CHAPTER X ETHERIC ENVIRONMENT
Desiring a clear comprehension of the etheric spheres outside the physical, and having opportunity to speak with one very learned and advanced in the afterlife, I said:
“Describe, if you please, the spheres in which you live, with special reference to their tangibility and materiality.”
The gentleman answered:
“There are seven concentric rings called spheres. The region nearest the earth is known as the first or rudimental sphere. It really blends with your earth’s sphere. It is just one step higher in vibration. Growing more intense and increasing in action are six more, distinguished as the spiritual spheres. These are all concentric zones or circles of exceedingly fine matter encompassing the earth like belts or girdles, each separated from the other and regulated by fixed laws. They are not shapeless chimeras or mental projections, but absolute entities, just as tangible as the planets of the solar system or the earth upon which you reside. They have latitude and longitude, and an atmosphere of peculiarly vitalized air. The undulating currents, soft and balmy, are invigorating and pleasurable.”
“How does the landscape appear to you?” I asked.
He answered: “The surface of the zone is diversified. There is a great variety of landscape, some of it most picturesque. We, like you, have lofty mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, lakes, forests, and the internal correspondence of all the vegetable life that exists upon your earth. Trees and shrubbery covered with most beautiful foliage, and flowers of every color and character known to you, and many that you know not give forth their perfume. The physical economy of each zone differs from every other. New and striking scenes of grandeur are presented to us, increasing in beauty and sublimity as we progress.”
“Do the seven concentric rings, or spheres, move with the earth as the earth moves?” I asked.
“Although the spheres revolve,” he said, “with the earth on a common axis, forming the same angle with the plane of the ecliptic, and move with it about your sun, they are not dependent upon that sun for either light or heat; they receive not a perceptible ray from that ponderable source.”
“From what source do you receive your light?” I then asked.
“We receive our light emanations,” he said, “wholly from an etheric sun, concentric with your sun, from which central luminary there comes uninterrupted splendor, baffling description. We have, therefore, no division of time into days, weeks, months, or years, nor alterations of season caused by the earth’s annual revolution, for the reason that we have no changing season as you have, caused by the action of the sun of your solar system. We, like you, are constantly progressing from day to day, but our ideas of time and seasons differ widely from yours. With you, it is time. With us, it is eternity. In your sphere your thoughts, necessarily bounded by time and space, are limited, but with us thoughts are extended in proportion as we get rid of those restrictions, and our perception of truth becomes more accurate.”
“How do you use matter, change its form and condition?” I asked.
“Matter,” he said, “with us is only tangible as the mind concentrates upon the object. Then the force of the mind or thought sends its vibration around the object, holding it in a measure tangible. Of course, this is something very different from what you call tangibility. Without this mental concentration the vibration pulses indifferently. That is the natural condition of matter in our zone. It requires the thought to change its form and condition. The vibrating action of matter is measured by the space necessary for the volume.”
“How can this material condition in which you live be demonstrated?” I asked.
“One cannot prove,” he said, “to a child that steam, that pretty fascinating substance, is harmful until the finger is burned; neither can one instill the truth into an older mind until it is not only opened but has the capacity to comprehend. That all is material in different states of vibration is easily grasped by the thinker. It is impossible to prove by your laws, to actually demonstrate the existence of matter in the higher vibrations in which we live so that men may comprehend. When you deal with matter in the physical, you apply physical laws. When you deal in matter spiritual, you apply spiritual laws, practically unknown among men. The best possible evidence is the vision of the clairvoyant together with deductive reasoning, which, as we have said, is really the highest order of proof.
“Have you ever thought,” he said, “that the result of every physical demonstration reaches the consciousness through the avenue of reason?
The mentality in a higher state of development comprehends a fact in Nature without physical proof.”
“Tell us something of your social life, your scientific research, and religious teaching in the plane in which you reside,” I asked.
“With regard to the social constitution of the ‘spheres’ each is divided into six circles, or societies, in which kindred and congenial spirits are united and subsist together under the law of affinity. Although the members of each society unite as near as may be on the same plane, agreeing in the most prominent moral and intellectual features; yet it will be found on careful analysis, that the varieties of character in each society are almost infinite, being as numerous as the persons who compose the circle. Each society has teachers from those above, and not infrequently from the higher spheres, whose province is to impart to us the knowledge acquired from their experience in the different departments of science; this, we in turn transmit to those below. Thus by receiving and giving knowledge, our moral and intellectual faculties are expanded to higher conceptions and more exalted views of Nature, the power of which is no less displayed in the constitution of spirit worlds than in the countless resplendent orbs of space. Our scientific researches and investigations are extended to all that pertains to the phenomena of universal truth; to all the wonders of the heavens and of the earth, and to whatever the mind of man is capable of conceiving. All of these researches exercise our faculties and form a considerable part of our enjoyments. The noble and sublime sciences of astronomy, chemistry, and mathematics engage a considerable portion of our attention, and afford us an inexhaustible subject for study and reflection.
“Nevertheless, there are millions of spirits who are not yet sufficiently advanced to take any interest in such pursuits. The mind being untrammeled by the gross material body, and having its mental and intellectual energies and perceptions improved, can by intuition, as it were, more correctly and rapidly perceive and understand the principles and truths on which the sciences are based. In addition to our studies, we have many other sources of intellectual, moral, and heartfelt enjoyment, from which we derive the most ineffable pleasures, some of which are social reunions among children and parents where the liveliest emotion and tenderest affections of our nature are excited, and the fondest and most endearing reminiscences are awakened; where spirit meets in union with spirit, and heart beats responsive to heart.
“We have no sectarian or ecclesiastical feuds, no metaphysical dogmas; our religious teachers belong to that class of persons who were noted during their probation on earth for their philanthropy and deeds of moral bravery; who, regardless of the scoffs and sneers of the time- serving multitude, dared to promulgate and defend the doctrines of civil and religious liberty. They urge upon us, too, the necessity of co-operation in the reformation and advancement of our more degraded brethren by instructing them in the divine principles of love, wisdom, and benevolence. They instruct them in the soul-inspiring and elevating doctrines of universal and eternal progression, and in the sublime truth that evil is not an indestructible and positive principle, but a negative condition, a mere temporary circumstance of existence; and furthermore, that suffering for sin is not a revengeful and malevolent infliction of God, but a necessary and invariable sequence of violated law.
“They teach also that, according to the divine moral economy, there is no such thing as pardon for sins committed – no immediate mercy – no possible escape from the natural results of crime, no matter where or by whom committed; no healing of a diseased moral constitution by any outward appliances, or ceremonial absurdities; and finally, that the only way to escape sin and its consequences, is by progressing above and beyond it.”
“What is spirit, as that term is used?” I asked.
“Spirit,” he said, “is the one great power in the Universe. The combination of spirit forces is the great power for good, and through the absence of that force many undesirable conditions develop in your world, – all in the Universe is but an expression of this great force, and if this spirit force were not material, were not a substance, how could it take form and have growth in the physical plane? Those still in your world make a great mistake when they for one moment imagine that our world is not a material one; it is foolish to think of an existence without substance. How can there be a world beyond the physical unless it is material? Without it there could be no afterlife. Strong invisible bands of force hold the great system of spheres in proper place. It is all mind-force, and all force is life, mighty, unchanging, unyielding, and this mind-power is increased by every individual life that is developed in your creative sphere. It has become a part of the individual life force of the Universe, and each day it adds something to that force called Good. This addition is made, not at dissolution, but from hour to hour, as the mentality increases.”
Such teachings appeal to reason, and I accept them. Our earth is still very young; before it took form and shape and a definite place in the procession of world, other planets and solar systems were growing old. It was but yesterday in the calendar of time that the convulsions and eruptions of this earth in its effort to take definite form threw up the mountains, made valleys for the seas, and destroyed in its labor the peopled continent of Atlantis. It was but a little time ago that the pyramids were built and temples were erected upon the banks of the Nile, that Belshazzar in the temple of Babylon saw invisible hands write upon the wall. Grecian and Roman splendor, Mohammedan culture and refinement, Napoleon’s conquest, and religious freedom are all things of today. Time is no more measured by the calendar than a grain of sand measures the extent of the desert.
There are so many things which we as a people do not know ! We have gone into the depths of the earth and learned just a little of geology; we have done something in botany; we have searched the skies, discovered planets, measured distances, and learned just a little about astronomy. We have succeeded in putting a single harness on electricity without knowing what it is, and have developed our individual selves in about the same proportion. But we have really no conception of space or of the thousands of suns and solar systems connected with ours, or of the medium between them. Science has no conception of the nature and origin of the electric force, and knows absolutely nothing of the magnetic force, the part that it plays in Nature, or the influence it has in this world of ours. The world has little conception of matter except in its grossest expression. It knows nothing of solar space. It has not developed sufficiently to comprehend that the Universe is material, and that the different planes are similar, except in density. The race has not yet developed sufficiently to understand what life is, or the source from whence this atom that develops self has come. Nor do we yet appreciate or understand the duties and responsibilities that rest upon the individual, and his relation to society and to himself. Certain elementary propositions have been enunciated and demonstrated, and many so-called great minds say that beyond them we cannot go. Life force is as much of a mystery to science today as it was before the Christian era.
The primary propositions which must be understood are these: the earth is one of many creative planets; progress has only commenced; nothing in this physical world has or will reach perfection; all present knowledge is elementary; there are no limitations; life is eternal and will continue to develop, expand, and increase through the untold ages yet to come beyond man’s comprehension of time. Our beginning we cannot know with our present development; knowledge of our end is equally impossible, but the present is ours.