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Eternity:


 

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 XXII

THE SERPENT OF ETERNITY

I WANT to talk to you to-night about eternity. Until I came out, I never had a grasp on that problem. I thought only in terms of months and years and centuries; now I see the full sweep of the circle. The comings out and the goings into matter are no more than the systole and the diastole of the ego-heart; and, speaking from the standpoint of eternity, they are relatively as brief. To you a lifetime is a long time. It used to seem so to me, but it does not seem so now.
   People are always saying, “If I had my life to live over, I would do so and so.” Now, no man has any particular life to live over, any more than the heart can go back and beat over again the beat of the second previous; but every man has his next life to prepare for. Suppose you have made a botch of your existence. Most men have, viewed from the standpoint of their highest ideal; but every man who can think must have assimilated some experience which he can carry over with him. He may not, on coming out into the sunlight of another life on earth, be able to remember the details of his former experience, though some men can recall them by a sufficient training and a fixed will; but the tendencies of any given life, the unexplained impulses and desires, are in nearly all cases brought over.

   You should get away from the mental habit of regarding your present life as the only one, get rid of the idea that the life you expect to lead on this side, after your death, is to be an endless existence in one state. You could no more endure such an endless existence in the subtle matter of the inner world than you could endure to live forever in the gross matter in which you are now encased. You would weary of it. You could not support it.
   Do get this idea of rhythm into your brain. All beings are subject to the law of rhythm, even the gods,—though in a greater way than ourselves, with longer periods of flux and reflux.
   I did not want to leave the earth, I fought against it until the last; but now I see that my coming out was inevitable because of the conditions. Had I begun earlier I might have provisioned my craft for a longer cruise; but when the coal and water had run out I had to make port.

   It is possible to provision even a small life-craft for a longer voyage than the allotted three-score years and ten; but one must economise the coal and not waste the water. There are some who will understand that water is the fluid of life.
   Many persons resent the idea that the life after death is not eternal, a never-ending progression in spiritual realms; though few who so object have much of an idea what they mean when they talk of spiritual realms.
   Life everlasting is possible to all souls—yes; but it is not possible to go on forever in one direction. Evolution is a curve. Eternity is a circle, a serpent that swallows its own tail. Until you are willing to go in and out of dense matter, you will never learn to transcend matter. There are those who can stay in or out at will, and, relatively speaking, as long as they choose; but they are never those who shrink from either form of life.
   I used to shrink from what I called death. There are those on this side who shrink from what they call death. Do you know what they call death? It is rebirth into the world. Yes, even so.

   There are many here who are as ignorant of rhythm as most people are on your side. I have met men and women who did not even know that they would go back to the earth again, who talked of the “great change” as the men of earth talk of dying, and of all that lay beyond as “unproved and unprovable.” It would be tragic if it were not so absurd.
   When I knew that I had to die I determined to carry with me memory, philosophy, and reason.
   Now I want to say something that will perhaps surprise you. There is a man who wrote a book called The Law of Psychic Phenomena, and in that book he said certain things of those two parts of the mind which he called the subjective and the objective. He said that the subjective mind was incapable of inductive reasoning, that the subjective mind would accept any premise given it by the objective mind, and would reason from that premise with matchless logic; but that it could not go behind the premise, that it could not reason backwards.
   Now, remember that in this form of matter where I am men are living principally a subjective life, as men on earth live principally an objective life. These people here, being in the subjective, reason from the premises already given them during their objective or earth existence. That is why most of those who last lived in the so-called Western lands, where the idea of rhythm or rebirth is unpopular, came out here with the fixed idea that they would not go back into earth life. Hence most of them still reason from that premise.

   Do you not understand that what you believe you are going to be out here is largely determinative of what you will be. Those who do not believe in rebirth cannot forever escape the rhythm of rebirth; but they hold to their belief until the tide of rhythm sweeps them along with it and forces them into gross matter again, into which they go quite unprepared, carrying with them almost no memory of their life out here. They carried out here the memory of the earth life because they expected so to carry it.
   Many Orientals who have always believed in rebirth remember their former lives, because they expected to remember them.
   Yes, when I realised that I had to leave the earth I laid a spell upon myself. I determined to remember through both the going out and the subsequent coming in. Of course I cannot swear now to remember everything when I come into heavy matter again; but I am determined to do so if possible; and I shall succeed to some extent if I do not get the wrong mother. I intend to take great care on that point, and to choose a mother who is familiar with the idea of rebirth. If possible, I want to choose a mother who actually knew me in my last life as ——, and who, if I shall announce in childhood that I am that same —— whom she knew when a young girl, will not chide me and drive me back into myself with her doubts.

   I believe that many children carry over into earth life memories of their lives out here, but that those memories are afterwards lost by reason of the suggestion constantly given to children that they are newly created, “fresh from the hand of God,” etc., etc.
   Eternity is indeed long, and there are more things on earth and heaven than are dreamed of in the philosophy of the average teacher of children.
   If you could only get hold of the idea of immortal life and cling to it! If you could realise yourself as being without beginning and without end, then you might commence to do things worthwhile. It is a wonderful consciousness that consciousness of eternity. Small troubles seem indeed small to him who thinks of himself in the terms of a million years. You may make the figure a billion, or whatever you like, but the idea is the same. No man can grasp the idea of a million years, or a million dollars, or a million of anything; the figure is merely a symbol for a great quantity, whether it be years or gold pieces. The idea cannot be fixed; there will always be something that escapes.  No millionaire knows exactly what he is worth at any given time; for there is always interest to be counted, and the value is a shifting one. It is so with immortality. Do not think of yourself as having lived a million years, or a trillion years, but as truly immortal, without beginning or end. The man who knows himself to be rich is richer than the man who says that he has a certain amount of money, be the amount large or small. So rest in the consciousness of eternity and work in the consciousness of eternity.
   That is all for to-night.

LETTER XXIII

LETTER XXI