NOT the least important, among the many 'physical' features the realm in which I live, are the numerous buildings devoted to the pursuit of learning and the fostering of the arts family to the earth-plane. These magnificent edifices present to the eye allthe signs one would expect of the permanence of eternity. The materials of which they are constructed are imperishable. The surfaces of the stone are as clean and fresh as on the day when they were raised up. There is nothing to soil them, no heavy smoke-laden atmosphere to eat into them, no winds and rains to wear down the works of exterior decoration. The materials of which they are built are of the spirit world, and therefore they have a beauty that is not earthly.
Although these fine halls of learning have every suggestion of permanency, they could be demolished if it were considered expedient or desirable to do so. In some cases it has been so considered. Such buildings have been removed, and others have taken their place.
The spirit world is not static. It is ever vibrant with life and movement. Contemplate, for a moment, the normal conditions of the earth world, with the many changes that are taking place continuously--the gradual reconstruction of towns and cities, the alterations in the countryside. Some of these changes have not always been deemed improvements. However that may be, changes are made, and the procedure is looked upon as one of progression. What, then, of the spirit world? Are no changes to take place in the world in which I live? Most certainly they are!
We do not exactly 'move with the times'--to use a familiar earthly phrase, because we are always very much ahead of the times! And we have every need to be--to meet the heavy demands placed upon us by the earth world.
Let us take one specific instance--just one.
As the earth world progresses in civilization--in its own estimation--the means and methods of waging war become more devastating and wholesale. In place of hundreds killed in battles in ancient times, the slain are now counted in hundreds of thousands. Every one of those souls has finished with his earthly life--though not with the consequences of it--and, in so many cases, the earth world has finished with him too. The individual may survive as a memory to those whom he has left behind him; his physical presence is gone. But his spirit presence is unalterably with us. The earth world has passed him on to us, oftentimes not really caring what has befallen him. He will leave behind him those whom he loved, and who loved him, but the earth world--so it thinks--can do nothing for him, nor for those who mourn his passing. It is we, in the spirit world, who will care for that soul. With us there is no shifting the responsibility on to other shoulders, and so passing upon our way. We faced with strict realities here.
The earth world, in its blind ignorance, hurls hundreds thousands of souls into this, our land, but those who dwell in high realms are fully aware, long before it happens, of what is to take place upon the earth-plane, and a fiat goes forth to the realms nearer the earth to prepare for what is to come.
These dire calamities of the earth-plane necessitate the building of more and ever more halls of rest in the spirit world. That is one occasion--and perhaps the greatest--for the changes that are always taking place here. But there are others and more pleasant.
Sometimes the wish is expressed by a great number of souls for an extension to be made to one of the halls of learning. There is seldom any difficulty about such a desire, since it s in no sense a selfish one, because it will be there for all to use enjoy.
It was in reply to a question which I put to Edwin that he told me that a new wing was to be added to the great library, were I have spent so many profitable and enjoyable moments since I came to spirit. It was suggested that perhaps Ruth and I would like to witness a spirit building in actual course of being erected. Accordingly, we made our way to the city and to the library
There was a large number of people already gathered there with the same intent as ourselves, and while we were waiting for operations to begin, Edwin told us something of the preliminary details that are necessary before work actually begins.
As soon as some new building is desired, the ruler of the realm is consulted. Of this great soul, and of others similar to him in spiritual character and capacity, I will tell you later. Knowing as he does, so intimately, the needs and wishes of all in his realm, there never arises a case where some building is required for the use and service of all but that the wish is granted. The ruler then transmits the request to those in authority above him, who in turn refer it to those still higher. We then foregather in the central temple in the city, where we are received by one whose word is law, the great soul who, many years ago of earthly time made it possible for me to communicate thus with the earth world.
Now, this seemingly involved procedure of passing on our request from one to another, may suggest to the mind the tortuous methods of officialdom with its delays and protracted ness. The method may be somewhat similar, but the time taken in performance is a very different matter. It is no exaggeration to say that within the space of a few earthly minutes our request has been stated, and the permission--with a gracious blessing accompanying it--has been granted. On such occasions as these we have cause for rejoicings, and we seize the opportunity to the full.
The next step is to consult the architects, and it may be readily imagined that we have a host of masters upon whom we can draw without limitation. They work for the sheer joy it brings them in the creation of some grand edifice to be used in the service of their fellows. These good men collaborate in a way that would be almost impossible upon the earth-plane. Here they are not circumscribed by professional etiquette, or limited by the narrowness of petty jealousies. Each is more than happy and proud to serve with the other, and never is there discord or disagreement through endeavoring to introduce, or force, the individual ideas of the one at the expense of another's. Perhaps you will say that such complete unanimity is far and away beyond the bounds of human nature and that such people would not be human if they did not disagree, or otherwise show their individuality.
Before you dismiss my statement as highly improbable, or as the painting of a picture of perfection impossible to attain except within the very highest realms of all, let me state the simple fact that discord and disagreement, upon such a matter as we are now considering, could not possibly exist in this realm wherein is my home. And if you still insist that this is impossible, I say No--it is perfectly natural. Whatever gifts we may possess in spirit, it is part of the essence of this realm that we have no inflated ideas of the power or excellence of those gifts. We acknowledge them in humility alone, without self-importance, unobtrusively, selflessly, and we are grateful for the opportunity of working, con amore, with our colleagues in the service of the Great Inspirer.
This, in substance, is what one of these great architects himself told me with reference to his own work.
After the plans for the new buildings have been drawn up in consultation with the ruler of the realm, there is a meeting of the master-masons. The latter were mostly masons when they were upon the earth-plane, and they continue to exercise their skill in spirit lands. They do so, of course, because the work appeals to them, even as it did when they were incarnate, and here they have faultless conditions under which they can carry on their work. They do so with a grand freedom and liberty of action that was denied them upon earth, but which is their heritage here in the spirit world. Others, who were not masons by trade, have since learned the spirit methods of building--for the sheer joy of doing so, and they give valuable aid to their more skilled confreres.
The masons, and one other, are the only people concerned in the actual construction, since spirit buildings do not require much that has to be included within the disposition of earthly buildings. Such, for example, as the necessary provision for lighting by artificial means, and for heating. Our light comes from the great central source of all light, and the warmth is one of the spiritual features of the realm.
The addition which was being made to the library consisted of an annexe, and it was not of any very great dimensions. Our spirit library has at least one feature in common with earthly libraries. A time comes when the quantity of books exceeds the space in which to house them and in our case the excess is inclined to be greater, because not only do we have copies of earthly books upon the shelves, but there are also volumes that have their source solely in spirit. By this, I mean that such books have no counterpart on earth. Included among them are works concerning spirit life alone, the facts of life here, and spiritual teachings, written by authorities who have an infallible knowledge of their subject, and who reside in the higher spheres. There are also the histories of nations and events, with the facts set down in strict accordance with the absolute truth, written by men who now find that equivocation is impossible.
The building of this annexe was not, therefore, what one would denominate a major effort, and it required the help of but a comparative few. It was simple in design, consisting of two or three medium-sized rooms.
We were standing fairly close to the group of architects and masons, beaded by the ruler of the realm. I noticed particularly that they had all the appearance of being extremely happy and jovial, and many were the jokes that circulated round this cheerful band.
It was strange to Ruth and me--Edwin had witnessed this sort of thing before--to think that a building was shortly to go up, because since my arrival in the spirit world I had seen no signs of any building operations going on anywhere. Every hail and house was already erected, and it never occurred to me that anything further would be required in this direction. A little thought, of course, would have revealed that spirit houses are always in course of being built, while others are being demolished if they are no longer wanted. The halls of learning all looked so very permanent to my unaccustomed eyes, so very complete, that I could not think it would ever be necessary to make any additions to them.
At length there were signs that a beginning was to be made. It must be remembered that the act of building in the spirit world is essentially an operation of thought. It will not be surprising, therefore, when I tell you that nowhere were there to be seen the usual materials and paraphernalia associated with earthly builders, the scaffolding and bricks and cement, and the various other familiar objects. We were to witness, in fact, an act of creation--of creation by thought--and as such no 'physical' equipment is necessary.
The ruler of the realm stepped forward a few paces, and, with his back towards us, but facing the site upon which the new wing was to arise, he spoke a brief but appropriate prayer. In simple language he asked the Great Creator for His help in the work they were about to undertake.
His prayer brought an instantaneous response, which was in the form of a bright beam of light that descended upon him and upon those gathered immediately behind him. As soon as this happened the architects and masons moved up close beside him.
All eyes were now turned upon that vacant spot beside the main building, to which we noticed that a second beam of light was passing directly from the ruler and the masons. As the second beam reached the site of the annexe it formed itself into a carpet of coruscation upon the ground. This gradually grew in depth, width, and height, but it seemed, as yet, to lack any suggestion of substance. It matched the main building in color, but that was all so far.
Slowly the form gained in size until it reached the required height. We could now see plainly that it matched the original structure in general outline, while the carved devices similarly corresponded.
While it was in this state the architects approached and examined it closely. We could observe them moving within it, until at length they passed from view. They were gone but a moment when they returned to the ruler with the report that all was in order.
Edwin explained to us that this rather ghostly edifice was in reality an adumbration of the finished structure, shaped in exact facsimile before an intensification of thought was applied to produce a solid and completed building. Any mistake or fault would be detected when the building was in this tenuous state, and corrected at once
No rectification, however being necessary to this particular instance, the work was proceeded with immediately.
The downstream of light now became very much more intense, while the horizontal stream from the ruler and his collaborators assumed, after the lapse of a minute or two, a similar degree of intensity. We could now perceive the nebulous form acquiring an unmistakable appearance of solidity as the concentration of united thought laid layer upon layer of increased density upon the simulacrum.
From what I observed it seemed to devolve upon the ruler to supply to each of the masons just that quantity and description of force that each required upon his separate task. He acted, in fact, as a distributive agent for the magnetic power that was descending directly upon him. This split up into a number of individual shafts of light of different color and strength, which corresponded with his direct appeals to the Great Architect. There was no faltering or diminution of the application of thought substance to be perceived anywhere. The masons themselves seemed to work with a complete unanimity of concentration, since the building attained full solidity with a remarkable degree of evenness.
After what appeared to Ruth and me a very short period, the building ceased to acquire any further density, the vertical and horizontal rays were cut off, and there stood before us the finished wing, perfect in every detail, an exact match and extension to the main edifice, beautiful alike in color and form, and worthy of the high purpose to which it was to be devoted.
We moved forward to examine more closely the results of the feat that had just been accomplished. We ran our hands over the smooth surface, as though to convince ourselves that it was really solid! Ruth and I were not the only people to do this, as there were others who were witnessing for the first time--and with equal wonderment--the immense power of directed thought.
The procedure which governs the building of our personal houses and cottages differs a little from that which I have just described to you. An indispensable prerequisite to the ownership of a spirit home is the right to own it, a right which is gained solely by the kind of life we live when incarnate, or by our spiritual progression after our transition to the spirit world. Once we have earned that right there is nothing to prevent our having such a residence if we should wish for one.
It has often been said that we build our spirit homes during our earthly lives--or after. That is so only in a broad sense. What we have built is the right to build, for it requires an expert to erect a house that would justify the name. My own home was built for me during my earthly life by builders just as proficient as those who helped to erect the annexe to the library. My friends, headed by Edwin, had looked after all the details entailed in such work. They had sought out the men to undertake the task, and the latter had carried into effect a fine piece of craftsmanship
When that day shall dawn upon which my spiritual progression will carry me onwards, I shall leave my house. But it will rest entirely with myself whether I leave my old home as it stands for others to occupy and enjoy, or whether I demolish it.
It is customary, I am told, to make a gift of it to the ruler of the realm for his disposal to others at his discretion.