may not be sufficiently attuned to receive the impressions of the Spiritual. In regard to individuals it may be the same as it is in regard to Wireless-Telegraphy—not all instruments can register the impulse which is projected, but only an attuned one. There are thousands of persons who have no experience whatever of any impact of the Spiritual, simply because they possess as yet no power of registering it.

May there not have been a significance in our Lord selecting only three of the Apostolic men, to be the witnesses of the manifestation of departed Moses on the Mountain of Transfiguration? May not St. Peter, St. James and St. John, alone of the Twelve, have possessed the psychic powers, which made the revelation possible to them, while not possible to the others? Thus, there are many who bemoan the fact, that their dear departed ones never make their presence manifestable to them. Part of that regret and sadness would disappear, if it could but be realized that, although unseen and unfelt by us our loved ones on the Other Side are often with us; that when the sight of the empty chair in the darkened home recalls the painful longing for the sight of a vanished face, and reopens the fountain of our grief—

"Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted
Come to visit me once more.

With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine."

IV. There is another reason, I think, why not all of the Departed manifest themselves to us. Their knowledge of the fact that many have an unreasoning fear of the Spiritual restrains them. With some, the contact with a spiritual being, even with one who had loved and been beloved by them, calls for naught but a feeling of abject terror. Our spirit dear ones know this, and it stays them from manifesting themselves.

I remember once trying to comfort a poor bereaved one who had said that she could bear her sorrow bravely, if only she could know that her departed husband was alive and still loved her—by saying, "Perhaps, it may be permitted to him to appear to you (as others have done) and assure you of this." "Oh! goodness, gracious! I hope not. It would terrify me out of my life were he to come to me," was the reply of the lady. "Then I do not think you will see him, until you yourself cross the Border-line. He loves you too much to terrify you," was my rejoinder.

There are many of the Departed, we believe, who do not manifest themselves to those whom they have left on earth for this very reason. Love draws them to them; love makes them want to communicate with them; the conditions are favourable—the visitants and visited are in psychic affinity; and yet an obstacle is interposed; the dread of the Beyond is present.

This intense fear of all that pertains to the Spiritual World is very inexplicable; at all events on the part of those who believe in the Christian Religion. To profess a faith in continued life after death; to regard that life as being an advance on this present life, and then to be stricken with abject fear at encountering one who has passed into that life, seems to us to savour of inconsistency. But so it is with many. An old clergyman-friend of mine once said to me—"If I believed as you do about the Spirit-World, I should be frightened to go to bed."

Not so, our knowledge of the Other World removes this unreasoning fear, and clears away a barrier which at present stands between us and many in that World.

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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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