new age spirituality

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Mrs. Piper & the Society for Psychical Research by Michael Sage

XI George Pelham's philosophy--The nature of the soul--The first moments after death--Life in the next world--George Pelham contradicts Stainton Moses--Space and time in the next world--How spirits see us--Means of communication.

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The communicator, George Pelham, did not confine himself to obtaining recognition from his friends; he talked a great deal of philosophy with them, especially with Dr Hodgson. Indeed, if he had not done so, the omission might have created a doubt as to his identity, for in his lifetime he was fond of such discussions. But for the present Dr Hodgson has kept back these speculations from the other side of the grave, thinking quite rightly that no value would attach to them until unmistakable evidence had been produced for the existence of "another world." Still there are to be found among the reports of the sittings some fragments of these philosophic theories, and they form an interesting subject of study.

The philosophy may be only that of Mrs Piper. But it may on the other hand be the philosophy of the discarnate George Pelham, and for that reason it is not unworthy of examination. Supposing, however, that the assertions made are actually those of an inhabitant of the other world who in this world was intelligent, honest and cultivated, the question still arises whether we must regard them as expressing Absolute Truth. Surely not; if another world exists beyond this one, its inhabitants have mounted one step--but one step only--above us on the infinite ladder of existence. They do not see the Eternal face to face. It is quite possible that they may be able to see clearly truths of which we have no glimpse, but we are not bound to believe more than we like of what they tell us.

If the existence of the discarnate George Pelham is established, a new light is undoubtedly thrown on the old problem as to the nature of the soul, a problem as old as the world itself. The disciples of Plato's Socrates tried to interpret it by the charming analogy of the lyre and its harmony; asking whether man may not be compared to a lyre and his soul to its harmony, a harmony which ceases to exist when the instrument is broken. Using more modern terms, we may ask whether the soul is the resultant of the forces of the bodily organism, or whether it is the indestructible and mysterious motor which produces the action of that organism.

George Pelham declares that the soul is in truth the motor, and that the body is merely a machine used temporarily by the soul to act upon the obscure world of matter. He speaks to this effect: Thought exists outside matter and is in no way dependent upon matter. The destruction of the body does not have as its consequence the destruction of thought. After the dissolution of the body the Ego continues its existence, but it then perceives thought directly, is much more free, and can express itself much more clearly than when it was stifled by matter. The soul and thought are one; thought is the inseparable attribute of the Ego or individual soul. On its arrival in this world the soul is ready to register innumerable new thoughts; it is a _tabula rasa_ upon which nothing has been inscribed.

This is a noble thought, if true, and one that wonderfully widens our narrow outlook. But, as I have said, I reserve my right of critical examination. Elsewhere George Pelham says, "We have an astral facsimile--the words are his--of our physical body, a facsimile which persists after the dissolution of the physical body." This would seem to be the astral body of the Theosophists. But the term "facsimile" is perplexing, as I have always believed that the particular form which Humanity actually has was entirely determined by the laws of our physical universe, that it was an adaptation to its surroundings, and that if a modification, however slight, were made in, for instance, the laws of gravity, the human shape would undergo a corresponding variation. Sir William Crookes has lately made some interesting observations on this subject. But to this question I will return again.