The essential nature of people is fundamentally good. The first time this realization was strengthened in me was during an experiment long ago with the projection of the subtle body.
My friend, a physician, had put a certain Mr. G. to sleep, and after his subtle body was projected ordered him to send it into a house where he had never been before. By following his subtle body, the sleeper pointed out a series of characteristic details. Then he was directed to go up to a certain floor of the house and to enter a certain door. The sleeping man outlined the details of the hallway, saying that there was a door before him. Again he was directed to go further and to tell what he saw. He described the room and said that a man was seated at a table reading. Then he was directed:
"Approach and frighten him."
"I direct you to go near him and frighten him."
Again silence, and then in a timid voice, "I cannot do it."
"Explain why you cannot."
"Impossible; he has a weak heart."
"Then do not frighten him, but as much as you can without harm, make your influence felt. What do you see?"
"He has turned around and lit a second lamp."
"If it is not harmful, increase your influence. What do you see?"
"'He jumped up and went into the adjoining room where a woman is sitting."
At the conclusion of the experiment, we telephoned our acquaintance, and without telling him anything indirectly led him to relate his sensations. He said:
"Today I had a strange experience. A little while ago I was seated with a book, and suddenly I felt some inexplicable presence. I am ashamed to tell you that this sensation became so strong that I had a desire for more light. Nevertheless, the feeling became even stronger and I went to tell my wife about it and to stay with her."
Apart from the experiment itself, which so clearly demonstrates the causes of many of our sensations, one detail in it had for me personally an unforgettable significance. In ordinary circumstances the man would not take into account that someone had a weak heart. Without considering, he might frighten, abuse, or cause him harm. But the subtle body, the one about which the Apostle Paul speaks so clearly, in its essence is inclined toward good. So you see, before carrying out the order to frighten, consideration prompted the sensing of the condition of the heart. The essence of good whispered that it would be dangerous to tax an already weak heart.
One such experiment, in the most ordinary everyday circumstances, already leads one beyond the boundaries of bodily limitations. There resulted not only the projection of the subtle body, but a remarkable testing of the essence of good. What a dark burden must weigh down the luminous subtle essence for people to reach such hatred of mankind! Furthermore, as St. Anthony has said, "Hell is ignorance." True, the whole dark burden derives primarily from ignorance. Then how needful are good thoughts, which, with their unseen wings, touch the oppressed, beclouded forehead.
When, in their ignorance, people say, "Why these concentrations of thought, why are these hermits withdrawing from the world? They are but egoists and they think only of their own salvation," there is great error in such a judgment. If even through the most ordinary experiment we convinced ourselves of the good and noble essence of the subtle body, if we say that a thought of good transcended all commands — usually so unquestioned in such cases — then how needful are these thoughts of good! What a simple yet touching solicitude is evidenced in the simple reply about the weak heart. Right now there are not a few weak hearts, and who has the right to overburden them? Right now there are many mortally smitten hearts, which could no longer withstand a careless impact. And this would be murder just as is killing with a dagger, bullet, or poison. Does not poison penetrate into the heart through a malicious attack? What an enormous number of murders, actual, intentional, malicious in their delayed action, takes place beyond the purview of any courts or decree! To poison a man is inadmissible; to strangle a man is inadmissible; this is true. But then why is it permissible to gnaw at and tear the heart of a man? Surely, if people would even sometimes, though briefly, reflect in the morning hours about something good, apart from their own selfish interests, this already would be a great offering to the world.
Of course, ignorant cynics will probably sneer, saying a thought is nothing; in any case it is no more than a blade of grass in the wind. Any cynicism about thought, about the spirit, about intangible possibilities, will be a clear example of the grossest ignorance. When these ignorant ones, grinning maliciously, say, "It is not for us people of small culture to plunge into an ocean of thoughts," this will be said not at all in humility or timidity, but will be the expression of the ugliest pride.
Often people dream in secret of encountering something, as they say in popular language, supernatural. As if in the great essence there can be the natural, and as its antithesis, the supernatural! Of course, this ordinary expression, found in common usage, does not lead to a true realization. But the root of the matter is that as soon as people chance to come in contact with even the beginning of such an unusual manifestation, they fall into such unrestrained heart palpitation that the manifestation stops short. It is discontinued for the very same reason as in the case of the experiment related above. It becomes clear that the uncultivated heart and the inexperienced consciousness cannot endure anything above the trivial routine.
Very often certain inexplicable heart palpitations are spoken about. People attribute them to the category of sex, to excessive work, or to some other excesses. But among these manifestations not a few cases could be found when some beautiful wings have already touched someone, expectant or unexpectant, yet at the first proximity to them he suffered a mortal trembling. This, too, so often results from the incompatible distinction between earthly language nil the heavenly tongue.
So much good and compassion is contained in the simple consideration for the weak heart. If people, even in their everyday life, would more often permit themselves a humane thought about a neighbor's pain, about his over-fatigue and the weakness of his heart, then, surely they would become in many cases more humane.
Apparitions have been spoken of in all sorts of narratives. They are entirely beyond question. It is undoubtedly true that many times, even with a highly needed goal in view, departed relatives and friends could not impart their good news, solely because of that same animal terror on the part of those to whom they appeared. Cases are known, when, desiring to save a person from peril, the departed ones have had to undertake a whole series of gradual approaches in order to first of all free the person from fear. Precisely fear so often prevents receiving the best news.
These manifestations, these good messages, and wishes to help have been written about so much that it is impossible to go into an enumeration of the individual episodes. Beginning with theological and on through many philosophical, historical and poetic narratives, it is everywhere affirmed that there is no death, as such, and that the proximity of other worlds can be sensed even amidst everyday life. All this is past doubting. But malice and hatred, which have so taken possession of humanity in our time, make it imperative to recall once more that the essential nature of man is good, and that everything evil and hideously harmful is primarily a sediment resulting from ignorance.
The truly dark ones, those creatures that have fallen very low, exert their influence first of all on the ignorant. Their favorite expedient is intimidation in many ways. They try hard to so obscure and lower the consciousness of their victim that he feels himself isolated, alone, and finally he believes his fortune to be only in communion with the dark ones. And these likewise try to deprive the victim of all true joys, imposing upon him all the shameful surrogates of self-indulgence.
Man wishes to find forgetfulness. Instead of wanting to reflect more clearly and to take up arms in a spiritual battle, he is made to seek oblivion. In this desire for oblivion, it is easier to take possession of him and make him an obedient instrument, cajoling him into ignorance. Whereas only the thought of good which lies deep at the base of one's being can impel him to a thirst for knowledge. Then man will not lose a day or an hour in order to learn, to improve, and to make beautiful every possible thing. In this process, thought about good will be also thought about beauty.
April 16, 1935