April 13th, 1915.
Received by James Padgett
I am here, Prof. Salyards.
Well, I am here as I agreed, and will endeavor to write you my thoughts on the subject: "What may spirits know about the laws of the spirit world after they have been in that world for a short time."
As you know, I have been here for a comparatively short time, and while my studies have been to a considerable extent in the study of these laws, yet, I find that I have limited knowledge of the same, and much of my information has been gathered from other spirits who have lived here a great many years, and who have devoted their study and investigation to these laws.
Well, I want first to say that no spirit, by the mere fact of having shortly before made his advent to this world, has received any much greater knowledge than he had when on earth.
My knowledge of spiritual laws when on earth was not very extensive,
and I found, when I came into the spirit world, that I did not know
much more than I did before I came; and such is the experience of
every spirit. But, as I continued to investigate these matters,
I discovered that my capacity for learning was greatly increased
and that my mind was more plastic and received this knowledge more
easily than when I was a mortal. This is largely due to the fact
that the brain, I mean the mortal brain, is, when compared to what
you might call the spirit brain, a thing of much inferior quality,
and not so capable of learning the cause and effect of phenomena.
I am now undergoing a course of study that will, I have no doubt, give me wonderful information of these laws, so that ultimately I may become what you mortals might call a learned man.
The first and, to me, the most important law that I have learned is that man continues to live in the spirit world without his earthly body. This great law, while to you and to many others is well known and is an established fact, yet, to me, was not known, as I had never had any experience in spiritualism and had never given any study to the subject.
When I arrived in the spirit world, I learned that this law is one of God's truths, and that it is fixed and will never change, for all will survive the change of so-called death.The next great law that I learned is, that no man can of his own power make his condition or position in the spirit world just what and where he would have it be. This is another fixed truth, and one, which many spirits even, do not fully comprehend; for they think, or so express themselves, that all they have to do is to exercise a little will power and they can move from certain conditions. But this is not true, for the law controlling this matter never has any exceptions in its operations.
Man or spirit can, in a way, determine what his destiny may be, but when once fixed by this great power of will which God has conferred on man, he cannot by the exercise of that will change that fixed condition until the laws of compensation have been satisfied; and even then the change is not brought about by the exercise of his will, but by the operation of the laws releasing him from memories and recollections which hold him to the conditions that his life has placed him in. So when men think that they, by the exercise of their own will, can release themselves from a condition which they have made for themselves, they are mistaken.
Many spirits here have this idea, and believe that if they only chose to exercise their vaunted will power, they could relieve themselves of their darkened condition and get into happier conditions. But strange, they never try this and the reason therefore is apparent. They could not if they tried, and will not try because they cannot. And yet they think that when they get ready, they will only have to exercise this will and the change will follow. No, this law is as fixed as any law of this great universe of God.
Of course, while man or spirit cannot by the exercise of his will change his condition, yet, in order to secure that change, the will has to be exercised, because the help which comes from without, and which is absolutely necessary to man, and which causes the change, and will not come unless man exercises the will in the way of desiring and asking for it.
So let not man think that he is his own savior, because he is not; and if the help did not come from without, he would never be saved from the condition which he finds himself in, when he enters the spirit world. You hear in your spirit circles and read in the publications about spiritualism that progression is a law of the spirit world. Well that is true; but it does not mean that a spirit by the mere fact of being in the spirit world necessarily progresses, either mentally or spiritually, for this is not true. Many spirits who have been here for years are in no better condition than when they first became spirits.
All progression depends upon the help that comes from outside the mind or soul of man. Of course when this help comes, man has to cooperate, but without this help there would be nothing with which to cooperate, and no progress could possibly be made. Many of the spiritualists make this great mistake when they speak or write on this subject. But let them know, that if a man depends upon his own powers, exclusively, he will never progress. And this law does not apply only to the soul's progress, of which you have heard us speak so often, but to the progress of the mere mind, and also to what might be called the purely moral qualities. My observation, and my information from the other spirits that I have mentioned, confirms the truth of what I have said: man, of himself, cannot elevate himself either mentally or morally, and the sooner he learns that fact, the better for him.
Another law of the spirit world is that when a spirit once commences
to progress, that progress increases in geometrical progression,
as we used to say when teaching on earth.
Just as soon as the light breaks into a man's soul or mind, and he commences to see that there is a way for him to reach higher things, and make greater expansion of either his mind or soul, he will find that his desire to progress will increase as that progression continues, and with that desire will come help in such abundance that it will be limited only by the desire of the spirit. His will then becomes a great force in his success in progressing and working in conjunction with the help that calls it into operation. It becomes a wonderful thing of power and irresistible force.
This progression may be illustrated by the history of the snowball, which started rolling from the top of a hill. As it continues its descent; not only does its velocity increase, but it continually enlarges its form and body by the outside snow attaching itself to the ball. So with the mind or soul of a spirit: as it ascends, it not only becomes more rapid in its flight, but it meets this outside help that I speak of, which help attaches itself to the spirit, and, as it were, becomes a part of it.
So you see that the great problem is to make the start; and this principle will apply to mortals as well as to spirits, because, if the start be made on earth, the mere fact of becoming a spirit will not halt or in any way interfere with the progress of the soul of that spirit. Of course, this means that a correct start be made. If the start be a false one or based on things other than the truth, instead of progress continuing when the man becomes a spirit, there may have to be a retracing of the way, and a new start made, in order to get on the right road.
And this applies to the progress of the mind as well as to the progress of the soul. The mind of a mortal learns many things which seem to that mind to be the truth, and which, in its opinion, must lead to progress and greater knowledge. But when the earth life gives place to the spirit life, that mind may find that its basis of knowledge were all wrong, and that to continue in the way that it had been moving would lead to increased error; and consequently, a new start must be made. And frequently, the retracing of that mind over the course that it had followed, and the elimination of errors that it had embraced, is more difficult and takes a longer time to accomplish, than the learning of the truth does after the mind makes its correct start.
So sometimes the mind of great learning (according to the standards of earthly learning) is more harmful, and retards more the progress of that man in the ways and acquirements of truth, than does the mind that is, as you might say, a blank; that is, without preconceived ideas of what the truth is on a particular subject.
This unfortunate experience exists to a greater extent in matters pertaining to religion than to any other matters, because the ideas and convictions which are taught and possessed of these religious matters affect innumerably more mortals than do ideas and convictions in reference to any other matters.
A spirit who is filled with these erroneous beliefs, that may have been taught him from his mortal childhood, and fostered and fed upon by him until he becomes a spirit, is, of all the inhabitants of this world, the most difficult to teach and convince of the truths pertaining to religious matters. It is much easier to teach the agnostic, or even the infidel, of these truths, than the hide-bound believer in the dogmas and creeds of the church.
So, I say, let the minds of mortals be opened to the teachings of the truth, and even if they are convinced that what they believe is the truth, yet let not that belief stand in the way of them being able to see the truth, when it actually is presented to them.
Another law is that not all who know that life in the spirit
world is continuous are certain that continuous life means immortality.
I mean by this, that the mere fact of living as a spirit does not
of itself prove that such spirit is immortal.
This is a subject that spirits discuss as much as do mortals, and it is just as much a question of uncertainty, as is the immortality of the soul as taught among mortals, now and for all ages past.
While men know that the death of the body does not mean the death of the spirit, and that such spirit, which is the real man, continues to live with all its qualities of a spiritual nature, yet there has never been any proof presented to man that that spirit will live for all eternity, or, in other words, that it is immortal.
I say this, because I have read the histories and beliefs of most of the civilized, and some not called civilized, nations of the world. And I was not able to find in all my readings that it was ever demonstrated that man is immortal. Of course, many pagan and sacred writers taught this, but their statements were all based on belief and nothing more; and, so I say, immortality has never to mortals become demonstrated as a fact.
In the spirit world, the spirits of not only the lower spheres, but those of the higher intellectual or moral spheres, are still debating the question among themselves. I am informed that there are some who lived on earth many centuries ago, and who have become exceedingly wise and learned in the knowledge of the laws of the universe, and have become so free from the sins and errors of their earth life that they may be called perfect men, and yet they do not know that they are immortal. Many of them think that they are just such men or spirits as were they who were represented by Adam and Eve; they know not that they are any less liable to death than were the ones just mentioned. And hence immortality is a thing which may or may not exist for spirits as well as for mortals.
I know that many of your spiritualist friends on earth claim that the mere fact that spiritualism has demonstrated the continuity of life, establishes the fact of immortality. But a few moments consideration will show you the falsity of this reasoning.
Change is the law eternal, both on earth and in the spirit world,
and nothing exists the same for any length of time; and in the succession
of these changes, how can it be said that in the future, far or
near, changes may not come by which the existence of the spirit
- the ego of man - may be ended, and that ego take some other form
or enter into some other condition, so that it will not be the same
ego, and not the same spirit which is now living as a demonstration
of the continuity of life? And so, many spirits, as well as mortals,
do not know what is necessary to obtain, to have the certain knowledge
But many other spirits know that there is an immortality for spirits who choose to seek that immortality in the way that God in his great wisdom and providence has provided. I will not discuss this phase of immortality now, but will at some later time.
There is another law, which enables spirits to become, by the mere operation of their natural affections and loves, pure and free from the consequences and evils of their mortal lives, and again become perfect, like the first parents before the fall.
This does not mean that the law of compensation does not operate to the fullest, and that it does not demand the last farthing, because such is the exactness in the operation of this law, that no spirit is released from its penalties, until he has satisfied the law.
As you believe, and as many other mortals believe, a man's punishment for the sins committed by him on earth are inflicted by his conscience and memories. There is no special punishment inflicted by God on any particular man, but the law of punishment operates alike on every man. If the facts that brings that punishment into operation are the same, that punishment will be the same, no matter whether the object of its infliction be the same or different persons. So you see, it cannot be escaped, on any ground of special dispensation, so long as the facts which call for its operation exist, and the conscience and memories of the spirit realize these facts.
When a spirit first enters the spirit life it does not necessarily feel the scourging of these memories, and this is the reason why you will so often hear the spirit, who has so recently left his mortal life, assure his friends or sorrowing relatives at the public seances that he is very happy, and wouldn't be again in the earth life, and similar assurances. But after a little while, memory commences to work, as the soul is awakened, and then never ceases until the penalties are paid. I don't mean that the spirit is, necessarily, continuously in a condition of torment, but substantially that, and relief does not come until these memories cease their awful lashings. Some spirits live here a great number of years before they receive this relief; while others more quickly obtain it.
The greatest cause which operates to relieve these spirits of these
memories is love. I now mean the natural love; and this love embraces
many qualities, such as remorse and sorrow, and the desire to make
amends for injuries done, etc. Until a spirit's love is awakened,
none of these feelings come to him. He cannot possibly feel remorse
or regret or the desire to atone, until love, no matter how slight,
comes into his heart. He may not realize just what the cause of
these feelings may be, but it is love just the same.
Well, as these various feelings operate, and he acts in accordance with them, a memory here and there will leave him, never to return; and as these memories in turn leave him, his sufferings become less, and after awhile, when they have all left him, he becomes free from the law, and it, as to him, becomes extinct. But it must not be understood that this is a work of quick operation, for it may be years - long, weary years of suffering - before he becomes thus free and once more a spirit without sin or these memories. This is the way the great law of compensation is satisfied; it cannot be avoided, but all its demands must be met, until sin and error are eradicated, and the soul returned to a pure state.
But this gradual release from these penalties does not mean that a spirit is progressing in his journey to the higher and brighter spheres; because even without this torture and torment, he may still remain stationary as to the development of his higher nature, mental and moral. But when he has been relieved of these sufferings, he is then in a condition to start towards the progression that I have spoken of.
As you are tired, I will continue the balance of my discourse when I write again.
With all my love I am,
Your true friend and professor,
Joseph H. Salyards.
NOTE: The New Market Polytechnic Institute was
started in 1870 by Joseph Salyards and Benjamin Benton