Life Beyond (18)
Description of the Life Beyond from Raymond Lodge.
Popular belief is that researchers like Oliver Lodge and Conan Doyle only became interested in Spiritualism when they lost their sons Raymond and Kingsley in the First World War. This is far from the truth. Sir Oliver started psychical research in 1883, and Sir Arthur in 1885 when living in Southsea, when at the same time he started writing his Sherlock Holmes stories.. He had never been to London then, or visited Baker Street. Lodge and Doyle talked about Spiritualism when they met for the first time while they were both waiting to be knighted by Queen Victoria.
Has anyone actually read ‘Raymond” recently? Apart from the remark about cigars and whiskey and sodas being available on the other side, no one knows much else about the book. But it was after reading it when it was first published in 1916 that Sir Alister Hardy developed an interest in telepathy, psychical research and religious experiences, which became a second fiddle to his professional career as a professor of Zoology.
The book ‘Raymond’ is divided into three parts. The first records Raymond’s written communications, letters from the battlefield in France where he was serving with other young men. The second part contains his communications from the Other Side, after he was killed by a shell fragment on September 14th, 1915. The first message from him on the other side came through eleven days later. The third section of the book is Sir Oliver’s discussion of life after death and the evidence of survival, and he continued to investigate and write on the subject for the next twenty-five years.
There is much evidential information of Raymond’s survival in the second part of the book, but for this series I have just selected his personal experiences and descriptions of the Other Side taken from the various sittings with different mediums by members of his family. Because descriptions like these are not so evidential, they are often discounted or ignored. But when we compare one account with another, the composite picture of the Other Side does give us a coherent idea of what to expect when we die. There may be differences between the accounts, but who comes back from a visit to a foreign country with exactly the same impressions as other travellers who have been there before?
I have condensed and edited relevant passages from the second section of the book, presenting them in dialogue format for the most part, in order to clarify and illustrate the direct contact possible between this world and the next. The afterlife is not some distant place but close to us here and now.
Mrs Lodge had a sitting with Mrs Leonard on September 25th, 1915, and Raymond came through with the brief message:- ‘Tell father I have met some friends of his.’ When asked to give names, he said ‘Myers’ [which would have been Frederic Myers the scholar, poet and researcher, who had died in 1901]. The next message came on the 27th of September, when Sir Oliver sat with Mrs Leonard. The medium told him that Raymond was saying that ‘he finds it difficult, but he has got so many kind friends helping him. He didn’t think when he waked up first that he was going to be happy, but now he is and as he is a little more ready he has got a great deal of work to do.’
“I almost wonder, shall I be fit and able to do it. They tell me I shall. I have instructors and teachers with me. …… I have met hundreds of friends. I don’t know them all. I have met many who tell me that, a little later, they will explain why they are helping me. I feel I have got two fathers now. I don’t feel I have lost one and got another; I have got both. I have got my old one, and another too – a pro tem. father [probably his grandfather, mentioned at a later sitting].”
‘There is a weight gone off his mind the last day or two; he feels brighter and lighter and happier altogether, the last few days. There was confusion at first. He could not get his bearings, didn’t seem to know where he was. But he says “I think I was very fortunate; it was not very long before it was explained to me where I was.”’
Raymond continued to communicate over the next few months through different mediums in and around London, giving a great deal of evidential information, and eventually started to offer lengthier descriptions of his present environment. When Raymond’s brother Lionel had a sitting with Mrs Leonard on November 17, 1915, the following conversation took place.
MRS. LEONARD [sometimes narrating through Feda, her guide, and sometimes speaking in the first person as Raymond]
- Where he is, walls appear transparent to him now. The great thing that made him reconciled to his new surroundings was that things appear so solid and substantial. The first idea upon waking up was, I suppose, of what they call passing over. It was only for a second or two, as you count time, that it seemed a shadowy vague place, everything vapoury and vague. He had that feeling about it. The first person to meet him was Grandfather. And others then, some of whom he had only heard about. They all appeared to be so solid, that he could scarcely believe that he had passed over.
He lives in a house – a house build of bricks – and there are trees and flowers, and the ground is solid. And if you kneel down in the mud, apparently you get your clothes soiled.
RAYMOND - The thing I don’t understand yet is that the night doesn’t follow the day here, as it did on the earth plane.
MRS LEONARD - It seems to get dark sometimes, when he would like it to be dark, but the time in between light and dark is not always the same.
RAYMOND - What I am worrying about is, how it’s made, of what it is composed. I have not found out yet, but I’ve got a theory. It is not an original idea of my own; I was helped to it by words let drop here and there.
People who think everything is created by thought are wrong. I thought that for a little time, that one’s thoughts formed the buildings and the flowers and trees and solid ground; but there is more than that. There is something always rising from the earth plane – something chemical in form. As it rises to ours, it goes through various changes and solidifies on our plane. Of course I am only speaking of where I am now.
MRS LEONARD - He feels sure that it is something given off from the earth, that makes the solid trees and flowers, etc. He does not know any more. He is making a study of this but it takes a good long time.
LIONEL - I should like to know whether he can get into touch with anybody on earth?
MRS LEONARD - Not always. He does not wish to see anybody unless they are going to be brought to him.
RAYMOND - I am told that I can meet anyone at any time that I want to; there is no difficulty in the way of it. That is what makes it such a jolly fine place to live in.
LIONEL - Can he help people here?
MRS LEONARD - That is part of his work, but there are others doing that; the greatest amount of his work is still at the war.
RAYMOND - I’ve been home – only likely I’ve been home - but my actual work is at the war.
MRS LEONARD He has something to do with father, though his work still lies at the war, helping on poor chaps literally shot into the spirit world.
LIONEL - Can you see ahead at all?
MRS LEONARD - He thinks sometimes that he can, but it’s not easy to predict.
RAYMOND - I don’t think that I really know any more than when on earth.
LIONEL - Can you tell anything about how the war is going on?
[A brief discussion of events in the progress of the war follows]
RAYMOND - Some of the piffling things I used to be interested in, I have forgotten all about. There is such a lot to be interested in here. I realise the seriousness sometimes of this war….It is like watching a most interesting race or game gradually developing before you. I am doing work in it, which is not so interesting as watching.
LIONEL - Have you any message for home?
MRS LEONARD - Of course love to his mother and to all, specially to mother. H. is doing well [Honor, his sister].
LIONEL - In what way?
MRS LEONARD - H. is helping him in a psychic way; she makes it easy for him. He doesn’t think he need tell father anything, he is so certain in himself, meaning Raymond, in spite of silly mistakes. It disappoints him. We must separate out the good from the bad (means of communication) and not try more than one form. Not the jigger (a type of ouija board). He didn’t like the jigger. He thinks he can work the table.
LIONEL - Would you tell me how I could help in any way?
MRS LEONARD - Just go very easily, only let one person speak, as he has said before. It can be Honor or Lionel. Settle on one person to put the questions, the different sound of voices confuses him, and he mixes it up with questions from another’s thoughts. In time he hopes it will be not so difficult. He wouldn’t give up, he loves it. Don’t try more than twice a week, perhaps only once a week. Try to keep the same times always, and to the same day if possible. He is going.
RAYMOND - Give my love to them all. Tell them I am very happy. Very well, and plenty to do, and intensely interested. I did suffer from shock at first, but I’m extremely happy now. I’m off.
Mrs Lodge sits with Mrs Leonard, Friday, November 26, 1915.
RAYMOND - Mother darling, I am so happy, and so much more so because you are.
MRS LODGE - We were interested in hearing about his clothes and things; we can’t think how he gets them.
RAYMOND - They are all manufactured. Can you fancy you see me in white robes? Mind, I didn’t care for them at first, and I wouldn’t wear them. Just like a fellow gone to a country where there is a not climate – an ignorant fellow, not knowing what he is going to; it’s just like that. He may make up his mind to wear his own clothes a little while, but he will soon be dressing like the natives.
MRS LEONARD - He was allowed to have earth clothes here until he got acclimatized; they let him; they didn’t force him
RICHMOND - I don’t think I will ever be able to make the boys see me in white robes. Mother, don’t go doing too much.
MRS LODGE - I am very strong.
RAYMOND - You think you are, but you tire yourself out too much. It troubles me.
MRS LODGE - Yes, but I should be quite glad to come over there, if I could come quickly, even though I am so happy here, and I don’t want to leave people.
RAYMOND - Don’t you think I would be glad to have you here! If you do what I say, you will come over when the time comes – quick, sharp.
Oliver Lodge sat with Mrs Leonard again on December 3rd, 1915.
RAYMOND - My body’s very similar to the one I had before. I pinch myself sometimes to see if it’s real, and it is, but it doesn’t seem to hurt as much as when I pinched the flesh body. The internal organs don’t seem constituted on the same lines as before. They can’t be quite the same. But to all appearances, and outwardly, they are the same as before. I can move somewhat more freely. Oh, there’s one thing. I have never seen anybody bleed.
OLVIER - Has he go ears and eyes?
MRS LEONARD. - Yes, yes, and eyelashes, and eyebrows, exactly the same, and a tongue and teeth. He has got a new tooth now in place of another one he had – one that wasn’t quite right then. He knew a man that had lost his arm, but he has got another one. Yes, he has got two arms now. He seemed as if without a limb when first he entered the astral, seemed incomplete, but after a while it got more and more complete, until he got a new one. He is talking of people who have lost a limb for some years.
[To be continued] Extracts selected from “Raymond: or Life and Death, with examples of the evidence for survival of memory and affection after death” by Sir Oliver J. Lodge. Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, November 2nd,1916.
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