Toward the Light
Questions & Answers
An Addendum to Toward the Light
It is stated (Toward the Light, page 5: 3) that God created thousands upon thousands of glorious, graceful figures—spiritual beings—the angels. Further on, the guardian spirits of human beings are mentioned. From this it appears the “angels” should be counted at least by the millions, rather than by the vague number “thousands upon thousands”. Is it not possible to give the correct number of God’s first children?
No! The actual number will not be given.
When Ardor rendered this part of his Account, he knew, from conversing with God, that this number should not be revealed. But God also pointed out to him the fact that since the number of human spirits far exceeded the number of God’s first-created children, Ardor should employ a numerical quantity that would indicate this difference. And this he did when he used the expression “thousands upon thousands” for the number of the angels, and “legion upon legion” for the number of the “shadows”. (Toward the Light, page 19: 2.)
However, this refers only to the number of “shadows” as compared to God’s first children—the Youngest and the Eldest.
In Toward the Light, page 17: 3, Ardor explains how the “shadows” were transformed into human spirits when endowed with a spark of God’s own flaming Being, that is to say with Thought and Will. But through millions of years this first contingent of human spirits was increased many times over through numerous new creations, whereas the number of God’s first children was established once and for all time.
According to God’s wish, no further information will be given concerning this matter. Humans must therefore each content themselves with their own conception of the collective number of all God’s children. Not until the pilgrimage of mankind to God’s Kingdom has ended will the exact number be revealed, for human thought is too feeble, too limited in scope to be able to comprehend this number in terms of living beings.
Although no more spirits remain Earth-bound—according to Toward the Light—spiritualistic mediums nevertheless can still communicate with all manner of spirits at any time. But is it conceivable that the incarnate Eldest—during nightly sleep release—can be responsible for all these manifestations?
As so often stated, spiritualistic mediums have no further contact with “Earth-bound spirits”, since these are no longer present on the Earth’s astral plane. Thus, authentic manifestations are due to the incarnated Eldest when disembodied during nightly sleep and also to a number of human spirits from the fifth and to some extent the sixth sphere. But these humans have no permission to visit the plane of the Earth and so must atone for their disobedience through an incarnation undertaken much sooner than usual.34
A further explanation is that the spiritual ego of a medium happens often to be one of the Eldest. The numerous “releases” through the unlawful35 excursions during sleep of these Eldest have in many cases caused the connection between body and spirit to slacken to a greater or lesser degree over time. And since a number of these Eldest during life on Earth act as mediums—in the spiritualistic sense—they are able to be simultaneously both medium and manifesting “spirit” or “spirits”. It is not even necessary for these mediums to be in semi- or full trance. They may well be wide awake and apparently normal because, however weak, a continuous rapport exists between their spirit and the physical body. This type of medium can thus seem to be in contact with “several different spirits”, but in reality it is the medium’s own spirit that is released from the body and imitates, or poses as different spirits. Even though the medium might appear trustworthy in everyday life, this is no guarantee that the medium’s claims regarding the origins of the many spiritual manifestations are true. Many persons have a certain ability to mask their nature from others so as to appear different in character. At times the mediums themselves act in good faith, but at other times are knowingly fraudulent.
However, it is self-evident that such unlawful releases of the spirit—which should normally be firmly bound to the visible body—must eventually slacken the rapport between the spirit’s psychic brain and the body’s physical brain. If such releases continue frequently over the years they can give rise to longer or shorter states of insanity—possibly over the remainder of an individual’s earthly life.
All mediums who perform under the cloak of spiritualism do so in conflict with God’s law. It cannot be repeated enough: no human being should attempt to act spiritualistically as a link between the “living” and the “dead”.
It is written (Toward the Light, page 84: 4) that the human spirit must incarnate voluntarily. But on page 249 it says that those spirits who—against their better judgment and without permission—return to the Earth, then lose, for each such visit, the equivalent of one earthly year from their allotted time for rest and development in the spheres. How can these two statements be reconciled with each other?
Until Spring of 1918, the new incarnations of the human spirits took place as described in Toward the Light (pages 84: 3 to 85: 1). But since a risk arose during the World War that a new lower class of spirits might develop on account of the prohibited, but in fact frequent excursions of the spirits to the plane of the Earth, the provisions described on page 249 were adopted.
These provisions can be attributed, first, to a request from a multitude of spirits who frequented the plane of the Earth without the necessary permission. These spirits were distressed and exhausted by the repeated visits to the Earth, “imposed” upon them by the demanding thoughts and wishes of friends, relatives and mediums. Many clearly saw that they lacked sufficient will to resist the strong “earthly attraction” to which they were exposed, and they therefore appealed to God for help. Then God, in order to increase the capacity of their will, made a temporary law for these beings who had such difficulty in refraining from visiting the Earth. And it was approved by all the spirits, even though it provided that each unlawful visit would result in the deduction of a year from their time of rest and learning in the spheres. God chose this procedure because He knew the prospect of a curtailed sojourn in their homes in the spheres would cause the affected spirits to do their utmost to resist the powerful attraction from the Earth. And by thus exerting their will, they would in most cases remain in the spheres despite the compelling thoughts of relatives, friends and mediums.
This statute therefore applies only to those human spirits who visit the plane of the Earth even though aware that such visits are not permitted. They know beforehand that they are violating the law, and they know the consequence will be incarnation earlier than usual, that they must enter that incarnation without any preparation for the coming life on Earth, and that the incarnation will bring them no spiritual progress. Possessing this knowledge, they themselves must decide whether to act against the law or not. It is only a question of will. The will may freely choose to visit the Earth without permission and bring about an early incarnation, or to remain calmly in the home in the spheres, followed by a normal incarnation.
People live in the communities of Earth under many laws with many sections and subsections, yet retain their freedom until they transgress against the laws of society and thereby lose that freedom for a longer or shorter time. All who live in a civilized society know that they must not kill and rob and so on. Those who violate these laws of their own free will must suffer the penalty nevertheless. The punishment is a natural consequence of the individual’s misuse of the will. And the incarnations that the human spirits bring upon themselves through their unlawful visits to the Earth can only be regarded as a “sentence of temporary confinement”, that is, an atonement invoked by violation of the section of the law in question.
Those human spirits who are in fact immature because of a poorly developed will, receive God’s help in a different way. They are restrained by a “barrier” across the Passage of Light that leads to the Earth (Toward the Light, page. 249: 2).
This barrier was established according to the wish of these beings at the time they besought God to provide them protection against the human, the earthly attraction.
Thus, the barrier and the stated section of the law are only temporary measures, to be abolished when people have learned that no one must call upon the “dead”. But a number of centuries may pass before this can be fully accomplished.
In reply to Question 6, First Supplement, it is stated: “Daily thousands of human spirits are drawn to the Earth and daily the spirits of Light lead these insubordinate spirits back to their homes in the spheres”. How can the calling thoughts of mediums bring these comparatively advanced spirits from the fifth and sixth spheres to transgress so readily against the law, and to surmount the restraining “barrier” of Light? Compared to earthly conditions, it can hardly be imagined that people would travel hundreds of miles to violate the law because of an external thought-influence.
The questioner’s comparison between the situation in the spheres and on Earth applies not in this particular case inasmuch as the thought-influence of one human upon another follows other laws than those forming the background for thought-influence of a human being upon a discarnate spirit, or vice versa. However, in the earthly world a coded telegram or a coded message delivered over the telephone would often have a similar effect. A considerable number of people could be persuaded by such a message to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to commit an unlawful act.
If a spiritualistic medium exerts thought-influence upon discarnate spirits it should be taken into consideration that such mediums are usually the “Eldest”, whose capacity for thought-concentration is enormous compared with that of ordinary humans.36 Many human spirits also yearn strongly for their relatives and friends on Earth. They are therefore readily attracted to the Earth, to their earthly homes or to spiritualistic séances, but usually only to say that they are alive! Others return again and again because their yearning for life on Earth grows stronger with each visit and because the Darkness on Earth gains ever greater power over them by reason of the unlawful nature of their visits. The Light-”barrier” offers no appreciable hindrance to spirits determined to visit the Earth. However, it does present an obstacle to those drawn to the Earth against their will. Often they venture only as far as the barrier, hesitate and return to their home in the spheres. But others fail to resist the calling from the Earth if the medium is one of the Eldest, and when they arrive at the barrier of Light they penetrate it by power of will.37 These distressing conditions for many human spirits cannot improve until people have learned to be less selfish in their grief over the beloved, departed ones; they cannot improve until all spiritualistic séances have ceased forever. Not until then will it also be possible in this respect to improve the general conditions of existence, both for the “dead” and for the “living”.
Christian Wilster’s poem, “Memento”, in Greetings to Denmark, contains this passage: “I followed my life from birth until death, a hand unseen held me fast”. Since the human spirit has a free will and should decide it does not want to review its past life, how can it be forced to do so by an ‘unseen hand’?”
Recollections of the many stages of the earthly life just ended arise quite spontaneously in the thoughts of the spirit. No one—neither God nor the guardian spirit—compels the spirit to “listen” to the emerging thoughts or to “look” at the scenes of the past life as they pass before the eye. If the spirit wishes not to consider its past actions and wishes not to contemplate the visions of its past life then it can—by strength of will—suppress these things. But they will reappear time after time and invite reflection. It is this state of self-searching that Wilster poetically likens to the grip of an unseen hand.
The automatic appearance of these visions and memories of life is due to the divine origin of the human spirit. The divine element will always react to any wicked or unlawful thought or action borne in the memory of the spirit from life on Earth. What happens is thus the attempt of the spiritual self to cleanse itself of earthly Darkness and cast off the oppressive yoke of the guilt of sin.
During incarnation, the role of the guardian spirit is essential to the human being since the divine spark in the self is often so faint that its “protests” are unable to penetrate the Darkness surrounding the spirit bound to the human body. The guardian spirit is thus the “reinforced conscience” of the human being. But when the spirit is released from its body and finds itself in its home in the spheres, far from the earthly Darkness, then the spark of divinity—the divine element—is strong enough to react to the periods of Darkness in the completed life.
The task of the guardian spirit in the home in the spheres is thus to help and sustain its charge during the time of self-searching. With love and patience the guardian spirit seeks to reason with and to convince its charge that every aspect of the life on Earth must be considered, acknowledged and, where necessary, repented of before rest and peace of mind can come to the spirit.
Since humans pave the way for their life on Earth by their own deeds, what part does coincidence play through sickness, misdeeds and accidents? Or does nothing happen by coincidence?
Since the Earth is first and foremost a world of Darkness, life there must by the very nature of Darkness be full of coincidences, many of them unavoidable.
The old adage, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall not fall on the ground without the will of your Father”, does not apply to earthly conditions. Sparrows fall to the ground day in and day out without the slightest involvement of God’s Will. And thousands upon thousands of humans die daily, long before the actual day and hour appointed by God—without His Will!
In the parable, “Two Brothers”38, the father says to his returned children: “Many of you came before I called. . . .39” This passage refers to the return home of numerous human spirits before the time determined for the death of the earthly body. Never does God predetermine the death of anyone through criminal acts, warfare, natural disasters, or by accidents of any kind. But if, through no fault of their own, people are exposed to death by catastrophes, sickness, random accidents or criminal acts, God will always utilize such occurrences to counter-balance previous guilt of sin (Toward the Light, page 306: 2).
God employs not directly the blindly acting powers of Darkness in outlining the forthcoming earthly lives of human spirits. If a spirit is to live an earthly life under the Law of Retribution, that individual will usually be bound to a fetus conceived in a family wherein disposition for disease or deficiency is latent or active in the body or in the brain. The spirit is thus born to life in homes or surroundings that can produce exactly what is demanded by the Law of Retribution—a deformed and sickly body, mental deficiency or insanity, or a life of poverty, want and misery.
If someone has been rendered liable under the Law of Retribution to suffer some accident or disaster, God determines not that this person shall be afflicted by any particular catastrophe. Rather, when and how is left to “chance”. The individual will therefore not be warned40 by the guardian spirit if suddenly threatened by an imminent catastrophe during life on Earth. Should death thus come before the appointed time, the missing years will be added to the time of rest in the spheres. Neither does God determine, for one who under the Law of Retribution must save another’s life, that an accident will occur at any certain time so that the individual can carry out a penance. But God does inform the spirit—before its incarnation begins—that since life on Earth abounds with accidents it must seek its own opportunity to save the life of another. The guardian spirit will, however, assist in finding an occasion for possible action of this kind. If the spirit in the coming life on Earth carries out its penance and dies while saving another from death, thereby returning to the spheres sooner than intended, there will be no reproach. The missing years will then also be added to the spirit’s time of rest in the sphere home.
But if the individual dies at the appointed time without having done penance, then the spiritual self—after rendering its account—is incarnated to a new life on Earth in circumstances paralleling those of the life just ended, for no time of learning is needed for such parallel incarnations.
Since God determines the duration of human lives on Earth and their manner of death (Toward the Light, page 85), how can the many deaths through apparent accidents be explained?
The many deaths from unpredictable accidents—by lightning, by fire, by other natural catastrophes, and by accidents at sea, on land or in the air—are applied by God to counter-balance the guilt of sin of the present or previous lives on Earth, provided the individual is not to blame for what happened. If the individual is to blame there is then no counter-balancing.
If humans interrupt their own lives prematurely, they must assume full responsibility for the action. And on the very day that God had determined was to have been their last on Earth, the spirit that had been bound to the prematurely deceased body will be incarnated to a new earthly life paralleling the unfinished one. The period of the spirit’s stay in its home in the spheres between such parallel incarnations is regarded as one of rest only, not of learning. (Regarding suicide, see Toward the Light, page 114: 3 and page 105: 1, 2.).
Even though God pre-ordains each life span, the chosen hour of death is often not reached. (Question 26.) The blindly acting powers of Darkness are chiefly to blame for this. So are Ardor’s pre-determinations for the lives of individual human beings as well as for entire nations; and finally to blame is human recklessness, foolhardiness, competitiveness, irresponsibility, and so on, as well as the fact that people fail to heed the warnings of their guardian spirits.
The answer to Question 16 (First Supplement) would seem to indicate that the full severity of the Law of Retribution is rarely brought into force since it is applied only to those who fail to repent at the opportune moment. How then can the immensity of suffering on Earth be explained in terms of retribution for transgressions of the past?
Not all suffering in this world can be explained in terms of retribution for past transgressions. As so often said, humans themselves are the cause of much and quite needless suffering because, first, it could have been avoided had people exercised greater care and acted less rashly (First Supplement, Question 63). Secondly, remember Ardor’s “images” for the future which humans themselves bring to reality on the plane of the Earth, and, thirdly, consider the unpredictable suffering brought about, for example, through natural disaster. None of this is in any way the result of retribution. It is, however, an entirely different matter that God happens to employ this apparently “undeserved” suffering to counter-balance past human transgressions. (Questions 26 and 27, Second Supplement.)
Perhaps the inquirer understands not the true meaning of the expression, “the opportune moment”. The meaning under God’s laws is that humans must, during life on Earth, fully repent of their guilt of sin, both toward God and toward their fellow beings. This means that they all must ask, during the same life span in which they sin, the forgiveness of both God and of human beings; for then there will be no retribution. Yet, how many ask forgiveness? Some, while yet living on Earth, may reach a feeling of guilt of sin and remorse toward God. But if there is guilt among humans, their mutual anger and hatred increases rather than diminishes during their common life on Earth, for few only will ask their victims to forgive them. But the opportune moment is lost if there is not repentance and forgiveness during that same life in which the transgressions took place. The guilty ones will then be confronted in the beyond with their transgressions, with their thoughtless, evil or criminal deeds. By then it is usually too late to obtain the forgiveness of the victim, even though God may have forgiven the sinner. (First Supplement, page 37: 5.)
Let us look at some examples from life on Earth:
How often down through the ages have fathers and mothers not pronounced curses against unruly sons and daughters who went astray and sank deeper and deeper into sin and Darkness? How many fathers and mothers have in their self-righteousness, bitterness and anger closed the door of their home to an errant son or daughter? How many sons and daughters have left home despite the wishes and pleadings of their parents? And how many have remorsefully returned home to ask the forgiveness of their father and mother? They can be easily counted, for they are few! And how many fathers and mothers have during their lifetime called back their sons and daughters whom they have cursed, called them back to forgive them and to bestow their blessing upon them before death ended their earthly life? They too are easily counted, for they also are few!
And how many wedded couples have separated in anger, spite and hatred? And how many have asked each other’s forgiveness before their lives ended? They are still more easily counted, for their number is appallingly small!
Let us look at other examples from daily life:
If someone through lack of responsibility, recklessness, foolhardiness or the like causes one or more fellow beings to become maimed, wounded or disfigured, does that individual then ask forgiveness of the victims? Rarely. Mostly the matter is settled in the courts through proceedings against the guilty person, who must then pay proper compensation to those injured; but it occurs not to the guilty one to first attempt to seek the forgiveness of the victims. And if the transgressor does happen to consider this—perhaps thinking about it even for quite a long time—he or she still shrinks from taking such action because of a feeling that it would be “beneath dignity” to approach the victims with an apology. Yet, if this is not done, the opportune moment is forfeited.
Or how many curses have been called down upon those entrusted the care of funds and property of others who have then betrayed this trust and deceived and plundered both rich and poor, both widows and orphans? Have such individuals sought forgiveness of their victims? Rarely. But their conduct has caused endless grief, despair, anger and hatred. Such guilty persons have often taken their own lives rather than face earthly judgment and punishment. They too have forfeited the opportune moment for remorse and forgiveness.
Many further examples could be given when people, not repenting opportunely and seeking forgiveness while they still can, instead shirk their obligations and evade earthly judgment and punishment—or take their own lives. But retribution in one form or another will visit them all in a future incarnation.
Hopefully, humanity will finally come to understand what individual responsibility means, what timely repentance signifies, for then there will be less spiritual and bodily suffering, less poverty, less misery, fewer accidents, fewer transgressions and fewer unlawful acts in earthly life.
Let us hope this will become a reality in the not too distant future.
It is stated (Toward the Light, page 306) that all must clearly understand that no human beings endure any greater spiritual or physical suffering than that they bring upon themselves from previous lives. Can such awareness not serve to blunt sympathy for those who suffer, or even to arouse reproach for their unknown past sins?
That should be out of the question. Should not the sight of the sufferings of others rather increase one’s sympathy and compassion? Would not most people reason thus: What have I myself transgressed in the past? Of what sins am I guilty in my present life? Perhaps I have endured the same sufferings, the same sorrows myself—perhaps I shall in some future life come to endure similar pain and misery. Would not these thoughts arouse compassion in the heart? And would not the sight of the suffering of others bring human beings into closer contact with their conscience? Awareness that none suffer more than they have brought upon themselves should in any case cause everyone to reflect a little more than hitherto on the possible guilt in their own present lives, rather than speculate on their neighbors’ possible transgressions in previous ones. But one thing is certain: those who have themselves suffered on account of previous guilt of sin will feel the deepest compassion for those who suffer and grieve, because they carry some faint remembrance of the significance of grief and suffering for the development and education of humanity.
Once the meaning, for the individual, of free will and responsibility has been fully understood, then humans will exercise greater care and vigilance in all of life’s aspects. Then will people not wait for their neighbors to first better themselves and then perhaps follow their example. No, then will they begin by improving themselves, by seeking to become examples inspiring enough that their neighbors will hopefully emulate them. Thus should it be, and thus will it be one day when humans have fully assimilated the ethical and religious teaching given in Toward the Light.
How do the efforts of mankind to prevent accidents and suffering and to improve the world affect the Law of Retribution? If the sum of all human suffering is reduced, can humans then expect a lesser penance than would otherwise be their due?
The unrepentant will never escape with a lesser penance than is their due. The scales of God never err, for the guilt of sin and the penance of atonement will always balance. But if humans will grieve for themselves, will repent fully of their guilt of sin, will pray for God’s forgiveness and for that of their fellow beings, then atonement under the Law of Retribution is annulled. It becomes no longer necessary.
Gradually, as people come to better understand what responsibility means and grow more considerate in thought, in word and in action—so that increasingly they commit fewer thoughtless, wicked or unlawful deeds—life on Earth will become correspondingly brighter and better, not only for the individual but for everyone. The guilt of sin will thus lessen and the atonement will then be in proportion to the lesser guilt.
When all the Eldest presently incarnated on the Earth have been removed through physical death, Darkness will no longer influence mankind as strongly as it once did and does still. But humans will then—in proportion to their degree of spiritual development—receive lessened help through their conscience than previously, for in this respect will balance also be maintained.
Time and again during the 14,000 years41 that the Eldest held almost exclusive sway over mankind, they drew huge accumulations of Darkness from encapsulation in the Light, gathering these accumulations closely about the globe so as to strengthen their own position in the struggle against the influence of the Youngest upon earthly life. Thus it was necessary for the “conscience” to be ever alert and ready to intervene, to lead and to guide the spirit that was bound to the human body. But once the reign of the Eldest on Earth has finally ceased, it will no longer be possible to bring any “newly separated” Darkness to this globe and then—infinitely slowly—the separated accumulations of Darkness will be eliminated through the earthly lives of the Youngest and of the human spirits, and a new era in the history of human existence will begin—an era during which it will be necessary for all to exert greater vigilance against the influence and temptations of Darkness!
Therefore: Once the reign of the Eldest on Earth has come to an end, human responsibility for self-purification will increase, and because of the ego’s inherent knowledge of evil, every single human being will need to strive more fully than ever to depart from the influence of Darkness, for only in instances of exceptional difficulty will the guardian spirit be permitted to offer help as a “strengthened conscience”. Humanity should never forget, however, that a prayer to God for help will always be heard if deep-felt and earnest.
In the spheres the spirit assumes the appearance of the human body at age 30 to 40 years (Toward the Light, page 191: 4). Does this mean the spirit-body suffers the same deficiencies and deformities that may have afflicted its human body?
When God promised some of His fallen children that He would take mankind into His care—that He would endow each human being with thought and will, that is—He had also to give these spiritually weak and undeveloped individualities an embodiment to serve them in the Spheres between incarnations. God then formed from the Light a pliable and elastic substance with which He clothed these spiritual individualities, giving each individual Light-body a plastic form at the same time. Just as the prototype of a blossom is hidden in the seed, so God conceals in this plastic form an ethereal “something”, a super-prototype for the ultimate embodiment of the “self”, or ego. This first manifests visibly upon the spiritual self’s release from further earthly rebirth. This embodiment of thought and the will has always preceded the entry of each “new spirit” into the earthly world, and each spirit therefore carries in its visible42 body an invisible ethereal prototype of its true form. In this way God endows His child with a concealed characteristic for eternal life in the Paternal Home.
The pliability and elasticity of this substance of the Light, and its plastic properties—its ability to reflect and conform to any shape and its ability to expand and contract—enables the spirit-body to assume, at each rebirth on Earth, the shape of the new-born human infant. This substance also—after the binding of the spirit to the human fetus—assumes a misty state as the fetus develops. In other words the spirit-body is prepared quite automatically to assume the shape and appearance of the little body at the moment of its birth. If the body of the newborn child is malformed in any way, the spirit-body assumes the same malformed appearance down to the smallest detail. By virtue of the Light-body’s ability to expand, it conforms at all times to the human body as this grows and takes on greater dimensions. When the human body “dies”—regardless at what age—the corresponding spirit-body will appear in every detail as an exact copy of it. It will thus either appear aged and bear the various characteristics of same, or appear young and supple with handsome, plain or unlovely features, or it will be deformed, as it was when the corresponding human body was born to life. If a child dies immediately after birth or in childhood, the spirit grows up43 in the sphere where its home is located; and as the body assumes larger dimensions it is shaped and developed according to the characteristics it received when the corresponding earthly body was born.
If the human body during life on Earth is exposed to surgery, accidents, natural disasters, wars, and the like, and thereby loses part of a limb or loses arms, legs, the nose, an eye or an ear, and so on, and the person survives, then the corresponding part of the spirit-body will fade and disappear. The substance of which these parts are formed does not dissolve but slowly retracts into the remaining undamaged substance. However, if a person dies by sudden accident, for instance is struck by lightning, if the body is sundered by explosives or torn by wild animals, or if it is crushed under heavy objects, destroyed by fire, or if a person expires immediately following surgery, or after an accident that severs the head, arms or legs, if the body is lacerated by sharp blades or mutilated through a criminal act, if death is through wounds inflicted by guns, bayonets or knives, or the like, then the spirit-body is automatically released—no matter how extensively the human body is maimed—and thus will not be permanently damaged, will not be marked by the occurrence. It therefore retains the appearance it had before the fatal catastrophe. (Regarding suicide, see further on.)
Similarly, the spirit-body will be released automatically if death is by decapitation, hanging or electrocution. But if these modes of death have been decreed by an earthly court of justice, the spirit-body will be marked by the injury. However, in the instance of decapitation the head of the spiritual body will not be missing. A crimson ring will instead be formed around the neck. If a miscarriage of justice was the cause of death, the spirit-body will not be marked by the act of violence but will appear as it was before the physical body expired.
If anyone takes their own life, by whatever method44—and it is not carried out in delirium or while of unsound mind—the spirit-body will be conspicuously marked44 by the wilful action. If one commits suicide and destroys the body by explosives, or pours flammable liquid over the body and ignites it so that the fire partly or completely consumes the body, if one throws oneself before a train and is lacerated by the wheels, and so on, then the spirit-body is released in the normal way at the moment of death, but it enters a black, misty state shortly afterward. If suicide is by firearms and the head is partly or completely shattered, the head of the spirit-body will, to a greater or lesser extent, assume a black, misty appearance. In all suicides—except committed in delirium—the thought will without cease reflect on that which has happened. And the state wherein the spirit finds itself after death will continue until the hour that was appointed to be the last has been reached. The dreadful appearance of a person who has committed suicide will also remain until that hour, and is therefore often retained for many years.
Thus: any manner of wilful death by the individual will leave its unmistakable mark on the spirit-body.
When at death the spirit is released from the human body, the guardian spirit45 brings it to the home in the spheres where it regains consciousness after a longer or shorter period of sleep. The characteristics the spiritual body carries from life on Earth are thus retained until the spirit has rendered its account to God. But even though those spirits who during life on Earth have been bound to blind, deaf, lame or retarded beings also retain the stamp of these afflictions until their accounts have been rendered, they are yet able to see, hear, talk, think and move about from place to place in their home in the spheres. The reason for this is that in the plastic substance from which God created—and still creates—the spirit’s body for its life in the worlds of the spheres, He has concealed the “ideal” of the spirit’s true, eternal body. And by the help of this prototype’s psychic organs of vision, hearing, speech and its ability to move about, the former human beings that were defective in these respects can then as spirits see, hear, talk, think and move about.
When the account has been rendered, when the spirit has fully grieved and fully repented of its errors, sins or transgressions, then the spirit-body assumes the appearance it had at age 30 to 40 years. If the human being dies earlier, the spirit-body retains the younger appearance. All marks and blemishes acquired during life and work on Earth are taken away and “smoothed out” by God. Lost limbs or organs are drawn forth and reconstituted by the power of God’s Will, and the spirit-body thus resumes a normal appearance. But those spirits whose human bodies were—in accordance with the Law of Retribution—born more or less malformed, lame or with a feeble-minded appearance, will, under the same law, bear a modified stamp of such deformities or of feeble-mindedness.
Those spirits who refuse for a long time to repent, retain the earthly body’s signs of old age, suffering and misery until remorse at last arises—perhaps not until they have spent many years in their home in the spheres. If the spirit insists that it be incarnated earlier than would be normal,46 this appearance is retained until the request can be accommodated. And also, those spirits that committed suicide as humans will see their mutilated spirit-bodies restored in the same way as all others after the rendering of the account and after repentance in full. But when all or part of the spirit-body has assumed a dark, misty consistency, God clothes the thought and the will once more with new Light-substance47, from which a new spirit-body can be formed. The Spirit is then bound immediately to a human fetus to live through another earthly life parallel to the one abruptly terminated through suicide. Even though God clothes the thought and the will in new plastic Light-substance, it means not that the spiritual self must begin again its series of incarnations, only that God enables the thought and the will—the spiritual self—to continue, through earthly rebirth, the development already begun.
Thus: all deformities and disfigurements acquired by the spirit-body through the life and work of the corresponding human body in the earthly world will be made straight and “smoothed out”, its missing limbs reconstituted and the body’s signs of sickness and suffering replaced by a youthful appearance from the age of 30 to 40, or earlier. This happens not until the spirit has rendered its account, has grieved, has shown regret and has repented of its guilt of sin. But all the malformations that the spirit-body acquired from the birth of the corresponding human body—in accordance with the karma48 of the spiritual self—are retained, although in milder form, until a new incarnation is entered.
If the human body, in warfare, through fire or through other forms of accidents caused by one or more fellow humans, is disfigured or mutilated beyond recognition but yet survives—even as a totally deformed mass of flesh—then the spirit-body is deformed in the same dreadful manner. But in such instances the love and the mercy of God intervene. His deep compassion for the fate and sufferings of such wrecks of humanity move Him to suspend the existing laws for the destruction and reconstitution of the spirit-body, as well as for the incarnation of the human spirit. And when death comes to these unfortunate beings, the Spirit is brought—in a sleep-like state—not home to the spheres, but to be bound immediately to a human fetus so as to begin a new incarnation. The spirit is then reborn in a home where circumstances will ensure the newborn being a bright and happy life. A generous portion of the spirit’s past guilt of sin will similarly be weighed against the bodily and spiritual sufferings it has endured. When the spirit returns from this special incarnation it must then render an account both of the life just ended and of its preceding life.
If one attempts to save another’s life, whether demanded under the Law of Retribution or not, and survives, disfigured or mutilated, the spirit will also then be reborn into a brighter and happier existence immediately after death in that life.
Thus: through the love, mercy and compassion of God these unfortunate beings will, through a new birth immediately after death be removed far enough from the bodily and spiritual sufferings they have endured that the spirit can, more calmly, review its previous life on Earth.
It is stated (Question 31) that human bodies malformed at birth will retain such appearance in the spiritual world. Why does God not allow these beings a normal form of spirit-body once they have rendered their account?
1) The form or characteristic assumed by the plastic substance49 of the spirit-body at the birth of the corresponding human body cannot be altered until a new rebirth, that is, until a new incarnation, takes place. Only then can there be a change both in the spiritual self and in the human body. This change is brought about through the inheritance received by the reborn spirit from its parents and their ancestors—bodily as well as spiritually.50
2) If God were to restore the “spirit-bodies” that were malformed from birth to normal characteristics, to a normal appearance, once these spirits had rendered their account, these beings would be “strangers” to themselves, just as relatives and friends from life on Earth would be unable to recognize, on meeting in the beyond, those on whom they had once bestowed their love, protection and tender care.
3) Finally, the question should be viewed with regard to the Law of Retribution, since the deformity is due to a karma51 to which the individual is subjected.
Nursing homes are provided for such unfortunate beings in the various spheres, where they remain under the loving care of male and female attendants until they enter a new incarnation.
Therefore: the spiritual and physical characteristics received by a human spirit through earthly birth are retained both in its present life on Earth and in the spheres, until a new incarnation is entered whereby the spirit is endowed with new characteristics, both in a spiritual and in a physical sense.
Since the embodied spirit, according to Toward the Light, enshrouds the body of the newborn child like a mantle, how then can the organs of the spirit-body assume the characteristics or shapes of the corresponding organs in the earthly body?
Remember that the visible human body is of the earthly three dimensions, whereas the invisible spirit-body—created from a plastic substance of the Light—is four-dimensional. Seen from the transcendental world, the human body appears as a misty,52 insubstantial figure. The astral spirit-body is molded around this figure, but since the Light-substance is four-dimensional it also extends into the misty figure where, quite automatically, it shapes itself in every detail to both the inner and outer forms of the human body. The Light-substance will also quite automatically form a layer of isolation, which separates the internal organs of the astral spirit-body from those of the human body. This layer is released and ejected at the death of the earthly body, but when the spirit is reincarnated it is replaced with a new substance that is added at the same time as the spirit is bound to the fetus. The moment the astral body has been shaped to conform to the inner and outer forms of the child’s body, the parts that reproduce the bone structure harden and thus become as solid as the corresponding bone-structure of the physical body seen from the earthly world. But as for the arterial system, it only appears to be carrying blood. No actual fluid is found in the vessels. The ability of the astral spirit-body to survive is therefore based on laws other than those of the physical body. These laws cannot be explained. Concealed in the Light-substance rests the spirit’s true eternal body, created and formed by God. But since this body is of a dimension unknown to human beings, it has no space-filling properties in the four-dimensional astral world and is therefore not affected by the various metamorphoses of the astral body. The inner structure of this truly spiritual body—which to avoid any misunderstanding could be called the “ethereal body” is the same for all beings created by God and is identical with the spirit-body described in Toward the Light, page 187: 4 to page 188: 4.
Once the Youngest have given account of their earthly lives to God, the astral spirit-body in which their true selves have been concealed during life on Earth is automatically cast off and dissolved. In their dwellings—in the last plane of the sixth sphere—they therefore appear in the “ethereal body”—their eternal form. But when the Youngest labor in the spheres—during their service as tutors—they reduce their ethereal vibrations by power of will and thus become visible to their charges. In those few cases where the human bodies of the Youngest have been malformed through karma, their misshapen bodies will also be cast off once the account to God has been rendered. This is possible because their ethereal bodies have space-filling properties within the plane of their homes in the sixth sphere, whereas the corresponding ethereal body of the human spirit has no space-filling properties within the four-dimensional worlds of the spheres.
The human spirit must therefore retain its deformity until the following incarnation provides it a new form. God can make use of this condition when human spirits must atone under the Law of Retribution.
Some people feel justified in helping others to die when their suffering is great, and death is imminent anyway. How should we regard this? And though “mercy killing” may not be justifiable, to what extent may we relieve pain by narcotics, even though they might shorten life?
Under God’s laws it is never permitted to take the life53 of a fellow human, not even at the wish and request of the person concerned. If someone suffers a painful disease, suffers after surgery, or because of wounds or injuries from accidents or the like, the doctor may administer narcotics to any extent deemed necessary and justified. But if a patient’s body is weaker than the doctors in all sincerity and to the best of their judgment had presumed, and the narcotics therefore hasten death, the doctors will not be assigned any guilt. However, if they are aware that the ailing body cannot tolerate the prescribed doses they will be regarded as having taken a life unlawfully under God’s laws. The same applies to those who end a life out of “compassion” in order to spare a relative or a friend prolonged suffering from an illness. And the person who through the “merciful help” of a fellow human has been given death so as to escape human suffering will be regarded as a suicide. Such persons must then, like others who took their own lives, endure in their home in the spheres the sufferings that they evaded until that moment arrives when the earthly body should normally have died. If a life is terminated without the ailing person’s request, then of course that person bears no guilt. The responsibility then rests only with the one who carried out the “mercy killing”.
How regard alcohol, tobacco, coffee and other more or less harmful stimulants? Must these be considered when humans after death render their accounts of earthly life? What are the consequences if a life is thereby shortened and the spirit returns to the spheres before the appointed day of death?
Account must be given after death for the entire course of one’s earthly life—including any misuse of stimulants.
Christ (Speech of Christ, Toward the Light, page 128: 10) says: “Be prudent with all strong drink and dulling drugs; for know that you yourselves must bear the full responsibility for the foolish, evil, wicked deeds you commit when you lose control of your senses and of your will through carelessness or base habits.” Mankind is thus admonished to exercise caution in the use of certain stimulants. Their use is not forbidden, but it is said that they should be used in such manner that they do not damage one’s health and do not form bad habits, nor cause the individual to lose self-control.
As far as tobacco, tea and coffee are concerned these “poisons” are not harmful when used in moderation. But if alcoholic beverages and other stimulants are used to excess, so that they destroy the health of the body and cause the human spirit to return home earlier than intended, then this will not be regarded as suicide. Such cases are judged according to God’s law that none shall treat their earthly body with neglect, and those who violate this provision will be incarnated in circumstances that will have an improving and educative effect, so that the corresponding human spirit may learn to guard against the excessive use of stimulants.
(Page references apply to the 1979 edition.)
34) Toward the Light, page 249: 3.
35) Toward the Light, page 293: 2.
36) Concerning the mutual thought-influence among humans see Toward the Light, page 310: 1-2 and First Supplement, Question 1.
37) Concerning the Light-Barrier see Toward the Light, page 249: 1-3.
38) Toward the Light, page 141.
39) The continuation of this passage refers to the many “Earth-bound” spirits who returned belatedly to the spheres.
40) Toward the Light, page 252: 4.
41) The incarnations of the Eldest began about 14,000 years ago.
42) “Visible” or “invisible” according to transcendental concepts.
43) Toward the Light, page 190: 3.
44 two times) If suicide is by a poisonous substance, the spirit-body will lie perfectly still in its home in the spheres. But the thought is “awake” and will revolve ceaselessly around this action until the hour when the appointed death in human form was to have occurred—which could be many years.
45) Toward the Light, page 186: 1-3.
46) Second Supplement, Question 8.
47) The “ethereal prototype” can never be destroyed, regardless the extent to which the spirit-body may be dissolved. See also Question 33 (Second Supplement) concerning the “ethereal prototype”, the true body of the spirit, or in other words, its eternal form.
48) See Question 33.
49) See Question 31.
50) Through the astral brain.
51) See Question 33.
52) Even mistier than the human body would appear on an X-ray photograph.
53) If a woman’s life is endangered during pregnancy or birth, the fetus must be sacrificed to save the mother’s life. See the Appendix to First Supplement, page 3: 3.