Michael Tymn is a venerable light in the field of afterlife research, a meticulous and fearless scholar whose blog is a must-read for me. Michael is an expert on nineteenth-century deep-trance and physical mediums, and his books are informative and beautifully written. In his current blog post he talks about Adin Ballou, his new candidate for the first professional psychical researcher by virtue of Ballou’s recently-rediscovered 1852 book, An Exposition of Views Respecting the Principal Facts, Causes and Peculiarities Involved in Spirit Manifestations Together with Interesting Phenomenal Statements and Communications.
I had never heard of Mr. Ballou, but Michael’s diligence in all he does makes me think that, sure, friend Ballou may well have been the earliest pioneering psychical researcher. And what delights me is what Ballou reports to have been a summary of the teachings of the spirits he interviewed in the course of his research. Even given the fact that these interviews took place more than 150 years ago, and given the different attitudes and suppositions of modern interviewers as opposed to those in Ballou’s day, the spirits then were telling him precisely the same things that they are telling us now. To wit, and directly quoting the ancient researcher:
* There are seven spirit spheres, or circles, inferior to the heavenly or celestial spheres, and each sphere or circle has several degrees. Man progresses through these spheres, drawing nearer and nearer to God, or nearer to the divine standard of perfection.
* Death does not change man’s real character, nor his proper spirit sphere, nor his capability to make progress, nor the laws of progress.
* Many spirits remain very long in the lower spheres, but while they are “spirits in prison” there is no such place or state as a hell, of unmitigated, hopeless mercy.
* God, angels, and all the higher spirits are forever seeking the elevation of the inferior spirits, by all just, wise, and appropriate means.
* Spirits in the higher spheres are employed in three general exercises: 1) in striving after a more perfect knowledge of and communication with God, whom they cannot see there any more than here, as a personal being, but only in spirit by faith and intuition; 2) in study, self-examination, contemplations of truth, and acquainting themselves with all useful knowledge attainable to them; 3) in ministering to struggling spirits on earth and in the lower spheres – endeavoring to elevate and bless them.
* Spirits in any circle can descend into all the circles below their own, but cannot, except by special permission, ascend into a higher sphere, until qualified by spiritual progress.
Every word is familiar to those who read a lot of afterlife communications. Every afterlife communicator over centuries of patiently-delivered messages has been telling us exactly the same things! It is this complete correspondence among communications received in every communication style and over nearly 200 years of time that makes me certain that the afterlife evidence is genuine. In decades of reading lots of pre-1960 communications from the dead, I have never found an outlier.
This complete correspondence among all such communications is for me dispositive proof that the afterlife is real, and proof that it is just as the communicators say it is, since the odds against chance for such complete agreement up and down the line are prohibitive.
Sir Robert Barrett makes this point in his seminal book, Deathbed Visions (1926). He there quotes Richard Whately, a venerable early-nineteenth-century scholar and onetime Archbishop of Dublin, who said,
“It is evident that when many coincide in their testimony (where no previous concert can have taken place), the probability resulting from this concurrence does not rest on the supposed veracity of each considered separately, but on the improbability of such an agreement taking place by chance. For though in such a case each of the witnesses should be considered as unworthy of credit, and even much more likely to speak falsehood than truth, still the chances would be infinite against their all agreeing in the same falsehood.”