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This is a continuation of the book Life in the World Unseen. It was first published in 1956. As in the first book, it is the words of an ex-Catholic Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, who discovered that life after death is completely different to that which he spent his life teaching.
You will have read, I hope, the few prefatory words that my earthly amanuensis has written concerning myself, so allowing me to proceed at once to my narrative without going over old ground.
It is now close upon forty years since I stood upon the threshold of a new life when the moment of my dissolution came. During the passage of the last decade I have been enabled to give some account of life as it is lived in these parts of the spirit world wherein I am happy to be living.
Life, you must know, is upon a gigantic scale here in the spirit world, how gigantic you can have very little conception until you yourself come to dwell among us. But because its magnitude is vast that is not to say that it is proportionately complex. Indeed, when one comes to compare the earth world with the spirit world, it is at once apparent how complex the earth world is, and how much simpler is life in the spirit world. This may seem an astonishing statement to make; nevertheless, it is a true one. That, however, is a subject which I will discuss with you later. And now, without further preamble, to my narrative.
Situated in the city, which is not far from my home here, is a large building which carries out the important functions of an office of records and inquiries. Here knowledge is to be obtained upon an infinite range and variety of subjects and affairs. Of all these, what closely interests us at the moment is that department which deals with the actual passing of folk from the earth to the spirit world. Part of my work consists of helping people at the moment of their physical death, people of all kinds, of both sexes, of any religion—or none—and of all ages, from young folk to the aged. Working in conjunction with me are my two old friends, Edwin and Ruth. Sometimes Edwin is not with us, but Ruth and I almost always work together.
Now you may wonder how we come to know when our services are needed, and who or what directs those services into the required quarter. The answer is a simple one: the office of records and inquiries. It is not part of our normal functions to be fully acquainted with all or any of the methods employed in the gathering of information by this central office. All that Ruth and I are called upon to do is to apprise this office with the fact that we are both free to undertake whatever task may present itself, and we follow the simple procedure of awaiting notification that our services are desired.
We were seated, then, upon a particular occasion in our house, which is itself a replica of my old home on earth, when word reached us that our presence was desired at the central office. We at once proceeded thither, and were greeted by one whom we had come to know very well during the passage of years, as he had come to know us.
This man is a genial soul, of great kindness and comprehension, and his knowledge of those who work for him is prodigious. For it is by the application of this knowledge that he is enabled to send upon their various missions those of us who are exactly suited to the specific task in hand.
There may appear to be a great similarity between one normal transition and another when viewed by earthly eyes, but from our point of view the variations are enormous.
They are as great, in fact, as the variations in human personalities. What to the earthly beholder is the end of life, is to us and the person chiefly concerned, the beginning of a new one. It is with the personality that we have to deal, and according to the personality, to the knowledge or ignorance of spiritual matters of the passing soul, so is our especial task governed and our course of action regulated. In short, every ‘death’ is treated and served with strict regard to its essential requirements. So that we are allotted our various tasks with one eye, as it were, upon our capabilities, experience, temperament, and so on. Edwin, Ruth and I are decidedly of similar temperament, while our capabilities and experience have been augmented and broadened by long practice.
As you can imagine, a great deal of patience has at times to be exercised when we are confronted with minds that are tenacious of old beliefs and ideas that bear no relationship with the truth and facts and realities of spirit life, and it may take much arduous work to free the newly arrived person of so much that is mentally inhibiting and spiritually retarding. You will see, then, the wisdom of choosing instruments who are ably suited in all respects to the work in hand, so that a difficult or awkward case may not be rendered more so.
The spirit world never does things by halves, to use a familiar expression, and what might appear to be sheer precocity to the incarnate is clear wisdom to us who have to carry out the work. No trouble is spared. We have infinity of time, a vast amount of patience, together with the services of a multitude of people always available. There is no bungling, there are no mistakes; nothing is left to chance. Our principal in the central office, therefore, knowing us, sends us upon our missions to earth with complete confidence in his choice of ourselves, while for our part, we have complete confidence that we are not being given a task beyond our powers of performance.
After a few friendly exchanges and kindly inquiries, our friend turned to the business in hand. A perfectly straightforward case, he informed us, and one that should present no unusual features. ‘It is the passing,’ he said, ‘of a lad, aged eighteen. A sprightly youth; mentally alert and receptive. I have kept this case for you both, as I think he will be useful to you later on when he has become accustomed to things. Would you care to take him to your home? It would be a good plan. ’ We readily acquiesced.