1. SLEEP AND DREAMS -- 2. VISITS BETWEEN THE SPIRITS OF LIVING PERSONS -- 3. TRANSMISSION OF THOUGHT -- 4. LETHARGY, CATALEPSY: APPARENT DEATH -- 5. SOMNAMBULISM -- 6. TRANCE -- 7. SECOND--SIGHT -- 8. THEORY OF SOMNAMBULISM, TRANCE, AND SECOND-SIGHT.
Sleep and Dreams
400. Does the incarnated spirit reside willingly in his corporeal envelope?
"You might as well ask whether a prisoner willingly remains locked up in prison. The incarnated spirit aspires incessantly after his deliverance; and the grosser his envelope, the more desirous is he to be rid of it."
401. Does the soul take rest, like the body, during sleep?
"No; a spirit is never inactive. The bonds which unite him to the body are relaxed during sleep; and as the body does not then need his presence, he travels through space, and enters into more direct relation with other spirits."
402. How can we ascertain the fact of a spirit's liberty during sleep?
"By dreams. Be very sure that, when his body is asleep, a spirit enjoys the use of faculties of which he is unconscious while his body is awake. He remembers the past, and sometimes foresees the future: he acquires more power, and is able to enter into communication with other spirits, either in this world or in some other.
"You often say, 'I have had a strange dream, a frightful dream, without any likeness to reality' You are mistaken in thinking it to be so; for it is often a reminiscence of places and things which you have seen in the past, or a foresight of those which you will see in another existence, or in this one at some future time. The body being torpid, the spirit tries to break his chain, and seeks, in the past or in the future, for the means of doing so. "Poor human beings! how little do you know of the commonest phenomena of your life! You fancy yourselves to be very learned, and you are puzzled by the most ordinary things. To questions that any child might ask, 'What do we do when we are asleep?' 'What are dreams?' you are incapable of replying.
"Sleep effects a partial freeing of the soul from the body. When you sleep, your spirit is, for the time being, in the state in which you will be after your death. The spirits who at death are promptly freed from matter are those who, during their life, have had what may be called intelligent sleep. Such persons, when they sleep, regain the society of other spirits superior to themselves. They go about with them, conversing with them, and gaining instruction from them; they even work, in the spirit-world, at undertakings which, on dying, they find already begun or completed. From this you see how little death should be dreaded, since, according to the saying of St. Paul, you 'die daily.'
"What we have just stated refers to spirits of an elevated degree of advancement. As for those of the common mass of men, who, after their death, remain for long hours in the state of confusion and uncertainty of which you have been told by such, they go, during sleep, into worlds of lower rank than the earth, to which they are drawn back by old affections, or by the attraction of pleasures still baser than those to which they are addicted in your world; visits in which they gather ideas still viler, more ignoble, and more mischievous than those which they had professed during their waking hours. And that which engenders sympathy in the earthly life is nothing else than the fact that you feel yourselves, on waking, affectionately attracted towards those with whom you have passed eight or nine hours of happiness or pleasure. On the other hand, the explanation of the invincible antipathies you sometimes feel for certain persons is also to be found in the intuitive knowledge you have thus acquired of the fact that those persons have another conscience than yours, because you know them without having previously seen them with your bodily eyes. It is this same fact, moreover, that explains the indifference of some people for others; they do not care to make new friends, because they know that they have others by whom they are loved and cherished. In a word, sleep has more influence than you think upon your life.
"Through the effects of sleep, incarnated spirits are always in connection with the spirit-world; and it is in consideration of this fact that spirits of a higher order consent, without much repugnance, to incarnate themselves among you. God has willed that, during their contact with vice, they may go forth and fortify themselves afresh at the source of rectitude, in order that they, who have come into your world to instruct others, may not fall into evil themselves. Sleep is the gate opened for them by God, that they may pass through it to their friends in the spirit-world; it is their recreation after labor, while awaiting the great deliverance, the final liberation, that will restore them to their true place.
"Dreams are the remembrance of what your spirit has seen during sleep; but you must remark that you do not always dream, because you do not always remember what you have seen, or all that you have seen. Your dreams do not always reflect the action of your soul in its full development; for they are often only the reflex of the confusion that accompanies your departure or your return, mingled with the vague remembrance of what you have done, or of what has occupied your thoughts, in your waking state. In what other way can you explain the absurd dreams which are dreamed by the wisest as by the silliest of mankind? Bad spirits, also, make use of dreams to torment weak and timid souls.
"You will see, ere long, the development of another kind of dream, a kind which is as ancient as the one you know, but one of which you are ignorant. The dream we allude to is that of Jeanne Darc,1 of Jacob, of the Jewish prophets, and of certain Hindu ascetics, a dream which is the remembrance of the soul's experiences while entirely freed from the body, the remembrance of the second life, of which I spoke just now.
"You should carefully endeavor to distinguish these two kinds of dreams among those which you are able to recall: unless you do this, you will be in danger of falling into contradictions and errors that would be prejudicial to your belief."
Dreams are a product of the emancipation of the soul, rendered more active by the suspension of the active life of relation, and enjoying a sort of indefinite clairvoyance which extends to places at a great distance from us, or that we have never seen, or even to other worlds. To this state of emancipation is also due the remembrance which retraces to our memory the events that have occurred in our present existence or in preceding existences the strangeness of the images of what has taken place in worlds unknown to us, mixed up with the things of the present world, producing the confused and whimsical medleys that seem to be equally devoid of connection and of meaning.
The incoherence of dreams is still farther explained by the gaps resulting from the incompleteness of our remembrance of what has appeared to us in our nightly visions--an incompleteness similar to that of a narrative from which whole sentences, or parts of sentences, have been omitted by chance, and whose remaining fragments, having been thrown together again at random, have lost all intelligible meaning.
403. Why do we not always remember our dreams?
"What you call sleep is only the repose of the body, for the spirit is always in motion. During sleep he recovers a portion of his liberty, and enters into communication with those who are dear to him, either in this world, or in other worlds; but as the matter of the body is heavy and gross, it is difficult for him to retain, on waking, the impressions he has received during sleep, because those impressions were not received by him through the bodily organs."
404. What is to be thought of the signification attributed to dreams?
"Dreams are not really indications in the sense attributed to them by fortune-tellers; for it is absurd to believe that a certain kind of dream announces the happening of a certain kind of event. But they are indications in this sense, namely, that they present images which are real for the spirit, though they may have nothing to do with what takes place in his present corporeal life. Dreams are also, in many cases, as we have said, a remembrance; they may also be sometimes a presentiment of the future, if permitted by God, or the sight of something which is taking place at the time in some other place to which the soul has transported itself. Have you not many instances proving that persons may appear to their relatives and friends in dreams, and give them notice of what is happening to them? What are apparitions, if not the soul or spirit of persons who come to communicate with you? When you acquire the certainty that what you saw has really taken place, is it not a proof that it was no freak of your imagination, especially if what you saw were something which you had not thought of when you were awake?"
405. We often see in dreams things which appear to be presentiments, but which do not come to pass,--how is this?
"Those things may take place in the experience of the spirit, though not in that of the body, that is to say, that the spirit sees what he wishes to see because he goes to find it. You must not forget that, during sleep, the spirit is always more or less under the influence of matter; that, consequently, he is never completely free from terrestrial ideas, and that the objects of his waking thoughts may therefore give to his dreams the appearance of what he desires or of what he fears, thus producing what may be properly termed an effect of the imagination. When the mind is much busied with any idea, it is apt to connect everything it sees with that idea."
406. When, in a dream, we see persons who are well known to us doing things which they are not in any way thinking of, is it not a mere effect of the imagination?
"Of which they are not thinking? How do you know that it is so? Their spirit may come to visit yours, as yours may go to visit theirs; and you do not always know, in your waking state, what they may be thinking of. And besides, you often, in your dreams, apply to persons whom you know, and according to your own desires, reminiscences of what took place, or is taking place, in other existences."
407. Is it necessary to the emancipation of the soul that the sleep of the body should be complete?
"No; the spirit recovers his liberty as soon as the senses become torpid. He takes advantage, in order to emancipate himself, of every moment of respite left him by the body. As soon as there occurs any prostration of the vital forces, the spirit disengages himself from the body, and the feebler the body, the freer is the spirit."
It is for this reason that dozing, or a mere dulling of the senses, often presents the same images as dreaming.
408. We sometimes seem to hear within ourselves words distinctly pronounced, but having no connection with what we are thinking of,-what is the cause of this?
"Yes, you often hear words, and even whole sentences, especially when your senses begin to grow torpid. It is sometimes the faint echo of the utterance of a spirit who wishes to communicate with you."
409. Often, when only half-asleep, and with our eyes closed, we see distinct images, figures of which we perceive the minutest details,-is this an effect of vision or of imagination?
"The body being torpid, the spirit tries to break his chain. He goes away and sees; if the sleep were deeper, the vision would be a dream."
410. We sometimes, when asleep, or half-asleep, have ideas which seem to us to be excellent, but which, despite all the efforts we make to recall them, are effaced from our memory on waking,-whence come these ideas?
"They are the result of the freedom of the spirit, who emancipates himself from the body, and enjoys the use of other faculties during this moment of liberty; and they are often counsels given you by other spirits."
-- What is the use of such ideas and counsels, since we lose the remembrance of them, and cannot profit by them?
"Those ideas often belong rather to the world of spirits than to the corporeal world; but, in general, though the body may forget them, the spirit remembers them, and the idea recurs to him at the proper time, in his waking state, as though it were an inspiration of the moment."
411. Does the incarnated spirit, when he is freed from matter and acting as a spirit, know the epoch of his death?
"He often has the presentiment of it. He sometimes has a very clear foreknowledge of it; and it is this which gives him the intuition of it in his waking state. It is this, also, which enables some persons to foresee the time of their death with perfect exactness."
412. Can the activity of the spirit, during the repose or the sleep of the body, cause fatigue to the latter?
"Yes, for the spirit is attached to the body, as the captive balloon is fastened to the post; and, just as the post is shaken by the movements of the balloon, so the activity of the spirit reacts upon the body, and may cause it to feel fatigued."
413. The emancipation of the soul during sleep would seem to indicate that we live simultaneously two lives; the life of the body, which is that of exterior relation, and the life of the soul, which is that of occult relation,--is this so?
"During the emancipation of the soul, the life of the latter takes precedence of the life of the body; this, however, does not, strictly speaking, constitute two lives, but rather two phases of one and the same life, for a man does not live a double life."
414 Can two persons, who are acquainted with each other, visit one another in sleep?
"Yes; and many others, who, in their waking state, do not know that they are acquainted, meet and converse together. You may, without suspecting it, have friends in another country. The fact of going, during sleep, to visit friends, relatives, acquaintances, persons who can be of use to you, is extremely frequent; and you yourselves accomplish these visits almost every night."
415. What can be the use of these nocturnal meetings, since we do not remember them?
"The intuition of them generally remains with you in your waking state, and is often the origin of ideas which afterwards occur to you, as it were, spontaneously, without your being able to account for them, but which are really those you had obtained in the spirit-intercourse carried on by you during your sleep."
416. Can a man ensure the making of spirit-visits by the exertion of his will? Can he do so, for example, by saying to himself, on going to sleep, "I will tonight meet such and such a person in spirit, and speak with him about such and such a thing"?
"This is what takes place. The man falls asleep, and his spirit wakens to the other life; but his spirit is often very far from following out the plan which had been resolved upon by the man, for the life of the man excites but little interest in a spirit when he is emancipated from matter. This statement, however, only applies to men who have already reached a certain degree of elevation. The others pass their spirit-existence very differently. They give free rein to their passions, or remain inactive. It may happen, therefore, according to the aim of the proposed action, that a spirit may go to see the parties he had, as a man, proposed to visit; but it does not follow that, because he has willed to do so in his waking state, he will necessarily do so in his state of freedom."
417. Can a number of incarnate spirits, during sleep, meet together, and form assemblies?
"Undoubtedly they can. The ties of friendship, old or new, often bring together spirits who are happy to be in each other's company."
By the term old must be understood the ties of friendship contracted in anterior existences. We bring back with us, on waking, an intuition of the ideas which we have derived from these occult meetings, but of the source of which we are ignorant.
418. If a person believed one of his friends to be dead who is not dead, could he meet him as a spirit, and thus learn that he is living? Could he, in such a case, preserve the intuition of this fact on waking?
"He could, certainly, as a spirit, see his friend, and know what is his situation; and if the belief in the death of that friend had not been imposed on him as an expiation, he might retain an impression of his existence, as, in the contrary case, he might retain that of his death."
419. Whence comes it that the same idea-that of a discovery, for instance--so often suggests itself at the same time to several persons, although they may be at a distance from one another?
"We have already said that, during sleep, spirits communicate with one another; well, when his body awakes, a spirit remembers what he has learned, and the man thinks he has invented it. Thus several persons may find out the same thing at the same time. When you say that an idea is 'in the air,' you employ a figure of speech that is much nearer the truth than suppose. Every one helps unconsciously to propagate it."
In this way our spirit often reveals to other spirits, without our being aware of it, that which formed the object of our meditations before we went to sleep.
420. Can spirits communicate between themselves when the body is awake?
"A spirit is not enclosed in his body as in a box, but radiates around it in every direction. He can, therefore, hold communication with other spirits even in the waking state, although he does so with more difficulty."
421. How comes it that two persons, perfectly awake, often have the same thought at the same moment?
"It is because two spirits, who are in sympathy, may communicate their thought to each other even when the body is not asleep."
There is, between spirits, a communication of thoughts which sometimes enables two persons to see and understand one another without having any need of human speech. They may be said to speak the language of spirits.
422. In lethargy and catalepsy, the patients generally see and hear what takes place around them, but are unable to manifest their impressions. Is it through the eyes and ears of the body that these impressions are received?
"No; they are received by the spirit. The spirit is conscious, but cannot express himself."
-- Why can he not express himself?
"The state of his body prevents his doing so; and this peculiar state of his bodily organs proves that man consists of something more than a body, since the body no longer works, and yet the spirits acts."
423. Can a spirit, in a state of lethargy, separate himself entirely from his body, so as to give to the latter all the outward appearances of death, and afterwards come back and inhabit it?
"In lethargy, the body is not dead, for it still accomplishes some of its functions. Its vitality is latent, as in the chrysalis, but is not annihilated; and a spirit is united to his body as long as it remains alive. When once the links which keep them together are broken by the death and desegregation of the bodily organs, the separation is complete, and the spirit never again comes back to his body. When one who is apparently dead comes to life again, it is because the process of death was not entirely consummated."
424. Is it possible, by means of timely help, to renew the ties which were ready to break, and to give back life to a person who, but for this help, would have definitively ceased to live?
"Yes, undoubtedly; and you have proofs of this every day. Mesmerism often exercises, in such cases, a powerful restorative action, because it gives to the body the vital fluid which it lacks, and which is necessary to keep up the play of the organs."
Lethargy and catalepsy proceed from the same cause, namely, the temporary loss of sensibility and power of motion, from some as yet unexplained physiological condition. They differ in this respect, namely, that, in lethargy, the suppression of the vital force is general, and gives to the body an the appearances of death, whereas, in catalepsy, that suppression is localized, and may affect a more or less extensive portion of the body, while leaving the intelligence free to manifest itself a fact which does not allow it to be confounded with death. Lethargy is always natural catalepsy is sometimes spontaneous, but it may be produced and dissipated artificially by mesmeric action.
425. Is there any connection between natural somnambulism and dreaming?
"In somnambulism the independence of the soul is more complete, and its functions are more developed, than in dreaming, and it has perceptions that it has not in dreaming, which is an imperfect somnambulism.
"In somnambulism, the spirit is entirely freed from the action of matter; the material organs, being in a sort of catalepsy, are no longer receptive of external impressions.
"This state most frequently occurs during sleep, because the spirit is then able to absent itself from the body which is given up to the repose that is indispensable to matter. When somnambulism occurs, it is because the spirit of the sleeper, intent upon doing something or other that requires the aid of his body, makes use of it in a manner analogous to that in which spirits make use of a table, or other material object, in producing the phenomena of physical manifestations, or of a human hand, in giving written communications. In the dreams of which a man is conscious, his organs, including those of memory, are beginning to awaken; and, as they only receive and transmit to the spirit imperfectly the impressions made on them by exterior objects or action, the spirit, who is then in a state of repose, only perceives these impressions through confused and often disconnected sensations, which, in many cases, are still further confused by being mingled with vague remembrances of his present life and anterior existences. It is easy, therefore, to understand why somnambulists do not remember their visions, and why the greater number of the dreams you remember have no rational meaning. I say the greater number, for it sometimes happens that dreams are the consequence of a precise remembrance of events that have occurred in one of your former lives, or even a sort of intuition of the future."
426. Is there any connection between what is called mesmeric somnambulism and natural somnambulism?
"They are the same thing; the only difference between them being that one of them is artificially produced."
427. What is the nature of the agent called the magnetic or mesmeric fluid?
"It is the vital fluid, animalized electricity; a modification of the universal fluid."
428. What is the nature of somnambulic clairvoyance?
"We have told you that it is soul-sight."
429. How can the somnambulist see through opaque bodies?
"It is only to your gross organs that bodies are opaque. Have we not told you that matter is not an obstacle for a spirit, since he passes freely through it? A somnambulist often tells you that he sees through his forehead, his knee, etc., because you, being plunged in matter, do not understand that he can see without the help of organs. He himself, influenced by your ideas, believes that he needs those organs; but, if you left him to himself, he would understand that he sees through every part of his body, or rather, that he sees independently of his body."
430. Since the clairvoyance of the somnambulist is that of his soul or of his spirit, why does he not see everything, and why does he so often make mistakes?
"In the first place, spirits of low degree do not see and comprehend everything, for, as you know, they still share your errors and your prejudices; and, in the next place, as long as they remain more or less attached to matter, they have not the use of all their spirit-faculties. God has given the faculty of clairvoyance to man for a serious and useful purpose, and not to inform him of what it is not permitted to him to know; and this is why somnambulists do not know everything."
431. What is the source of the somnambulist's innate ideas, and how can he speak correctly of things of which he is ignorant in his waking state, and which are even above his intellectual capacity?
"A somnambulist may possess more knowledge than you give him credit for; but this knowledge is latent in his waking state, because his envelope is too imperfect for him to be able to remember all he knows as a spirit. But, in point of fact, what is he? Like all of us, he is a spirit who has been incarnated in matter for the accomplishment of his mission, and his going into the somnambulic state rouses him from the lethargy of incarnation. We have repeatedly told you that we re-live many times. It is this changing of our existences that causes him to lose sight, in a new connection with matter, of what he may have know in a preceding one. On entering into the state which you call a crisis, he recalls what he has formerly known, but not always with completeness. He knows, but he cannot tell whence he derives his knowledge, nor in what way he possesses it. The crisis over, his reminiscences fade from his consciousness, and he re-enters the obscurity of corporeal life."
Experience shows us that somnambulists also receive communications from other spirits, who tell them what they are to say, and supply what is lacking on their part. This supplementing of their insufficiency is often and especially witnessed in medical consultations the spirit of the clairvoyant seeing the malady, and another spirit indicating the remedy required. This double action is often patent to bystanders, and is also frequently revealed by such expressions on the part of the somnambulist as, "1 am told to say," or, "I am forbidden to say," etc. In the latter case, it is always dangerous to persist in the effort to obtain a revelation refused by the clairvoyant, because, by doing so, we open the door to frivolous and unscrupulous spirits, who prate about everything without any regard to veracity.
432. How do you explain the power of seeing at a distance possessed by some somnambulists?
"Does not the soul transport itself to a distance during sleep? It does the same thing in somnambulism,"
433. Does the greater or less degree of somnambulic clairvoyance depend on the physical organization of the body, or on the nature of the spirit incarnated in it?
"On both; but there are physical qualities that allow the spirit to liberate himself more or less easily from matter."
434. Are the faculties enjoyed by the somnambulist the same as those possessed by the spirit after death?
"They are the same, but only up to a certain point; for you have to take into account the influence of the matter to which he is still attached."
435. Can somnambulists see other spirits?
"That depends on the nature and degree of their faculties. The greater number of them see other spirits perfectly well, but they do not always recognize them at once as being such, and thus mistake them for corporeal beings; a mistake that is often made by somnambulists, and especially by those among them who know nothing of Spiritism. Not understanding anything of the essence of spirits, they are astonished at seeing them in human form, and suppose them to be living persons."
The same effect is produced at the moment of death in the consciousness of those who suppose themselves to be still living. Nothing about them appears to them to be changed. The spirits around them seem to have bodies like ours, and they take the appearance of their own body to be that of a real body of flesh.
436. When a somnambulist sees objects at a distance, does he see them with his body or with his soul?
"Why should you ask such a question, since it is the soul that sees, and not the body?"
437. Since it is the soul that transports itself to a distance, how is it that the somnambulist feels in his body the sensation of the heat or the cold of the place where his soul is, and which is sometimes very far from the place where his body is?
"His soul has not entirely quitted his body, to which it is still attached by the link which unites them together; it is this link that is the conductor of sensation. When two persons in two different cities correspond with each other by electricity, it is the electricity that constitutes the link between their thoughts, and enables them to communicate with one another as though they were close together."
438. Is the state of the somnambulist influenced after death by the use he has made of his faculty?
"Very considerably; as is done by the good or bad use of all the faculties that God has given to man."
439. What difference is there between trance and somnambulism?
"Trance is a more refined somnambulism. The soul, when in trance, is still more independent."
440. Does the soul of the ecstatic really enter into higher worlds?
"Yes; he sees them, and perceives the happiness of those who are in them; but there are worlds that are inaccessible to spirits who are not sufficiently purified."
441. When a person in trance expresses the desire to quit the earth, does he speak sincerely, and is he not retained by the instinct of self-preservation?
"That depends on the degree of the spirit's purification. If he sees that his future situation will be better than his present one, he makes an effort to break the links that bind him to the earth."
442. If the ecstatic were left to himself, might his soul definitively quit his body?
"Yes, he might die; and it is therefore necessary to call him back by everything that may attach him to the lower life, and especially by making him see that, if he breaks the chain which keeps him here, he will have taken the most effectual means of preventing his staying in the world in which he perceives that he would be happy."
443. The ecstatic sometimes professes to see things which are evidently the product of an imagination impressed with earthly beliefs and prejudices. What he sees, therefore, is not always real?
"What he sees is real for him; but, as his spirit is always under the influence of terrestrial ideas, he may see it in his own way, or, to speak more correctly, he may express it in a language accommodated to his prejudices, or to the ideas in which he has been brought up, or to your own, in order the better to make himself understood. It is in this way that he is most apt to err."
444. What degree of confidence should be accorded to the revelations of persons in a state of trance?
"The ecstatic may very frequently be mistaken, especially when he seeks to penetrate what must remain a mystery for man; for he then abandons himself to his own ideas, or becomes the sport of deceiving spirits, who take advantage of his enthusiasm to dazzle him with false appearances."
445. What inductions are to be drawn from the phenomena of somnambulism and of trance? May they not be considered as a sort of initiation into the future life?
"It would be more correct to say that, in those states, the somnambulist may obtain glimpses of his past and future lives. Let man study those phenomena; he will find in them the solution of more than one mystery which his unassisted reason seeks in vain to penetrate."
446. Could the phenomena of somnambulism and trance be made to accord with theoretic materialism?
"He who should study them honestly, and without preconceived ideas, could not be either a materialist or an atheist."
447. Is there any connection between the phenomena of what is designated as second-sight and those of dreaming and somnambulism?
"They are all the same thing. What you call second-sight is also a state in which the spirit is partially free, although the body is not asleep. Second-sight is soul-sight."
448. Is the faculty of second-sight a permanent one?
"The faculty of second-sight is permanent, but its exercise is not. In worlds less material than yours, spirits free themselves from matter more easily, and enter into communication with one another simply by thought, without, however, excluding the use of articulate speech. In those worlds, second-sight is, for the greater part of their inhabitants, a permanent faculty. Their normal state may be compared to that of lucid somnambulism among you; and it is for this reason that they manifest themselves to you more easily than those who are incarnated in bodies of a grosser nature."
449. Does second-sight occur spontaneously, or through an exertion of the will of those who possess that faculty?
"It generally occurs spontaneously; but the will, nevertheless, often plays an important part in producing this phenomenon. Take, for example, the persons who are called fortune-tellers and some of whom really have that power-and you will find that the action of their will helps them to this second-sight, and to what you call vision."
450. Is second-sight susceptible of being developed by exercise?
"Yes; effort always leads to progress, and the veil which covers things becomes more transparent."
-- Is this faculty a result of physical organization?
"Organization has undoubtedly a great deal to do with it; there are organizations with which it is incompatible."
451. How is it that second-sight appears to be hereditary in certain families?
"This proceeds from similarity of organization, which is transmitted, like other physical qualities; and also from the development of the faculty through a sort of education, which, also, is transmitted from one generation to another."
452. Is it true that circumstances develop second-sight?
"Illness, the approach of danger, any great commotion, may develop it. The body is sometimes in a state which allows of the spirit's seeing what cannot be seen with the fleshly eye."
Times of crisis and of calamity, powerful emotions, all the causes, in short, which excite the moral nature, may develop second-sight. It would seem as though Providence gave us, when in the presence of danger, the means of escaping it. All sects and all parties subjected to persecution have offered numerous instances of this fact.
453. Are the persons who are gifted with second-sight always conscious of their faculty?
"Not always; it appears to them to be altogether natural, and many of them suppose that, if everybody observed their own impressions, they would find themselves to be possessed of the same power."
454. May we attribute to a sort of second-sight the perspicacity of those persons who, without being remarkably gifted in other ways, possess an unusually clear judgment in relation to the things of everyday life?
"Such clearness of judgment is always due to a freer radiation of the soul, enabling the man to see more correctly than those whose perceptions are more densely veiled by matter."
-- Can this lucidity of judgment, in some cases, give the foreknowledge of future events?
"Yes, it may give presentiments; for there are many degrees in this faculty, and the same person may possess all those degrees, as he may possess only some of them."
455. The phenomena of natural somnambulism occur spontaneously and independently of any known external cause; but, in persons endowed with a special organization, they may be produced artificially through the action of the mesmeric agent. The only difference between the state designated as mesmeric somnambulism, and natural somnambulism is, that the one is artificially produced, while the other is spontaneous.
Natural somnambulism is a notorious fact, the reality of which few now dispute, notwithstanding the marvelous character of the phenomena it presents. Why, then, should mesmeric somnambulism be regarded as more extraordinary or incredible, simply because it is produced artificially, like so many other things? It has been abused by charlatans, some persons will reply; but that fact only affords an additional reason for not leaving it in their hands. When science shall have taken possession of it; charlatanism will have much less credit with the masses; but, meanwhile, as somnambulism, both natural and artificial, is a fact, and as a fact cannot be argued down, it is making its way, despite the ill-will of its adversaries, and obtaining a footing even in the temple of science, which it is entering by a multitude of side-doors, instead of entering by the principal one. Its right to be there will, ere long, be fully recognized.
For the spiritist, somnambulism is more than a physical phenomenon; it is a light thrown on the subject of psychology; it is a state in which we can study the soul, because in it the soul shows itself, so to say, without covering. Now, one of the phenomena which characterize the soul is clear-seeing independently of the ordinary visual organs. Those who contest this fact do so on the ground that the somnambulist does not see at all times, and at the will of the experimentalist, as with the eyes. Need we be astonished if, the means employed being different, the results are not the same? Is it reasonable to demand identical effects in cases in which the instruments employed are not the same? The soul has its properties just as has the eye; and the former must be judged of by themselves, and not by analogy with the latter.
The cause of the clairvoyance of the mesmeric and of the natural somnambulist is identically the same: it is an attribute of the soul, a faculty inherent in every part of the incorporeal being which is in us, and has no other limits than those assigned to the soul itself. The somnambulist sees wherever his soul can transport itself, at no matter what distance.
In sight at distance, the somnambulist does not see from the point at which his body is, and as though through a telescope. The things he sees are present with him, as though he were at the place where they exist, because his soul is there in reality; and it is for this reason that his body is, as it were, annihilated, and seems to be deprived of sensation, until the moment when the soul comes back and retakes possession of it. This partial separation of the soul and the body is an abnormal state, which may last for a longer or shorter time, but not indefinitely; it is the cause of the fatigue felt by the body after a certain lapse of time, especially when the soul during that partial separation, busies itself with some active pursuit. The fact that soul-sight or spirit-sight is not circumscribed, and has no definite seat, explains why somnambulists are unable to assign to it any special organ or focus. They see, because they see, without knowing why or how; their sight, as spirit-sight, having no special focus. If they refer their perception to their body, this focus seems to them to be in the organic centers in which the vital activity is greatest, especially in the brain, in the epigastric region, or in whatever organ appears to them to be the point at which the bond between the spirit and the body is most tenacious.
The scope of somnambulistic lucidity is not unlimited. A spirit, even when completely free, only possesses the faculties and the knowledge appertaining to the degree of advancement at which he has arrived, a limitation which becomes still further narrowed when he is muted with matter, and thus subjected to its influence. This is the reason why somnambulistic clairvoyance is neither universal nor infallible; and its infallibility is all the less to be counted on when it is turned aside from the aim which has been assigned to it by nature, and made a mere matter of curiosity and experimentation.
In the state of comparative freedom in which the somnambulist finds himself, he enters more easily into communication with other spirits, incarnate or disincarnate; and this communication is established through the contact of the fluids which compose their perispirits, and serve, like the electric wire, for the transmission of thought. The somnambulist, therefore, has no need of articulate speech as a vehicle of thought, which he feels and divines; a mode of perception that renders him eminently accessible to, and impressionable by, the influences of the moral atmosphere in which he finds himself. For the same reason, a numerous concourse of spectators, and especially of those who are attracted by a more or less malevolent curiosity, is essentially unfavorable to the manifestation of his peculiar faculties, which close up, so to say, at the contact of hostile influences, and only unfold freely in intimacy, and under the influence of sympathetic surroundings. The presence of those who are malevolent or antipathetic produces upon him the effect of the contact of the hand upon a sensitive plant.
The somnambulist sees, at the same time, his own spirit and his body; they are, so to say, two beings which represent to him his double existence, spiritual and corporeal, and which, nevertheless, are blended into one by the ties which united them together. The somnambulist does not always comprehend this duality, which often leads him to speak of himself as though he were speaking of another person; in such cases, the corporeal being sometimes speaking to the spiritual being, and the spiritual being sometimes speaking to the corporeal being.
The spirit acquires an increase of knowledge and experience in each of his corporeal existences. He loses sight of part of these gains during his reincarnation in matter, which is too gross to allow of his remembering them in their entirety; but he remembers them as a spirit. It is thus that some somnambulists give evidence of possessing knowledge beyond their present degree of instruction, and even of their apparent intellectual capacity. The intellectual and scientific inferiority of a somnambulist in his waking state, therefore, proves nothing against his possession of the knowledge he may display in his lucid state. According to the circumstances of the moment and the aim proposed, he may draw this knowledge from the stores of his own experience, from his clairvoyant perception of things actually occurring, or from the counsels which he receives from other spirits; but, in proportion as his own spirit is more or less advanced, he will make his statements more or less correctly.
In the phenomena of somnambulism, whether natural or mesmeric, Providence furnishes us with undeniable proof of the existence and independence of the soul, by causing us to witness the sublime spectacle of its emancipation from the fetters of the body, and thus enabling us to read our future destiny as in an open book. When a somnambulist describes what is taking place at a distance, it is equally evident that he sees what he describes, and that he does not see it with his bodily eyes. He sees himself at that distant point, and he feels himself to be transported thither. Something of himself, therefore, is really present at that distant point; and that something, not being his body, can only be his soul or his spirit.
While man, in search of the causes of his moral being, loses himself in abstract and unintelligible metaphysical subtleties, God places daily before his eyes, and within reach of his hand, the simplest and most certain means for the study of experimental psychology.
Trance is the state in which the soul's independence of the body is made most clearly visible, and, so to say, palpable, to the senses of the observer.
In dreaming and somnambulism, the soul wanders among terrestrial worlds; in trance, it penetrates into a sphere of existence of another order, into that of the eternalized spirits with whom it enters into communication, without, however, being able to overstep certain limits which it could not pass without entirely breaking the links that attach it to the body. Surrounded by novel splendors, enraptured by harmonies unknown to earth, penetrated by bliss that defies description, the soul enjoys a foretaste of celestial beatitude, and may be said to have placed one foot on the threshold of eternity.
In the state of trance, the annihilation of corporeal ties is almost complete. The body no longer possesses anything more than organic life; and we feel that the soul is only held thereto by a single thread, which any further effort on its part would break forever. In this state, all earthly thoughts disappear, and give place to the purified perception that is the very essence of our immaterial being. Entirely absorbed in this sublime contemplation, the ecstatic regards the earthly life as being merely a momentary halt upon our eternal way; the successes and misfortunes of this lower world, its gross joys and sorrows, appear to him only as the futile incidents of a journey of which he is delighted to foresee the end.
It is with ecstatics as with somnambulists; their lucidity may be more or less perfect, and their spirit, according as it is more or less elevated, is also more or less apt to apprehend the truth of things. In their abnormal state, there is sometimes more of nervous excitement than of true lucidity; or, to speak more correctly, their nervous excitement impairs their lucidity, and, for this reason, their revelations are often a mixture of truths and errors, of sublime ideas and absurd or even ridiculous fancies. Inferior spirits often take advantage of this nervous excitement (which is always a source of weakness to those who are unable to control it), in order to subjugate the ecstatic; and to this end they assume to his eyes the appearances which confirm him in the ideas and prejudices of his waking state. This subjugation of clairvoyants by the presentation of false appearances is the "rock ahead" of this order of revealment. But all of them are not equally subject to this dangerous misleading; and it is for us to weigh their statements coolly and carefully, and to judge their revelations by the light of science and of reason.
The emancipation of the soul occurs sometimes in the waking state, and gives, to those who are endowed with the faculty designated by the name of second-sight, the power of seeing, hearing, and feeling, beyond the limits of the bodily senses. They perceive things at a distance, at all points to which their soul extends its action; they see them, so to say, athwart their ordinary sight, and as though in a sort of mirage.
At the moment when the phenomenon of second-sight occurs, the physical state of the seer is visibly modified. His glance becomes vague; he looks before him without seeing; his physiognomy reflects an abnormal state of the nervous system. It is evident that his organs of sight have nothing to do with his present perceptions; for his vision continues, even when his eyes are shut.
The faculty of second-sight appears to those who are endowed with it to be as natural as ordinary sight. It seems to them to be an attribute of their being; and they are not aware of its exceptional character. They generally forget this fugitive lucidity, the remembrance of which, becoming more and more vague, disappears at length from their memory like a dream.
The power of second-sight varies from a confused sensation to a clear and distinct perception of things present or distant. In its rudimentary state, it gives to some persons tact, perspicacity, a sort of sureness, in their decisions and actions, that may be styled the rectitude of the moral glance. At a higher degree of development, it awakens presentiments; still further developed, it shows to the seer events that have already happened, or that are about to happen.
Natural and artificial somnambulism, trance, and second-sight are only varieties or modifications of the action of one and the same cause. Like dreams, they are a branch of natural phenomena, and have therefore existed in every age. History shows us that they have been known, and even abused, from the remotest antiquity; and they furnish the explanation of innumerable facts which superstitious prejudices have led men to regard as supernatural.