Life After Death
The Sleep State - extract from “The Life Elysian.”
This extract is from the book “The Life Elysian” by R.J. Lees and it has a portion of a chapter on the sleep state.
Chapter VI THE BONDAGE OF SIN
I had been visiting the sleep state in company with Zecartus, who was executing a commission for Myhanene. The duty being discharged, we were leisurely returning and speaking of certain interesting features of our visit, when I was seized with a curious desire to remain. There was no decisive reason for this, so far as, I could understand, and in the uncertainty I referred the matter to my friend.
He paused for an instant and listened as one who caught faint sounds from a distance. Then having satisfied himself, replied:
“Someone is trying to find you, but his sympathy is so feeble he is unable to reach you of himself.”
“Who is it?” I inquired.
“I cannot say for the instant, but the connection is being established by which I shall be able to find out. Yes. It is your father.”
“My father!” I exclaimed. “You are right, Zecartus, there, is such slight sympathy between us that I almost wonder he should remember me.”
“It is not a matter of great importance upon which he wishes to see you, or, apart from his estrangement, his wish would have, reached you in more definite form. Will you answer it?”
“Certainly I will. Where is he? How shall we reach him?”
“His call and desire are very half-hearted. It is one of those cases frequently to be met with, where the higher nature recognizes an offence which will penalize the soul, and presses on the lower nature the advisability of submission. The man is at war with, himself, the earth-side being strong in resentment, but the spiritual struggles for the victory. Here cautious action on our part is necessary, that the higher nature may be encouraged and supported without the lower finding any occasion for vaunting itself.”
“I scarcely understand you.”
“Perhaps not; your experience of this sleep-state conflict between the two natures is not yet a very large one. It is a condition in which a man is truly divided against himself, and the issue has to be left almost entirely to his own free will. We may extend some slight assistance where the will is definitely in favour of improvement, and the weight of character too heavy for the better resolution. Sin, however, is both crafty and cunning, and though it may lose in a present struggle, will find occasion, if possible, to retaliate, and by taunting insinuations afterwards accomplish more than had been lost. it is for this reason that caution is necessary, and until we understand your father better, I should advise that we simply ascertain the locality he visits, then allow him to find us rather than that we go straight to him.”
“I will take your counsel. Please act for me as you deem best.”
With his greater knowledge and wider resources my friend quickly grasped the situation, and we were soon as near to my father as Zecartus deemed advisable.
“You may now send an answering thought to his wish to see you,” said my counsellor; “it will readily reach him, and by his quick or tardy response we shall be able to ascertain how the struggle goes.”
I did as desired, and as the thought envelope sped towards its destination I found in what direction I might look for my visitor’s approach.
Someone will wish to ask with what feelings I anticipated the meeting in the light of what has been said concerning the change of relationship. I reply that my use of the paternal appellation is solely for the sake of convenience; and would again call to remembrance that the kinship of souls is one of sympathy - blood is nonexistent in Paradise - and the closeness of the bond is determined by the strength and purity of the affection. In the present instance the wish for an interview came to me in such marked and blurred indecision that had it not been for the assistance of Zecartus I should have failed to read it. Under these circumstances I was unable to look forward to our meeting with any great amount of pleasure. I would it had been otherwise, and my response to the request for an interview was largely in the hope that something might result to his spiritual benefit and uplifting.
“He does not run to meet you,” my companion remarked as the reply to my intimation tarried.
“That is one of the last things I should expect,” I answered.
“But you must not estimate any man’s sleep condition by what you know of his earth life.1 Experience teaches me that most unexpected combinations are rather the rule than otherwise here. In the body the full force of the lower passions may have unrestricted control, but in this temporary discarnate state unsuspected spiritual qualities may rise into operation, and with the assistance of some little outside influence gain so great an ascendency as to gradually overcome the despotism of the flesh. I always hope to find these latent signs upon which to work, and if I may be so successful in this instance our visit may possibly be rewarded with most welcome results.”
“God grant it may be so,” I replied fervently, “and that even beyond your own generous anticipation. But that will soon be known now, for yonder he comes.”
My companion had already established a recognition, for I noticed his closely-knit brow, indicative of the exercise of his marvellous power of analysing and dissecting character, the result of which I should have to wait for, he being singularly uncommunicative at such times. For myself, I was assured, by familiar indications, that my father was not in his easiest and most affable mood, but that might be due to the presence of two companions who appeared doubtfully welcome, but pressing in their attentions. I moved to meet them, hoping a cheery greeting would dispel the cloud, but Zecartus restrained me.
“Wisdom counsels your patience,” he said. “If you would help him you must not speak first.”
I did not understand why this should be so, but as there was no time for explanations, I yielded to his wish.
The three were passing by this time, my father walking between the two, who were intent on keeping his attention. I had perceived no indication of his consciousness of my presence, and concluded that he would pass without speaking, when politely laying one hand apologetically upon the arm of each friend, he coolly stepped back and towards me.
“Frederic,” he said with his usual punctilious formality and composure, as if we had parted company only half an hour previously, “I am not sorry to meet you again, since I sometimes think you and I did not altogether understand each other. I may, perhaps, have been a trifle too exacting - mark me, I don’t say I was, but I may, have been - and you were always so unpardonably obdurate. Still, I am willing to try and forget your conduct, as you are dead, and would like to think that you have accepted my apologies if you imagine that any are due.”
“Whatever has been doubtful or undesirable between us, sir, think will be far better mutually forgotten and forgiven, than recalled and explained. That is what I desire, and if you will consent I shall be more than satisfied.”
“Certainly - certainly! Then we will consider everything in the past as amicably settled. But, mind me, I make no admission of culpability on my part; I simply wish to show my generosity, towards your stubborn and intolerable defiance of my wishes. I only apologize as an evidence of that generosity, should your highty-tightyness carry your conscience so far as to consider I have committed any offence.”
“I have made no such accusation, sir, nor have any desire to do so.”
“But you insinuate that you could do so.”
“Indeed! I have no wish to insinuate anything. I express no opinion whatever as to whether there is anything to be forgiven between us or not, but if you think there may possibly be such, I am as freely willing to forget and forgive as I hope to be forgiven.”
“Very well. Let that suffice. I am also willing to forgive all your many shortcomings and offences.” Then he added with a very genuine touch of regret, “But it troubles me to think I shall forget all this when I wake up.”
Why should this thought trouble him if there was no consciousness of culpability? In the reply to this question lies the weighty lesson of my illustration. I record it as read by the trained eyes of Zecartus the natural first-fruits of my father’s sin.
His life commenced with a fair heritage of natural gifts. To make his way in the world he had a resolute will, clear foresight, an intuitive sense of an advantage, with energy and promptitude to secure it. Such was his equipment, together with the responsibility for its right or wrong employment.
He rapidly established a reputation for being a cool, shrewd, clearheaded and reliable man of business, with a discreet reserve and a faculty for probing and exploiting others, without allowing himself or his business to be known.
It is only when he became the head of a household that we are able to form any definite idea of the way his character unfolded from the evidence of results produced. At that time he laid it down as an inflexible rule that the obligations of wife and children were comprised in absolute and immediate obedience; and the duties of husband and father were to govern, protect, educate with a firm hand. His attitude towards the rest of humanity was somewhat similar, tempered, of course, as necessity compelled.
The germ of this was not far to seek. At the outset he fell into the error I have already mentioned - of condoning in self that which he would reprobate in others. It is the one weakness to which the flesh is more prone, perhaps, than any other - so natural in its inception, but fearfully fatal in its result. It is a trait of character far too frequently admired in the social and commercial world, and not looked upon with the disfavour it merits among professors of religion. If a man is successful, strong, and able to conform to certain elastic requisitions, society and religion are quite willing not to be too inquisitive into details.
But behind all this; when character alone is the accepted standard, and the soul finds its place by the law of spiritual attraction! Here the process of selection is entirely reversed. Superficial appearances are valueless. Inherent qualities now take rank, and fair exteriors are stripped off that the heart of the life may be inspected. It is a searching ordeal, automatic and mechanical. There is no bribery, no favouritism, no mistake, no inadvertence, no possible escape! True character is brought into legitimate and natural prominence, and working back from the result, the whole course of development is laid open until the source from which it springs is plainly visible.
This source in my father’s case was but a trivial matter - first wrongs are seldom great - but it placed a preferential and deliberate division between Self and others. The trend of relationship between the two was henceforth oblique rather than vertical, and the estrangement widened as growth went on.
With the first deflection from rectitude the soul also loses its true sense of uprightness, and the future estimate of morality will be always along the line of its own procedure. Having eyes to see, it fails to see or understand, because the divine standard has been supplanted. It has deliberately chosen the evil and forsaken the good; it is therefore left alone to the consequences.
Am I making too much of a trifling error? How strange, when I was suspected of treating sin too leniently!
The estimate of the soul’s value according to Christ is greater than that of the whole world. If this is so, will not the balances of its exchange be made to turn upon a diamond point? The mustard-tree is potential in the mustard-seed, so also is hell potential in the expansion of a single act deliberately performed.
This is what Zecartus saw written legibly upon the soul of my father, and in the expressed regret that the memory of my forgiveness would be lost in his waking, my friend found an opportunity to intervene and perhaps open a way of escape.
“If you will permit me,” he volunteered, “I think it possible I might help you to remember.”
“And who, sir, may you be, that I should place myself under your unknown control?”
“Zecartus is able to do all he offers, I am convinced,” I replied, “and if you are honest in your wish to remember what has passed between us -”
“Honest! What do you mean, sir? It is late in the day, and things are reaching a pretty pass when my own son doubts my honesty.”
“I did not doubt you, and regret using the word. I should have said if you desire to remember.”
“That is better; but for you to doubt my honesty would be a liberty I could never pardon. Now, sir,” turning to Zecartus, “on my son’s guarantee I am willing to accept your assistance. How shall we proceed?”
“We will return with you when you awake.”
“That will not be for the present,” he replied. “I have other matters to attend to first. Where shall I see you?”
“You will find us on the way when you return.”
With that understanding he left us, and Zecartus made me acquainted with the facts I have referred to above.
We had left the sleep state behind2, and were close to my old home before my father rejoined us.
“Don’t you find it somewhat chilly?” he inquired, with more affability than he had yet displayed, and as he spoke he added a sympathetic shiver to the query.
“The earth temperature always strikes me as being so,” replied my companion. “I do not notice it to be more so than usual.”
“I do - and much more so than usual.”
“l am glad to hear you say so. It indicates a degree of spiritual sensitiveness for which I am most sincerely thankful. ”
“Now no preaching, young man; no preaching if you are to go with me. I hate preaching and canting talk as I hate the Devil.”
“Your wish shall be respected. I will confine my endeavours to helping you to remember that whatever may have passed between yourself and son has been fully and freely forgiven on both sides.”
“That is, if my son considers there is anything on his part to forgive, which - mind you - I don’t admit.”
“So I understand; though it would be a thousand times better for you if you did admit it. But, here we are. Now, as you retake possession of your body make a firm resolve to remember all that has passed, and I will do my best to assist you.”
By this time the spiritual was gradually being absorbed into the natural body in the process of waking, and Zecartus surrounded both with a sympathetic atmosphere in the effort he had promised. The body turned, stretched, and then my father started up exclaiming:
“Eh! What? Remember what?”
It was easy to see the experiment had failed. He had simply awakened from a troubled dream, the purport of which had been lost. Too closely associated with earth and its material interests, he could not, not, at will, retain spiritual memories, even with the help at his disposal.
This portion is particularly intersesting, in that it covers the issue of trying to recall what happened, and there is a suggestion that the more spiritual a person, the greater their chance of some recall.
1 There is also a mention here of the difference in behaviour in the sleep state as compared with the wake condition, and the point is made that a person may behave more spirirtually, rather than less, in the sleep state.
2 This infers that the "sleep state" has a defined locality. That is the subject of another extract, from a different source.