Now here is the continuation of Caroline Larsen's account of her out-of-body visits to the World Beyond, and her comments and conclusions.
The First Spirit Plane.
As the reader has already seen, the time spent by the spirits on earth before they gravitate to the sphere of spirit life varies greatly. Before taking final leave of the earth they all hover about their old environment. For those generously endowed with highly developed spiritual qualities, the period of transition to larger attainments [moving to higher spheres and further progress and development] is short. Others less developed are chained more firmly to the interests of their old life. But the majority of spirits remain earthbound for protracted periods because they are unaware that any change has taken place. Some faintly suspect an alteration but they refuse to acknowledge it because of their love for all that which savours of the past. There are many, also, who return from the spirit abodes to spend more time on the earth because they have made no progress there. To the earth return also numerous evil spirits who find there larger fields for their insidious practices. These spirits of evil become more or less permanent residents. Counteracting the malefactions of these zealous evil spirits there is a great army of highly developed spirits who constantly pass and repass between the spirit realm and the earth on errands of mercy. These spirits constitute the army of the good. The good and the evil spirits are continually at war; and each struggles for domination over the human race. Thus the spirit population of the earth is greater than the mortal population [I think that a statistician calculated that 72 billion human beings have inhabited the planet, so far]. Its life is as cosmopolitan and multifarious as the mortal population. [This does not prove that the Dualistic belief of some cults and religions is valid. It would appear that rather than there being an eternal struggle between God and the Devil [or Satan], between good and evil, this conflict only exists on earth, and close to earth. I for one feel there is no risk of evil overflowing into and dominating the higher spirit planes. Evil by nature is a manifestation of lower frequencies which cannot pass beyond the lower astral regions, but it can cause havoc as it negatively influences the material world.]
The places where the spirits journey after leaving the earth are great spheres or planes arranged in an ascending order of development. Each of these planes is an independent world of enormous dimensions. I do not know how many such worlds actually exist for I have never penetrated farther than the foursth. To the first of these planes all spirits eventually gravitate. As far as I can perceive, this plane is situated in close proximity to our solar system. In my travels to these spheres and in space it was necessary for me to be accompanied by a guide. As soon as I passed from my physical body ready to go on these journeys a guide, always the same individual, was by my side. He is always at my right hand, he directs my way and from him comes my knowledge of the realms we visit. [Bertha Harris describes a similar guide being present on her journeys into the Spirit World]. He carefully fixes the time for my return to my body, lest an absence too prolonged should make return impossible, and lest death of the body should ensue. It is as if a current of mysterious influence united astral and physical body, a current which gradually weakens as the period of absence from the physical body is prolonged.
My guide is a figure of much stateliness, tall and well-proportioned. He is dressed somewhat in the fashion of the old Roman nobles, in a tunic reaching to the feet. He is distinguished by an air of great authority, recognized wherever he goes.
My first visit [beyond the earth plane] was not to the plane where spirits arrive immediately on leaving earth, but to levels of higher life and development [the Third and Fourth]. What I saw there led me to ask to see the First Plane, and it seems best to describe that First Plane before I picture the glories of the Third and Fourth planes, which as I have told you, I actually saw first.
The First Plane is the place of those just released from our life, where they may learn the way to higher levels, and it is also the place of earthbound souls, some of whom seemed never destined to go farther. It was when I was about to leave the fourth plane, that I asked to be taken to the first plane. All that I had seen overwhlemed me -the life of the spirits, the wonderful beauty of their surroundings, the love that governs their relations, their dignity, grace and serenity. The cry of delight that rose to my lips was stifled by a sudden thought of pity for those who knew not these glories.
Where - I asked - are those spirits who may not enter here? Where dwell the evil spirits? And where do spirits first arrive?
My guide answered - You shall see.
In a moment we were speeding through space, through endless voids of darkness. The phrase "A great gulf is fixed" passed through my mind. But no word was spoken. At last light appeared in the distance, and soon we set foot in a world, dark and dull compared with the sphere I had just left, but not unlike this world in which we live, with its open country, its cities with streets and buildings, and its life moving in familiar paths. This similarity, I learned, was due to the fact that many of the newly arrived spirits are still ignorant of their mortal change, and strive to continue their habitual activities, until they are disillusioned by the failure of their hollow pursuits. Everything first conspires there to confirm this mistake. Even the light, though brighter than on earth, is not so bright as to dispel the illusion.
I found myself in a city of gigantic size, its streets running between continuous buildings in seemingly endless lines, save where they led on to great open squares. The traffic was denser than in any earthly city. Throngs of spirits hurried past in every direction. Multitudes and more multitudes of them pushed by the spot where I had stationed myself. They were I, learned, newcomers. They seemed to me confused, disturbed, endlessly seeking. On their faces I read bewilderment, agitation, and vague desire as if they were set upon reaching an uncertain goal. Most of them, still unaware they had left this earth, were seeking to discover why they were suddenly surrounded with strangers in a city like any earthly city, yet somewhat more than strange. Puzzled surprise, wonder, distress, incredulity, and a dawning apprehension, peered from these passing faces. A few who understood or suspected their state sought only confirmation and to reach their destination, as yet unknown. All were dressed as on earth, for the aura from the astral body, shaped by the spirit mind, clothes the spirits with the familiar vesture of earth, and these newcomers were still completely governed by the ideals of their former life.
So the multitudes of beings, dressed as on earth, moved by the purpose of earth, pressed through the streets lined with houses of all kinds and for all purposes as in an earthly city. The action of the surging throng seemed earthly too. The many newly arrived spirits evidence their desire to pursue their life as they had pursued it in the past. Most of the spirits come to the realization that they are no longer on the earth only by continual disappointments, which gradually destroy the values they have been accustomed to place on earthly things. Thus this plane seems as a kind of clearinghouse for the newly arrived. Those most highly developed spiritually on earth pass almost directly to higher spheres; others less developed but anxious to advance prepare for advancement by intense training under the guidance of spirits from higher levels who have voluntarily chosen the task of helpers. Finally there linger here, perhaps permanently, the earthbound souls - those whose minds are open only to desires and influences of earth, having no wish to spiritual development. The different classes of spirits on this plane live in separate places, and the spirit helpers see that no class mingles with and hampers any other class.
These helping spirits are to be seen everywhere and are easily recognized, for their aura envelops them in a ball of white light which indivates their high spiritual state. They are commanding, yet sympathtic figures, whose faces reveal their spiritual qualities. All are clad in long white robes reaching to the feet. The men usually wear a form of tunic, and the women a simple but very feminine dress with a head covering which flows down the back. The duties of these helpers are manifold. They are always ready to help, whether it be in the way of instruction, or of giving strength, encouragement or sympathy, or by performing any of the deeds that spring from the pure spiritual love which fills their minds. No cry for help or assistance goes unheeded by them, but neither is their help or work forced upon any one.
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