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Book: "Why I Believe in Personal Immortality"

Author: Sir Oliver Lodge FRS

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- Chapter 4d -

Conversations

Specimen of recent Conversations about Post-mortem Existence; and a small test of Identity

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"Then when death attacks a man, the mortal portion of him may be supposed to die, but the immortal retires at the approach of death and is preserved safe and sound. Ö Beyond question, the soul is immortal and imperishable, and our souls will truly exist in another world."

Phaedo

Introduction

          THE fourth episode I propose to recall is of a different character. It merely illustrates one of my conversations with Raymond about those on the other side and their post-mortem condition; this one being about the help they are sometimes able to give us, indeed about the mutual help which can be exchanged between those on that side and those on this. These talks are generally conducted with the co-operation and assistance of one whom I am persuaded is my old friend, F. W. H. Myers, from whom Raymond learns much, and with whom he co-operates as a sort of assistant; Myers himself chipping in occasionally to explain or amplify. (A record of part of the conversation follows later, but I must explain something first.)

I knew that Myers in his lifetime was interested in this idea of mutual help and communion through the veil or across the gulf; and that he had once or twice referred to a text at the end of the 11th Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to the effect "that they without us should not be made perfect," which be sometimes quoted in the form of the Latin translation in the Vulgate. So, on an occasion when it seemed relevant to the particular stage reached by the conversation then going on, I thought it might be a good plan to quote this to Myers and see what he would say. Feda was the intermediary, and it is not easy to get back anything elaborate or foreign through her. She gives the sound as best she can. But any utterance of my own, Myers would probably be able to hear. I asked if he was listening, and then said, apropos of the recent conversation: "Ut non sine nobis consummarentur." (I find that I ought perhaps to have said ne instead of non, according to one version.) Myers was reported as nodding his head, showing understanding, and then saying a few words in response, which Feda boggled over, so what I got down from her attempts was something like :ó Rebus in ora (see below). Myers said "Not quite right"; but he let it go at that, evidently thinking that I should make it out in due time.

A week or two later, while reading the typed-out record, it occurred to me that he might be referring to the context of the passage in Hebrews. I didnít remember what the context was, but looked it up. The words immediately preceding are to the effect that "God has provided some better thing for us." It then goes on, "that they without us should not be made perfect." I wrote to my friend Dr. Rendall, ex-Headmaster of Charter-house, asking him if there was anything in the Vulgate which would elucidate Fedaís rough attempt at Myersís meaning. He suggested the words nobis meliora; which he thought might very well be Myersís hasty recollection of the essential words in the context, namely "better things for us." For though the real version has it in the singular, "melius aliquid," the plural does just as well. On the whole I am disposed to think that his suggestion is a good one. I do not press it or base anything upon it, except that it serves as an illustration of the kind of way in which Myers does sometimes respond. He might very likely thus show his apprehension of the Latin phrase, which, though so simple, was unintelligible, I am sure, both to Feda and to Raymond, and of course equally unintelligible to Mrs. Leonard in trance.

To lead up to this comparatively unimportant episode, I will now quote a portion of the relevant conversation; thereby taking an opportunity of exhibiting the fact that our talks from the other side are not limited to family doings and trivialities, but often touch upon higher or more general topics. I add a comment in square brackets occasionally, but otherwise leave the record as it was taken down by me, under some difficulties, at the time. Feda is Mrs. Leonardís control, and though less childish than she used to be, is still amusingly gay and irresponsible at times. It cannot be easy to transmit serious information through her: that is why Myers usually prefers the slower but more definite table method, ó a method which used to be employed occasionally even at Mrs. Leonardís. Fedaís name for Myers is "Mr. Fred." Raymond sometimes calls him "Uncle Fred" in an affectionate way, but more often (especially at first), "Mr. Myers."

Extract from Record of Leonard sitting on 16th September, 1927

Feda is understood to be speaking, reporting what is said to her on her side, often reporting in the first person, or occasionally giving way to another control for a few sentences. After some talk about plans, she said that according to Mr. Myers a forthcoming book of mine would contain some psychic experiences Ö not only old ones but new ones too.

O. J. L. Well, I am wanting to publish some of the talks with him and Raymond.

Yes, not merely on evidential lines, but on generally interesting lines.

O. J. L. Thatís what I wanted to do.

Youíve given plenty of evidence, and many are satisfied with that. Now they want to know what we think, what we do, how we conduct our lives, and what we think of the things youíre interested in, and so on. At least thatís our idea of the book. Ö Raymond says, People often ask if we donít say anything interesting. They ask, do we always say only "Youíll find a photograph in the third drawer of a desk youíve never seen before." (Peda here interpolated: Thatís how he goes on! Heís naughty!) Theyíve had plenty about the great-auntís unknown chest, and the photographs. Now they want to know about our ideas and our lives, and to what extent we can help you on earth.

O. J. L. You donít tell us much.

No time.

O. J. L. No, I wish I could have more sittings. (I have only about two, or it may be three, per annum with Mrs. Leonard.)

There is one thing I want to impress on you, ó how much and to what extent we are allowed to help people on earth. We are allowed to help in any way which doesnít interfere with free-will.If we saw you intending, or willing, to do something wrong, we shouldnít be allowed to pitch you down the stairs so that you broke your leg and couldnít do that wrong thing. That would be interfering with your free-will.We are not allowed to hypnotize you and make you change your mind. But we are allowed to suggest certain things to you, and to bring certain conditions before you, in the hope that youíll change your mind, but we canít force you to.The whole purpose of life is development, itís nothing else, itís quite simple. People ask "Why this? Why that?" The purpose of life is development. And free-will is the wonderful power which enables man to choose right from wrong. We canít choose for him. Thatís why we donít like coercing you, or telling people at sittings what they should do or shouldnít do.

O. J. L. Yes; but sometimes you have more information than we have, and can see ahead.

Yes. Yes. But all the time we are leading them the right way without coercing them; and directly you on the earth choose it, then we are allowed to help you in every possible way.

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Theyíre wanting, too, to give a clear, not long but concise, idea of our surroundings. It wouldnít take us long, Raymond says.Just in a word or two I want to mention something flow [evidently going back to something that I had suggested quite hypothetically in a previous sitting, as one possible way of accounting for their apparently very similar appreciation of trees and other objects said to be existing on their side] :óYou have thought that probably our world is the same world as yours, looked at from another side: another view of it.

O. J. L. Yes, is it?

Our world is so different from yours In some ways, itís rather difficult for us to look at it from that point of view; but I can see eye to eye with you on one point, which seems to bear on your theory, and that is this, ó that everything that is necessary to man, everything that man in a sense makes his own, has an etheric duplicate. We see the etheric duplicate.

Take a chair as illustration. (In the Tate Gallery is a picture by Vincent van Gogh of a sort of ideal chair which had attracted my attention. I donít know whether that accounts for his selection of so apparently insignificant an object. Nor does it matter for his purpose.)

It may be that the chair you see at home, your material chair, and the chair that we see, which is your chair on our side, the etheric chair, are one and the same thing really. Yet the etheric chair seems to be with us.

Youíve heard communicators surprised to find over here the table, or the chair, or the picture they were fond of. You would regard it as the same thing seen from another side.

O. J. L. Do you agree?

Father, thatís where itís very difficult for me to say whether you are right or wrong, because time and space have so little meaning for us compared with what they have for you; but many things go to prove that you are right.What Uncle Fred suggests is that the mental conditions, the different spiritual development, the different point of view, may create the illusion of distance or space.

Thatís right, he says, and in every sense that matters they do create a distance. It always seemed to me that I traveled at first. When I first passed over, it seemed to me that I had to go a distance to find you. I felt that I went from our place to a place where you were.

Now Mr. Fredís speaking (to Raymond), he says:-

Yes, young man, thatís quite correct. But donít you see this, that it was your point of view that made the distance? The distance doesnít seem so great to you, you donít notice it, now.

When you first came over you were struck by the facts that you were born into, and living again, in a new condition. It stamped itself on your mind as a new condition, a place separate from the place whence you came. So, when you thought of your fatherís home you thought of it as being an essentially different place. You had a sense of distance to overcome.

The reason you donít feel the distance now, is because you have bridged the illusory gulf so often.

Raymond says, ó Yes. Well, Father, it must be so, but I canít quite see the thing as Uncle Fred does, and say there is no distance from your world to ours. But Mr. Fred thinks there isnít.

Raymond says, ó Perhaps later on I may feel it and see it just as he does. Mind, I havenít got the impertinence to say it isnít so. But I donít see it all like that.

O. J. L. Well, Raymond, now I want to ask a question.

Suppose you are looking at the etheric aspect of some object, and I take a hatchet and chop the thing to pieces, ó what will happen to the aspect that you are looking at?

Father, it would depend very much upon ó Itís most Important ó on your attitude of mind when you destroyed it.

He went on to say that if it was a thing one was fond of, the etheric form might still exist; but that if it was smashed through dislike or temper it would be "submerged or drawn into the general, the general ether, the unformed ether, the ether you have not moulded, that you havenít given life to. You can mould an etheric body for a thing, ó a piano, a clock, a desk, ó by loving it and liking to have it with you; you imbue it with a kind of etheric life, you provide the pattern, the mental pattern, which gives it etheric form. Your thought about a thing provides a kind of pattern upon which the ether is formed and moulded."

O. J. L. A sort of converse of materialization?

Akin to it.

O. J. L. Do you mean that you donít see material things unless we think about them?

Father, we donít see the material things. When we say you were doing so and so, itís your thoughts that help us. We can go to the theatre with you, and we can enjoy it. But suppose you were horribly bored, and not looking at the performance, we should get a poor idea of it. Unless, indeed, we used the power and thought of someone near you.

O. J. L. Then you see our things with our eyes?

We do. We can. But I must explain something. Can you understand that we donít only see things through you but because of you. (Like mediumship apparently.ó O. J. L.) Itís difficult to explain through Feda. [You know that] part of you can see without your eyes - registering that you can see.

Seeing without seeing. One part of you must register and the other part doesnít. Some things only flit over the conscious mind into the subconscious. They donít make any impression on it. But we can use your subconscious registration of things.

O. J. L. Similarly I suppose that we see spiritual things through and because of you.

Exactly, Father, exactly, the same function. When you live consciously in touch with us and with our lives, you are able to tap certain sources of wisdom which belong to our plane. You are meant to do that, meant to try and use sight and hearing on our side, as we do on yours. The more you can do it the higher you will go.

Mr. Fred says, itís really finding God through us. I donít mean you shouldnít find Him direct, but perhaps the most direct way to God is through us.

Can you go directly to anything? Thereís a series of links always between you and your objective.

If God is your objective, you can reach Him through us. One of the best ways you can reach Him, I think.

Raymond says, I feel that the more you on earth use the function of sight and hearing, the more we shall be able to see on your plane too. The more you extend your range, the more you enable us to extend our range.

O. J. L. I say, Raymond, Iím going to say something, by way of comment, that Feda will not understand and you wonít understand, but Mr. Fred will, if heís listening. Is he listening?

Yes, he is.

O. J. L. Very well then, ó ut non sine nobis consummarentur.

He agreed with it, and says funny words, rebus in rebus in tore tory in ora hora inora rebus In something ora.

He shakes his head, and says, not quite right.

He thinks that it is important that the two lives, the physical and the psychical lives, should be blended more, more consciously; which would in a sense increase the etheric life on the physical plane.

You see, Lodge, itís desirable really to increase what we call the etheric life on earth, the more we increase, deepen, define, widen, and value, the etheric life on earth, even the etheric life of a chair or table as well as our etheric body, the less submerged we shall be in the animal and physical morass. We have been so submerged in the merely animal and physical aspect of life [that] weíve neglected the etheric. When we understand the etheric value of things we shall no longer be ridden and driven by such material aspects as money. I feel that we shall hand on a heritage of better health to the next generation as we understand the ether.

O. J. L. Myers, physical beauty is not a morass.

No, no. As you understand the ether better, youíll appreciate the physical and material even more, ó your bodies, beauty, all the physical, ó but you wouldnít be submerged in it, nor overcome by it, but would see it at its true value. The temporary side of life can be very beautiful, no matter how you understand the ether. You donít want to lose one of your children in the material sense, why should you? But when you see the etheric side of your child, or of anyone, you will be improving the standard of life on the earth. We should never despise the material, we should make it as beautiful as possible and appreciate it as much as possible.

The conversation then branched off to other things and soon ended.

It should be needless to say that I take these conversations as akin to a discussion between friends, none of whom is infallible but some better infor than others. They are not to be treated as oracular, but they are often suggestive. Any tendency to put too much faith in imparted information, attained by other than our own exertion, is to be deprecated. The unwisdom of this can be illustrated from ancient examples.

 

Chapters

Contents / Foreword / Chapter 1  / Chapter 2  / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 4a / Chapter 4b / Chapter 4c / Chapter 4d / Chapter 4e / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7

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