The Teaching Summary, Contents: The Channel Introduction, Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Summary, Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Appendix, Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Conclusion
Introduction, Part 3
An Attempt To Sum Up.
The very fact that we, as a Circle, gave up so much of our time and interest over so many years is witness to our certainty that we were dealing with genuine phenomena and moreover, that these things were as they seemed.
The Doctor was one who felt very strongly that if the items of our belief were extracted from their context, and examined in the cold light of worldly experience, then a verdict of credulous fools was fully warranted. I was not in complete agreement with him over this, although very conscious of his point. I felt that given a necessary background of book knowledge of religious experience and psychical research, there was nothing particularly indigestible to an unprejudiced mind.
Let us look at the essentials of our belief.
We believed that one of our number could, more or less at will, lose consciousness in this material world and regain it in some other dimension, in the Heaven of primitive religion, if you like. We believed that she could return to the material world with some slight memory of her experiences in that other dimension. We believed that we could hear her holding a conversation with beings who had never lived a life on earth and would never live on earth, perhaps the An-gels of primitive religion. We believed that we could learn something of this conversation when she returned.
To take the first; the trance state is a well established physical phenomena. Kath's physical condition in trance could not be confused with sleep, nor could this physical condition be feigned without voluntary control of the respiration, the pulse rate, and bodily temperature. It is impossible to prove conclusively what happens to the consciousness in trance, or even in sleep for that matter. The sensible solution to that problem was to accept at its face value the probability that the consciousness of the person in trance had ceased to be aware of the physical world, and had become aware of another world, a world of the Spirit. (I am purposely avoiding the use of the terms employed in the Teaching.) In this world of the Spirit, her Spirit met and conversed with other Spirits. On that hypothesis we sat back and waited to see whether further experience would support or destroy it. We found that all experience supported it. As time went on we grew to know these Spirits well, through long and close association with them and the more we knew of them, the more impossible was any other solution than the apparent one. Furthermore, these Spirits evinced powers that were supernormal, and intellectual powers which were certainly beyond those of any of the Circle. We learnt beyond doubt that we were dealing with advanced and intelligent beings and we had no reasonable option but to accept their explanation of the phenomena.
We believed also that we had heard one of our number, in trance, meet and address the Living Christ not once but on a number of occasions, and without recognising Him. But this again, this personal experience of Christ is a well known and thoroughly attested religious experience, supported by the church. If one is a Christian and believes in the Humanity and Divinity of Christ, there is nothing wildly improbable in this experience, although the recorded instances are more usually subjective experiences with no part shared by others. She did not recognise Christ; but at that time she was agnostic. She did not believe that He existed, so how could she recognise Him? She only knew at that time, that she was meeting someone for whom she had the strongest feelings of love and reverence. It was not until she, of her own will, sought Christ herself, that she found Him by recognition that Azrael was the Christ she was seeking.
Curiously enough the Doctor found this, the supposition that we had heard one of our number in our presence and at the same time in the presence of Christ, addressing Him, listening to Him, and adoring Him, not difficult to believe himself, but difficult to believe that any one else would, or could, believe it. He harked back to this on many occasions in discussions with me.
We further believed that these advanced and intelligent beings, whom we knew as Sanchuniathon and Azvard, had, so to speak, taken us up, and had trained one of our number with our support for the work of bringing a new knowledge, or fragments of a new knowledge, to earth. It seemed that we, a motley bunch of very ordinary people, had been selected to receive from an authoritative source, an aspect of truth which was to be a forerunner of a new Revelation.
This certainly is a more difficult one to swallow, taken out of its context.
I think it is fundamental, in a matter of this sort, that one believes all or nothing, setting aside the possibilities of wrong interpretation or translation of thought into words. Everything from one source is either true or dubious. We, with all our many years knowledge of Sanchuniathon and Azvard and all our experience of the Teaching as it filtered slowly through, had no option but to accept with a feeling of surprise, diffidence, and unworthiness, that we had apparently been chosen for this important work. It was less difficult to accept this for the reason that we were apparently not expected to do very much about it. Kath did all the work, while we stood by. We were not expected, for instance, to shout the good news from the house tops.
They seemed perfectly content that we should just continue our sittings, supporting Kath in her search, and recording the proceedings. In part they explained this, saying that once a new piece of knowledge had reached the Conscious Mind of any living person, from the other-side, that piece of knowledge became available to other Conscious Minds on this-side, who need have had nothing whatever to do with the first importation of the information, nor any physical communication with the Conscious Mind or Minds who had received it on this-side.
The Doctor was wont to remark that he had the highest regard for Sanchuniathon. But this respect was considerably shaken by Sanchuniathon's choice of his assistants in this work on this-side. Unless of course, his choice had been severely limited.
Now, with our further knowledge of ourselves, and a little of our pasts, the pieces of the mosaic have fallen into place and we can see something of the purpose and the reason for our finding this work to do. But we make no claim to have been good or suitable tools.
I have perhaps tended to give the impression that we of the Circle played more part in the work than in fact we did. I should emphasise again that all the carriage of the new knowledge which has gone to make up the Teaching was entirely Kath's work, through her Art of Remembrance. The Circle provided the other essential but passive element of support and, at times, stimulation. There were times, I am afraid, when there was more hindrance than stimulation from the Circle.
How Did This Knowledge Affect Us?
Let me first stress this fact. They have a complete knowledge of our past, and of our planned future. But it is not in order for any advantage to be taken of this. They gave us the reason something after this wise: "If a student is learning to paint, his master will stand behind him and watch his efforts with interest and sympathy. He will probably go so far as to offer advice which the student is at liberty to accept or ignore. One thing the master may not do, is to take the brush from the painter's hand, for then no lesson is learnt, and the picture is not the work of the student."
That is reasonable and most of us accepted it without question. The Doctor was slightly rebellious, or adopted a halfhumorous halfserious attitude of rebellion. I think he really did have some difficulty in accepting the fact that, when he had some important and difficult decision to make, he could not put it to them and say: "That's my present problem. I am very concerned to do the right thing. What do I do?" He was never very serious about this attitude. He came of an argumentative family, and was not averse to making a case of either side of an argument, whatever his own opinions were, to provoke discussion and thought.
However that may be, we neither sought nor received direct guidance on our personal affairs.
I made one exception to this, which was permitted. It was in the early days of the Circle. I had recently joined it, and was impressed with the importance, or the possible importance, of the work into which we had apparently blundered. I was in doubt whether to put my trade or this work first. It was clear that my trade was unlikely to permit me either the leisure, or the geographical opportunity, to assist the work to any extent.
I was unwilling to put the question to Kath, because I felt she might have difficulty in preventing her own feelings from obtruding and influencing the answer one way or the other. So I wrote her and told her that I had asked an important question of them and would be very grateful if she would attempt to find the answer. I gave her no further clue, nor had I given any hint to her, or any other person at any time, as to what was on my mind. She made the attempt. After very considerable difficulty she achieved an answer, and she wrote back to me to say that the words she had found were: "Do not alter course." Did that answer my question? It did.
My first point is, then, that although we were in close and constant touch with beings who had a very wide knowledge of the past and future, that was not at our disposal.
I think it is true to say that overall our Circle had little apparent external effect upon the lives of those who belonged to it, except perhaps in the case of Kath. We went on much as before. Undoubtedly there was a marked inward effect, but it is difficult to describe this, the effect of a reasoned certainty that this is a universe in which all is ordered and planned, and nothing is accidental and nothing unforeseen, together with the certainty of a continuous personal existence.
I have never been religious. At most I have been thoughtful about religion. I have not the ability to take anything on trust. Any concept must either appeal to my reason or satisfy my intuitive sense before I will accept it. I don't think I have the gift of faith, certainly not if faith is the ability to believe the demonstrably untrue.
The Teaching is not a religion. It is broadly in accord with Christian principles and teaching, though it does not deal with ethics except by inference. It is certainly possible to be a Christian and believe the tenets of the Teaching; in fact one cannot accept the Teaching unless one is a Christian. The Teaching does however slough off the hard shell of dogma and ceremony with which the many churches of the various sects of Christianity have surrounded the Life and Teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. I am sure that one cannot be a Roman Catholic and accept the tenets of the Teaching; I doubt if one can as a good Anglican. But if being a Christian can be defined as believing in the Divinity of Christ and attempting to follow His Teaching contained in the Gospels, without the added trappings of the past two thousand years, then those of us who also believe that our Teaching is an aspect of Truth, are Christians by that definition.
The Teaching is not fatalistic. It does not encourage us to sit back and fold our hands and say "God's Will be done!" The fact that everything is planned does not mean that everything will happen as planned. By no means. This is a very important difference between our Teaching and the doctrine of predetermination, or fatalism. We believe that our lives are planned by intelligent beings in accordance with the Will. We believe that those whose work is this planning, have knowledge of the probable future, but not the certain future. There is no such thing as a certain future for the events of the material world which are dependent upon the freewillingness of the actors in the drama. It may be that a catastrophic earthquake can be foretold with certainty because it is entirely independent of the will or actions of any living person. Also trends or events which depend upon the decisions of a great number of people can probably be foretold with a high degree of certainty on account of the mathematical laws of probability. But whether I shall leave this room by the back stairs or the front staircase when I go down to have tea is not yet decided, and the decision is entirely my own. There may be a very strong probability of choice in one direction or the other, and there may be a possibility of external influence being exerted of which I am not conscious, but the choice is and remains mine.
We are masters of our fate and we are encouraged to be up and doing. We are told that the sins of omission, the lost opportunities, are far more frequent, and may be much worse and more difficult to set right, than the sins of commission. A sin of commission is something positive, which may be tackled, but the inaction of a lost opportunity is a negative quantity, and something which cannot be grasped and rectified. Inaction leads to apathy, the greatest danger that imperils our continued progress.
Everything is planned and the planning is not final. With each human failure to follow the plan made for us, there must be readjustment and a new plan. The new may not be as good as the original, but it will attempt to salvage something, and to give further opportunity to achieve the essentials of the original plan. And as all our actions have their wide reactions upon the lives of others, a failure on the part of one may have wide repercussions on the plans for others, all of which will have to be readjusted to meet the new conditions.
We are assured that even death by accident is not accidental. The circumstances leading up to the event which causes the death can be foreseen and are permitted, or even arranged, if it is time for the victim to go Home.
A certainty of a planned existence, directed by benevolent intelligences with an infinitely wider horizon than our own and with knowledge of all the past and the intended future, should engender a serene outlook on life.
The knowledge that we have seen and accepted the Pattern of life to be lived, before we are born on earth to lead it, should give us strength to put up with the hard knocks which we may receive in this life.
The knowledge that all lives, and all deaths, are planned and the knowledge that life is continuous, and that death is merely a change in the conditions of living which we have undergone many times before, all these should beget a sensible, mature and wellbalanced outlook on life and death, and a desire to press on cheerfully whatsoever may happen.
The certainty that this is not the only life we shall lead on earth but only one of many lives, each planned to allow us to make some necessary progress, should make us glad to lead this life for its own sake. We should not feel the desire to get as much pleasure out of it as we can possibly achieve, nor should we feel envy of others who are more successful or better equipped with talents, or worldly possessions. We may have had our turn, or perhaps our turn will come. We should try to lead our life as fully as possible, taking advantage of every opportunity, and using every talent we possess and we should not feel hardly used and complain at the injustice of life when things do not turn out as we had hoped.
The knowledge that death when it comes to us is planned, and is merely a transition to a continuing and familiar, though forgotten, state of existence, should give us complete courage to face it. Moreover we should be better able to face bereavement which should only contain the sadness of the temporary separation from the one who has gone Home first.
These are some of the effects which an acceptance of the Teaching should have upon its adherents, and will have to a greater or lesser degree. But the old Adam is strong in all of us. There is a very active and forward part of each one of us which belongs to this material earth, and which remains under the marble headstone when the living part of us moves along elsewhere. That part does not regard its dissolution with equanimity in most of us, and makes itself felt when we try to think and behave as if it did not exist.