More accounts of the first, second and third planes. Children dying in infancy go to the third plane.
Here on the first plane I also came across a girl recently arrived in the Spirit World, who on earth had been one of my friends. She recognized me and seemed interested to see me. In talking with her I felt that her mind was in a peculiar state of haziness concerning her own position. She had joined a number of friends and acquaintances from earth who had all lived in the same city and had all attended the same church. All of them were in the same confused and uncertain condition of mind. They had evidently banded together as would a number of people from the same place when stranded in a strange country surrounded by strange people and conditions. They kept together for mutual encouragement, advice, and to help each other solve their new problems. They gathered at regular intervals in the same meeting place, carrying on endless discussions in an attempt to arrive at some conclusion concerning the meaning of the whole affair, what they ought to do, and how it should be done. At their gatherings they observed some of the ceremonies and formalities which they used in their church services on earth, after which they held a discussion group. But they never seemed to progress, or go beyond the ideas and beliefs they had already held on earth.
[Caroline Larsen noticed that at this low level, different nationalities and ethnic groups kept to their own locations, with the clothing, houses and gardens of the type their culture was used to on earth. She continues:]
I did not, of course, see all of this first plane, but I saw enough to know that there every spirit is free to follow his own ideals and inclinations. His destiny is in his own hands, limited only by his past life. But since spiritual barriers are the strongest of all, class cannot mingle with class. Should an earth-bound spirit stray into the region of higher souls his darker aura would betray him and a current, as of electric energy, proceeding from the first spirit he would meet, would sweep him back to his own place. There is but one path upward - that of personal effort to become fit for a higher type of existence. To this the activities of the place are directed, and for this end order and discipline prevail. For no one is permitted to interfere with the efforts of others. On the whole, life is good and pleasant among those on the upward path, but words cannot express the dark hopelessness of the completely earthbound souls. I found no Heaven nor Hell - except as it exists in the spirit.
THE SECOND SPIRIT PLANE
With my guide I now passed on to the second spirit plane. This great realm I found to be merely a continuation of the first plane, except for the fact that there were there no earthbound souls. Its inhabitants wre working for higher attainments and there were many spirit helpers to teach and assist, and guide the steady flow of newcomers through their varied periods of residence, until these learners were ready for higher planes. Thus the inhabitants were constantly changing, as those who move upward were replaced by others. Life there was pleasant, and varied to suit different tastes, some choosing to dwell in cities; others in the open country among the fields, delightfully established in their beautiful white houses of highly artistic architecture and ornamentation situated in the midst of charming gardens filled with masses of the loveliest flowers.
The higher spiritual attainments of this plane demonstrated itself by the bright and lighter hues of the aura as well as by the elevation of the ideals of the new inhabitants. The dress of the women, I noted, resembled closely that of the spirit helper of the hospital, while the garb of the men was similar to that of my guide, a flowing garment like a toga. For there is, in the second plane, no desire to garb oneself in clothes of the general earthly appearance - an evidence of the weakening of earthly ideals. We spent little time there. As I have explained, I visited the third and fourth planes before I went at my own request, to the lower spheres. Hence these two realms were the last I saw in the Spirit World.
THE THIRD PLANE
The third plane was a fair and glorious world, impossible of adequate description in the terms of our worldly speech. Those who there resided were highly perfected spirits, for to be admitted they must have reached an advanced stage of development. Nor was it possible that others should enter, for their mental states would have betrayed their presence.
The light of this plane was of surpassing, all-pervading brightness, and, united with that given by each spirit, was dazzling in its brilliancy. Wonderful beauty everywhere entrhalled the eye. The place was like a great garden, with bushes and shrubbery of gorgeous hues, and stately trees, some like magnificent palms, others of forms unknown on earth, as if Nature and Art had been perfectly blended to charm the eye. About the houses of the happy ones bloomed a wealth of flowers whose rare and delicate colours competed with scent surpassing those of Arabia. There were no large cities there: the homes were places in little groups of two or three like pearls in a rich setting lof lawn and garden too fair for human words. Here and there rose stately edifices where large gatherings congregated to fell the influence of guides and teachers from higher planes, an influence exerted by speech or by subtler means.
The dress worn there was very simple: only a flowing robe sufficiently varied to emphasize the distinction between the men and women. It was coloured as usual by the aura of the wearer, the lighter and paler shades alone appearing, such as pink, pale orange, cream coloured, pale blue, white and others difficult to describe. The delicate hues of these robes, and the multitude of colours in the blankets of flowers massed against the olive green of the landscape charged the dazzling air with beauty till the eye of the beholder was rapt by the haromony of sight, as in great music the ear is rapt by the harmony of sound. In this happy plane the inhabitants had solved the puzzle of universal brotherhood, here on earth the subject of centuries of debate, and still impossible of full realization. Not only were they dwelling in complete harrnony; the dream of the altruist had been realized ! Each lived for the other, since in that pure sphere the interests of all were one. There was, it is true, room for envy and jealously, in the great authority of the more intelligent, for in a perfect world all merit must be recognized. But the spirit from which envy springs did not exist there, for envy implies a selfish aim. In that spirit realm each knows that he has been accorded full justice, and each gloried in the greater merit of his fellow while those of superior gifts humbly regarded their heritage as a privilege. Indeed, in that purer sphere degrees of merit must have seemed trivialities compared with the boundless heights which beckoned beyond. Love and sympathy would permit no discord. From this plane come the helpers, teachers and angels of mercy, who work among the less fortunate inhabitants of the lower sphere. This service, however, is an act of their own volition proceeding from their sympathy and desire to serve, a benefice which results in their own further development.
All small children pass directly from earth to this third plane, to continue here their bodily and spiritual growth. They grow through all stages of childhood and youth. My experience here was a wonderful revelation. The place was one vast garden of heavenly splendour, in which stood numberless magnificent buildings, for utilitarian and recreational purposes. Women helpers, who have known motherhood on earth, cared with tender solicitude for the babies and little children. Older children were taught and guided with minute care and that never-failing kindness which, however, does not neglect discipline. Men and women helpers of various qualifications, superintended by superior spirits, carried on their appealing work. Naturally no more perfect system could exist, nor could more ideal surroundings be imagined. Nothing but beauty met the eye, no ugliness could there distort the mind. Flowers of gorgeious hues in beds of rare designs, trees of perfect form and beauty, birds of varied plumage, fruits of delicious flavour are but the more obvious privileges of that delightful land. Paths through shrubbery and across parks divinely planned led to playgrounds where those fortunate children were seen at play beside their helpers and teachers. It was an atmosphere of beauty, obedience and love.
I saw that the study of plants and flowers was an eagerly-followed occupation, which was supplemented by the care of gardens, in perpetual bloom. No sooner had a flower faded or been picked than another blossomed from the same stem. As I passed through the beauties and wonders of the place, my mind constantly sought for comparisons from the earth, for earth of course was still my home. I found no satisfactory comparison, all was different. I thought, for example, of the ground on which I walked: was it solid, as on earth? To test it, I stepped from the path to the loose soil of the garden beds, and jumped lightly up and down. The earth seemed to give way like swampy ground, but my feet did not sink, nor did they leave footprints as on earth.
As if to fill my cup of joy in this lovely spot, I recognized among the children a sister of mine who died when but a few years old. As I was passing down a beautiful path, enthralled by the wonder of colour and fragrance, I saw this young girl kneeling to pick a flower. Something about her held my attention, and I gazed on her intently as I came nearer. She looked to be sixteen or seventeen. She was clad in a simple white dress reaching just below the knee, and leaving neck and arms bare. The sweet and serene beauty of her face was framed in a mass of blonde hair what fell loosely almost to her waist. She made a picture of appealing beauty as she bent toward the flowers, her transparent fingers encircling the stems.Ae I approached she half-turned her head, and for a moment we gazed into each other's faces. Instantaneously I recognized her as that little child who had died on my lap, now a young woman of the Spirit World. The look on her face was one of intense surprise, as if she were saying, "What, are you also here?" Tender love shone in her eyes, My feelings seemed to overpower me. I strove to pause and speak, but some strange power held me silent, and urged me on. I could not stop, but I turned several times to gaze on her, standing motionless, forgetful of the flower, looking intently after me, with that same mingling of love and sweet surprise till I passed from sight.
[to be concluded] Reviewed from "My Travels in the Spirit World" by Caroline Larsen. Vermont, 1927.
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