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A Review of Psychical Research - Part Eight. Spiriit Release, and How Long have we been here ? Al

By:Richard Rowley
Date: Mon,20 Aug 2012
Submitter:Richard Rowley

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I feel we will cast no shadows, nor have any clouds hanging over us if we are lit not by the sun of the material universe, but by the inner spiritual light. I think that the increasing amount of spirit rescue and release work done by mediums, home circles and now by a growing number of psychiatrists and therapists, has to be based on spiritual knowledge as well as medical and psychological expertise. For this reason, I would offer a few more articles concerning the work of researchers and mediums from various backgrounds and disciplines, including Sir Alister Hardy, William James and Alfred Wallace. They have all made the connection between spirituality and evolution, uniting science with religion in their thought and practice. I offer this to dispel a few fears and shadows!

How long have we been here? Answers from William James, Alfred Wallace, William James, Frances Banks and Michael Cremo.

Here we have the names of five researchers from different disciplines who at different times over the past 160 years have contributed to our knowledge of the spirit world. Two of them are Darwinian scientists, one was a psychologist, one an Anglican nun, and the last a researcher who found an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution in the ancient Vedas of India and in modern archeology. Two of them gave the Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen University, afterwards publishing their discussion there as “The Varieties of Religious Experience” [James, 1902) and Hardy: “The Living Stream,” (1965) and The Divine Flame: Natural History and Religion” (1966) followed by “The Spiritual Nature of Man” (1979) – a summary of the first ten years’ research of the RERU at Manchester College, Oxford. [It is interesting to note that at Lampeter College in Wales, where the RERU research is now housed, an MA course in 'Death and Immortality in Western Thought' has been offered since October, 1983. Richard R.]

The questionnaire which Hardy sent out was almost identical to that devised by Frances Banks in her research into religious experiences twenty years earlier, which she published in her “Frontiers of Revelation” in 1962. Now, before that, back in 1953, both Frances Banks and Helen Greaves joined the Churches’ Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies, founded that year by another researcher, Colonel Reginald Lester, a colleague of Lord Dowding, of the Battle of Britain fame, who researched Spiritualism in the 1940s. We have reviewed their work earlier in two of these series, but the interesting thing is that the Darwinian Zoologist, Sir Alister Hardy, who had started collecting accounts of religious experiences back in the 1920s, had shown an interest in Spiritualism as far back as 1916, when he had read the first edition of Sir Oliver Lodge’s “Raymond.” Before that, Alfred Wallace, who had worked closely with Darwin from 1854 to form the theory of Evolution, later joined with William James to investigate mediums such as Kate Fox, Florence Cook and William Eglinton, and found their phenomena to be genuine. Michael Cremo more recently has provided us with an excellent account of the collaboration between these early researchers in chapter 5 of “Human Devolution,” [Torchlight Publishing, 2003].

Since we are in the middle of discussing Sir Alister Hardy’s work, let us review his account of his early interest in psychical research, in this case concerning telepathy, presented in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (vol. 50, pp.105-7, 1953) and reprinted in “The Challenge of Chance” - Hardy, Harvie and Koestler, Random House, New York, 1974.

My experience took place during the First World War. For a time I was in a Cyclist Battalion stationed on the Lincolnshire coast where there lived a Mrs. Wedgwood who was very kind in entertaining some of the officers of the regiment. Sir Oliver Lodge’s book “Raymond” had just been published [November, 1916] and after we had been discussing it she confessed that she herself had been an amateur medium. She was, I understood, the widow of a Mr. Arthur Wedgwood who, with his brother Hensleigh Wedgwood, was much interested in Spiritualism towards the end of the last century. She then very occasionally, by holding objects, claimed to be able to “see” and describe people she had never seen before [through psychometry]. Once, by holding a letter she gave a reasonable but not very exact description of my mother who was then alive. I mention this without attaching much value to it only as an introduction to the two cases I consider so important, but in passing I may just say that her description of the path along which my mother and I had so often walked together was much more striking than that of my mother herself.

Mrs. Wedgwood from earlier talks knew that my brother was an engineering student and that he was a prisoner-of-war in Germany. One Sunday afternoon I went up to her house, to tea. With one or two others I had been trying some table-tilting séances with her – without getting anything but quite meaningless messages spelt out – and that afternoon after tea we sat down at the table. A moment or two after I had put my hands on the table next to hers – I cannot remember now whether they touched hers or not – she suddenly said, “Oh, I can see your brother in Germany quite clearly. I can see him in a little room in his prison camp with a camp bed, he is sitting at a table drawing what I think must be some engineering plan; on a large sheet of white paper I see him painting what seem to be squares and oblongs of red and blue.”

Actually she had described exactly what I had been doing myself all that afternoon and no one knew I had been doing it. Our colonel had a great interest in military history and was giving the officers a series of lectures on Monday evenings on various campaigns. He knew I was quick at drawing and he had asked me to make a map for him to illustrate his next talk on the Franco-Prussian War. He didn’t know how I was going to do it; it was only that afternoon that I had the idea of cutting out squares and oblongs of card painted read and blue to represent the various units of infantry, cavalry and artillery of the two sides so that he could move them about on pins to their different positions as the lecture proceeded. It was an obvious thing to do, but he had only asked me to prepare a large map of the area. I spent the greater part of the afternoon – in my rather bare room in my billet with a camp-bed in it – looking at the large white map
and moving the read and blue cards about following a description of the campaign and making pencil marks where they should be at different stages. After I had finished I put the cards away, rolled up the map, and went straight off on my bicycle to tea with Mrs. Wedgwood. I am absolutely certain that no one could have told her before I went what I had been doing. I would find it difficult to that the correspondence of her description of what she thought my brother was doing and what I myself had actually been doing all afternoon was mere coincidence; with another case of almost the same kind I am convinced that coincidence cannot explain it.

The second case was a year later. I was now attached to the Royal Engineers as a camouflage officer and was attending a special course at the school set up in Kensington Gardens under Solomon J. Solomon, B.A. Mrs. Wedgwood came to stay in London whilst I was there and I went out to dinner with her. The case is remarkably like the other one. That afternoon at the school we were doing experiments in dazzle effects. I had taken a large sheet of white cardboard and then painted it all over with a most vivid pink distemper. I was then going to cut it up into all sorts of shapes to use in our experiments, but I found it took much longer to dry than I had expected so that I had it in front of me and kept looking at it to see if it was ready for some considerable time before I actually cut it up. Again I am quite certain that no one could have told Mrs. Wedgwood what I had been doing, for no one at the camouflage school knew her or knew that I was going
out to dinner with her. I had not sat down at the dinner table with her for more than a moment or two when she suddenly said, “Oh, what have you been doing? I see a large pink square on the table in front of you.”

There is no need to emphasize how alike the two cases are. I will only add that I know I have a good visual memory and that colour and shape make a strong impression on me. It was not as if Mrs. Wedgwood frequently made statements as to what she thought I, or people connected with me, had been doing and that these particular cases just described were the only two correct ones. The only other occasion I believe when she made such a statement to me was the one concerning my mother that I have already referred to.

There can be no doubt that this made a tremendous impression on me. From that time on I must admit that I was myself, in my heart of heart, convinced that telepathy was real; at the same time I knew that my account was not scientifically good evidence and could not convince others. It was one more example of the vast number of such cases of spontaneous telepathy reported in the files of the Society for Psychical Research.”

So while Sir Alister continued throughout his academic career to investigate and lecture in Zoology and Biology from a Darwinian perspective, he was aware of the spiritual side of life, and continued his research into it. He eventually created in 1969 the Religious Experience Research Unit at Oxford, which is now housed in Lampeter College, University of Wales.

Both he, Frances Banks and Michael Cremo have concluded that Darwinian theory alone cannot account for life on this planet. Life did not occur just by chance or develop by the natural selection of evolution. As we can see from the gardens of Theosophist Catherine Tingley in California 90 years ago, or the Findhorn garden in Northern Scotland in the 1960s, there are nature spirits or devas and other entities at work behind the creation and growth of all forms of life. They can be seen at work by clairvoyants. Vera Stanley Alder gives her account of them as she saw them in the 1940s [“From the Mundane to the Magnificent.” Samuel Weiser. New York 1979.]

Michael Cremo, co-author with Richard Thompson of “Forbidden Archeology: the Hidden History of the Human Race.” Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1993] suggests that humans have been on earth longer than Darwin speculated, perhaps over 600 millions years or more, rather than a mere 30 thousand years at the end of evolution and the Origin of Species. Darwinian palaeontologists (examining fossils), geologists, biologists, zoologists and archeologists have concluded that present life forms have evolved over half a billion (500 million) years ago. Over this time period, humans arrived only around 30 thousand years ago, while life first started in simple form some 2 billion years before that, with the formation of the planet taking place 2 or 3 billion years earlier still. Take this time line of evolution – the last half billion years, and compare it with the Biblical story that God created the world in 6 days, and rested on the 7th, then if Creation started at 12 a.m. midnight, Monday morning, humans arrived only in the last three minutes, Saturday night at 11.57 p.m.

Whether we have been here only since Saturday night, or earlier in the week, or perhaps even at the start on Monday, is not important, from a spiritual perspective. What is important is that some Darwinians, like Alfred Wallace and Alister Hardy, as well as Spiritualists and Vedic philosophers, understand that the world of spirit exists, was “there” prior to the material, phenomenal world and has an essential part in the creation and evolution of all life on earth, and elsewhere. Consciousness has not just evolved on its own, out of matter, which is secondary to spirit. Now this is contrary to the modern scientific world-view, but this is beginning to show cracks. Psychic research has provided enough data now to indicate that material science is incomplete, and needs to open its mind to further dimensions before it will be able to explain, if ever, the whole truth of life. We may have to wait for final answers until we have evolved further on the higher spiritual planes. Frances Banks has more to say from place over there now, which I will continue with in episode 140 of the “Rescue” series. Meantime, I would stress the importance for us here on earth of future psychic research. Several scientists and clerics have emphasised that psychical research is the most significant branch of modern science needed for us in order to properly address all the problems we have on this planet.

[to be continued] Richard R.

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