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Tuttle's ideas or something like them, the probable source of the sphere-teaching of that medium's control may be surmised; though we must remember, in fairness, that the ideas may be true, and not necessarily borrowed at all. And even in this latter case, the borrowing and retailing do not invalidate any evidence of identity that may be received. The communicator may be really there, but, communicating through the control, his messages get more or less mixed with thoughts in the latter's mind, whatever the control may be, spirit or secondary personality. But in my own investigations, which have yielded much evidence of identity of departed relatives and friends, I have had many references to gradual progress, but none to numbered spheres.
The nearest I should get to the sphere-idea, if I allowed imagination free play with a quasi-material "next world,” would be a sort of compromise between Origen and Fechner. For example, consider the fact that fishes and many forms of life-mostly low forms
- live in the sea, with an ocean of water round and above them. On the land, higher up, live higher forms, including ourselves, with an ocean of air above us. May it not be that higher up again there are still higher forms of life-namely, discarnate intelligences, with freedom and faculties and surroundings as far transcending ours as ours transcend those of a plaice on the sea-floor? True, we do not see these beings; but neither does the plaice see us. We are not in its universe. To us, of course, the plaice and ourselves are in the same physical universe, because we have the larger view. Similarly, to God, discarnate spirits, incarnate human beings, animals, deep-sea life, and all their gradations, are seen as in the same universe, though the different orders, along certain lines of cleavage, do not perceive each other. In fact, it seems likely enough that the universe swarms with unseen life, interpenetrating the matter which we know. Certainly it is full of potential reality which we know nothing of, for our senses are adapted only to narrow ranges of stimulus. Our ears respond to atmospheric vibrations of 32 to 32,768 per second, our eyes to ethereal vibrations of 450,000,000,000,000 to 750,000,000,000,000 per second."
What our experience would be like if we could sense other rates we do not know. Thus, even arguing physically, there is much activity which we do not perceive; and it is reasonable to surmise that there are beings in whom this activity produces perception and is their world.
We can accordingly see that, however it may be as to the exact details of after-life conditions—whether lived in the upper air or elsewhere-we shall still be in a real world, for our surroundings will be of the same order as and adapted to the organs by which we perceive them, as they are in our present state.
As to spatial relations, this theory of discarnate life in the upper regions of the earth-in its airy ocean or envelope-is somewhat supported by various facts or traditions. Jesus ascended from His disciples' sight. The levitation of saints during moments of ecstasy, in which physical conditions may have been temporarily transcended, points similarly to a real correspondence between spiritual progress and actual movement away from the earth's centre. Clairvoyants see departing forms rising from the dying body. High ground is universally regarded as holier than low-lying land. Jehovah dwelt on His holy hill, Zeus and his train on Olympus. Christ will come to meet His followers in the air.
* Sir William Crookes, Presidential Address, S.P.R., "Proceedings," xxi.,
And in spiritualistic phenomena there must be some meaning in the so-frequently noted sensation of cold. This has never yet been explained. May we not hazard the guess that it is somehow connected with that higher abode of the blest, which, though not cold to its inhabitants whose senses are adapted to it, would be intensely cold to us; and that these descending souls bring down to some extent the conditions of their plane, so far as we are able to sense them—as a person coming in from a flower-garden may bring faintly perceptible traces of his previous surroundings?
Again, these descending souls often speak of the greater freedom of their state, as we might speak of ours to our hypothetical plaice; and they say, as we might say, how dense and unpleasant is the lower atmosphere. They cannot tell us much that we can understand about their life, except by comparing it with ours and affirming its greater happiness and fulness and beauty. And this is as much as we could do with our plaice, even if it had a human intelligence.
But all this is mere speculation, and is probably too materialistic. The official leaders among the spiritualists are wisely cautious about sphere-doctrines with their hard-and-fast numeration. There is no mention
of them in the pamphlet already mentioned, “The Seven Principles of Spiritualism,” by Mr. Hanson G. Hey, Secretary to the Spiritualists' National Union. And it is not prominent in such books as Stanton Moses' "Spirit Teachings” and W. T. Stead's “After Death,” which have probably had a larger circulation and influence than any other two spiritualistic publications. In these the teaching is very definite morally, but restrained descriptively. Man is the same being after death as he was before, except that he has sloughed off his physical body. He finds himself in conditions which are the result of the life he has lived on earth. He reaps what he there sowed. If he has done his best, used well such opportunities as he had, he will find himself in some degree in "heaven"; i.e. in a state much superior to his earthstate, though not an absolutely perfect one, for no one at physical death is good enough for such ultimate and inconceivable things. If he has used his opportunities badly, he will find himself in a state of discipline, as indeed the earth-life also is, and will remain there until he has learnt his lesson, when he will move on. But the "moving" is symbolic of change of state rather than place. The spirits probably still have some relation to space, particularly those who happen to be least spiritually-minded, but the relation is less close and binding than during the physical life. And the occupations and surroundings are not described in detail, the representations in earthly terms of nonearthly things being impossible.
Constant stress is laid on character, and on Love as the important feature. There are degrees in heaven,
and "the lowest heaven is higher than the most wonderful vision of its bliss you ever had” 1 (which is pleasanter than some of the rather nightmare-like teachings of the occultists and Theosophists regarding the astral plane), but we need not concern ourselves with degrees. We shall experience them in due time, when we get there. The important thing, meanwhile, is to fit ourselves; to do the right thing here when we are; and for this the key-note is Love. “Hold fast to this central doctrine: Love is God, God is Love. It is only when we deeply, truly love, we find our true selves, or that we see the Divine in the person loved. . . . If I could come back and speak in the ears of the children of men, I think I should wish to say nothing but this-Love! ... It is the Word which the world needs; it is the Word Which became flesh and dwelt amongst men.” 2
And, as to mourning for the dead: "Is it then all mere talk that Christ brought life and immortality to light? Why is it that with the certainty of the continued existence of your loved ones you feel as disconsolate and forlorn as if there were no other world, and as if Christ had never triumphed over death and the grave ?” 3 No one who really believes can ever feel sad at the promotion of our dear ones. "The measure of your grief is the measure of your unbelief. We who live in the atmosphere of the love of God are often sad at our own imperfections. But where the deed is not ours but His, when the fact is what His wisdom and love have accomplished, not what our
* Stead's "After Death," p. 12. 'Op. cit., p. 15.
'Op. cit., pp. 14, 15.