AFTER I had passed into the spirit world, one of my earliest experiences was the consciousness of a feeling of sadness, not of my own sadness, for I was supremely happy, but of the sadness of others, and I was greatly puzzled to know whence it came.
Edwin told me that this sadness was rising from the earth world, and was caused by the sorrow felt at my passing. It soon ceased, however, and Edwin informed me that forgetfulness of me by the earth people had already set in. That experience alone my good friend, is one that can be relied upon to induce feelings of humility, if no humility before existed!
I had, I assure you, set small store by popularity. The discovery, therefore, that my memory was fast fading from the minds of earth people occasioned me no distress whatever. I had written and preached for the good they might do, and that, now learnt, was microscopically small. I was told that many people, whose public favor was considerable when they were incarnate, discovered, when they had shed their earthly bodies that their fame and high favor had not preceded them into the world of spirit. Gone was the admiration which had been common everyday experience. It naturally saddened such souls to leave behind them their earthly prominence, and it gave them something of a sense of loneliness, the more so when, in addition, the earth world quickly forgot all about them.
My own earthly reputation had been of no very great magnitude, but I had managed to carve a niche for myself among my co-religionists.
My transition had been calm and peaceful, and unattended by any unpleasant circumstances. It was no wrench for me to leave the earth world. I had no ties but my work. I was, therefore, greatly blessed. Edwin told me of others whose passing was extremely unhappy, and whose spiritual state upon their arrival here was still more unhappy. Many, who were great upon earth found themselves very small in spirit. And many, who were unknown upon earth, found themselves here so spiritually well known as to be almost overcome by it. It is not all, by any means, who are destined for the beautiful realms of eternal sunshine and summer.
I have already given you a glimpse of those realms of darkness and semi-darkness, where all is cold and bleak and barren, and wherein souls have their abode, souls who can rise up out of the darkness if they so wish it and will work for that end. There are many who spend their heaven visiting these dim regions to try to draw out of their misery some of these unfortunates, and to set them upon the path of light and spiritual progression.
It has been my privilege to go with Edwin and Ruth to visit the dark places beyond the belt of mist that separates them from the light. It is not my purpose to take you into those realms of misery and unhappiness just yet. Later on I shall hope to give you some account of our experiences. For the moment there are other--and pleasanter--matters upon which I should like to speak.
There are many souls upon the earth-plane who seek to probe the manifold mysteries of life. They propound theories of divers kinds purporting to explain this or that, theories which, in the course of time, come to be looked upon as great truths. Some of these hypotheses are as remote from the truth as it is possible to imagine; others are merely nonsensical. But there are also people who refuse even to think for themselves, and who stolidly uphold the belief that while they are incarnate they are not meant to know anything of the life of spirit that lies before them all. They affirm that it is not God's purpose that they should be told of such matters, and that when they come to spirit they will know all things.
These are two extremes of thought--the theorists and the partisans of the 'closed door'. Both schools receive some severe shocks when they enter spirit lands to live for all time. Individuals with strange theories find those theories demolished by the simple fact of finding themselves faced with the absolute truth. They discover that life in the spirit world is not nearly so complex as they would have it to be. In so many instances it is vastly simpler than life upon earth, because we do not have the problems that constantly harass and worry earth people, problems, for example, of religion and politics, which throughout the ages have caused social upheavals that are still having their repercussions in the earth world at the present time. The student of occult matters is apt to fall into the same error as the student of religious matters. He makes assertions every bit as dogmatic as those that emanate from orthodox religion, assertions that are mostly as far from the truth.
The period of time in which I have lived in the spirit world is as nothing--nothing!--by comparison with some of the great souls with whom it has been my privilege to speak. But they have shown me something of their vast store of knowledge, things that is, that my mind was capable of understanding. For the rest, I--in company with millions of others--am perfectly contented to wait for the day when my intelligence is sufficiently advanced to grasp the greater truths.
A matter that gives rise to some perplexity concerns the flowers that we have in the spirit world. Some would ask: why flowers? What is their purpose or significance? Have they symbolical meaning?
Let us put the same questions to earth people concerning the flowers that grow upon the earth-plane. Have the earthly flowers any special significance? Have they some symbolical meaning? The answer to both questions is No! Flowers are given to the earth world to help to beautify it, and for the delight and enjoyment of those who behold them. The fact that they serve other useful purposes is an added reason for their existence. Flowers are essentially beautiful, evolved from the Supreme Creative Mind, given to us as a precious gift, showing us in their colorings, in their formations, and in their perfumes an infinitesimally small expression of that Great Mind. You have this glory of the earth-plane. Are we to be deprived of it in the spirit world because it is considered that flowers are rather earthy, because no deep, abstruse meaning can be assigned to I existence?
We have the most glorious flowers here, some of them like old familiar cherished blooms of the earth-plane, others known only to the spirit world, but all alike are superb, the perpetual joy of all of us who are surrounded with them. They are divine creations, each single flower breathing the pure air of spirit, upheld by their Creator and by all of us here in the love that we shower upon them. Had we no wish for them--an impossible supposition!--they would be swept away. And what should we have in their stead? Where, otherwise, would the great wealth of color come from which the flowers provide?
And it is not only the smaller growing flowers that we have here. There is no single flowering tree or shrub that the mind recall that we do not possess, flourishing in superabundance and perfection, as well as those trees and shrubs that are to be nowhere else but in the spirit world. They are always in bloom they never fade or die, their perfumes are diffused into the air where they act like a spiritual tonic upon us all. They are at one with us, as we are with them.
When we are first introduced to the flowers and trees and all the luxuriance of spirit nature, we instantly perceive something that earthly nature never seemed to possess, and that is an inherent intelligence within all growing things. Earthly flowers, although living, make no immediate personal response when one comes into close touch with them. But here it is vastly different. Spirit flowers are imperishable, and that should at once suggest more than mere life within them, and spirit flowers, as well as all other forms of nature, are created by the Great Father of the Universe through his agents in the realms of spirit. They are part of the immense stream of life that flows directly from Him, and that flows through every species of botanic growth. That stream never ceases, never falters, and it is, moreover, continuously fed by the admiration and love which we, in this world of spirit, gratefully shed upon such choice gifts of the Father. Is it, then, to be wondered at, when we take the tiniest blossom within our hands, that we should feel such an influx of magnetic power, such a revivifying force, such an upliftment of one's very being, when we know, in truth, that those forces for our betterment are coming directly from the Source of all good. No, there is no other meaning behind our spirit flowers than the expressed beauty of the Father of the Universe, and, surely, that is enough. He has attached no strange symbolism to His faultless creations. Why should we?
A large majority of the flowers are not meant to be picked. To pick them is not to destroy them--it is to cut off that which is in direct contact with the Father. It is possible to gather them, of course; no disastrous calamity would follow if one did. But whosoever picked them would certainly regret it very deeply. Think of some small article that you possess and treasure above all your other earthly possessions, and then consider deliberately destroying it. It would cause you extreme sadness to do so, although the loss incurred might be intrinsically trifling. Such would be your emotions when you heedlessly culled those spirit flowers that are not intended for gathering.
But there are blooms, and plenty of them, that are expressly there to be picked, and many of us do so, taking them into our houses just as we used to do on earth, and for the same reason.
These severed flowers will survive their removal for just so long as we wish to retain them. When our interest in them begins to wane they will quickly disintegrate. There will be no unsightly withered remnants, for there can be no death in a land of eternal life. We simply perceive that our flowers have gone, and we can then replace them if we so wish.