Divine Principle, Volume 5, Part 5.
Countless numbers of people have already passed on to the spirit world, with the great majority no doubt falling far short of having attained complete resurrection. Since a person needs his physical body in order to grow, we must inquire as to the fate of these persons who now possess only their spirit selves. Can they continue to be resurrected?
In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung recounts his conversation with a highly cultivated elderly Indian, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi's. In discussing the different ways in which education took place in India, the Indian answered in reply to a question by Jung that his own guru was a man named Shankaracharya. Jung replies:
"You don't mean the commentator on the Vedas who died centuries ago?"
"Yes, I mean him," he said, to my (Jung's) amazement.
"Then you are referring to a spirit?" I asked.
"Of course it was his spirit," he agreed....
"There are ghostly gurus too," he added.
"Most people have living gurus. But there are always some who have a spirit for a teacher."
As Jung records, his conversation is an enlightenment to him, for over a period of time he had a similar experience, but he had not been able to explain it. Through his Indian acquaintance, he comes to understand people on earth are frequently guided by those on the spirit world.
For Divine Principle, the phenomenon experienced by Jung and his associate is an example of activity by spirit persons who are pursuing their own continuing resurrection. Since these spirit people did not complete the process during their lifetime on earth, they return to earth in spirit form to fulfill the task they left unaccomplished. They do this by helping and guiding people who are still on earth. As the spirit person assists the growth and achievement of such people on earth, he himself is spiritually benefited and progressively resurrected.
Forces of Good.
That spirit persons cooperate with those on earth is an assertion which tends to raise eyebrows. However, as Notre Dame's Morton Kelsey has pointed out, such skepticism is restricted mainly to the perhaps too-rationalistic West. While Kelsey's argument is too complex to repeat here, in his Encounter with God he explains that spiritual forces generally have not been given proper recognition in Western civilization, due largely to the influence of one famous Greek:
"There is another view of man, however, found wherever the influence of Aristotle and nineteenth century Western thought have not been felt. In most cultures from primitive ones to the developed cultures of China, India, Islam and of Byzantine Christianity, nonphysical realities have been seen as a more powerful influence on man's destiny than the physical world."
Nor is the fact of spirit cooperation without documentation in the Bible. Jesus' assertion, for example, that John the Baptist was Elijah clearly suggests a spiritual relationship between the two. Although Elijah was in the spiritual world, Divine Principle holds that he was responsible to complete his own earthly mission working with John the Baptist as his successor. Along the same line, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews suggests that earlier prophets and other servants of the Lord will find their own final salvation only through the present generation:
"And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised since god had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11: 39-41)
Divine Principle points out that both the period of Jesus' life on earth and the period of the Second Advent are special times when the possibilities for a spiritual advancement for the faithful on earth are especially great. After all, these are times when God's recreative Word appears anew, opening new avenues for spiritual growth and stimulating people of all backgrounds to new heights. Therefore we may expect the earthly activity of spirit persons to be particularly acute during these times.
The twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew, for example, tells us that when Jesus died on the cross many saints arose from their tombs. As we have previously discussed, such reports should not be thought of literally, but rather should be understood as describing a spiritual reality. The passed-away prophets and saints were actively assisting God's new dispensation, seeking to elevate themselves to higher levels of spiritual attainment. Since this was the case in the past, Divine Principle would argue we may anticipate similarly intense spiritual activity at the time of the Second Advent.
While the relationship between the Indian acquaintance of Jung and his spiritual acquaintance of Jung and his spiritual guru was obviously an elevating one, this is not always the case. Many spirit persons, having lived unenlightened lives here on earth, proceed to the spirit world in a confused or even destructive state of mind. When this is the case, and such spirits relate to people here on earth, their influence is not a benign one.
Without discounting the psychological, emotional and even chemical factors involved, Divine Principle suggests that the presence of such dark spirit forces around vulnerable individuals can contribute to a number of different tragic experiences.
In the New York "Son of Sam" murders for example, a man who killed a number of young New York women said he was commanded to do so by an invisible voice belonging to a person named Sam. Also, although clearly an extreme account of spirit possession, the well-known film The Exorcist was in fact based on a true story.
It is perhaps in the area of mental psychosis, however, that the possibility of harmful spirit interaction is clearest. In his book The Presence of Other Worlds, Dr. Wilson Van Dusan, a clinical psychologist who labored for sixteen years at California's Mendocino State Hospital, described his own discovery of what he calls the "presence of spirits in madness." Van Dusen had been vaguely familiar with the writings of Emmanual Swedenborg on the interaction of spirits with people on earth but only through his own experience with psychotic patients did he learn what the seventeenth century Swedish scientist was talking about.
Just as Swedenborg had discovered that spirits representing forces of both light and dark, good and evil, were in communication with people on earth, so Van Dusen discovered his patients both vocally and visually were in touch with forces they regarded, as autonomous spiritual beings. Describing the influence these beings can have, Van Dusen writes:
"I learned to two orders of experience...called the higher and the lower order. Lower order voices are similar to drunken bums at a bar who like to tease and torment just for the fun of it... They find a weak point of conscience and work on it interminably..... All of the lower order are irreligious or anti-religious...In direct contrast stand the rarer higher order (spirits)...(who) respected his freedom and would withdraw if it frightened him.... The higher order is much more likely to be symbolic, religious, supportive, genuinely instructive...."
Presence of Other Worlds
Centuries ago, of course, concepts of spirit influence and spirit possession were prevalent. The New Testament, for example, clearly reflects Jesus' belief in spirit influence. On more than one occasion Jesus is described as casting out demons (e.g. Mt. 8:15-16, Mk. 5:1-20). Also, the Apostle Paul, after his long experience with the spiritual path, writes to his fellow believers in Ephesus of the reality of invisible powers acting on the striving devotee:
"Put on the whole armor of God...For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:11-12)
All these assertions tend to be dismissed by our materialistic West as reflective of an antiquated world view. In light of modern discoveries such as Van Dusen's however, and in light of modern psychiatry's acknowledged inability to heal much mental illness, perhaps a new openness to such perceptions as those of Jesus and Paul is merited.
Despite the potential power for good or evil that spiritual forces may have, Divine Principle holds that the ultimate responsibility for an individual's state of being and behavior rests with himself. It is we who make the bases which determine what kind of spirit influence we may attract.
Chevy Chase's famous dictum "the devil made me do it" may be an amusing out, but such a denial of one's own ultimate responsibility doesn't square with the way God made the world.
Next month - Other Years, Other Lives.