Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Life to Life

It is I, Harry.

I am in a real dilemma as to just where and how to begin; also what to tell and what to leave untold, especially the latter. Some ideas are so startling they overshoot the mark and lose their potency as stimulation to swifter, surer action, I find myself embarrassed by riches, which perchance you will fail to recognise as such. You may well imagine that the fact you pass these letters on deters us from giving much which we should not hesitate to hand over to you alone. I shall trust your judgment, as I must if I decide to give all I wish to.

I was able, with a teacher's help, to trace the course of my own soul backward several thousands of years; back, in fact, to that lost continent of Atlantis, where I left off, as it opened a vista too absorbing for present needs. I saw no life in detail except those which were spent with any of you there now or those here with me now.

In company with Hughey I traced Tee's life path as far back as my own; also Sister's, B's, W's, Mamma's and Papa's; seeing in addition where we first lived joint lives. What I tried to find out was the general trend of each from its first vital or moral impulse reaching toward the light, as well as what made the fundamental desires of each which carried over from life to life. These differed in most of us, yet drew us back repeatedly to similar environment.

Mamma has been with Papa over and over again, because he supplemented her nature, and gave her congenial environment for work she felt a deep desire to perform. With the intense spirit of the fanatic she has given life after life for her ideal of human liberty. Liberty of mind and soul has been her slogan for a thousand years. Always a woman, she has frequently almost unsexed herself for her dream of liberty—personal, individual liberty even more than civil liberty. Hers has been the effort to be and do whatever she felt in her inmost soul was right and just. She, along with nearly every other member of the family, has suffered martyrdom in dozens of different ways.

That blood-sealed idea seems to lift a soul above selfishness sooner than any other. To give all one has of life and opportunity is doing one's utmost to further Truth as we vision it. It was this dream of freedom and personal liberty which made the Christian martyrs such a power. Mamma has given her life repeatedly, but even giving up at times ceases to be the most effective means of progress. A soul grows vain of that as well as of other things. It gets to be a sort of sanctified habit, and must be eliminated.

Mamma's present faults spring from an inner conviction of being right at bottom every time. A certain balance must be maintained, even in virtue. No soul can endure too much virtue consciously. One is apt to make uncharitable judgments. One can see too many fools and weaklings about. In fact, the habit of martyrdom breeds intolerance. Mamma is learning. Some day she will arrive at the point where a smoker will fail to rouse a spark of criticism, or even of interest. When that day comes she will have learned what she is living for this time. Understand me, it's not the smoke that is bad or good, but what she feels about it, which concerns her. Her attitude is simply a relic of that fanaticism which repeated martyrdom breeds.

She has the vision of what she died for—personal liberty, not for herself alone, but for each and all.

Think it over.


Helen is here. Harry is ready with more information about his travels and study.

It's now Harry. As I said before, I spent much of my time and study on the records of our family, collective as well as individual life history. As the Living Dead Man explained in his letters, the past is preserved in records as indestructible as existing life itself, and one's own past is easily read if the will power is strong enough to magnify the pictures which he, layer upon layer, on the tenuous material used to preserve them.

One may see any section of one's previous existences at will, like a sort of moving picture, plus the revival in one's heart of each emotion which accompanied the circumstance. This is an improvement on the earth's picture shows, which rarely stir my emotion beyond that of interest or amusement, and frequently not even that. Having sketched the manner of becoming conscious of one's own past, I shall now go on with the account.

I was able to follow not only my own past, but that of each member of my family as well as my wife. It was not only a most fascinating and absorbing task, but tremendously inspiring to be able to trace from primitive impulse the development of one's conscious, awakening soul; to note the sort of thing which let in light from time to time; to observe which experiences taught truth, and which only befuddled the mind and reason. This was worth more than anything else I can mention as a comparison.

Once it was the devotion of a dog which taught me what real love might mean; a love without hope of reward, just devotion pure and simple. Another time it was a long prison sentence which taught me what freedom—real freedom—was. That showed me that no one is a prisoner except he shut his own heart away from love and pity and the desire to help.

You have before you a wonderful example of this same idea in Helen Keller, who is a living witness of the freedom of a soul. Imprisoned apparently beyond hope, behind the closed door of sense, eyes and ears gone, one would say all was lost in despair. There is no prison flesh can build which has power to enclose and stifle a soul who knows the Law. Unselfishness is the key unlocking every closed door. Unselfishness is only another name for love.

Why are any unhappy? Simply because they are thinking of themselves first. There is neither destruction nor pain nor failure of any sort that the soul who loves has not the power to dispel. Study that statement, please.

In all my study this one thing stands out as if written in lines of fire. We are our own, and what is more our only destruction. God lies within everyone of us, waiting till we discover His presence; then, like the small child who discovers his father in hiding, with a glad cry we clasp our own. We too are God, which means that within every heart that beats there lies the power to do and be all that any man on earth has ever been and done. What man has done man may do.

It is as though we sat in the dark with an electric switch within arm's reach, which when touched would send a flood of light about us. The energetic, curious person, sitting so, would feel about, expecting to find the means of light, while the inert would sit quietly accepting the dark as inevitable, or lamenting loudly about his desolate condition. Expect the best, then hunt for it with vigour.

Another thing I discovered was how frequently I had made similar mistakes along parallel lines; in short, how slow I was to grasp an idea. I seemed to sink before the same situation over and over again, because I had not the brain to grasp underlying principles.

To illustrate: Two and two sticks of wood equalled four sticks of wood, but two and two apples baffled all my mental equipment. And when it came to two and two acts I sat down in despair and gave it up. This is an illustration merely.

The fundamental principles underlying any law follow life in every form, and what human beings take so long to learn is the fact that the Law exists and acts always the same, through an endless variety of conditions.

The Law is simple, but its aspects are manifold, each aspect appearing to us like another law. We look always at the surface of things. Even people of intellectual development do so. One has to dig but a little way beneath the surface to discover the common root.

I have often watched a fly which had entered a trap by an opening plenty large enough to afford its exit also. Did the fly sit down quietly and figure out how it got in there, and then reason that if it got in it was equally able to get out? Not at all. It flew distractedly about, panic stricken, luring curious companions into its self sought prison.

One may smile at the folly of the fly, but how much farther has the human evolved beyond the fly's reasoning power? Behold the European War? Did any of the rulers of Europe sit down quietly and reason out the situation? Not one! Yet any one of them had intelligence enough to see that a war never yet advanced any nation, either victor or vanquished, any more than any other form of destruction has advanced them—except that what remains is too weak to destroy anything at the moment, and so directs all its energy toward constructive employments.

When hatred has destroyed all it can, the idea of brotherhood flourishes for a time, simply as the normal reaction. The world of men hasn't learned that brotherhood pays, and that hatred and conflict do not. It's a simple law, but they do not see it yet except in isolated groups of individuals.

They only half believe that honesty pays. But some people do—enough to allow commerce to flourish. I sometimes wonder at the colossal stupidity of the human race as a whole. Evolution is painfully slow.

But to return to the topic we started. In records of the past I noted a certain similarity of motive, and a strong desire among us to develop, which accounted for our simultaneously gravitating toward rebirth so often. We are earnest in our desire to know the truth. Conventions have not deterred us from thinking things out for ourselves. Individual independence seems strongly marked. Like the Yankee, we want to know.

Fear does not exist on the mental plane. I wonder why the superstition of fear exists with us at all. It is always an indication of ignorance. You do not fear death now, nor hell, both being transitory states; merely incidents along the path. Why then fear poverty, or sickness, or loss of sight, or property?

One must play the game. The child who hugs his ball within his pocket's shelter, fearing he may lose it if he plays the game, we know is silly. Worse! He robs himself of not only the health exercise brings, but the joy of the game, the exhilaration of contest. He is stupid in the extreme who is unwilling to risk his possession by throwing it into the open, letting someone else share the game his treasure has power to launch.

Let us be simple and enjoy playing life's game, regardless of the possible loss of our ball. The real treasure, of course, is what our souls can extract from the play.

Each must use whatever he is, or has, in as many ways, and for the benefit of as many people, as possible. I don't mean to say one should crowd one's talents or attentions on outsiders, but that the personal gifts or possessions we enjoy must be cultivated, and divided or shared with those whose lives touch ours, and whose need seems to require what we can give.

Hoarding is criminal as well as stupid. It is a sort of colossal selfishness no one can afford to indulge in. Haven't you intelligence enough to realise the truth of that statement?

When you have two chairs, and are able to occupy but one, and there are others with no chair, a very little arithmetic will show that the extra chair in your possession is out of place. To be still more explicit: this house has at least three or four beds too many. Three or four guest beds should be enough in any house. Exceed that number and you are doing someone else, somewhere, a wrong. Those extra beds must be used. Look about you and see who needs them. It is the same with fifty other things. Get them moving. Pass them on. Don't be stupid, please. Give away more clothes, rags, junk of all sorts. Let most of your keepsakes be in the hearts of other people.

I repeat, don't hoard anything from furniture to ideas. The real things are free. Love, service, ideas, landscapes, God; all are or should be common to all.

I talk too long.