The Blue Island: Experiences of a New Arrival Beyond the Veil (1 of 2)
W. T. Stead, Estelle. W. Stead and Pardoe Woodman (eds.), (1922)
LETTER FROM SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Dear Miss Stead, I found the narrative most interesting and helpful. I have no means of judging the exact conditions under which it was produced, or now far subconscious influences may have been at work, but on the surface of it, speaking as a literary critic, I should say that the clear expression and the happy knack of smiles were very characteristic of your father. We have to face the difficulty that the details of these numerous descriptions of next spheres differ in various manuscripts, but, on the other hand, no one can deny that the resemblances far exceed the differences. We have to remember that the next world is infinitely complex and subdivided - (My Father's house has many mansions) - and that, even in this small world, the accounts of two witnesses would never be the same.
If a description were given by an Oxford don, and also by an Indian peasant, their respective stories of life in this world would vary much more than any two accounts that I have ever read of the world to come. I have specialized in that direction - the physical phenomena never interested me much - and I can hardly think that anyone has read more accounts, printed, typed and written, than I have done, many of them from people who had no idea what the ordinary Spiritualist scheme of things might be.
In some cases the mediums were children. Always there emerges the same idea of a world like ours, a world were all our latent capabilities and all our hidden ambitions have free and untrammelled opportunities. In all there is the same talk of solid ground, of familiar flowers and animals, of congenial occupations - all very different to the vague and uncomfortable heaven of the churches.
I confess that I cannot trace in any of these any allusion to a place exactly corresponding to the Blue Island, though the color blue is, of course, that of healing, and an island may be only an isolated sphere - the ante-chamber to others.
I believe that such material details as sleep, nourishment, etc., depend upon the exact position of the soul in its evolution, the lower the soul the more material the conditions. It is of enormous importance that the human race should know these things, for it not only takes away all fears of death, but it must, as in the case of your father, be of the very greatest help when one is suddenly called to the other side, and finds oneself at once in known surroundings, sure of one's future, instead of that most unpleasant period of readjustment during which souls have to unlearn what their teachers here have taught and adapt themselves to unfamiliar facts.
A. Conan Doyle, Crowborough, Sussex, England. September 1922.
When in April 1912 the "Titanic" sank in mid-ocean and my father passed on to the next world, I was on tour with my own Shakespearean Company. Amongst the members of that Company was a young man named Pardoe Woodman, who on the very Sunday of the disaster foretold it as we sat talking after tea.
He did not name the boat or my father, but he got so much that pointed to disaster at sea and the passing on of an elderly man intimately connected with me, that when the sad news came through we realized he must have been closely in touch with what was about to happen.
I mention this incident because it formed the first link between my father and Mr. Woodman, and as it is largely due to Mr. Woodman's psychic powers that my father has been able to get through the messages which are contained in this book, I think, therefore, it will be of interest to readers and should be put on record.
A fortnight after the disaster I saw my father's face and heard his voice just as distinctly as I heard I it when he bade me good-bye before embarking on the "Titanic". This was at a sitting with Etta Wriedt, the well-known American direct voice medium.
At this sitting, I talked with my father for over twenty minutes. This may seem an amazing assertion to many, but it is a fact vouched for by all those who were present at the sitting. I put it on record at the time in an article published in "Nash's Magazine", which included the signed testimonies of all those present.
From that day to this I have been in constant touch with my father. I have had many talks with him and communications from him containing very definite proof of his continued presence amongst us. I can truly say that the link between us is even stronger to-day than in 1912, when he threw off his physical body and passed on the to spirit world. There has never been a feeling of parting, although at first the absence of his physical presence was naturally a source of very great sadness.
In 1917, Mr. Woodman was invalided out of the Army and came to stay with us at our country cottage at Cobham. Whilst with us, the news came to him that his great friend had been killed at the front, and his interest in the possibility of communication with the next world, which had been indifferent till then, became intense, and he set out to find out for himself. It is ever the passing of a loved one that gives the necessary stimulus for eager inquiry.
It was not long before his friend was able to give him definite proofs of his continued existence and of his ability to communicate. His first proofs were given through Vout Peters, and were given through Vout Peters, and were followed by others through Gladys Osborne Leonard's mediumship and through the mediumship of friends gifted with psychic powers.
I was present at that first sitting with Mr. Peters; father was there also, and his friend said it was due to my father's presence and help that he was able to succeed so well in these first attempts at communication. Shortly after this, Mr. Woodman found that he himself had the power of automatic writing, and father and others were soon able to write through him. Father always prefers me to be present, as if I am not he seems to have more difficulty, and very rarely will attempt writing.
He explains the necessity of my presence in this way: he and I are so much "en rapport", and so closely in touch with each other, that he is able to draw much power from me; I act as the connecting link and form a sort of battery between him and Mr. Woodman. I merely sit passively by whilst Mr. Woodman Writes.
Certainly I see a light around us, and a strong ray of light concentrating on Mr. Woodman's arm. Sometimes I am able to see father himself, and always, when he is writing, I feel his presence very distinctly.
We have received many messages in this way. For a while in 1918 we sat regularly every week, and were kept in touch with much that was going on at the front and of what was about to happen, and were advised of occurrences often days before the news came through in the ordinary way.
In one case father gave us the actual headlines which would and did appear in the papers the following week. It is interesting also of importance to note that Mr. Woodman and my father met only once before the passing of latter. I introduced Mr. Woodman to him not long before he left England in the Titanic, and they only exchanged two or three words.
Therefore, Mr. Woodman never knew my father personally nor has he come into touch with his writings or with his work in any way, and yet the wording and the phrasing of the messages are my father's, and even the manner of writing is typical of him.
Mr. Woodman also writes with his eyes closed, and often holds a handkerchief over them. Some of the best messages were given in the twilight when it was impossible for me to follow what was being written, and yet the words are were never overwritten. The writing will stop sometimes whilst father evidently reads over what has been written, and alterations will be made, I's dotted and T's crossed correctly.
It was a habit of my father's, whilst here, to go back over his copy and cross his T's and dot his I's; this habit was only known to a few, and was certainly absolutely unknown to Mr. Woodman.
Father's foreword explains his object in writing this book, so there is no need to dwell on that here. When he started, he had a rather longer book in view, but decided in favor of a short book, as it is more likely to be read, can be published at a reasonable price, and so stand the chance of reaching more people. All who worked with my father here will know that such reasoning was characteristic of him.
The photograph given as frontispiece to this volume was taken by the Crewe Circle at Crewe in the autumn of 1915. In the spring of that year, I had met Mr. Hope and Mrs. Buxton at the house of a mutual friend in Glasgow, and they very kindly invited me to call and see them in Crewe if I should ever have an opportunity to do so.
Soon after my return to London father asked me to arrange to go to Crewe, as he said he wanted to try to give us his picture on the same plate with mine. Accordingly I arranged to spend a week-end with some friends at Crewe and have some sittings with Mr. Hope and Mrs. Buxton.
I bought a box of plates in London and took them with me, and I can truthfully say that, that box of plates never left my sight or my possession all the time I was there. I even slept with the box clasped tightly in my hands.
We had our first sitting on the Saturday, when I obtained two extras, neither resembling my father. One was of interest because it was the picture of a lady who had appeared on a plate with my father when he was experimenting with Mr. Boursnell in the 'nineties.
I took my box containing the rest of the plates away with me after the sitting; bought another box of plates in Crewe, and took both boxes with me to the sitting on the Sunday. We did not use my first box at all at this sitting, and I kept it all the while just inside my dress.
We sat around the table, putting our hands over and under the second box for a few minutes; I then held the box for a minute against Mrs. Buxton's forehead.
After this I was instructed by Mr. Hope,s guide to take the box myself into the dark room (note the box had not been unsealed or the plates exposed to the light). When in the dark room, I was to unseal the box and take out the two bottom plates, taking particular care to note which was the bottom plate, and then to develop both plates. Mr. Hope was to come in with me, but not to touch box or plates.
I carried out instructions. I found the bottom plate not even fogged, and on the other plate two messages, one from Archdeacon Colley, deploring father's inability to write; one from Mr. Walker, the father of my host, and in one corner of the plate a faint outline of my father's face.
When I got back to my friends that evening, we had a sitting at which father expressed his keen disappointment at his failure to give his picture. "It is all my fault", he said. "I am so excited at the idea of getting my picture beside yours after I have been so-called 'dead' for so many years that I break the conditions; however, many have promised to help me tomorrow, and if I fail again we have something else prepared to slip on so that you will not be quite so disappointed."
On the following morning I went for my last sitting. Two of my own plates were used. On both of these are pictures of my father; one is reproduced in this book, the other is a large face of father which completely covers me.
Now, having, I hope, given a little idea as to how these messages were obtained, and our reasons for feeling that they do indeed come from my father, I am content to let The Blue Island do the rest. I am sure it will interest many, and if it awakens some to a truer realization of what is to come, and makes them seek for further definite proofs to themselves, then the three chiefly concerned in giving these messages to the public - my father, Mr. Woodman and myself - will be amply satisfied.
Estelle W. Stead (September 1922)
A FOREWORD FROM THE SPIRIT WORLD
by William T. Stead
There is great trepidation on the part of all the uninitiated when first coming into contact with the occult, psychic or unknown forces. In many of life's mysteries there is much pleasure to be had in probing the secret, and the mystery is in itself an incentive to search and to inquire, to overcome the unknown and to gain knowledge on subjects not previously known or proven. This, however, does not seem to apply when dealing with the mysteries surrounding the afterlife. There is always a fear of something. Frequently personal, but sometimes fear of harming the individual known and loved on earth. In itself that is a good sign; it argues unselfishness, and consequently the individual who holds off for that reason deserves enlightenment. If he is sufficiently advanced to seek, he will get enlightenment together with great help. Again, there are those who, imbued with theosophical ideas, fear to come in contact with what is to their minds the shell of a former loved one, and those who fear through ignorance due to an undeveloped and somewhat uneducated mentality. By that I do not necessarily mean an unschooled mentality. I speak of uneducated in the sense of lacking understanding and appreciation of the higher things of life.
To all these people I am, and I always was, most sympathetic. In earth life I did my best to help and enlighten, but I was very restricted owing to material calls upon my time. Since my arrival in this land I have tried to carry on and greatly to increase the amount and the sphere of this same work. I have succeeded up to a point, though many have not yet reached the halfway step on that staircase of knowledge leading to understanding. I was on the point of saying 'leading to happiness,' but that would not be quite correct, for happiness is most amply contained in 'understanding', and happiness in the sense that it is used and understood on earth is not the raison d'etre of life. We were not made only to be happy. Happiness is part of our reward for work done, for progress and for help given to others—which is itself the outcome of understanding.
As I have said, in my work on this side of the Borderland I have achieved a certain success, and I am confident that if I can pass on the knowledge I have gained, together with my own personal experiences, to you who are still on earth, I shall have gone a little farther in the work to which I have set my hand for the good of humanity.
What I have to tell will be of interest to many, and will be useless to many more, but I am going to tell of things which each one of my readers can, up to a point, test for himself. You can each one of you test it by soul knowledge, and by that you will know that I am giving you words of value, words which God in His infinite love has permitted me to be the means of passing to you. It is not my idea of the mysteries of life, it is a discourse on those mysteries.
There is the teaching of Christianity running all through, but the application is different to that ordinarily accepted. It is quite erroneous to suppose that because a man was a man on earth, he will become a spirit angel the moment he dies. Death is only the doorway from one room to another, and both rooms are very similarly furnished and arranged. That's what I want you to appreciate thoroughly; it is under the same guiding hand. The same Personality rules all spheres.
Beginning at the beginning, I have to tell you how a man finds himself here on arrival. As I have said, this whole book will interest many and help a few. It is for that few that all concerned are making the necessary effort to bring it to them. It does not attempt or pretend to be on scientific lines. All through, you can apply sound common sense, and you cannot break down what is.
I have dealt with the subject very briefly, only for the reason that many will read a short, concise account who would not study a detailed one.
I must impress upon you all—the interested and the disinterested, the believer in this great subject, Spiritualism, and the skeptic—to remember you are still on earth and you have still to perform earth's duties. You have your daily lives to lead and you must always do well the work in hand. Never neglect the present because the future appears more brightly colored. Carry on with today, but with a corner of your mind on tomorrow, and remember also that phenomenal Spiritualism is not for all. Many minds could not absorb the greatness of the subject together with the facts of the phenomena and still continue in their routine in normal manner—these are the people for whom phenomena Spiritualism is not. They will be wise to go no further into the subject than knowledge gained from books and from the experiences of others. In this sense, Spiritualism is not for all.
Many years ago I was attracted by an article published on a newly-issued book on the subject of spirit communication, and after reading the book carefully several times, I was forced to admit its soundness. I was struck by the plain and practical ideas of the writer. That book was the first cause of my becoming actively interested in this big and amazing work. From that time onward I did all in my power to prove and then forward the movement. Many people know this; and those who do not can become acquainted with the details if they wish. Therefore I am going to pass at once from my first earth interest in the occult to my first occult interest in the earth.
Just as I was overcome with astonishment and satisfaction on first reaching conviction on earth, so I was astonished almost equally on my coming to this land and finding that my knowledge of this subject gained on earth was strikingly correct in nearly all the chief points. There was a great satisfaction in proving this. I was at once amazed and delighted to find so much truth in all I had learnt: for although I had believed implicitly, I was not entirely without grave misgivings upon many minor details. Hence my general satisfaction when I recognized things and features which, though I had accepted whilst on earth, I had scarcely anticipated would be as I now found them. This must sound somewhat contradictory, but I want you to understand that my earthly misgivings were based on the fear that perhaps the spirit world had a formula of its own which was quite different to our earth mentality, and that, therefore, the many points were transmitted to us in such a form and in such expression as we on earth would be able to grasp and appreciate, and were not in themselves the precise descriptions, owing to the limitations of earth word-expression.
Of my actual passing from earth to spirit life I do not wish to write more than a few lines. I have already spoken of it several times and in several places. The first part of it was naturally an extremely discordant one, but from the time my physical life was ended there was no longer that sense of struggling with overwhelming odds; but I do not wish to speak of that.
My first surprise came when—I now understand that to your way of thinking I was then dead—I found I was in a position to help people. From being in dire straits myself, to being able to lend a hand to others, was such a sudden transition that I was frankly and blankly surprised. I was so taken aback that I did not consider the why and the wherefore at all. I was suddenly able to help. I knew not how or why and did not attempt to enquire. There was no analysis then; that came a little later.
I was also surprised to find a number of friends with me, people I knew had passed over years before. That was the first cause of my realizing the change had taken place. I knew it suddenly and was a trifle alarmed. Practically instantaneously I found myself looking for myself. Just a moment of agitation, momentary only, and then the full and glorious realization that all I had learnt was true. Oh, how badly I needed a telephone at that moment! I felt I could give the papers some headlines for that evening. That was my first realization; then came a helplessness—a reaction—a thought of all my own at home—they didn't know yet. What would they think of me? Here was I, with my telephone out of working order for the present. I was still so near the earth that I could see everything going on there. Where I was I could see the wrecked ship, the people, the whole scene; and that seemed to pull me into action—I could help! ...and so in a few seconds—though I am now taking a long time to tell you, it was only a few seconds really—I found myself changed from the helpless state to one of action; HELPFUL not helpless—I was helpful, too, I think.
I pass a little now. The end came and it was all finished with. It was like waiting for a liner to sail; we waited until all were aboard. I mean we waited until the disaster was complete. The saved—saved; the dead—alive. Then in one whole we moved our scene. It was a strange method of traveling for us all, and we were a strange crew, bound for we knew not where. The whole scene was indescribably pathetic. Many, knowing what had occurred, were in agony of doubt as to their people left behind and as to their own future state. What would it hold for them? Would they be taken to see Him? What would their sentence be? Others were almost mental wrecks. They knew nothing, they seemed to be uninterested in everything, their minds were paralyzed. A strange crew indeed, of human souls waiting their ratings in the new land.
A matter of a few minutes in time only, and here were hundreds of bodies floating in the water—dead—hundreds of souls carried through the air, alive; very much alive, some were. Many, realizing their death had come, were enraged at their own powerlessness to save their valuables. They fought to save what they had on earth prized so much.
The scene on the boat at the time of striking was not pleasant, but it was as nothing to the scene among the poor souls newly thrust out of their bodies, all unwillingly. It was both heartbreaking and repellent. And thus we waited—waited until all were collected, until all was ready, and then we moved our scene to a different land.
It was a curious journey that. Far more strange than anything I had anticipated. We seemed to rise vertically into the air at terrific speed. As a whole we moved, as if we were on a very large platform, and this was hurled into the air with gigantic strength and speed, yet there was no feeling of insecurity....We were quite steady. I cannot tell how long our journey lasted, nor how far from the earth we were when we arrived, but it was a gloriously beautiful arrival. It was like walking from your own English winter gloom into the radiance of an Indian sky. There, all was brightness and beauty. We saw this land far off when we were approaching, and those of us who could understand realized that we were being taken to the place destined for all those people who pass over suddenly—on account of its general appeal. It helps the nerve-racked newcomer to fall into line and regain mental balance very quickly. We arrived feeling, in a sense, proud of ourselves. It was all lightness, brightness. Everything as physical and quite as material in every way as the world we had just finished with.
Our arrival was greeted by welcomes from many old friends and relations who had been dear to each one of us in our earth life. And having arrived, we people who had come over from that ill-fated ship parted company. We were free agents again, though each one of us was in the company of some personal friend who had been over here a long while.
II—The Blue Island
I have told you a little about the journey and arrival, and I want now to tell you my first impression and a few experiences. I must begin by saying I do not know how long after the collision these experiences took place. It seemed to be a continuation without any break, but I cannot be certain that this was so.
I found myself in company with two old friends, one of them my father. He came to be with me, to help and generally show me round. It was like nothing else so much as merely arriving in a foreign country and having a chum to go around with. That was the principal sensation. The scene from which we had so lately come was already well relegated to the past. Having accepted the change of death, all the horror of our late experience had gone. It might have been fifty years ago instead of, perhaps, only last night. Consequently our pleasure in the new land was not marred by grief at being parted from earth friends. I will not say that none were unhappy, many were; but that was because they did not understand the nearness of the two worlds; they did not know what was possible, but to those who understood the possibilities, it was in a sense the feeling, "Let us enjoy a little of this new land before mailing our news home"; therefore there was little grief on our arrival.
In writing my first experiences I am going to give a certain amount of detail. My old sense of humor is still with me, I am glad to say, and I know that what I have to say now will cause a certain amount of amusement to those who treat this subject lightly, but that I do not mind. I am glad they will find something to smile at—it will make an impression on them that way, and then when their own time comes for the change they will recognize themselves amongst the conditions of which I am going to write. Therefore to that kind of skeptic I just say, "It's all right, friend," and, "You give no offence."
My father and I, with my friend also, set out immediately. A curious thing struck me. I was clothed exactly as I had been, and it seemed a little strange to me to think I had brought my clothing with me! There's number one, Mr. Skeptic!
My father was also dressed as I had always known him. Everything and everybody appeared to be quite normal—quite as on earth. We went out together and had refreshment at once, and, naturally, that was followed by much discussion about our mutual friends on both sides. I was able to give them news and they gave me information about our friends and also about the conditions ruling in this new country.
Another thing which struck me was the general coloring of the place; of England it would be difficult to say what the impression of coloring is, but I suppose it would be considered grey-green. Here there was no uncertainty about the impression; it was undoubtedly a blue which predominated. A light shade of a deep blue. I do not mean the people, trees, houses, etc., etc., were all BLUE; but the general impression was that of a blue land.
I commented upon this to my father—who, by the way, was considerably more active and younger than he was at time of death; we looked more like brothers. I spoke of this impression of blue, and he explained that it was so in a sense. There was a great predominance of blue rays in the light, and that was why it was so wonderful a place for mental recovery. Now some say, "How completely foolish!" Well, have you not on earth certain places considered especially good for this or that ailment? ...Then bring common sense to bear, and realize that the next step after death is only a very little one. You do not go from indifferent manhood to perfect godliness! It is not like that; it is all progress and evolution, and as with people, so with lands. The next world is only a complement of your present one.
We were a quaint population in that country. There were people of all conditions, of all colors, all races and all sizes; all went about freely together, but there was a great sense of caring only for oneself, self-absorption. A bad thing on earth, but a necessary thing here, both for the general and individual good. There would be no progress or recovery in this land without it. As a result of this absorption there was a general peace amongst these many people, and this peace would not have been attained without this self-centeredness. No one took notice of any other. Each stood for himself, and was almost unaware of all the others.
There were not many people whom I knew. Most of those who came to meet me had disappeared again, and I saw scarcely any I knew, except my two companions. I was not sorry for this. It gave me more chance of appreciating all this new scene before me. There was the sea where we were, and I and my companions went for a long walk together along the shore. It was not like one of your seaside resorts, with promenade and band; it was a peaceful and lovely spot. There were some very big buildings on our right and on our left was the sea. All was light and bright, and again this blue atmosphere was very marked. I do not know how far we went, but we talked incessantly of our new conditions and of my own folk at home and of the possibility of letting them know how it fared with me, and I think we must have gone a long way. If you can imagine what your world would look like if it were compressed into a place, say, the size of England—with some of all people, all climates, all scenery, all buildings, all animals—then you can, perhaps, form an idea of this place I was in. It must all sound very unreal and dreamlike, but believe me, it was only like being in a foreign country and nothing else, except that it was absorbingly interesting.
I want to give you a picture of this new land without going too deeply into the minute details. We arrived at length at a huge building, circular and with a great dome. Its general appearance was of a dome only—on legs—I mean a great dome supported on vast columns, circular and very big. This again, in the interior, was an amazingly lovely blue. It was not a fantastic structure in any way. It was just a beautiful building, as you have on earth—do not imagine anything fairylike; it was not. This blue was again very predominant, and it gave me a feeling of energy. I wanted immediately to write. I would like to have been a poet at that moment, but as it was I just wanted to express myself with pen and ink.
We stayed there some time and had refreshment very similar, it seemed to me, to what I had always known, only there was no flesh food. Everything appeared quite normal there, too, and the absence of some things which would on earth have been present was not noticed. The curious thing was that the meal did not seem at all a necessity—it was there, and we all partook of it lightly, but it was more from habit than need—I seemed to draw much more strength and energy out of the atmosphere itself. This I attributed to the color and air. It was while we were in this place that my father explained the reason and work of the different buildings I had noted on our walk together.
III —Interesting Buildings
Looked upon as a meal—a lunch out—it was the longest one I have ever known and without question the most interesting. I learnt a great deal in those first few hours with my father. It was all conversational, but it was of great use to me and of vast interest. He explained to me that the place we were then in was a temporary rest house, one of many, but the one most used by newly-arrived spirit people. It was nearest to earth conditions and was used because it resembled an earth place in appearance. There were other buildings used for the same purpose as well as for other purposes; by that I mean there is more than one of each.
These different houses were not all alike, they varied considerably in outward appearance, but there is no need to describe each. To call it a big building is sufficient, and by that you must understand a place like your museum or your portrait gallery, or your large hotels ...anything you like, and it is near enough. But it was not fantastic in any way and had no peculiarities, therefore by " building" I mean a building only.
There were a great number of these places in different parts—not grouped together, but variously placed about this land.
It seems that all the senses are provided for here. The chief work on this island is to get rid of unhappiness at parting from earth ties, and therefore, for the time being, the individual is allowed to indulge in most of earth's pleasures. There are attractions of all kinds to stimulate and generally to tone up strength. Whatever the person's particular interest on earth has been, he can follow it up and indulge in it here also for the present. All mental interests and almost all physical interests can be continued here, for that one reason of coaxing the newcomer to a level mental outlook.
There are houses given over to book study, music, to athleticism of all kinds. Every kind of physical game can be practiced—you can ride on horseback, you can swim in the sea. You can have all and any kind of sport which does not involve the taking of life. In a minor degree that can be had too, but not in reality; that is only a make-believe.
From this you will understand that particular buildings are given over to their own kind of work. The man who has spent his life in games, heart and soul, would be disconsolate without them here ...he can have them and enjoy them to the full; but he will find that after a time the desire is not so keen and he will turn to other interests automatically, though gradually, and it may be that he will never entirely abandon his games, but the desire will be less absorbing. On the other hand, the man who used his life for, say, music, for instance, will find his desire, his interest and his ability increasing by leaps and bounds because music belongs to this land. He will find that by spending much time in one of the music houses, as he will if his life is music, his knowledge and ability are amazingly increased. Then there is the bookworm. He, too, finds intense satisfaction in his new-found facilities. Knowledge is unlimited—works of priceless value, lost upon earth, are in existence here. He is provided for.
The keen business man on earth whose only interest is in making his business successful will also find scope for his ability. He will come in contact with the house of organization, and he will find himself linked up with work transcending in interest anything that he could have imagined for himself whilst upon earth.
Now all this is done for a reason. Everyone is provided for. On arriving, here there is often much grief; grief that is sometimes incapacitating, and no movement forward can be made until the individual wishes it himself. Progress cannot be forced upon him. Thus in the scheme of creation the blessed Creator has devised this wonderful means of appealing to the main interest on earth of each one. Everyone comes in touch with the chief longing of earth life, and is given opportunity to indulge in it, and thus progress is assured.
In all things that are purely and solely of the earth, the interest flags after a little time; a reaction, a gradual process—nothing is dramatic here—and the person passes from this to another interest which on earth would be called a mental one. Those whose interests have been in this mind-category will continue and enlarge the scope of their work, and will progress along the same lines—the others change.
Whilst in this Blue Island each one is very much in touch with the conditions left behind. At first there is nothing done but what is both helpful and comforting—later there is a refining process to be gone through. At first it is possible to be closely in touch with the home left behind, but after a little time there is a reaction from this desire to be so close to earth, and when that sets in the process of eliminating earth and flesh instincts begins. In each case this takes a different course, a different length of time.
In trying thus to explain the uses of this land and its buildings, I have not numbered them "Building A" for so-and-so, "Building B" for this, that and the other, but, in a conversational way, I hope I have helped you to understand and form a general idea of this country and some of its conditions. I hope I have made it clear how, after a time, the desire for earth things leaves us all. It may be a short or long time, according to the disposition of the person concerned. Take the athlete. He loves his games, his running, his physical strength and his muscular exercise. Well, he will love it here as much. He will love it here more, because he will find an added pleasure in feeling no fatigue, a sharpened enjoyment altogether, but after a time his appreciation of all this will change. He will not dislike this hitherto loved sport, but be will pass to a different form of it. A form which is full of movement and satisfaction but not a physical affair at all; his mind will become more awake, and be will get enormous mental satisfaction from the studies which will come before him concerning the ways and means of travel here. Locomotion of all kinds here is very different to that which obtains in earth conditions, and this former athlete of earth will drop into line in his new surroundings and will presently realize that life here is a different thing for him, for, though still on the same lines, it holds an increased mental interest. Is that clear?.. Well, apply it in the same fashion to every other type of individual.
IV—Life On the Island
Having given you a little idea of this land and its appearance, I want to tell you about the life of the people here, so that you can form a mental picture in completeness. It is only natural that many should say, "What are they all doing ?" Now, this is a very broad question to answer, and to help you to see how big a thing I am dealing with in thus attempting to give my story of the next life, I must put a simple question to you.
I want you to try and imagine you have not been living on earth and that, knowing nothing of earth life, you have suddenly been landed by an airship in the busiest part of the city of London—with all its traffic and its people. You have arrived from some other world and have not seen this sight before. You will exclaim, "How strange! What are they all doing ?" Well, could you answer that question easily? It would not mean much to you to be told they are going about their own individual business—one man bakes bread, another sweeps the streets, another drives a cart, and another sits in an office and runs a business—all that would leave you none the wiser. These are facts, and yet you would not understand them. You could not comprehend them. That is my difficulty in trying to make you understand in a satisfactory way the life of this Blue Isle. I have to consider how to explain it. It is no use my telling you that one person sits by the sea all the time, weeping because of her parting from her lover, and another is in a mental stupor from drink, and another still thinks he is ringing the bells of his local chapel on Sunday, etc., etc.—that is not the life, those are only bits of it. Atoms of the whole. I do not want to particularize, I want to generalize, with some detail. Therefore I must say that if you were to pay this land a visit in your earth bodies, as you are at present, you would be struck by the lack of excitement. You would think it all so like earth. That is what you would say to people on your return. "Oh, it's so much like our life here, only there are such a lot of different races of mankind there."
Everyday life for the individual is strikingly like the everyday life he's always been used to. At first he takes a great deal of rest, having the earth habit of sleep—and it is a necessity—he needs sleep here too, for the present. We have no night as you have, but he sleeps and rests just the same. He has his interests in visiting different parts, in exploring the land and its buildings and in studying its animal and vegetable life. He has friends to seek out and to see. He has his pastimes to indulge. He has his new-found desire for knowledge to feed.
The routine of a day here is similar to the routine of a day on earth; the difference being that earth's routine is often made by force of circumstance, whereas here it is made according to the desire for knowledge on this or that subject.
In clothing, we are all practically as on earth and as there are so many races here you can well understand the general appearance of this land is most unusual, and in an odd way particularly interesting and amusing, also instructive. I think I have said that in general appearance we all are as we all were. We are only a very little way from earth, and consequently up to this time we have not thrown off earth ideas. We have gained some new ones, but have as yet discarded few or none.
The process of discarding is a gradual one. As we live here we gain knowledge of many kinds, and come to find so many things, hitherto thought essential, not only of no importance but something of a bore, a nuisance, and that is how we grow to a state of dropping all earth habits. We get to the state of not desiring a smoke, not because we can't have it, or think it not right, but because the desire for it is not there. As with a smoke, so with food, so with many a dozen things; we are just as satisfied without them. We do not miss them; if we did we should have them, and we do have them until the desire is no longer there.
At first there is practical freedom of thought and action, and there are only certain limitations imposed not by rule but by conditions. Beyond these limitations there is absolute freedom. After a time, when the spirit has advanced to the point of desiring knowledge and enlightenment, he will be drawn like a piece of steel to a magnet, into contact with this or that house of organization dealing with the subject on which he desires knowledge. From the time of coming into touch with this house the spirit will be, as it were, "at school." He will perforce have to attend this house for instruction. He will spend a good deal of his time there learning, and, when finished with one house, will pass to another, but it is not compulsory information, it is craved-for information, and nothing is given until asked for. You are not forced to acquire anything. You are more than ever free agents. That is why on earth it is so essential to control your bodies by your minds, and not the reverse. When you come here your mind is all-powerful, and everything depends, for your own degree of happiness here, upon the kind of mind you bring with you.
The presence or absence of contentment is entirely due to the earth life you have led, the character formed, opportunities taken and lost, the motive of and for your actions, the help given, the manner of use of help received, your mental outlook and your use and abuse of flesh power. To sum all these up, it is the quality of mind control over body versus body over mind. Mind matters and body matters—on earth. Here only the mind matters, it is in your keeping entirely, and is in whatever state you have made it by your life. On your arrival here the degree of your happiness will be determined automatically by the demands of your mind.
When you are inclined to ask, "What are they all doing there ?" turn your mind to some dear one on earth who has taken up an out-of-the-way kind of life somewhere abroad, where you are not in constant and intimate touch, and say of him, "I wonder what he's doing now. Then answer it yourself by saying, "I suppose he's carrying on." So are we, we people in the Blue Island.
There is a good deal of reasoning and argument as to why in earth life we should do or not do this or that. Why we should refrain from many of the delights of everyday life and why we should "go straight."
People say it is handicapping in their business or their profession to have to observe these "nice points." They may not confess this thought openly, but to themselves they do they do not see why such and such should not be done. True, they think it may injure so-and-so's business a little, but that is his affair. All in ignorance.
There is a reason, and that reason can be very easily found by the rule of common sense. I almost might call this a discourse upon cause and effect. Earth life has deteriorated. The whole scheme of creation is planned with great precision, with the object of allowing free individual development and progress. Its rules are laid down dearly. Every man knows by instinct when he is obeying and when disobeying these rules. It needs no police officer to tell him. He may deceive himself that such an act is all that it should be, but at the same time he knows in his own consciousness that that act or thought is not only not all that it should be but that it is all that it ought not to be. I say that all mankind knows—but most of mankind prefers to think it does not know.
Not one person on earth can stand up and say I am not speaking a profound truth here!
Mostly these things are not considered from the point of right or wrong, but from the view of, "Shall I benefit by this?"—but I say that all people on earth can discriminate, I do not say that they do, between good and not good motive in their lives. Instinct does this for them. They cannot help themselves. They are bound to know. The trouble is that the vast majority by force of habit, the desire for business gain, or social gain, or any kind of gain, but always a gain for itself, has ceased to consider the quality of its actions and thinks only of the first result. It is a pity. It is more than that. Looked upon from the next stage in evolution it is pitiful . Poor undeveloped egos, preparing their own discomfort and suffering—not a hell fire but a mental torture.
The self or spirit of a man is encased in his mind, and, examined in a purely physical way, the brain is the most baffling organ of the body scientific man ever had to deal with. Much can be understood; all never will be. Judged as being the casing and instrument of the soul, it becomes an even more delicate and intricate and baffling piece of work. You all know that mind is the generating house for all your acts and deeds, but you do not fully appreciate the fact that every act and every thought is "booked"—is recorded.
You do not see the elaborate scheme of work which goes on in any of your large business houses, when you buy something and do not pay at once. It is booked and passes through many hands before the bill is sent to you a little later, and having paid the bill you forget it all, but the record of that business house has it still. So with the brain; an act or a thought, no matter what the quality, is recorded for all time. Settling will come after life, and when paid the "book" is finished with and troubles no more, though the record is still there. Now follow me. Mind and its work—thought—is the force that drives and creates everything on earth. It has all to be mental before physical or material. That you all know. Every building was conceived mentally before being built.
Thought is divided in itself into different types. There is the thought of your next meal, which is of no particular interest, and there are the thoughts constructive and destructive. These are important. There are the purely personal thoughts. Sometimes advantageous and sometimes the reverse. Now the all-important forms of thought are the constructive and destructive. The others referring to your meals, your clothes, your appearance your anything you like, these are not of importance until they are allowed to hinder the flow of constructive thought; when they do this the character of these same thoughts changes and becomes destructive.
It is the material embodiment of destructive thought which causes most of the distress and misery in the world. The sum total goes on increasing, and will continue to increase, until mankind as a whole, and individually, will listen and try to understand a little more about himself beyond what it is necessary for him to know for the selling of his goods, and thus give fuller play to the beneficent action of constructive thought which alone can redeem and save the world.
VI—Intimate Life (continued)
To a great extent the individual hardships of earth life are directly due to wrong thinking. I am fully aware that people are placed in many different positions right from birth. Some inherit unhappiness and difficulty from their parents, and their lot in life is harder and their pleasures are less than in the lives of those who are born in better conditions.
Accepting these differences of position and condition—one man a life of much hard work, another a comfortable and perhaps rather idle life—the same rule of thought applies. The man who has grown up under hard conditions is by circumstances forced into a groove of thought—a regular rut. He cannot help himself because there are no real attempts made by any to change his outlook; he may meet with material help from time to time, but he meets with little practical mental assistance. He is under the disadvantage of his lifelong earth conditions, and is in ignorance because he does not understand and has little opportunity for learning about these things; by his thought he adds to his difficulties instead of easing and finally removing many of them. The other man, who is comfortably settled and has no particular worries, does precisely the same thing. He trudges along in the same mental rut—stagnation, mental stagnation , and the same results will fall to them both hereafter. They are both building up their future states.
Then there are people of keen intelligence, clever people, who use their brains to achieve material gain no matter the cost to others. These people are indulging in the most positive form of destructive thought. They are not like the other two, negative. They are very alive, alert and positive. They are at once using destructive and constructive thought. The latter is entirely misapplied, and when they come here the account against them will be much heavier, because they will have built up a wall of greedy thought which they themselves have originally sent out and which they must settle in this next condition.
A thought—no matter the heading it comes under—that has come into your mind and which you have sent out, is an accomplished thing so far as your mind goes. Your physical act may or may not keep swift accompaniment with the thought; that does not matter from the point of view of what you are building up for yourself here. Once having had this thought it is done, so far as your mind is concerned, and, whether you follow it up actively or not, you have to make repayment for it when you come here. I am not speaking about the thousand trivial thoughts of every hour, but about those which I might describe as having personality.
You will say it is impossible to control every thought of the day, and I agree that it is, but if once you accepted for fact what I have said, you would keep a sharp eye on your mental actions. They matter. You will find this very difficult to accept because it is indeed an intimate thing for each one; you do not know each other's thoughts whilst upon earth, therefore I have headed this chapter, "Intimate Life."
Each of you will live to thank the person who is responsible for giving you this information if you act upon it, and those of you who hear and know but do not act upon the knowledge, will have one day to cast reproaches upon yourselves for this failure.
To realize oneself that one has failed is far more bitter than the consciousness that others know it.
Think upon this and reason a little with your own inner self.
Leaving the question of time out of it entirely, as I must, I want to write of my first attempt to communicate with the earth world. I know there is much dissatisfaction with the spirit world on account of the practical impossibility to give correct ideas of time spacing. I should like to say a little about that before going into the main interest of today's writing. You must not be over hasty in condemning us for this failure. On earth, you all space your time by days and hours, etc., but those spacings are also based, or perhaps more definitely marked in your mental reckoning, by the habits of the day. You have always taken certain things at certain hours. You have a light sky and a dark sky; without a watch you know fairly accurately the time of day by your inclinations—fatigue or freshness, the need for food or rest, etc., etc.
Now on this side of the grave we have no real necessity for rest or for food. We have no dark sky—only a light one, and we have, for the sake of the present illustration, an unlimited supply of energy. Consequently we are not able to break up the time into spaces which correspond with earth spacings. We do break up our time, but it is not your breaking, therefore we can seldom be accurate in telling when a thing did, or when a thing will happen. For that reason I am not able to tell how long I had been in this country before I made my first attempt to link up with earth again. To me I seem to have lived in this land always. It appeared incredible to me that it could be only a few days since I arrived. I had not forgotten my family or my friends, but I felt peculiarly happy about them. I cannot think why, except that finding my earth knowledge so very correct I gathered strength in feeling that they too would understand everything was quite well with me, and that this little delay in writing was natural considering the new country I had come to.
The house which is given over to this work in the Blue Island had been a regular haunting-place of mine ever since my father had told me of it, together with the works of the other buildings. I went to this house a great deal, and received much help from the various people in charge. They were all kind and very sympathetic, but entirely businesslike. It was not merely a house of tears and sympathy, it was an amazingly well organized and businesslike place. There were many hundreds of people there. Those who had on earth believed and those who had not, came to try and wire a message home.
The heart call was the one which received the most serious attention. Many were there only as lookers-on, incredulous and facetious. They got nothing more than the satisfaction of their own amazement.
After a little time my turn came.
For a building given over to this kind of work it appeared to be inadequately equipped. I had rather expected to see many implements and instruments, many wires and machines, and the presence of electric forces, but there was nothing of that kind at all. It was all and only the human element.
I had a long conversation with a man there—a man obviously of some importance, though I cannot say he looked like an angel, he appeared quite as mundane as myself. I had a long talk with him, and from him heard how a great deal of this work was carried on. He told me they had a system of travelers, whose work was very close to physical earth. They had the power of sensing people who could and would be used for this work at the other end. These men could locate and then tabulate the earth people, marking each individual ability, and when the newly-arrived spirit came in search of help, these sensitives on earth were used as each could be used. This is a sketchy outline of the work done in that building....There I came frequently and tried to get my messages through to home by more than one means; I succeeded in some ways, I failed in others. The spirit has much to do himself with the success or failure attained; a great deal depends upon him. Every time I succeeded I helped another. Every time I failed I went myself for help, and got it. Having given much time and study to the subject on earth, I was given unlimited assistance at this end of the line now that I needed it.
I want to explain how I got some of my first messages through and how I knew I had succeeded. We had been taught by this time how to come in close contact with the earth, although it was not possible for me to do this alone. I had a helper with me. I must call him an official. He came with me to my first trial.
We came into a room which seemed to have walls made of muslin. Something and yet nothing. I knew it was a house, and was conscious of the walls of the room, and yet they seemed such poor things because we could see through them and move through them. I could not have done this by myself at that time, but with my official we did.
Then came the attempt. There were two or three people in this room and they were all talking together about the horror of this great disaster and about the probability of people coming back. They were holding a séance, and my official showed me how to make my presence known. The controlling force, he told me, was thought. I had to visualize myself among these people in the flesh. Imagine I was standing there in the flesh, in the center of them, and then imagine myself still there with a strong light thrown upon me....Create the picture. Hold the visualization very deliberately and in detail, and keep it fixed upon my mind, that at that moment I was there and that they were conscious of it. I failed, of course, at first, but I know that after a few attempts I succeeded and those people did actually see me. My face only, but that was because in my picture I had seen myself only as a face. I imagined the part they would recognize me by. I was also able to get a message in the same way. Precisely the same way. I stood by the most sensitive present, and spoke and concentrated my mind on a short sentence, and repeated it with much emphasis and deliberation until I could hear part of it spoken by this person. I knew that at last I had succeeded, and I succeeded reasonably easily because I knew so intimately what the conditions of those people and that earth room were. Many who had not my earth knowledge made little impression at all.
There were none of my own family present that time. Had there been it would have made it impossible for me, as I was then feeling their sorrow acutely, and I would not have been able to give my mind so full a power as I did—I became almost impersonal. It was a good thing that my first attempt was purely a test one—to see if I could break through to home...