The hope for a better life

Catherine Amy Dawson Scott

Between the end of the nineteenth and the first decades of the twentieth century, many English ladies endowed with remarkable intellectual and organizational resources engaged their energies in the social and cultural sphere, not only to support and promote women's political rights, but also to improve the general living conditions of ordinary people and the relations between nations, defending the importance of peaceful collaboration instead of competition and conflict. Not a few of these women also nurtured a strong interest in spiritualism and mediumistic communications, even if their social position often led them to keep that interest well separated from their public activities. An example of this attitude is represented by Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956), nee Pearce-Serocold, who held various public offices especially in Wales, and in 1922 was appointed representative of Great Britain to the League of Nations: as an automatic writing medium she received for over a decade various communications attributed to the inorganic entities of the SPR founders (Myers, Sidgwick and Gurney), which were published under the pseudonym of Mrs Willett in the famous case of cross-correspondences. Mrs Willett's true identity was well protected by the very few who knew it, and was made publicly known only after the death of Winifred CoombeTennant. Catherine Dawson Scott (1865-1934), author of poems, novels and plays, also demonstrated remarkable organizational skills when, in 1914, collaborated with the secretary of state for war Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener in the creation of the Women's Defense Relief Corps: this corps had the dual purpose of organizing female work in the civilian field to replace workmen called to arms in the First World War, and of recruiting volunteer women to be employed as paramilitary auxiliaries in the armed forces.

In 1917 Catherine Dawson Scott started the To-Morrow Club, with the aim of helping young writers to be connected with the established literary milieu, and to promote their meetings with agents and editors so that they works could be read and evaluated. Later, in 1921, the To-Morrow Club was transformed into the International PEN Club, established as a community of writers committed to defending the role of literature and the freedom of expression in a society in constant and rapid evolution. This organization is still active today, under the name of PEN International. In 1898, when she was 33, Catherine Dawson married medical doctor Horatio Francis Scott: the couple had three children, a daughter and two sons, but the vicissitudes of First World War deeply affected the morale and health of her husband, already hereditary prone to what was then called spleen, the melancholy and depressed mood. After returning from the French front, where he had served as a military doctor, Scott tried to resume a normal family life, but found that his increasingly depressed mood made it difficult to live with Catherine, who was always engaged in her literary, social and organizational activities, and so they divorced in 1918. A few years later, in 1922, Horatio Scott took his own life. The writer's active interest in psychic research and mediumistic phenomena can be traced back to the early 1900s, when – closing her eyes – she began to have inner visions of landscapes and environments that she was able to explore as if they had their own reality: an activity she regarded as amusing. However, among the members of her family of origin there were cases of ghost visions, perception of auras, prophetic dreams, etc. A cousin of her grandfather, the journalist Edmund Dawson Rogers (1823-1910), was a convinced spiritualist: after having contributed to the foundation of the British National Association of Spiritualists, in 1881 he was – with physicist Sir William Barrett – among the promoters of the Society for Psychical Research (founded in 1882), and in the same year he gave birth to the famous spiritualist weekly magazine Light, which he then edited from 1894 until his death.

In 1926 Mrs Dawson Scott published a small volume, From Four who are Dead, which reported the communications she received as a writing medium, attributed to four departed entities and regarding their experiences in the dimension of inorganic life. The human personalities declared by these four entities were: 1) Horatio Scott, the author's husband who committed suicide in 1922; 2) George Dawson, a brother of the author's grandmother, about whom little biographical information is given; 3) Henry Dawson Lowry (1869-1906), a close cousin of Catherine, also a poet, writer and journalist, who died prematurely of pneumonia; 4) William T. Stead (1849-1912), the great English journalist and spiritualist – skilled and tenacious advocate of the use of journalism as a means to influence public opinion and therefore to affect government decisions – who died in the shipwreck of Titanic. Being an intelligent and learned person, the author knew well that writing mediumship is one of the weakest and most uncertain forms concerning the attribution of communications to authentic disembodied entities. Moreover, in her case, it was not even a question of forms of automatic writing whose anomalous and unnatural execution suggested the control of the writing hand by alien entities. As writer May Sinclair (1863-1946) frankly acknowledged in her introduction to the book: «It did not come to her by automatic writing, as if a force outside herself seized on her hand and compelled it to write; rather it came by flashes, bit by bit, seen as if written up in front of her, without any conscious process of her thought or will». However, Sinclair continued, rightly pointing out the importance of these communications even in the event that one wanted to attribute them to the author's unconscious (called subconscious by her): «It is the only reasonable account of the life beyond death that I have yet seen. It will be said at once that we have here nothing but uprushes from Mrs. Dawson Scott's subconsciousness. It may be so. But we know very little about the subconscious... We do not know whether there is in it anything which never was at any time in consciousness».

In the book's Chapter One the author traces back the experiences through which she finally decided to consider these writings as fairly reliable information on life in the hereafter, to the point of wanting to publish them. Throughout the first part of her life, until maturity, she had never been concerned with the destiny of the conscious Ego after the death of its organism (page 12): «My attitude towards psychic matters – and "psychic" I take to include the various creeds – has been agnostic. My knowledge is so small that I can have no reasonable opinion. Other people appear to require a working hypothesis, but I have not felt the need of ghostly comfort. Joy and sorrow are the common lot, and I have taken life as it came. My attention being concentrated on every-day existence, I felt little or no interest in the future. I did not know whether death obliterated the individual. I did not care». Towards the age of forty, however, the writer began to have those experiences that – in the absence of a more precise description – we could define active imaginations, even if, in some respects, they had some affinity with lucid dreams or OBEs (Out of Body Experiences): «...I found that soon after I closed my eyes I saw in front of me a dark tunnel. Curiosity took me through it. I stepped out of the tunnel into unknown country, into a new world. I found I could move about in this new world, walk through the woods and along the seashore, go past cream-coloured houses which were standing in hot sunshine. On one occasion a train passed brownly between me and the houses. It stopped, people got out. Looking down, I saw rails and, on the other side of me, little clear waves. I have never seen this place; I do not know where it is; but if by any chance I were taken there I should recognise it» (page 13).

While hosting home a friend of hers who was very saddened and depressed by the recent loss of her husband, Catherine Dawson had a series of visions in which she could clearly see the figure of the deceased, who was trying to get in touch with his wife, from whom he was separated by a sort of thick misty curtain, which he could not get through. Several times this figure turned to her, insistently asking her to tell the widow what she had seen, namely that he was trying to make his wife feel that he continued to exist in another dimension: indeed both he, while still alive, and his wife, did not consider possible the continuation of the existence of the conscious Ego after the death of its organism. But Catherine did not find the courage to report these visions to her friend: knowing the character and state of mind of her guest, she thought that they would be received as a naive and indelicate interference in a private affair in which the woman was sentimentally very involved. About her visions, she so wrote (page 17): «...I thought a good deal about what I had seen, but was inclined to suppose it the figment of an active imagination, a sort of waking dream. My conscious mind had no belief in the reality of what I had seen». In any case, this episode marked the end of Dawson's experiences in the virtual world that lay beyond the tunnel (page 21): «One result of the experience was that I left off travelling by means of the tunnel. What had happened had been troubling; it had put me in an awkward position; it had left me puzzled and unhappy... The everyday matters of a busy life were more interesting than an event to which I had no key». This did not prevent the writer from later having occasional premonitory experiences, to which no one, in the circle of her family and friends, seemed to attribute any meaning or importance.

The advantages of inorganic life

In 1923, shortly after her husband's death, Catherine Dawson met two sisters for work reasons, Elizabeth and Winfrith Shafto, who, in addition to engaging in charitable activities, were spiritualists and held séances to get in touch with their deceased relatives: «The Misses Shafto had lost three near relatives within a few weeks of each other; and I presently learned that they believed themselves to be in communication with them. For some time I considered the rnatter. Should I or should I not? Here were two transparently honest people. They might be mistaken, they might be self-deceived, but they would not seek to deceive me. At length I asked if they would allow me to sit with them» (page 25). Mrs Dawson attended her first sitting in a mood of dubious uncertainty (page 26): «I took an incredulous mind to that first sitting. Such things as I expected could not be, or if they could it meant that all our accepted ideas must be scrapped. It was unthinkable that the dead should be able to communicate with the living». Yet at a certain point the table made a few movements without anyone touching it, and – by rappings and using the alphabetical method – gave the name of the deceased brother of the Shafto (Stan), who began to communicate with them on matters related with his sisters' daily life. Strange as it may seem, while the phenomenon was taking place, Catherine Dawson was not very impressed, indeed it seemed to her an almost natural communication system: «Here were two girls talking over a new kind of phone to a brother at a distance. The occurrence was not in the least awe-inspiring. Science has enabled us to communicate with the absent; here was a way of communicating with those who had taken the journey from which there is no return. The more I learn of these matters the more I feel that survival is a matter for scientific research» (page 27). In this case too the confidence emerges – typical of a period of rapid and exciting progress in science – that the scientific method and research will in the future be able to explain the laws and methods of implementation of these phenomena.

When a communicating entity, always through rapping, introduced himself as her late husband, Dawson welcomed him with joy, as it seemed to her that the way the entity expressed himself and manifested his feelings matched her husband's personality: «...my deeper consciousness felt no doubt that it was indeed he who was speaking. How could I doubt? He was a man of very deep feeling, and this feeling came to me through the table. I listened to his loving words, and I accepted them with simple belief and joy. He was speaking, he was telling me he had feared he would never be able to get to me, but that now he had we should never again lose touch... His quality, even his characteristics were made apparent by his words. I recognised him as we recognise a person on the phone, recognised him by that intangible thing, his individuality» (page 28). During the following sittings, Dawson received, again through raps, a generic invitation to «write», without further clarification. She tried, but: «For some time I produced only mental and physical pot-hooks. The bits of sentences, broken phrases, dubious messages discouraged me. Sometimes in despair I gave up for a time, but I was always urged to try again» (page 29). At last, in July 1925, the messages began to become more coherent and meaningful. The author describes how she obtained them in these terms (page 30): «Choosing an hour when I would be free from interruption, I began by sending out strong thoughts to my husband or one of the others. I would then empty my mind, fix it on the person of whom I was thinking, draw one or two long breaths and wait. Before my closed eyes words would presently begin to form. These I scribbled down, then closed my eyes again and waited for more... It will be said the messages are the product of my unconscious or subconscious mind. The argument against that is my novels. These books are the work of my subconscious, and it is work without this particular sort of vision».

Regardless of whether the descriptions of life in the inorganic dimension reported in Dawson's small book come from disembodied entities or from the author's mental imagery (whatever its origin be), our interest is aimed precisely at the peculiarities with which this form of existence is represented. As we have seen, the human life of the writer, who was 60 years old in 1925, had been intense and busy: in various respects, Catherine Dawson had reached cultural and social goals above the norm, successfully applying her intelligence, creativity and organizational resources in different activities. She herself recognized that joy and sorrow seemed to her to be part of the normal legacy of the human condition, which she accepted without asking questions to which she could not know the answer. We can consider her human life as a model of value, meaning and commitment, in relation to what were the standard conditions of that time in the nation in which she carried out her social activities. So the fact that she felt the need to write, and above all to publish, these representations of a conscious Ego's existence in a dimension different from ours – well knowing that she were exposing herself to the criticism of a mental and imaginary origin of those which she considered communications from inorganic personalities – denotes at least a hope or a longing, coming from the deepest core of the Ego's essence, that those post-mortem modes of existence could be regarded as true. From this point of view, as Sinclair rightly wrote in her preface to the book, the communications received by Catherine Dawson – or elaborated by her mind through a process not consciously guided – present a balance and harmony that make them particularly interesting just as a possible and reasonable evolution of our experience of human life.

The author soon realized that the process of translating thought into words was carried out exclusively by her mind, through her brain: the communicating entity attributed to her husband (which from now on we will call the Scott entity) affirmed in fact that the only thing the entities could do was imprint their thoughts into her mind (page 34): «Thought does not require words. We do not use words among ourselves... I impress thoughts on your mind. You translate my thought into words». Now we are so used to translating thoughts into words for communicative purposes, that even our thoughts manifest themselves through the language we use, even when they remain within the conscious inner sphere of our Ego. A condition in which thought is directly transmitted and is, so to speak, immediately visualized, without the mediation of a language and without any possibility of keeping it secret, is in itself surprising, to the point that it can be difficult for us to even imagine what these thought-forms consist of. In a communication obtained through medium Elizabeth Shafto, an entity who introduced himself as Gustave Geley (the well-known French metapsychic scholar, who died in 1924), said that: «...spirits when communicating with us find it difficult to adjust their thought-rays so that they are not either too forcible or too vague. This is possibly the reason so many messages contain little on which thought can take hold, and yet others appear to be unfinished» (page 36). Another of the communicating entities, the fourth, that is, the one to which Dawson attributed the personality of William T. Stead, expressed himself as follows: «The chaos of literature with regard to psychic phenomena is due to several causes. We find it difficult to communicate clearly because your minds alter in transit what we say. There is fraud, both conscious and unconscious, to be taken into account; also your preconceived notions as to our state. Besides these difficulties there is another... we are not all alike. People here are in every stage of development. What is true, therefore, of one group or even one person is not true of others» (page 37). Ultimately, even Scott concluded that: «We are still as fallible as we were. All we know is what we perceive» (page 38).

Let us now see some of the communications attributed to the Scott entity, describing various aspects of life in the inorganic dimension (page 41 and following): «We are different from you, and do not live in the same sort of way... We do not grow old, but remain always young and strong. Our bodies are solid, as solid as yours, but different... We are making a new world here, a world of assorted types, men and women who can contribute to its efficiency and who are willing to work to produce the sort of results we want. You see, we do not want a repetition of the muddles of our earth life, and we are left to our own devices to produce what we think best... we can tell you things about ourselves: our way of living, our habits, our arts, our books, our thoughts, our government... The government here arranges the conditions in which we exist. They make changes as they find it necessary. They are chosen by the rest for their fitness to organise. We call them the Organisers... We are satisfied with the work we are doing, the life we are leading. You cannot understand, because to you light supposes shadow... We are differently constituted, and our serenity is part of our make-up. Fussing, fidgeting and fretting are unknown here and – no – it isn't dull. It's beautiful... Work with us is not the same as work with you. It is not physical. It is thought. We decide on what must be done, and the decision is all that is necessary... We live in thought, serenely, and we make experiments. You also make experiments, but you are hampered by the needs of the body. Beyond those life is experiment, and ours, in that way, is the same... We are left to make our world as we think best. No one interferes from the outside. We are free to tackle our problems. We know no more about God than you do. The main thing is that we live in a serener atmosphere, have gone on a stage. There may be many stages, but we do not know. Our knowledge is sufficient for our life here; but like you we wonder and dream. I think we have more faith. You see, we have had one life and come to this... We do not think as you do about religion... We are not religious in your sense of the word. We do not build churches and meet to have worship. Most believe in a personal God, but not all. I do not. We do not know the truth about it... The universe is infinite, world upon world. You cannot imagine its vastness and its many aspects. We are not so limited as you, but our knowledge is small in comparison with what there is to know...».

Here, thus, we have the description of an active life, also from a social point of view, in which the creative power of thought plays a decisive role: it is however a very gratifying experience for the conscious Ego, since it is free from the contradictions, conflicts and fatigue that characterize our organic life and the human psyche. It is surprising that reference is still made to men and women, as if sex differences persisted even in that inorganic dimension. In this regard, the author asks some questions which are answered as follows: «People tend to improve, also there are not the same temptations here. We have no possessions and there is no competition, and no hunger – as we do not eat! And no sex jealousy, as sex with us is not physical. It is an attraction, it is love, but not greedy possession. I love you, but I don't want you only for myself. I want your happiness, and am content whatever you may choose to do» (page 45). «Love is still a factor, but it does not act on us in the same way. We do not crave, we are not jealous, it does not make us unhappy. We love, we give, but we do not suffer through love. You see, we are so much happier here» (page 47). «With you morality means sex. We do not procreate, and we have lost our one-time attitude towards the function. We have almost forgotten that it was once of so much importance to us» (page 55). As for the form assumed by discarnate entities, here is what is said (page 53): «We are not rnaterial in the sense that you are, but our bodies appear to be solid. We form them by thinking them. We therefore resemble our earthly forms at our best, perhaps we improve on them a bit. I'm better looking than I was, and yet, if you saw me, you would recognise me». Then, to the classic question whether spirits also have homes in which they dwell, so it is answered: «We do not need shelters, but we like to have a place that we can look on as ours, a place to return to and rest in... It is not ours in the sense of being a possession, it is more a place with which we are familiar and which we like».

To various questions consciously asked by Catherine Dawson (page 54 and following), concise and usually reasonable and understandable answers are given: «Where is your world?» «Here, there and everywhere. It is a matter of vibration. The people on earth have discovered a great deal about different rates of vibration. Our life, the life of the mind free from the flesh, is simply a vibration they do not know about as yet». «Do you know anything about reincarnation?» «We do not know whether souls reincarnate. I don't think it is likely. At any rate, we have no information here with regard to it. People come here with fixed notions with regard to conduct, but they soon lose them. They perceive them to be irrational and that they have no bearing on ethics. They look back and wonder at the ideas they had. They perceive them to have been harsh, impracticable and even absurd». In this answer we can already see a clear detachment from the dynamics of the human psyche, which lose their effectiveness and power over the Ego, once the latter has been freed from the conditionings of organic life. «Do you have a morality of your own?» «Of course we do, but everything is easier for us because we have been freed from the obsession of the flesh. We learn, we grow, our natures unfold. The possibilities which were smothered during our earth life are able to develop. When we get here we are often stunted, repressed, damaged. We are bitter, soured, disappointed, unhappy. Light and healing await us. Here are surroundings which assist our growth and development in every possible way. What we were meant to be that we become». «How about suicide?» (Scott, the author's husband, had committed suicide). «One of the things that do not matter. If life on earth has become unbearable there is no reason why people should not come on to us. At least, I cannot see there is any. I committed suicide, and when I got here I felt only intense relief. I was delivered from a life I had found too difficult». «And when you reached the other side?» «No one knew or cared. I myself was released, a free man, joyous. I cannot describe to you my – let us call it happiness – for though I knew it must be a shock to you, I really was happier than I had ever been before».

The author asks a question about our need for love: «People on earth miss love and long for it. Do they obtain it there?» Here is the essential part of the answer: «...We receive as much love as we desire. We give as much as we can. There are people to whom love is unknown. Not many, but some. They are happy without it. You obtain what you have the capacity for and what you need». The issue of evil and human cruelty in our world is also dealt with: «How about malevolent and criminal instincts?» «Diseased conditions result in criminality. The cruel and the malevolent are warped individuals». «But cruelty has always been part of the make-up of the human mind». «It will gradually be eliminated. I think it results from physical conditions». «How about mental cruelty?» «We have outgrown it, left it behind. We aren't perfect, not a bit, but there is not so much temptation here, not such possibilities. Matter resolves back from one form into another by processes of putrefaction. These are equivalent to irritation, ill-temper, cruelty, malevolence... We do not have these processes of corruption, our minds do not become tired, we are in every way healthy, and that state of being rules out most of the possibility of wrong-doing». As we can notice, a condition largely (although not entirely) free from the conditioning and conflicting dynamics of the human psyche is here represented. However, some forms of subjection of the Ego to the psyche's dynamics still remain for some time (page 61): «What are your faults?» «Our faults? You must remember we are the same as we were. Having neither bodies nor possessions we are not troubled with the temptations which arise from them. But we are not altogether amiable, not always loving and sweet-tempered. We have to learn a lot before we can shed the shortcomings our earth life has brought about, the bad feelings it has engendered. We often arrive feeling dislike and even hatred for people. There was probably little reason for such feelings, and they gradually fade. We take pleasure in helping new-comers. We are so strong and well that the efforts we make do not tire us. It is a cheerful world this».

Later, Catherine Dawson returns to the problem of evil and the wicked (page 73): «When people who have been cruel and criminal, such as the Borgias, die what happens to them?» (Evidently the cruelty – real or presumed – of the Borgias has become a myth). And here is the very sensible answer that Scott gives her: «In the first place they are never as bad as they are painted. Again, they are new-comers here, and the circumstances in which they find themselves are strange. They endeavour to adapt themselves. What causes crime on earth has, in a large measure disappeared... The Borgias therefore cannot poison us, cannot kill us. They cannot use physical violence. There is nothing to steal». «But a cruel, self-seeking personality cannot be turned by death into one that is mild and good» the author insists. «People who on earth were strong for evil remain strong; but evil no longer exists. They do not expiate their sins, if that is what you are getting at. At least only in one way, i.e. they see clearly what they have done. Their past life is like a map before them. They realise the unhappiness they have brought about». I would like to underline the analogy between this interpretation of the condition in which the conscious Ego can find itself in the inorganic dimension, as a consequence of its behavior and actions during organic life, and the experiences reported in many NDEs, referring to the review of one's earthly life and to the direct and intense perception of the feelings and emotions that the actions for which we have been responsible have determined in others. As a consequence of the transition from one dimension to the other, the idea of pain as a just punishment for the harm and suffering caused to others is replaced by the direct awareness of the pain caused and the assumption of responsibility by the Ego, which prevents any further desire to derive a personal benefit through any action that may cause harm or suffering in others, in one form or another.

Love, knowledge and happiness are important to the Ego

In what Catherine Dawson believes may be information transmitted by discarnate entities, human life is presented as the starting point of an evolutionary path, each level of which presents more advantageous and harmonious conditions for the conscious Ego than the previous level, in relation to the Ego's aspiration towards love and happiness. Although in the inorganic dimension time perception is different than ours, there are no limits imposed on the period that an entity wishes to spend in a certain level, in relation to the experiences it feels attracted to: there comes a time, however, in which the entity feels ready to transition to the next level. However, the conditions of existence in a higher level are not knowable by the lower levels. About the difference between human life and the level of inorganic life where he is, this is what the Scott entity says (page 95): «People on your side fail to grasp the conditions on this because they do not realise that we have gone on, that we are not looking back. Our lives are deeply interesting to us, but people on earth imagine their lives to be of more interest and importance than ours. They cannot grasp the reality of our existence. It is like a flower that has expanded from its bud. Try to imagine that expansion... On earth we were as buds with our possibilities folded tight within us. The wonder of our new life and powers overshadows the past. We become occupied with matters of importance pertaining to our lives here. From them we turn to hold affectionate communion with those who think of us and send love to us. But we return to our affairs here. People cannot grasp that ours is a fuller and wider existence. They think of us as having a shadowy sort of life, as being hangers-on to the rich life they lead, whereas the contrary is the case. Their life is an early stage, ours more advanced. Until that is realised and accepted credulity, misconception and self-seeking are bound to cloak the actual facts».

The theme of the existence of other more spiritual levels and of the transition from one level to another is dealt with various times: «Are all the people who have lived here now in your world?» the author asks (page 44). «No, many have gone on». «Where to?» «I don't know». «Is going on a sort of death?» «It is equivalent, but it is not painful». «Can you go on to the next stage when you please?» (page 49). «We are not allowed to choose the time of our going on, but we know when it will be». «Do you know anything about the next stage?» «Nothing at all except that those going on are happier still». «How do you know that?» «It is impressed on us». «By whom?» «We don't know». Catherine Dawson then tries to delve into the topic of the origin of these impressions, referring to typically human interpretative labels: «Don't you think the Intelligence who gives it might be God?» «I don't see that it need be. The impression may come from a part of ourselves which is more highly developed than our consciousness». «Like our subconscious?» «It might, of course, be an Intelligence. I am not convinced that it is». Further on (page 52), Scott clarifies the concept of the progression of existence: «...many of us have come to the conclusion that life is progressive. They judge from the fact that they have already had an earth life and are now enjoying this. They think there will be more lives, but they do not know what they will be like and what will be the end. Some think one thing and some another, that is why you get contradictory messages. They tell you what they think and what they have brought themselves to believe. It is like a clergyman impressing his listeners with his faith. He may be right or he may be wrong, but he believes he knows. So with the people here. They know more than they did, but that is all that you can say». This relativization of knowledge with respect to the power of conviction that faith can have seems to me very interesting, because it recalls to a certain extent the power of subjection of the Ego by the human psyche. Therefore, the Ego's transition from a certain level to another, spiritually more advanced, should correspond to the discovery of an evolutionary and cognitive stage that is truer, more real, and more in harmony with the Ego's happiness.

From the communications attributed by Dawson to Scott entity, however, it seems that it is difficult to imagine a more satisfying condition than the one in which he finds himself. «When for you that stage is ended what will become of you?» the author asks again (page 103). «Although we are no longer perceived by our companions, I am not sure that we go away. It may be that we change again, as we changed from the life on earth. To us – so content, absorbed and glad – it appears impossible that any change could be for the better; but I suspect that is due to lack of imagination». It would therefore seem that, while in our earthly life we have no difficulty in imagining a more satisfactory condition for our Ego, in the disembodied dimension in which Scott finds himself the Ego's state of fulfillment is already optimal. The same topic is also treated with the second communicating entity, identified as George Dawson, a great-uncle of the writer (page 126): «Looking back, our time on earth seems pretty dismal compared with the life here... as if the sky had been always cloudy. It was not, of course, but this is bright and clear. Pleasant company, jovial friends, freedom from care. We turn from one delight to another... an infinite variety of happy occupations. We swim in light, we use our gifts, and by use we develop them, we remain always at our best and strongest. We do not age». «But does that go on for ever?» «It goes on for a long while, but my father and mother have vanished from my haunts, and I suppose that presently I shall follow them. I suppose they went when they had developed so far that they were no longer fitted for the life here». «Do you know where they are gone?» «I imagine that they, having developed as far as possible to them in these conditions, are no longer apparent to me, and that this is due to my being less developed. There is a thick, slow clumsiness about the earth-folk with their cumbersome bodies, their difficulty of moving from place to place, their grubbing for sustenance, from which we are delivered. Probably my father and mother, in a more rarefied state, are thinking of me as slow and stupid. It is natural to suppose each stage an advance on those before it». «What will be the end of this slow evolution of life?» «Some suppose one thing and some another. I don't think. I live from moment to moment and I live joyously».

The idea that organic life in our world corresponds to the initial, and therefore still immature, stage of a very long evolutionary path, whose developments it is impossible to know in advance – or even just guess – is reaffirmed in the communications attributed to William T. Stead (page 187): «You do not realise that to us the earth is now a little place. It was the nursery of our spirits, the place of beginnings, of tea-cup storms, of copy-book morality, of childish ideas and traditions. If it were not for those we have left behind, for the tender memories of other days, we should not concern ourselves with it. It is difficult for us to think its affairs of importance. When we step into this world – painfully shedding the flesh – I do not know that we are fully grown, but we are stronger and have an energy such as no earth-man feels. I said we have, I should have said we are an energy, for it appears to be us. When we arrive we find ourselves in possession of it. We do not lose it. We are ageless and tireless. You cannot imagine anyone pursuing a train of thought to the beginning and to the end, through what, to you, would be years. But I do this. I take no sleep, I only pause when my attention is called to some matter of importance. I work steadily at the various lines into which the thought branches, and I am as happy doing this as a squirrel is when it is gnawing at and cracking a nut. One of the differences between the earthlife and this is that we do not require bodily nourishment, yet do require mental food. There is in us an instinct which obliges us to find that food». Anyway, from that dimension it is also possible to retrace the path of life evolution on our planet (page 177): «It is perhaps impossible for your mind to grasp perception such as ours, it reaches so far, it goes so deep, it is so all-embracing and pervading. The scrolls of the earth's history are unrolled for us to read, that we may observe its gradual evolution from long before life appeared, that evolution which yet brought life, which ascended from the first chemical combination to vegetable life, from that to animal, from that to consciousness, from consciousness inherent in matter to this more rarefied existence».

The difficulties of understanding the causes of the individual differences that are found not only between one person and another, here in our world, but also between one inorganic being and another, in the context of spiritual evolution, are considered in the following terms (page 178): «It is difficult to understand why some should be more gifted than others». «The most gifted among mortals are not the happiest. I do not understand why people are different, why the manifestations of life are diverse, or how it comes about. It might have been supposed that the action of law would have produced uniformity. Perhaps my scale is not large enough for me to see the uniformity, or I am too near the units. At least, I know, that whereas on earth a being could come damaged into existence, no man can be born into this life with a disability. He comes here in full possession of his faculties, mental and spiritual, and has equal opportunity with others of developing them. It rests with him to take advantage of these opportunities, and all men are not alike in their interests and desires. Here, as well as with you, it takes all sorts to make a world». And again (page 179): «It is my opinion that we – the sparks of life – will eventually be absorbed into God, that we are particles transfused with life that has emanated from Him. It is possible He is also evolving, that the universe is evolving. I speak tentatively, for in these matters I can only give you what seems to me probable. Our earthly body was composed of tiny cells, each with a life of its own. The millions of evolving spirits, each with his personal life, may be equivalent to those cells, may be built up together to contain the Spirit of God. This life, although an advance on that of earth, appears to me capable of further expansion, of spiritual growth and change. We have learnt much, but only a little compared with what there is to learn, and I can perceive stages where learning will give place to something more spiritual. Only lately freed from the disabilities of the flesh, we are overwhelmed with the wonders of this life. This is good, very good, but already I am looking forward to an existence which will be more spiritual. To you, however, this life is the Land of Promise, and you would like me to tell you of its " milk and honey"».

At the end of the book, the Stead entity again refers to the vital energy, knowledge, love, and the sex polarity that would continue to subsist even among inorganic beings (page 190): «The energy of man is due to the life-force. We do not know what this is, but we perceive how it works. Sex is the chief expression of it, but sex is not fundamental. Life existed before sex. The urge of the life-force resulted in sex. That life-force is what gives us, here, our greater energy, and manifests itself in the desire of knowledge, in thought concerning that knowledge, in a steady development of the individual. He must develop on his emotional and affectional sides as well as his intellectual. The love of man in this world is greater than it was on earth. It is no longer concerned with the making of more life. It does not seek to possess or bind, it is communion of spirit, the essence of what was love on earth. Here as well as there the man is different from the woman. Her quality is more deeply emotional, his is more intellectual. The perfected being should have all sides equally developed, but for God's good purpose we of this universe are men and women. Moreover, however different from each other may be the beings who inhabit the many planets of the many solar systems, they are alike in this that they are dual, and you can still, therefore, term one male and the other female. These are the two principles of material life. In another universe these principles may be unified, but I only know of this». According to this narration, therefore, a form of sexual identity linked to the conscious Ego, obviously not organic, would also remain in the state of discarnate existence, or at least in the initial stages of spiritual evolution, albeit in a much more harmonious form than the tensions with which this dimorphism sometimes manifests itself in this life, taking into account the bipolar functioning of the human psyche.

Conclusions

The interest of the booklet written by Catherine Dawson does not lie in the mediumistic reliability of the communications received – on which the author herself does not go too far, even if sentimentally she is led to believe in their authenticity – but rather in the coherent manifestation of the need of the conscious Ego to proceed, even after the death of its organism, on the path of experiences and transformations that began with organic life. The stage following that of human life is represented as a progress, because the liberation of the Ego from the constraints and needs of its organism, and above all from the conditioning and conflicts determined by the psyche as a consequence of the organic condition, entails for the Ego many advantages, and allows it to use energy and creative resources in a much more effective and direct way than it was able to do in this physical dimension, through the heavy density of its organism and the relative efficiency of the mental attunement and processing system of the same. The attraction that the Ego can feel towards such an interesting experiential condition – undoubtedly much happier than the human one – induces it to face the phase of decline and death of its organism as a transition process which, despite the difficulties that it may entail, will certainly be positive in its results, coherently with the needs of growth, progress and self-realization of the Ego itself. If we are able to consider the Ego's process of evolution from this perspective – which to me seems reasonable, correct, and above all consistent with the very essence of the Ego, when it manages to free itself from its identification with the dynamics of the human psyche – we can face the problem constituted by the difficulties that undermine, in our dimension of organic life, the certainty of a future inorganic life in a different dimension, having the characteristics and requirements that we have previously seen.

We must first of all recognize that the experience of organic life ends with the death of the organism, and that the process of death due to illness or old age often involves a weakening and a progressive deterioration of the faculties and resources of the organism and its brain: the Ego experiences this deterioration in an essentially negative way, as it is contrary to the very needs of human life, which require a healthy and efficient organism. In one form or another, in the course of human life the Ego often experiences the consequences – of a psychic nature – of the limits, imperfections, vulnerability and weaknesses of its own organism. Since, in all likelihood, organic life constitutes the initial phase of the experiences of the Ego and of its possibilities of becoming progressively more and more aware of its own essence, undertaking an evolutionary path of development and enrichment of the resources at its disposal, usually the Ego has no other terms of comparison drawn from its own direct experiences to confront with those of this life. But when this occasionally happens, as is the case with many NDEs, the Ego's orientation changes substantially, and what before the experience was not considered possible or was not even imagined, after the experience can be considered not only real in terms of perception and interpretation, but also certain, beyond any doubt, in its intrinsic existence.

 (to be continued)      


 

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