LIFE AND ITS MYSTERIES
by Frank L. Hammer
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This book attempts to explain in a clear and logical manner some of life's deepest mysteries. Mystery, of course is only absence of knowledge, for when we understand a thing it ceases to be a mystery. But since we never will know all, there will always be mysteries.
Birth, Mind, Thought, Telepathy, Truth, Free Will, Miracles, Equality, Affinity, Individuality, Reality, Immortality, Future Life of Animals, Questions and Answers.
Strange, indeed, that people who have implicit faith in life after death should imagine the soul to be new at birth. They do not reason deeply enough. If the soul lives after death it must, of necessity, live before birth, as the circle of immortality is not complete unless the living come from the "dead" as well as pass to them.
The soul has lived before, and is merely awakened when it comes to earth, being borne from another state to continue its development. Physical birth clothes the soul with a body of flesh, and countless people think this body the real man. "I am tired," "I am hungry," "I am sick," etc.; are common yet erroneous expressions, for it is the body clamoring for rest, food or attention.
And in this article we are confining our statements to man, the spirit; therefore, there need be no conflict with the theories entertained as to his physical origin. There are scores of volumes on anthropology, and every theory supported by an imposing list of authorities.
Questions most frequently asked pertaining to Birth we shall try to answer in this chapter. Those who believe that man's ancestry is animal usually ask this question: "At what stage of evolution did man come into possession of a soul, and evolve from an animal into a human being?" Man has always been man and a human being. But it was many ages before the soul spoke and the man heard, and in appearance resembled the brute more than the present form of humanity. But no one, regardless of animal propensities or aspect, ever was or is devoid of soul. Man is a child of God, not an offspring of a monkey. Both his origin and destiny are spiritual.
"Does the soul enter the body at conception, during gestation, or at birth?" There is a wide divergence of opinion on this subject. The truth is the union of soul and body begins at the time of conception, but is complete only at the moment of birth. The soul is related to the body as a cause to an effect, and is the matrix from which the body is formed. The cry when uttered by the infant announces that memory and thought have united, and that he is now numbered among the living. But it is only by growth and gradual development that he learns the use of his earthly instruments, the brain and the body.
"Were all souls created at the same time?" There is no age to the soul. It was never born; it can never die. It is part of the Deity and partakes of His Nature, changeless, eternal and indestructible. When occult students say: "He (or she) is a very old soul," they have reference to experience and wisdom. On earth the soul acquires experience through its entanglement with matter. And it is truly amazing how some people can live so long and learn so little!
Knowledge and truth are never forced on anyone and individuals can either hasten or retard their progression. Some souls evolve slowly, others rapidly, and the choice and consequences are theirs. Alas, years do not necessarily make a man wiser, only older.
Mysterious as are the ways of Deity, we do know that He operates through and with immutable and natural laws. Consequently, how, when and where one is born is in accordance with law, and not an accident. "Oh, why was I ever born?" we often hear people lament. The answer is: "Most likely they desired it, or else needed the lessons of the flesh."
Others insist: "I didn't ask to be born!" They probably did, only they don't remember it. Most of us imbibed too freely of Lethe water, forgetfulness ensued and, temporarily, memory of our heavenly home has been mercifully dimmed. Most souls are not rebellious at coming to earth, but when told their time of birth has arrived have submitted; even though some would probably have preferred remaining on the other side for a season.
Plato tells us: "The soul knows all things, learning is only recollection." He discovered that latent knowledge of mathematics and the sciences could be elicited from unlearned men. In other words, the soul exists prior to the body and has opportunities for acquiring knowledge and skill. These it brings to earth in the form of latent capacities and potential aptitudes. Whenever an individual possesses an extraordinary endowment of creative powers, a native ability or aptitude for literature, art or the sciences, we can be absolutely certain it is prior knowledge. The preparatory work was done by the person himself before birth, on other planes of existence, and are not gifts of God as erroneously called. Deity has no favorites, nor does He promiscuously shower unearned powers on anyone.
While education undoubtedly excites, exercises and determines the application of talent, it never has nor can produce a genius such as Pope, much less a Shakespeare or a Milton. Nor does genius arise from heredity, for different members of the same family with the same training in every respect will develop different talents. One can be a genius, the other most mediocre, although gifted children are sometimes born in families capable of providing the requisite organization and facilities for its cultivation. However, when a man has genius, he manifests his natural superiority in spite of the greatest obstacles arising from circumstances, heredity or education.
Neither birth nor any of its attendant conditions are ever accidental; the inequalities and injustices arise from the opportunities or lack of them when born. To be well-born appears to have many advantages, but history does not bear out that it is of the greatest importance. One need only read the lives of illustrious men and women to learn that humbleness of birth and station have never been deterrents to fame and success. The shining immortals with few exceptions labored under tremendous difficulties, yet despite them achieved glory and acclaim. How one begins life is not important, but how one ends it is. It is no disgrace to be born in the gutter, but it is a disgrace to die there.
It is only too obvious that all men are not born with equal mental capacities; for there is a wide disparity in the degree of knowledge and skill with which people are endowed. One vast intellect like Newton's fathoms the profundities of science, while the mind of another can scarcely grope its way through the daily occurrences of life. These differences do not arise from external circumstances, but from conditions prevailing before birth. The same analogy is true when we leave this life. As our status here was determined to a major degree by our innate intelligence and ability, our standing in the community to where we are going will likewise be governed by the amount of wisdom and experience acquired on earth. This is all we take with us.
Entirely too much significance is given to the relative influence of heredity and environment. Some authorities have gone so far as to say heredity determines destiny; others maintain that environment is the controlling factor in an individual's life. There is no doubt these factors contribute to the formation of personality traits and habits, but there is a force stronger than either of these and that is character. Character, or lack of it, is the determining power of life. Many a strong, determined character has overcome the worst kind of heredity and unfavorable surroundings.
All spiritual thinkers are convinced that the powers of the mind and soul are derived from their Celestial Progenitor. There is slight reason for believing that mental and moral characteristics are inherited although many scientists make this claim. Mozart did not inherit what neither of his parents possessed, nor does any genius. Every man is his own ancestor so far as mental and spiritual endowments are concerned. Spirit is forever master and responsible for the incident of birth.
The belief that parents are the creators of their children is one of the greatest fallacies entertained by man, even some biologists. God is the Architect of the soul, not parents, who fashion the body only. The individual is a sovereign unit and not at the mercy of his predecessors. He inherits himself, and gravitates to the right parents, environment, organism for the manifestation of his tendencies. Every individual is integrated, a center himself from which he operates, is responsible and capable of selection and choice.
The lack of affinity between relatives puzzles many people of earth, for it is not uncommon for brothers and sisters, parents and offspring to feel deep antipathy toward one another. When parents and children meet for the first time on earth often there is but little affinity. Occasionally they are old friends brought together again through birth and then there will be genuine affection. Antagonistic souls, those who have violent hatred for each other have met before birth and accrued karma which they are now expiating. They have not been permitted to choose their environment, and this explains in some measure why you find such odd persons in groups where they do not seem to belong. They actually do not belong there, yet in order to have earthly expression take the opportunity open for birth, and come in an environment that is not the best for them.
We often see, in families of several children, one who has peculiar traits of character and personality entirely foreign to the others. The soul in that body desired earthly expression and came to an alien family, where he is usually misunderstood. Unfortunately, these odd persons seldom realize that this relationship exists only for the duration of earth-life, and that there are no deep, binding ties for such a one.
The blood tie has no permanence or significance unless augmented with spiritual kinship. Those who have relatives for whom they feel no affinity should make every effort to discharge whatever obligations were incurred by birth and relationship, thus obviating the necessity of future association.
While color and race begin on earth, they often persist for many years after the change called death, for the soul has learned to function through that particular channel. However, all race consciousness is gradually obliterated and the universal consciousness accepted.
There is no break in the chain of eternity and no interruption in the law of cause and effect. Not chance but justice rules our life. The soul is not new at birth, and is not much older at death, and will be born many times in spirit that it may attain perfection.
Man himself is the greatest mystery of all.<>
No study is more fascinating or of greater benefit than the subject mind. It has engaged the most powerful intellects of all ages, from the days of Aristotle down to the present. However, during the last two thousand years, that is with the exception of the last one hundred years, not much progress has been made in this department of science. Anatomists and physicians have studied the brain and ignored the mind, while psychologists have studied the mind and ignored the brain. The human mind cannot, by itself, become an object of investigation; it needs the medium of an organic apparatus.
It is mind which distinguishes man from the animals and man from man. While there is not much difference between one cow or one cat from another, the difference between one man and another is vast. In man the scale extends from the lowest point of idiocy to the highest endowment of genius. On the one side you have a Newton who can solve the most abstruse of problems, and on the other a man who can scarcely grope his way through ordinary life. The world has always recognized and paid tribute to greatness of intellect. A man is measured by what he is, and not by what he has.
"What is the difference between the brain and the mind?" It is astonishing how many people believe the brain and mind to be synonymous and use the terms interchangeably. While the relationship between the brain and mind is intimate, there is not the slightest similarity either in appearance or function. Their composition and activities differ as widely as the radio from the ether waves. The brain is a human radio, a receiving station or instrument. The mind is analogous to the ethereal atmosphere surrounding it.
Yet another comparison. The brain is the organ of the mind just as the eye is the organ of vision, or the ear of hearing. Naturally, the perfection of seeing or hearing will be in relation to the perfection of its organ. The same analogy applies to the mind.
Thought does not originate in the brain, nor is it created by the brain. And it is the mind which remembers, not the brain cells. It is the Ego, the "I," which thinks; mind is the substance which "I" uses, and thoughts are the tools. Thoughts are transmitted to the brain from the mind, and it therefore follows that the brain influences and determines the type and quality of thoughts received.
The matrix is unalterable. We know we have the same identity we had as a child, and throughout eternity we shall be the same.
Furthermore, the brain is physical and subject to evolution. The mind is spiritual and already perfect. The brain is personal and individual. The mind is universal. These distinctions are of primary importance for a correct understanding of mind.
We shall not burden you with a description of the brain. For our purpose here, merely let us state that the brain is the term applied to that part of the central nervous system which in vertebrates is contained within the skull. The brain readily lends itself to analysis and examination; not so the mind, although some philosophers have gone so far as to say mind is a product of matter. This is another error made by those who seek a material basis for all mental phenomena.
"What is the nature of mind?" Mind is a substance similar to the ether, which is the finest form of matter known; or it can be compared to a vast field of magnetism. This substance pervades the entire universe, and all particles of matter are held together by it. The molecules of the body never touch, but remain quite a distance from each other, and are also held in place by it. There are forces of repulsion between them which prevent contact, and they move freely in this ether or mind substance.
The ability of states of matter to interpenetrate and exist within other states is one of the great secrets of Nature. Higher states come into contact with the lower, and are harmonized into one single organism. Man cannot combine the lower forces with the higher, but Nature can, and this makes living organisms.
This is also the explanation of the so-called fourth dimension, which means the ability of a higher state of matter to interpenetrate and exist within a lower state. The fourth dimension is not measured at angles, length-breadth-thickness, but proceeds directly through matter.
In reality there is no definite line of demarcation between matter, mind and spirit, as they are the same substance at different rates of vibration.
Emerson gives us the clearest and most concise description of mind. He says:
"Mind is an ethereal sea, which ebbs and flows; which surges and washes hither and thither, carrying its whole virtue into every creek and inlet which it bathes. To this sea every human house has a water front. But this force-creating nature, visiting whom it will, withdrawing from whom it will, is no fee or property of any man or angel. It is as the light, public and entire to each, and on the same terms."
"Where is the mind located?" There is considerable diversity of opinion on this score. Many believe that the mind is within the skull. We said previously that mind is a universal substance permeating the universe. Emerson spoke truly when he said: "No man or angel has a monopoly on it, but is equally free to all."
The sum total of mind is fixed, although, like matter and energy, many changes can take place within itself. All the knowledge that ever has been or will be in the world is in it now. Our inventions and discoveries are but re-inventions, re-discoveries. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. It is man's duty and privilege to develop his instrument, the brain, and draw unto himself whatever knowledge and power he desires.
Mind cannot be separated or divided, although in appearance it may seem so. Each individual mind is connected with universal mind. Every mind is in constant contact with all other minds and its Divine Source. That one mind is ever separate from others is pure illusion and the major cause of man's suffering. Everyone knows how contagious thoughts are and how easily communicated. All are living in this vast ocean of mind where the waves of other minds are passing on all sides.
"How is the mind connected with the body?" Practically all philosophers and thinkers have believed the activities of the mind to be in close connection with the brain. But that the brain is the sole seat of the mind is as erroneous as the belief that the mind is in the skull. There is no clearly defined spot of which we can prove that here, or there, at this place, the mind comes into relation with the cerebral organ. The mind exerts its influence through the parts of the brain, which differ according to the muscles or functions to be employed. All the parts of the brain are connected, but there is no common center through which all these activities pass.
The brain is the primary, but not the only vehicle of mind. The brain is the physical instrument without which no mental act is possible in a material world. There are no faculties so purely mental as to have no connection with the body. The primary seat of consciousness is in the brain, but there is a secondary one in the solar plexus.
Mind is dependent on the body, not for existence, but for the power of acting in the material world. Mind can function without the body, but not the body without the mind. In reality the mind functions much more actively and freely without the impediment of its physical instrument. This is demonstrated during the dream state, hypnosis, trance and astral traveling. "The mind, though intangible, is the real structure, like a field of force," says Stromberg, the famous scientist and astronomer.
Prophecy is no more wonderful than memory.
"How many minds have we?" Much confusion has arisen due to the different terminologies by which mind is designated and the numerous minds man is supposed to have. One hears expressions such as subconscious, unconscious, superconscious, conscious; animal and human mind; lower and higher; subjective and objective, that the layman gets bewildered, and fails to progress as he otherwise might.
Man has one mind, not numerous or several minds; but one mind capable of functioning in manifold ways. The simplest differentiation of mind activity we have found to be the conscious, subconscious and superconscious. One frequently hears the sub-conscious spoken of as the unconscious mind. These terms are a contradiction and an impossibility. Mind is always conscious. Because we, the self or ego, are not conscious of its activities does not indicate that mind is not functioning or that it is "unconscious."
We are aware only of that phase of mind manifestation to which the self is identified, but the entire mind is conscious all the time. The mind is fully awake during sleep, anesthesia and when the brain is unconscious due to injury or disease. The brain may not be receiving impressions, but nevertheless they are registered in the subconscious mind.
No manifestation of mind is more alert and active than the subconscious. It never rests or sleeps. It is the storehouse of all experiences and race memories. It is this mind which takes care of the vast demands of the physical body, regeneration and healing. It can be trained to become a most efficient and helpful servant. But it is capable of being only a servant, and should never be permitted to be master.
"Is memory in the brain or the mind?" Memory is not in the brain cells or neurons, but in the mind. Memory is a faculty of mind using the brain for its instrument. Memory is that faculty which stores every impression made upon mind and retains it as subconscious knowledge of previous thoughts, sensations, perceptions or other mental experiences, capable of being returned to consciousness.
This process of returning memory records of former experiences is properly called recollection, and may be voluntary or involuntary. Memory is the storing function. Memory is the library in which life's volumes are stored. The librarian is recollection. Plato said: "The soul knows all things, learning is only recollection."
The imperishable mind substance records every wish, desire, thought and act of life. Nothing is ever lost but is registered for eternity. The thoughts and acts are reproduced on the sensitized mind substance similarly, as music on a disc; of course with this exception, phonograph records can easily become damaged or broken, while it is impossible in any way to deface or destroy what is engraved on the mind substance. Because something may be forgotten does not mean it is out of mind. A great many forgotten memories can be revived with hypnosis and frequently come to the surface during delirium and anesthesia.
Life's imperishable record has various names; the orthodox referring to it as "The Book of Life." Others, "The Judgment Day," the "Akashic Record," or the "Astral Light." It is this record which is man's judge when he comes before that Higher Tribunal where absolute justice is meted out, and which determines his place in the heavens.
Not only man but everything which exists has its own imperishable record. Animals, plants and minerals are likewise surrounded by their auras. And it is a comparatively simple process for one whose spiritual faculties are well developed to read this record of life in both animate and inanimate forms. He can look into an individual's life and read any page therein. The first hour of life is just as easily read as yesterday's.
To explain this process more fully we will quote from a famous seer of the last century:
"The spectral forms of the long ago are indelibly fixed in the 'astral light,' which is the spiritual atmosphere of the universe, where myriads of forms hang on the gallery walls in an imperishable world of spiritual entities. Nothing that ever has been is lost to the vision of the seer; nothing that now is can be hidden from his piercing gaze; nothing that shall be is wholly veiled from his prophetic glances."
A few years ago a prominent motion picture producer said over the radio, that he saw the possibility, through the law of vibration, of getting in contact with any event of the past, no matter how remote. For example, instead of reading Lincoln's Gettysburg speech, or The Sermon on the Mount, we could get in rapport with those particular vibrations, and see and hear the great Emancipator and wise Master just as they were then. Impossible, you say? Not at all. This was a prophetic vision of an inspired and advanced mind. However, one thing is certain—when this occurs, histories both Biblical and secular will have to be rewritten.
"Do animals have mind?" Most people at some time or another have speculated on the degree of intelligence possessed by animals, particularly the dog, horse, elephant and ape. All animals manifest some degree of mind. Plants too, show wonderful ingenuity in devising plans for catching light and moisture, attracting fertilizing insects, preserving and scattering their seeds. "Appetency" is the term usually applied to mind in the vegetable economy. "Chemical affinity" is the operation of mind in the mineral kingdom, while "instinct" is referable to the intelligence displayed by animals.
Animals live in the same ocean of mind substance as does man, but they have not man's complex nervous system, or his highly developed brain. Animals are equipped with the type of brain best suited for their specific requirements, no more nor less. All creations are provided with the organization most compatible with their needs.
However, there is a vast difference in the amount of intelligence possessed by the highest level of animal life and the lowest level of human life. Human beings have extra neurons which make culture and progress. Man has the power of modifying and altering his environment and circumstances, which in turn will act upon him in the future. He has the power of choice, of free will; he can anticipate the future. The animals cannot. No one can, for instance, imagine a dog or an ape sketching out for itself what it is going to do tomorrow.
It has been pointed out that birds’ and insects’ reflexes are so perfect and numerous that they can evolve much further in a progressive way. They do it all because they cannot help it, like a machine set in action. Birds build their nests in the same way, with the same materials as their ancestors, and make as good a job of it the first time as the last. All their actions are in regular sequence, one action being the predecessor and initiating cause of the following event.
How differently this faculty operates in animals and man! The beaver has constructed his dam the same since the first beaver was placed upon earth. The swallows build their nests exactly the same. The spider spins his web, without the slightest deviation from the original pattern. But man, what a contrast between the first dwellings, places of mud or stone, to the mansions of the present! The magnificence of architecture and beauty of design!
Human class has progressed due to knowledge that is passed on from one generation to another—knowledge of structures, arts, music, books, etc.; which belong solely to the human class of life. The accomplishments, however progressive, in the life of an individual animal are lost to the rest of its species at death.
Speech and language have also had enormously important roles in the evolution and advancement of man. Plus speech man has associated with his body an immortal principle or spirit which is denied animals.
The gift of immortality, bestowed on no other form of life, proves conclusively that man is a separate and distinct creation, and possessing a Divine force. It is impossible for man to have evolved from an animal not having this force. Man has the power, when he learns to use this force, to place himself in rapport with the Infinite Being. Men are not hybrids but sons of God. There are no "missing links" in the Divine plan of creation. Mind is the connecting link between dust and Deity.
The rock on which many scientists have wrecked their ships is materialism. In their studies they have eliminated this Divine force or spirit, and its workings, saying: "A force is the result of atomic movements." True, all forces are—except the force which first starts the atomic movements.
Man, like God, has the power to create. He is the architect of his character and the moulder of his destiny. Thoughts are the tools man uses to bring about whatever condition or change he desires.
The lowest manifestation of mind is sensation—the highest, imagination. There are beings higher than man as man is higher than an insect. All are partakers of universal mind.
There is only mind—Universal Mind. Our mind is the use we make of this mind.