“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar—
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
To God, who is our home.”
Our birth into this new life differs in almost every point from our birth into the Earthly. We owe our earthly Body to others; our psychic body to ourselves. That is, the state of development in which we arrive here depends greatly on our past life, and we may be said to be born here as infants, children, or mature beings according to the past life and the present state of the true self. Our psychic body is being formed within the earthly during our earthly life, but the materials of which it is composed are not earthly but are finer, rarer, though still material, and capable of outward manifestation of the psychic vision. The clay out of which the Spirit of Life creates our new bodies is not the old red earth, not the old Adam, but is like unto the resurrection body of the Master; a body which could not see corruption, and which the grave could not hold, though it might be guarded ever so closely.
The psyche, then, when it has quitted the earthly tenement appears immediately and suddenly in this—just as you see a man when he emerges from his house; a moment ago he was invisible to you, now he is completely visible. So it is here; the body, which is the only part of a man visible to your eyes, is the part that is invisible to us and hides him from us. Sometimes, he appears for a moment here—shadowy and unreal, more like a vision—then disappears again for a while. This is when the soul is loth to leave the body and lingers near it.
When the time arrives for the psyche to quit the earthly plane and leave its earthly covering behind it, then the link which unites it to the physical is broken. This link partakes of the two natures, and the only pain and struggle connected with this passing is when the soul is unwilling to lose its hold on the earthly, or fears to do so. Then, a moment of unconsciousness supervenes—a time of longer or shorter duration, according to circumstances. The psychical does not generally quit the body immediately, but slowly withdraws itself, and then only the body gradually decays and disintegrates—the lower forms of life escape to reincarnate themselves in some other form, while there must always be a certain degree of life abiding in each atom, for without it, they would have no existence. So the spirit of the animal goes downward, remaining in the earthly sphere, and the spirit of the man goes upward, entering into the higher life.
We now have the man, divested of his lower form, ready to enter into the intermediate state. And with what body does he come? With one that closely resembles the earthly one—very closely indeed at first—but with powers unfolded within it that far transcend the old ones, though those powers are yet more or less dormant. The man is still far from being pure spirit; he bears a form like the Master’s, a form which is in four dimensions,* and which cannot be seen by ordinary earthly vision. The old body is the matrix in which the new man is formed, and from which, by the pangs of death, he is parted, to enter into his second life. Now how does he appear on our side? Our eyes do not see the physical, that you always must bear in mind. What we see of the earthly is only the soul-image reflected in some medium. It is, therefore, after this uncovering that the new-born appears within the scope of our vision. He awakes and finds himself in a state that seems to him at first but the same to which he has been accustomed; he continues—as he thinks—his old life, until the fact gradually dawns upon him that the great change has taken place and that he has passed from death unto life.
*There is a fourth dimension, which you can easily understand, though you have not attained to it yet. Besides the line, the square, and the cube, there is something which represents what you might call the interpenetrative sphere. You have motion forward, upward, across, but in the future, there will also be motion through. At present, one body has to move out of the way of another, but then they will just interpenetrate.
This fourth dimension, only guessed at by you, is our first, the other three fall from us as crude and imperfect. To understand this more easily, think of the simile used of the man who could only walk in two dimensions. You can walk in three, but in the future, there will be four—up, down, across, through.
I think a symbol to be added to the line, the square, and the cube might be this—a hollow sphere, with other hollow and smaller spheres enclosed within it, something like the balls within balls cut by the Chinese. These spheres must be thought of as composed of a kind of elastic fluid; the larger spheres by compression passable through the smaller, and the smaller by expansion passable through the larger. Thus, each sphere can be within or without the others.
Now to leave the symbol and return to the new power which it represents—the solid can become fluid, pass through the solid (which is for the time also fluid) and then resume its first form.
This power, when perfected, would give man absolute power of progression in every direction and in every part of the universe. He could pass through the heart of mountains, or could rise into the atmosphere to any height by altering, as it were, his own density and the density of his path; nothing would prove a hindrance.
Next, as to the fifth dimension. Here I shall have more difficulty.
You have been already taught that your world and ours are not like two globes side by side and independent of each other, but as a spirit inhabits a body, so our world inhabits yours. To pass from yours to ours requires the violent change of death to the body (at least, in most cases). You cannot pass to us, nor we to you, but in very exceptional and partial ways. But there will be a time when the limits of this visible world will be its limits no longer, and from the seen to the unseen, the human being will be able to pass with the greatest rapidity and ease. The Son of Man attained to this power for a time, and in a limited degree, and there have been prophecies and hints of it at different times, but in future, as easily as your thought passes from place to place, so will you, or those who come after you.
Let us call the fourth dimension inter-progression, then the fifth might be called trans-progression. From sphere to sphere, from star to star, and from star to sun shall the children of men wander at free will. (I do not mean visible stars, but I mean the great Unseen). Our first and rudimentary state it would be, into which you would pass. This, perhaps, you will have understood.
As men rise from dimension to dimension, their powers are changed and increased in many ways. It is not simply an added power of progression, but an opening of new faculties in many directions. There are on our side beings who come over so undeveloped that all to which they can attain is the power of passing from place to place without let or hindrance, a kind of animal life. Some linger in the atmosphere of your world, seeking to feed their feeble earthbound souls, and it is from this class that most physical manifestations are obtained, the link that binds their lower nature to earth not being yet broken.
These dimensional laws begin very low down in the purely physical, and gradually rise as the powers of the being are developed and increased. There is no sharp division, as you know, between the physical and psychical; psychical and spiritual, and again between spiritual and that higher state still which you call Divine.
The sixth dimension begins to enter upon higher ground, yet I think you can follow a little farther. The first five have to do with what we may call space; the next series has to do more directly with what you call time.
In the first time-dimension, the experience of the being is that he is no longer limited by time in the way you are; time is not either long or short; a lifetime may be lived through in a moment, or a moment may extend to a lifetime; one day is with Him as a thousand years, or a thousand years as one day.
Do I need to perform any action? I am not bound or hampered by time. So the Master produced the wheaten bread in a moment or restored the wasted tissues of the human frame in a few brief seconds; while on other occasions the power seemed to fail Him, and He cried, “I have a work to do, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished.” This dimension we only partly enter into, but there are higher spirits to whom it is the normal state.
Next the seventh or second time-dimension. In this, the being advances a stage farther; here the limitations of time fall from him more completely than before, for him, indeed, time may be said to have no existence. The past (or what has been called past) to Him is the same as the present, and only the future lies still closed to Him; something of the spirit and power of the Eternal I AM is within him, and he approaches still more nearly the Divine.
Your memory is limited to those ineffaceable marks on the rock of your being made at some period by the waves of your conscious life.
But to him this is not so; all things lie within his memory. More than that, they can in a real manner unfold themselves before him at his will. This power adds largely to the joy of those higher spheres in which he dwells.
This power was hinted at by the Master when He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
After the time-dimensions come those that belong more directly to the human will, its powers and its limitations.
“I AWOKE!” Conditions of Life on the other Side, David Stott, London, 1895