Book: "Raymond or Life and Death"

Author: Sir Oliver Lodge FRS

Availability: Out of Print

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- (Part 3) - Chapter 16 - Life and Death -

Outlook on the Universe


          WHAT then is the conclusion of the whole matter? Or rather, what effect have these investigations had upon my own outlook on the Universe?

The question is not so unimportant as it seems; because if the facts are to influence others they must have influenced myself too; and that is the only influence of which I have first-hand knowledge. It must not be supposed that my outlook has changed appreciably since the event and the particular experiences related in the foregoing pages: my conclusion has been gradually forming itself for years, though undoubtedly it is based on experience of the same sort of thing. But this event has strengthened and liberated my testimony. It can now be associated with a private experience of my own, instead of with the private experiences of others. So long as one was dependent on evidence connected, even indirectly connected, with the bereavement of others, one had to be reticent and cautious and in some cases silent. Only by special permission could any portion of the facts be reproduced; and that permission might in important cases be withheld. My own deductions were the same then as they are now, but the facts are now my own.

One little point of difference, between the time before and the time after, has however become manifest. In the old days, if I sat with a medium, I was never told of any serious imaginary bereavement which had befallen myself - beyond the natural and inevitable losses from an older generation which fall to the lot of every son of man. But now, if I or any member of my family goes anonymously to a genuine medium, giving not the slightest normal clue, my son is quickly to the fore and continues his clear and convincing series of evidences; sometimes giving testimony of a critically selected kind, sometimes contenting himself with friendly family chaff and reminiscences, but always acting in a manner consistent with his personality and memories and varying moods. If in any case a given medium had weak power, or if there were special difficulties encountered on a given occasion, be is aware of the fact; and he refers to it, when there is opportunity, through another totally disconnected medium (cf. Chapter XXI, Part II). In every way he has shown himself anxious to give convincing evidence. Moreover, he wants me to speak out; and I shall.

I am as convinced of continued existence, on the other side of death, as I am of existence here. It may be said, you cannot be as sure as you are of sensory experience. I say I can. A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions, he has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ: the dynamical theory of heat, for instance, and of gases, the theories of electricity, of magnetism, of chemical affinity, of cohesion, aye and his apprehension of the Ether itself, lead him into regions where sight and hearing and touch are impotent as direct witnesses, where they are no longer efficient guides. In such regions everything has to be interpreted in terms of the insensible, the apparently unsubstantial, and in a definite sense the imaginary. Yet these regions of knowledge are as clear and vivid to him as are any of those encountered in everyday occupations.; indeed most commonplace phenomena themselves require interpretation in terms of ideas more subtle,- the apparent solidity of matter itself demands explanation,- and the underlying non-material entities of a physicist's conception become gradually as real and substantial as anything he knows. As Lord Kelvin used to say, when in a paradoxical mood, we really know more about electricity than we know about matter.

That being so, I shall go further and say that I am reasonably convinced of the existence of grades of being, not only lower in the scale than man but higher also, grades of every order of magnitude from zero to, infinity.

And I know by experience that among these beings are some who care for and help and guide humanity, not disdaining to enter even into what must seem petty details, if by so doing they can assist souls striving on their upward course. And further it is my faith - however humbly it may be held - that among these lofty beings, highest of those who concern themselves directly with this earth of all the myriads of worlds in infinite space, is One on whom the right instinct of Christianity has always lavished heartfelt reverence and devotion.

Those who think that the day of that Messiah is over are strangely mistaken: it has hardly begun. In individual souls Christianity has flourished and borne fruit, but for the ills of the world itself it is an almost untried panacea. It will be strange if this ghastly war fosters and simplifies and improves a knowledge of Christ, and aids a perception of the ineffable beauty of his life and teaching: yet stranger things have happened; and, whatever the Churches may do, I believe that the call of Christ himself will be heard and attended to, by a large part of humanity in the near future, as never yet it has been heard or attended to on earth.

My own time down here is getting short; it matters little: but I dare not go till I have borne this testimony to the grace and truth which emanate from that divine Being,- the realisation of whose tender-hearted simplicity and love for man may have been overlaid at times and almost lost amid well-intentioned but inappropriate dogma, but who is accessible as always to the humble and meek.

Intercommunion between the states or grades of existence is not limited to messages from friends and relatives, or to conversation with personalities of our own order of magnitude,- that is only a small and verifiable portion of the whole truth,- intercourse between the states carries with it occasional, and sometimes unconscious, communion with lofty souls who have gone before. The truth of such continued influence corresponds with the highest of the Revelations vouchsafed to humanity. This truth, when assimilated by man, means an assurance of the reality of prayer, and a certainty of gracious sympathy and fellow feeling from one who never despised the suffering, the sinful, or the lowly; yea, it means more-it means nothing less than the possibility some day of a glance or a word of approval from the Eternal Christ.  



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