PROPHECY CAME NEXT
I LITTLE realized, as I lay down to sleep
that memorable night in May 1928, that I had come to the end of my
All that I had lived since birth, up to that moment,
had been nothing but worldly preparation for that which was to open with
the coming of morning. My life was to change, my thinking was to change,
and even my mind and its properties were to change. I was to find out
the true reasons for my life at all, and proceed henceforth to discharge
The discarnate experience came and went. I found
myself in possession of strange talents and powers. I went through six
months of increasing awakening to the realities of life, and the
significance of my experience.
But it was not until I consented to write the story of
the whole uncanny episode foe the American Magazine, that my career
opened definitely into channels that were to lead to
My interests in California had called me back there
again, and I was living temporarily in Pasadena, when
My Seven Minutes in Eternity was
published throughout the nation.
Over and over again throughout my automatic writing
work, the phrase had been used in connection with comment on the story,
Now is the time that was planned from the
just what was meant I could not then decide.
With the appearance of
the magazine, however, on the notions
newsstands, I was quickly to realize that Kismet had spoken strangely
I HAD supposed
that when that article appeared I would have to run a gauntlet of
raillery or skepticism, slander or abuse. I had decided in advance to be
prepared for commiseration from those who would think that my head had
gone addled. I had an armor of defense-mechanism around myselfan
air of indifference to the outcome that I by no means felt inside. My
first reactions came from people with whom I had been intimate in
business relationship in Pasadena and Hollywood.
Instead of an outburst of skepticism and scoffing, people sought me out
Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive
magazine surreptitiously concealed about their persons, to close my
office door mysteriously and ask for confidential interviews while they
gave me information.
I began to discover that the same experience had been undergone by my
most intimate friends.
Man after man came into my office, apologized for his confession, then
launched into details of psychic or discarnate experiences that soon had
me wondering where I had been all my life,
that so many people about me had been undergoing them in s silence that
had never permitted me to know there were such things in the world.
I SHALL never forget one experience with such a man late one
night in an almost-empty office where we had repaired for a private
I had gone back
to C alifornia this time with the idea of permanently closing up my
affairs, disposing of the bungalow home in which the experience had
occurred, and returning to New York to make Manhattan my residence. With
great difficulty I nipped off the threads of enterprise after enterprise
in which I was embroiled, sold the lease on my office, disposed of such
effects as I did not mean to transfer to Manhattan, and offered my real
estate for sale. The landlord of the building in which my office had
been, allowed me an empty room where I had moved a desk and some chairs.
I sat in this room one night with a business associate with whom I had
been connected for a year without the slightest inkling of knowledge
that such matters were even known to him by hearsay. As we sat talking,
I felt a strange vibration in my vicinity as though someone had taken a
position behind me. My left arm, which had been supersensitized since I
came back into my body that night six months before, told me that we
were not alone in that office. Glanc ing at my companion, who had been
talking until that moment about a business project, I saw his eyes widen
and heard his voice sink till it trailed to a whisper.
Whats the matter?
Do you know theres
someone standing behind you? he asked.
Yes, I admitted,
wondering how he knew. Do you mean you can
see? He stand
about six-feet two or three, dressed in long white robes
I cant see his features; theyre
got his hand on your left shoulder
moved it to your right
All this time my
frienda solid, substantial businessmanwas
gaping at empty wall-space behind me, Im
aware of it, I assented. I
can feel the hand. I see,
Joe faltered, a n-name
as though in burning letters, just over your head and across his chest.
I can see the letters BAR
I cant read the restits
blurred in his brilliance.
I was puzzled. The name meant nothing then. Latter in New York I was to
recall my friends second-sight phenomena with
startling implication. The vision
faded and we resumed our talk
Why I Believe the Dead
I WENT over to
Hollywood and met a friend with whom I had associated in my film
ventures. Of all persons on the West Coast, I expected facetious comment
from him. When I walked into his office, he had a copy of the American
Magazine lying upon his desk, opened to my article. He looked up with a
God, Bill, said he, laying his opened palm
upon the page, youve
come to your senses at last.
What do you mean, come to
I always thought youd awaken someday to
certain facts of life. Its come in one night.
You ought to be grateful.
I had spent this mans
money, worn his clothes, slept in the same bed with him, driven his car,
over a three-year period being in the closest business associations with
him the whilewithout even knowing that he was
an adept in metaphysics and performed such strange feats as talking with
his brother nightly in a distant country by physical thought
transference, besides having many experiences out of his body, in which
he had seen himself in previous incarnations.
So it went.
Once I had
broken the restraint
or reticence by my article, I found scores of people ready to talk about
such matters and attest to the validity of such phenomena. People in
file land whom I had supposed would razz
me until it hurt, would call me on the phone, waylay me in corridors,
ask me into corners-to discuss similar experiences of their own and ask
interpretation, several of these confidants had seen their relatives
pass out of their bodies at death. It was all most unbelievable.
I GAVE away Laska, my police dog, to a friend,
dismantled my bungalow, packed my goods for shipment. And yet night on
night I was still doing my daily allotment of automatic writing, getting
a grounding in metaphysical fundamentals that later was to stagger me
again when in New York I came to compare the knowledge in my messages
with profound books on the same subjects received by others.
Not only was it wholly unnecessary for me to read
occult books written by others, but gradually I discovered that in many
cases the wisdom I had been allotted surpassed that which had been
compiled by the most erudite metaphysicians. I will return to these
later in my story.
FINALLY one night I
took another upward step.
With the goods of my household in process of moving, only a few chairs
and a table cleared for use amid the crates and boxes, I was seated in a
corner of what had been my library dictating my mirror-penmanship aloud
to my nurse friend who had come up to assist me in my packing. Late in
the clear California twilight, with scarcely a sound to break the
crystal stillness, I glanced up at her in puzzled surprise.
Why I Believe the
Dead Are Alive
These words Im
hearing them spoken distinctly to me before my pencil pushes them out on
paper! I cried. Youre
sue? she asked. Or
is it your imagination?
spoken clearly and distinctly within my head. I dont
need the pencil! I can hear them as plainly as I hear your voice. Take
down what I give you as long as it continues.
She started to do so. The voice continued to talk on and on.
interrupted it when some word was spoken that I did not understand.
that room, invisible, was definitely speaking to me, and I was hearing
The voice talked on and on, into the hours of early
night. In the quarter-century that has passed since these weeks of which
I am writing, I suppose five thousand persons have put the question to
me, about how it feels
to get the clairaudient voice inside ones
head? Do I hear it literarily or do both. I hear the communicating voice
addressing me in thought.
But strangely enough, I frequently know when the communicator is
chuckling in thought.
I have been in the midst of a message of gravest import when the rooms
telephone has rung. I have excused myself as I might to guests who were
present in the flesh. I have carried on a lengthy phone conversation
about some business matter; to return to my chair and have the
voice resume the
clairaudient dictation from the middle of a paragraph.
That it is an
independent intellectual force operating externally seems attested as
well by the fact that on other occasions I have had this thought Voice
speak to me in languages other than Englishand
ancient biblical Aramaic is the only tongue with which I am familiar
outside of English. Six to twelve pages of purest Sanskrit was thus
evening later in Manhattanwhich on being
recorded phonetically was quickly and readily translated by Sanskrit
scholars who saw the original. I was to spend a prodigious nine years
recording the 844 pages of the Golden scripts, and
twenty-five years recording the 1,500,000 words of the Great Soulcraft
doctrine that now is world-wide in its reading public. Today, up here in
1954, the physical rematerialization of many of these Mentors has
long-since corroborated and confirmed what they have so generously
conveyed to me. After that night I continued to rely on that clear Inner
Ear. To show how accurate it became, this happened: After a fortnight of
continued instruction in actual events ahead in my life, many of which
have since come true, I found myself complaining because I was being
held in California by an escrow that I could not close until I had more
money. I felt it absolutely essential to return to Manhattan. But go I
could not till the money was raised.
I had stopped sleeping in
the bungalow and taken a room in a hotel in Pomona in order to be near
some friends who lived there. Each night, after a day spent in closing
my Pasadena affairs, I would get into my car and drive the thirty miles
Why I Believe the Dead
Pomona and bed.
One night I was especially
upset at the way things were dragging. Suddenly came the Voice:
You will have the money within 24 hours and
be on the Santa Fee train tomorrow afternoon!
mischief! I lamented. Theres
not the ghost of a chance of my getting the cash I need within 24 hours.
A miracle would have to happen.
I had a bad half-hour. The Mischief-Makers were
appearing again, evidently to hoax me so at a time so important. I
abused them. I told them to pack themselves off and get out of my life.
The Voice was insistent, gentle, and patient.
You will have the money within 24 hours and
be on the Santa Fe train tomorrow afternoon!
My friend and I ended our scripts in dismay. If any
such money failed to materialize, I didnt
know what to do thereafter, or what Voice to trust. I locked the
bungalow, backed the car from the driveway, took my friend home and
started for Pomona.
I had a bad drive down. My life had all gone sixes and
sevens. If I were to be hoaxed about this money promise, how could I
depend on the other intimations of impending events and my part in them?
By the time I reached
Pomona I was flaying myself for being so gullible as to so disrupt my
affairs to follow such a Willo-the-wisp. What
had seemed so alluring was as the voice of forty devils sneering and
jeering at me. And I was beggaring myself to go on serving them. Or so I
thought. Then this happened swiftly: I found a garage for my car and
walked over to the hotel. As I came in the door, the night-clerk sang
out: New Yorks
been trying to get you on the long distance phone ever since 8 oclock,
Mr. Pelley. Theyll call again at 11 oclock
and asked that you be here.
New York! Who would call me at such an hour from
At 11 oclock
I was in the lobby when the phone-bell rang. It was one of the editors
of the American Magazine.
What are you doing out
there all this time? was the disgruntled
demand across the continent. Theres
a mail like Lindberghs awaiting your
answering here in the office from your Seven-Minutes article.
I CANT go back
till Ive closed an escrow out here that will
take a lot of money, I explained.
How much money?
I named the sum.
Is that all thats
holding you? If we have that sum advanced to you by bank draft the first
thing in the morning, will you be on the returning Santa Fe train
California is four hours behind New York in
the matter of time. Well have our
Why I Believe the Dead
bank transfer you the
money so it will be available to you by the time you get out of bed in
I fumbled the receiver upon its hook.
At nine-thirty next
morning when I got to Pasadena, the sum was on deposit in my bank. I
closed my escrow, caught the 2:30 train. The Voice had not hoaxed me. I
was heading east, to New York for good.
ON MY arrival in New York after closing my
affairs on the western coast, I took a bachelor apartment in the West
Fifties and converted it into a combination living quarters and office.
I furnished this apartment with the appointments of my California
bungalow. I mention these furnishings because of an incident that
occurred in connection with them, which I shall describe in a future
chapter on Levitation of the Consciousness.
The bigger job that confronted me in that strange
spring and summer of 1929 was the answering of the tremendous mail that
came to me as a result of publishing My Seven
Minutes in Eternity, in the American
Magazine. Daily I would go over to the offices of the Crowell Publishing
Company, on Park Avenue, and bring back armfuls of unopened letters in
sheaves of heavy manila envelops. I have never fully counted how many of
these there were, for they have been continually arriving over the years
that have since intervened. They ran over thirty thousand.
Those letters, which I
took away with me, were addressed to me personally. The editors of the
American Magazine received an equally appalling burden of mail. The
Americans circulation at the time Seven
Minutes was printed, was approximately 2,250,000 copies. The great
advertisers of the nation figure legitimately that every copy of a
standard magazine is read by four to five people before it is finally
given away, filed away, or destroyed. Figured on this basis, it may be
suggested that My Seven Minutes in Eternity
was read in that magazine alone by something like ten millions of
people. Not all of them took the trouble to write either me or the
publishers, expressing themselves upon the article, else I should
probably be answering vast quantities of mail even to this day. But
enough letters were received so that I kept one, and sometimes two,
stenographers busy for nine months, acknowledging or commenting on the
astounding epistles that the article prompted.
HAVING read the
first letters, I sorted them into classifications. I found that at least
50 percent of them were merely letters of commendation, praising me for
my courage in
penning and printing such an article and attesting to the unspeakable
inspiration the article had proven to my correspondents. The majority of
these bagged me to go on and tell them more of such experiences; in
fact, I understand that request was the burden of almost 90 percent of
the mail that went directly to the Americans
publishers. To these I gave a more or less formal reply, thanking the
writers for their interest and good wishes and
Why I Believe the Dead
promising to let them know when I next published anything further of
similar tenor in the nations press.
The second great
classification came from writers who had undergone similar experiences
and wanted me to know about them. Some of these narratives would run to
dozens of typewritten pages. Strange psychical experiences, adventures
in the levitation of consciousness to distant parts of the earth or into
the higher planes, the attested materializations of people who had
began to pile up until I realized that all unwittingly I had the nucleus
for a miniature psychical research society in my private files. But what
staggered me most of all in these testimony letters was the great number
of persons from every walk of life, of every age and of both sexes, who
avowed to a similar experienceor similat
experiencesat some time in their present
lives. And here was the amazing evidence that these correspondents were
In four cases out of five they would not only affirm
having gone through exactly the same sensations as I went through in my
own discarnate experience, but they would go further and give me details
and descriptions about the sublimated planes of consciousness which I
knew to be true because I had witnessed them on my own adventure, and
yet I had said nothing about them in the article nor mentioned them to a
HOW DID these
people get their information unless they had penetrated to a definite
place, as I had claimed to have penetrated to a definite place, and seen
or contacted exactly what I recalled having seen or contacted? In only
two cases that I recall were there details given in letters that
persuaded me the writers were fabricating, or the victims of delusions
of grandeur. I recall in particular one astounding sheet of manuscript
which I started to read, sent me from an address up in Massachusetts. As
I perused the sheet I became increasingly astounded. Whoever had written
the text was giving me the most minute descriptions of what I said and
did that night on the plane that I reached after quitting my body.
It attested to my personal
behavior; it spoke of the specific friends I contacted; it mentioned the
mistakes of which I was guilty, in not recognizing certain
dead friends at
once on account of their enhanced personal aspect over that which I had
known of them in mortal life.
How did this writer come to be apprised of such
definite and truthful details? I
got to the bottom of the sheet and found this
The above communication was
sent through Mrs. Blank sitting in S
on last Thursday evening, by Dr. N
attesting to the veracity of Mr. Pelleys
published narrative. Dr. N. is spirit and has been
over since 1925.
THE THIRD class of correspondents comprised that great
army of readers who had recently lost loved ones of their own and wanted
more specific details of their survival, their daily lives, customs, and
possible abilities to communicate.
Why I Believe the
Dead Are Alive
Some of these begged
for more light in way so pitiful that it wrung my heart. They propounded
questions to me which I simply had to answer. And yet the answers
involved long expositions of cosmic law that would have been magazine
articles in themselves. Some of them meant replies that would have taken
me a half a day to answer. I simply could not do it. And yet the appeal
of them haunted me.
There must be some way of getting this vital
information out to people, information that current theology kept people
from procuring, telling them that such was sin
I meditated on this problem through the balance of that year,
trying to explain to the most pathetic cases, in as satisfactory a way
as possible, why I had to respond in a manner so circumscribed.
MEANWHILE, this floor of correspondence was
running into money that I could not afford. People begging me for
advanced information would enclose a two-cent stamp for reply, and
apologize profusely for taking up my time. Thereby they assumed they had
done their whole duty, and there were many who later wrote abusively,
accusing me of fraud, when I failed for purely economic reasons, to give
them the satisfaction they sought. If I had really had such an
experience, and was poss essed of so much information about the higher
planes of life and the fact of survival, why was I not frank and
generous with my responses?
I was spending three to five hundred dollars a week
even to be courteous to these thousands of inquirers. No matter h ow
short a letter I wrote, and I simply could not be short to most of them,
the cost of answering was averaging 50c per letter. The American
Magazine did not, and would not, help me stand a cent of this expense,
although the publishers did make certain advances to me against future
deliveries of fiction manuscripts when the demands on my time answering
this correspondence withheld me from turning out my usual fiction and
thus keeping up with my current expenses. Moreover, the Americans
editors emphatically did not want any further articles on this great
subject, after perceiving the furor, which the first had stirred up.
It is obvious that we cannot make the
American a metaphysical magazine, they
announced, and that is just what we might do
if we continued to publish more articles by you along the some line.
Moreover, we know of no corps of trained writers capable of handling
such material in addition to yourself, and we must think of our other
writers. There are just as good writers as yourself in these United
States, and we must play equally with all of them; we cannot afford to
let you become indispensable to us. Go back to your fiction and try to
forget this whole faux pas in publishing Seven Minutes, as soon
BUT THERE was no
such thing as trying to forget the whole
for the public would not let
me do it. Answering a correspondents first
letter as politely and exhaustively as I could did not solve the
problem. For every one-page letter that I would finally get around to
answer, a five-page letter
Why I Believe the
Dead Are Alive
would come back
from that same person. Moreover, great numbers of them would pass my
replies about, and that would breed more letters. But that was not all.
So titanic was
the interest in this question of survival as I had attested to it, that
the March issue of the American containing the original version of Seven
Minutes disappeared from not only the nations
newsstands selling out clean!
But it disappeared from library shelves and
cellars and attics where past issues of magazines u sually arrived
before reaching the junk-man. Every back-number magazine shop, not only
in Manhattan but throughout the country, became suddenly denuded of
American Magazines for March, 1929. Uniformly they brought $1.00 a
number whenever they could be located. I have known of cases where
prices as high as $10.00 were paid for this specific issue. I saw scores
of instances where the article was clipped out, pasted together, and
carried in a pocketbook until it was ready to fall apart from much
handling. So when an American Magazine could not be produced with the
article I it, other publishers began to write the editors, or myself,
asking permission to reprint the story in their own magazine and thus
supply the demand. As I had written the article to get a great truth out
to the public, and not to make moneysince I
could have written a fiction story in the same time and made twice as
much money as I got for Seven Minute permission
was freely given for republication.
I had in my library at one time fully twenty
publications besides the American that had reprinted the account. This
added hundreds of thousands more to the number of readers who had seen
the account as it first appeared. These too began writing their quota of
AS A reasonably popular writing-man, I had
penalized myself heavily for daring to open up a subject in which the
reading public showed such interest. I had been with the American
Magazine on and off as contributor since its inception in its present
form in 1951. Once before, in September 1917, I had written a bit of
literary work for them that had cleaned out all copies on the nations
newsstands. The Crowell Publishing Company was my bread
and butter in a manner of speaking.
It is not generally known to the public that writers uniformly go by
is the Saturday Evening Post group, the Hearst group, the Crowell group.
High-priced popular writers acquire such personal relationships with
editors from constant contact with them that they follow the legitimate
practice of making all first submissions to the editors of the group who
publish most of their material and give them greatest favors in the way
of exploitation. I had been more or less identified with the Crowell
group ever since the regime of the Americans
great editor, John Siddell that ended with his death in 1923. But now
having written Seven Minutes, it gradually came to me that I had been
too successful in stirring up a mares nest.
One of the Americans editors said publicly at
a luncheon one noontime, which I attended at the home of a friend in
Why I Believe the Dead
East 74th Street:
Pelleys Seven Minutes was one of the most
disastrous mistake the American ever made. It aroused a demand on the part
of the public, which the magazine couldnt
continue to supply. But worse than that, it diverted Pelley from a highly
successful writing career. It turned a first-rate popular author into a
second-rate metaphysician who has yet to prove himself.
This, remember, was in 1929.
SHORTLY after the publication of Seven Minute,
those editorial luminaries on the American who had most to do with getting
the original article published, handed in their resignations and left the
company. I wrote two fiction stories for the magazine, mostly in the
endeavor to discharge the advances made me when I could not work because
of the mail that needed answering. Just before the resignation of this
editorial regime, I also wrote a short serial for the American, with a
slightly mystical motif. When the new editor took charge, I saw him only
once and that not by his invitation. He graciously said that he had always
liked my material, but that the American intended to conform to new
standards of publishing; it was going in
for sports, business articles, typically American from the metropolitan
view point. The story with the small-town, or mystical motif was to be
persona non grata.
I have written little since for the American Magazine.
BUT I could not suppress the interest that had
been started. Mail, mail, mail! Day after day! Why didnt
I write more for the American? Why didnt I
write more like Seven Minutes for other magazine?
I tried, and the material was consistently refusedexcepting
in some of the smaller five-and-ten cent store periodicals where my name
went unnoticed. Yet something had to be done! It came to me with
overwhelming force that under the skin of the average person there was
more real interest in this great subject than in all the
sports, business articles, and American from
the metropolitan viewpoint that would find
publication in American periodicals in the next twenty years.
Whereupon came astounding
directions from psychic sources instructing me to write a novel that
should explain to distraught and perplexed people what they so avidly
wanted to know.