n this lesson Bernard shows us ways of looking at the eternal nature of life, partly through using the Wheel Exercise and The Real Self Cannot Die Exercise. He also offers insights into the Angels’ response to human ‘commands’.
LESSON ELEVEN: THE TRUTH ABOUT DEATH
My dear Student,
I hope that by now, you will not object to the subject of this Lesson. Many peoople, as you know, cannot bear to think of the subject, even, let alone read about it. But I am hoping that, having followed me so far in these Lessons, you will have reached the stage of:
(a) you do not mind the subject at all;
(b) you have a deep interest in it and a sense of coming adventure; or
(c) you still have some fears but are willing to have them banished.
This Lesson will cater for all three stages! If you have practised Lesson Ten faithfully, you will already have gained a glimpse of your Real Self. You will have become aware of ‘something’ within you which is eternal and deathless, indestructible and calm and wise. I want you to look upon eternity as a circle and yourself as standing in the midst of the circle.
The Wheel Exercise
First of all, take a sheet of plain paper and a pencil. Then get a saucer and draw around it on the paper. In the centre of the circle you have made, place a small coin and draw around that, too, and then put your initial in the centre of the smaller circle. Now starting from the small circle and going out to the large one, draw ‘rays’ or ‘spokes’ so that your final diagram looks like a wheel.
As soon as you have your diagram ready, choose a quiet spot to sit down and look at it. First of all, look at the outer circle which represents eternity – or time without beginning and without end. Then look at the small circle with your initial inside. This represents you, standing in the midst of eternity, poised, safe, belonging. Remember that God the Father created you and therefore He must have wanted you. You must be a part of the eternal plan or you would not be here at all. God created you.
We read: ‘God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.‘ (Gen. 2, 7.)
This was not one act for one man, else all other men would have no ‘breath of life’. Everyone must have been created by God Himself since all have within them His ‘Breath of Life’. All can say with Job:
‘ The Spirit of God is in my nostrils.’ (Job 27, 3.)
Why, then, did God create you?
‘And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God.’ (John 17, 3.)
It may take us a very long time to come to know God. How can we know the experiences that await us within the circle of eternity, the gradual growth, the truths revealed? Look at those around you. Can you really believe that when they come to die they will all have reached an equal stage in ‘life eternal’? Of course not. Then we must assume that we shall still be learning and growing after we have passed beyond the veil called death. Remember that the apostle said:
‘To them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.‘ (John 1, 12.)
Look around you at those who do ‘believe on His Name’. Can you think that they are ‘Sons of God’ yet? And if not, then would not Divine justice give them time and opportunity to grow? So let us think of ourselves as being safe within the circle of eternity, cradled like babies in the loving Arms of God until we have had time to know Him, time to grow, time to become sons. For:
‘Underneath are the Everlasting Arms.’ (Deut. 33, 27.)
Did Job, think you, expect death to end all when he cried in an ecstasy of faith:
‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!’
There is a divine economy in nature. A seed falls into the ground; it springs up, gives forth leaves, buds, flowers, seeds. The seeds fall into the ground and they too spring up. If death ended all, if man’s life was chopped off into a single span – what uselessness, what waste! The life of the plant goes on, and so does yours, my friend. (For further understanding, read Lesson Seven again, and wait for Lesson Twelve.)
Look at your diagram once more. There you are, dwelling safely in the midst of eternity. One of those ‘spokes’ or ‘rays’ represents your earthly life. And what of the other ‘spokes’? Each one is a learning, a growing in order that each one of us may become a ‘son of God and joint-heir with Christ’. (Rom. 8, 17.)
The Real Self Cannot Die Exercise
Now I shall give you a proof that, even in your imagination your Real Self cannot die….
Go into a quiet place. Then try deliberately to ‘die’ in your imagination. Visualise yourself walking along a road, perhaps, when suddenly you fall against a wall… You are dead!… But are you dead? Then what are you doing, looking on at all this? If death ends all, you should know nothing. Why are you still standing, unharmed, watching? Try to banish yourself utterly… But try as you will, you will still be there, or if you banish yourself from that scene, you will find yourself in another! Students have told me that they have tried it for a week and never achieved it! They are always alive, always unharmed.
And this is your proof also, for imagination or mental imagining is the beginning of all things. Therefore, if you cannot give oblivion even a beginning, it cannot exist.
In the beginning of man’s earth journey, death – as we know it – did not exist. Then, man was a powerful, gifted being, as befitted a son and heir of God. He could break through the veil into the Unseen Realms at any time, and ‘walk with God’, drawing spiritual nourishment into his being, then calmly penetrate the veil into the more materialised Realms, limiting his heavenly powers but gaining skill and experience in their use. During his earth times he exercised dominion and kingship over the animals birds, fishes and insects. It is to such peaceful, blissful Power that mankind is slowly rising again. ‘For this cause‘, said the Master, ‘came I into the world, to bear witness unto the Truth‘ – and part of that ‘bearing witness’ was when He appeared, alive, before His friends, 3 days after they had seen His body put and sealed in a tomb.
This returning Power is also glimpsed in the lives of advanced people through the ages. The Power to heal, the Power to bless, the Power to control the elements, to tame and speak with wild beasts, to walk upon the water… These are the early signs of mankind’s slowly returning Power. And greatest of all shall be the Power to be no longer mastered by death.
‘The works that I do, ye shall do also‘, said the Master, and if He was stronger than the drawing power of death, who shall dare to say that we shall not be?
Before we leave this subject of death, I will give here a copy of my reply to a Student who had just lost a loved one.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH
This is a time for Truth, the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. This is no time for half truths, for bewilderment and lack of understanding, for these are the soil in which helpless grief grows. In truth alone is there comfort and understanding and courage. That is why, because I understand so well, I am giving you Truth.
The Truth is that we are eternal beings, that this earthly life is but a tiny fragment of the eternity in which we live. We are here to learn about life, to learn that we are offspring and heirs of God, to learn how to develop our powers, that we may use them in a wider, higher and more splendid life. When we have learned the lessons we came to learn, we pass through the door called “death”, into that wider life.
Until then, we are more or less confined; hampered; like a person in a room, looking through a window at beautiful country. Then the time comes to step forth; we open the door and pass through to a wider and more splendid freedom. This is the meaning of life and of death.
When those who have passed on to this more advanced life are our kin – really our kin, I mean, in spirit and mind – then we can know that they “go to prepare a place for us”, even as the Master, in His larger, higher way, did. So the one who has gone from you now, is preparing a place for his kin, a place which will be “home” to those he loves, just because he is there. He will be there to welcome you when you, too, pass through the “door called death”. He has made, as it were, a bridge, a causeway for you between earth and heaven, and when you too pass over it, you will be more at home, because he is there.
This is the Truth, and on Truth alone can you take your stand; on Truth alone shall you lean; on Truth alone shall you gaze until all the darkness of your own loneliness is swallowed up in its light and splendour. Half-truths and platitudes may express pity – yes. But only the Truth about life and death, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth can bring an abiding comfort and a future joy. And so I commend you into the care and the Love of the Divine…
And here are poems which have come to me. (Most of you like me to give you some of these. This one was scribbled on a folded sheet of paper, and is dated 20-11-51.)
I have lived with Thee in the sunlight,
I have lived with Thee in the dark,
I have lived with Thee ‘mid sighing,
When shadows were grim and stark.
I have lived with Thee in gladness,
I have lived with Thee in pain,
But if I could not find Thee
‘Twould never be Life again.
For Thou, my God, art Living,
Art Life itself to me,
And Thee I’ll keep on loving
Through all Eternity.
(This one is dated 29-11-51.)
THE CREST OF THE HILL
I climbed to the crest of the hill, Lord,
And I looked up to the sky;
I wondered what my eyes would see
When my footsteps brought me nigh.
I leaned down over the bridge, Lord,
And I looked into the deep,
And I thought of the unknown future,
The secrets Thy angels keep.
I looked into Thy heart, Lord,
And I felt its flowing Love;
Then I knew I need fear nothing,
Since all was safe above.
For Thy Love is unchanging,
Thy wisdom wide and deep,
We can trust Thee every moment
While Thy angels bless and keep!’
As an ending to our Lesson, I will quote a passage from one of the books I have written which is called, ‘Wisdom of Angels’. This passage concerns a conversation with a Being whom I called the Ruby Angel. Here it is:-
‘”When a man reaches a state of understanding”, said the Ruby Angel, “then angels regard it as a command. In the early stages of man’s life, it seems to him that the angels are the masters, however gentle they may be. In reality, this is not so. We angels live to obey the commands of men, although these commands are almost always given unconsciously. As soon as man is ready for knowledge, his inmost soul cries aloud to the angels for this to be given to him. Hearing this soundless, though piercing cry, we hasten to fulfil the command. Thus man’s need governs all our intercourse with men.” “Have we, then, cried soundlessly to you?” I asked.
“Yes. We angels are not asked to make this great journey down the narrow way into forgetfulness on earth. Therefore, we honour men the more. For men are the warriors who go forth to battle and return victorious. We angels are the ones who remain in the heaven-home and wait and pray. Oh sons Forget not the narrow way Forget not your great destiny!” The Ruby Angel ceased. He sat down again, bowed his head on his arms and folded his wings. There followed a great calm…
Your friend, My Lord is here;
what mystery He walks with me upon life’s sea;
He quells the waves and steers the boat-
My thoughts are calm and sweetly float,
For He is here . .
He clothes Himself in a Body for me,
In a Spiritual Body my heart can see,
That I can lean my spirit on
And know that He and I are one….
My Lord is here