Gone West: Three Narratives of After-Death Experiences
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A book about life after death and the author's experiences on the astral plane, first published in 1917. From the Foreword: 'Discussions concerning after-death states usually end by the well known pronouncement that 'Nobody ever came back to tell about them.' In 'Gone West' we have the answer to this because Mr. J. S. M. Ward, the author, did just that. He visited the Astral Plane regularly, retained his consciousness while there, and his book is a fascinating record of his experiences among the so-called dead. He describes some of the dangers ever existing on the Astral Plane in the form of evil entities who endeavor to entice occupants, especially newcomers, to yield to the indulgence of liquor, sex, and other sensual vices in which they had participated while on earth.'
This book has 308 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1917.
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Excerpt from 'Gone West: Three Narratives of After-Death Experiences'
Those who have come up from the Realm of Half-Belief, like J. B. P., do not drift into the narrow sects of the lowest division. They arrive freed of preconceived prejudices, and devote considerable attention to the study of the various faiths they find there, and endeavor to draw from each the vital truths which are enshrined in them.
Some of the most interesting revelations J. B. P. made were that the Gods exist, or, at any rate, the forms of the Gods, and condescend to answer the prayers of their worshippers. In particular, he describes a service in a great Egyptian temple at which Osiris appeared. Similarly, he has visited a Hindu temple, where Kartikeya, the God of War, presided.
He also gave a most striking account of a library in the Realm of Belief. “These libraries are on so vast a scale that they look almost like cities; there are many of them, of course, but each is divided into three sections. The first contains the forms of books which have ceased to exist. I mean by this, the actual volumes themselves. Of course all books do not come to us, many go to Hell”
“The second section is very different, for in it the books are not the forms of books made on earth but those created here. The best way in which I can describe them is to compare them with picture books. In short, they contain ideas in picture form, and can be read by us just as the thought-pictures of our friends can be understood by us.... Few books are written for the first time over here in script.... ”
“The third type are difficult to describe as books at all, for the picture idea has been carried out to its logical conclusion. The nearest thing to it on earth is the modern picture-palace. Imagine a large room; at one end is a kind of stage, on which perform what at first sight appear to be real men and women. These are thought-forms, strongly visualized by the committee of scholars in charge of the room.... Thus an episode in History will be enacted in all its detail before our eyes.”
His description should be compared with the account by “The Officer” of a library in Hell.
The Realm of Belief shown forth in Works is seldom attained immediately after death. Thus to reach it a man must have been not only endowed with a strong faith, but must have risen above any narrowness of spirit, and, moreover, have lived a life full of love of his fellow-men. His faith must have been shown forth in good works. Indeed, those who so attain it may well be considered to have been saints on earth.
To this realm the spirits after death rise, but often by slow degrees, and once there, must remain a very considerable period. The light there is as the tropical sun at midday, and less advanced spirits would be unable to bear it.
The development of the various religious beliefs towards unity is set forth plainly in the plan contained in this work, but it should be borne in mind that this unity is attained not by watering down all faiths to one nebulous creed, but by the absorption into one community of all the facets of truth which each faith held, while what is false is shed.
The spirits in this plane devote themselves very largely to helping their fellow-men, especially in Hell, and continuously journey down to that place to save those who are in bondage.
The monk Ambrose, who died in the fourteenth century, devoted most of his life to this work, and at length obtained his desire, and passed through the “Wall of Fire “ and was lost to us. Animal lovers will be glad to know that his faithful dog followed him through the “Wall of Fire.” With him passed also the spirit of a woman whom he had always loved, but being a monk could never marry on earth.
They passed through the “Wall of Fire,” or light, as it was described, to the mystic union of soul with soul, which it is understood takes place in the regions which lie beyond the “Wall of Fire.”
What is this great “Wall of Fire” which cuts off the Sixth or Spirit Plane from that which lies beyond?
I am unable to answer this question. By some of the spirits it is called “The Second Death,” although this phrase is also employed to describe the transference from the Astral to the Spirit Plane.
We are told that some of the spirits fear it as men fear mortal death, but whereas death comes whether we wish it or not in its due course, this Second Death takes place only when the spirit is ready and anxious to pass on.
It appears to affect the form, which seems to pass more completely under the control of the entity, but the entity itself is not destroyed. This was made clear by an angelic form who guarded the entrance leading from the Realm of Belief lacking in Works to the Highest Realm. For when J. B. P. questioned him on this point he informed him that he had passed through the “ Wall of Fire “ long before, and had now returned to labor on the Sixth Plane, adding, “... but on this plane forms are needed, and therefore we assume one. This is not my original form — it is not the form of an earthly man, but that of an angel. I create it by willing so to do.
As I think myself, so I assume a form. If I desired I could assume the form of an animal or of a flame. Behold.”
J. B. P. “Before my eyes he took the form of a great flame.
“‘The pillar of fire!’ I cried. As I spoke he seemed to change at once, and became like a cloud. Then the cloud became all light, and once more I saw him in his angel shape.
“‘Cannot the evil spirits also do this,’ I inquired.”
“‘The Officer has described something similar. Those spirits whom you call devils can, but I may allow you to probe no deeper into these mysteries as yet.’ he replied.”
This Angelic Being, while refusing to give any details of what lay beyond the Wall, yet stated emphatically that the personal entity was not destroyed, though the form was affected.