IT was in the very commencement of last year that I discovered the central idea of the system expressed in the term “Christ,” and the nature of the process whereby it had been attempted to represent that idea as realised in the person of Jesus, and others who before him had been invested with solar characteristics; and I continued, saving for one interruption, my work on the world’s religions under the influence of a perpetually increasing sense of illumination, until the autumn, when some weeks passed without ray being able to proceed. The interruption in question was caused by my being put under strong impulse to take part in the efforts then being made for the rescue of our animal brethren from the horrors of the physiological laboratory. I was conscious of a distinct vitalisation for this purpose, and under its influence I was enabled to put forth some words of appeal that went straight to the heart of England. For the two letters I wrote on the subject were reprinted in thousands both by public societies and private individuals,
and served both to win new converts to the cause of humanity, and strengthen the hands of the existing workers. To the use thus made of me in respect to the question of vivisection, and the vivid insight given me respecting the true nature of the influence which has manifested itself among us under the name of materialistic science, as an incarnation of the principle of evil on its lowest planes and in its most hideous aspects, I can distinctly trace the full opening of the spiritual vision which qualified me for the work I was so soon to be called to. For I was thereby shown that the priests of science, possessed by the devil of selfishness, were bent on dragging the world down to a worse hell than ever the priests of religion had made it. And the principle of both priesthoods was the same, – even salvation for self by the sacrifice of another.
With autumn came a period of lassitude, which for many years past has regularly recurred at that season, and which on this occasion reached an extraordinary degree of intensity. It was as if by some mysterious sympathy with the sun, I myself were going out as it declined from the zenith. So extreme had been my exhaustion that my return to vigour was like a new birth. This return was marked by a singular phenomenon.
l had for several months found myself withdrawn from writing in the direction and style I considered suitable for the work I had undertaken, and compelled to adopt a tone rather of exhortation and denunciation than one suited to history and exegesis. But I had managed with tolerable success to strive against the influence that was thus affecting me. On resuming, however, my work after my recovery from my indisposition, I found myself no longer able to write but in the direction I had striven to avoid. The question of the day had not yet been suggested to me for treatment; and I was still engaged with my analysis of the world’s religions. I found that whenever I permitted myself to work in what l may call the prophetic direction, my accessibility to ideas was of the most vivid kind; while any attempt to write in the one I desired was marked by an instant arrest of perception. I wrote hundreds of pages, only to be set aside, in the endeavour to make progress with my task. My efforts were vain; and I set myself carefully to search for the cause of the phenomenon.
Doing this, I found that my period of lassitude had been taken advantage of to impress on my mind a vision of the perfection appertaining to existence, and possible to the world, of so lofty and captivating a nature that the contrast made
with it by the world as it is, filled me with indignation at the blindness and folly which, as it was shown to me, alone prevented the realisation of the vision. This, then, had thus far been the end of my search for perfection. I was allowed to see, even as the pantheists and mystics of old had seen, that the existence of which the world is a part is capable of possessing in the part a perfection in the highest degree corresponding to that of the whole: that the individual soul is the life of the part as the universal soul is of the whole; and that the cause of the world’s sickness and misery is its voluntary suppression of its essential self, the soul, in favour of the phenomenal envelope of flesh and sense which it mistakes for its true self. And I had been allowed to see the vision of the ideal, only to find myself exploding with wrath at the self-imposed shortcomings of the actual.
It was in vain that I endeavoured to stem the current that was carrying me with it; in vain that I tried to write and rewrite in the direction I wished. All was useless. I could write but in one direction, for in all others the way was barred to my thought. And while my accessibility to ideas became more and more pronounced whenever I yielded to my new impulse, total darkness fell upon me whenever I set myself against it. It was clear that even if I had not
succeeded in yielding my own will, l had at least lost the power of enforcing that will, save in the direction shown me. The question was, whose and of what kind was the will that was thus endeavouring to substitute itself for my own? I knew by repeated experience that as the winter solstice approached I should find myself full of vigour to work with effect in one direction or another. For that has always been to me a time of renewed energy; and I had looked forward to it as the time in which I should best be able to complete my long-cherished task. Now, however, I was wholly at a loss to discern the nature of the work before me. My own seemed hopeless. After having, as was shown by manifold indubitable signs, found the right road, and made good the first and most difficult stages, I had suddenly been lifted from my tracks, carried through space, and deposited at once at my journey end. Having thus missed the latter part of the road, it was impossible for me to describe it, as I had intended, so as to enable others to follow me. And the precise work on which I had so long been engaged was placed beyond my power. Hitherto I had groped my way by reasoning. Now I was to see. But I could not enable others also to see, unless they too possessed the necessary vision. It was as with the blind; I could but tell what I
saw, not prove to them that I saw it, or enable them also to see it.
As November passed, I found myself the subject of a new experience. The ideas, which hitherto had been but ideas in that they were perceptible to the mind only, acquired a habit of becoming visible to the eyes. Not to the bodily eyes, as I soon found, but to another set of eyes belonging to some new sense which had suddenly become evoked in me. This faculty, which I took for a sort of “second sight,” exercised itself independently of light, time, or place. The objects which it presented to me sprang up between other objects and myself, sometimes eclipsing them, but bearing no relation to aught that was seen by the bodily eyes. They were visible thoughts; but whether the thoughts suggested the images, or the images the thoughts, l was unable to determine. They appeared to be simultaneous. Recalling what I had read of the prophets and ecstatic of former times, and comparing my experiences with theirs, I found that I too had become a “seer.” In this state I was under no need to think my way to any conclusion. The suggestion of a thought was accompanied by a palpable vision of all that it involved. Neither was there any need to hunt for words in which to set it down. For every vision was accompanied by its own
interpretation and terms of description. It seemed like a compendium at once of fact and explanation, which had but to present itself to my consciousness through the new faculty to be fully comprehended. Recognition was instantaneous, without the aid either of sense or reason; and comprehension complete. It was at once inspiration and revelation.
It was accompanied by a degree of clairvoyance also. It seemed to me that I saw the interiors of people better than their exteriors; their moral and spiritual state better than their physical. In several instances, on meeting persons with whom I was well acquainted, I failed to recognise them, owing, it seemed to me, to my Vision being pre-occupied with what lay behind the surface of within the physical. Especially was I conscious of the existence of a vast interval between the health, moral or physical, of those I met, and the standard that I had now learnt to recognise as possible, and which for the first time I seemed now to have myself attained. In all others did vitality, spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical, appear to be at a low ebb. I could find no one who in any degree made the best of his capacities. Nowhere did the actual approach the possible.
What especially struck me also – and this I could observe in myself as well as in others –
was the distinction in kind which I was able to discern between different kinds of vitality. Man appeared as a compound of various qualities of life, the contrast between which only became manifest when, by the full kindling of that which appertained to his inmost part, all were revealed in their due character and relations. This inmost part seemed to be as a sun from which all the rest radiated, becoming darker and denser as they receded from the centre. And while from the centre all things could be discerned, from any one of the encircling spheres could be discerned only what lay upon or without that sphere. The centre itself was hidden unless for those who had actually attained it.
It is no exaggeration to say that when viewing the world from this centre, as when under the influence I was enabled to do, so low on all planes appeared to be the general standard of health, as irresistibly to produce the impression that the hospitals and reformatories must have been discharged into the streets.
If the faculty by which these things were perceived by me, I thought, were the same that was possessed by the prophets of old, I could well understand an Isaiah declaring of the people about him, “from the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in them; but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores.” And
what individuals were, that also appeared to be our whole system, social and other. In every department was rottenness. Selfishness, deceit, and cruelty dominated all. Religion was a pretence; science the shallowest of shams; politics, art, industry, all were the outcome of a view of existence in which the struggle was all for the lower self and the outer sense, and naught for the soul and perfection. Humanity appeared but as a capacity and no achievement, save only in the wrong direction. Representing the attempt to build up an existence without the life, the world was a failure of the most disastrous kind.
Thus was this new development of my powers used to foster the prophetic impulse, – an impulse proceeding from some source other than myself so distinctly as to convince me that my own individuality had been either set aside or enhanced for the time, and that I was being actuated by some influence which had taken possession of me for its own ends. There was, however, no abnegation of self-consciousness, or loss of my own individuality. The effect of the disclosure to me of the low standard of health and happiness prevailing around me, was to kindle the sympathetic sentiment into a passion, difficult to be restrained from unseasonable utterance.
Especially urgent was the charge to smite and
spare not any who, by doctrine or practice, wilfully ministered to the negation or obscuration of the common Soul of the country. And herein one of the problems by which my life had long been perplexed found its solution. Through no desire of mine had it come that I had remained as isolated and apart from all my fellow-workers in the various walks of literature, art, and science, as if I had been a being of a different kind. Though of anything but an unsociable disposition, I had absolutely no intimacies in any of the quarters stated. And now the reason was disclosed to me. I had been thus kept aloof from the world of the current orthodoxies expressly in order that, when the time should come, the influences which had me in their training should find no obstacle of personal considerations to hinder their free use of me as their mouthpiece.
I had at this time a singular experience. It was during a country walk. I was pondering the meaning of the Tree in ancient myth and symbolism, being at the moment in an extraordinarily intense state of accessibility to ideas. Several times it had seemed to me that I was in some way on the point of seeing what I wanted, and of so realising the idea of a Tree as to discern its spiritual principle. Of the general propriety of the Tree as an emblem of universal nature I was well aware. For had it not, like
everything else that has life, the dualism that consists of the inward idea and the outward phenomenon? And was it not also, like man, a compound being of two natures, planted on earth and aspiring towards heaven; and by virtue of the sustenance derived from the elements, living and growing, find proving its worth by its fruits? And was it not, moreover the type whereafter consciousness ever develops itself, under whatever mode or form, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, from the snow-crystal to the very tissues of the human body? Of all this I was aware; yet I felt that the ancients had some insight into the matter that I had not; and that where I could only surmise, they knew.
Various experiences had led me to suspect that there subsists between all living beings a bond of sympathy to which, if only the desire on one side reach an extreme degree of intensity, the other side may be forced to respond by disclosing to view its animating idea. I say idea, because I was as yet wholly removed from the ascription of aught corresponding to personality in that which substands existence. I ascribed a certain reality to that of which ideas are perceptions, but I had no notion of personality in the matter.
On the present occasion, after several attempts subjectively to realise the idea of a tree, and seeming each time to come nearer and nearer to
what I wanted – though what precisely that was would be hard to say – I at length succeeded. For just as the process in my mind once more approached its climax, and I reached the very inmost recesses of my consciousness by a spasm, as it were, of intensity, I chanced to cast my eyes upon a tree of considerable dimension, near which I was passing, when the tree itself responded to my desire by suddenly trembling and shivering throughout its whole structure; and opening from top to bottom it disclosed, pervading its entire fabric – trunk, branches, and furthest twigs – a slender and delicate form, most exquisitely traced, and vivid, luminous, and distinct as a flash of silvery lightning.
The apparition lasted but for an instant, and the tree closed up again, hiding what I had seen from my view; but leaving the notion vividly impressed on my mind that the tree was actually instinct with a life or soul identical with what might be predicated of my own, on the hypothesis of the substantial identity of all things; and that through the intensity of my sympathetic desire I had succeeded in bringing our respective essential selves into actual contact. After walking on a few steps meditating on the phenomenon, I returned to take another look at the tree, half fancying it might repeat the feat. But in vain. It differed nothing now from its brethren, and I
was unable to repeat the spasm of intensification. The active part had been mine; the tree had but responded under compulsion. How far the response was real I had no means of judging. What had occurred, however, was precisely what would naturally occur on the hypothesis that “the same incorruptible spirit is in all things,” and that by virtue of its being spirit, and inherently living and sympathetic, the more rudimentary and inert modes of it should yield to the higher and more active. Might there not be between the soul of a tree and of man an interval far less than between the soul of man and that of some yet loftier intelligences, even while all were substantially identical?
The experience had for me a peculiar value, owing to the sentiment I had always entertained towards trees. Accustomed in years long past to spend whole seasons it the giant forests of the coasts of the Pacific, with no shelter but the trunk and shade of some gigantic tree, I had learnt to regard a tree as at once a home and a companion whom to quit was to regret, and to invest it with an individuality corresponding to my own. And now it seemed that the tree really was in its degree a person, and possessed of a soul so far identical in nature with my own that it could acknowledge my magnetic traction.
While the experience was suggestive, it was,
of course, not conclusive. And had it been a solitary one, or unconfirmed by subsequent experience, I should not have thought it worthy of communication.
It was during a walk in St. James’s Park in the beginning of December last, that I was first impelled to direct my thoughts seriously to the matter that was weighing like an incubus upon the public mind. If, it occurred to me, I can only see into this Eastern Question, as I am being enabled to see into other things which have so long perplexed the world, what service may I not do my country and kind!
Even as the thought arose in my mind, it became visible to my spiritual sight in the form of the following vision, which I will call:
The Vision of England and Islam.
In this vision I beheld hovering among the treetops an extensive nebula or cloud, which moved on before me as I walked, and hid from me the objects behind it. It was at first dark, but presently became lighter, and soon it was luminous throughout, like a mist lighted up with a light that was neither of the sun nor of the moon, but of both combined, so soft and yet so white was it. As I gazed, some portions of this became brighter than the rest, and soon at
various points in it appeared great blurs of an intenser light, which gradually became more and more distinct until it was no longer a nebula, but a well-defined and harmonious system, having sun and moon and planets shining through the now scarcely-perceptible haze. It was an exact representation of the process supposed to be that through which a solar system passes in the course of its transition from nebulous diffusion to concentration in individual orbs. It was chaos, by virtue of inhering divinity, becoming kosmos.
The process had not attained its final completion when I beheld another cloud, devoid of luminosity, rising on the outskirts of the system whose evolutions I was watching, and threatening to overspread and eclipse it. This dark cloud was rapidly increasing in bulk, partly by reason of its own growth from within, and partly through the accretion from without of influences resembling itself which from all sides were hastening to join it. Thus increased in bulk and density, it moved as a solid mass within the circumference of the bright system, developing as it advanced a vast arm, which it thrust into its very midst, between its sun and moon, as if with the design of forcing them apart. The spectacle at this moment reminded me of the nebula in the constellation Orion, in which the luminous cloud appears with a great rift in it
made by an arm of darkness coming from outer space and reaching to its very centre, as if clutching at its heart to tear it out. Then the bright system became overspread by the dark one, and the two seemed, as it were, to be grappling together in deadly strife. Finally the vision faded, leaving me under the impression that the luminous system had prevailed in the contest: for its points of light, the sun and moon and principal orbs, were regaining their brightness, while the dark cloud was melting away and disappearing.
The vision left me at no loss to understand its significance. For, in accordance with what I have since learnt to be the experience of all who have possessed the faculty which constitutes a “seer,” an integral part of the process consists in impressing on the mind the meaning of that which is being shown. This, at least, so far as waking visions are concerned. With those given in sleep this is not always so, the power of receiving and of interpreting dreams being different gifts. The experiences of antiquity are of today. To one is given dreams; to another the interpretation of dreams. But this does not, so far as I am aware, apply to waking visions. In the present case, as I have said, I was at no loss; for the same influence that gave me the vision impressed on me also the conviction
that I was beholding a representation of the “Eastern Question,” and a full knowledge of its significance; and, as in numerous other instances, while that significance proved to be in precise accordance with all that had been shown me in the course of my studies respecting the nature of existence and the course of the development of the human consciousness, and the scheme of the world, still it was so far in advance of any point I had previously reached, as to be inexplicable to me save on the hypothesis of suggestion by some intelligence other than my own.
For the full interpretation it will be necessary to read and understand England and Islam. For that is but an expansion, subsequently given me, of what was contained in my vision. The bright system had represented the scheme of the world’s development, moral, social, and political, as well as spiritual, as depending for its final accomplishment upon the harmonious union of the light and dark races, as represented in England and Asia. To England, as the most highly vitalised in the spiritual region, of modern peoples, and representative of the soul and conscience, had been allotted the destiny of redeeming the world by the universal extension of the spirit by which her coming higher development was to be animated. In order to bring about the manifestation in humanity, as a whole,
of that dualism the recognition of which, by virtue of its constituting an essential element in the divine existence, is indispensable to the perfection of man’s life, it was necessary that the connexion between England and the Eastern peoples should be maintained uninterrupted. The issue at stake, while of vital importance to England nationally, was of far higher importance both to herself and the world spiritually. Only by the universal and practical reception of the dogma that “God made man in His own image, male and female,” and the consequent accordance of equal rank and influence to both sides of the divine dualism, the emotional as well as the intellectual, love and sympathy as well as force and knowledge, the intuitions as well as the reason, could the world be redeemed from its present state of woe. It was because the powers of evil were resolved to thwart the realisation of the divine idea, by still exalting the principle of selfishness and force, and the sacrifice of others, in place of the rule of love, that they had entered into and taken possession of the as yet unvitalised empire of Russia, and were using her political ambition to promote their own ends. The severance of England from her duty and destiny in the East meant the driving back of the soul of the most highly vitalised of the earth’s races into itself, and its withdrawal from
future use for the world’s higher development. The coveted alliance between the Anglican and Greek Churches would further minister to this end by quenching the superior vitality of the Anglican in the chill embrace of the Russian, and confirming its sacerdotal predilections. For, while England, however imperfectly, was for the world the champion of the conscience, or sense of God and the soul, Russia was the representative of the negation of the conscience, and champion of the mere outer sense and reason. Hence it was that, as I was shown in my vision, Russia was receiving the eager alliance of all those among us who were worshippers of the outer sense and reason, and despisers of the soul and its intuitions. The dark influences I had seen hastening to unite themselves with the dark cloud for the purpose of overwhelming the bright system, represented by the sun of England and the moon of Islam, were the various orthodoxies of church and State, science, literature, and art, sacerdotal and political, which, caring only for the material and nothing for the spiritual, confessed themselves thereby the willing slaves of “Antichrist” and the “Beast” of Sense, expressly for the time incarnate in Russia. The “1260 years” were passed, and the “Dragon and his angels” had once more assembled for the fray; and I was made vividly conscious, to a degree impossible
to convey, of the rapid mustering from all quarters of the heavens in order to array themselves against them, of influences which were impressed on me as being no other than the “Michael and his angels” of the Apocalypse. The contest was shown to me to be one for the possession of the world during the coming millennium, between Spirit and Matter, as represented respectively by England and Russia, the chief battle-field being the domain of Islam, while behind the combatants were the gods and demons of the upper and nether worlds. It was the old epic of existence – a new re-enactment of the Solar Myth, on a scale transcending that sung by Homer, vast almost as that sung by Milton.
At the beginning of my vision my mind had been a complete blank respecting the nature and merits of the “Eastern Question.” I had little knowledge and no preferences in the matter. At the end I felt that I had full knowledge. Every fact gathered in my recent studies, moreover, seemed at once to have found its proper place and bearing; and seek carefully as I would and did for flaws in the view presented to me, everything I found served but to confirm my vision. Singular facilities for testing its soundness were all at once afforded me. Persons long resident in and officially connected with the countries concerned seemed to have
been sent to me expressly, and it was with no little surprise that they noted the completeness of the correspondence between the results of my intuition and their experience.
Confident that what had been shown me was not for my own exclusive benefit, I had parted from my vision to hasten home and write the letter referred to in the opening section. But I had no sooner written so much than I found that it was neither letter nor pamphlet that would contain all I felt myself charged to say. And the notion of having a small volume ready by Christmas was soon dispelled. For it became evident to me that it was not I who was writing it; but that some influence stronger than I, and possessed of full knowledge on all subjects whatever, was making use of me and of all I had acquired in the way of spiritual perception, intellectual knowledge, or literary skill. It was early in my progress that I found that the work had been fairly taken out of my hands, that I was but a mouthpiece, and that England and Islam was being written, not by me, but through me, in order to declare to a generation incapable of discerning aught transcending the sphere of sense, the nature of the crisis at which the world had arrived in the process of its self-devitalisation in respect of its animating soul. And very far removed from any feeling of self-complacency on
my part was the reflection that, descending for a purpose so transcendent, the tutelary Spirit of the Earth had been able to find no better mouthpiece than myself. For all thought of self was wholly lost in the consciousness given me of the tremendous nature of the crisis. Like Noah, I could already hear the roar of the advancing deluge, and the ark had all to be built; and who was I that the task should be committed to me?
Now was made apparent to me the meaning of the impulse which had so seriously interfered with the progress of my former work. For the groove in which I was now impelled was precisely that out of which I had striven in vain to keep myself. It was no more in my power to stem the flood of my intuitions, and fall back upon mere reason, or to reserve for my projected book the conclusions I had designed for it, than to withstand the influence of gravitation. I can liken the phenomenon only to a case of obsession, in which the individual stands aside, while his organism and faculties are made use of by some other individuality. While any attempt to take a line other than that which was dictated to me was to find myself wholly deprived of power, to let myself go freely with it was to find the universe opened to my view. My consciousness of unlimited power of perception while under the influence was absolute. Mind seemed
to have lost its limitations, and the veil to have been withdrawn from between the finite and infinite. The barrier of sense was gone; I was at home in the centre of my own and of all consciousness. In this and in all other respects, as I have learnt by subsequent study of the records of similar phenomena, my experiences were identical with those of numbers who have been used as mediums of spiritual communication. There is no obliteration of individual characteristics, only such a heightening and intensification of all the faculties as enable the subject to receive impressions from influences to which ordinarily he is insensible. As with a musical instrument, the tone and characteristics are his own and the same whoever plays upon him; only the melody and sentiment are those of the player. I was particularly struck by finding that all my previous ideas respecting the loss of self-consciousness during the ecstasy of communication were wrong. For no single instant did I fail to retain the most perfect intellectual self-possession, but was throughout able to stand, as it were, beside myself and watch, while some spirit other than my own was delivering itself through me. It may be well to remind those who are incredulous respecting the reality of such experiences that so far from the literature of the subject – a literature derived from all ages and races – being scanty or incoherent,
the phenomena of inspiration have been reduced more or less exactly to a science; so that incredulity as to their possibility is but another name for total ignorance of the subject. Of this, however, at that time, I was myself wholly unaware.
As I proceeded, it became more and more clear to me that all I had experienced in connexion with my studies of the nature of existence and the meaning of the world’s religions had been but a preparation and training for the present task. I had been shown the true intention and possibility of perfection of the world, and disciplined and enlightened for the express purpose of exposing the shortcomings of the prevailing system, of which the impending cataclysm was but the inevitable outcome. And I had been shown all this with a view to the abrogation of that system as at once ruinous to man and degrading to the idea of God; and with a view also to the initiation of a new era, which was to constitute a new “day” in the earth’s spiritual creation, even that sixth and final work-day in which humanity would at length recognise and prove itself to be made “in the image of God, male and female,” on the spiritual as well as on the physical plane of its nature. It was in no spirit of presumption, and with no rash haste, but with all slowness and diffidence, and infinite patience of observation and analysis, that I at length accepted as
the only conclusion open to me, the conviction that I was being used for a purpose other than my own, and one lying above, beyond, and outside of any entertained by me; and that I had been allowed to make the stupendous discoveries which had rewarded my labours, expressly in order that they might minister to the development of the new stage in his spiritual consciousness on which man was about to enter, and to enable me to be the mouthpiece of the spirit charged with its promulgation.
The little volume of about two hundred pages which I had at first sent to the press, and which had occupied me nearly ten days, proved wholly unable to contain all that presented itself. The matter came in a torrent, to arrest the flow of which I had neither the power nor the will. Though in perfect accordance with all that I had previously ascertained, it was to a great extent new even to me, for it constituted a perpetual revelation of hitherto unsuspected vistas on the road I had been travelling, but far in advance of any point I had reached. And I, who had hitherto deemed the power of divining and predicting the future to be beyond the range of possibility, now found myself taken to such altitudes that past, present, and future seemed to me all one. Experiences crowded on me of such a nature as to make me suspect that time and space have
indeed no real existence, and that to be “in the spirit” is to be independent of them. The individual was merged in the universal, and the universal was one.
It will be observed that I have now reached a stage in my narrative in which I consider myself entitled to employ, respecting the influences which were impelling me, terms which imply personality. The fact is, that what I had previously accounted an ideal world was now unmistakably demonstrating itself to me as a spiritual world. For we had now come into such close communion with each other that it was no longer for me vague and impersonal, but teemed with life and individuality; individuality, too, that could make itself manifest to the senses. I, who did not believe in “spirits,’’ had nevertheless in my pursuit of the ideal and the perfect, and adherence to my intuition, wandered, or rather been led, so far in the right direction that I now, without any thought of such an issue, found myself holding such intercourse with personal though invisible influences that to have doubted of the reality of their existence would have been to reject all reason for believing in that of my own. And when no longer doubtful of the fact, I set myself to consider what might be the class of beings with whom I had so wonderfully come into relation, and found that the utterances with
which they inspired me were identical in character with those of the great prophets of old; that the burden of both was the same, inasmuch as it had been the like passionate love of the perfection of all existence as inherently divine, that wrung from them those cries of denunciation and exhortation which constitute the world’s loftiest poetry, and that their whole burden was of God and the soul and the intuitions of the conscience, – I had no reason to doubt or hesitate as to the character of the influences which were compelling utterance through me.
While my condition was abnormal, it was in no way morbid. Compared with the ordinary standpoint of myself and others, the altitude on which I stood was enormous, but the difference was only that between the balloon inflated and the balloon collapsed. I, however, no more than a balloon, could thus have inflated and exalted myself, Neither was it merely that my range of vision was greater by reason of my exaltation. This of course happened; but I had new eyes to see with, and a new class of informants from whom to obtain knowledge. For the region to which I had ascended was the familiar habitat of intelligences for whom to descend into the denser regions of consciousness is an impossibility. No words can describe the sense of difference between thus soaring aloft
in purest realms of space, and lying shrunken, limp, and collapsed on the ground. For me alone out of so many, many millions was the problem of the universe at length solved. I knew that existence is spiritual, while almost all others deemed it material. I knew that the soul is king, while others worshipped sense. I knew that existence is God, and that God is love, while in every department of his activity man was exalting his outer: and lower self, and seeking to save that by the sacrifice, not of his fellows merely, but of his own higher and true self. I had beheld the scheme of the universe, and seen that it was perfect in goodness and in beauty, and that I even, in my degree, was a function of the whole, to aid the evolution of order out of disorder, of good out of evil, of soul out of sense. I had at length won my way into the holy of holies of all the world’s true churches, and could exclaim with the initiated in the sacred mysteries – whether of Parvati, of Isis, of Bacchus, of Ceres, of Mithras, of Jehovah, or of Jesus, – “I know that I am immortal!” And all this had come to me solely by virtue of my persistent rejection of every orthodox doctrine or usage, religious or social, that militated against my sense of the perfection of existence, and by my preference for the right to the expedient, regardless of any advantage that compliance might
have procured. The very refusal to accept aught at second-hand or on the authority of tradition, was accepted as a recognition of God as still living and operating.
Though on the very threshold as it seemed of Divinity, the region was, I found, one that was far from being unknown to mortals. Many are they whose footsteps I recognised, and whom now I need no longer envy. What an Elijah, an Isaiah, a Daniel, a John, a Paul, a Behmen, a Swedenborg, a Davis had seen and recorded, I now saw for myself. Whole troops of high thinkers and pure livers had by virtue of a like faculty penetrated to the same high latitude. Spinoza had fallen short only by reason of his failure to transcend the sphere of the intellect. Yet even by this he had been enabled to recognise in existence “an infinity of things other than the material universe only.”
It is impossible to render anything like an adequate account of this portion of my experiences; only they who have themselves been “in the spirit” can comprehend the significance of the phrase.
It is not so with that portion of my experiences which are of a more material order, and of which I will now give some account. The first manifestation of a physical kind consisted in my finding, as I sat at my writing-machine, my
hands suddenly grasped by some invisible influence, and forcibly guided over the keys, without any effort of my own, mental or physical. For the greater part of a page I sat and watched, while my hands went apparently of themselves. Not only was the grasp forcible and distinct, but the movement was of a character wholly different to my own, so as to make me feel confident that; had I been using a pen, the handwriting would have been in a character entirely strange to me. Instead of the light, rapid, pianoforte touch usual to me, it was measured, firm, and stately, as of one playing solemn music upon a grand organ. “This,” I said to myself, “must be what is meant by being a ‘medium.’” It was the first disclosure to me of the fact that there are unseen and intelligent forces which can operate directly upon and through the human organism, and independently of the mind of the individual.
The passage thus written is the first half of the solemn address of England to the Turk, at p. 185 of England and Islam. The remainder of that address was given in the ordinary way – namely, by suggestion or “inspiration,” the constraint being mental merely. The physical constraint had been withdrawn apparently as soon as the influence had convinced either itself of my complete docility, or me of its reality.
A day or two later I had a yet more startling
experience. This was while writing the passage occupying pp. 164-167, – for the order of this and the passage just referred to has since been inverted. These four pages were written without drawing breath, the matter flowing through me like water through a vertical tube, without conscious effort of my own, save only such effort as may have been necessary to keep me from obtruding myself. My endeavour throughout was to yield myself up wholly to the influence of whose presence l was distinctly conscious as of one hanging over the back of my chair, and bending closely over me. It was a good deal past midnight, so that all without was quiet, and I was alone, and locked in my rooms. The passage I had been writing had intently engrossed my attention, for it was a revelation to me, and both words and ideas had come without mental effort on my part, all my thoughts being occupied in admiring the sublimity of the utterance, and the ease of its expression, my feeling the while being one of absolute conviction that I was being used as an instrument by some great spirit for the delivery of one of the loftiest utterances ever made to the world. No sooner had I reached the end of the sentence on p. 167 – that declaring the identity of the soul of the individual and race with the soul of the universe, which after surpassing all limitations finally finds itself
“one with God, even God Himself” – than the Influence I had felt bending over me spoke aloud, in a tone at once firm and measured, and indicative of supreme satisfaction, exclaiming, “At last I have found a man through whom I can speak!” So full and strong was the intonation, that the tympanums of my ears palpably vibrated to the sound; and I observed that as palpably they had been struck, not from without, but from within, showing that the influence, of whose external presence I had previously been fully conscious, had projected itself into me, and there spoken. It did not, however, as on a subsequent occasion, use my organs for the utterance, though it had, no doubt, as I afterwards found to be invariably the case, employed my vital force. The lowness of my temperature showed this; for I immediately went through the usual formula of placing my hand on my forehead, feeling my pulse, and so on, in order to reassure myself of my condition, not so much for my own satisfaction as for that of some imagined sceptical physiologist who might be supposed to be investigating the occurrence. My examination was perfectly satisfactory; for the pulse, though full and strong, was regular and slow; and the head was cool to coldness, a symptom I have since learnt to be indicative of the loss of force always suffered by “mediums” through the subtraction by the
operating influence of the magnetic aura, or agaza, as the life-fluid and agent of force is termed by the sensitives and ecstatic of the East.
But who or what was it that thus uttered itself aloud to me? I had been declaring, with the intensest conviction of its truth, the doctrine of a soul at once individual and universal that was ever seeking by infusing itself into man, to redeem him from the lower planes of his nature, and make humanity, as it were, a fitting body for deity. I had discovered that it was the universal, under the aspect of the national soul, that was the true object of Hebrew aspiration; and I was full of the thought that England herself had a like soul of her own, that was ever seeking to incarnate itself in her people. And I was approaching the thought that the souls of all the nations were one and the same, even the soul that was at once humanity and deity; and that, if only by being one in spirit, man could arrive at the recognition of his essential nature, he would attain the perfection that was his due. Such a soul, if ever it succeeded in finding for itself full expression, would indeed be entitled to the appellation, “Son of Man.” There were but two, I thought, that could prompt to such utterance as that which I had been writing, or thus express themselves in regard to my task. These were the soul itself of my country, and some
lofty spirit, perhaps the angel or Elohim of the earth, who was charged with the superintendence of the development of the consciousness of the planet. Whoever it was, the tone and the words were unmistakably those of one who had been seeking long and in vain, trying here and trying there, to find some one of England’s millions of sons sufficiently detached from absorption in the outer and lesser self, and sufficiently earnest in heart and pure in habit, to be amenable to influence by the spirit of his race; and who, having pitched on me and trained me for his ends, had at length for his satisfaction and my own, given such emphatic utterance to his hearty commendation. It was not until my book was on the point of completion that I received any positive intimation on the matter. In the meantime I accepted the encouragement and redoubled my efforts, restricting myself as nearly as possible to the diet of Daniel and all seers, in order that there might be naught in my system which, by deranging the circulation and blunting my faculties, might interpose an obstacle to the free course of the spirit.
Of the circle of friends with whom I associated at this time there was but one who was sufficiently sympathetic to my work and aims to be fully entrusted with a knowledge either of their nature or of my experiences. This was one connected
with me by various ties, of which those of the mind and spirit were the strongest, and who by reason of such relationship had become associated with me in a variety of enterprises, intellectual and beneficent. Of this friend whom, for reasons by-and-by to be sufficiently apparent, I will call the Seeress, the bright intelligence, cultivated mind, indomitable spirit, and eager sympathy with the pursuit of perfection wherever discernible, proved an invaluable aid and support throughout my work. She it was who some three years previously had been instrumental in showing me the method of pure living in respect of diet. And it could hardly have been by accident that almost at the same moment we both became consciously amenable to spiritual impression.
The first occasion on which her possession of the faculty manifested itself in regard to my book, was in this wise. I had written the passage on pp. 290-299 without having communicated to her my intention of utilising the incident there detailed, as I wished to complete it first. It was on a favourite subject of hers, Woman and her Work in the future. And I had written to the end of the paragraph on p. 299 under the impression that it was being, as was now usual, written through, rather than by me, so strong was the influence that dictated it. I had the
whole clearly in my mind, but on reaching this point I found myself unable to continue. A moment before I had been full of the thought that I was to set down, and the expression of which was to complete my day’s work. But as suddenly and completely as the stream from a barrel is stopped by the turning of the tap, did the flow of my thought cease, and the power to proceed utterly forsake me. It was in vain that I ransacked my mind for the remainder. It was not there, any more than if it had never been there. So complete and abrupt was the desertion that I looked round me and exclaimed aloud to my missing thought as to a person “Where are you?” There was no response. I was still fresh having two or three hours’ work in me, so I determined to go on with another part of my book. So struck, however, was I by the occurrence that I first took note of the hour. It was 11:30 P.M.
The next morning I received, written in a strange hand, a manuscript, accompanied by the following statement. It was from my friend the Seeress.
“A strange thing happened to me last night. I had finished my work, but was not inclined to go to bed, though it was half-past eleven, as I had a sense of irritation at the thought of what you were engaged in, and at my exclusion from any share in it. And I was feeling envious of men for the superior advantages they have over
us of doing great and useful work. As I sat by the fire thinking this, I found myself suddenly impelled to take a pencil and paper in my hand. Having done so, I began to write; and continued writing, with extreme rapidity, feeling myself the while more like one dreaming than waking, and without the slightest idea what I was writing, though supposing it was something to correspond with my discontented mood. I had soon nearly covered two large pages with a handwriting which, as you will see, in no way resembles my own. Here is the paper. I know nothing more about it than I have said. It is quite the contrary of what I was thinking at the time!”
The sheets in question contained the passage in England and Islam, beginning near the end of p. 299 and continuing to the latter part of p. 302, with but slight alteration. It was my missing thought, identical in substance, but more exquisitely rendered than could have been done through my less delicate organisation. And the only explanation that either of us could frame was that it had been really and truly a personal spirit of high degree who had been communicating it to me in the first instance, and who, knowing and fostering our alliance, had suddenly quitted me and taken it to my Seeress in order to gratify us both by allowing her a share
in my work, and proving to me at the same time the genuineness of my inspiration.
The faculty once kindled, the Seeress proved of inestimable assistance to me, here communications which after this, were for the most part given in sleep, making a remarkable adjunct to those made to me. One of these I have recorded at p. 438. It was in connexion with this vision that I was spoken to the second time by the invisible speaker. The circumstances under which this happened are worth noting, as showing incontestably that the phenomenon was due to no exaltation of mine.
The vision was that in which I was represented as charged with the rescue of England, under the guise of a railway train, from a regime that was leading her to destruction; and as I had then for some days been familiar with the narrative, its perusal could no longer be exciting to me. I was sitting alone in my room, reading the proofs of the passage, and having my mind occupied solely with the letterpress. And when in doing this I reached the statement that I had said in the dream, “No, we will not leap down, we will stop the train,” the same voice that had previously exclaimed, “At last I have found a man through whom I can speak!” now said, in a pleased and eager tone, as of one who had been following me in my reading of the proof, “Yes!
Yes! I have trusted all to you!” It was at once an encouragement to me to persevere in my task, no matter at what disadvantage to myself; and an intimation that the visions given to the Seeress were intended to constitute an integral part of the prophecy. I have referred in my book to the effect produced by this vision on the recipient. It was so serious as to make her dread a repetition; and on feeling herself threatened with another, at a time when she needed repose, she warded it off by taking a narcotic. It seemed, however, as if the “spirit” would not be baffled. For that same night, and, so far as could be ascertained, at the very hour at which I was noting down what had just struck me as a valuable thought for next day’s work, a dream of singular vividness, and exactly illustrative of my thought, occurred to an inmate of the same house, one who was so little given to dreaming as to remark in relation to it, although wholly unaware of my friend’s experiences, that “it seemed as if ‘Mary’ had brought Spirits into the house.”
Those who are acquainted with the corresponding histories of past ages will readily recall the similarity subsisting between them and this one in respect of the association of two individuals of opposite sex for prophetic purposes. Few of the prophets of old were able to dispense with the aid of a prophetess, and her superior impressibility and
quicker intuition. The discovery of the correspondence between our position and that of the ancient seers, when at length it dawned upon us, produced a profound feeling of satisfaction at this further indication of the reality of the whole matter, coupled with no little amusement at its strangeness, and contrast with the ordinary conventions of modern society. Of the metaphysiologics of such an association for such a purpose this is scarcely the occasion to treat. But good if not sufficient reasons are not wanting with those who have made the science of Mantic theurgy their study. There are regions in humanity wholly unknown to physiology, not only as to their facts but as to their existence. When the “Schools of the Prophets” are restored, there will be no lack of facts whereon to reconstruct a lost science.
Anything like a full account of our now daily experiences of this nature is out of the question. We seemed to be literally living “in the spirit,” so completely beyond the range of the material were the things that were constantly occurring. We did not regard them as “supernatural,” but as belonging to a region of nature transcending that of ordinary observation. Neither, although they were of such frequent occurrence, did we accept them hastily or as a matter of course, but invariably subjected them to the severest scrutiny. Among the most
notable of the waking visions presented to me, were the scenes of Jesus and the adulteress, and the expositions of that stumbling-block of belief the Solar myth, of that crux of students the Zodiacal planisphere, and of that despair of biblical interpreters the Apocalypse. In the first of these, which is given at p. 463, it seemed to me that I was actually present beside Jesus himself. So distinctly were his features impressed on my sight in the waking vision given me that I should have no difficulty in recognising him by the recollection. I felt when writing the passage as if I could have similarly described the whole of his life and the impression was irresistible that I had either been present with him, and was now simply recalling my own reminiscences, or that the whole was being reproduced for me in a series of living tableaux by some one who had been present. The image of the apostle John was vividly impressed on my mind in connexion with this experience. I even sought to know whether I should quit my work and write the whole history of Jesus while the recollection was so strong upon me. But the suggestion received a decided negative. It was intimated, however, that it might be given to me to do something akin to it at some future time. Of the possibility of holding familiar converse with spiritual beings, I received ample proofs. It is
necessary only to be sufficiently impressible to hear them distinctly.
I had long been a student of the various schemes in which the ancients formulated their conception of the universe. But only as I approached the end of my book did the planisphere of the zodiac become for me a thing instinct with life. It was presented to me while sitting at my work, in a series of waking visions, in the guise of a vast spiral and vortex-ring, representing at once the process whereby divinity evolves from itself rings of substance, which become concentrated and consolidated in individuals, material, or spiritual; and also whereby these pursue their never-ceasing development in accordance with the impulses cherished by them – impulses leading them to or from God. The whole of what I have described on pp. 565-588 and 624-628, was shown to me in a series of living pictures, and impressed on me as having a significance identical with that given at p. 532, of the parable of the Prodigal Son.
I was spoken to aloud on two other occasions during the writing of my book. Not at these times by a spirit that had never been in the body, but by one with whom once more to hold intercourse, and from whom to obtain such recognition, was a delight of the profoundest kind. It had been impressed upon me to describe the character
of the mother of Jesus, and to take that of my own mother for the type, a specially vivid perception of her being given me at the time. The passage in question occurs at p. 468; and as I was in the act of completing it, the well-remembered tones struck on my ears in the most unmistakable manner, calling me by the appellation she alone had ever send for me, and exclaiming, “O, Eddie! Eddie! We have found each other at last!” No use was made of my organism for this utterance; but, during the violent burst of joyous sobbing which followed, it was used by a personality which I was distinctly conscious of being other than my own. The emotion felt by me was not of a kind to seek vent in such a manner. With me it was a combination of curiosity and gratification. My intellectual faculties were even more on the stretch than my emotional; and I was occupied in examining intently a phenomenon so strange as that of a person discharging tears and sobs, to which he was conscious that he was himself no party, while on her part it was an immense and unrestrained burst of gladsome weeping. The passage in question contains a declaration respecting a doctrine of the highest importance, both in the system of Christian belief, and in that of some of the advanced spiritualists of our day – the doctrine, I mean, of the Immaculate
Conception. While admitting that it may be due to a lack of sufficient growth on my part that I am unable to follow these in their belief, I must express my inability to believe that the great spirit who was dictating to me had come to this world and brought my mother with him in order to testify to a falsehood.
I was addressed a second time by the same voice. On each occasion I was alone, and only on one occasion did the phenomenon occur at night. I must relate first the circumstance that gave rise to the second visit from my mother. I had taken my work into a northern county with me for Christmas, and returned from the north to town on New Year’s Day. On my journey I had the carriage to myself and being in a state of extreme accessibility to ideas, I occupied myself with making notes for my work. An idea had been given to me for the conclusion of my book. It was the germ of the passage at p. 685, passionately summoning England to arm for the coming conflict; and precisely as I had written the words, “give without stint of her sons,” but not having any thought of my own son at the moment, a brilliant ray of light, exactly resembling a luminous arrow, darted from without into my brain, having on the barb a distinct image of my son, dressed in uniform. As he was not in any military Service, nor had
prospect of being in one, the apparition gave me the greatest alarm. For I took it as an intimation of disaster in connexion with the coming war. As soon as I recovered my composure, I took note of the hour at which it had occurred. It was three o’clock. I kept the occurrence from him; merely writing to my Seeress to tell her to ask me what had occurred at that time; and four days later went to join him at Brighton, as it was the occasion of his coming of age, and we had not met for several weeks. His first words after greeting me, were, “I want to go to Turkey.” “I know you do” I said sadly, adding, “In what capacity?” “As a soldier.” “I know you do,” I replied. “How do you know it?” he asked, “I only knew it myself on Monday.” “I knew it,” I replied, “at three o’clock on Monday afternoon.” “That was just the time I thought of it,” was his answer.
In a measure this was a relief to me for it suggested that the vision might have been due merely to some sympathetic chain subsisting between us; and be caused by some projection of his thought, without constituting a prevision disastrous or otherwise. The gloomy anticipation, however, continued to haunt me; and it was with the occurrence in my mind that, a few days later, I wrote the passage on p. 512, the middle sentence of which – that following “he
too has done it unto me” – was scarcely finished when my mother’s voice again addressed me, saying aloud in a reassuring tone, “C–– shall be my care!” As she had been mother as well as grandmother to him from infancy, such guardianship was not unnatural. But no specification was made as to whether her promised undertaking referred to this life or the next. I may add, however, that it failed to remove my gloomy impression.
I was marvelling somewhat that I received no sign from my father, until I was reminded that I had a few months previously had a dream, which had struck me so much at the time of its occurrence, its character being so unlike that of an ordinary dream, that I related it to some friends; but which, as I had no warrant then for attaching importance to dreams, I had allowed to slip from my memory. I can now regard it as an actual visitation, designed to encourage me in my work. Hence I record it. It was in this wise.
My father, as is well known, was accounted a pillar of that school of evangelicalism which attaches supreme importance to the doctrine of vicarious atonement. This doctrine constituted for him the essence of Christianity. It was the point above all others on which he could not tolerate difference of opinion. As I had the
strongest instinctive aversion to that very doctrine, considering it as a blasphemy against the perfection of the divine character, and the basis of that exaltation of selfishness and cruelty, which under the form of sacerdotal orthodoxy has been the most fruitful source of the world’s evils, the subject was one on which it was impossible for us to be in accord. Almost his last words to me had been a reiteration of his faith in it, as his sole source of hope for the future – a remark, in reply to which, under the circumstances, I could only observe that I thought he would find that God was better than he gave him credit for being.
In the dream I refer to, which took place eleven years after his death, he had the aspect of one coming from a higher sphere, so ineffably lofty, refined, and placid was his expression. And I at once saw that I could now without offence refer freely to the subject which in his lifetime had been an impossible one between us. I had meanwhile acquired an absolute certainty that mine was the right view, and that the doctrine that blood is food either for soul or body, is the doctrine not of salvation but of damnation. The world’s whole history had proved it to me. So, seeing by his aspect that he had freed himself from the effects of the constitutional dyspepsia, which I more than suspected to be the basis of his Calvinism,
I said fearlessly, “Well, father, what do you think of vicarious atonement now? Do you still think me so wicked for rejecting it?” It was as I had surmised. There was not a trace of the anger such a suggestion would have evoked in his lifetime. But in its place, his face was radiant with the most angelic smile possible to be imagined even upon his singularly benignant countenance. It was a smile at once of the heartiest assent and approbation, conveying more than words could say. He evidently considered words unnecessary. For presently, without speaking, he rose in the air and vanished from my sight.
I must not give the impression that the work involved no intellectual labour on my part. It is true that while I was plainly directed as to the matter of which it should consist, and very much was shown to me of which I had no previous knowledge, there was also much that came within the scope of mere reason; and the utterance of which, while imperiously required of me, was committed rather to my intellectual than to my spiritual faculties. But the afflatus included my whole being; and the intensification of my intellect for the purpose was plainly apparent to me, as I was enabled readily to follow and surpass, and to detect the underlying fallacies of, trains of thought which previously I had been
unable to grasp. No longer was it now a matter of wonder to me why the utterances of those who have been endowed with the prophetic faculty, are so often pervaded by intense scorn and bitter invective. The opening of the spiritual eyes, while it reveals the perfection which belongs to existence in itself, reveals also the imperfection by which it is characterised with us, together with the causes of that imperfection. For it reveals the selfishness and heedlessness of man himself as the cause of his own evils. The “prophet” is one who sees absolutely that to which the most knowing about him are utterly blind – namely, the rationale of which facts, the motives of which deeds, are the phenomena; and he is unable to tolerate the shallow views and false methods by which they insist on spoiling the existence whose capacity for perfection is manifest to him. He sees that the one law is love; and the world insists on making it hate. He sees that it is by a life of purity and sympathy that man is to be redeemed; and man himself insists on foulness and sacrifice. He sees that the source and end of all things is the inner and invisible; and all about him make it the outer and material. He sees that men are spirits, clad but for a brief space in garments of flesh; while men insist on mistaking their clothing for themselves, and deny the spiritual part of them, and under the
delusion that matter and sense are all, seek to build up the world. That the prophet’s exaltation is intellectual as well as spiritual, is now in no way doubtful to me. He only has no call to reason for himself, because he knows. If he seek to reason, it is for others, for whom reason is all; and these he is enabled to outreason. For himself, he is at the top of his being, where the mind is in unity, and thinking and feeling are one. He has completed his system of thought. For himself, the appeal is direct to his consciousness in its original integrity, ere it has differentiated into the contrasted opposites of thinking and feeling. His mode of knowledge is thus as that of the absolute, even God, in its primal perfection. His vision is without limitations, for having attained the centre of his own consciousness, he has attained the centre of all consciousness. If he blunder, as he sometimes will, it is through accidental defect of the organism. Humanity, degenerate, cannot perfectly reflect the movements of spirit: something is lost in translation. Hence, inspiration does not involve infallibility; that appertains to spirit alone. The prophet is but as a painter who, in transferring his vision of the ideal to canvas, may fail to impress others with its excellence.
And then the speed at which one is driven under such influence! I marvel now, on leisurely
re-reading, to find the expression at all commensurate with the inspiration, and not rendered scarcely intelligible by reason of the haste both of writing and printing, and the impossibility of anything like adequate revision. After I was once fully and consciously under the influence of the spirit, the matter came in a flood; and no attempt at condensation, division, or arrangement was possible. As well attempt to rail off a torrent. I neither could, nor dared, contract or omit. Even introduction and abstract of contents were precluded me, and this not by reason of lack of time only. It was necessary that the book should be out by a given date, but not that it should be at once perfected, recognised, or understood. Provided only those who were entrusted with the destinies of England had the opportunity of reading it ere Parliament met, or decisive action could be taken, the controlling influences were content.
Nevertheless the re-reading disclosed a number of blemishes which, with one who aimed at making the perfection of the expression correspond to that of the spirit, could not fail to be a source of disappointment. These were far from being all included in the list of corrections afterwards added; and the only one of real importance even then had escaped detection. Those readers of England and Islam who are conversant
with their Bibles will have seen that, in the reference to Enoch, on p. 386, I have failed to distinguish between the two Enochs, the second and the seventh from Adam. It must be left for a subsequent edition to amend the text. The error arose from my allowing a suggestion to pass from the margin into the text without being subjected to verification. It was one of many experiences which served to account for the discrepancies as to fact which abound more or less in all compositions similarly originated – namely, the failure of the medium to overcome the limitations of his organism, and, by freeing himself wholly from preconception and preoccupation, to become perfectly amenable to the influence inspiring him. No inspiration of spirit can insure to the instrument absolute infallibility in respect of fact and detail. How rare is it for the instrument to be so perfect as to utter no false notes, let the example of Paul be a witness.
In more respects than one does the term “breathless” express the character of the operation; for I was conscious of a complete suspension of the ordinary respiration during the delivery of all the higher passages, in which I most distinctly knew myself to be under spiritual control. Frequently this suspension continued over several pages – that is, for perhaps an hour of time; and though, at the termination of the expression of
the thought that was being infused, I drew long breaths in the ordinary manner, and subsided to my ordinary level, there was no sensation of distress. So far from this, the condition was one akin to that of ecstasy, although always accompanied by full intellectual consciousness. My impression at the time – and it is confirmed by all subsequent experience – was that I was hyper-vitalised by some spiritual individuality other than my own, and possessing power of all kinds infinitely surpassing mine. For when thus inspired, the mind seemed to have escaped all limitations of sense and matter, and to have attained full identity with the universal mind. The condition was one of supreme content, for one knew all things, and there was no beyond to which to aspire. I have reason to believe that the condition is one which I have since learnt is familiar to several of those who are termed mystics, seers, and ecstatic – as Behmen, Swedenborg, and the American T.L. Harris. They speak of it as produced or accompanied by an internal respiration, which, on becoming substituted for the ordinary mode, stimulates the consciousness to its highest pitch, until the soul itself is set free from the limiting effects of the organism, and enabled to expand and soar unrestrained.
The Hindoos were accustomed to induce this
state artificially, by following certain directions contained in a passage in the Vedas, with which some of my readers may like to make acquaintance: –
“Hold the breath. Remain without movement. Repeat inwardly A.U.M.” (the initials of the Hindoo Trinity) “twelve times, thinking that the Soul is one with God. Draw in a full supply of breath, and hold it while inwardly repeating A.U.M. twenty times; and again while inwardly repeating it as often as possible, thinking meanwhile of God as perfect being, which can be revealed only by its own light. Continue this exercise three months, without fear or idleness. In the fourth month good spirits will appear to you. In the fifth you will acquire their qualities. In the sixth you will become God.”
It was, I have little doubt, his realisation of this condition, though not thus artificially acquired, that suggested to Buddha his conception of Nirvana. This was not an absorption in God such as would be accompanied by a deprivation of individuality. For, so far from the sense of individuality being lost during the occurrence of the ecstasy, it is distinctly heightened, as if by an infusion with a larger yet substantially identical individuality. Complete suffusion of man by God does not necessarily imply the annihilation
of personality. Rather does it seem probable, to judge so far as I may by the experience vouchsafed to me, that the effect of such suffusion is the expansion and enhancement, and not the effacement, of the individual.
These phenomena of the consciousness are facts which lie at the common centre of all religions, Hindoo, Christian, or other. And when men once more learn to combine the habit of looking inwards with that of looking outwards, they will discover that existence contains no small array of facts indicating the necessity of a revision of the limits at present assigned to “Nature.”
So far from the non-reality of these phenomena being presumable on the ground of novelty or rarity, the recognition of them constituted also an essential element in the system of the great sect of the Neoplatonists. The chief end and aim of the strenuous efforts, by means of a regime of asceticism to dematerialise themselves, made by the school which found its chief exponent in Plotinus, was no other than the attainment, through ecstatic exaltation, of power to hold spiritual and divine intercourse, to work miracles and to prophesy. Inheriting or re-discovering the secret of the mysteries, Hebrew and Gentile, they acquired the faculty possessed in perfection by the long succession of seers and prophets which culminated in Jesus of Nazareth, to whom
was given “without measure” the spirit they sought to develop in themselves. Realist as opposed to nominalist, and therefore in both faith and practice spiritualist, all these made the essential oneness of existence their fundamental doctrine. Intuition was self-perception and there was but one Self in the universe. But being thus pantheistic, and exalting the parenthood of God, and allowing therefore no place for mediating priest or atoning victim, their doctrine found no mercy at the hands of a ruthless and dominant sacerdotalism.
The fact that truths of such stupendous import should thus have been consigned to oblivion, now to be rediscovered by those who own no allegiance to any existing system, ecclesiastical or philosophic, constitutes the crowning condemnation of all existing systems whatever. It is on the rejection or distortion of the fundamental facts of existence that the world’s current orthodoxies rest. Whether religious or scientific, each alike subsists by means of the denial or suppression of the facts of the world’s experience. Though constituting themselves arbiters in respect of things spiritual, even the churches have become nominalist instead of realist, and have banished or quenched the spirit. Though pretending to rest upon experience, the schools have eliminated every fact in experience that cannot be reconciled with a
materialistic hypothesis. Hence for neither department is there in its system of thought any place for the phenomena by the renewed exhibition of which at this time the existence we partake is once more demonstrating its nature. Thus weighed and found wanting, the world’s orthodoxies demonstrate nothing but their own incapacity to bear a part in the dispensation to come.
I have sometimes been disposed to regret that I did not, while under the influence, make some serious attempts to determine its miracle-working capacity, by obtaining manifestations other than those given spontaneously. So far from doing this, my desire was to be wholly subordinate, that is, so long as my own intuitions told me that the influences were good ones; for there are bad spirits as well as good, and it is absolutely indispensable to “try the spirits.” Hence my attempts to influence my visitants were restricted to a request to be allowed to sleep undisturbed, in order to be up to my work – a boon that was never refused during the whole time the work continued; and such exquisite sleep did I enjoy that half my usual quantity amply sufficed to renovate me.
One night I thought it was going to be otherwise. I had returned from posting my day’s work to the printer, but found myself, notwithstanding
that I had been out in the air, still so conscious of the thronging presences that I rose and opened my windows and doors. Even this had no effect, so overcharged was my brain with the magnetic aura. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was in the condition known as constituting physical mediumship, and I determined to ascertain; so, after getting into bed I mentally requested the presence to give me a sign whereby I might know my impression was correct. There instantly came three strong taps on the wall beside my bed. I then said, “Now two more on the other side of the room;” and two were given in the opposite corner. “Now one more, and good night, for I want to sleep.” This was followed by a blow on the handle of the door, which seemed half turned by it. I took this for a parting greeting; and so it proved, for the sensation of which I complained left me at the same time.
Never failing to subject with my Seeress our respective experiences to rigid analysis, we never succeeded in finding explanation save such as involved a total subversion of the modern theory of existence and confirmation of the ancient. Yes, the whole world, with its thousands of years of belief in “miracles,” was right and the half-dozen generations of savants were wrong. But though miracles were true, gravitation and natural
law remained inviolable. The effects were not without positive and ascertainable causes. The supernatural existed, but no longer necessarily as the supernatural. It was requisite only to enlarge the limits we had been wont to assign to “nature.” All was done by personal beings, ordinarily invisible to the eye, who, by virtue of their superior knowledge and powers, could wield forces of which we have no cognisance, and who had been able to manifest themselves through us, by virtue of our following a pure intuition in regard to the conduct of life.
During the opening to me of the significance of the Apocalypse and the zodiacal planisphere, I was irresistibly impressed with the conviction of the identity of the influences at work in them. The hand and style, so to speak, of both sets of tableaux as presented to me, were the same. And I was convinced both by the intrinsic identity of the two revelations and the method of their opening to me, that it was one and the same spirit that had originally inspired them, and that was now repeating and interpreting them to me. These impressions continue unweakened; and if I refrain from employing respecting my guiding influence the phrase used by the elder prophets and styling it “the Angel” or “Spirit of the Lord,” it is from no lack of conviction of the propriety of
the appellation; but because the term is not one that accords with modern ideas so as to be readily appreciable; and because also it might imply a presence more fully palpable to the bodily senses than was assumed by the influences operating through me. It was moreover with difficulty that I could detach myself from old habits of thought, and give full recognition to the personality of these influences. The ancients had no such difficulty to encounter. They had not to recover the conception of the universal existence as a Person. It was for them a necessary truth. Thus in the case of the highest of all communications, whether the influence is exerted on the individual directly by the spirit of the universe or system, or whether some third personality is charged with the function, are questions on which I cannot yet speak positively. “The Lord” and “the Angel of the Lord,” are terms which seem to be used by the inspired of old to signify the same influence. Some of the later experiences recorded in this book will show that spirits themselves speak of “the Lord,” when designating the infinite Spirit as energising and operative.
I had previously, of course, regarded the planisphere of the zodiac as a humanly constructed scheme. But now it was shown positively as being no other than a spiritual revelation to the early world of the method of creation and
redemption on the physical and spiritual planes; and as applying to the individual as well as to the universal, by virtue of the fact that all are modes of the same spirit. All derived existence, macrocosm and microcosm alike, it was shown me, are but vortex-rings and spirals, great or small, of the living conscious substance of the infinite spirit, individualised concretes to its abstract, and containing in their degree all the attributes of the original divine existence. The scheme of the zodiac used by me was one ascribed by students to the second Hermes, an Egyptian prophet-priest of an age so early as to be virtually pre-historic. And when illuminated and vivified for my spiritual eyes by the influence that was inspiring me, the conviction became irresistible that the spirit who had given to Hermes and the early world the scheme which represented the history of all time; was the same that had given the Apocalypse to John as a fuller disclosure of the final stage of that scheme; and to myself the new and final application of both, for purposes affecting the world’s immediate future.
The very peculiarities of diction that mark the Apocalypse were pointed out to me by a scholastic friend as subsisting also in England and Islam. Of one point of identity I was fully conscious. It was that of method in the delivery. It accounts for the repetition observable in both:
and the same applies to the whole book. The matter was given, not in one continuous vision, but in a series of visions, in which the same truths were disclosed, but on each successive occasion with fuller detail and deeper insight. It was as if, finding the medium incapable of receiving and comprehending a full revelation at once, the informing spirit had repeated his instructions, each time giving further knowledge as the perceptions of the medium became developed, enabling him to reach a deeper stratum of meaning.
Respecting the faculty of prophecy, it had now become clear to me that it comes of no personal qualification, save that of the requisite kind and degree of impressibility, whereby the individual is capable of being used by some superior intelligence to utter himself through. It is open to any one, as my own experience proves, to enter into communication with the spiritual world. It needs but the purification of the organism and the earnest cultivation of the intuitional and affectional faculties. For those who live thus there are always good and lofty spirits ready to hold open and palpable converse with them. Men, and indeed all other fleshly creatures, are themselves but spirits incarnate or materialised. And spirits do not of compulsion, by reason of their projection into material forms, whatever their grade, forfeit the right or
power of communication with their unembodied fellows. Similarly, no individual spirit, incarnated or not, is cut off from communication with the great parent spirit of all, by reason of aught save the encouragement of lowering and depraving sentiments.
Only on special occasions, however, when human affairs reach a stage at which the assistance of the higher orders is necessary to carry the world over from one to another “day” in its spiritual creation, is it probable that the loftiest influences directly interfere. It is to action of this kind that I have learnt to ascribe the chief revelations which have been made at various critical periods of the world’s history. All are utterances of one and the same spirit, whether the instrument used be Hermes, Daniel, John, or any other. That there have been constant minor revelations imparted by an order of spirits which, while high, are not so high – of revelations, namely, having reference to the conduct of life, individual or national – and that it depends upon the aspirants themselves what is the grade of the influences attracted to them, and that it is necessary to “try the spirits, whether they be of God,” by the pure intuition, are facts which were communicated to me only after the completion of my book.
The character I have drawn of Mr. Gladstone
was given to me in a series of visions resembling that in which I had been shown the “Eastern Question.” Few of my experiences struck me as more remarkable than the extreme pertinacity with which my guide insisted on recurring to him throughout the whole course of the book. Any scruple I raised respecting the propriety of dealing thus freely with individuals was instantly swept away, with the intimation that there was to be no respect of persons, and that all alike were at his disposal to do with as it pleased him. He represented the Soul of England, incarnate in every one of England’s children, human or animal; and the more of that soul that had been infused into any one of them, the greater his claim upon them.
My understanding rebelled continually against the utterances in which I was claiming Mr. Gladstone as the Joshua as well as the Moses of England coming regeneration, and as leader against the influences which now engage his sympathies. Equally improbable did it seem to me that he should become the champion of the union of England and the Moslem in a faith so developed as to include the essential elements both of Islamism and of the Christianity which is that, not of Caiaphas and sacerdotalism, but of Christ and the intuitions. I was reminded during this colloquy of my own change of view, though that
indeed had come about, not by any reversal of my method or direction, but by continuing to advance in the direction I had always been following, even of that of the ideal perfection, no matter how wild and barren the tracts through which the pursuit might lead. It was only, I was assured, the exchange of his curvilinear motion for my rectilinear one, that was required of Mr. Gladstone, to enable him also to win his way to his true centre and self instead of continuing to career round it at a distance. He, too, was, so far as he could at present discern it, a follower of perfection. But it was the perfection of the phenomenal and outward, not of the spiritual and inward. And I was shown distinctly and complied to declare that, vast as might appear the improbabilities, they were not greater than had been surmounted in my own case; and that he had but to recognise the truth that “Blood is not Food” in any plane whatever of the divine existence, to find his spiritual perceptions opening under the genial influences of his country’s Soul, and in his turn win from the representative of that Soul, even as I had done, the expression of supreme complacency, “At last I have found a man through whom I can ACT!”
It was not merely as a possibility that this was given to me. There was no if in the matter. At least, I was not permitted to regard it as a
mere contingency. I was shown, in prophetic fashion, that it was actually so, for I was transferred into the future, where, to my spiritual vision, it was made to appear as an accomplished fact. Intellectually I was sceptical, but was withheld from obtruding the doubt. And now, when by the withdrawal of the Spirit the intellect alone operates, it appears to me as if it must have been no positive prediction of what would be, but only an attempt to bring it about. It is no new thing, however, for the medium to distrust his utterances when the influence has been withdrawn. It is often for the purpose of sustaining his own faith, as much as for producing conviction in others, that the revelation is accompanied by appeals to the senses.
While some of those whom I was called on to describe were set before me in visible pictures, as was the case with Jesus and Paul, others seemed to be brought in person to speak for themselves by impressing their thoughts on my mind, but without becoming palpable to the senses. The latter was the case, I had no doubt, on the occasion of my reference to the late Lord Amberley, of whose presence in person, together with that of the great spirit who was guiding me, I was vividly conscious. He was allowed to come to me as a freethinker of the day who was especially animated by the earnest desire to find in the world’s
order a higher perfection than that which he was able to discern. He was anxious to have it known that he himself does not now regard the work on which he was engaged at his death as representing his final conclusions. With his motives and method, so far as they went, he was satisfied. His heart was right. He was grieved at being driven to negatives, but his perceptions had not then been sufficiently matured to enable him to reach the true centre and make the true generalisation. It had needed the removal of the bandage of the flesh from his spiritual vision to enable him to see the interior significance of the facts he had so industriously collected. Through some defect of power, either on his side or on mine, my visitant had great difficulty in impressing me as he desired. I was conscious that other spirits were competing with him for utterance; and I was somewhat confused between the various influences. During the writing of the passage, which extends over seven pages, commencing at p. 602, I was repeatedly recalled by him from my excursiveness. It was only when I had at length written the paragraph on pp. 608-9, that he was satisfied, and left me. His demeanour was marked by an intense affectionateness, and his chief anxiety was towards his parents, that they should know he was in good case, and that his faithfulness to his intuition
had been recognised and rewarded by the withdrawal of all barriers.
Though failing, as I must expect to do, to obtain for the reality of the experiences I am relating full and universal credence, I have the satisfaction of knowing that the number is by no means small, even in the present period of spiritual eclipse, of those who have carried the cultivation of the interior regions of the consciousness to such an extent as to enable them to follow me with confidence. For the rest, who by dint of ever seeking outwards instead of inwards, have become oblivious of the very existence of the region in question it is scarcely possible adequately to describe either the phenomena or the faculty whereby spiritual communion occurs. To those who persist in holding the senses to be the sole avenue of perception, it is wholly impossible. For it is necessary to conceive of cognition as occurring by the direct action of mind on mind, and without intervention of any sense. It is, I believe, a direct appeal of spirit to spirit under the operation of sympathy, desire, and will, without recourse to any material instrument. It is true, however, that while the knowledge in question is acquired in a wholly non-sensible form, the communication is frequently accompanied by an appeal to one or more of the senses. And these are, as might be expected, the senses
which are most keen in the recipient. I have known instances in which the sense of smell was excited by spiritual visitation; more often the sense of touch. I have myself experienced this. But generally it is sight and hearing that are appealed to. In the case of the visitation just recorded it was neither of these; but simply a consciousness, absolute and incapable of being distrusted by myself as subject, of the presence of one who was really what he claimed to be, communicating his thought directly and irresistibly to my thought. The great delicacy of this and all other faculties of a hyper-organic character, makes it essential to their maintenance at a high pitch of perfection that the subjects – sensitives as they are usually called – should be carefully kept from exposure to the trials and anxieties of ordinary life. The ancients knew this well; hence they took care of their “mediums” as their most precious possession, as the instruments of divine communication; to neglect whom was to refuse to listen to the voice of God. The “school of the prophets” was no other than an establishment for the development of the mediumistic faculty. And it is scarcely doubtful that the precautions by which the vestal virgins were guarded were due to the same cause. It is only under a materialistic “science,” whose system consists for the most part in rejecting all facts
save those only which suit the current hypothesis, that the diviner faculties of which women are the chief possessors, instead of being religiously guarded and scientifically developed, could be relegated to the category of “hysteria” and “hallucination,” on the shallow assumption that religion and revelation are morbid phenomena. The results of this irrational conduct are not far to seek or difficult to characterise. It is in no small measure through the denial of “clairvoyance,” lest it might demonstrate the existence of the soul, that science has been precipitated into the bottomless pit of vivisection. In saying this I speak that which I know. It is not by the moral qualities only of woman that the redemption of the world will be accomplished. Her spiritual faculties will play a no less important part.
The reiterated references made in England and Islam to the subjects of flesh-eating and vivisection are due to the same compulsion that controlled me throughout. Man’s whole idea and habit of life, I was shown, have come to be so utterly at variance with all possibility of the perfection of which his existence is capable, that only by incessant and unsparing denunciation, can he be in any measure impressed with their heinousness. Of the view given to me in this respect during the progress of the book, and of the true place of the carnivora in the scheme
of the world, I afterwards received a confirmation and extension of a kind wholly extraordinary and unanticipated, as will appear in a subsequent chapter. Not only do these practices, I was assured in the most positive manner, indicate the low spiritual grade of those who indulge in them, but they minister to man’s further degeneration in all parts of his nature, by reason of their irreconcilability with his physical and his affectional constitution. They are modes of exaltation of that selfishness which, as it could never have produced the world, so it can never sustain or redeem it.
That “God is Love,” and that man must be the same in his relations to the whole sensitive creation, is the basis of every gospel of redemption ever delivered to the world. The utterance on p. 498, respecting the Two-in-Oneness of the Divine Personality, was the product of a sudden burst of illumination, which made all I had before said respecting the Duality of Existence appear dim and feeble. It is a repetition and amplification of the truth as it was in Jesus; but as it has never been recognised among the followers of Jesus, least of all by Paul, and now re-delivered as the precursor of and accompaniment to that new manifestation of the Soul by which the world’s redemption is finally to be accomplished. Strange and incomprehensible to
most, it is not through myself alone that the doctrine has found utterance. About the very time that it was given to me it was declared also on the other side of the Atlantic, in a publication which reached me some three months later, and was the first intimation I had received that others beside myself were under training “by the same spirit” for the work of the coming regeneration.