Gambar halaman

séance presided over by an ignorant psychic. Some one asked for the spirit of Socrates; and the old philosopher promptly responded. His communication was couched in terms that were evidently intended to be somewhat lofty, and were so considered by the enthusiastic admirers of the psychic; nor was their admiration at all diminished by the fact that Socrates seemed to labor under the impression that he was a Roman when on earth. This was afterwards explained by a prominent local authority in spirit philosophy by saying that those old spirits had reached an altitude so far removed from earthly life that they were no longer interested in mundane affairs, and many of them had really forgotten their earthly names and nationality. A wag who was present asked for a communication from "the ancient Greek philosopher, Cantharides." This request was also promptly complied with in an equally lofty strain of bad. English. When asked for a description of the latter personage, the psychic described an old man with long white. hair, a flowing beard, and a "very high forehead." This goes to show either that the psychic was dominated by an absurdly false suggestion, or that evolution is more rapid in the spirit land than it is here; for the description of the personality of "Cantharides" certainly did not suggest a coleopterous ancestry.

To do the psychic entire justice, let me say that a circumstance like the foregoing does not, in the remotest degree, impugn his honesty or sincerity. He is in a hypnotic condition. Being in that state, he is necessarily dominated by the laws pertaining to it. His normal reason is in abeyance. His subjective mind is active; and the one all-potent, never-failing law of subjective mental activity is the law of suggestion. Like every other law of Nature, there are no exceptions to its inexorable rules. He believes, because he must believe, every suggestion made to him. The suggestion enforced by the current theory of spiritism.

convinces him that he is a chosen medium of spirit communication with the inhabitants of this world. His reason confirms the belief; for he finds himself dominated by what he believes to be an extraneous force which seems to act independently of his conscious volition. This force is found to possess a remarkable intelligence. It will answer questions, and write essays, poems, and polemics with equal facility, and it often imparts knowledge and divulges secrets of which he is not the conscious custodian. It gives information, which he knows he never could have possessed, concerning the affairs of his auditors, secrets, perhaps, which the latter declare could never have been known to any but themselves and some deceased friend. When the intelligence is interrogated, it declares itself to be the disembodied spirit of the friend who was the joint custodian of the sitter's secret.


With all this array of evidence before him, not only of spirit presence but of spirit identity, what is his natural conclusion? He is not a scientist, and does not, therefore, know that it is unscientific to believe that man has a soul. He was taught at his mother's knee that he not only has a soul, but that it is destined to an immortal existence. has never heard of the dual nature of the mind of man, he knows nothing of the law of suggestion, and "telepathy" is not in his vocabulary. But he has common sense, and he is not aware that it is unscientific to exercise it when dealing with phenomena which he cannot explain otherwise than as being tangible evidence of the truth of what he has always been taught to believe was the essence of the teachings of Holy Writ. And he does believe it, honestly and implicitly. It is henceforth his religion, his consolation in this life, and the sheet anchor of his faith in immortality. With all the evidence before him, and in the absence of any other rational explanation, he would be an unreasoning sceptic if he did not believe it.

It will thus be seen what an all-potent suggestion dominates his subjective mind. By virtue of the fundamental law of its being it must accept every suggestion imparted to it, however absurd or contrary to objective knowledge and experience. But when it is confirmed by objective reason and reinforced by the tenderest emotions and ioftiest aspirations of the human soul, it becomes a dominant power which cannot be resisted. In this state of mind, objective and subjective, the suggestion that a spirit from another world is in possession of the psychic's hand and guiding its movements, is, and must be, seized upon by his subjective mind and implicitly believed and acted upon, and the suggested spirit personated with all the preternatural acumen and dramatic circumstance characteristic of subjective mental activity. If it were not so, then there would be a break in the operations of a law of Nature, an exception to the universal rule, which in itself would constitute a miracle as great as would be the suspension for a day of the law of gravitation.

Another fact which correlates the phenomena produced by the spiritistic psychic with those of hypnotism is that the psychic in each case develops the power of telepathy, or mind-reading. I shall not waste time in this connection by offering proofs of the reality of this power. That work has been most thoroughly done by the Society for Psychical Research. It is sufficient to say at this time that no law or power of Nature has been more completely and scientifically demonstrated than has been the law of telepathy. There is, however, one important principle pertaining to the subject-matter which must be understood before the full significance of the fact relating to it can be appreciated or comprehended. Telepathy is the means of communion between subjective minds. The objective mind. does not necessarily participate in the communication. The message, in other words, is not necessarily on a sub


ject of which either party is consciously thinking. It frequently has no connection whatever with the conscious thoughts of either of the participants in the production of the phenomena. A message of the utmost importance may, therefore, never rise above the threshold of the "percipient's "1 consciousness or even be consciously sent by the agent." It requires some degree of psychic development to enable one to become conscious of the reception of a telepathic message. Hence it is that comparatively few are able to perceive the details of a communication; although there are few who have not felt an unaccountable impression which is afterwards discovered to have a telepathic origin, or is classed as a "coincidence " by the sceptical. It requires an extraordinary, even an abnormal development of psychic power to enable one consciously to read the thoughts of another in detail. That power is possessed by few outside the circle of so-called spirit mediums, and of those who have developed it by hypnotic processes for purposes of public exhibition.

It is thought that enough has been said to correlate the phenomena of spiritism with those of hypnotism, at least so far as the conditions necessary for the production of the two classes of phenomena are concerned. In the next chapter the principles herein set forth will be applied to the elucidation of the phenomena alleged to be produced by disembodied spirits. I will also take occasion to answer some objections urged by scientific students of spiritism who hold that there is still a "small residuum" of phenomena which is not explicable by reference to known laws of Nature.

1 The "percipient," in the vocabulary of psychic science, is the one to whom a message is sent, or who witnesses a phenomenon. The " agent" is the one who sends the message, or produces the phenomenon.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The Typical Séance.-"Test" Cases. - The Way Proselytes are made. The Telepathic Explanation. — What Telepathy is. Views of Rev. Minot J. Savage and of Mr. F. W. H. Myers. Their Test Cases Explained.—The Small Residuum of Phenomena which they cannot account for.—The Shipwreck. — An Alleged Spirit Communication from a Victim.— A Telepathic Explanation. -Telepathy vs. Clairvoyance. — A Typical Case. — “Stretching ” the Theory of Telepathy. Views of Mr. Podmore.


HE following propositions have now been provisionally established:

1. The condition of the spiritistic psychic or "medium" and that of the hypnotic subject are identical at the time. when their respective phenomena are produced.

2. That condition in both is what is known to science as hypnosis, or partial hypnosis, as the case may be.

These propositions are demonstrated by the following facts:

1. The psychics in each case are in a more or less profound state of objective insensibility.

2. That state or condition in each case is induced by suggestion.

3. In each case the psychic is constantly amenable to control by suggestion.

4. In each case the power to read the minds of others is developed by persistence in the practice of entering the hypnotic or subjective condition.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »