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“Our allegiance is not to a Creed, not to a Book, not to a Church, but to the Great Spirit of life and His eternal, natural laws.”
The truth about physical mediumship
Though famous mediums are very attached to their own guides, they are always delighted to receive an invitation to visit Hannen Swaffer’s home circle. There seems to be something about the simple wisdom expressed by Silver Birch at this circle that has a magnetic attraction. The corollary is that this guide always has a special welcome for these “servants” and instruments of the spirit. This was patent when he greeted Leslie Flint, the direct-voice medium, and Gordon Higginson, Spiritualists’ National Union president, whose extraordinary clairvoyance has been witnessed by thousands all over Britain.
First Silver Birch greeted Flint, though he asked Higginson to listen, as some of his statements could apply also to him. The guide explained why he always welcomed the presence of mediums:
Crucified from within
“I know, perhaps better than others, the hard roads they have had to travel, the sacrifices they have had to make, despite the exterior they present to those who are unaware of the inner crucifixion that has often happened.
“You know you have around you a fine band of people in our world. They are very wise. Do not be misled because your control speaks with a cockney accent. There is a great soul manifesting through that boy. “The expression that is used at your gatherings is a deliberate one that is designed to break down tensions and to help create the necessary vibrations to ensure the best possible communication shall ensue. This I think you know.” “Yes, of course,” was Flint’s reply.
“Such controls are like the lower rungs on a ladder. Beyond, or above, whichever way you look, there is another evolved being. By this process of transformation or stepping down you get personalities, in the closest possible expression to earth, to fulfil the function of the go-between, the medium in our world as you are the go-between in your world.
“What I would like to say to you is that although it has been a hard road, full of stones, not a bed of roses—” The visitor quickly interposed, “Flints, they are sharper than stones.” “You have never been in any real need. What is necessary for your sustenance has been provided even if you have had to wait until the last second of the last hour. It is part of the spiritual law that those who serve are served. And it is impossible for service to be overlooked.
“But there is a process of acceleration and braking at work. This process of encouragement and holding back has to be regulated to ensure that you follow the path which you have promised will be your pilgrimage on earth.
‘‘So you can look back and see that while there have been difficulties and troubles, you have come through. You may not be rich according to the earthly standard of valuation. But you have been richly blessed when looked at in a spiritual perspective.
“It is given to few to comfort the mourner who has come to the end of his or her tether. This is something the churches cannot do. Their adherents believe they have faith, which sometimes is very tenuous and does not help them when they have experienced bereavement and are separated from the one they love.
Drying tears of sorrow
“The power of the spirit can function through you. As a result, tears of sorrow can be replaced with the calm certitude that knowledge brings. Another soul can be sent out into the world again with a knowledge that all is not blackness and grief but part of a divine purpose. This should sustain you in all those difficult moments when you ask yourself, ‘Is it worthwhile?’ It is worthwhile.” “Yes, I know,” was Flint’s comment.
“If you can mend one broken heart, if you can bring solace to one bereaved person, if you can heal one sick individual, then all is worthwhile. This is the tremendous purpose behind all the effort and planning, part of a great crusade that has its origin in the highest reaches of our world.
“In those spheres evolved beings fulfil the divine plan to ensure that as many as possible in your world shall acquire that knowledge which will enable them to live as they should and derive all the beauty, richness, grandeur and nobility that could be theirs. You are fulfilling yourself and for this you should always be grateful.
Here the guide broke off to welcome Flint’s close friend who accompanied him: “Have you been listening to all this? It has not been easy for you either. But those who have work to do must expect hardships to be part of the trials and tests to ensure their mettle is strong enough for the tasks they are to perform. You are helping far more than you realise. And you still have your own contribution to make in helping others.”
Invited to ask any questions, Flint said: “There seem to be so few physical mediums. I have heard it said that the day of physical mediumship is finished and that today’s conditions are much more suitable for mental mediumship. Surely this movement, as we know and love it, was built by the investigations of physical phenomena by famous scientists. I think it a tragedy that not enough is done to encourage physical mediumship. It does not seem to be easy for people to give time to develop. We sat for years. I think if we could get more physical mediumship it would bring Spiritualism to the fore. It would make the whole world realise the reality of spirit communication.’’
Tempo to blame
‘‘What do you want me to say?’’ asked Silver Birch. “There must be people on the Other Side who want physical mediums,’’ replied Flint. Before answering, the guide asked Higginson, who has given physical séances, for his opinion: “I think the problem may be that it is the rate at which we are living. We do not seem to have that friendliness in small groups which is essential to physical mediumship. I certainly think it is necessary. I wonder what the spirit people want from us here. You know that more than we do. Are we in the age of mental rather than physical mediumship?’’
Silver Birch said: ‘‘I can tell you only what I know from what has been told to me. It is all part of a plan that we have to temper the wind to the shorn lamb. We have to do what we can under the prevailing conditions.
“You talk about the physical phenomena which were given in years gone by to arouse the interest of scientists. This, of course, was a part of the plan that scientists should be met on their own ground, that they should be confronted with phenomena for which there was no physical explanation.
‘‘Look back into history and see that the greatest outpouring of physical mediumship came at a time when the orthodox religions were losing ground as materialistic science gained ascendancy. There were conflicts between religion and science. Religion offered doctrinal teachings for which there was no physical evidence. Science, concerned only with what could be physically demonstrable, rejected all these dogmatic doctrines.
‘‘And so your world was in peril because the complete disappearance of religious thought would be of great harm. It was necessary for materialistic scientists to be challenged at their own level and thus the tremendous outpouring of physical mediumship.
“But now there has been a great change in science. Since then, science itself has moved into the invisible realms and discovered that the source of all energy and life is not to be found on its surface and, indeed, what is known as physical matter in reality owes its existence to an invisible reality which it cannot register.
“The power resident in the minutest particle of an atom can produce, on the one hand, vast devastation and, on the other hand, release a mighty energy to benefit the whole of your world. Science has changed its outlook because what was formerly reckoned to be the indissoluble atom has been dissolved and is no longer its bedrock.
“This necessitates a change in the approach from our world to yours. Thus you have had the rise of spiritual healing which is perfectly suited to the prevailing climate of opinion. It is physical in its demonstration but spiritual in its origin, thus combining both essential elements that your world needs. Besides, it is a very sick world too and needs the healing that can be given.
“This does not mean there will be no physical mediums. It means there will be few. It is necessary still to have this demonstration on the level which challenges those who can view life only through materialistic eves.
“But you have also put your finger on the one important fact, the increasing tempo of your world, with its many distractions, which almost destroys home life as it was in years gone by with the family gathering.
‘‘Now with radio, the television to watch and amusements easy to obtain, the incentives for development, not only in mediumship, but in other pursuits, is receding. How many wish to learn to play the piano, or violin, or any other musical instruments? The demand always is for speed and excitement. Because of this the number prepared to make the necessary sacrifice, and it is great, to become physical mediums is few, especially when the read the history of mediumship and see the trouble with the constant cries of ‘fraud’.’’
Forced on scientists
‘‘I did not see it like that before,’’ said Higginson. ‘‘It was so essential to meet people on a level at which they could learn.’’
“They have moved on,” said the guide. ‘‘The scientific picture of the universe a century ago is vastly different from the one today.’’
‘‘Does this mean that scientists will move away from this materialistic research to a higher level?”
‘‘It will be forced on them by the logic of their own researches as they inevitably inquire into the world of the invisible and its vast untapped potential. As they develop spiritually they will realise how this tremendous force can be harnessed for good.
“Then they will pay increasing attention to the development of these faculties within themselves. What is without is but an expression of what is within. The life force is indivisible. You cannot cut it up into watertight compartments. The life in the atom is in essence the same life as in the human, the animal, the flower or the tree. It is all the one life with its infinite manifestations.”
‘‘Have scientists come to that level of understanding?”
“No, but some have. Oliver Lodge is a good example of a spiritual scientist with an awareness of states of reality existing beyond the surface.’’
Higginson here asked, ‘‘Does this mean that certain pioneers were important in this age to bring about the turning-point towards Spiritualism?’’
“Yes, there is a plan and each plays its part in it. The Great Spirit is infinite, omnipotent and omniscient. Nothing is forgotten and nobody is overlooked. The divine plan is perfect in operation. It was conceived by perfection. It is governed by perfection. There can be no mistakes in the divine plan.
“But as part of that plan all of you are given an element of free will. You have the opportunity of making the right choice and playing your part in furthering the divine plan and sharing in the processes of infinite creation.
“Each soul, wherever he or she may be, has a part to play. It is for them to come to the turning-point, the crisis, the flash point. That will change them so that they have awareness they are spiritual beings functioning through physical bodies. They are not bodies with spirits, but spirits with bodies. The reality is the spirit. The body is the shell, the husk, the machinery, the surface.’’
Higginson asked whether the guide thought the Spiritualist movement was going in the right direction.“I find the picture very confusing’’ He said. “Wherever you go people’s ideas are quite different. How long is it going to take? Which is the way we have to go?”
Silver Birch replied: “If I may speak frankly, sometimes I think our biggest troubles are not those who are without, but it is within - the ones who have a little knowledge can be the stumbling—blocks. Vanity and pride play their baleful parts. Would that the pristine vision which attracted them in the first place did not become so faded and gloomy as time goes on. There is work for all to do.
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