I HAVE used the word 'recreation', once or twice, but I have not given you any specific details upon this relatively important subject.
The merest suggestion that we should have recreations in the spirit world will, most assuredly, come to some minds as an unpleasant shock. Those same minds will instantly think of the many and varied sports and pastimes that are usefully and profitably indulged in upon the earth-plane. To transplant, as it were, such fundamentally earthy things into a world of pure spirit is inconceivable, inconceivable, perhaps, because the whole idea is far-fetched, or because the spirit world should be regarded as a higher state. A state, that is, in which we shall leave behind us all our earthly habits, and live perpetually in a condition of high ecstasy, caring only for those vague, unsubstantial things that our respective religion hinted to us as being the reward of the good.
To entertain such suppositions about this life is to suggest that, by the very fact of our coming into the spirit world to live, we are at once in the presence of God, or that at least we are within the realm wherein God dwells, and therefore anything even remotely suggestive of earthly customs or manners would be rigidly excluded as too unholy for admission.
Such ideas as these are, of course, pure nonsense, since God is no nearer to us in the spirit world than He is to us in the earth world, it is we who are nearer to Him, because, among other things, we can see more clearly the Divine Hand in this world, and the expression of His Mind. That, however, is a deeper subject which it is not within our province to go into just now.
Many of us find our recreation in another form of work. In the spirit world we do not suffer fatigue either of body or mind, but to continue unremittingly in the pursuit of any one occupation, without any intermittent change, would soon produce feelings of mental dissatisfaction or unrest. Our powers of application to any given task are immense, but at the same time we draw a very clear line of limitation for any period of our work, in respect to the whole, and beyond that line we do not go. We will exchange our present task for another form of work, we can cease work altogether and spend our time reclining in our homes or elsewhere; we can occupy ourselves in study; or we can engage ourselves in the amusing recreations that abound in these realms.
When we have ceased our work for the time being, we are much in the same case as are you who are still upon the earth-plane. What shall you do to amuse yourself? You may feel that physical rest is necessary, and so you will incline towards intellectual recreation. And so it is precisely with us here. Intellectual recreation, which may take diverse forms, is amply provided for in the halls of learning, because learning can itself be a I recreation.
Ruth and I have spent many happy hours in the library and the hail of art, but there have been numberless occasions when we felt the need for something more sturdy, and we have walked down to the sea and gone aboard one of the fine vessels there, and thence paid a visit to one of the islands. And here at the seaside we have one of the most entertaining of our sports.
I have already told you how vessels in the spirit world are propelled purely by the process of thought, and I have further indicated how it takes a little time to become proficient in the art of personally applying such propulsion. Such proficiency is ultimately achieved, but we can test our progress and receive valuable aid in our endeavors by taking part in contests upon the water.
A clear distinction must be drawn between such contest upon the earth-plane and those in the spirit world. Here we are assured, because we know, that all rivalry is purely friendly. There is no gain attached whatever, beyond the experience and the acquisition of greater skill, and there are no prizes to be fought for and won. At the end of every race we shall be sure of the greatest help to make us more expert in the increasing and handling of our vessel's speed.
One particular diversion that finds a very considerable measure of favor with us here is that of dramatic representation different kinds:
We have beautiful theatres situated in environment just as beautiful, worthy buildings devoted to a worthy purpose. The architects who design the buildings do so with the same meticulous care as is shown in all their endeavors, and the results, as usual, reveal the degree of active co-operation that exists betweenthe masters of the craft. The garniture within is the product of skilled artists from the Hall of Fabrics; the gardens without have same devoted care lavished upon them. The result is as removed from an earthly theatre as it is possible to imagine.
Before I speak further upon this subject I would like to observe that I am fully aware that there are people upon the earth-plane who totally disapprove of theatres and everything connected with them. In most instances such aversion is the outcome of religious upbringing. I cannot alter the truth, as I find it in the spirit world, to accord with certain religious views held by people still incarnate. I speak of those things which I have witnessed in company with thousands of others, and the fact of strong disapproval, by earth people, of what I have described as existing in the spirit world, in no way proves such things to be non-existent, and therefore my statement to be false. My position for observation is incomparably superior to theirs, because I have left the earth world and become an inhabitant of the spirit world. If our descriptions of the world we now inhabit were to be altered to suit every individual taste and every preconception of what the spirit world ought to be, we might just as well cease, forthwith, to give any further descriptions, since, after being so tampered with, they would be worthless. Lest I should have conveyed any false impression in saying this, let me add that anyone who expressed disapproval of all, or any, form of recreation he found here, such a person would never be asked to indulge in them. With others of similar views, he would find himself in a little community apart, there to remain, safely out of range of all supposed earthly things, and able to live in such a place as he thought 'heaven' ought to be. I have met such people, and it was not long, as a rule, before they abandoned their home-made heaven, and walked abroad into the finer, greater heaven, which is the work of the Greatest Mind.
Each theatre of this realm is familiar to us by the type of play that is presented in it. The plays themselves are frequently vastly different from those that are customary upon the earth-plane. We have nothing that is sordid, nor do the authors of plays insist upon harrowing their audiences. We can see many problem plays where social questions of the earth-plane are dealt with, but unlike the earth-plane our plays will provide a solution to the particular problem--a solution which the earth is too blind to adopt.
We can go to see comedies where, I do assure you, the laughter is invariably much more hearty and voluminous than is ever to be heard in a theatre of the earth-plane. In the spirit world we can afford to laugh at much that we once, when incarnate, treated with deadly seriousness and earnestness!
We have witnessed grand historical pageants showing the greater moments of a nation, and we have seen, too, history as it really was, and not as it is often so fancifully written about in history books! But surely the most impressive, and, at the same time, interesting experience is to be present at one of these pageants where the original participants themselves re-enact the events in which they were concerned, first as the events were popularly thought to have occurred, and then as they actually took place. These representations are among the most widely attended here, and never are there more attentive and rapt members of the audience than those players who, during their earthly lives, played the parts, in stage plays, of the famous character whom they are now seeing 'in the flesh'.
In such pageants the coarser, depraved and debased incident are omitted entirely, because they would be distasteful to the audience, and, indeed, to all in this realm. Nor are we shown scenes which are, in the main incidents, nothing but battle at bloodshed and violence.
At first, one experiences a strange feeling in beholding, it person, the bearers of names famous throughout the earth world but after a time one becomes perfectly accustomed to it, and becomes part of our normal existence.
The most noticeable difference between our two worlds, in this matter of recreations, is created by our respective requirements. We have no need here to take bodily exercise, vigorous or otherwise, nor do we need to go out into the 'fresh air'. Our spirit bodies are always in perfect condition, we suffer no disorders of any kind, and the air, which cannot be other than fresh penetrates into every corner of our homes and buildings, where it fully retains its purity. It would be impossible for it to become vitiated or contaminated in any way. It is to be expected, then that our recreations should be more upon the mental plane than: upon the 'physical'.
As most of the outdoor games of the earth world involve the use of a ball, it will be appreciated that here, where the law gravity operates under different conditions from yours, anything in the nature of propelling a ball by striking it, would lead quite hopeless results. I am speaking now of games of a competitive nature.
On the earth-plane skill in games is acquired by the master of the mind over the muscles of the body, when once the latter has been brought to a healthy condition. But here we are always in a healthy condition, and our muscles are always under the complete and absolute control of our minds. Efficiency is quickly gained, whether it is in playing upon a musical instrument, painting a picture, or in any other pursuit that requires the use of the limbs. It will be seen, therefore, that most of the usual games would lose their point here.
And it must be remembered that indoors or outdoors are precisely one to us here. We have no changes of weather during recurrent seasons. The great central sun is forever shining; it is never anything but delightfully warm. We never feel the necessity for a brisk walk to set our blood circulating the better. Our homes and our houses are not necessities, but additions to an already enjoyable life. You will find many people here who do not possess a home; they do not want one, they will tell you, for the sun is perpetually shining and the temperature is perpetually warm. They are never ill, or hungry, or in want of any kind, and the whole beautiful realm is theirs to wander in.
It must also be remembered that viewpoints change very much when one comes to live here. What we deemed so very important when we were incarnate, we find is not nearly so important when we arrive in the spirit world. And many of our erstwhile earthly games seem rather tame and trivial beside our greatly increased powers in the spirit world. The fact that we can move ourselves through space instantaneously is enough to make the greatest earthly athletic skill recede into insignificance, and our mundane sports and games are in similar case. Our recreations are more of the mind, and we never feel that we must expend a superfluity of physical energy upon some strenuous action, for our energy is at a constant level according to our individual requirements. We find that we have so much to learn, and learning is in itself such pleasure that we do not need the number or variety of recreations that you do. We have plenty of music to listen to, there are such wonders in these lands that we want to know all about, there is so much congenial work to be done, that there is no cause to be cast down at the prospect of there being few of the earthly sports and pastimes in the spirit world. There is such a superabundant supply of vastly more entertaining things to be seen and done here, besides which a great deal of the earthly recreations appear sheer trivialities.