Chapter XII: Cushna at Home
That school session ended when I would gladly have had it go on. But so it is with all we meet in Paradise. Satiety is unknown. Intellectual banquets come to an end while the appetite is yet vigorous, that digestion may not be overburdened and the ennui consequent upon excess is avoided. Where, however, the dishes are prepared with the adaptive consideration and forethought of that which I had just eaten, no thought of organic disturbance can possibly be anticipated. Where the deep mysteries of chemistry nature and even creation could be so temptingly and digestibly dished up for infant minds, what need to fear for after effects? Such viands so prepared only serve to appetize the mind and make it hunger with more vigorous zest for that which is to come.
But nothing must be lost. Perfect assimilation stands janitor to vigorous health, and here we meet with tutor, nurse and well skilled physician working harmoniously together in one to produce the highest result. From the accommodated tension of the lesson the children are as thoughtfully released to play some game, relaxing the mind for the present, but by and by throwing an unexpected revelation upon their study when the teacher is joyously called to explain and interpret. So by study, play and exercise, or whatever for the moment may attract and claim the attention of the mind, each incident and feature in that unfolding life is made to contribute something towards the end to be attained by making the child
“Beautiful with all the soul’s expansion.”
Cushna and I passed on; he desirous of showing me more of the resources and appointments of his marvellous and enchanting home, and I, shut out from participating in the children’s game, glad to avail myself of the pleasure of being alone with him once again.
I will make no attempt to hint at the many other features of study to which I was introduced in that memorable visit, it would only be to lay myself open to an inquiry from my critics as to why I do not definitely set forth some one of the scientific acquirements to which earth has not yet attained, and so demonstrate that this record is more than a tour de force of the imagination.
Suppose I did anticipate this request and clearly set forth one of these advance lessons in science with all necessary precision and detail, would it accomplish the end intimated? Not by any means. It might secure the admission that the theory advanced was an interesting one and worthy of following up to see what was really in it, but my critic would change his ground, find some other point of unbelief, and be as far from conviction as ever. Conviction of truth is not reached by such a method. I will therefore content myself with setting out the reasons why I do not make this attempt, as perhaps by a negative explanation I may be able to accomplish more real good than by taking a fruitlessly opposite direction.
First, then, my present purpose is to recount selections from my own experiences in Paradise, and in doing so I have already many times had occasion to refer to facts I could not for the moment understand. Just here I recall an incident in the early education of children, where the subject under consideration was, at the time I observed it, as novel to myself as to the youngest child in the company. From such data is it to be expected that I should explain and set forth the whole science of creation? My real point is this—Paradise recognizes that every child it receives possesses divine potentialities—is of divine heritage—and has to be educated suitably to its position. This commences with a preparatory course, and the lesson I had taken part in was the first in its own series. It was principally so with others. Hence I simply record, knowing too well what misconceptions have arisen from earthconditioned souls speaking of things they so imperfectly understand for me to court the danger of treading in the same paths. I would far rather refer you to the example of the Christ, which I am quite content to follow. When He blessed and brake and multiplied the barley loaves and fishes, He exercised the same power in the same way as Cushna’s assistant in reproducing the blade of grass. Her encouraging promise of success to her pupils was also warranted by Christ’s promise to His followers: “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to my Father.” Still he never explained nor instructed His disciples in the process by which His miracles were performed. Why? Let Him reply. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.”
Secondly, though I have been present and witnessed many scientific demonstrations beyond the practice or knowledge of earth—such, for instance, as the results produced by Siamedes as described in “The Magnetic Chorale” and many others in addition to the lesson I have just referred to—I am not sufficiently egotistical to call myself a scientist, nor foolish enough to seat myself in a chair I could not reasonably fill. I am not the spirit promised to lead you into all truth, nor do I wish you to think of me as in any sense approaching the Christ who left so much unsaid; I am simply another forerunner commissioned to cry and announce the approach, yea, even the presence of the Angels of God who have been “sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs to salvation.” I leave the demonstration of science to the host of such ministers who are available and qualified to teach it far better than I can do; philosophy to the philosophers, music to musicians and poetry to poets. For myself I have to cry “Behold!” and offer such encouragement and evidences as may reasonably attract attention.
Thirdly, all channels of communication are limited by purpose and capacity. It might be possible under exceptional circumstances to use the same conduit for water, gas and electricity, but it is by no means advisable to do so. Every surgeon has most confidence in his own instruments. If the music is to be perfect Kubelik must play upon his own violin, Harper upon his own trumpet, and Paderewski upon his own piano. How much more is it necessary that the instrument of intercommunion between the two worlds shall be set apart and delicately attuned to the special music it will be required to play! The great need of those in the beyond is for instruments worthy and willing to be used in the mission; high, noble, self-sacrificing souls who understand the nature and responsibilities of the work, realize that only purity and holiness within will attract corresponding agencies from without, always bearing in mind that the nearer the angel messenger who uses the instrument stands to God, the greater will be the strain his presence will put upon the organism he employs. It is a high calling to be so used, and the man or woman who enters upon it must do so prepared to become “a living sacrifice well-pleasing unto God.” Such instruments are scarce, but when they are found, those into whose care they are entrusted know well their value, and will not allow them to be wrongfully or hurtfully handled. In Myhanene’s mission I am allowed the necessary use of his mouthpiece, through which I can do no more than assure my readers that multitudes of souls are waiting to lay the truths and treasures of Paradise at the feet of earth if consistently and honestly sought for, and suitable instruments can be placed at their disposal.
Let me specially emphasize this last thought as to the care shown in the quality of the instrument you offer for our use. Wireless telegraphy has demonstrated the necessity for transmitter and receiver to be fully sympathetic for success. The same law applies between the two worlds, and the reliability of all messages will depend upon the spiritual quality of the receiver. There may arise extraordinary occasions when God, for purposes of His own, would speak through the doubtful lips of a Balaam, but if a rule is built up upon such rare emergencies, woe betide those who follow the misleading counsel. Steamships cannot plough through etheric waves from star to star; the microscope can never be substituted for the telescope with advantage, nor can the pen perform the labour of the sculptor’s chisel. Each must be qualified for its use and purpose. So must the instrument of truth be constantly clean within and without or God can never effectively use it.
So much by way of answer to the inquiry I have anticipated.
Cushna conducted me from group to group and scene to scene that I might see the general arrangements for impregnating the mind with information. The very atmosphere of the place created an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge; its natural features were musical notes of interrogation, and every response was a pleasure seductively wooing to further inquiry. It was an educational establishment founded in fairyland, with teachers skilled in the use of magic so potent that every effect remained as a reward for the pleasure its performance had created.
All the charm, however, did not lie in the place. I became more and more conscious of this as we moved about. She who told me that I could not know the real Cushna until I knew him at home spoke truly. To detach the man from the abode was to lose fully half the beauty of either; it was like stripping the sunset of its colour, or music of its harmony. I was highly favoured in knowing him, but infinitely more so in knowing him at home. Here again the limitation of language fails to serve my desire, and I have to leave my crude outline sketch of both with the hope that all who read may come to know the two in combination, then I am assured of their commendation for declining any further attempt to fill in my rough suggestion.
His urbanity inveigles one into the closest confidence, and the soft mischievousness of his eyes captures all who come into his company. He is a great-grandfatherly boy, and it is little wonder that everyone loves him.
“Do you know what I think is the prettiest feature of your home?” I inquired of him presently.
“As a son of the land of the Sphinx I think it is my place to propound the riddle,” he replied.
“Allow me to change the order for once, if it is only to test your skill at your own game.”
“But you forget that I have power to read your answer by a glance. I will not take advantage of you, however, and play the game as a good Egyptian should, by giving it up.”
“Then I don’t think anything pleases me so much as to see the children of all nationalities living together so pleasantly.”
“How otherwise did you expect to see them?”
“I had never given a thought of it until I saw it was so. It is different in my home.”
“Yes. Nationalities are divided in the first three stages above the earth conditions, beyond that they blend, having learned to forget their racial and religious prejudices. Children are brought together at once to prevent any such feelings arising, and from the harmony of colours in nature we teach the beauty of the diversity in men. Many complexions, but one family; many minds, but one home; many ideas, but one Father.”
“O wise and inscrutable Cushna!”
“Not that,” he promptly corrected me. “That lesson did not have its origin with me or any other man—it is God’s alone.”
I read more than one caution in that soft reply.
“I suppose you find a wide difference in the mental capacity of the children?”
“Yes, there is a wide difference, but it is rather individual than racial, especially in the younger ones.”
“It must be intensely interesting to watch their development.”
“Only those engaged in the work can form the least conception how really interesting it is.”
“I suppose you meet with marked tribal traits of character?”
“With those who have lived longer it is so to some extent, but in the case of pre-natal children this is very rarely noticed, because our counteractive training eradicates the tendency before it is able to show itself.”
“And which of all the nations, according to your experience, shows to best advantage?”
“Are you working round to another riddle?” he inquired with a mischievous smile which indicated more than his words.
“No. I am simply asking for information.”
“And suppose I was to reply Egypt, or India, or New Guinea, or Germany, or Turkey, what would you think?”
“I scarcely understand you.”
“Did you not wish me to say England?”
“I am not conscious of it.”
“Dig down a little, Aphraar. The stream of national prejudice runs deep occasionally, and takes some time after reaching Paradise to dry up effectively. In my home, however, we only receive children of one cosmopolitan family, so we have no opportunity to study national characteristics.”
“And they are happy in being cared for by such a wise foster-father.”
“Do you think so? But then they are good children; and every one a favourite.”
“How long do they remain with you?”
“That entirely depends upon circumstances. In rare instances the taint of heredity demands an early isolation for more strict and guarded treatment. Otherwise they remain until their interest is aroused in some particular form of study, to follow which they are passed forward.”
“In to schools of higher grades?” I inquired.
“No, the stimulating and favourable environment, together with our system of education, tends to rapid development of intellect and stature, which are synonymous in children. When, therefore, they leave us, the law of attraction is in full operation, and each goes to its own place, receiving all further necessary assistance in accordance with the one great law.”
“Then the interest developed here determines the succeeding path of duty?”
“I should like to question you further on that point in reference to myself; but will you first tell me more of those who suffer from hereditary taints—are they punished?”
“Certainly not! Justice does not punish one for the sin of another. The taint has been transmitted from the diseased soul of an ancestor, and in such a case the child is a victim to be compensated rather than punished for the injustice it has sustained. Do you not remember that ‘the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children (even) to the third and fourth generation,’ but they remain the sins of the father still, and he will have to requite justice for the consequences of them. The child is isolated for greater care and to prevent contagion.”
“Now I wish to put a question relating to a belief which is supposed to have originated in Egypt.”
“You mean that of the transmigration of the soul.”
“Yes, it naturally arises out of this question of heredity.”
“I will hear your question, but before doing so, I must protest against the error that such a doctrine had its origin or any formal sanction in orthodox Egyptian religion. A few men may, and no doubt did, hold the opinion in a limited form, but as it was afterwards known and taught in India and Greece our priests did not know it, our religion was opposed to it, our ritual did not contain its teaching, and it is as erroneous to say the empire recognized it as to assert that England offers human sacrifices because such practices were common to the Druids.”
“Then you do not regard these hereditary taints in your children as the result of previous existences?”
“How can they be so when there has been no previous personal existence? The method of creation is not one of trying and repeating experiments until God attains success; He is perfect, and His first effort envelops the potentiality of success. The seed of a tree contains the germs of a thousand generations in the image of itself, if the necessary conditions of nature are obeyed to unfold and bring them forth. So with the man, the soul-germ of an equally long succession is climbing up the slopes of evolution towards personality, to follow after the generations who have crossed into Paradise before them. All that has been, is, and will be was thus carefully planned, designed, and divinely concealed within the primal germ God sent forth to execute His will when He commanded: ‘Let cosmos be!’ He speaks and it is done. He never speculates or experiments.”
“I thank you for the simple but pregnant illustration. I am anxious to reach the truth, and could not resist the opportunity to learn your opinion. Now shall we return to the thought that interest in a subject here determines action?”
“Yes, if I can help you by doing so.”
“You already know how interested I am in the idea of returning to earth?”
“Yes; and in that I long ago read your commission to take part in Myhanene’s mission, as soon as you are prepared for it.”
“But why did you not tell me?” I inquired.
“It was not time to do so then; but I did the best thing to help it forward by showing you how easy it is to accomplish such an object when desirable links are formed.”
“And in doing so you greatly strengthened my desire. But I never hoped my wish would be granted until Ladas hinted at it when visiting the scenes of his labours. May I really take a share in that work, Cushna?”
“Certainly you may; but be careful to be well equipped before you begin. That ministry has more responsibilities attaching to it than you may conceive.”
“Ladas has done much to make me acquainted with many of them. I have been with him to earth and seen what is done by earth-conditioned souls in their communication. I have, under his guidance, watched most, if not all, the points you have previously spoken of, and then travelled with him to see the punishments of those to whom he ministers.”
“All this will be most helpful and instructive, but let me seriously advise you to take every advantage to increase your stock of information. Whenever opportunity affords, cross the mists with one or other of Myhanene’s band, and make good acquaintance with him who has been chosen as our mouthpiece. But let me adjure you not to attempt to speak without permission, and when this is given, do not attempt to say all you know, but mind that you do know all you say. The floods of error are already deep enough on the other side, and you had far better keep silence than add to them, for the old law still maintains, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he reap.”
“Do you wish to dissuade me from my purpose, Cushna?”
“No. My object is to caution and protect you. You have chosen well; if you are careful to rise to your opportunities your reward must be a great one. But see; a message awaits you,” and he pointed to a thoughtflash hovering over my head.
“Vaone is calling me,”
I answered, and with a goodwill we parted.