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November 27, 2005

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

PART 1 Chapter 1

ON THE CREATURE CALLED MAN

The Man in the Cave

Far away in some strange constellation in skies infinitely remote, there is a small star, which astronomers may some day discover. At least I could never observe in the faces or demeanor of most astronomers or men of science any evidence that they had discovered it; though as a matter of fact they were walking about on it all the time. It is a star that brings forth out of itself very strange plants and very strange animals; and none stranger than the men of science. That at least is the way in which I should begin a history of the world if I had to follow the scientific custom of beginning with an account of the astronomical universe. I should try to see even this earth from the outside, not by the hackneyed insistence of its relative position to the sun, but by some imaginative effort to conceive its remote position for the dehumanized spectator. Only I do not believe in being dehumanized in order to study humanity. I do not believe in dwelling upon the distances that are supposed to dwarf the world; I think there is even something a trifle vulgar about this idea of trying to rebuke spirit by size. And as the first idea is not feasible, that of making the earth a strange planet so as to make it significant, I will not stoop to the other trick of making it a small planet in order to make it insignificant. I would rather insist that we do not even know that it is a planet at all, in the sense in which we know that it is a place; and a very extraordinary place too. That is the note which I wish to strike from the first, if not in the astronomical, then in some more familiar fashion.

One of my first journalistic adventures, or misadventures, concerned a comment on Grant Allen, who had written a book about the Evolution of the Idea of God. I happened to remark that it would be much more interesting if God wrote a book about the evolution of the idea of Grant Allen. And I remember that the editor objected to my remark on the ground that it was blasphemous; which naturally amused me not a little. For the joke of it was, of course, that it never occurred to him to notice the title of the book itself, which really was blasphemous; for it was, when translated into English, 'I will show you how this nonsensical notion that there is a God grew up among men.' My remark was strictly pious and proper; confessing the divine purpose even in its most seemingly dark or meaningless manifestations. In that hour I learned many things, including the fact that there is something purely acoustic in much of that agnostic sort of reverence. The editor had not seen the point, because in the title of the book the long word came at the beginning and the short word at the end; whereas in my comment the short word came at the beginning and gave him a sort of shock. I have noticed that if you put a word like God into the same sentence with a word like dog, these abrupt and angular words affect people like pistol-shots. Whether you say that God made the dog or the dog made God does not seem to matter; that is only one of the sterile disputations of the too subtle theologians. But so long as you begin with a long word like evolution the rest will roll harmlessly past; very probably the editor had not read the whole of the title, for it is rather a long title and he was rather a busy man.

But this little incident has always lingered in my mind as a sort of parable. Most modern histories of mankind begin with the word evolution, and with a rather wordy exposition of evolution, for much the same reason that operated in this case. There is something slow and soothing and gradual about the word and even about the idea. As a matter of fact it is not, touching these primary things, a very practical word or a very profitable idea. Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth' even if you only mean 'In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.' For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one. But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species.

But this notion of something smooth and slow like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogically as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one. The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But to see a naval gentleman of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail would not be any more soothing. It might be rather more creepy and uncanny. The medieval wizard may have flown through the air from the top of a tower; but to see an old gentleman walking through the air in a leisurely and lounging manner, would still seem to call for some explanation. Yet there runs through all the rationalistic treatment of history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided or even mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay or on something dilatory in the processes of things. There will be something to be said upon particular examples elsewhere; the question here is the false atmosphere of facility and ease given by the mere suggestion of going slow; the sort of comfort that might be given to a nervous old woman traveling for the first time in a motor-car.

Mr. H. G. Wells has confessed to being a prophet; and in this matter he was a prophet at his own expense. It is curious that his first fairy-tale was a complete answer to his last book of history. The Time Machine destroyed in advance all comfortable conclusions founded on the mere relativity of time. In that sublime nightmare the hero saw trees shoot up like green rockets, and vegetation spread visibly like a green conflagration, or the sun shoot across the sky from east to west with the swiftness of a meteor. Yet in his sense these things were quite as natural when they went swiftly; and in our sense they are quite as supernatural when they go slowly. The ultimate question is why they go at all; and anybody who really understands that question will know that it always has been and always will be a religious question; or at any rate a philosophical or metaphysical question. And most certainly he will not think the question answered by some substitution of gradual for abrupt change; or in other words by a merely relative question of the same story being spun out or rattled rapidly through, as can be done with any story at a cinema by turning a handle.

November 20, 2005

Life In The World Unseen by Anthony Borgia

FOREWORD
by Sir John Anderson, Bart.

I AM very pleased to have the opportunity of writing the foreword for this volume, which gives a vivid and picturesque picture of life in the Spiritual spheres, experienced by those who have lived their earth life in accordance with the Divine law. This also confirms what I have found to be true, during my investigations with regard to the philosophy of thought.

This will reassure those who are now living a life of Good purpose, and encourage others to change their wave-length of thought, and so avoid their entry into the dark spheres of the Spirit World, as a consequence of their acceptance of the Evil vibrations on earth, which have brought so much tribulation to this world.

Thought is the creative force of the universe, as our every action is the result of thought, for Good or Evil. As we pass through this earth life, we build our inheritance in the World of Spirit, which will be no more and no less than the reflection of the quality of our thought desire here.

Cause and effect is an immutable universal law. Man is a free agent to act in accordance with his freewill of thought. What happens to the soul when it enters the World of Spirit, is the result of the selective choice of the Ego on earth. The punishment for Evil is the remorse of the immortal soul, inflicted entirely by the personal reaction of the individual conscience.

In the past, the responsibilities of life and the consequences of individual action, have been obscure to the mass mind of humanity. For this reason, the orthodox religions have failed to establish the peace of the world as envisaged by the Great Master.

Civilization is at the parting of the ways, and it is to be hoped that more informative literature, such as this, will be forthcoming, to enable the Spiritual regeneration of the world to proceed, so that Peace and Harmony may reign supreme!

-JOHN ANDERSON


*

PREFACE

Knowledge is the best antidote for fear, especially if that fear should be of the possible or probable state of existence after we have made the change from this life to the next.

To discover what kind of place is the next world, we must inquire of someone who lives there, and record what is said. That is what has been done in the present volume.

The communicator, whom I first came to know in 1909--five years before his passing into the spirit world--was known on earth as Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, a son of Edward White Benson, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Until the present scripts were written he had never communicated with me directly, but I was once told (by another spirit friend) that there were certain matters he wished to set right. The difficulties of communication were explained to him by spirit friends and advisers, but he held to his purpose. And so when a suitable time was reached, he was told that he could communicate through a friend of his earthly days, and it has been my privilege to act as his recorder.

The first script was composed under the title of Beyond This Life; the second under that of The World Unseen

In the former, the communicator gives, in a general survey, an account of his passing and his subsequent travels through various parts of spirit lands. In the latter script he deals at much greater length with a number of important and interesting facts and facets of spirit life, upon which previously he had touched only lightly or in passing.

For example: in Beyond This Life he mentions the highest realms and the lowest. In The World Unseen he actually visits them and describes what he saw and what took place in both regions. Although each of the two scripts is complete in itself, the second greatly extends and amplifies the first, and together they form a composite whole.

We are old friends, and his passing hence has not severed an earthly friendship; on the contrary, it has increased it, and provided many more opportunities of meeting than would have been possible had he remained on earth. He constantly expresses his delight upon his ability to return to earth in a natural, normal, healthy, and pleasant manner, and to give some account of his adventures and experiences in the spirit world, as one who 'being dead (as many would regard him), yet speaketh'.

-A. B.


More About Life In The World Unseen

1947

November 13, 2005

The Urantia Book by various

FOREWORD

IN THE MINDS of the mortals of Urantia--that being the name of your world--there exists great confusion respecting the meaning of such terms as God, divinity, and deity. Human beings are still more confused and uncertain about the relationships of the divine personalities designated by these numerous appellations. Because of this conceptual poverty associated with so much ideational confusion, I have been directed to formulate this introductory statement in explanation of the meanings which should be attached to certain word symbols as they may be hereinafter used in those papers which the Orvonton corps of truth revealers have been authorized to translate into the English language of Urantia.

It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning.

In the hope of facilitating comprehension and of preventing confusion on the part of every mortal who may peruse these papers, we deem it wise to present in this initial statement an outline of the meanings to be attached to numerous English words which are to be employed in designation of Deity and certain associated concepts of the things, meanings, and values of universal reality.

But in order to formulate this Foreword of definitions and limitations of terminology, it is necessary to anticipate the usage of these terms in the subsequent presentations. This Foreword is not, therefore, a finished statement within itself; it is only a definitive guide designed to assist those who shall read the accompanying papers dealing with Deity and the universe of universes which have been formulated by an Orvonton commission sent to Urantia for this purpose.

Your world, Urantia, is one of many similar inhabited planets which comprise the local universe of Nebadon. This universe, together with similar creations, makes up the superuniverse of Orvonton, from whose capital, Uversa, our commission hails. Orvonton is one of the seven evolutionary superuniverses of time and space which circle the never-beginning, never-ending creation of divine perfection--the central universe of Havona. At the heart of this eternal and central universe is the stationary Isle of Paradise, the geographic center of infinity and the dwelling place of the eternal God.

The seven evolving superuniverses in association with the central and divine universe, we commonly refer to as the grand universe; these are the now organized and inhabited creations. They are all a part of the master universe, which also embraces the uninhabited but mobilizing universes of outer space.

1955

November 4, 2005

The Teachings of the Magi by R.C. Zaehner

Chapter III
The Devil's onslaught

Ahriman's attack on the world of Spirit has failed, and he has been thrown back into the darkness by the recitation of the sacred formula. For three thousand years he lies in a stupor, unable to move. The demons vainly seek to revive him, 'but the accursed Destructive Spirit was not comforted... for fear of the Blessed Man.' It is, then, not only the magic power of the sacred formula that keeps Ahriman at bay, but the First Man whom he dare not attack, so holy is he. There now follows a very strange episode which begins the text we reproduce in this chapter and which is form the fourth chapter of the Bundahishn.

Nothing the demons say or do can revive their stricken captain until a character described as 'the Whore' makes her appearance on the scene and boasts that she will 'take away the dignity of the Blessed Man.' At this Ahriman instantly revives, and the attack on the material world begins. This, surprisingly enough, is the last we hear of the 'demon Whore' whose intervention seems to have been so very decisive. Another text, however, tells us how she succeeded in corrupting the unfortunate Gayomart, the 'Blessed Man.' This text, from the Selections of Zatsparam, tells us this:-

'When Ahriman rushed into creation, he had the brood of the demon Whore of evil religion as his companion even as a man has a whore woman as his bedfellow; for verily the whore is a demon: and he appointed the demon Whore queen of her brood, that is the chief of all the whore demons, the most grievous adversary of the Blessed Man. And [the demon Whore] of evil religion joined herself to [the Blessed Man]; for the defilement of females she joined herself to him, that she might defile females; and the females, because they were defiled, might defile the males, and (the males) would turn aside from their proper work.'

All this seems very un-Zoroastrian, for as we have seen in chapter I, the reproduction of the species is one of the first duties of man. It is clear, however, from this and other passages that woman was held in slight esteem by the Zoroastrian, or at least by a sect of them, -for there are passages which exalt the virtues of the housewife, -and that the reproduction of males, not of females, was the essential element in the defeat of the Evil One. Ohrmazd himself makes this quite clear in that he says:-

'I created thee whose adversary is the whore species, and thou wast created with a mouth close to thy buttocks, and coition seems to thee even as the state of the sweetest food to the mouth; for thou art a helper to me, for from thee is man born, but thou dost grieve me who am Ohrmazd. But had I found another vessel from which to make man, never would I have created thee, whose adversary is the whore species. But I sought in the waters and in the earth, in plants and cattle, in the highest mountains and deep valleys, but I did not find a vessel from which blessed man might proceed except woman whose adversary is the whore.'

It would seem clear, then, that the 'Whore' is the First Woman just as Gayomart is the First Man. It seems that she was created by Ohrmazd and fled to Ahriman whose consort she then became. The Devil's kiss causes menstruation, a condition abhorred by the Zoroastrians as being in the highest possible degree impure. Thus Man is defiled by Woman and ever will be so till the final Resurrection when both sexes are called to share in the universal bliss. Through Woman who, though created by Ohrmazd, chose to play the harlot with Ahriman, Man and all his descendants are defiled. But Ahriman's victory in this respect is only partial, for not only does the union of man and woman make the reproduction of the race of men possible, but woman remains forever subject to man. As always the stratagems of Ahriman ultimately turn to his own undoing.

Ahriman, then, revived by the demon Whore's promise to destroy the dignity of the Blessed Man, delivers his attack on the material creation of Ohrmazd. He burst through the periphery of the sky and rends it, he defiles the waters and makes them brackish, he attacks the earth by letting loose upon it all manner of filthy and creeping things, he poisons the plants and brings disease upon the 'lone-created Bull' so that he sickens and dies. Next he attacks Gayomart, the Blessed Man himself, with the Demon of Death and 'a thousand death-dealing demons' (§11), with 'concupiscence and want, with bane and pain, with disease and lust and sloth.' Yet Gayomart is suffered by a decree of Time to live for thirty years after the attack was launched. During these thirty years, it must be assumed, his unholy union with the 'demon Whore' was consummated.

Lastly Ahriman attacks the holy fire and befouls it with smoke. At this point Ahriman achieves his highest power. One thing, however, he had forgotten. Though he had rent the sky and come upon the earth from its lower side, the sky was able to close up the fissure and Ahriman found himself entrapped in the material universe till the end of time. 'And the Spirit of the Sky said to the Destructive Spirit, "[Till] the end of Time must I watch (over thee) so as not to suffer thee to escape"' (5). Trapped then as he is in the snare of the sky, he is set upon by the powers of light until he and his demon host 'were routed and hurled into Hell' which is in the middle of the earth. Creation, however, has been definitively corrupted, and Ahriman remains within it to continue his abominable works until the Resurrection and the Final Body when all is made good 'and neither the Destructive Spirit nor his creation will exist.'

Bundahishn, chapter IV

'(1) It is said in the Religion that when the Destructive Spirit saw that he himself and the demons were powerless on account of the Blessed Man, he was thrown into a stupor. For three thousand years he lay in a stupor. And when he was thus languishing, the demons with monstrous heads cried out one by one (saying), "Arise, O our father, for we would join battle in the material world that Ohrmazd and the Amahraspands may suffer straitness and misery thereby." One by one they minutely related their own evil deeds. But the accursed Destructive Spirit was not comforted, nor did he rise out of his stupor for fear of the Blessed Man, till the accursed Whore came after three thousand years had run their course, and she cried out (saying), "Arise, O our father, for in that battle I shall let loose so much affliction on the Blessed Man and the toiling Bull that, because of my deeds, they will not be fit to live. I shall take away their dignity (khwarr); I shall afflict the water, I shall afflict the earth, I shall afflict the fire, I shall afflict the plants, I shall afflict all the creation which Ohrmazd has created." And she related her wvil deeds so minutely that the destructive Spirit was comforted and, throwing aside his stupor, leapt forth and kissed the head of the Whore; and the pollution which is called menstruation appeared on the Whore. And the Destructive Spirit cried out to the demon Whore, "Whatsoever is thy desire, do thou ask, that I may give it thee."

(2) Then Ohrmazd in his omniscient wisdom knew that at that time the Destructive Spirit could give whatever the demon Whore asked and that there would be great profit to him thereby. The appearance of the body of the Destructive Spirit was in the form of a frog. And (Ohrmazd) showed one like unto a young man of fifteen years of age to the demon Whore; and the demon Whore fastened her thoughts on him. And the demon Whore cried out to the Destructive Spirit (saying), "Give me desire for man that I may seat him in the house as my lord." And the Destructive Spirit cried out unto her (saying), "I do not bid thee ask anything, for thou knowest (only) to ask for what is profitless and bad." But the time had passed when he was in a position not to give what she asked.

(3) Then the Destructive Spirit rose up together with his demons and his weapons to attack the lights. For he had seen the sky when it appeared to him in its ideal form before it was created in corporeal shape. I envious desire he rushed upon it, -and the sky was in the station of the stars, -and he dragged it down into the Void as I have (already) written above, for (the Void) lay between the first principles of Light and Darkness. One third of the sky was above the station of the stars on the inner side.

(4) (And Ahriman) leapt forth in the form of a serpent and trampled on as much of the sky as was beneath the earth and rended it. In the month of Fravartin on the day of Ohrmazd at midday he made his attack. And the sky shrank from him in terror even as a ewe shrinks from a wolf.

(5) Then he came upon the waters which, as I have said, are established beneath the earth; and he bored a hole in the middle of the earth and entered in thereby. And he came upon the plants, and then upon the Bull and Gayomart, and lastly he came upon the fire in the form of a fly. All creation did he assail. At midday he trampled upon all the world and make it as dark as the darkest night. He darkened the sky which is above and which is beneath the earth; and the Spirit of the Sky said to the Destructive Spirit, "[Till] the end of time must I mount guard (over thee) so as not to suffer thee to escape."

(6) And upon the waters he brought brackishness (lit. "different taste"). And the Spirit of the Waters said "...(corrupt)..."

(7) And upon the earth he let loose reptiles in corporeal form, -and they mingled with each other,- reptiles, biting and poisonous, -the serpent-dragon, scorpion, venomous lizard, tortoise, and frog, so that not so much as a needle's point on (the whole) earth remained free from reptiles. And the Earth said, "May an avenger come upon these vengeful beings (in return) for this creation which they have created."

(8) And upon the plants he brought so much poison that in a moment they dried up. And the Spirit of the Plants said, "By the moisture (that is his) Ohrmazd will cause the plants to grow."

(9) And upon the Bull and Gayomart he brought concupiscence and want, bane and pain, disease and lust (varan) and sloth. Before he assailed the Bull Ohrmazd gave him healing mang (Indian hemp) which some call bang to eat and rubbed it on his eyes, so that he might suffer less from the smiting and the wickedness and the tortue. In a moment he weakened and sickened, but his pain was short-lived, for straightway he died. And the Bull said, "Let the actions and deeds (of men) consist in a perfect rulership over the animal creation."

(10) Before (Ahriman) came upon Gayomart, Ohrmazd brought sleep upon him (lasting) as long as it takes to say a short prayer; for Ohrmazd created sleep in the form of a stripling of fifteen years of age, bright and tall. When Gayomart awoke from that sleep, he saw the world was dark as night, and that on (the whole) earth there was not so much as a needle's point that remained free from the crawling of reptiles. The heavenly sphere began to revolve and the Sun and Moon to move, and the earth was all amazed(?) at the thundering of gigantic demons and their battle with the stars.

(11) Then the Destructive Spirit thought, "All the creatures of Ohrmazd have I made of no effect save (only) Gayomart." And he let loose upon Gayomart Astvihat, (the Demon of Death,) and a thousand death-dealing demons, yet because of the decree of Time they found no means of slaying him; for it is said that at the beginning of creation when Ahriman started to attack, Time extended Gayomart's life and kingdom for thirty years, [he said] so that Gayomart lived for thirty years after the assault was delivered. And Gayomart said, "Now that the Aggressor has come, men will arise from my seed, and it is best for them to do good works."

(12) Then (Ahriman) came upon the fire and he mingled it with darkness and smoke; and the Seven Planets together with many demons and henchmen mingled with the heavenly sphere to do battle with the constellations. All creation did he befoul even as if smoke were to rise from fire (burning) everywhere. And ( these demons) corrupted the place of (the gods) on high and strove with them.

(13) For ninety days and nights did the spiritual gods do battle in the material world with the Destructive Spirit and the demons until they were routed and hurled into Hell. And the sky was made a fortress so that they could not mingle with it. Hell is in the middle of the earth at the point where the Destructive Spirit bored a hole in it and rushed in. So it is that in all the things of this world a dual operation can be seen, antagonism and strife, rising and sinking, and mixture everywhere.'

Ahriman has now succeeded in contaminating and defiling the whole of Ohrmazd's material creation. Though he himself has been cast into Hell, this is the hour of his greatest triumph. He is, however, reckoning without Ohrmazd's master-plan; for Ahriman, by breaking into the sky, has allowed himself to be caught in a trap from which he cannot escape; and the more he struggles, the more hopelessly enmeshed does he become. His predicament is described in the Shikand Gumani Vazar, another of our Middle Persian books, where we find the Evil One compared to a noxious beast who unwittingly falls into a trap set for him by the wise gardener who is Ohrmazd.

Shikand Gumani Vazar, chapter IV,§§63-80

(63) (Ohrmazd) is like the owner of a garden or a wise gardener whose garden noxious and destructive beasts and the birds are intent on spoiling by doing harm to its fruits and trees. (64) And the wise gardener, to save himself trouble and to keep those noxious beasts out of his garden, devises means whereby to capture them, (65) like gins and snares and bird-traps, (66) so that when the beast sees the trap and strives to escape from it, it is ensnared inside it, not knowing (the nature of) the gin or snare. (67-8) It is obvious that when the beast falls into the snare, it is caught in it not because of the superiority of the snare (itself) but because of (the superiority of) the maker of the snare. (69) The man who is the owner of the garden and maker of the snare knows in his wisdom just how great the beast's strength is and for how long (it can hold out). (70) The strength and power which the beast has within its body is neutralized by its own struggles and is expended in the proportion that it has enough power to trample on the snare and to rend the gin and to strive to destroy it. (71) Since its strength is insufficient, its power to resist diminishes and it is put out of action. Then the wise gardener, putting his plan into effect and knowing (the needs of) his own produce, drives the beast out of the snare; and the beast's substance remains but its faculties are put out of action. (72) And the gardener returns his snare and gin undamaged to his store-house where he will refit it.

(73) So the Creator Ohrmazd, the Saviour of his creatures and Ordainer of creation, the (God) who puts the Principle of Evil out of action is like [a gardener] who protects his garden from what is harmful to it. (74) And that noxious beast which ruins the garden is the accursed Ahriman who disrupts and assails creation. (75) The goodly snare is the sky in which the good creations are (like) guests, (76) and in which the Destructive Spirit and his abortions are entrapped. (77) And the gin and trap which prevents the noxious beast from achieving its desire (78) is the time set for the battle with Ahriman and his powers and weapons (known as) Time of the long Dominion, (79) which, by struggling with the beast in the gin and snare, destroys its power. (80) Only the Creator of creation (himself) can bring about again the salvation of his [creatures] from eternal adversity and can reconstitute its goodly progress, just as the wise owner of the garden (reconstitutes) his gin and snare.'

1956