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Letters from a Living Dead Man





The Return


Tell No Man


Guarding the Door


A Cloud on the Mirror


The Promise of Things Untold


The Wand of Will


A Light behind the Veil


The Iron Grip of Matter


Where Souls go up and down.


A Rendezvous in the Fourth Dimension


The Boy–Lionel


The Pattern World


Forms Real and Unreal


A Folio of Paracelsus


A Roman Toga


A Thing to be forgotten


The Second Wife over there


Individual Hells


A little Home in Heaven


The Man who found God


The Leisure of the Soul


The Serpent of Eternity


A Brief for the Defendant


Forbidden Knowledge


A Shadowless World


Circles in the Sand


The Magic Ring


Except ye be as Little Children


An Unexpected Warning


The Sylph and the Magician


A problem in Celestial Mathematics


A Change of Focus


Five Resolutions


The Passing of Lionel


The Beautiful Being


The Hollow Sphere


An Empty China Cup


Where Time is not


The Doctrine of Death


The Celestial Hierarchy


The Darling of the Unseen


A Victim of the Non-existent


A Cloud of Witnesses


The Kingdom Within


The Game of Make-believe


Heirs of Hermes


Only a Song


Invisible Gifts at Yuletide


The Greater Dreamland


A Sermon and a Promise


The April of the World


A Happy Widower


The Archives of the Soul


A Formula for Mastership





Some time ago I started to write to you about certain visits which I had made to the infernal regions; but I was called away, and the letter was not finished. To-night I will take up the story again.
     You must know that there are many hells, and they are mostly of our own making. That is one of those platitudes which are based upon fact.
     Desiring one day to see the particular kind of hell to which a drunkard would be likely to go, I sought that part of the hollow sphere around the world which corresponds to one of those countries where drunkenness is most common. Souls, when they come out, usually remain in the neighbourhood where they have lived, unless there is some strong reason to the contrary.

     I had no difficulty in finding a hell full of drunkards. What do you fancy they were doing? Repenting their sins? Not at all. They were hovering around those places on earth where the fumes of alcohol, and the heavier fumes of those who over-indulge in alcohol, made sickening the atmosphere. It is no wonder that sensitive people dislike the neighbourhood of drinking saloons.
     You would draw back with disgust and refuse to write for me should I tell you all that I saw. One or two instances will suffice.
     I placed myself in a sympathetic and neutral state, so that I could see into both worlds.
     A young man with restless eyes and a troubled face entered one of those “gin palaces” in which gilding and highly polished imitation mahogany tend to impress the miserable wayfarer with the idea that he is enjoying the luxury of the “kingdoms of this world.” The young man’s clothes were threadbare, and his shoes had seen much wear. A stubble of beard was on his chin, for the price of a shave is the price of a drink, and a man takes that which he desires most—when he can get it.

     He was leaning on the bar, drinking a glass of some soul-destroying compound. And close to him, taller than he and bending over him, with its repulsive, bloated, ghastly face pressed close to his, as if to smell his whiskey-tainted breath, was one of the most horrible astral beings which I have seen in this world since I came out. The hands of the creature (and I use that word to suggest its vitality)—the hands of the creature were clutching the young man’s form, one long and naked arm was around his shoulders, the other around his hips. It was literally sucking the liquor-soaked life of its victim, absorbing him, using him, in the successful attempt to enjoy vicariously the passion which death had intensified.
     But was that a creature in hell? you ask. Yes, for I could look into its mind and see its sufferings. For ever (the words “for ever” may be used of that which seems endless) this entity was doomed to crave and crave and never to be satisfied.
     There was in it just enough left of the mind which had made it man—just enough to catch a fitful glimpse now and then of the horror of its own state. It had no desire to escape, but the very consciousness of the impossibility of escape was an added torment. And dread was in the eyes of the thing—dread of the future into which it could not look, but which it felt waiting to drag it into that state of even greater suffering than its present, when the astral particles of its form, unable longer to hold together because of the absence of the unifying soul, would begin to rend and tear what was left of the mind and astral nerves—rending and tearing asunder, in terror and pain, that shape whose end was at hand.

     For only the soul endures, and that which the soul deserts must perish and disintegrate.
     And the young man who leaned on the bar in that gilded palace of gin was filled with a nameless horror and sought to leave the place; but the arms of the thing that was now his master clutched him tighter and tighter, the sodden, vaporous cheek was pressed closer to his, the desire of the vampire creature aroused an answering desire in its victim, and the young man demanded another glass.
     Verily, earth and hell are neighbouring states, and the frontier has never been charted.
     I have seen hells of lust and hells of hatred; hells of untruthfulness, where every object which the wretched dweller tried to grasp turned into something else which was a denial of the thing desired, where truth was mocked eternally and nothing was real, but everything—changing and uncertain as untruthfulness—became its own antithesis.

     I have seen the anguished faces of those not yet resigned to lies, have seen their frantic efforts to clutch reality, which melted in their grasp. For the habit of untruthfulness, when carried into this world of shifting shapes, surrounds the untruthful person with ever-changing images which mock him and elude.
     Would he see the faces of his loved ones? The promise is given, and as the faces appear they turn into grinning furies. Would he grasp in memory the prizes of ambition? They are shown to be but disgrace in another form, and pride becomes weak shame. Would he clasp the hand of friendship? The hand is extended—but in its clutch is a knife which pierces the vitals of the liar without destroying him, and the futile attempt begins again, over and over, until the uneasy conscience is exhausted.
     Beware of deathbed repentance and its after-harvest of morbid memories. It is better to go into eternity with one’s karmic burdens bravely carried upon the back, rather than to slink through the back door of hell in the stockinged-feet of a sorry cowardice.
     If you have sinned, accept the fact with courage and resolve to sin no more; but he who dwells upon his sins in his last hour will live them over and over again in the state beyond the tomb.

     Every act is followed by its inevitable reaction; every cause is accompanied by its own effect, which nothing—save the powerful dynamics of Will itself—can modify; and when Will modifies the effect of an antecedent cause, it is always by setting up a counteracting and more powerful cause than the first—a cause so strong that the other is irresistibly carried along with it, as a great flood can sweep a trickling stream of water from an open hose-pipe, carrying the hose-pipe cause and its trickling effect along with the rushing torrent of its own flood.
     If you recognise the fact that you have sinned, set up good actions more powerful than your sins, and reap the reward for those.
     There is much more to be said about hells, but this is enough for to-night. At another time I may return to the subject.