Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive By William Dudley Pelley


Chapter XX

SO I say, what about it?

Is there evidence that the “dead” are alive, or is there not? Of course you can reply that the evidence as I have described it in this book appears convincing, but after all it is my evidence and not yours. Had the same things happened to you that I contend have happened to me, then the doubt might be in my mind and not in yours. Nine out of ten people declare, “Let me sit in on one of those materializing sessions, and see, and talk with, someone I have known in life, and I’ll believe.” The odd thing I confront a hundred times a year is the fact that precisely such sight and speech occurs and yet those people by no means believe. It must have been some sort of trick or illusion, they will tell you, or if it were not trickery or illusion, then it was possibly a demonstration by the Devil himself. You would be astonished to realize what numbers of otherwise rational and normal people are more ready to accredit the existence and demonstration of their beloved relatives and friends indicating their existence on the higher planes of life. Again and again I have sought to explain to my own satisfaction what can be operating in the mental processes of such doubters, or rather, accreditors of Satan? I have come to the conclusion that whey by no means believe in Satan literally, but that karmic complexes are operating that they can y no means ignore.

Reluctantly I am compelled to decide that insufferable human vanity lies at the bottom of much of it.

People don’t care to admit that something important has been going on of which they have been kept in woeful ignorance. The same chagrin assails them as afflicted the Scotsman who was persuaded to bet a shilling on a horse race and to his stupefaction won two pounds. “In the devil’s name,” cried Sandy, “how long has this been happening?”

Then again there is the chagrin arising from realization that some previous teacher or mentor, in whom they had every cause to repose confidence, may have instructed them wrongly. This apparently is Mrs. Eddy’s predicament as being suc h previous teacher or mentor. I had it illustrated the day following one of the sessions I have lately set down, when a life-long Christian Scientist who

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

had been present got me into a corner and asked in a whisper— “Please tell me what it was that I witnessed last night?” I asked, “You mean the Eddy manifestation?”

He qualified, “I saw a woman’s figure substantial enough in your study. The features resembled Mrs. Eddy’s as we have come to know them from paintings of her in life. The voice that came from the figure declared it was Mary Eddy speaking and talked penitently and devoutly. But Mrs. Eddy told us without reservations in Science & Health that there is no such thing as spirit-return, so

what was I looking at and hearing?”

“Didn’t you hear her say plainly enough that she erred in earth-life in writing that there was no spirit-return or communication?”

“Yes, I heard it. But if I concede that Mary Eddy erred in a single statement anywhere in Science & Health, I’ve got to concede she might have erred in a hundred statements? And I can’t do that.”

“Why can’t you do that?”

“Unless I accept that Mary Eddy was infallible in all the statements about Mind and Matter that she uttered in earth-life, I might as well throw all Science overboard. Who am I to say whic h of her earthly statements were true and which were in error?”

“It wouldn’t occur to you, would it, that plain self-chagrin might be working in you?” … That you hate to acknowledge you listened to a teacher who wasn divinely infallible?”

“But Truth has to be infallible or it isn’t Truth.”

“Granted. But can’t you grasp that your deification of Mrs. Eddy, as being synonymous with Truth, is your weakness, not hers? The lady herself is bog enough in character to admit she made a blunder in that one item of s pirit-return or communication. She is evidently—somewhat pathetically and not damn a great book of hers otherwise because on Page 70 she wrote some inaccurate pronouncements? Are you yourself a congenital liar and not to be trusted in any of your statements because you gave business partner some incorrect information about the stock market last week that I lost him five thousand dollars?”

“I am merely a follower of hers who took the entire volume of her principles for granted. If I’ve got to throw the chapter on Spiritualism and Animal Magnetism out of Science & Health, I’ve got to toss away the whole book—because I’m incapable of judging what otherwise might be or more ‘mistakes’ …” “Then your own discretions and discrimination don’t enter into it?” “I’m not capable of having any—not in religious matters.” “Why do you imagine you were given a mind?”

“I wasn’t given a mind to argue something of which I’m humanly ignorant. So I say to you, what was it I saw with my eyes and heard with my ears last night? I certainly did see and hear something, but Mary Eddy herself said there was no such thing. So where does that leave me?”

“It leaves you,” I answered, “in the somewhat incongruous position of believing

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

statements she made in print in earth-life but doubting the statements she made vocally in ethereal life.”

“I’m not persuaded it was Mrs. Eddy who mad the vocal statements.” “Very good, who was it?”

“I don’t know. It could be someone impersonating her, couldn’t it? “To what purpose?”

“To destroy Christian Science.”

“Don't be ridiculous, man. How could the elimination of those two chapters in Science & Health ‘destroy’ Christian Science in its profounder and more constructive recommendations of the powers of Mind over Matter?” My visitor couldn’t, or wouldn’t reply. The face was, his intellect had been sealed up across a number of years against accrediting anything as reality that couldn’t be measured, and he didn’t propose to unseal it at fifty-six.

Sealed intellects! …. Why is Religion the only field in which the intellect must be sealed and such sealing adulated? Supposing the scientist manifested the same sealed intellect, or the astronomer?

Why go on with it?

LIFE insurance statistics inform us that a person “dies” physically in the United States every eight seconds day and night the clock around. Each bids final adieu to the physical vehicle that has permitted him such characteristic expression since the doctor spanked the breath of life into expression since the doctor spanked the breath of life into his infantile organism and he issued forth into a consciousness of worldly reality afresh. He carries in his soul-self his load of earthly memories—not to mention sense of identity—his spiritual attainments and even the design-pattern of his physical appearance. If he did not carry his thinking apparatus in his soul-self, even the Pentecostal plan of Salvation advocated theologically would have no meaning, since eternal rewards or punishments would then have no significance to him. Why reward or punish a soul for something that is utterly oblivious to his mental ensemble? If you concede the continuation of the personality in the Pentecostal salvation program, you’re forced to acknowledge it in areas of consciousness to which the soul-self does arouse in likelier orientations of Truth. My own conclusions and convictions after twenty-six years of exploring and experimenting in octaves higher than the mortal have it that thinking and reasoning—which entails all the phenomena of remembering—are strictly attributes of the spirit personality, and the bodily brain has little to do with it at all. The bodily brain has been responsible, true enough, for conveying sense-impressions of the material world to that spirit intellect, but the Design-Body is the real repository for them of permanence. If this were not true, the 17-year-old boy, Roger, who materialized in my studio a week ago Friday night could not have carried on a running conversation with his Uncle Lawrence about events in the family in Chicago that occurred back in 1937. “Do you remember the litter red sweater with the turtle-neck you bought me

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

Uncle Lawrence, that I was so proud of? … these were voluntary interrogations on Roger’s part and his uncle as readily acknowledge them. As for the Light-Body or Design-Body being the exact prototype in a higher atomic frequency of the physical self, how about Walter Stinson offering seventy-two replicas of his hand containing his accurate fingerprints, as his toilet articles showed them to have been in mortality? I claim that people who still find objections and challenges to such evidence are putting themselves in the category with my Christian Scientist friend—or the aforementioned Scotsman—whose self-chagrin is apparent in their demand, “How long has this been going on?” But to return to this matte of the personality discovering itself emerged from the chrysalis of the physical vehicle …

OBVIOUSLY it ascends into a sort of “double consciousness”—of the higher ethereal reality where there are landscapes and architectural structures and forms of society not unlike those it has left in this lower world—and of the coarser or grosser atomic ensemble that we term the mortal exhibit. Having gained to the higher condition, the soul-self discovers it can, by a sort of manipulation of its vibrations, manifest on both levels at one. Or rather, it makes the discovery that the mortal world seems to be the shadow or replica of the ethereal world. It is, certainly, more conscious of the operations of life on this lower and slower plane than we upon this lower and slower plane are commonly conscious of the existence of those on the higher. Understand me in all this; I’m not attempting to rationalize all conditions of the after-life in this closing chapter. I’m merely conveying to you what obviously happens to the graduating soul as I’ve learned about it from twenty-six years of aggressive contact. If you want the whole agenda of the sensations of “dying” and the orientation following discarnation, you can get it in a score of other books you’ll find I’ve written on the subject. But here is one interesting feature of your metamorphosis … when this Light-Body, Design-Body, Pattern-Body—call it what you will—disengages from the long-time physical self, it seems to go into the ethereal world stark naked. Harriet has described in derail how relatives, guardians or helpers are at hand to take it in charge and convey it to what they call The Rose-Room of Rest. There they permit it to nap for a time and recover its strength and poise. During this interval the relatives, guardians and helpers, “weave” out of higher atomic stuffs by the operations of Thought the fabrics in which the personality will subsequently be clothed in the interests, apparently, of common decency. On only one occasion have I ever beheld a soul-spirit materialize in a nude appearance on this side, and that seemed to be because the tulle-stuffs of which the “clothing” was composed were so tenuous as to seem almost transparent, disclosing the feminine charms beneath. But assuming the Thought-Weaving provides garments for the transitioning spirit, the next occasion is an awakening in truth to the fact that the transition has been made by sometimes conveying the soul-spirit back into the earthly condition and permitting it to be present at the burial service over its lifeless clay.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

I recall upon an occasion of the materialization of Harry Martin, my former executive associate in Asheville, that he laughingly criticized the laudatory remarked I spoke over his bier as I preached his funeral sermon. “It was an awfully funny experience,” Harry attested, “listening to you pronouncing all that malarkey over my effigy lying in a box surrounded by flowers, whereas the real me was right there in the funeral parlor, practically beside you, conscious o f ‘two worlds at once’, the world from which I had come and the world which I had suddenly gained.” On another occasion in a town near Seattle, Mr. Samuel Labbe of Portland, a former associate of mine in the Northwest, was reported to me as communicating during a public Bertie Lilly Candler sιance and saying the same to a group of a hundred listening and watching people. At still a third occasion in Manhattan in 1945, my little 83-year-old mother succeeded in “getting through” and thanking my son-in-law, Melford pearson, for the help he contributed to her burial services when I had been able to attend. Such data would fill a volume unto itself.

However, while the lowering of the personal “vibrations” down onto the frequencies of the medium’s ectoplasm may produce a condition where the soul-self may manifest its identity on this physical plane of earth, by no means does it follow that these are strictly one-way trips. There are occasions beyond listing where living persons on This Side have made incursions but not the higher ethereal strata without physical death resulting …

LOOKING back over all the adventures, explorings, and contacts I have succeeded in negotiating the past two-and-a-half decades, I can appreciate now that such was exactly the thing I described purblingly in the now celebrated narrative, My Seven Minutes in Eternity. I left my 38-year-old physical self lying on the bed in an upper room of my bungalow on Mount Curve Drive in Altadena, California, on the night of May 29, 1928, and spent something like four hours interviewing former friends and associates whose similar bodies I had seen buried in cemeteries. You remember, if you read that article in The American at the time, that I was shameless in describing my “physical” condition in the first half of the experience as being nude. It was not only because no one was present in the first sequence except two men-friends, Albert Boyden and William Derieux, that I felt no embarrassment. My physical condition was simply not an item I my thinking at the moment. This corresponded perfectly with what Harriet recounted to us the other evening about the Rose-Room of Rest. Later, in the second half of the Seven-Minute experience, when a large assortment of mixed company entered the now-famous patio to greet me, I no longer sensed myself as naked. From somewhere I had acquired a sort of Greek chiton to cover me, although I had always supposed it had materialized in the aftermath of my sampling a pool of oddly clear water in the southeastern corner of the beauteous place. Now I’m not so certain that I hadn’t “woven” my own chiton garment by powers of though subconsciously, not desiring to confront lady friends in my birthday suit. The point is immaterial.

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

The fact remains that we do vacate our earthly mortal vehicles upon occasion and penetrate the higher areas, just as those in the higher areas do upon occasion descend into our “shadow world” and give tacit evidence of their personality survival. I got over 30,000 letter of attestments from AMERICAN

MAGAZINE readers, not only congratulating me for writing so candid and revealing an article, but describing similar experiences in their own rights which they had been diffident about confiding to their intimates. I took heart at those. If 30,000 other persons had undergone a similar discarnation at some time or other in their lives, then my own experience after all was not so bizarre nor so peculiar. But more significant than these have been the numbers of persons I likewise have encountered who have attainted some degree of proficiency of ascending from on octave of consciousness into the higher, voluntarily and deliberately. But the attainment of such adeptship belongs in a realm of mystical accomplishment outside the data of this book …

ONE OTHER matter I do wish to touch upon briefly, however, before writing Finis to this manuscript … the queries that long-since have come to me about confronting so-called Dwellers on the Threshold in making the passing from the physical to the ethereal.

Judging from what I’ve been able to compile upon the subject, yes, there’s s sort of Astral Purgatory next above the strict physical conditions of earth, where those of low, brutal, purblind soul-expression find themselves blundering in a sort of semi-gloom, unable to discover where they are or how to escape. It seems to be from such Low Astral that Helena Blavatsky compiled her data in which she made such reference to Dwellers on the Threshold—in Theosophy. In this condition the low-grade and nondeveloped spirit finds itself confronting Thought Forms and astral husks that may not be too pleasant to contemplate. But it’s more or less a self-elected condition. It is by no means obligatory for the high-quality and altruistic spirit of the enlightened Christian who accredits that he has no more to be fearful of in the After-life than he had in contemplating the facts and factors of physical birth.

Howard Candler, Bertie Lilly’s brother, who made the passing when he was twenty-three, gave us a lengthy lecture on this condition of nondeveloped souls at a recent Noblesville sιance, from which I quote— I said to Howard, “May I ask a question? … Isn’t it true that on this plane we have conditions of conflict between temperaments, but do profit by experience if we have progress to make… whereas, when you have no conflicting conditions, you won’t profit?”

“Correct,” Howard answered in strong and emphatic accents, “you won’t profit, because you must have the mistakes and conflicts to profit. They are lessons in your life.” I said, “That’s just what I mean. You, on the higher levels then, would seem not to be getting such character-increments in a state of society where all is tranquil and without dissension. Of the two, would not the earth-state be preferable?”

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

“But you must remember, my brother of earth, we have the lower planes here, where there is much conflict, where men who have passed have not been prepared for that passing, where souls have been ushered out in war and disasters, and the criminals, and the murderers. They have their place of abode, and many of them come back to the earth and are hovering around it, to seek avenues to get through to destroy because they are not educated. These are what we call Uneducated Souls.”

“What I mean is, aren’t we developing our own characters by combating those conditions?”

“Positively you are, because if a child never fell down it would never try to get up and move on. If you sat constantly in a chair and never exercised the will to go forward, but just sat there, you would become an invalid. Because you must have that push-power of the mind and the spirit, for the body and the soul to go forward. Every experience is a teacher for you, and it’s for every man upon the earth plane to realize and understand and know it’s a blessed experience he’s going through. And too, another thing is not to run away from anything. Because it will follow you wherever you go, and you’ll run into something more unpleasant than what you were trying to combat. You cannot hide from a single thing. You must work it out because it’s your path. Stars come and stars go, the sun shines and the rain falls; it falls on the just and the unjust. Yet God never changes. He is just in all things. But the mortal mind in sin and confusion has made the mortal world that in which you live at the present time.” “Don’t we know it!”

“Our world is beautiful. Try to realize our great seminaries, our great colleges; … we have the Great Teachers, the archangels, … we have our fountains and our lakes. We have all the things, my friends of earth, that you have—”

“Howard,” I interrupted, “do those interpenetrate the atomic structures of this world or are they higher in Etheria?”

“They’re very high in Etheria,” he replied. “The atomic powers do not interfere with us. Now some will say that whey frighten us. We do not become frightened because the Spirit in which we move is not fearful or frightened?” “Then you don’t have any disruptions from the atom bomb explosions?” “Positively not. But those who are living in what you would call Purgatory, what the Catholic would call the Dark Zones, from which whey have not evolved; they become frightened because they can hear the explosions. And when the souls from here go out on what you call missionary work, and illuminate their Soul Light to find and help those people, you will see the undeveloped falling with their faces to the earth, or they run down into the Dark Waters to bathe themselves and hide from us because they are afraid of the missionaries, like many of the people on your earth-plane that missionaries would go out to teach and to help. Even in your great schools of philosophy, many people criticize and are afraid of them and want to shun them, isn’t it true? So it is over here. They are afraid and they run to escape the light and illumination of the angels and all

Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

the spirits that go to save them as prey from a tiger. Because they do not want to be helped. They have revenge in their hearts because they were so undeveloped when they made the transition called Death. They were so engrossed in sin and evil while in flesh that when they make the transition called Death it is enveloped in their soul consciousness. They have carried this with them in their Thought out here and it had an effective reaction upon them, and they are afraid. I’m happy to greet you, friends. It’s a glorious privilege to have been here. And may God bless each one of you. I shall voice to you again from time to time with my blessing. I will withdraw and leave way for others. Howard Candler.”

THE ORTHODOX Christian cried, of course, “But if what you say be true, then what becomes of our current theology—in fact, our whole Christian religion? The church teaches us that there is only One Man who has ever enjoyed actual resurrection and that has been Jesus the Christ. All the rest of the people who have died since Calvary are ‘asleep in Jesus’ and ‘know not anything until Judgment Day’. How reconcile the two?”

Truth and Error can never be reconciled. And there is not a shred of logic in expecting that they should be.

However, it isn’t that the church has the facts of survival wrong; the church has simply been the espouser of a hypothesis that has been gravely warped, misrepresented and, in cases, wickedly or stupidly prostituted. Christ himself was the greatest psychic who ever trod this earth. He was great as a clairvoyant, great as a clairaudient, great as a psychometric, great as a divine medium. But clerics who knew naught of these marvels behind mortality, or branded them as evil because they feared disclosures from them, edited or censored out the facts of the early Christian “mysteries” that pertained to all of these phenomena, to suit their own inhibited or fearsome notions.

Today as “sacred” teaching, we get the doctrines that they—and they aloe—have pronounced “infallible”, simply because numbers of such clerics have gathered in council from time to time and legislated according to their bigotries instead of the basic life-facts they have gone to no trouble to explore.

ANYHOW, I have written this initial book to tell you exactly how it has been with me in arriving at a constant daily psychology that Death is a misnomer, that mortal life is merely experience in a classroom of earth where out bodies are the garments that clothe us while we enact the role of students.

I am appalled neither by death itself as a fact of Cosmos nor as a possibility for myself at any hour of the day. I was, in a manner of speaking, allotted something like 26,280 days in this earthly tenure to bring myself to maturity, do a certain work, and achieve a certain result. Something like 22,542 of those days I have expended to the moment. How shall I account for the 3,738 days that I have reason to believe are left?

Getting back among my friends in the higher octaves will be like the award that


Why I Believe the Dead Are Alive

a trip around the globe might be, with all expenses paid, and somebody along to arrange tickers and luggage.

However, the divine Father has been infinite in His compassion for most of us who may not have arrived at my convictions concerning survival, in that He has instituted a most beautiful process for easing each transition. We do not all make the Passing at once!

As the years roll by, and we grow older and maturer, the relatives, intimates and dear ones who have been with us in many beloved adventures in the body, drop one by one along the wayside. We attend funerals over their tired husks and weep many tears that we shall not know such adventures with them more. But one by one they are simply moving along ahead of us into the Radiant Summerland, until finally there are more of them on That Side then on This. Going to them is but a transport of reunion. We would rather he with the lovely horde of them in realms of beauty than to continue to plod, stumble and endure in this world of sorrows, disappointments and ordeals. So comes the moment when our own life-equations are balanced, and the Hour Tranquil when we lay us down to the peace that passes understanding … Need these be anything morbid about it? Should we consider it phenomenal or carnal, either?

Well, anyhow, we do know that when we descended to this mortal realm as babes, there were loving hearts ready to welcome us, and loving hands ready to receive us and minister to us. If we have found that to be so in the earthly venture, shall it not be doubly so in the venture that is to come? Will not equally loving voices cry forth their greetings as we are caught sight of in the throng mobbing in through heaven’s gate, and arms be thrown about us that mean the end of separation?

I, for one, believe that it shall happen.

Incidentally forgive my mentioning that if, when I come to such moment of entry, there be not a flag-patch pf wagging dog-tails, and barks of excited welcome as all the dog souls I have ever loved leap upon me in hysterical greeting, I shall count my life as poorly live d indeed and heaven not the place that I fondly anticipate. But that is whim-digression …

To me there are no dead, even before the day of such reunion is reached. I have seen the Broad Highroad, and the Grand Progression on it. I have already talked and walked with those who have witnessed the Bright Scene from a thousand dazzling vantage-points. And this is my encyclical—We are truly all gods, advancing together from embryo, and he who would shrink from the realities of Cosmos, performs but a shrinking from the divinity that is himself! Suppose we leave it there …

The Present Moment Always Endures!