CHAPTER XV SPHERES IN THE AFTERLIFE
Early in my research I understood that life continued beyond the grave; that personality was not lost; that when one had compensated for all wrongs and made them right, he would progress; but it has taken many years to reach these advanced spirits, and from them learn just what was beyond the first sphere, where our work had hitherto largely been confined. We have often asked what was beyond, or to what progression led, and have as often been told to have patience, that when we were prepared to receive and to understand, the knowledge would be given.
At last the knowledge that has long been desired has been revealed, and we find that the future life has seven spheres, each containing many planes; they are as follows:
4. Trial and Temptation.
I have written of the conditions in the first sphere as I know them from work done there and general information given me by spirit people; but in taking up the spheres beyond the first, I am now able to give the language of those who live in them and who describe them. One said:
“I know what we all know, that there are seven spheres. I have just reached the third. Sometimes a spirit can speak from his sphere to the next higher, as you do while in the body, but only in the same way. I mean that there is no mingling together. When a spirit goes from one sphere to another, it is quite unlike dissolution in earth-life. He is warned that the change is near and has time to put his mind into a higher plane of thought so that he will be prepared to meet the new life. He says farewell to all his friends. They join in a general thanksgiving and celebration, all congratulating and helping him on his way by strong uplifting thoughts. When the time comes, he is put quietly to sleep, with the thought dominant in his mind that he is to make the change. When he awakes, he is in his new home in the next higher sphere. He has disappeared from the old. There is no old body to bury and decay. Each change is for a higher and better life, and the home awaiting is more beautiful, as he builds with a surer, wiser hand, or, rather, spirit. His home ceases to be among his former friends when this change comes. Thought has fitted him to progress, and when that thought which held him to the lower plane has ceased, the embodiment of the spirit, which is held together by his thought, is visible no longer.
“Each new change is more difficult to explain to you than the one preceding. It is simply a higher life and a busy one in which to develop ourselves along all lines, especially the ones suitable to the individual’s taste. In this way, each spirit becomes better fitted to be a teacher and helper. It is a very active, pleasant life, and sometimes seems like a big university town or country, with busy students hurrying from lecture to lecture and class to class. All are congenial and lighthearted there.
“In the lower sphere one sees much suffering among those still earth-bound. They, too, are busy working out past faults and they are often heavy-hearted. Generally speaking, the first sphere is the one where restitution must be made, and where the final wrenching away from earth conditions takes place. The second is one of instruction, a period of study, during which the spirit gains knowledge of self and natural law. The third is one of teaching those in the lower spheres, as I have said. The fourth sphere is one of trial and temptation. The fifth is truth, where error and falsehood are unknown. In the sixth, all is harmony. In the seventh, the spirits reach the plane of exaltation and become one with the great spirit that rules the universe.
“There are others, more advanced than I, who can better tell you of the spheres beyond. I have not been to the fourth, and only know of it as you do, by the teaching of those who are there. We are told that the spirits in the sphere of exaltation do not even there lose individuality. They are embodied in all the beauty and good of the universe. I do not know that I can make my meaning clear. Although they keep individuality, they permeate the universe. They have become so great and universal, we sometimes think they go beyond and must lose their personality; but we have no definite knowledge, and it is generally accepted they do not. It is difficult to understand or appreciate what this last sphere is, the development is so beyond our comprehension. Those in the second sphere do little, except to fit themselves for a broader and better work. Before reaching this condition they have freed their spirit from the burden of wrong done in the body, repaid every debt due mankind, dispelled the darkness of the first sphere. They work with open eyes and clear spiritual vision, and are at peace with all. This must precede the sphere of study and development. I have classes on purity, beauty, and patience, and there are classes on every conceivable subject,- music, chemistry, everything. They are different from those in earth-life, and one has to adopt different ideas. One of our engineers magnetizes your room each time you hear our voices. It is easier for those who have advanced to higher life to reach us than for us to reach you; there are not so many barriers. Yes, we always have places that resemble homes. Thought is not indefinite, and that makes our homes, and while we keep that thought, our homes are permanent. You ask where is that home located. I would say to you that all that is space is peopled with spirits.”
This lecture gave to us the spheres of progression. As you see, we were told not only their names, but something of the occupations that are pursued in the higher life. Not much can be told, I assume, but possibly all that a finite mind can grasp. I believe what I have written, not only because I know the one who talked, but because it appeals to reason, and is in harmony with natural law, as I understand it.
True, it is hard to understand where these spheres are, but there are many things quite as difficult of comprehension. Astronomical instruments have shown that it is ninety-three millions of miles to the sun, but this really conveys nothing to the mind, because one cannot comprehend such a distance. We know that light travels at the rate of one hundred and eighty- six thousand miles a second, but what that rate of speed is we cannot understand, for there is nothing tangible with which to compare it. Our actual knowledge of electricity, of magnetism, or even of gravitation is limited, as are all of Nature’s laws. Then, is it strange that one finds difficulty in appreciating what space is and how it is peopled? This thought of ours is even now free and can pass through space, but it goes with closed eyes, hears no sounds, and feels no touch. At dissolution, each sense is quickened, and all life that fills space is visible to the spiritual senses and tangible to spiritual touch and brain. Space must then take form, substance, and reality, – in a world of thought, boundless and endless.
One in the afterlife gave me a description of the spirit home of a great, splendid mother, built by the labor of love and ceaseless charity, – in the physical as well as in the spirit plane in which she now resides, – one who worked long and earnestly to make women understand the truth so that they might live nearer to the best in nature. Here is the description as it was given me:
“Before me is the interior of a splendid home, the home made by a spirit, created and builded by the thoughts, acts, and works of one who, thirty two years ago, lived on the material plane. The room opening before me seems like pure white marble with lofty ceilings; around the four sides runs a broad balcony supported by columns gracefully turned; from a point beyond the centre is a broad stairway curving outward; at its foot, on each side, are niches filled with beautiful statuary. Going up the stairs now, I find each step a different colour, yet all blending into one; on all sides of this upper gallery are windows through which come soft rays of light. Opening off the sides are rooms; and, as I look, a door opens and a beautiful spirit comes out, taking on, as she enters, the old material condition that she may be recognized.
She has reached maturity in years, and has a face of rare gentleness – the beauty of purity, – she smiles as we describe her and her home to you. With her is a daughter just reaching womanhood; one that never lived the earth-life but was prematurely born. These two, drawn by the invisible bond of affection, have builded this home and made it rich with love.
“Passing down the corridor now, the mother’s arm about the daughter, they approach the other end of the building and descend a stairway similar to the first, and go out upon a broad terrace, along walks bordered with flowers, into the garden of happiness. Turning now and looking toward a valley, I see many trees heavy with foliage, and through them I behold the waters of a lake, rich as an emerald in colour.
“About the vaulted room which I have described are many others of like material, filled with all that this mother loves. Books that she uses in her work are seen; pictures, created by acts of tenderness, adorn the walls. Musical instruments unlike those of earth await spirit-touch. This is a home where girls, just budding into womanhood, are taught purity – this is a mother’s home, and suggests to you the possibility of spiritual surroundings. It was not builded in a day, but is the result of labor in the earth and in spheres of progression, where the surroundings are in harmony with spiritual development; the home of a good woman, builded by helping others.”
I said to one of my friends in the afterlife, at another time: “Tell me of the homes of spirit people,” and, in reply, he said:
“That is a most difficult thing to do, because earth people expect to find everything so different, while, in reality, the homes here are practically the same as in earth-life, except that there is in the advanced spheres no discord, no lack of harmony, nothing but light, beauty, music, laughter, blended with earnest, thoughtful study. I am describing the home of a spirit who has grown to know the life-principle. There are many poor, struggling souls willfully, or ignorantly, looking down instead of upwards into the great possibility of the future, who are living in squalid huts which their deeds and thoughts in earth-life have made for them. Very few have beautiful homes ready for them when they enter spirit-life, for most people live in such ignorance of natural laws that they find insufficient shelter awaiting them, but the wise ones start to build by perfecting their way of thinking and by undoing wrongs on earth, and also, by helping others. No actual physical touch is given these homes, but, as the soul grows in beauty of thought and deed, the home grows to perfection.”
“Are these homes as real to you as ours are to us?” I asked.
“They are the abiding places of spirits who gather into them the objects of beauty they love, and there harmonious spirits come and go, as in earth-life. They are as real to them as yours are to you. But we look at things differently; we think them, and the thought is expressed in waves that are visible and real as long as we hold the thought.”