Joe’s Scripts – Evidence For An Afterlife?
These scripts have a rather interesting history. They were written by Joe, who was killed in the first world war. They were submitted to Sir Oliver Lodge, who wrote: "There is a great deal of good material in them. So many people say that we get nothing of value, nothing about life on the other side, and statements of that sort, that really we ought to be able to show how false such statements are."
A battle-field as it is seen from the other side. There is nothing of the din and smoke, and the physical horror, those don't matter at all, insofar as the impression of them remains in the minds of those who come over. My first impression is of chaos of forms striving, each striving to free himself, he does not know from what, he does not know what he is striving towards.
Our work is to help them, and I wonder if you can understand how that help is carried out. In reality we have to give them the thoughts and feelings that will help them, first of all sympathy, then the feeling that we understand and can explain things, so that they will trust us and allow us to help them. In reality it is those thoughts and feelings that we give and we have to think jolly hard to see what each one really needs, and give it to him.
But in appearance we have to do a great deal to make things easy for their minds. There is a certain amount of harmless pretence, more than harmless, helpful; if they are mortally wounded they are still anxious about the wound, they can't realize that it is left behind with the body, the thought form of their broken body is with them, and we have to humor their illusion; they get the impression of all sorts of marvelous dressings, of doctors with unheard of abilities to close up wounds however desperate, and to start them healing, and of strange new ointments to take away the pain.
This is like suggestion, only it appeals to something they already know, their knowledge of themselves which is underneath the conviction in the foreground that they are still wounded and in pain, and nearly all of them are undeveloped they have these thought forms, these symbols, created for them to represent the real healing of their troubles that is going on.
They are truly wounded spirits, because the body wound is a shock to the spirit, and the spirit carries over with it the sense of that shock, and naturally can only think of it through the symbol of the body. So the though form of the shattered physical frame is with them, and in a way we can see it, in a way it is like dealing with bodies; it is rather like the way that you might dress a wound in a dream, if you suppose that in your dream you know all the time that it is not a wound in concrete flesh, but that it is a thought form for a different wound, for the shock of the spirit.
So all spirit life for some little time after separation from the body is in a word full of bodily shapes. But they are like the shapes in dreams. They are there because they are thoughts.
Those who are killed quite suddenly - shot through the heart or the head, or suddenly stunned with a concussion from which they don't recover, or simply in a physical sense are blown to nothing by a shell - come over with feelings and thoughts that they had just before. Often it is these who think they have to go on fighting, and have to be calmed; often they think they must have suddenly gone mad, because the scene has changed. That is not surprising if you can imagine the tremendous state of tension, almost like madness, the actual fighting is carried out. They often think that they have been knocked over in the battle without knowing what happened, which is actually the case, only they think they are now in a base hospital and want to know what did happen to them.
We have to humor them at first and only gradually explain to them what the hospital means. Sometimes they are profoundly glad, those who have come to the limit of endurance, and rejoice to be free from the world of wars. Sometimes, with those who have very strong home ties, we have to let them realize as gently and gradually as possible; most are so weary in spirit that they worry over little, and are soon ready to settle down to their rest.
Others have foreseen that they must be killed, they have seen the shell or bomb about to explode, and have known when it explodes they must go. These sometimes tumble right into their period of sleep, because their idea of death was simply obliteration, and the rest period links up with the idea at once. They need nothing explained until their rest is over, but sometimes they sleep a very long time if their conviction that death is the absolute end was very deep rooted.
After the sleep there is a difference. Before there is always a certain amount of illusion that you are still just the same person that you were in the earth life. That illusion doesn't get dispelled before the sleep, only the spirit gets enough quieted, enough reconciled to feel the sense of personal fatigue. You see, the understanding is carried just far enough to relieve the immediate sense of trouble and worry.
Then comes the sense of tiredness, the spirit longs to rest, there comes the great desire to sleep.
In that sleep a great deal happens but I don't know enough yet to tell you about it. It's not exactly a sleep, but your sleep in the earth life is very much the nearest thing to it. You know how much can happen to you in sleep that you can't explain. All you know is that you wake up another being. When the spirit comes out of that sleep he knows where he is and what he is, as you sometimes wake up in the morning with some knotty problem solved.
Those who pass over with full knowledge and understanding of the life beyond do not need that sleep at all, unless they come with their spirits tired with long illness or the worries of life. In practice almost everyone needs the sleep period for a shorter or longer time. The greater difficulty of the spirit in adjusting itself to the new conditions, the longer and deeper the sleep period that is necessary.
Now to describe what it feels like when you come out of that deep sleep. You know quite clearly that you are alive, without any muddle about thinking that you are still in earth life. During that experience something has taught us and told us. I think perhaps we have been able to reach out and understand completely than we can realize at once when we wake up there is a curious inner feeling, a comforting sense that we do understand somewhere, somehow.
But on waking, the first thing that follows the realization of where we are and what we are, that we are really surviving spirits and that we really are on another plane of experience, is an enormous curiosity, and a very strong desire to explore and understand further. First there are things - that is what first strikes you - of the same kind as you see on earth, only somehow different. They are real, but you have a sense that they are only temporary, that they just belong to that first waking stage.
Then you find, and it seems very curious and fascinating, that you can change those things by wishing them to change. You can only do it with quite small and unimportant things, but for instance - you can look at a pine needle on the ground where you are sitting, and begin to think of it as a real needle, a steel needle, and then it is an ordinary sowing needle and you can pick it up.
You can't change big things, you can't change the whole scene around you. That is because it is not your scene, it belongs to lots of other spirits too, but you can change any little thing, when the change won't affect anybody else. Then you begin to realize that all the things around you are all thought forms, memory forms, and that it is arranged like that so as to make the transition easy from material life to spiritual life. You learn a great deal simply by finding out what you can change by changing your own thought about it, and what remains unaltered however you think about it.
That makes you understand how little belongs to you alone so that you can do exactly what you like with it individually and how much belongs to the whole concourse of spirits of which you are part. So far I have only told you of one's own perceptions and realizations, but there is also a great deal that cannot be learnt only from what we see.
First there is talk and interchange of ideas with others who are in the same stage of development. It is like ordinary speech between people with ordinary bodies and clothes and features, only you have that curious sense, which one often has in earth life, of understanding a great deal more than what is said. You have that sense in the first spirit conversations, only you have it very much more strongly, and very soon you begin to feel that the words are only a kind of artificial framework, almost unnecessary to the thought.
Well, we converse together and help ourselves to understand, that is the most important thing about it. Second, there is further help that we need, and get, from very from rather more advanced spirits who come and talk with us and explain things. I won't say that they are very advanced because that happens to be the particular job I am doing myself at present, but you can see that it comes just a step beyond helping people before their sleep.
We don't go to lecture them, just to answer their questions, because they want to know more than they can find out, and we who have just not so long ago passed through their stage and got on a little bit further can tell them just enough to satisfy them. Just as much as they can take in as yet. Especially, we can tell them that they will not get on until they are fit to go back and help other people through the first stage before the sleep. That makes them keen to shove forward a bit, because it does not do if they get dreamy and just play about with their thought forms and nothing else.
You see, there you can have anything you like within reason, games and all that sort of thing, and if they did not know about anything they would probably think this was heaven, and just go on playing like children, indefinitely. So they really need us to come and tell them that there is something further to get on to. After they have had enough rest and play they begin to want work, and they are keen when we come along and tell them that there is work, and explain to them how to get at it.
Halls of knowledge, rather like our universities, are in a region where it is not absolutely necessary to have the illusion of concrete buildings and rooms, but where at the same time it is helpful to use those earthly symbols. It is not that the buildings are necessary for any idea of shelter, or the rooms for any idea of dividing one group from another for fear of confusion of voices. We realise that these practical needs are superceded but there remains the sense of the atmosphere and dignity of the building, something that is expressed by it's architecture. All that atmospheric sense of dignity and beauty we cannot yet get hold of as a thing in itself, so we still have the symbolism of building and beautiful architecture, and in that sense the buildings are real to us. It is partly, also, that by keeping to this extent the easy sense of a building to represent an idea, our mental forces are freed for concentration on the purer, more immaterial ideas that we learn to work out within the halls of knowledge. Don't confuse these with the temple symbolism. These are places for the development of understanding not of the higher mediumship. It is difficult to explain just what is taught here. I will try to give you a picture.
It is in the central hall that all the members congregate. There is a high gothic vaulting, in a way it is churchlike but not wholly. But the lines of the vaulting have in them that sense of purity and aspiration which belonged to the genius of the gothic at it's highest. But don't get too much the picture of a cathedral in your minds, but rather the picture of an ideal lecture hall. For the lecturer your best picture will be one of those whom you know as guides. It is very difficult to tell you how the teaching proceeds.
In a sense it is speech; it will be easiest perhaps if you think of that stage between friends when thought and speech merge very closely into one another, when the words carry with them spontaneously more though than they contain. Carry that idea further, and think of the words being used only for their beauty, their rhythm and cadence, just as the architecture is used only for its beauty, its appropriate dignity.
The teaching could flow as a thought stream alone, but words are still used, not so much to convey the thought as to give a kind of illustrative pattern and artistic embellishment to the thought.
I want to give you a picture of the state in which we are gradually leaving behind the earth imagery we see feelings and thoughts themselves in an infinitely clearer, brighter and more vivid and more varied imagery in which they are as real, as absolutely themselves to us, as tables and chairs are to you.
It is not leaving realities for abstractions, it is leaving lesser realities for greater realities. it is impossible to tell you about our realities in the language that has grown with and is framed to express your realities.
We have words, we are taught by speech, and the teachers use language of wonderful flexibility and beauty, like the language of the greatest poets. But through and behind what they say there shines a meaning far beyond that of words, and with that meaning we see a radiation of colour, sometimes one colour, sometimes another, and sometimes many colours together, and those marvelous shades of luminous colour become associated in our understanding with different shades of meaning. When you read poetry you feel the different shades between the lines, but you could not express to your selves, or anyone else, exactly how they differ from one another. We learn simply by learning to feel that one shade of meaning is represented by one shade of colour, another shade of meaning by another shade of colour.
This, you see, is an elementary sifting out of our different perceptions of meaning. To see different meanings as different colours is to be able to hold them apart, instead of having them all more or less merged in a general sensation of beauty. Later, we go beyond this simple colour symbolisation, not that we lose it, any more than we lose the beauty of poetical language.
We lose nothing, but we go further to add new powers of understanding through differentiation. The colour differentiation is an elementary step.
You have fully realized that colour is character, the particular shade which the eternal goodness takes when it shines through this or that personality. So you begin to realize now, those of you who can see, that certain personalities radiate certain colours.
There is a further descent, so to speak, of the power to identify colour with character now being developed for humanity. A descent in the sense that the power to perceive the psychic colourings is no longer to be confined to clairvoyance; an effort is being made to get the esoteric perception through to those who would not call themselves psychic at all. It is being brought, it is being subtly infused into your philosophy, your education. It is coming to have a new significance in your pictorial art. It will very soon make its definite appearance even in your objective science.
A good deal of this you may not yet be able to understand. The last statement does not contain anything that you can trace in the present, it refers to the future. But the earth is reaching a stage at which underlying meanings can begin to be differentiated, and so more clearly held and understood and unified, because unity can only come about through finer and subtler differentiation. And the lesson that we first have taught to us in our halls of learning is just beginning now to be a possibility for those who are still on the earth, not only for their physical understanding, but for their mental understanding too. Watch the progress of thought, present human thought in its various aspects nowadays, and you will catch a hint in one region after another that a deep consciousness is creeping in of the significance of colour as representing the finer shades that no language, even the most perfect, can express.
Remember that I have told you about this colour symbolism, how it is only the most elementary beginning of a new power to perceive and understand.
Halls represent the study of light and colour. You understand those two symbols and will be able to read into them a good deal of their meaning. You will realize that the life of learning is only part of this development.
The other side is the life of service, which might be symbolized for you as the growing of the spiritual flower of service. That symbol, I think, also conveys a fairly full meaning to you, though there is much more still behind it than you have yet grasped.
You now have an idea of two principle types of service; the one represented by the hostpital scene, the other at the opposite and highest end of the world of spirit by the temple symbol.
I will try and tell you of the types of service that belong to this intermediate stage of development, the service to which we are trained in the halls of learning.
It is not service to those on earth, except occasionally and incidentally when there is something that we can do for those with whom we are in touch. It is principally service to those who have passed out of the earth life who have not yet begun to develop in spirit.
These would not listen to higher teachers, but those who still are near enough to them in sympathy and are able to remember and partly to share in their somewhat dull interests, are able to help them a little by degrees, to induce them, through friendship, to take those first small steps outward from their own little narrow circle, which are for them so difficult to take.
That is a very bad summary of a task which is very difficult but highly interesting in its many varieties. It is the task of the rescue of the dull, in many ways more difficult than the rescue of the wicked. The dull are like a lighted lantern of which the glasses are so smoked on the inside that no light can shine through. They can only be rescued by those who have learnt to sense the light within although they cannot see it. That elementary metaphor will hold good so far as to say that the glasses cannot be cleaned from without, but only from within.