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The Beautiful Gifts of the Spirit World

Completely Revised and Expanded on Jan. 1 and Jan. 14, 2015

Jan 1, 2015

One of my favorite topics of reflection and discussion is the question of what happens to us after our physical bodies let out their last gasps and become fodder for worms and other crawly things. Opinions about life after death range from “a black void” to “harps on clouds” and everything else in between, with no proof of any of it. Scientific minds may pooh-pooh the whole idea of an afterlife, but the closer we get to our final breath, the more we’re interested in the so-called “spirit world.”

Sources of information about the spirit world include accounts of near death experiences (NDEs), out of body experiences (OBEs), and testimonies by spirit persons received by those on earth. There is a large selection of books in these three genres that offer fascinating clues to what the spirit world may hold for all of us.

Claude Monet - Water Lilies - 1906I believe that the spirit world has a number of beautiful gifts for human beings that are profound reflections of God’s love for each of us. My comments in this essay are not based upon my personal visits to the spirit world, because I have not yet had the good fortune to travel there in conscious out of body experiences that I remember. Which is to say that I might have traveled there while I was sleeping—I just don’t remember. Thus, in this essay, I’d like to explore a few of the gifts of the spirit world by delving into writings from a variety of authors, presented with my own commentary, based on logic, common sense, and intuitive beliefs.

The gifts of the spirit world include the gift of instantaneous travel; the gift of love; the gifts of identity, personality, and loving relationships; the gift of freedom to be oneself and the gift of time; the gift of freedom from tyranny; the gift of water; and the gift of flowers, among many others.

Belief in a plane of existence beyond the physical world is being bolstered by scientists and philosophers studying quantum physics. One author working to connect quantum physics to spirituality is Gregg Braden. His book The Divine Matrix ~ Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief contains a testimony about the out of body experiences of a catholic nun in the seventeenth century.

The Gift of Instantaneous Travel

In Chapter Three, “Are We Passive Observers or Powerful Creators?” in the section titled, “Life Doesn’t Always Follow the Rules of Physics,” Braden wrote:

Between 1620 and 1631, María de Agreda, a nun who lived for 46 years in a convent in Agreda, Spain, reported more than 500 journeys across the ocean, away to a distant land. As far as those who knew her and lived with her were concerned, she never once left the convent. For María, however, she would “fly” to the faraway place she spoke of during what she called her “experiences of ecstasy.”

. . . She taught the indigenous people she encountered there about the life of Jesus. Although she spoke only her native Spanish, the Indians could understand her as she shared the teachings of the great master with them.

The documentation of her sightings came when the archbishop of Mexico, Don Francisco Manzo y Zuniga, heard about her experience. When he sent missionaries to investigate, they were amazed to find that the local Indians of the area were already well educated in the life of Jesus—so well, in fact, that they immediately baptized the entire tribe on the spot.

Although anecdotal in nature, out of body testimonies illustrate that humans exist at levels that transcend their physical bodies. The fact that out of body travelers can appear to other physical humans, as well as travel to spiritual realms where physical bodies do not exist, seems to indicate that we all operate on a spiritual level, whether we notice it or not.

The testimony of Sister María de Agreda also speaks to one of the great gifts of the spirit world—that of extremely rapid and even instantaneous travel. The speed of travel and communication directly impacts relationships of love between people. The faster they can happen, the more frequently we can meet and speak with those whom we miss and long for—those whom we love.

The gift of rapid travel has also been illustrated in the book, Life in the World Unseen, transcribed by the medium Anthony Borgia, who was an old friend to the spirit author, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson. Monsignor Benson was the son of a former Bishop of Canterbury, and was born in 1871 and died in 1914.

In Part 2, “The World Unseen,” in Section IV, “Time and Space,” Monsignor Benson describes instantaneous travel:

I can stand before my house and I can bethink myself that I would like to visit the library in the city which I can see some ‘miles’ away in the distance. No sooner has the thought passed with precision through my mind than I find myself—if I so desire it—standing before the very shelves that I wish to consult. I have made my spirit body—and that is the only body I have!—travel through space with the rapidity of thought, and that is so rapid that it is equivalent to being instantaneous. And what have I done? I have covered the intervening space instantaneously, but the space still remains there with everything it contains, although I had no cognizance of time or the passage of time.

When I have completed my visit to the library I meet some friends upon the steps, and they suggest that we adjourn to the home of one of them. With this pleasant prospect in view we decide to walk through the gardens and woods. The house is some ‘distance’ away, but that does not matter, because we never suffer from ‘physical’ fatigue, and we are not otherwise engaged. We walk along together, talking happily, and after a certain lapse of ‘time’ we arrive at the house of our friend, and we have covered the intervening space on foot. On the journey from my house to the library I overcame the distance in between, and I dispensed with time for the occasion. On the way back I experienced an intuitive apprehension of time by walking slowly, and I restored a perception of distance to my mind by moving upon the solid ground and the grassy fields of this realm.

Near Death Experiences of the Gift of Love

Near death experiences are unique in that those who experience NDEs come from a wide range of cultures and beliefs. NDEs are not facilitated by a medium or psychic and frequently contain incontrovertible evidence that the near death patients actually did leave their bodies, with reports of details that the unconscious persons could not have known, such as events that happened outside of the patients’ rooms. Many NDEs have been life-changing for those who experienced them.

Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. has spent years researching NDEs. The book Lessons from the Light ~ What we can learn from the near-death experience, by Doctor Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, details extraordinary testimonies about the reality of the spirit world.

In the chapter “Journeys to the Source: The Ultimate Lessons from the Light” Dr. Ring shares the experience of Howard Storm, an atheistic art professor who became a minister after his NDE. Storm had collapsed in a hotel room in Paris with a perforated duodenum, prior to his NDE in the hospital.

At one point, following some extremely frightening episodes, Howard, despite his many years of atheism, began to pray and, seemingly in response to his heartfelt entreaty, a radiant being of light, emanating “more love than one can imagine,” rescued him. Here, we will listen to Howard’s own words, taken from an interview he gave to Judith Cressy as he describes what happened next:

It was loving me with overwhelming power. After what I had been through, to be completely known, accepted, and intensely loved by this being of light surpassed anything I had known or could have imagined. I began to cry, and the tears kept coming and coming.

I rose upward, enveloped in that luminous being. Gradually at first, and then like a rocket traveling at great speed, we shot out of that dark and detestable place. I sensed that we traversed an enormous distance, although very little time seemed to elapse. Then, off in the distance, I saw a vast area of illumination that looked like a galaxy. In the center, there was an enormously bright concentration. Outside the center, countless millions of spheres of light were flying about, entering and leaving what was a great Beingness at the center. . . .

As we approached the great luminous center I was permeated with palpable radiation, which I experienced as intense feelings and thoughts. . . . It is not possible to articulate the exchange that occurred. Simply stated, I knew God loved me.

The experience of being loved is a powerful and common theme with NDEs. In the chapter “In the Light of Love: The Lesson of Self-Acceptance” Doctor Ring quotes Peggy Holladay:

[T]he Light told me everything was love, and I mean everything! I had always felt love was just a human emotion people felt from time to time, never in my wildest dreams thinking it was literally EVERYTHING! . . .

I was shown how much all people are loved. It was overwhelmingly evident that the Light loved everyone equally without any conditions. I really want to stress this because it made me so happy to know we didn’t have to believe or do certain things to be loved. WE ALREADY WERE AND ARE, NO MATTER WHAT. The Light was extremely concerned and loving toward all people.

Doctor Ring quotes an NDE patient named Nel who also experienced a transcendent love:

Suddenly, I became aware of a light. It was all around me, it enveloped me, it completely surrounded me. It was an unearthly kind of light. It had color that was unmatched here on earth. . . .

It was warm; it was radiant; it was peaceful; it was accepting; it was forgiving; it was completely nonjudgmental; and it gave me a sense of total security the likes of which I had never known. I loved it. It was perfection; it was total, unconditional love. It was anything and everything you would wish for on earth. It was all there, in the Light.

Doctor Ring’s book also has many testimonies about a process known as a “life review,” where all of one’s actions and thoughts on the physical plane pass before one’s eyes. For many, the life review created deep feelings of regret because of actions that harmed others. However, the life review was also a comforting experience because many reported feeling a presence with them that showed them what they should have done, but did so without judgment. The life review was a compassionate experience meant to engender the growth of character and the growth of love.

The Gifts of Identity, Personality, and Loving Relationships

The emphasis on love in testimonies about the spirit world may present a conundrum to those who believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is sincerely believed in by millions of very intelligent individuals, perhaps because of doctrinal upbringing or perhaps because of the well-documented phenomena of regressive memories of past lives. I believe that those memories are not the memories of the individuals who recall them, but are instead the memories of other, distinct persons who lived separate lives, prior to the birth of those individuals who inherit or receive their memories.

This topic is important if one considers the value of love in relationships. No matter what their religion or belief system, all individuals share a deep-rooted (although sometimes unconscious) desire to create and build relationships of love. I think that many people would agree with the idea that we want our relationships of joyful love to continue forever, rather than the alternative prospect of loving someone deeply (a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend), and then reaching a point where that person no longer exists as an individual with the mind, heart, character, and personality that we’ve grown to love.

I thought that the movie What Dreams May Come was a brilliant depiction of a man’s search for his beloved soul mate, through the various levels of the spirit world. The man, played by the late Robin Williams, finally finds his wife who had committed suicide, and then saves her and brings her to the upper realms where they are both united with their children who had also died.

I was disappointed when the final scene of the movie showed the husband and wife back on earth, reincarnated as children, with no memories of what had gone before. I believe that it is a natural and logical desire for human beings to want to stay with the persons whom they love—and stay with them forever. If one thinks that humans are all meant to endlessly reincarnate until they reach a stage of blissful “non-individuality,” merged with the Divine where everyone simply “Is,” rather like a large pot of soup, then one might ask why God bothered to spend billions of years creating an immense and variegated universe where each individual is utterly unique—as unique as snowflakes and flowers and animals of all types. To me, that seems like a huge waste of time, considering that supposedly the “large pot of soup” existed before God created the universe. Why go through all of those eons of suffering? What’s the point?

I really do say this with respect for those individuals who believe in reincarnation. To me, it makes much more sense to believe that every individual is a unique soul, a priceless and eternal “part of God” who is born to live in a vibrant relationship of love with God forever, and live in eternal relationships of love with parents, siblings, a spouse, children, relatives, ancestors, and countless friends. The alternative prospect of reincarnation, of knowing that one day our individual personalities, identities, histories, and memories will be overwritten and erased by a new identity, seems cruel and illogical from the point of view that loving relationships have eternal value and should thus last forever.

Those relationships of love are given substance by the real and ongoing personality of each individual. When we love a person who has a name, a personality, a history, and many unique attributes, we love that person quite specifically. Their individuality is what makes the relationship of love unique. I believe that God loves each of us as unique, eternal, individual personalities with names that God knows very well. In fact, I believe that God continues to love every person who was ever born—individuals both famous and unknown—individuals with identities and personal histories who have enduring relationships with friends and family members.

The late medium Susy Smith wrote many books, among them, The Book of James (William James, That Is) ~ Conversations From Beyond. Whether one believes or not that the messages in the book actually came from the American psychologist and author of The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, the content of the messages is fascinating.

Smith’s book includes some unpublished messages from William James that were received by a British medium named Maude V. Underhill. In Underhill’s manuscript The Upward Path, James states:

Man lives his life on earth for one reason, and one reason only—to individualize himself and establish his identity and character.

Smith then commented:

In the script received by Miss Underhill from James it is expressed this way: “Each individual soul can be likened to a unit, a cell in the Mind of God, which must ultimately become aware of all the Living Truth.”

In Smith’s messages, in the chapter “Reincarnation,” James writes:

It would not be possible for anyone to live a number of lives as different people and come out of it still aware of his personal identity. It is easy to say that he lives the different lives as if he were in progressing grades at school, but this is not the way the system works. When one goes through school, he always retains his awareness of himself as the same individual, even though many of his aspects change as he grows and develops. When one is living a life he is that person, he is not just playing a role or a series of roles; so if he were to go through the lifetimes of a variety of different people, he would end up completely confused about his identity.

It is bad enough to have to cope with the memories of one lifetime. Imagine how complicated it would be to have to face those of two or more lives and sort them out and try to get them straight. It is so befuddling that you can’t even conceive of it.

These references to individuality, identity, and memory are logical supports to the view that each person lives for eternity in the spirit world, as a unique reflection of God with a specific identity. Perhaps the most momentous gift of the spirit world is the realization that our relationships with all those whom we love, including God and people, continue forever, because we all live for eternity as unique and sacred individuals.

Based on the premise that the atmosphere of the spirit world resonates with love, living as an individual does not mean that we live selfishly, centered only on ego. When we, as distinct individuals with our own set of talents, gifts, memories, and experiences, decide to live unselfishly, with kindness and compassionate love as our core desires, then I believe that the parts of our personalities that make each of us unique become all the more beautiful. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with being “me” as long as we become a “me” that cares about others. Which leads to the next great gift—that of freedom.

The Gift of Freedom to Be Oneself and the Gift of Time

It is in the nature of humans to seek the freedom to express their unique and creative personalities. We wish to follow our dreams and preferences, from the smallest details of how we dress and live, to the larger concerns of the goals and purposes of our lives.

In the physical world, we are hampered in our desire for freedom by a number of constraints. Even if we live in a democratic country with strong individual freedoms, many people find their desires blocked by the burdens of survival. How many people have abandoned their dreams because they had to work at unfulfilling jobs in order to support themselves or their families?

The burden of survival for individuals in the middle and upper realms of the spirit world has been lifted, giving each person the freedom and the time to pursue their personal dreams. The freedom of time is an enormous gift that is based on the reality that each individual is an eternal spiritual being who has a spiritual body that does not decay and does not grow old.

The freedom of time is also created by the reality that in the middle and upper realms one doesn’t have to scramble for survival. Food is freely available if one wants to eat. Sleep is optional, and housing is available at no charge. Money is entirely irrelevant. Obtaining things is a process that becomes easier, and automatic, based on one’s spiritual level. Thus, each person has the freedom to spend their time as they wish, in pursuits that are often difficult to engage in while one is laboring under the restrictions of the physical world. These pursuits are not necessarily trivial. A person might have wanted to become a scientist in the physical world, or a teacher, or an actor, but for one reason or another might not have been able to fulfill her dreams. In the spirit world, the restrictions of circumstance are removed, because the overriding factor that determines each person’s environment—and their level of freedom—is their quality of love and heart.

From Life in the World Unseen, in Part 2, “The World Unseen,” Section XI, “Occupations,” Monsignor Benson describes it thus:

Your thoughts will at once turn to the many and varied occupations of the earth world, covering every shade of earthly activity. But behind the earth world’s occupations is the ever-driving necessity of earning a living, of providing the physical body with food and drink, clothing and a habitation of some sort. Now, you already know that these last four considerations have no existence whatever with us here. Food and drink we never need; the clothing and the habitation we have provided for ourselves by our lives upon earth. As our lives have been on earth, so will our clothing and our domicile be when we come to spirit lands. We have, as you see, no physical necessity to work, but we do have a mental necessity to work, and it is because of the latter that all work is a pleasure with us here.

Imagine yourself in a world where no one works for a living, but where everyone works for the sheer joy of doing something that will be of service to others. Just imagine that, and you will begin to understand something of the life in spirit lands.

The Gift of Freedom from Tyranny

Freedom in the spirit world is a controversial topic, partly because it is a topic that deals with the possibility of Heaven and Hell and where we’ll “end up” and the consequences of our actions in the physical plane. Since no one can actually prove anything about the spirit world, it is difficult to describe the reality of the spirit world with any certainty. We can only express what we believe, and sometimes that belief hardens into doctrine, which often exerts control over the spiritual lives of individuals, which is the very opposite of freedom. Thus, attempting to assert anything about freedom in the spirit world becomes a conundrum.

I would like to present a description of what I personally believe about freedom in the spirit world. It may conflict with other doctrines, and may in itself seem doctrinal to some individuals. Rest assured, it is only what I feel—and hope—is true, and owes no allegiance to any particular sectarian body of rules.

I believe that freedom from tyranny in the spirit world stems from two assumptions. The first is that the spirit world is divided into many layers, with each level inhabited by individuals of similar qualities of spiritual and emotional development. This “geography” of the spirit world has been described in many testimonies from a large variety of writers, including the authors quoted in this essay. It seems that the spirit world is more complex than a simple division of “hell” and “heaven.” Instead, it has a huge gradation of layers, based on the relative goodness of the residents, with the lowest levels reserved for the unfortunate souls who are almost completely separated from the virtues of kindness and compassion. I say “almost,” because there are many testimonies that even a truly horrible individual still has a spark of inviolable goodness deep within, a spark that will one day guide that person upward.

Freedom from tyranny is based on the reported phenomenon that residents of the lower realms are unable to travel into the middle and higher realms without permission and an escort from above. In other words, a tyrant can no longer harm his former subjects because in many cases the former victims of his tyranny are living in higher realms that he cannot reach. Thus, if people are living in a relatively good realm of the spirit world, they will not find any tyrants to plague them.

The second assumption about freedom from tyranny in the spirit world is that God never forces anyone to do anything. Many testimonies share that there is no need for laws and police. Everything is done voluntarily. Since one’s residence on any particular level is a reflection of one’s spiritual state, there is a strong motivation to follow a good and kind path. As one’s internal qualities change for the better, the individual is liberated, and moves to a higher realm. If a person changes for the worse, I assume that the person would find himself going downward. I do not know if that has been reported, or even happens. I would think that there would be a strong motivation to avoid that descent.

Still, every person is truly free to be as evil or as good as they wish to be, just as it is in the physical world. The life-changing difference about the spiritual world is that one’s thoughts, heart, and actions are reported to have a direct impact upon one’s circumstances.

I feel personally comforted by the view that God does not condemn anyone to “hell.” Those who die and arrive in a lower realm do so because their own internal state resonates with that type of atmosphere. When many people arrive in that type of environment, they might call it hell, and it might be very unpleasant, but it is not and never will be an eternal hell. Why? Simply because each person is always free to be good or evil, and can decide at any moment to change the direction of their actions. This conclusion assumes that God is a forgiving, compassionate, and loving Creator.

No one can force us to be good and no one can force us to be evil. Ultimately, no one can force us to do anything at all. We always have a choice, if we’re willing to accept the consequences of our choice. When we want to be good, no one can prevent us from doing so. That might seem simplistic, but it is based on the premise that we do indeed make our own decisions, even if our decision is to allow ourselves to be influenced by others, or by our circumstances, or by our own conflicted desires.

Evil choices affect our minds and hearts and darken our spirits, both in the physical and the spiritual world. However, many spiritual writings testify that the consequences of our choices differ between the worlds.

For example, in the physical world, a person following an evil path might not notice that his spiritual atmosphere is changing for the worse. His physical body and the physical environment allow him to ignore the reality of his internal state. He may continue to fulfill his selfish and harmful desires, all the while thinking that everything is fine. He may dominate others through force, and become a tyrant. It is the tragedy of the physical world that evil people can terrorize others, and commit heinous crimes against innocent victims.

The family members of a victim of a tyrant might rail at heaven, and say, “How could a God of love allow my beloved to be murdered? Why didn’t God stop this crime?”

I truly believe that God weeps for everyone who is hurt, and feels pain about crime and war that we can hardly fathom. It is an unimaginable price to pay for the gift of freedom. By allowing human beings to have freedom, God also allows humans to follow their own paths of good and evil, often with tragic results. Yet, even with the pain that comes to both God and humans because of freedom, I believe that it is worth it. Freedom is priceless, for with freedom, humans can grow to become creative and loving incarnations of God.

The victim of a tyrant may suffer throughout her physical life. Yet, since both tyrant and victim will die and enter the spirit world, the most important factor for each is to pay attention to how they each respond to life, and how they each conduct their affairs, because once the layer of the physical world is removed, they are each left with the raw state of their minds and hearts.

Based on the view that the various environments of the spirit world are the direct reflections of the spirit and heart of their inhabitants, the tyrant, resonating as he does with cruelty and the death of love, will move to a realm that matches his spiritual state. It is not punishment, doled out by a vengeful God. It is simply the outward projection of his own internal state—a mechanical response to his darkened mind by the fabric of the spirit world. In the physical world, his mind and emotions did not perceptibly change his physical surroundings. But in the spirit world, the energy patterns of the environment are said to be responsive to the individual, which makes sense if one thinks about how a darkened mood can cause a person to feel that one’s physical surroundings are devoid of joy and light and love—even on a beautiful and gloriously sunny day.

In the grim spiritual realm created by his internal state, the tyrant may find himself fighting against other tyrants more ferocious than he. Even though he might have the freedom in that realm to try to do anything he wants, he may find himself surrounded by evil people who could end up dominating him. He in turn may dominate other evil denizens of that realm. He may also find himself in a suffocating atmosphere where he can hardly move, because of the darkness of his spirit. His actual freedom is thus conditional upon his internal state. Yet, he is always free to turn his attention toward goodness, and thus gradually change his spiritual state and move to a higher realm.

The situation of the victim of the tyrant can be complicated, depending on her emotional state when she dies. She has the potential to be dragged down by toxic feelings of rage and resentment and thus find herself in a spiritual environment that is not at all pleasant.

This is not to say that a victim who dies with resentment is at fault, since she may be an innocent victim. I’m simply presenting an hypothesis that the mechanical environment of the spirit world responds to the feelings of each individual. It is not punishment, but is instead like the law of gravity. If one stumbles off a cliff, gravity takes over. If one’s mind is filled with thoughts of hatred and revenge, the atmosphere has already become painful and cold, and affects one’s surrounding spiritual environment—even in the physical world. I believe that because we are given the freedom to feel and think and act in any way that we wish, we have the potential to go down paths that only bring us unhappiness.

If the victim of the tyrant finds a way to release her pain and rage and resentment, and finds a way to resonate with forgiveness and love, she will be drawn to a realm reflecting her love. In that realm, she will be surrounded by others of a similar spiritual level. There will be no tyrants in that realm. Since she is a free individual, living in a realm of goodness, no one there, including God, will make her do anything. I believe that this is so, because I think that behind the structure of the spirit world lies an eternal motivating energy of love. That love does not force a response, but patiently waits for a response that in its freedom defines its immense value.

The process of attaining freedom in the spirit world, based on spiritual growth, has been vividly illustrated in a book called A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands. It is a volume of messages transcribed by a medium named A. Farnese, published in London in 1896. The messages are from a young and formerly dissolute Italian man named Franchezzo, who lived in the late 1800s.

In Part I, “Days of Darkness,” Chapter 2, “Despair,” Franchezzo has awakened in the spirit world:

Then a voice as of some majestic being spoke to me in the darkness, and said: “. . . Behold how poor and repulsive and deformed your earthly life has made your soul, which is immortal and divine and to endure forever.”

And I looked and beheld myself. As in a mirror held up before me, I saw myself. Oh, horror! It was beyond doubt myself, but, oh! so awfully changed, so vile, so full of baseness did I appear; so repulsive in every feature—even my figure was deformed—I shrank back in horror at my appearance, and prayed that the earth might open before my feet and hide me from all eyes for evermore.

Later, after Franchezzo has grown, through a long period of service with a Brotherhood of monks, he has moved upward, into a better environment, described in Part IV, “The Gates of Gold,” Chapter 28, “My Home and Work in the Morning Land”:

Here in the Morning Land I found that I was to have a little home of my own, a something earned by myself. I have always loved a place of my own, and this little cottage, simple as it was, was very dear to me. It was indeed a peaceful place. The green hills shut it in on every side save in front, where they opened out and the ground stretched away in undulating slopes of green and golden meadow land.

There were no trees, no shrubs, around my new home, no flowers to gladden my eyes, because my efforts had not yet blossomed into flower. But there was one sweet trailing honeysuckle that clustered around the little porch and shed the fragrance of its love into my rooms. This was the gift of my beloved to me, the spiritual growth of her sweet pure loving thoughts which twined around my dwelling to whisper to me ever of her constant love and truth.

Toward the end of his testimony, and his many labors, in Part IV, “The Gates of Gold,” Chapter 32, in the Section, “My Home in the Land of Bright Day,” he has moved to a much brighter place:

The waving branches of the trees bent over me in loving welcome as I passed, the flowers seemed to turn to me as greeting one who loved them well; at my feet there was the soft green sward, and overhead a sky so clear, so pure, so beautiful, the light shimmering through the trees as never did the light of earthly sun. Before me were lovely blue and purple hills and the gleam of a fair lake, upon whose bosom tiny islets nestled crowned with the green foliage of groups of trees. Here and there a little boat skimmed over the surface of the lake filled with happy spirits clad in shining robes of many different colors—so like to earth, so like my beloved Southern Land, and yet so changed, so glorified, so free from all taint of wrong and sin!

As I passed up the broad flower-girt road a band of spirits came to meet and welcome me, amongst whom I recognized my father, my mother, my brother and a sister, besides many beloved friends of my youth. They carried gossamer scarfs of red, white and green colors, which they were waving to me, while they strewed my path with masses of the fairest flowers as I approached, and all the time they sang the beautiful songs of our own land in welcome, their voices floating on the soft breeze in the perfection of unison and harmony. I felt almost overcome with emotion; it seemed far too much happiness for one like me.

The Gift of Water

In Life in the World Unseen, Part I, “Beyond This Life,” Chapter III, “First Experiences,” Monsignor Benson describes the unique gift of water:

The magnetic effect of the water was of like nature to the brook into which I had thrust my hand, but here the revivifying force enveloped the whole body, pouring new life into it. It was delightfully warm and completely buoyant. It was possible to stand upright in it, to float upon it, and of course, to sink completely beneath the surface of it without the least discomfort or danger. Had I paused to think I might have known that the latter was inevitably bound to be the case. The spirit is indestructible.

But beyond this magnetic influence there was an added assurance that came from the water, and that was its essential friendliness, if I may so call it. It is not easy to convey any idea of this fundamentally spiritual experience. That the water was living one could have no doubt. It breathed its very goodness by its contact, and extended its heavenly influence individually to all who came within it. For myself, I experienced a spiritual exaltation, as well as a vital regeneration, to such an extent that I quite forgot my initial hesitancy and the fact that I was fully clothed.

The Gift of Flowers

In Life in the World Unseen, Part II, “The World Unseen,” Chapter I, “The Flowers,” Monsignor Benson speaks of the beauty of flowers:

When we are first introduced to the flowers and trees and all the luxuriance of spirit nature, we instantly perceive something that earthly nature never seemed to possess, and that is an inherent intelligence within all growing things. Earthly flowers, although living, make no immediate personal response when one comes into close touch with them. But here it is vastly different.

Spirit flowers are imperishable, and that should at once suggest more than mere life within them, and spirit flowers, as well as all other forms of nature, are created by the Great Father of the Universe through his agents in the realms of spirit. They are part of the immense stream of life that flows directly from Him, and that flows through every species of botanic growth. That stream never ceases, never falters, and it is, moreover, continuously fed by the admiration and love which we, in this world of spirit, gratefully shed upon such choice gifts of the Father.

Is it, then, to be wondered at, when we take the tiniest blossom within our hands, that we should feel such an influx of magnetic power, such a revivifying force, such an upliftment of one’s very being, when we know, in truth, that those forces for our betterment are coming directly from the Source of all good. No, there is no other meaning behind our spirit flowers than the expressed beauty of the Father of the Universe, and, surely, that is enough. He has attached no strange symbolism to His faultless creations. Why should we?

The Message of the Gifts

These are just some of the beautiful gifts of the spirit world. There are many more, described by scores of writers and mediums. It is certainly true that currently, the science of the physical world offers no proof of the reality of the spirit world, or its beautiful gifts. However, the purpose of this essay is not to prove that they exist, but to provide food for thought to those individuals who are open to the idea that the spirit world is indeed our final destination.

When I reflect about these gifts I always come back to the same conclusion that the Creator of the beautiful gifts of the spirit world must have been motivated by an intense and enduring love for each of us. Each of the gifts is so absolutely perfect for human beings—so fulfilling, so charming, and so delightful in every way. Each of the gifts fosters and multiplies love and beauty and joy. I believe that the realm of the spirit world was created to be a place of happiness that is almost unimaginable from our vantage point in the physical world which has so often been described as “hell on earth.”

To me, the message of the gifts of the spirit world is that the happiness of humans is entirely dependent upon our response to the call of love and beauty. As we work to resonate with love and beauty in our lives on earth, we will simultaneously create an expanding spiritual atmosphere all around us that will one day become the foundation of our home in the spirit world. An eternal world of love and beauty is available to all of us, without exception, and that, to me, is the most beautiful gift of all.

Image(s) from Wikimedia Commons
Painting of Water Lilies by Claude Monet, 1906


Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”

~ Deus est auctor amoris et decoris. ~

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Peter Falkenberg Brown
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