The Spiritual Delusion/2.2

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The Spiritual Delusion/2.2/2.1 The Spiritual Delusion/2.2/2.2.1



The wisest and best of mankind have ever fondly dwelt on the idea that the higher in spirituality we attained, the nearer we were drawn into communion with the spiritual world, and became more receptive to spiritual truths.

“Nearer, my God, to thee,”

and to thy higher realms of thought and existence, nearer to the fount of all truth, and in closer soul-communion with our loved ones gone before, should be the aspiration of every heart and the governing impulse of every mind.

In challenging the “tests of mediumship,” the writer would not be understood as denying the existence of a spiritual world, for he is firmly persuaded that his friends who have passed the portals of the tomb have but thrown off the worn-out habiliments of mortality, with its debasing influences, and live on in a wider and higher sphere of action, again to be met when he, as a tardier traveler, shall have groped his way to the journey’s end, and the scales of physical existence drop from his sight and permit him to behold what now he cannot dimly conceive. Nay, more: that across the great gulf between this state and that there may have occasionally flashed—to receptive minds spiritually attuned—some dim realization of a nobler, holier state of action yet to be attained; that there have been times when children of men have been refreshed with inspiration falling upon their spiritual natures like gentle rain, causing new and loftier thoughts to bud and blossom, so that the fragrance thereof—like musk in the walls of ancient temples—has outlived the ravages of time.

Modern spiritists, however, are not content with this “strait and narrow way” to spirituality, but have improved, as they fondly imagine, upon the original conception; and now they present us with a patent labor-saving apparatus, by which any one may attain to a “knowledge” of spiritual truth by paying from ten cents to ten dollars; the schedule being based not on the net amount of spirituality evolved, but either on the thaumaturgical abilities of the medium or the credulity of the “investigator.” Not content, moreover, with borrowing a word descriptive of the grandest school of philosophy, ancient or modern, they arrogantly presume to be its special exponents, and, to use the pertinent words of John “Weiss, “spell it with a capital S!”

Of all the phases of mediumship, the trance is the most familiar, in which condition, it is confidently asserted, illiterate men and women, and even children, are capable of lecturing, improvising, singing, dancing, and painting, in a manner far transcending their normal mental powers. Thousands point to these instances of mental exaltation as irrefutable evidences of “spirit-influence,” and loudly call upon “mole-eyed science” to explain them or “forever after hold its peace.” Similar instances of mental exaltation are familiar to every student in mental philosophy; yet those to whom the human soul is no mystery reiterate this demand. It is undoubtedly proven that these wonderful powers pertain to the mind, and that various causes not due to the ubiquitous “influences” may call them forth; and yet new instances are constantly being paraded in the columns of the spirital press as “demonstrations” of spiritual existence. If we can cite similar phenomena produced by mundane means, then as direct evidence of another state of existence this class of phenomena becomes worthless. I therefore proceed to adduce some of the causes known to produce the state of “mental exaltation;” not, however, to claim that all instances may be classified under the heads selected, but to give reason for inferring that still other causes exist, not so well studied and understood,