The Science of Mind, by Ernest Shurtleff Holmes , at sacred-texts.com
THE MEANING OF IMMORTALITY
Immortality means to the average person that man shall persist after the experience of physical death, retaining a full recollection of himself and the ability to recognize others. If his full capacities go with him beyond the grave, he must be able to think consciously, to reason, will, affirm, declare, accept, reject, know and be known, communicate and be communicated with; he must be able to travel about, see and be seen, understand and be understood; he must be able to touch, taste, smell, hear, cognize and realize. In fact, if he is really to continue as a self-conscious personality, he can do so only to the degree that he maintains a continuous stream of consciousness and self-knowingness.
This means he must carry with him a complete remembrance; for it is to the remembrance alone that we must look for the link that binds one event to another, making life a constant stream of self-conscious expression. To suppose that man can forget and still remain himself is to suppose that he could cut off the entire past and at this moment be the same personality that he was a moment ago. Remembrance alone guarantees personality. Individuality might remain without remembrance, but not so with personality; for what we are is the result of what we have been, the result of what has gone before.
Man, then, if he is to have an immortality worthy of the name, must continue, as he now is, beyond the grave. DEATH CANNOT ROB HIM OF ANYTHING IF HE BE IMMORTAL.
WHERE DID MAN COME FROM AND WHY?
It is useless to ask why man is. It can only be said of man that he is; for if we were to push his history back to some
beginning, we should still be compelled to say that he is. If man's life is of God, then it comes from a source which had no beginning; and so the question as to why he is must forever remain unanswered.
God could not tell why God is; to suppose that Life could give an excuse or reason for being would be to suppose an absurdity. Life Is, and right at this point all inquiry into Truth starts, and from this point alone must this inquiry continue.
We are not so much interested in why we are, as we are interested in what we are. That we are some part of Life, no one can deny and keep faith with reason. Let us not bother about questions that can never be answered, but pay attention to those which have an answer.
MAN AWAKES WITH A BODY
When man first woke to self-consciousness, he had a body and a definite form, showing that Instinctive Life, which is God, had already clothed Itself with the form of flesh. Body, or form, is the necessary outcome of self-knowingness. In order to know, there must be something that may be known; in order to be conscious there must be something of which to be conscious. Some kind of a body or expression there always was and always will be, if consciousness is to remain true to its own nature.
WHAT IS THE BODY?
Body is a concrete idea, existing in time and space, for the purpose of furnishing a vehicle through which Life may express Itself. The physical universe is the Body of God; it is a manifestation of the Mind of God, in form. It is that Creation which, while It may have beginnings and ends, of Itself neither begins nor ends. The Manifestation of Spirit is necessary if Spirit is to come into Self-Realization; hence, Body.
We say that body is composed of matter, but what is matter? Science tells us that matter is an aggregation of small particles arranged in some kind of form; we are also told that matter is in a continuous state of flow. Strange as it may seem, we do not have the same physical bodies that we had a few months ago; they have completely changed; new particles have taken the place of the old; and the only reason why they have taken the same form is, that Instinctive Man has provided the same mold. Our bodies are like a river, forever flowing; the Indwelling Spirit alone maintains the identity.
If we assume that immortality simply means persisting in the physical body, then we already have immortalized ourselves many times right here on earth.
THE ETHER OF SCIENCE
We are now being taught that the ether is more solid than matter. We know that the ether penetrates everything; it is in our bodies, at the center of the earth, and throughout all space. This means that within our present bodies there is a substance more solid than the body which we see. This idea is very far-reaching; for it shows that we might have a body right within the physical one, which could be as real as the one of which we are accustomed to think. If Instinctive Man has molded the outer body in form, why should It not also mold the inner one into definite form? There is every reason to suppose that It does and no reason to suppose the opposite. In all probability, there is a body within a body to infinity. "In my Father's house are many mansions." 99
We do not depart from reason when we assume this; for, while we used to say that two bodies could not occupy the same space at the same time, we must remember that we were talking about only one plane of expression. The new idea of matter and ether has PROVED THAT MORE THAN ONE BODY MAY OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE AT THE SAME TIME; for it has been proved that there is a substance
which can occupy the same space that our body does. No doubt, as time goes on, it will also be proved that there is something still finer than the ether; this may go on to infinity. There is every reason to suppose that we have a body within a body to infinity, and it is our belief that we do have.
THE RESURRECTION BODY
The resurrection body, then, will not have to be snatched from some Cosmic shelf as the soul soars aloft, but will be found to exist already WITHIN; EVERYTHING IS FROM WITHIN, FOR LIFE IS WITHIN. The resurrection body of Jesus shone so that it could not be looked upon, because it was a more spiritual one than the physical eye is used to beholding.
The facts are conclusive that we have a spiritual body now, and do not have to die to receive one. We now remember the past, and have already outlived the physical body many times during life. It looks as though we were already immortal and would not have to die to take on immortality.
If there are many planes of Life and consciousness, perhaps we only die from one plane to another. This thought makes a strong appeal and seems to answer the question completely.
IN WHAT MENTAL STATE DO WE GO OUT?
Some think that death robs us of the objective faculties, and that we pass out in a purely subjective state; but we are unable to follow the logic of such an assumption. To suppose that the objective faculties die with the brain, is to suppose that the brain thinks and reasons. This is proved to be false through the experience of death itself; for, if the brain could think, it would think on and on forever. No; the brain does not think; the thinker thinks through the brain, perhaps; but of itself, the brain has no power to think or feel. Detach the
brain and it will not formulate ideas, nor work out plans. THE THINKER ALONE CAN THINK.
It is logical to suppose that we pass from this life to the next in full and complete retention of all our faculties. Jesus revealed Himself to His followers after His resurrection, to show them that death is but a passing to a higher sphere of life and action. To know that we maintain an identity independent of the physical body, is proof enough of immortality. This, together with the fact that remembrance maintains a constant stream of recollection, and the realization that mentality can operate independently of the body, performing all of its normal functions without its aid; and that the new theory of matter and ether furnishes proof of the possibility of a body within a body to infinity; and that the Instinctive Man is constantly forming matter into the shape of a body, should prove to anyone that we are not going TO ATTAIN IMMORTALITY; BUT THAT WE NOW ARE IMMORTAL.
WHAT CAUSES PSYCHIC MANIFESTATIONS?
It would be interesting to know whether the spirits of the supposed dead cause the manifestations which we see in the séance chamber. One thing is certain: these manifestations are either caused by those who are supposed to be dead, or else they are caused by those now in the flesh; for, since they happen, something must make them happen. Whether the manifestations are caused by the dead or the living, the agency used is either a mental body or the direct power of thought operating upon objects. Of course, in the conveyance of mental messages, telepathy explains the agency; but in physical manifestations, some kind of contact either takes place or else thought directly works on objects.
Hudson, in his "Law of Psychic Phenomena," carefully goes through an elaborate process of reasoning, the result of years of painstaking investigation, and completely proves that all of the manifestations do take place. He then goes through an extensive argument to show that they are not caused by spirits, saying that we have no reason to suppose the presence
of an unknown agency, when we know that there is one present who could be producing the phenomena. Now, if our reasoning power is correct, and it is proved that physical manifestations take place through some power that is mental, and if it is proved that those who have passed on might still be near us, then we cannot see where the argument against spirit agencies could be considered perfect. We are inclined to feel that the very facts in the case prove that these manifestations could be produced by either the living or the dead; and such, we believe, to be the case.
TELEPATHY DOES NOT EXPLAIN EVERYTHING
Telepathy does not explain everything. It may explain much, but certainly not all. Telepathy could not explain certain visions which people sometimes have when passing out. We once knew a woman who practically passed out and was, indeed, thought dead for nearly a day and night; but was finally restored to consciousness to continue here for another year. She plainly saw and talked to several members of her family who had gone on some years earlier. It is not strange that those who have gone before are interested in us and wish to see us when we go over. If we had friends in London and were to send word that we were coming over, they would certainly wish to meet us. Our friends on the other side must be just as interested in us as they ever were.
Telepathy cannot explain how Jesus could take some of His more advanced disciples aside and let them talk with the departed. It clearly states that this incident took place; and, if we cannot believe this, how can we believe any of the other events in the life and experience of this most remarkable Person?
There are thousands of cases on record where people have penetrated the veil of flesh and seen into the beyond. If we cannot believe the experience of so many, how can we believe in any experience at all? Of course, there is a large field for
deception, and it is not probable that all communications are real; but, to state positively that they are all illusions, is to throw the lie into the face of human thought and say that is never sees clearly. There is certainly more argument and evidence in favor of the theory of spirit communication that against it, and, so far as we are concerned, we are entirely convinced of the reality of this evidence.
If spirits really exist, and if we all live in One Mind, and if mentality can communicate with mentality without the aid of the physical instrument, then spirit communication must be possible; and since we know that the above-stated facts are true, we have no alternative other than to accept the conclusive evidence and realize that while it may be difficult to communicate with the departed, yet it is possible.
COMMUNICATION MUST BE MENTAL
It is evident that any such communication must be mental; it would be thought transference or mental telepathy, at best. Now if the supposed entity knows that we wish to communicate with it, and if it is consciously present trying to communicate with us, then it must, by the power of its thought, cause its message to come up through our subjectivity to an objective state of recognition; consequently how very difficult to receive a coherent message! For instance, suppose that one tries to think a lecture to an audience, how much would they receive? Yet this is exactly what would happen under the very best condition if the departed were trying to impress our thought. I believe that they do seek to communicate with us and that they often succeed, perhaps more often than we realize; but I repeat, "How difficult it must be!"
Whether or not the spirits are present is uncertain. Just because a psychic sees the picture of a person around us, does not mean that he is really there; for the pictures of all our friends are always in our mental atmospheres. It is quite absurd to suppose that at any time we wish we can call any one we ever knew and make him talk to us. We are unable to do so here; and psychological and metaphysical laws are the same on every plane.
WE DO NOT CONTROL SPIRITS
To suppose that we can compel the attention of one out of the flesh, any more than of one in it, is an absurdity. And if we could, what would we hope to gain? People out of the flesh know no more than they did when in the body. I believe that we do communicate with the subjectivity of those who are departed, whether they know that we are doing so or not; but the messages that come, in our present state of evolution, are very incoherent. I believe that an unconscious communication goes on, more or less, all the time, and that those people whom we have greatly loved are still conscious of us; and are, without doubt, seeking to influence us; but it could only be a mental influence. We might feel a vague sense, much as the niece of Oom Peter did in "The Return of Peter Grimm." She felt a vague sense of her uncle; that he was trying to impress her with his thought and desire. She felt a blind groping, and that is probably the best that we would get.
THE PSYCHIC POWER SHOULD NOT BE FORCED
We all have psychic capacities, but they should never be forced; for it is only when the subjective comes to the surface while in a normal state that a normal psychic power is produced. The average psychic must go into a semitrance to let the subjective come through; this is never good nor right, but is always destructive. The psychic capacity is normal only to the extent that it can be used while in a self-conscious state. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. It is known as the "power of darkness," but is all right if understood. Many people are bothered by their psychic powers, constantly seeing things, continually getting impressions; they are very near the surface of subjectivity, and it bothers them. This can easily be healed and should be.
There is a normal psychic capacity, and some are able to discern mental causes with perfect ease. Jesus was such an One; He was able to tell the woman that she had been married five times, and that the man with whom she was living was not her husband. He read that out of her thought; but
[paragraph continues] He did it while in an objective state; for He was able to consciously and objectively exercise His subjective faculties. This is perfectly normal; but to let go of the volitional and choosing faculties, which alone constitute individuality, and become immersed in subjectivity, is very dangerous. One might become obsessed by discarnate spirits, earth-bound entities, elementals, thought forms, desires or other forces floating around; for we cannot close our eyes to the fact that all of these things do exist.
It is a crime against individuality to allow the conscious faculties to become submerged. We should control the subjective and not let it control us. The teaching of the illusion of mind sprang up because men of wisdom perceived that people might mistake the shade for the reality, the form for real substance, the hollow voice for revelation, and thereby be misled. That is why they warned against these things and against having familiar spirits; and they were absolutely right. Never let any voices speak to you unless you are in perfect control of the situation. Never admit any mental impressions or images that you do not wish to receive or that you cannot receive consciously. Say: "There is no power in the flesh or out of it but the One, which can enter my consciousness. Any thing that obeys the One, conforms to the One, believes only in the One and comes only through the consciousness of the One, is perfectly welcome, but anything other than that cannot come."
The only value that an understanding of psychic phenomena can have, is that without it we do not understand the complete workings of mind. We do not understand experiences people often have; and in a consistent philosophy which deals with mind, the lack of an understanding of psychic phenomena would be inexcusable. For any one in this day to say that powers of clairvoyance, telepathy, thought transference, clairaudience or telekinetic energy are not exercised, is to admit his own ignorance.
These things do happen and are continuously happening in more and more instances. The thing to do is not to deny what happens, but to find a logical and scientific explanation of it. It is our business to explain all mental action, in so far
as it is explainable; and so we must find and answer which will cover the law of psychic phenomena. Mind, with the laws governing It, is the whole answer, for each plane reproduces the one next to it; and psychic phenomena are reproductions of man's physical capacities on the mental plane. "What is true on one plane is true on all."
NOTE: Read and carefully study "Law of Psychic Phenomena," Hudson; "Life After Death," Hyslop; "The Unknown Guest," Maeterlinck; "Science and Immortality," Lodge; "The Hidden Power," Troward; "From the Unconscious to the Conscious," Geley.
268:99 John 14:2.