The spirit world is not only a land of equal opportunity for every soul, but the opportunities are upon so vast a scale that no person still incarnate can have the least conception of its magnitude. Opportunities for what?--it will be asked. Opportunities for good, useful, interesting work.
I hope that, by now, I have sufficiently indicated that the spirit world is not a land of idleness, not a land where its inhabitants spend the whole of their lives in a super-ecstatic atmosphere of religious exercises, formally offering up 'prayer and praise' to the Great Throne in a never-ceasing flow. There is an uninterrupted flow, most certainly, but it comes about in a very different way. It surges up from the hearts of us all, who are happy to be here, and thankful withal.
I want to try to give you some slight idea of the immensity of the range of occupations in which one can become engaged here in these realms.
Your thoughts will at once turn to the many and varied occupations of the earth world, covering every shade of earthly activity. But behind the earth world's occupations is the ever-driving necessity of earning a living, of providing the physical body with food and drink, clothing and a habitation of some sort. Now, you already know that these last four considerations have no existence whatever with us here. Food and drink we never need; the clothing and the habitation we have provided for ourselves by our lives upon earth. As our lives have been on earth, so will our clothing and our domicile be when we come to spirit lands. We have, as you see, no physical necessity to work, but we do have a mental necessity to work, and it is because of the latter that all work is a pleasure with us here.
Imagine yourself in a world where no one works for a living, but where everyone works for the sheer joy of doing something that will be of service to others. Just imagine that, and you will begin to understand something of the life in spirit lands.
A great many earthly occupations have no application whatever to the spirit world. Useful and necessary as they are, they belong essentially to the earthly period of life. What, then, becomes of people who occupied such a position as I have just mentioned? They will discover, immediately they are fully aware of their new state, that they have left their earthly avocation behind forever. They will see that the spirit world does not offer the same or similar work for them. But this does not cause regret or unhappiness, because the need for physical subsistence no longer exists with them, and in place of it such people feel gloriously free to engage themselves in some new work. They need never wonder what they are fitted for; they will soon find something which attracts their attention and draws their interest. And it will not be long before they are joining their fellows in learning some new occupation, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
So far, I have merely referred to work in the abstract. Let us be more specific, and consider some of the business of the spirit world. First, let us take what we might call the purely 'physical' side of spirit life, and for the purpose we might pay another visit to the city.
On the way there we walk through many beautiful gardens, which at some period have all been designed and created. Here, shall we say, is the first means of employment that we come across. Scores of people upon the earth-plane love gardens and gardening. Some have engaged in the latter as their calling, and enjoyed doing it. What better than to continue with their work here in the spirit world, unrestrained by physical exigencies, free and unhampered and with the inexhaustible resources of the spirit world at their command? Their occupation is their own. They can--and do-- stop whenever they wish, and they can resume whenever they wish. And there is no one to exert his will upon them. And what is the result? Happiness for themselves, because by creating a beautiful work of horticultural art they have added more beauty to an already beautiful realm, and in doing so they have brought happiness to others. So their task goes on, altering, rearranging, planning, beautifying, building anew, and ever acquiring skill and still greater skill. Thus they continue until such time as they wish to change their work, or until their spiritual progression carries their on to fresh fields of endeavor in other realms.
Now let us go into the hall of music, and see what work we can find there. Someone, of course, had to plan, and others to build the hall itself. I have already given you an account of the building of an annex to the library. In all major building operations the method followed is the same, but the methods of the spirit world have to be learnt, and the work of the architects and builders, with their various expert assistants, is among some of the most important in the spirit world. As all descriptions of employment are open to anyone who has the taste for such work, that of the architect and builder is, likewise, free to all who express a preference for continuing their earthly occupation, or who wish to turn to something new. The wish to do so is really all that is required, although, naturally, an aptitude is a great help. But it is very surprising how quickly efficiency is gained by the stimulus of desire. The 'wish to do' becomes translated into the 'ability to do' in a very short time. Keen interest and predilection for the work are all that are asked.
Inside the hall of music we find libraries of music, where students are busy at their studies, and pupils with their musician teachers. Most of the people whom we meet thus are learning to be practical musicians; that is, they are learning to play some one or more instruments. And someone has to provide them with the necessary instruments. The hall of music does that, but somebody must create them for the hall of music. And so the instrument makers of the earth-plane find themselves at home in their craft if they wish to continue with it in the spirit world.
Now, it may be suggested that a lifetime on earth spent in one particular form of work would be quite enough for the average person, and that when he comes into the spirit world the last thing he would want to do would be to take up again his old earthly occupation with its interminable routine and drudgery. But bear in mind all that I have told you about the freedom of these realms, and the fact that no one is compelled, either by force of circumstances, or from the mere need of subsistence, to do any work at all in the spirit world. Remember that all work is undertaken willingly, freely, for the love of doing it, for the pride in creating something, for the desire of being of service to one's fellow inhabitants and to the realm in general, and you will see that the maker of musical instruments--to adduce one occupation among thousands--is just as happy as we all are in these realms. So he continues to make his instruments, brings happiness to himself and to so many other people, who will pleasurably and usefully bring joy to still more through the creation of his mind.
Incidentally, I should mention that it is not imperative that one should acquire a musical instrument solely through the hall of music. Any person who is skilled in the fashioning of such instruments would be only too willing to provide another person with anything he might require musically. In many a home here there reposes--and not as a mere ornament!--a beautiful pianoforte, built by clever hands, who have learnt the spirit methods of creation. These things cannot be bought. They are spiritual rewards. It would be useless to try to possess that to which we have no right. We should simply find ourselves without it, and with no means of getting it. No one could create it for us, whatever it might be. If they were to try, they would find that their power would not function in that direction. If you were to ask me who or what governs these things, I could only tell you that I do not know, beyond knowing the fact that it is the operation of a spirit law.
Before we pass on from the hall of music, we might just look at the library. Here are musical scores by the thousand, together with the various parts from which the instrumentalists play. Most of the large orchestras here obtain their music from the hall of music. It is free for all to borrow whenever they wish, but someone has to duplicate it. And that is another important and productive occupation. The librarians who take care of all this music, and who attend to people's wants in this connexion, fulfill another useful task. And so the details could be multiplied, covering the whole range of musical endeavor, from the person who does no more than love and enjoy music to those who are instrumentalists and leaders in the musical art.
In the hall of fabrics we shall find the same industry, the same happiness among all those who are working there. At any moment I am at liberty, if I wish, to join the students there who are learning to weave the most exquisite fabrics. It happens, however, that my interests lie elsewhere, and my visits to the Hall are for purpose of recreation only. Ruth regularly spends a certain time of studying, and she has become an expert in weaving tapestries. It is part of her spirit-life occupation, and it is part of her recreation also. She has produced some beautiful tapestries, of which Edwin and I possess two choice specimens hanging upon our walls.
We can obtain all the different materials we need from the hall of fabrics, or, as in the case of music, we can ask some craftsman to make what we require. We shall never have a refusal, nor shall we have to wait an interminable time before we receive what we want. There are plenty of craftsmen to supply the needs of all of us. In the same hall there are students learning the art of designing, and they are instructed by masters in the art. Experimentation is continually going on in producing new types of cloth and new designs. These various materials have nothing whatever to with our own spirit clothes. That is a personal matter. The products of the fabric hall are used for general purposes; such as, for instance, in the garniture of our homes and in the larger halls and buildings. In the case of the historical pageants, which I mentioned to you, those who organize them exact a heavy contribution from the hall of fabrics for all their authentic costumes.
Now, I have given only two or three examples of what it possible for a person to do here. There are thousands more covering as great a field of activity as there is to be found upon the earth-plane. Think of the doctors who come into the spirit world, and still carry on their work here. Not that we need doctors but they can work here with their colleagues in investigating all causes of sickness and disease upon the earth-plane, and the can help in alleviating them. Many a spirit doctor has guided the hand of an earthly surgeon when he is performing an operation. The earthly doctor is, probably, perfectly unaware of the fact and would ridicule any suggestion that be is receiving assistant from an unseen source. The doctor in spirit is contented to serve without acknowledgment from him whom he serves. It is the successful issue that he is concerned about, not who shall have the credit. The earthly doctor, in such cases, makes some illuminating personal discoveries when be finally comes into the spirit world.
The scientist, too, continues his researches when he comes here in whatever branch of science he may be concerned, he will find enough, and more than enough, to engage his attention for a long, time to come. And so with the engineer, and scores upon scores upon scores of others. Indeed, it would be impossible, or if not impossible, a little tedious, perhaps, to run through the long list of occupations so well known upon the earth-plane, of which we have a counterpart in he spirit world. But by now you should have some idea of what he spirit world has to offer. All that we have in our halls and our houses, in our homes and in our gardens, has to be made, to be fashioned, or created, and it requires someone to do it. The need is constant, and the supply is constant, and it will ever be so.
There is another department of industry, though, which is vitally necessary, and it is peculiar to the spirit world.
The percentage is low, deplorably low, of people who come into the spirit world with any knowledge at all of their new life and of the spirit world in general. All the countless souls without this knowledge have to be taken care of, and helped in their difficulties and perplexities. That is the principal work upon which Edwin. Ruth and I are engaged. It is a type of work that appeals to many of the ministers of the church of whatever denomination. Their experience upon earth stands them in good stead, and all of them--perhaps I should say all of us!--know that we are now members of one ministry, with one purpose, serving one cause, and all of us possessed of the same knowledge of the truth of spirit life, without creed, without doctrine or dogma, a united body of workers, men and women.
In the great halls of rest there are expert nurses and spirit doctors ready to treat those whose last earthly illness has been long and painful, or whose passing into spirit has been sudden or violent. There are many such homes, especially for the latter. These homes are a standing monument of shame to the earth world, that they should be obliged to exist at all. Passings may be sudden and violent--that is inevitable at present, but it is to the eternal shame of the earth world that so many souls should arrive here in woeful ignorance of what lies before them. These halls of rest have multiplied very considerably since I first came into the spirit world, and consequently the need for more nurses and doctors has been more pressing. But that is always supplied.
As this service belongs exclusively to the spirit world, we have special colleges where those desiring to take up this particular work can become fully conversant with it. Here they learn much that scientifically concerns the spirit body itself, and the spirit mind. They are given a general knowledge of the ways of spirit life, since they will have to deal with people who, for the most part, have no knowledge whatever of their new state. They will have to know the facts of intercommunication between our world and yours, since such numbers of people ask about this important matter the instant they realize what has taken place in their lives. It is astonishing how many of them want to rush back to the earth-plane to try to tell those they have left behind of the great discovery they have made of the fact that they are alive and in another world!
In numbers of cases people require a long rest after their dissolution. They may be awake during the whole of this period of rest, and those in attendance have to be a storehouse of information. The attention of such souls is usually about equally divided between the spirit world and the earth world. It requires a high proportion of general spirit-world knowledge, as well as tactfulness and discretion, upon the part of all the nurses and doctors.
By making mention of any particular occupation I do so entirely without prejudice to any other, and not because those which we have discussed have any pre-eminence over others. One or two of them have been chosen to present to you because they have the appearance of being so very 'material', and to point what I have tried to demonstrate repeatedly before--that we are living in a practical spirit world where we are busy upon our own individual and useful tasks, and that we are not spending the whole of our spirit lives in a high state of religiosity, nor perpetually absorbed in pious meditation.
But what of the person who has never done a useful thing during his earth life? All I can say is, that such a person will not find himself in these realms until he has worked his way here. Entrance is by service alone.
To make a complete list of all spirit occupations would take a very large volume to do so, for they seem to be inexhaustible. Indeed, my mind becomes almost numbed at the thought of their countless number, and of my inability to do justice to so vast a subject. In the scientific sphere of labor alone, thousands upon thousands of people are happily employed, whether it be upon probing the secrets of the earth-plane, or in investigating those of the spirit world.
Science and engineering being closely allied in the spirit world, far-reaching discoveries are constantly being made, and inventions are ever being perfected. These inventions are not for us, but for you--when the time is ripe, and that is not yet. The earth world has given a poor exhibition of what has been sent through to it from the spirit world, by putting to base uses what has been given for its benefit. Man has exercised his own free will, but he has been exercising it in a direction that ultimately brings destruction. The mind of man is but in its infancy, and an infant becomes dangerous when he has free use of that which can destroy. Hence, much is held back from the earth world until man has reached a higher state of development. That day will assuredly arrive, and a torrent of new inventions will come pouring through from the spirit world to your world.
In the meantime, the work goes on, research, investigation, discovery, and invention, and it is work that absorbs great hosts of interested people, and provides them with useful employment in their spirit life. Nothing ever disturbs the ordered routine of our work. While the work continues, we may be retiring from it for a space, either to rest or to follow some other line of endeavor. We have no disputes, no domestic upheavals, no rivalries that produce dissatisfaction and unpleasantness. We have no discontented folk. We may have the urge to be doing something of greater moment, but that is not discontent, but the prompting from within that denotes the steps of our spiritual progression. The humblest of us is made to feel that whatever his work, however insignificant it may appear beside other and seemingly greater tasks, he is performing something vital and significant that will bring with it its own inevitable reward that none can withhold from us, none can take away. In the spirit world, to work is to be profoundly happy--for the many reasons that I have given you.
There is none here who would not endorse my words wholeheartedly and unreservedly!