The fate of the Ego of those who in life have hurt others
Let us now examine the way in which the entities who communicate through Dexter address the issue of the destiny of the spiritual Ego of those who, identifying themselves with the negative polarity of the human psyche, have caused pain and suffering to other human beings during their organic life. Let us always remember that the information reported in the book by Edmonds and Dexter may be in disagreement with other communications of mediumistic origin, as the same entities acknowledge: «...and taking the many statements I have made contradicting the revelations of other spirits...» (page 176). The very concept of evil, or of human wickedness, is never well clarified, because – in accordance with the cultural programs prevailing at that time – sometimes are defined as earthly spirits those whose Ego, in this life, has allowed itself to be attracted by the pleasant aspects of the sensations or emotions produced by the organism, without being evil, that is, without having consciously wanted to cause harm to others. On page 148 Sweedenborg says: «...the question proposed by you might refer to the earthly spirits near the earth, whose organization is so gross, because it is so mixed with the impelling animal properties of matter». A few pages earlier, however, Bacon had tried to clarify, at least in part, what this conception of evil consisted of, which is considered as the failed or reduced progress of the spiritual evolution of the Ego during human life, as opposed to good which is instead indicated as the yearning of the Ego towards its final destiny as a spirit: «Evil is opposed to good... But the good, the true, the beautiful – and they are all alike – find their constituents in that which is of God himself. It is this which, when spirits are undeveloped, roaming through the boundaries near to earth, and finding no abiding-place, gleaning from no connection the last moiety of happiness, it is this principle of good, this germ of truth, which is breathed on them as it were by the Spirit of God, and impels them to seek for happiness in progression through the higher spheres» (page 142). The same entity then points out how this condition of earthly spirits does not imply any hell, contrary to what the doctrines of some religions affirm: «They believe in a hell, in a place of punishment where spirits are tortured either by other spirits more evil or by their own thoughts» (ibid). But the spirit's very essence could never remain confined to such a place, even if it existed: «...for the impelling force of that power which is of God would send it self-seeking the universe through, to seek that food which its nature so much craves. Confine it as you may, bind it with bonds of error and evil, and the spirit will burst all shackles, and rise in the power of its inherent might and seek the source from which it sprang» (page 143).
The previous words are perhaps the most significant and important contained in Edmonds' book, as they highlight the existence of a law – almost physical in nature – by which every individual spark of fragmented spirit is attracted by the energy of the eternal and absolute Spirit, regardless of the more or less long, tortuous and tormented path that destiny and the temporal (and temporary) vicissitudes of its existence impose on it, especially during the phase of this organic life in which it becomes aware of its own existence, in the form of an Ego. In evaluating evil, wickedness and the wicked, we humans are always subject to the dynamics that are imposed on us by our psyche, largely determined by cultural programs and the needs, weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our organisms, with which in most cases our conscious Ego identifies: consequently, only when it has freed itself from the links that bind it to its human organism can the conscious Ego begin to exist in its spiritual form and consequently orient itself among the experiences of its long journey. The same entity goes on saying: «Evil develops evil, and its control over the mind of man has been witnessed by every age of the world... Spirits in affinity with you likewise receive the good you generate, or rather the good generated through you, and they, responding, circulate it through the spheres where they dwell. So with evil» (page 144). It seems therefore that the bipolarity that characterizes the human psyche is also extended to the spirit dimension, or at least to those lower spheres of it which the communicating entities speak of: this contamination implies the existence of evil spirits and wicked humans who influence and, as it were, feed on each other. Therefore, once again the problem arises of when a spirit manages to abandon the psyche's intrinsic bipolarity to reach the orbit of attraction of the divine Spirit's non-bipolar energy. According to the interpretation that can be given to what is reported by the communicating entities, the temporal flow – as we experience it – continues to play a fundamental role also in the existence of the spiritual Ego, or at least in the early stages of this existence, until the Ego enters the Spirit's field of attraction and there remains forever. The flow of time – considering the effects it has during this life on our way of experiencing, feeling and interpreting reality – represents one of the most enigmatic and unfathomable mysteries of existence. In Sweedenborg's and Bacon's vision the final destiny of every spiritual Ego is to be attracted into the Spirit's field of action, therefore what differentiates one spirit from another is the time taken to complete this path and what the conscious Ego experiences during this more or less long journey.
In the light of this interpretation, the problem of human wickedness – meant as the inclination of some people's Ego to seek power, advantages or satisfaction by inflicting damage and suffering on other people, to the point of enslaving them or denying them the right to live – can only be traced back to the weakness of the wicked's conscious Ego, who gets involved in the negative dynamics of the human psyche to the point of identifying with them. However, in order for this process to take place, it is first of all necessary that the organic system of the evil one be suitable, in its formation and development, to tune in the dynamics of the psycheìs negative polarity, which can happen both for genetic causes and for the influence of particular environmental circumstances or cultural programs. Now, it is true that the influence of certain attunements of the psyche can also have a contaminating effect on the development of the Ego's spiritual component, but we are not able to know with certainty what happens to the spiritual Ego once it is freed from the constraints of its own human organism and from the involvement in the psyche's dynamics that derive from it. It should be remembered that conceptions such as retaliation, revenge, the sense of justice, the requirement that those who have caused sufferings to others pay in some way with their own suffering for the evil done, thus expiating their guilt, are still originated from the human psyche, and in particular they arise from the desire to protect ourselves – even through preventive measures – against the sufferings that interpersonal dynamics can cause us, due to the vulnerability of our human organism. Often, in fact, the worst sufferings and the most unbearable conditions of prostration are inflicted on us not by other human beings, but by the same natural dynamics of the psyche, already active in the animal world, that cause pathological processes or traumatic events to which our body can be subjected to translate into an intense physical pain that our conscious Ego is forced to endure. This almost absolute prevalence of the organism's needs, by which the conscious Ego is often influenced and involved to a far greater extent than the effects of its spiritual component, is recognized and pointed out by Sweedenborg entity: «Now, what you consider the fall of man is only the great change in his mental and material nature, produced by the increase of numbers, the wants and necessities which arose around him, the occupation of his thoughts with the circumstances of his material life, and the entire direction of his mind from spiritual things to subjects of earth» (page 122). Here the entity seems to refer to an archaic era in which the conscious Ego was mainly influenced by its spiritual component, as opposed to the current era in which the strong increase in population forces the Ego to deal much more with the needs of its own organism: however, this is a simplistic way of addressing the issue, which does not take into account the processes of the human psyche which, with all evidence, push humankind towards a progressive and constant increase in the complexity of social intercourses, aiming at more and more organized modes of behavior and functioning.
About the fate of the spiritual Ego of those who have shown to have an evil inclination during their human life, Sweedenborg entity expresses itself in these terms: «But to the spirits who have lived a life of selfishness, disregarding the claims of their race, who have toiled and struggled for no other motive than to accomplish their own ends, at no matter what cost, who have bowed their spirit to the rule of error, and who have delighted to circumvent their fellows, who have, while they professed to serve God, denied him by their acts – they die, and their spirits enter new bodies. Now I beg, in this connection, to say that, there must either in man's residence on earth be the development of his spirit and the corresponding progress, or there must be a retrogression and a consequent depreciation of the true desires of his nature» (page 168). Probably Sweedenborg does not realize that this statement of his contradicts the very principle of the spirit's progression, and that, by extending the dominion of the psyche's dynamics also to the spiritual Ego, similarly to what happens to the conscious Ego in the course of its human life, there is the risk of delaying sine die the beginning of that process of evolution of the spirit which should be guaranteed to every spiritual Ego, as a logical and inevitable consequence of having been emanated by the divine Spirit. Otherwise, we would be forced to recognize the existence of a bipolar dualism that also extends its effects to the dimension of spirits, which is equivalent to affirming that there is a negative counterpart of the Spirit capable of attracting kindred spirits. Unfortunately, the way in which the communicating entities express themselves is often confused, ineffective and misleading, and the same terms used are never clearly defined, nor properly applied: for example, in the previous communication, the entity first uses the term spirit to mean the conscious Ego in the course of human life, then it says that spirits die, and their spirits enter new bodies. We are unable to know whether this disconcerting confusion is due to the limitations and incapacity of the same communicating entities, or to contaminations by the medium's psyche. Anyway, Sweedenborg goes on to describe the fate of the spiritual Ego of those who have not evolved in this life in these terms: «It does not associate with those whose desires are for the good. Its affinities lead it toward those whose desires correspond with its own, and it chooses for its companions those whose habitations are near this earth, and whose tastes are of the same character... By living near the earth, obtaining their sustenance from the bodies near to it... they acquire an aspect differing widely from our external appearance. Their bodies are sublimated, it is true, but still, were you able to see them, you would scarcely distinguish the difference between them and men of your own earth. I now speak of spirits whose minds are not really evil, but not progressive» (page 169).
But then, what happens to the spiritual Ego of those who have shown to be inclined to evil in this life? «There is another class to which I will direct your attention, as belonging to that division who are really bad, and who, by a long course of evil life, have denied their obligation to man, to God, and to the laws which he has established. After these spirits have passed into their new bodies, they are so heavy, so much more dense than are the other spirit mentioned, that they cannot maintain themselves even near the earth, but sink far below it, and are really of so dark a hue that they are almost black. Now the place of their residence is far below that which I ever had a desire to visit, and I can not tell you from actual observation what it is, but it is said to be an extensive plain, with but one single mountain in the center. So attached are the inhabitants to this interminable level that they scarcely attempt for years to ascend this mountain. Now it is almost always night there, or rather a condition between night and day, and if they were to ascend this mountain, it is said they would catch a glimpse of the brighter lands beyond, and a desire would be created in their minds to leave this place for the world beyond. How true this is, I can not say; probably there is some condition or state resembling this, and it may be this is true» (ibid). Note the doubtful, hypothetical, and to a certain extent imaginary character of this whole description, which Sweedenborg entity himself is forced to recognize, while he is mixing a generic reconstruction of a region belonging to the underworld, even if not actually hellish, with the need to leave a way open to the desire of every spiritual Ego to orient itself towards that positive pole of the psyche which is identified with the divine Spirit. Evidently, Sweedenborg does not know how to solve the problem of evil – which indeed really exists in the ambit of organic life and the dynamics of the human psyche – when he has to deal with it in relation to the spiritual Ego's fate. However, he does not hesitate to attribute to these evil spirits the will to influence the mind of us humans, inducing us to have bad desires or thoughts and to perform wicked deeds. Failing to give any convincing explanation on how to solve the vicious circle that is created in this way, Sweedenborg is forced to resort to a real Deus ex machina: «...but God in his infinite wisdom does not leave the administration of his divine or material laws to beings of so corrupt a nature. He prefers that man shall have no other to blame but himself and the circumstances around him for his sinful acts and it would conflict with the laws he has instituted if he permitted man to be controlled by spirits inferior to himself» (page 170). Which contradicts precisely what the same entity had stated earlier, attributing the evil done by humans to the influence of wicked spirits, who evidently can succeed, at least in some cases.
Furthermore, all the false, unreliable or misleading revelations and information obtained by the various mediums regarding the forms and conditions of afterlife existence are attributed to these evil spirits, or to other spirits not yet sufficiently evolved, thus paving the way for all the subsequent disputes – stimulated by the dynamics that characterize the human psyche – regarding the value of such revelations, the reliability of the spiritual entities from which they come, and the devout respect that we humans must reserve for them: «But they misdirect, bewilder, confuse, make false statements of the nature of these manifestations, and would willingly create doubt; for these spirits are allowed to mix with other spirits whose duties bring them to earth, and thus they are enabled to make false statements regarding them. In short, they delight in inculcating error, as they did in receiving and learning it when on earth» (ibid). In saying so, Sweedenborg perhaps does not realize that he is sawing the very branch he is sitting on, and in the end he tries to solve everything by resorting to the magic of the time factor, which is always mentioned in cycles identical to those we experience in our life (days, months, years): «The dark spirits do progress, but it is in a cycle of years. The mischievous spirits progress also in much less time, but both have laborers among them from the advanced spirits, whose duty and pleasure it is to instruct, to disabuse their minds of ignorance and prejudice, and to point them to God as the source of all things» (page 171). The same entity later returns to the description of the place where unevolved spirits, or the spirits of those who have behaved wickedly in the course of human life, dwell: «When spirits are weighed down by their own density, they sink, as I mentioned, to the places lower than the earth. They are attracted thither by their minds. They desire no progress, or if they do, the desire is so little that it is swallowed up in the stronger desires for error. The condition of these spirits may demand notice. I think I mentioned that it was said that their place of residence was a large plain, and I here remark that the plain is almost entirely alike in every part, suggesting scarcely any feeling of beauty or love of it, and is relieved only by one mountain. It is here that the spirits toil and wrangle. They labor, of course, more than the advanced spirits, as their organization being more dense, requires more to support it. They can not rise without a great effort, and being always compelled to associate with spirits whose internal is of the same erroneous and dark character, it generates all kinds of contentions and disputes, and, perhaps, deceit and falsehood. At any rate their affinities for good are, as it were, suspended. They do not possess the power to see the thought before its utterance, but they act toward each other as man and man on earth, that is, not entirely so, but nearly in the same manner» (pages 220-221).
In this picture we find an extreme confusion between the role that the conscious Ego has in this life, conditioned as it is by the tunings of the human psyche due to the fact that it is bound to an organism, and that of the spiritual Ego, which should be now completely free from such conditioning. What could possibly be attributed to the spiritual Ego is its weakness, which prevented it from exerting on the conscious Ego – during our organic life – a sufficient influence to induce it to undertake the freeing evolutionary path from its subjection to the dynamics of the human psyche and its identification with them. But precisely this weakness would require a gym in which to perform progressive strengthening workout: if the effect of human life were to ensnare the spiritual Ego in order to further degrade it due to its weakness, the obtained result would be in stark contrast to that progression process which the same communicating entities advocate as the true essence of the life of the spiritual Ego. It is worth examining how Sweedenborg entity tries to solve the problem: «One great evil which attaches to those spirits, is the obscurity of their ideas concerning God. They realize that there is a God, but they can not comprehend why that God differs from themselves. Then, again, their ideas of beauty are buried in the accumulation of error which surrounds their minds. They have but little conception of the duties which belong to them. As they do not love God, they do not love their neighbor, but they are always ready to mislead and provoke, to disturb and annoy. They are, as it were, incapable of much information. Were the desire to learn be raised in their souls, they would begin to progress. Still, they are not entirely beyond the reach of improvement; they have not entirely lost all appreciation of what is beautiful in the works of God. For it is told me that when they are led to ascend the summit of the mountain, and behold the glorious brightness of the space beyond, their spirits yearn to leave the dark sphere, and they commence to make the effort» (ibid). If this can be an effective description of the condition in which the conscious Ego of not a few people finds itself during human life, it is not clear why this condition should also infect the Ego's spiritual component, unless one wants to admit that even the spirit – despite recognizing in it the essence of a spark emanating from the divine Spirit – can be contaminated by the tunings coming from the negative pole of the psyche's energy.
Sweedenborg's description of the existence of spirits in the lower sphere continues as follows: «Their habits of life correspond with the tone and character of their minds. They have no pleasures, no associates. They do not study. They do not sing, write, or enjoy life in any way, except the delight they may have in tormenting those around. They toil for sustenance, and as their land is sandy, and no sunlight, there must be great labor to enable the earth to bring forth enough to sustain them. When one of these spirits has a desire to leave that sphere, and by that desire and its effects is awakened to come nearer the earth, he does not lose the disposition which placed him in that sphere all at once. It is by these spirits that the accounts, garbled and untrue, of the world beyond your earth are given, through some medium with whom they are in contact. They delight in error; and you can imagine what that condition must be, when the soul recognizes no God, but a being as themselves – what their unhappiness is, who can not appreciate either love or truth – what their mind must be, when their whole enjoyment is the wickedness of evil and the production of error» (pag. 222). These sentences seem to confirm that the evil inclination shown by the conscious Ego of a person during its human life is then reflected on the spiritual Ego, without however offering us any explanation of the causes of this diversity, which marks the individual destiny also in the spirit world. One gets the impression that the quality of spirits depends on a production system, as it were, subject to variables analogous to those which determine the quality of human organisms, which can be healthy, well-functioning, and well-endowed in terms of intelligence, or afflicted by weaknesses, malfunctions and deformities, even on a mental level. But let's see how Sweedenborg concludes his exposition: «Do they suffer? Yes, when their minds receive the light of truth, when by its rays their whole nature is laid bare, when they can understand how much they have lost, how much they must regain. Are they unhappy? Yes; after having left those dark spheres, they daily and hourly feel how much their affinity retards their upward progress, and draws them downward toward those spheres again, when they know how little they can appreciate what is before, when they know the nature of those with whom they associate. Perhaps there is no greater unhappiness to the soul of man than the full conviction that his heart is evil, and that he is daily and hourly struggling to overcome its tendencies. Thus it is with them, and I must leave to your minds to imagine what I confess I am unable to describe» (ibid).
Thus ends what seems to be more a reflection on the possible fate of the spiritual Ego of the wicked, than a convincing narration of something that actually occurs. No explanation is given regarding the fundamental question of the causes which determine the differences between good spirits and not good, or even evil, spirits. The differences that we certainly find between people within our organic life – which can be attributed, as we have seen, to the bipolar energy of the human psyche – are also extended to the spheres in which spirits dwell. Consequently, one gets the impression that human life is aimed at sifting the quality of each individual spirit, and that the following statement of Sweedenborg entity about the divine origin of the spirit applies only to those spirits who are able to pass the test: «What is the soul longing after knowledge, truth, love, charity – yes, all the good, wise, great, and beautiful – but the desire to exercise in some condition these properties as a right of its nature, when it shall have increased in the magnitude of its activity, and, conscious of its divine origin, it can ministrate as a spirit to the great good of the whole of which it is a part?» (page 245). Yet, previously, Bacon entity had considered the question of the purpose of human life in more articulate way: «...What is the true purpose or object of life? It may be said it differs in all persons; that the situation, position, the connections, and the associations change or alter the destiny of all men. True, this may be so; the action of life may differ in most men, but this does not touch the question proposed, What is the true object of life, or for what purpose were men created and placed on earth?» (page 151). Obviously, the entity is not referring here to the human being as an organism, but as a conscious Ego whose destiny is the transformation into a spiritual Ego. After having exposed the various reasons why he maintains that no intelligent person could believe what has been stated by various religions, including the Christian, in the past, namely that God created human beings for the specific purpose of placing them in a condition of utter misery if they did not fit perfectly to the directives given to them and did not act accordingly, Bacon strongly supports the principle of progression, which must be valid for every spiritual Ego, and finally concludes as follows: «...and even man, from the little mass, unshapen, unsexed, and undeveloped, then springs up step by step, another and important evidence of the truth of this doctrine – a man in form, but a god in spirit» (page 152). A statement that seems to me more consistent than the negative picture of the existence of spirits in the lower spheres proposed by Sweedenborg: however, it still remains to be established whether the transformation of the conscious Ego into a spiritual Ego could be considered true for any human organism.
The fate of the spiritual Ego of those whose organism dies prematurely
One of the goals that I have set myself in dealing with the topics relating to the experiences of the conscious Ego during its human life – and possibly to those of the spiritual Ego in other dimensions – is to put a bit of order between some concepts (such as me, you, consciousness, survival, soul, spirit, and the like) that are often used in human communications in a superficial and almost obvious way, just as if we knew what we are talking about, when instead the information and knowledge we have about their meaning is confused and unsatisfactory. Among these concepts, the one that is objectively more reliable from a cognitive point of view is human organism, understood as an organism which forms and initially develops within another human organism, but which is also brought up within a culture recognizable among those human. The physical features of human organism make it possible to study it and deepen our knowledge of its constitution and functioning, at least to a certain extent. We can consider as established and objectively evident the fact that human societies are made up of a more or less large number of human organisms, which share certain characteristics – despite the differences we can find between one and the other – in the context of a statistically ascertained and recognized normality: those organisms which, due to congenital or acquired defects and malformations, do not fall within this normality are still considered human, but they are not normal, and their possibilities of survival and action depend on the way in which the community of normal organisms takes care of and manages them. On the basis of this organic normality, we can also consider the existence of a conscious Ego linked to each organism as true. In this case, however, we are dealing with an entity that is not objectively identifiable: in fact, the existence of the conscious Ego is determined by the inner self-awareness that each human person has of her/his own existence in relation to the flow of time. So I can be aware, convinced and even certain of my existence as a conscious Ego linked to my organism, but as far as other organisms are concerned, I can perceive and interpret their behavior and their expressions, I can process what they communicate to me verbally, I can feel and guess what I receive sensorially through sight, hearing and touch, up to come to the reasonable conclusion that in the other too there is a conscious Ego similar to mine in many respects. However I can never directly experience the other's conscious Ego: at the most I can experience the more or less empathic reactions generated by the psyche's tunings involving my conscious Ego, as a consequence of my presumed identification with the other.
As we have often observed, the functioning and behavior of every human organism show how the corresponding conscious Ego is involved in the dynamics of the human psyche tuned through that organism's nervous system, to the point that the Ego very often identifies completely with them. From this point of view, a particular importance must be recognized to the various cultural programs elaborated by the human psyche, which are transmitted to the Ego and assimilated by it, influencing its choices and its ability to control its own organism. We have also seen how, as time passes in the course of our life, lived events and the consequent dynamics of the psyche experienced by the Ego can produce important transformations in the Ego itself, and sometimes they determine the development of an evolutionary process of progressive separation both from the needs determined by organic life and from the dynamics of the human psyche: a process which induces the conscious Ego to at least perceive the influence of a component we call spirit, or spiritual Ego. Finally, we have taken into consideration the possibility that, once the adventure of this organic life has ended, the conscious Ego continues to exist in a different (thus disembodied) form in another dimension, transforming itself into a spiritual Ego. Now, since there can be no doubt about the temporal limits of the life of every human organism, i.e. about the fact that every organism must die, many questions remain open about the fate of the conscious Ego in cases of premature death, in particular in those cases in which the organism dies when the conscious Ego has not yet fully formed, or is still in an unprogressed stage of development. Since we have no access to any form of knowledge that will enable us to deal satisfactorily with these matters, let us now examine the reliability of the information obtained in this regard through Dexter's mediumship, as reported in the book Spiritualism. First, on page 118, Sweedenborg entity dwells on the ways in which an individual spirit (not yet conscious) is connected with a human organism: «I mentioned that the spirit emanated from one source, which was God, or the universal germ. This germ has neither sex nor speciality, but being implanted in the embryo, there assumes the characteristics of the body which is to be developed. The exact time when the spirit is introduced into the embryo is not yet known, but the embryo must possess sufficient vitality to permit the development of both spirit and body. Life is distinct from spirit, and the union of the two is not understood, even by spirits of a higher development».
With the usual lack of clarity and precision in the use of terms – it is not known whether due to interferences by the tunings of Dexter's psyche, or to the lack of reliable knowledge that the same communicating entities openly acknowledge regarding the matters they speak about – the divine origin of every spiritual germ or spark is here asserted, even if it is not understood in what sense the term germ is referred both to God and to the individual spirit. The association of the spirit with an organism is described almost as if it were a surgical transplant operation, even if we are then told that not even the most advanced spirits know exactly how these two very distinct entities, the spirit and the organism, can coexist. But what surprises us most is that, despite the admission of this deficit of reliable knowledge, the communicating entities then require that we believe what they are teaching: «I feel a necessity to say that there is no need of doubt in any thing which takes place under the teaching of spirits. Every thing which is now taught, apparently irreconciliable, will in time be made entirely to correspond with facts visible to all, and so contrived as to be perceptible in every respect to the comprehension of all who choose to investigate. Therefore, let not your minds be troubled. In good time the spirits will reconcile every incongruity, and make that which is dark, light» (page 119). Sweedenborg entity thus tries to escape the objections with which human reason reacts to some of his declarations – objections that sometimes Judge Edmonds himself cannot help but express – by asking the sitters for an act of faith, in contrast to what he himself had initially requested, appealing to the intelligence of the recipients of these revelations. Then so he goes on: «Now, when a child dies free from sin or impurity, it is taken by spirits of some near relative and conducted to a sphere where the spirit will be developed according to the primary law regulating spirits. It is placed under the teaching of individuals who are specially charged with the education of children, and thus they are taught all the primary knowledge necessary and suitable to their young minds... And when in a state of entire immunity from animal influences the child is taught by spirits pure and developed, how great must be its progress! They do not increase faster in size than children on the earth, but the proportionate development of mind, or, as we spirits term it, internal, is beyond comparison. They soon are capable of appreciating and understanding some of the laws of God which affect nature; and, as their ideas are not mixed or amalgamated with the crudities of animal organization, they are more clear and comprehensive than even those of some spirits who have been in the spirit-land for years» (page 119-120).
Also in this case the organization of the spirit-world seems to reflect in many respects that of human societies, even if it is not explained – and it is not understood – why the spirit should ever become embodied, if it can advantageously progress without having been forced to develop as a conscious Ego, having to face the dynamics of human psyche. In the note on page 119 Edmonds informs us that about a year and a half earlier he had received, through another medium, the following communication on the same subject: «Those who die in infancy grow up to manhood, and are instructed in the spirit-world in those things which they ought to have learned here. It is a misfortune and a violation of a law of nature to die in infancy, because the object of their first stage of existence is thereby thwarted. In the spirit-world infants are placed in a sort of intermediate condition between the lower and higher, and they are attended and taught by superior spirits. They are never without such attendance, and although they are carefully instructed, yet their condition is in some respects unfortunate; for, though by their early death they escape the physical sufferings of this sphere, yet that very ignorance of our sufferings takes away from them the capacity to enjoy the happy change which they would attain if they remaind here till maturity. They know nothing of the contrast between that stage of existence and ours, which adds so keen a zest to the enjoyment of those who depart from this sphere after having experienced all its sorrows and sufferings. Another disadvantage is, they never have any of the feelings and emotions which a longer continuance on earth would have taught them, and which enter much into the happiness or misery of the next state of existence». Even this framework, which differs in part from the one proposed by Sweedenborg, shows controversial aspects. First of all, the interpretation of early death as a violation of a natural law is incorrect: in fact, it is a characteristic of the animal world to produce an exceeding number of new organisms, of which only a small percentage is destined to survive until adulthood. Furthermore, the value attributed to pains and sufferings of our human life as essential elements in order to then be able to appreciate the condition of enjoyment and happiness of the spiritual dimension – which recalls a heaven as opposed to this valley of tears – frankly seems reductive to me, and is in contrast with a decidedly more positive view of life presented by Bacon entity, both on page 151 (as we have already seen), and on page 225: «We desire that (man's) life on earth should be happy, and teach you that when man's whole conduct is just and pure he must be so. As the unsinful heart recognizes no congeniality in any thing which produces evil, so no man can be unhappy whose mind embraces the good of existence, and rejects the evil».
Sweedenborg then recounts how the spirits of those who die as children are entrusted with more or less virtuous tasks, such as comforting their loved ones and supporting them in difficulties: «Little children are selected to accompany their parents during their stay on earth, and the mother is often surrounded by developed spirits even of those children whose birth she had not numbered with those living or dead. And when in some dark hour of trial, when the hopes and anticipations of life have been blasted, when the mother is struggling under an affliction worse than death – that of a drunken husband – or when left on earth without husband, with children surrounding her, and she striving to support and educate them, or when from some cause the bond which binds husband and wife is sundered, then it is that the spirits of their children are sent to earth, clothed in forms of dazzling beauty, and gifted with powers to soothe and calm the troubled spirit of that mother, gently and yet serenely instilling hope, where before was dark despair, and raising the drooping heart to look with confidence and trust to God, who is a husband to the widow and a father to the orphan» (page 120-121). And this edifying and consoling picture, which however does not offer any explanation on the different destiny of the spirits and on the meaning of human life, concludes the information received through Dexter's mediumship regarding the spirits of those organisms which die before the conscious Ego associated with them has had a chance to evolve, or even before it was formed. In any case, it is information that reflects certain particular tunings of the human psyche, often in a naive way and sometimes even marked by a basic infantilism, even if they must be seen in the context of a historical period in which the human social and cultural environment was still marked by particular hardships, uncertainties, difficulties and sufferings. Precisely because of the constant involvement of the conscious Ego in the mental dynamics determined by the human psyche, it will always be very difficult for us to be able to imagine a Spirit dimension in which the conscious Ego will be completely free to exist and to experience completely different forms of reality, uncontaminated by the bipolarity to which it has been subjected and accustomed by the psyche.
The meaning and purpose of human life
Generally speaking, we would like to be able to state that the human organism is the shell in which the conscious Ego is formed and developes: the latter, dealing with the psyche's dynamics in which it is involved, prepares to continue to exist in a new dimension once the death of its organism has freed it from the bond that forced it to live in this world. However, we do not have enough evidence to allow us to guarantee the truth and accuracy of this interpretation of human life, and above all we do not know if it is valid for the Ego of any human organism, regardless of how it behaves and what it thinks. While I intend to elaborate on this important issue in the next post, let's now see if the entities communicating through Dexter's mediumship have said anything meaningful about it. As we have seen, Bacon entity had posed (on page 151) the question of the true purpose of human life, resolutely rejecting the idea that a God could place humans in a condition of misery and suffering, to then punish them if they would not conform to his precise directives, transmitted – with all evidence – through the effectiveness of cultural programs arranged ad hoc by the human psyche. According to Bacon, human life represents only the initial phase of a long process of progression involving the spiritual Ego, which is none other than the conscious Ego, once it has been freed from the link that binds it to a human organism. This topic is resumed, again by Bacon, on page 180: «There is a necessity for an advance toward perfection in every thing created by God. Of what purpose was it that he created worlds, and filled them with intelligent beings, capable of understanding and learning from every manifestation of his power around them the effect which certain laws he has established have produced? Of what purpose was it that he should have created them, if he had intended that they – man or men – should have remained in a state of abeyance? Of what use the mind? Of what use thought? Of what use that the sprig should have been lopped off from the oak itself?». Here it is convenient to open a bracket: every time the communicating entities refer to God, one gets the impression that they continue to use the naive mental schemes historically flowing from the human psyche, through which God is still interpreted as a personalized entity in direct relationship with humans. And yet, given the complexity of a universe whose shapes and dimensions go well beyond the capabilities of our wildest imagination, it would be more reasonable to refer to a rather articulated organization, possibly structured at various levels, even hierarchical, within which what is usually identified as God by us Earth people could very well be a fourth-rate department! On the other hand, those same communicating entities then refer to an organized system of levels or spheres, within which the spirits seem to be engaged, who more who less, in carrying out tasks and missions that also concern the way in which human affairs are – if not exactly determined – at least influenced.
But let's go back to what Bacon says: «God could just as well have created man without a soul as with an intelligent one; and certainly it appears to me reasonable that in planting within his body a spirit susceptible, comprehensive, and intelligent, he intended that spirit should not be satisfied with learning or understanding one fact only, and that it should not be satisfied till it had grasped every thing within the scope of its faculties. There is one idea which has often occurred to me since I left the earth, and that is, that if it were not intended that both spirit and matter should progress, God would probably have created man with all the powers and faculties of his nature, ready developed at his creation. For were it denied that the intention of his creation was his steady advancement, the mind, when it had mastered one position, would have still remained the same as before it recognized a new idea. There could not have been any appreciation of any thing before it, and instead of knowledge enlarging its range of desire and thought, it would have left in the same condition as it found it» (page 180-181). Referring, in a generic and abstract way, to the creation of man according to a hypothetical standard model, Bacon forgets the great differences in intelligence, sensitivity and empathy that are found between one person and another in the reality of our organic life. Anyway, this statement of his has the merit of recognizing that the evolution of our physical world also depends on the evolution of the spirit, in accordance with a creative intent attributed to God's enterprise: this would give a certain value to human life, allowing the spirit to try its hand and exercise itself in transforming the physical reality to which the human organism connects it, according to a model, in a certain sense alien, that the spirit carries with it and which it seeks to transfer into this world. However this model, which in Bacon's elaboration seems to coincide with the attunements attributable to the positive polarity of the human psyche, should also take into account the obstacles, tensions and conflicts determined by the bipolar character of the psyche itself, which prevent this evolutionary process to develop in a linear and painless way.
Again, Bacon entity, on page 329, elaborates the issue of human psyche's bipolarity in the following terms, without however offering us any interpretation that helps us to understand the origin of this bipolarity and its purposes: «Man is as susceptible of error as of truth, and it is only those minds which seem intuitively to comprehend its nature that are ready to receive truth under whatever form it may assume. There are men who contest truth, even when convinced of its reality or necessity. It is to such minds that we are to teach, not the higher manifestations, but the simpler forms; that if indeed they reject, the influence it may have shall not comprehend all that is important for man to know. Then what is to be done when all demonstration may be perverted by one, rejected by another, and denied and reviled by many? Is there not in the truth itself a power sufficient to overcome all opposition, all perversion, and accomplish its design and purpose of itself? Can that which so essentially concerns man, as the knowledge of what is right, be diverted, be made to produce evil instead of good? Shall those laws which indeed are of God, and when properly and wisely understood answer the intent for which they were instituted, be forced by man to the injury of his race? Alas! it is so. Alas! that this should be the great obstacle to man's progress of earth, and, in fact, is an all-powerful cause of his lingering by the wayside even in these spheres. What do I say, that truth itself is made a means of evil? Yes, and the history of man from the earliest period until the present time corroborates this statement». It seems to me that this fervent peroration, rather than being considered as coming from an entity belonging to the spiritual dimension, could be attributed to any living person, endowed with sufficient intelligence to evaluate and interpret the common bipolar dynamics of the human psyche: instead of offering us at least an attempt to explain the reasons why the confrontation of the individual spirit with such dynamics should be advantageous for it, Bacon entity limits itself to outlining a picture that we humans already know very well, adding, moreover, that even in some spheres of the spirit dimension things don't get much better! Logically, some doubts follow on the effectiveness of the communication strategies to be adopted: «What, then, shall be done? How convince your minds that what we teach is true? How show you that you are not perverting the form of truth, and are not in your designs giving to the world that which bears no resemblance to the original, and which may generate evil instead of good? How know you that we have not pandered to those latent passions of your heart, that in their free exercise you may conserve the injury of your race, instead of the good which you believe to be your desire?» (page 330).
Bacon then presents us with a synthetic and shareable historical excursus, which shows how the dynamics of the human psyche act on social groups – both in the form of political organizations and in that of faiths and religious convictions – making sure that each of them, strong in the truth and the value of what are considered certainties, tries to subdue, even in a violent way, other groups, to affirm and spread their own model and the truths of which the members of that group feel not only keepers, but also privileged for having been the first to be enlightened, and therefore destined to dominate: «And the desire to make proselytes has not been limited to a fair and impartial exhibition of their claims, but they have forced their belief by the sword, the cannon, the torture, and the faggot. Can it be that the truth needs support from the unlicensed bigotry and passions of men!... in all ages, by all men, by saint, by savage, or divine – the whole history of man teems with evidences of the correctness of my sayings. And how is this? I have already answered that man, believing from the evidence he recognizes, insists that he alone is in possession of truth, and that others must believe what he dictates» (page 331). Here perhaps Bacon entity could broaden his speach and better explain the reasons why the cultural conditioning programs elaborated by the human psyche – sometimes clearly absurd and contrary to reason – can settle and spread even rapidly within a human social group. But in the end Bacon – contrary to what Sweedenborg had stated (see above) regarding the need to believe in what the entities revealed, however strange and confusing it might seem to our human intellect – argues that the purpose of spirit communications is not to induce us humans to believe them, just because they come from inorganic entities endowed with certain powers and belonging, so to speak, to a higher dimension: «My friends, has this been the method I have pursued in my instructions? Have I, or has Sweedenborg, insisted that you should believe what we have taught to be alone the truth? Have we raised your view heavenward, that the light thereof should fill you with pride or excite your vanity?... It is not to be told you at this time that there is as yet no common ground for spiritualists to meet upon. And why? Because all desire to impress the mind that they are the favored recipients of spirit truth. And what will time say to this?... It will say to you, Man, the truths you avow are the seeds of discord to thousands of your fellow-men. The assurances you have given to the world are firebrands which have burned up the faith of a nation. A nation! verily the world!» (page 331-332). And this declaration – interesting for its pragmatic skepticism – by a presumed spiritual entity regarding the value of all forms of uncritical faith originating from the human psyche, concludes this detailed examination of the communications obtained by Judge Edmonds through the mediumship of Dr. Dexter, as reported in the first volume of the book Spiritualism.