home bookshop feed the hungry   earthly pursuits logo
what's new old book library safe seed pledge  
contact about books about food & recipes  
links I  II   garden tips  
search flower language blether  
  alphabetized flowers     flowers by meaning companion planting  
 
bookcases     
  
 
    click here to make a
"free" contribution to earthly pursuits

     

e-book:


 

Letters from a Living Dead Man


LETTER

 

Introduction

I.

The Return

II.

Tell No Man

III.

Guarding the Door

IV.

A Cloud on the Mirror

V.

The Promise of Things Untold

VI.

The Wand of Will

VII.

A Light behind the Veil

VIII.

The Iron Grip of Matter

IX.

Where Souls go up and down.

X.

A Rendezvous in the Fourth Dimension

XI.

The Boy–Lionel

XII.

The Pattern World

XIII.

Forms Real and Unreal

XIV.

A Folio of Paracelsus

XV.

A Roman Toga

XVI.

A Thing to be forgotten

XVII.

The Second Wife over there

XVIII.

Individual Hells

XIX.

A little Home in Heaven

XX.

The Man who found God

XXI.

The Leisure of the Soul

XXII.

The Serpent of Eternity

XXIII.

A Brief for the Defendant

XXIV.

Forbidden Knowledge

XXV.

A Shadowless World

XXVI.

Circles in the Sand

XXVII.

The Magic Ring

XXVIII.

Except ye be as Little Children

XXIX.

An Unexpected Warning

XXX.

The Sylph and the Magician

XXXI.

A problem in Celestial Mathematics

.XXXII.

A Change of Focus

XXXIII.

Five Resolutions

XXXIV.

The Passing of Lionel

XXXV.

The Beautiful Being

XXXVI.

The Hollow Sphere

XXXVII.

An Empty China Cup

XXXVIII.

Where Time is not

XXXIX.

The Doctrine of Death

XL.

The Celestial Hierarchy

XLI.

The Darling of the Unseen

XLII.

A Victim of the Non-existent

XLIII.

A Cloud of Witnesses

XLIV.

The Kingdom Within

XLV.

The Game of Make-believe

XLVI.

Heirs of Hermes

XLVII.

Only a Song

XLVIII.

Invisible Gifts at Yuletide

XLIX.

The Greater Dreamland

L.

A Sermon and a Promise

LI.

The April of the World

LII.

A Happy Widower

LIII.

The Archives of the Soul

LIV.

A Formula for Mastership


 

 

LETTER XLII

A VICTIM OF THE NON-EXISTANT

The other day I met an acquaintance, a woman whom I had known for a number of years, and who came out about the time I did.
     Old acquaintances when they meet here greet each other about as they did on earth. Though we are, as a rule, less conventional than you, still we cling more or less to our former habits.
     I asked Mrs. –––– how she was enjoying herself, and she said that she was not having a very pleasant time. She found that everybody was interested in something else, and did not want to talk with her.
     This was the first time I had met with such a complaint, and I was struck by its peculiarity. I asked her to what cause she attributed this unsociability, and she replied that she did not know the cause, that it had puzzled her.

     "What do you talk to them about?" I asked.
     "Why, I tell them my troubles, as one friend tells another; but they do not seem to be interested. How selfish people are!"
     Poor soul! She did not realise here, any more than she had on earth, that our troubles are not interesting to anybody but ourselves.
     "Suppose," I said, "that you unburden yourself to me. Tell me your troubles. I will promise not to run away."
     "Why, I hardly know where to begin!" she answered. "I have found so many unpleasant things."
     "What, for instance?"
     "Why, horrid people. I remember that when I lived in –––– I sometimes told myself that in the other world I would not be bothered with boarding-house landladies and their careless hired girls; but they are just as bad here—even worse."
     "Do you mean to tell me that you live in a boarding-house here?"
     "Where should I live? You know that I am not rich."
     Of all the astonishing things I had heard in this land of changes, this was the most astonishing. A boarding-house in the "invisible" world! Surely, I told myself, my observations had been limited. Here was a new discovery.

     "Is the table good in your boarding-house?" I asked.
     "No, it is worse than at the last one."
     "Are the meals scanty?"
     "Yes, scanty and bad, especially the coffee."
     "Will you tell me," I said, my wonder growing, "if you really eat three meals a day here, as you used to do on earth?"
     "How strangely you talk!" she answered, in a sharp tone. "I don’t find very much difference between this place and the earth, as you call it, except that I am more uncomfortable here, because everything is so flighty and uncertain."
     "Yes, go on."
     "I never know in the morning who will be sitting next me in the evening. They come and go."
     "And what do you eat?"
     "The same old things—meat and potatoes, and pies and puddings."
     "And you still eat these things?"
     "Why, yes; don’t you?"
     I hardly knew how to reply. Had I told her what my life here really was, she would no more have understood than she would have understood two years ago, when we lived in the same city on earth, had I told her then what my real mental life was. So I said:

     "I have not much appetite."
     She looked at me as if she distrusted me in some way, though why I could not say.
     "Are you still interested in philosophy?" she asked.
     "Yes. Perhaps that is why I don’t get hungry very often."
     "You were always a strange man."
     "I suppose so. But tell me, Mrs. ––––, do you never feel a desire to leave all this behind?"
     "To leave all what behind?"
     "Why boarding-houses and uncongenial people, and meat and potatoes, and pies and puddings, and the shadows of material things in general."
    "What do you mean by ‘the shadows of material things’?"
     "I mean that these viands and pastries, which you eat and do not enjoy, are not real. They have no real existence."
     "Why!" she exclaimed, "Have you become a Christian Scientist?"
     At this I laughed heartily. Was one who denied the reality of astral food in the astral world a Christian Scientist, because the Christian Scientists denied the reality of material food in the material world? The analogy tickled my fancy.
     "Let me convert you to Christian Science, then," I said.

     "No, sir!" was her sharp response. "You never succeeded in convincing me that there was any truth in your various fads and philosophies. And now you tell me that the food I eat is not real."
     I puzzled for a moment, trying to find a way by which the actual facts of her condition could be brought home to the mind of this poor woman. Finally I hit upon the right track.
     "Do you realise," I said, "that you are only dreaming?"
     "What!" she snapped at me.
     "Yes, you are dreaming. All this is a dream—these boarding-houses, et cetera."
     "If that is so, perhaps you would like to wake me up."
     "I certainly should. But you will have to awaken yourself, I fancy. Tell me, what were your ideas about the future life, before you came out here?"
     "What do you mean by out here?"
     "Why, before you died!"
     "But, man, I am not dead!"

     "Of course you are not dead. Nobody is dead. But you certainly understand that you have changed your condition."
     "Yes, I have noticed a change, and a change for the worse."
     "Don’t you remember your last illness?"
     "Yes."
     "And that you passed out?"
     "Yes, if you call it that."
     "You know that you have left your body?"
     She looked down at her form, which appeared as usual, even to its rusty black dress rather out of date.
     "But I still have my body," she said.
     "Then you have not missed the other one?"
     "No."
     "And you don’t know where it is?"
     My amazement was growing deeper and deeper. Here was a phenomenon I had not met before.
     "I suppose," she said, " that they must have buried my body, if you say I left it; but this one is just the same to me."
     "Has it always seemed the same?" I asked, remembering my own experiences when I first came out, my difficulty in adjusting the amount of energy I used to the lightness of my new body.

     "Now you mention it," she said, "I do recall having some trouble a year or two ago. I was quite confused for a long time. I think I must have been delirious."
     "Yes, doubtless you were," I answered. "But tell me, Mrs. ––––, have you no desire to visit heaven?"
     "Why, I always supposed that I should visit heaven when I died; but, as you see, I am not dead."
     "Still," I said, "I can take you to heaven now, perhaps, if you would like to go."
     "Are you joking?"
     "Not at all. Will you come?"
     "Are you certain that I can go there without dying?"
     "But I assure you there are no dead."
     As we went slowly along, for I thought it best not to hurry her too swiftly from one condition to another, I drew a word-picture of the place we were about to visit—the orthodox Christian heaven. I described the happy and loving people who stood in the presence of their Saviour, in the soft radiance from the central Light.
     "Perhaps," I said, "some dwellers in that country see the face of God Himself, as they expected to see it when they were on earth; as for myself, I saw only the Light, and afterwards the figure of the Christ."

     "I have often wished to see Christ," said my companion in an awe-struck voice. "Do you think that I can really see Him?"
     "I think so, if you believe strongly that you will."
     "And what were they doing in heaven when you were there?" she asked.
     "They were worshipping God, and they were happy."
     "I want to be happy," she said; "I have never been very happy."
     "The great thing in heaven," I advised, "is to love all the others. That is what makes them happy. If they loved the face of God only, it would not be quite heaven; for the joy of God is the joy of union."
     Thus, by subtle stages, I led her mind away from astral boarding-houses to the ideas of the orthodox spiritual world, which was probably the only spiritual world which she could understand.
     I spoke of the music—yes, church music, if you like to call it that. I created in her wandering and chaotic mind a fixed desire for sabbath joys and sabbath peace, and the communion of friends in heaven. But for this gradual preparation she could not have adjusted herself to the conditions of that world.
     When we stood in the presence of those who worship God with song and praise, she seemed caught up on a wave of enthusiasm, to feel that at last she had come home.
     I wanted to take leave of her in such a way that she would not come out again to look for me; so I held out my hand in the old way and said good-bye, promising to come again and visit her there, and advising her to stay where she was. I think she will. Heaven has a strong hold on those who yield themselves to its beauty.

LETTER XLIII

LETTER XLI