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Thoughts of the Spiritual

CHAPTER V

A SPIRITUAL WORLD AND THE SPIRITUAL FACULTIES TO DISCERN IT

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared
for them that love him.—1 Cor. 2:9,10

St. Paul in these words appears, at first sight, to be making two statements which are absolutely contradictory. He affirms that the things prepared by God for them that love Him have not been seen, nor heard, nor imagined by man; and in the next breath asserts that they have been revealed unto himself and others. Our task will be to see if these apparently conflicting utterances can be reconciled, and shown to be unopposed sides of a great truth.

The words appear in one of the Apostle's Letters to a local Christian Church of his time. He is writing about Spiritual realities, and is supporting his case by an appeal to Old Testament Scriptures. As he sits with the pen in his hand, the words of the old-time prophet come to his mind (Isa. 64:4). They exactly fit in with the subject about which he is thinking; he quotes them, not word for word as they stand, but as his memory serves him. He has grasped the truth underlying the prophet's thought; the actual verbal expression of that thought is of little moment. Isaiah has voiced a fact which his own spirit acknowledges to be true. The Christian Church shall know that the teacher of the Present is in agreement with the Seer of the Past in regard to Spiritual realities. The context of the words shows what was the trend of St. Paul's thought. His mind is centred on a living, risen Christ. "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ; and that One (marvel of marvels!) crucified!'' "None of the princes of this world," he goes on to say, "knew who He was, or what His magnificent mission was; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." In other words, St. Paul was affirming that the ones who had obtained what men account the "good things" of this world—position and riches—had lived only for the Material, and because of that, had lacked a perception of the Spiritual. In their midst had been the Lord of the Spiritual; but they had not recognized Him. When He became incarnate, the communication between the Spiritual World and this world, closed for centuries, had been reopened. That was a fact unrealized by them. The accounts of the Spiritual manifestations which tracked the course of the Lord of Spirit from Bethlehem to Olivet, as He moved among men as the Logos "made flesh," were not credited. Men had concentrated their mental gaze only on things pertaining to the Physical, and, in consequence, could perceive nought else.

Looking out upon things only with the organs of material sense, an environing world of Spiritual reality was not perceived, and the Lord of that World—the Spiritual Christ—was regarded only as a man whom political and religious expediency demanded should be crucified.

St. Paul, in writing—"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him "—was but proclaiming an unalterable principle in regard to God's order of things— viz., that the one who fixes his gaze only on the Physical, thereby renders himself unable to perceive the facts of the Spiritual.

The men of Science in the past admitted nothing within the horizon of their thought except the Physical, and thereby they lost all vision of the Spiritual. The scientific men of to-day, on the other hand, are less confident that the Physical can account for all the mysteries of being, and upon them, in consequence, the realities of the Spiritual are beginning to dawn. Spirit alone can perceive Spirit. Spiritual faculties within us must be quickened into activity before we can appreciate Spiritual realities. The Apostle was teaching this truth when he said—"God hath revealed the prepared-things of a Spiritual World unto us by His Spirit." In the very nature of things, that which pertains to the Spiritual within and without us, will not be perceived by the one whose mind is only functioning on the plane of the Physical. To discern the realities of a Spiritual World, there must be the exercise within a man of spiritual powers and faculties related to that World.

It may seem to some a startling statement, but it is, nevertheless, true, that every one of us at the present time is living in two Worlds—the Physical and the Spiritual. The old-fashioned religious notion was, that we live now only in the Physical World, and that not until after death can we possibly be brought into contact with the Spiritual World. In accordance with this idea, the World of Spirit was viewed as a locality removed from us a long distance; to which locality our spirit departs when detached from the earthly body. To die, therefore, was regarded as passing altogether beyond the range of communication with any on the plane of the Material.

Modern investigation of Psychic facts has completely altered this conception. It has demonstrated the truth, so clearly taught in the Bible, that the Physical is interpenetrated by the Spiritual; that a person has not to wait for death before he can enter upon Spiritual experience; that that World is within him already; surrounding, touching and influencing him. Every one of us is a spirit, and every spirit is contained within a spiritual organization—a spirit-body; which imparts personality, and to the spirit the power of expressing itself.

There are many who do not understand these great and important facts, and, in consequence, hold an altogether wrong idea of themselves, and of their life here and hereafter. It is impossible for any one to estimate rightly the possibilities of his being, and to adjust himself for the attainment of those possibilities, until he shall have realized that he, now living in a World that is physical, is, nevertheless, also living at the same time in a World that is spiritual. He must realize that he now is, not one day shall be, a spirit; and now is living in a spiritual environment. He must be conscious that however much the material side of him may adapt him to relationship to the Physical, not less adapted is he by the spirit part of him to relationship with the Spiritual. The perception of this truth will completely remodel his ideas concerning dying. He will not suppose that Death will create him a spiritual being, and bring him for the first time into relationship with a Spiritual World. He will know that after death he will be no more than he has been while living on the earth—a spirit: a spirit—it is true—whose faculties and powers have not been fully developed, because of the restrictions of the flesh; but still a spirit. He will know that the act of dying does not transport him to a World of Spirit far off and hitherto unapproachable; but that it simply rids him of physical conditions whereby there is brought about the completer opening of the faculties of his interior spirit-body better to perceive the realities of that Spiritual World in which he has been living ever since he was born.

Let a person be thus convinced that the World of Spirit is pressing upon him while he is in this life; let him, moreover, be convinced that Death cannot touch him, but can only lessen his relationship to the Physical, and intensify his relationship to the Spiritual, and the great question he will set himself to answer will be this—"What will be my experiences in that great World which is interpenetrating me and all around me, when divested of this earthly body, and with the faculties of my spirit-body allowed free play—I shall have become in more perfect adjustment with it?"

It is a reasonable question, surely. The agnostic tone assumed by many of the religious teachers in respect to it is very disappointing to thousands of earnest and inquiring souls.

Can we, then, who are now passing through the experiences and discipline of the Physical, form any definite idea as to what will be our experiences when we shall be fully en rapport with the Spiritual?

We think it is possible, and the words of Isaiah, quoted by St. Paul, seem to give direction to our thoughts. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man."

Not seen! not heard! not perceived! The words sound very disappointing to a soul awakened to the realities of spirit. They appear to justify our Agnostic brethren who tell us it is impossible to know anything about the Hereafter.

But stay! Look at the passage more carefully. Beneath the surface of its negative form, there lies a wealth of positive significance.

In the first place, of whom did Prophet and Apostle say—"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man"? Not of all men and women living in the earth-life. "God hath revealed the things prepared for them that love Him unto us," writes the Apostle. Manifestly, then, if this latter statement be true, it is possible for some, at least, to have a knowledge of what constitutes Spiritual realities. If it be not possible in this world to possess that knowledge, then the Apostle's statement that God "hath revealed them" is not true.

What the Seers of the two different Dispensations of Religion asserted was this, that the physical eyes and ears of man cannot see and hear the wonders and realities of the Spiritual, though he be living in the midst of them. His physical organs of sight and hearing are too coarse to appreciate the finer sights and sounds of the universe of Spirit. Spiritual presences may be close beside us, and spirit voices may be speaking to us, but, like Balaam, we shall see and hear nothing until the organs of our interior spirit-body have been opened.

The man, too, who only exercises his mind in regard to mundane objects and concerns, will find himself unable to form any true ideas of the Spiritual. The twin parts of his mental constitution—his supraliminal mind which is the medium by which he comes into relationship with Physical things, and his subliminal mind by which contact with things spiritual is established—are not fully functioning. The supra-liminal powers of his mind may be very active, while its subliminal powers may be wholly inoperative. In such a case there will be no perception of the Spiritual. Not only in respect to his physical body, but also as regards his mind, the man will be "of the earth, earthy"; he will be insensible to the Spiritual. Instead of being properly balanced, and in true relationship to the two worlds to which he is allied, he will have adjusted himself only to one.

It is this which constitutes the difference between a religious and a non-religious life.

There are those living in this world, the faculties of whose interior spiritual organization are so quickened and developed, as to enable them to perceive the realities and to receive the influences of the Spiritual World, in a way that others cannot. Spiritual sights and sounds, invisible and inaudible to others whose inner senses are unopened, are visible and audible to them. They are what the Bible calls the "Seers"—the ones who see in their environment that which physical eyes cannot discern, and receive the etheric vibrations of spiritual sound which are inappreciable to physical ears.

St. Paul himself was an instance of the opening of the faculties of the interior spirit-body. He describes in 2 Corinthians I2, an experience which befell him before he departed this life. He was "caught up" (so he puts it) into Paradise, into the third sphere of it, and heard things incapable of being expressed in human language. In other words, by the withdrawal of the obstructing influence of the flesh (probably when his physical body was in a condition of sleep or trance), the latent powers of his spirit were left so unrestricted as to cause him to come at once into conscious contact with the realities of a World spiritual.

It was with the eyes and ears of an organization finer than that of the Physical that St. Paul beheld and heard the wonders of Paradise.

The sense of disappointment, then, that seems, at first, to lurk in his words—"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart"— disappears, as we realize that he was but referring to the physical eye and ear, and to that department of mental activity which takes cognizance of the Physical. Within us, pertaining to the ethereal organization which clothes our spirit, there are eyes and ears and a department of mind which can, even under the limitations of terrestrial existence, cognize the Spiritual.

It is because these interior faculties are more developed in some men than in others, that certain ones, irrespective of birth and learning, were chosen by God to be Seers and Prophets and Apostles. By them, rather than by the priests of Religion, has man's belief in Spiritual verities been established.

We spoke of the positive significance of St. Paul's quotation.

In declaring that the physical eye and ear and mind are incapable of perceiving the realities of the Spiritual, the words imply that there are, connected with that Other World, things possible of being seen, heard and understood. The things which God has prepared are visible, audible and understandable, although not through the mediumship of coarse physical organs. When we say a blind man cannot see an object, or a deaf man hear a sound, we imply the reality of the object and the sound.

The passage we are considering implies that the World of Spirit is a World of sight, sound and intelligence, and not a region of abstraction.

Thank God for that! That which constitutes the real horror of dying on the part of many, even Christians, is the thought that our conscious, sensitive self will then pass into a condition devoid of all which characterizes existence here. Let a dying one be convinced that Death will not transport him to a distant Realm of which no knowledge is possessed, but will only adapt him more perfectly for a spiritual environment in which he has all along been living; let him but realize that sight and sound and mind are intenser realities on the other side of the Veil than on this side, and the dread of death will vanish. Like the psychic St. Paul, the thought of departure from earth life will but wring from him those words so pregnant with confident expectation—"O, Death! where is thy sting!"

(a) In the Spiritual World there are things to be seen.

It is a World of objective as well as subjective reality. The things that exist here are the counterparts of spiritual things that exist there; the presentment of the latter in coarser form on a lower plane of being.

Many do not grasp this, and consequently regard everything pertaining to the Spiritual as unnatural.

Nothing is unnatural in the Universe of God. There are myriads of sights and sounds that transcend man's imagination; but they are not unnatural.

One of the greatest astonishments to us, when we shall pass from the surroundings of earth, will be to discover that we are in a World where all is very real and very natural. The prevailing idea of Life Beyond is that it corresponds to nothing of which we have experience in this life. Some have a vague idea of the realm of spirit as a vast, misty space, without form, without beauty and color, and without objects, save but for those bodiless and unattractive souls who are supposed to flit about there until the time shall come for God to restore to them the right to be human once more.

Is it any wonder, we ask, that persons, with such indefinite notions as these, shudder at the mere thought of dying? Is there a thoughtful man to be found, who would not prefer to be a destitute and homeless tramp on this beautiful earth, rather than be exiled to such a life as that?

Depend upon it, if we would turn the thoughts of men, who can appreciate the beauties of Physical Nature, to a World higher than the Physical, we must point them to a Universe containing its realities of sight and sound.

The physical objects we behold are the counterparts, we have said, of Spiritual things. We see with our physical eyes a material object, e.g., a human body, or a flower. What does it mean to us? Do we regard it only as so many particles of inert matter, marvelously grouped and co-ordinated by Divine skill, and interpenetrated by a mysterious something called "life"?

If we only regard the body, or the flower, in this way, we have not understood the first principle of material existence. That body and that flower are physical representations of what exists on a spiritual plane. The earthly body is a likeness of a spiritual body, and the flower a likeness of a spiritual flower. The originals of both are not to be looked for in the Physical but the Spiritual. The touch which is given to lifeless matter, moulding it into design and beauty, is a touch of Spirit, working in obedience to God's great law of Correspondence. If in the World of Spirit there were no bodies, no flowers, no landscapes and no variety and beauty, there would be no such things on the plane of Matter. The objects which we see around us here have their prototypes elsewhere, and because they are but representations impressed on changeful Matter, they will not last. St. Paul expressed that truth, when he wrote—''The things which are seen are temporal; but the things not seen, aeonial."

Further, the sights of the Spiritual World surpass in reality their counterparts in the Physical, They were to be expected. The representation of any object lacks the reality which the object itself possesses. The written or printed characters that represent and convey a man's thought have not the reality that the thoughts themselves have. The printed book is a reality, and the thought expressed by the arrangement of the words is a reality, but the mind from which the thought and the arrangement have come is a far greater reality. So in regard to Spiritual realities. Thought is a creative power. It has filled a Spiritual Universe with objects that can be seen. Those Thought-creations have by the power of God been printed on the page of the Material. Physical objects are realities; but not so great realities as their prototypes, the Spiritual. The objects of sight, open to the spirit's vision, are grander and more beautiful than any earthly representation of them can ever be.

Was that not the thought of St. Paul expressed in the words—"Eye hath not seen ... the things which God hath prepared"?

The Seers, the eyes of whose spirit-body had been quickened, beheld spiritual objects resembling those with which they were normally familiar, but so much grander as to call forth expressions of amazement from them.

Some of us have stood at death-beds, and seen a look of unutterable wonder pass over the pale, dying face, and heard the words—"How marvelous! How beautiful! "

Did we realize that the eyes of a spirit-body were opening to see the wonders of the Spiritual?

(b) In the Spiritual World there are sounds to be heard.

We can only touch the fringe of this phase of our subject. Take music—that which is produced by the voice and also by mechanical agency. Its influence upon the higher part of man is marvelous. It can stir and thrill and uplift him. It can solemnize him and incite him to think. It can move him to activity or restfulness; to laughter or tears; to thoughtlessness or devotion. It can drag out from the innermost recesses of his brain, memories and regrets that have lain there undisturbed for half a century. It can stimulate his earth-bound spirit to rise above the sordid things of earth to the very throne of the Infinite.

And, pray, what is this mighty moving power— this music? Ask the one who has no perception of things Spiritual. He will tell you it is only an arrangement of muscles and tissues, whereby certain vocal chords, assisted by a little piece of red flesh in the mouth, can, by contraction and relaxation, so manipulate the air as to cause it to produce harmonious sounds. Or, music is only a mechanical arrangement of metal, wood and string, whereby certain vibrations are made on the atmosphere, disposed in such a way as to please the ear.

We ask—Is that all the account you can give of music—so mighty, so grand, so unfathomable in its influence, even as we hear it here?

Ask the poet (and no man is a poet unless he be a Seer) what he has to say about it. Ask the Bible what it has to say on the subject. Will they not both tell us that the source of true music is in the World of Spirit; that there is a "music of the spheres"; that the sweetest concords of sound are but the echoes from Beyond; and that the great masters of music are those the ears of whose spiritual organization have been opened to hear the harmonies of the Spiritual World.

When St. Paul had the experience to which we have alluded, did he not hear "unspeakable words," which earthly language could not express?

How many a little, unimaginative child—whose soul is whiter and purer than ours, has, in the act of dying, told us that he hears the sound of beautiful music! You know, of course, what it means. It means that the spirit-body, of that little unsullied one, even before it has left the earthly tenement, has become so quickened that the spiritual ears have caught the sound of angel-voices, unheard by the organs of physical sense. Yes, "Ear hath not heard,"—that is, this coarse, physical ear hath not heard—"the things which God hath prepared"; because the things to be heard are of the Spiritual; and the physical ear is too dull and unattuned to register the etheric vibrations of spiritual sound.

(c) In the Spiritual World there is that which can engage the heart—the affections—of man.

"Neither have entered into the heart," writes St. Paul. That which, in the World of Spirit, engages the affections of man (like the sights and sounds of that World) are prototypes. We have the counterpart, the correspondence, the representation on the lower plane of earth-life.

What engages the heart of a good man here?

A variety of things exist to which he may direct his affections.

There is love; that mysterious, absorbing and dominating power, which is engendered by affinity between soul and soul; branching off into husband's, wife's, father's, mother's, child's, sweetheart's, and friend's love. They are all good, these loves. They are all from the God who Himself is Love. They are all meant to live on. The prototypes of them all exist in the Spiritual. Not one of them is dissociated therefrom. Only there we shall find the intense reality of Love: here, we only get it energizing on the lower level of the Material. Love which constitutes the Essence of God, and forms the very atmosphere of heaven, takes hold of the heart of mortals, but its tone is lowered as the Physical dominates it. Behind the Veil, the Physical will have been left behind, and the being of love will be able to soar to heights of soul-experience but feebly dreamed of here.

There are other things that engage the hearts of men here; science, art, social intercourse and so on. The originals of these are in the Spiritual. Science and art are at a disadvantage on the plane of the Physical. We have made of late years enormous strides in the direction of knowledge; but how much do we know? Not one-thousandth part of what we do not know. Take but one example—that in regard to Mind. What do we know about it? Very little, in spite of all the lately ascertained facts in respect to Telepathy and Thought-forms. In the Spirit-World, where Mind is predominant, its nature and functionings are as well understood as physical anatomy is understood here.

Social intercourse, too. It is a poor sort of thing here, in comparison with what it is there. Speaking generally, here it lacks the ingredient which is most important—the converse of soul with soul. The true home of social intercourse is the Spiritual, where soul can touch soul, and mind touch mind, without the interposing of the Physical which veils the one, and often obstructs the other.

So then, we gather up the thoughts upon which we have dwelt, and focus them.

The Spiritual World is not a World of mistiness and unreality. Those who, like Samuel and Moses and Jesus and the "fellow-servant" of St. John, have after death revealed themselves to those whom they have left behind on earth, have told us that it is this world of ours which seems so misty and unreal from the plane of Spirit; and that the physical objects which seem to us so substantial, to spirit-eyes appear shadowy and nebulous.

No, the Spiritual World is a World of reality. Many of its sights will appear familiar to us, because we have seen their representations here; but the sights will be grander and more beautiful. Many of its sounds will not appear novel, because we have caught their echoes on earth; but the sounds will be more enchanting.

Many of the things that will engage the heart will only be the higher manifestation of what has courted our affections on earth. There, we shall still love; but more exaltedly and purely. There, we shall still seek after knowledge; but the horizon of knowledge will be infinitely expanded. There we shall still mingle with our fellows in social intercourse; but the class-distinctions, the insipidness, the conventionality and the soullessness of much of the social life on earth will have disappeared. So have said the poets and seers of all ages.

"A little child to a mother said—
'What shall we do when we are dead?
Shall we all play harps and all sing psalms.
And wear white robes and carry palms?
Are there no flowers in the golden street?
No grassy glades for the tired feet?
No singing birds in the fadeless bowers?
Is it such a different world from ours?'
Then the mother turned aside to pray,
And she thought she heard an angel say—
'Heaven is but a perfect earth,
As the world was at its birth,
All that Love in life should love,
Will be found again above.'
The mother answered—' The realm of rest
Is all we love, and would love the best;
The best of all of the things of Time,
Are lent to pass to that cloudless clime.
Its sweetest songs, and its fairest flowers,
Its hearts and homes are akin to ours;
Thus heaven is holding for you and me
All that we wish that this world would be.'
Then the mother heard its evening prayers,
And talked with an angel unawares—
Heaven is but a perfect earth,
As the world was at its birth;
All that Love in life should love
Will be found again above!"
—H. L. D'ARCV JAXONE.

Lastly, we are confronted with the fact that the sights and sounds of the Spiritual World—because that World is interpenetrating the Physical, and we possess an interior spiritual organization—may at times be seen and heard by persons who are still living under the conditions of the Physical. By the ante-mortem quickening and opening of the faculties of that ethereal body in which the human spirit is encased, numbers of persons, in all ages, have been able to cognize the realities of Spirit-life. Clairvoyance is but the premature development of the spirit's power of vision, and clairaudience is but the premature development of its power of hearing. In the case of the many the development comes only with the release of the "inner-man" from his obscuring physical encasement. In the case of some it is otherwise. The development and opening has taken place before death. The existence of these powers of clairvoyance and clairaudience is acknowledged by Science, and the fact is revolutionizing man's conception of himself, and stamping the Bible-records with the imprimatur of truth.

"The interior eyes and ears of men were opened to perceive Spiritual realities," says the Bible; and the one who has only adjusted himself to one world and not to two says—"Nonsense! it is impossible!" "The interior eyes and ears of some can, assuredly, see and hear what the physical eyes and ears cannot," says the Science of to-day. "It is all nonsense, I tell you, or a delusion of the devil," says the old-fashioned Christian. "The young man with Elisha, and Balaam going where he ought not to have gone, and Stephen, the martyr, and Saul, the persecutor, and a host of others, of course, saw and heard that which no physical organs could see and hear. But all happened in the Bible-times. Such things do not happen now. Clairvoyance and clairaudience!—nothing in the world would induce me to believe in such powers."

And still the unfoldment of Spiritual realities goes on, in spite of the materially-minded ones and the illogical Christians. Again, as in the past, the communication between us and those on the Other Side has been re-established. A mighty tide of Spiritual Thought and Influence has set toward us. It gathers volume as it rolls. It is sweeping away the crude and misty notions of the past centuries of unenlightenment. It is clearing away from Christian truth those unutterable horrors that have clung about the thought of Death and Judgment, and it is forcing in upon the minds of men the conviction that they, even amid the passing shadows of the Temporal, are spirits whose goal is the Eternal.

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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Man and the Spiritual World" (1903 UK Edition)
"Problems of the Spiritual" (1907 UK Edition)



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