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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 3

What is the Philosophy of Death?

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What is the Philosophy of Death?

The philosophy of Death is the philosophy of change; not of change in the constitution or personality of the individual, but of change in the situation of the human Spiritual Principle; which instead of being situated m an earthly hotly, is placed in a spiritual organisation; and instead of living among the objects and personalities of the planet upon which the individual spirit was born, its situation is so altered as to fit it to live amidst more beauteous forms and in higher societies.

To the incurably diseased; to the oppressed and downtrodden; to those who are bowed even to the grave with grief; to those who are suffering and perhaps perishing in poverty; to those who are afflicted with the dread of coming death; to them, to all, I would say,—fear not, but follow Truth, tread boldly where she leads, and, with philosophic calm, and a majestic bearing, go on—through the seeming mysterious process of death; Truth still guides, with light revealing to the awakening and more interior senses, a habitation of harmony and blessedness.

Believe not that what is called death is a final termination to human existence, nor that the chang is so thorough and entire as to alter or destroy the constitutional peculiarities of the individual; but believe righteously, that death causes as much alteration in the condition of the individual as the bunting of a rosebud causes in the situation and condition of the flower. Death is, therefore, only an eventonly a circumstance—in the eternal life and experience of the human soul.

The lower we descend into the depths of mankind's history, the more we find that death has been unjustly magnified and exaggerated. It is distorted to be made the central horror around which all other horrors congregate; and it is the inevitable end from which none can possibly page 4 escape. The theology of all nations tends to falsify the nature of death—even the Christian theology presents to the inquiring mind the "dark valley of the shadow of Death," and, also, the "Monster" who is terrible and gigantic even to the strongest intellect. But, as we ascend in the seale of human progress, we find already occasional illuminated minds that pass through a process so analogous to death as to be the same in all but its duration; and such minds uniformly testify that the transfiguration is interesting and delightful. I allude to those who have experienced the sensations which are wrought upon the human system by magnetic influences or who have otherwise had their spiritual pereeptions sufficiently opened and expanded to behold some of the laws and universal tendencies of nature. In all ages of the world, and among all nations, there have lived such enlightened individuals; and with them are numbered Plato, Jesus, Swedenborg, Jacob Bemen, and every one who is sufficiently advanced to enter into the spiritual or interior state; (which state must not be confounded with the inferior exhibitions of somnambulism, and the mistermed clairvoyance of unprogressed minds;) and in consequence of the vast accumulation of experience and testimony thus flowing through intuitive and pure minds, the world is becoming gradually emancipated from the bondage which a false understanding of the nature and results of visible death has imposed upon it.

It is for the diseased and suffering, who feel and know that death is the only relief which they can expect from the character of their afflictions—I say it is for such especially, that the following disclosures are made; and yet they are addressed to all; for I know that the highborn and intelligent mind cannot gather much consolation or truth from the present doctrines and philosophies of the world—the world which is yet clad in the habiliments of Ignorance, and in which Error, fashionably draperied and masked, presides over the theologies which live, like useless plants, in the gardens of present civilised soeiety.

Let us now turn to the investigation. As I have said, death is but an event in our eternal life. It is a change in the situation and in the condition of the individual. And as it is a law of nature that every true and spontaneous change is attended with an improvement and advancement in the condition and constitution of the thing which is changed; so is man's death to the outer world an important and valuable change in his situation and condition. In other language, death is simply a birth into a new and more perfect state of existence. Nature, which is the only true and unchangeable revelation of the Divine Mind, is replete with the most beautiful and demonstrative analogies, or with universal processes which perfectly correspond to the page 5 phenemenon of physical dissolution. Everything is being incessantly "born again," or changed from one slate of being into another; and this change is being accompanied, accomplished, and confirmed by transitional movements or processes which mankind term death. For illustration—let us think of a little germ which lies hidden in the earth. First, it is warmed by the vivifying elements of nature, which invite its innate essences and principles to unfold themselves and display their legitimate tendencies. And forthwith the germ is changed—or, to keep the analogy prominently before the mind, it dies to its original form and mode of existence. Simultaneous with this death there comes forth from out of the germ new forms and organisations; that is, a new body, with many branches, are unfolded and developed. And so, likewise, by a constant and harmonious succession of changes—or deaths—or births, in the various ascending forms and forces of the germ, the perfect flower is ultimately unfolded in all its fair and beauteous proportions.

Everything which has motion, life, and sensation, and which has not attained the human form, is destined to alter its form and mode of being; and every alteration is accompanied with a death among some, or all, of the parts and portions of the living organism. But there is no extinction of life, no annihilation of the personality of any human organization or principle in all the interminable universe; it is merely the mode of man's existence that is changed by death; and which mode, in accordance with progressive principles, is thereby vastly improved and elevated.

Here I am impressed to repeat what I have already said, because I know that it will instruct the reader's mind in the physiology of death, and calm the unhappy and suffering individual. Every human intellect should understand, that as soon as the human organisation is perfected in its form, size, and general developments, and as soon as the period has arrived when the spirit exercises its full control over the body, the process of transformation commences. The change is imperceptible, yet it is incessant and progressive. The body is not dying for a few hours only, but for many years—during which time the faculties and powers of the inner being gradually release their proprietorship over the form, and the soul continues its aspirations toward the higher spheres.

When the form is yet a child, it manifests all the angular, eccentric, and irregular traits of character, inclinations, and movements. When childhood advances to youth, the eccentricity gives way to more uniformity, and then is displayed the circular in every possible modification of that form. When youth ascends to manhood, the perfect circular and spiral make their appearance, and are uniformly displayed page 6 in the inclinations and characteristics of that progressed stage of development. At this period the process of dying or transformation commences. The spirit is continually developing and expanding its faculties, and putting them forth as feelers into the higher spheres. The tendencies of the spirit are no more descending, but ascending; and that, too, to an immensity beyond the power of language to express, or the most exalted intellect to comprehend.

And as manhood progresses to old age, the body gradually becomes incapable of performing the office required by the spirit. Hence, when people are aged, their faculties seem buried beneath the worn-out and useless materials of the body. They appear weak in intellect, imbecile, and unconsociable to all around them that is youthful, blooming, and seemingly perfected. One faculty after another withdraws from the material form, and their energy, brilliancy, and susceptibility seem to decline. The body, finally, is almost disconnected from the spirit which gives it animation; and then the body is a dweller in the rudimental sphere, and the spirit is an inhabitant of the inner life, or the spiritual world. And when the moment of dissolution occurs, the sensation, or clothing medium of the body, is attracted and absorbed by the spirit, of which it then becomes the material form. At this instant the body manifests faint and almost imperceptible movements, as if it were grasping for the life which had fled; and these are contortions of the countenance, spasmodic contractions of the muscles, and seeming efforts of the whole frame to regain its animating soul.

Such are the visible appearances connected with the process of death. But these are deceptive; for the process occurring in the interior is far more beautiful than it is possible to describe. When the body contracts its museles and apparently manifests the most agonising and writhing efforts, it is merely an open indication of joy unspeakable in the inner being, and of ecstacy unknown to all but itself. When the countenance is contorted, pain is not experienced; but such is an expression of ineffable delight. And when the body gives forth its last possession, a smile is impressed on the countenance, which of itself is an index of the brightness and resplendent beauty that pervade the spirit's home! In the last moments of outer life the spiritual perceptions are greatly expanded and illuminated, and the spirit is thus rendered competent to behold the immense possessions of its second habitation.

It is given me to know these things by daily experiencing them, and having them verified in the frequent transitions that occur within my being, from the outer to the inner world, or from the lower to the higher spheres. I speak, therefore, from personal experience, which is know- page 7 ledge fully confirmed by the unvarying sensations and phenomena that occur.

The butterfly escapes its gross and rudimental body, and wings its way to the sunny bower, and is sensible of its new existence. The drop of water that reposes on the earth is rendered invisible by the absorbing invitations of the sun, and ascends to associate with, and repose in, the bosom of the atmosphere. The day that is known by its warmth and illumination, dispenses its blessings to the forms of earth, and sinks into repose in the bosom of the night. Night is, then, an index of a new day, which is first cradled in the horizon, and afterward perfected in its noontide light, beauty, and animation. The flower, being unfolded from the interior by virtue of its own essence and the sun, is variegated in every possible manner, and thus becomes a representative of light and beauty; but having attained its perfection, it soon begins to change its form, its colour, and its beauty of external being. Its fragrance goes forth and pervades all congenial and suitable forms, and its beauty is indelibly impressed upon the memory of its beholder and admirer, when the flower itself is no more. The foliage tinted with the breath of winter, no longer retains its outward beauty; but this is an index of new life and animation, which is perfectly exemplified in the return of foliage in the youthful season. As it is with these, so it is with the spirit. The body dies on the outer or rather, changes its mode of existence, while the spirit ascends to a higher habitation, suited to its nature and requirements.

Death is but a Door which opens into new and more perfect existence. It is a Triumphal Arch through which man's immortal spirit passes at the moment of leaving the outer world to depart for a higher, a sublimer, and a more magnificent country. And there is really nothing more painful or repulsive in the natural process of dying (that which is not induced by disease or accident) than there is in passing into a quiet, pleasant, and dreamless slumber. The truthfulness of this proposition is remarkably illustrated and confirmed by the following observations and investigation into the physiological and psychological phenomena of death, which my spirit was qualified to make upon the person of a diseased individual at the moment of physical dissolution.

The patient was a female of about sixty years of age. Nearly eight months previous to her death she visited me for the purpose of receiving a medical examination of her physical system. Although there were no sensations experienced by her, excepting a mere weakness or feebleness located in the duodenum, and a falling of the palate, yet I page 8 discovered, and distinctly perceived, that she would die with a cancerous disease of the stomach. This examination was made about eight months previous to her death. Having ascertained the certainty of her speedy removal from our earth, without perceiving the precise period of her departure (for I cannot spiritually measure time or space), I internally resolved to be present and watch the progressive development of that interesting but much-dreaded phenomenon. Moved by this resolution, I, at a later period, engaged board in her house, and officiated as her physician.

When the hour of her death arrived, I was fortunately in a proper state of body and mind to induce the Superior Condition; but, previous to throwing my spirit into that condition, I sought the most convenient and favourable position, that I might be allowed to make the observations entirely unnoticed and undisturbed. Thus situated and conditioned, I proceeded to observe and investigate the mysterious processes of dying, and to learn what it is for an individual human spirit to undergo the changes consequent upon physical death or external dissolution. They were these:—

I saw that the physical organisation could no longer subserve the diversified purposes or requirements of the Spiritual Principle. But the various internal organs of the body appeared to resist the withdrawal of the animating soul. The muscular system struggled to retain the element of Motion: the vascular system strove to retain the element of Life; the nervous system put forth all its powers to retain the element of Sensation; and the cerebral system laboured to retain the principle of Intelligence. The body and the soul, like two friends, strongly resisted the various circumstances which rendered their eternal separation imperative and absolute. These internal conflicts gave rise to manifestations of what seemed to be, to the material senses, the most thrilling and painful sensations; but I was unspeakably thankful and delighted when I perceived and realised the fact that those physical manifestations were indications, not of pain or unhappiness, but simply that the Spirit was eternally dissolving its copartnership with the material organism.

Now the head of the body became suddenly enveloped in a fine—soff—mellow—luminous atmosphere; and, as instantly, I saw the cerebrum and the cerebellum expand their most interior portions; I saw them discontinue their appropriate galvanic functions; and then I saw that they became highly charged with the vital electricity and vital magnetism which permeate subordinate systems and structures. That is to say, the Brain, as a whole, suddenly declared itself to be tenfold more page 9 positive, over the lesser portions of the body, than it ever was during the period of health. This phenomenon invariably precedes physical dissolution.

Now the process of dying, or of the spirit's departure from the body, was fully commenced. The brain began to attract the elements of electricity, of magnetism, of motion, of life, and of sensation, into its various and numerous departments. The head became intensely brilliant; and I particularly remarked that just in the same proportion as the extremities of the organism grew dark and cold, the brain appeared light and glowing.

Now I saw, in the mellow, spiritual atmosphere, which emanated from, and encircled, her head, the indistinct outlines of the formation of another head! The reader should remember that these super-sensuous processes are not visible to any one except the spiritual perceptions be unfelded; for material eyes can only behold material things, and spiritual eyes can only behold spiritual things.—This is a Law of Nature. This new head unfolded more and more distinctly; and so indescribably compact and intensely brilliant did it become, that I could neither see through it nor gaze upon it as steadily as I desired. While this spiritual head was being eliminated and organised from out of, and above, the material head, I saw that the surrounding aromal atmosphere which had emanated from the material head was in great conamotion; but, as the new head became more distinct and perfect, this brilliant atmosphere gradually disappeared. This taught me that those aromal elements, which were in the beginning of the metamorphosis, attracted from the system into the brain, and thence eliminated in the form of an atmosphere, were indissolubly united in accordance with the divine principle of affinity in the universe, which pervades and destinates every particle of matter, and developed the spiritual head which I beheld.

With inexpressible wonder, and with a heavenly and utterable reverence I gazed upon the holy and harmonious processes that were going on before me. In the identical manner in which the spiritual head was eliminated and unchangeably organised I saw, unfolding in their natural, progressive order, the harmonious development of the neck, the shoulders, the breast, and the entire spiritual organisation. It appeared from this, even to an unequivocal demonstration, that the innumerable particles of what might be termed unparticled matter, which constitute the man's Spiritual principle, are constitutionally endowed with certain elective affinities, analogous to an immortal friendship. The innate tendencies, which the elements and essences of her soul manifested by uniting and page 10 organising themselves, were the efficient and imminent causes which unfolded and perfected her spiritual organisation. The defects and deformities of her physical body, were, in the spiritual body which I saw thus developed, almost completely removed. In other words, it seemed that those hereditary obstructions and influences were now removed, which originally arrested the full and proper development of her physical constitution; and therefore, that her spiritual constitution, being elevated above those obstructions, was enabled to unfold and perfect itself, in accordance with the universal tendencies of all created things.

While this spiritual formation was going on., which was perfectly visible to my spiritual perceptions, the material body manifested, to the outer vision of observing individuals in the room, many symptoms of uneasiness and pain; but these indications were totally deceptive; they were wholly caused by the departure of the vital or spiritual forces from the extremities and viscera into the brain, and thence into the ascending organism.

The spirit arose at right angles over the head or brain of the deserted body. But immediately previous to the final dissolution of the relationship which had for so many years subsisted between the spiritual and material bodies, I saw—playing energetically between the feet of the elevated spiritual body and the head of the prostrate physical body—a bright stream or current of vital electricity. This taught me, that what is customarily termed Death is but a Birth of the spirit from a lower into a higher state; that an inferior body and mode of existence are exchanged for a superior body and corresponding endowments and capabilities of happiness. I learned that the correspondence between the birth of a child into this world, and the birth of the spirit from the material body into a higher world, is absolute and complete—even to the umbilical cord, which was represented by the thread of vital electricity, which, for a few minutes, subsisted between, and connected the two organisms together. And here I perceived, what I had never before obtained a knowledge of, that a small portion of this vital electrical element returned to the deserted body, immediately subsequent to the separation of the umbilical thread; and that that portion of this element which passed back into the earthly organism, instantly diffused itself through the entire structure, and thus prevented immediate decomposition.

It is not proper that a body should be deposited in the earth until after decomposition has positively commenced; for, should there be no positive evidences of such structural change, even though life seems surely to have departed, it is not right to consign the body to the page 11 grave. The umbilical life-cord, of which I speak, is sometimes not severed, but is drawn out into the finest possible medium of sympathetic connection between the body and the spirit. This is invariably the case when individuals apparently die, and, after being absent for a few days or hours, return, as from a peaceful journey, to relate their spiritual experiences. Such phenomena are modernly termed, Trances, Catalepsy, Somnambulism, and spiritual Extasis. There are many different stages, or divisions, and subdivisions, of these states. But when the spirit is arrested in its flight from the body, and when it is held in a transitional or mediatorial state, for only a few hours or minutes, then the mind seldom retains a recollection of its experience—this state of forgetfulness, seems, to a superficial observer, like annihilation; and this occasional suspension of consciousness (or memory) is frequently made-the foundation of many an argument against the soul's immortal existence. It is when the spirit entirely leaves the body—only retaining proprietorship over it, through the medium of the unsevered umbilical thread or electric wire, as it might be called—that the soul is enabled to abandon its earthly tenement and interests, for many hours or days, and afterward to return to the earth, ladened with bright and happy memories.

As soon as the spirit, whose departing hour I thus watched, was wholly disengaged from the tenacious physical body, I directed my attention to the movements and emotions of the former; and I saw her begin to breathe the most interior or spiritual portions of the surrounding terrestrial atmosphere. At first it seemed with difficulty that she could breathe the new medium; but, in a few seconds, she inhaled and exhaled the spiritual elements of nature, with the greatest possible ease and delight. And now I saw that she was in the possession of exterior and physical proportions, which were identical, in every possible particular—improved and beautified—with those proportions which characterised her earthly organisation. That is to say, she possessed a heart, a stomach, a liver, a lungs, &c., &c., just as her natural body did previous, to (not her, but) its death. This is a wonderful and consoling truth! But I saw that the improvements which were wrought upon, and in, her spiritual organisation, were not so particular and thorough as to destroy or transcend her personality; nor did they materially alter her natural appearance or earthly characteristics. So much like her former self was she, that, had her friends beheld her (as I did,) they certainly would have exclaimed—as we often do upon the sudden return of a long absent friend, who leaves us in illness and returns in health—"Why, how well you look! how improved you are!" such were page 12 the nature—most beautifying in their extent—of the improvements that were wrought upon her.

I saw her continue to conform, and accustom herself, to the new elements and elevating sensations which belong to the inner life. I did not particularly notice the workings and emotions of her newly awakening and fast unfolding spirit; except, that I was careful to remark her philosophic tranquillity throughout the entire process, and her non-participation, with the different members of her family, in their unrestrained bewailing of her departure from the earth, to unfold in Love and Wisdom throughout eternal spheres. She understood, at a glance, that they could only gaze upon the cold and lifeless form which she had but just deserted; and she readily comprehended the fact, that it was owing to a want of true knowledge upon their parts, that they thus vehemently regretted her merely physical death.

The excessive weeping and lamentation of friends and relatives, over the external form of one departed, are mainly caused by the sensuous and superficial mode by which the majority of mankind view the phenomena of death. For, with but few exceptions, the race is so conditioned and educated on the earth—not yet having grown into spiritual perceptions—not yet progressed to where "whatsoever is hid shall be revealed"—realising, only through the medium of the natural senses, the nearness of the beloved—watching and comprehending only the external signs and processes of physical dissolution—supposing this contortion to indicate pain, and that expression to indicate anguish—I say, the race is so situated and educated that death of the body (to the majority of the earth's inhabitants) is equivalent to an annihilation of the personality of the individual. But I would comfort the superficial observer, and I can solemnly assure the inquirer after truth, that, when an individual dies naturally, the spirit experiences no pain; nor, should the material body be dissolved with disease, or crushed by the fearful avalanehe, is the individuality of the spirit deformed; or in the least degree obscured. Could you but turn your natural gaze from the lifeless body, which can no longer answer to your look of love; and could your spiritual eyes be opened, you would behold—standing in your midst—a form, the same, but more beautiful, and living! Henee, there is great cause to rejoice at the birth of the spirit from this world into the Inner Sphere of Life—yea, it is far more reasonable and appropriate to weep at the majority of marriages which occur in this world, than to lament when man's immortal spirit escapes from its earthly form, to live and unfold in a higher and better country! You may clothe yourselves with the dark habiliments of woe, when you consign at the altar, a heart page 13 to a living grave; or when you chain the soul to breathe in an uncongenial atmosphere; but robe yourselves with garments of light to honour the spirit's birth into a higher life!

The period required to aeeomplish the entire charge, which I saw, was not far from two hours and a half; but this furnishes no rule as to the time required for every spirit to elevate and re-organise itself above the head of the outer form. Without changing my position, or spiritual perceptions, I continued to observe the movements of her new-born spirit. As soon as she became accustomed to the new elements which surrounded her, she descended from her elevated position, which was immediately over the body, by an effort of the will-power, and directly passed out of the door of the bedroom, in which she had lain (in the material form) prostrated with disease for several weeks. It being in a summer month, the doors were all open, and her egress from the house was attended with no obstructions. I saw her pass through the adjoining room, out of the door, and step from the house into the atmosphere! I was overwhelmed with delight and astonishment when, for the first time, I realised the universal truth that the Spiritual organisation can tread the atmosphere which, while in the coarser earthly form, we breathe—so much more refined is man's spiritual condition. She walked in the atmosphere as easily, and in the same manner, as we tread the earth, and ascend an eminence. Immediately upon her emergement from the house, she was joined by [unclear: txo] friendly spirits from the spiritual country; and, after tenderly recognising and communing with each other, the three, in the most graceful manner, began ascending obliquely through the ethereal envelopment of our globe. They walked so naturally and fraternally together, that I could scarcely realise the fact that they trod the air—they seemed to be walking upon the side of a glorious but familiar mountain! I continued to gaze upon them until the distance shut them from my view; whereupon I returned to my external and ordinary condition.

O, what a contrast! Instead of beholding that beautiful and youthfolly unfolded spirit, I now saw, in common with those about me, the lifeless—celd—and shrouded organism of the caterpillar, which the joyous butterfly had so recently abandoned!