From the desk of Lisette Coly …
My grandmother, Eileen J. Garrett, the noted trance medium, took “a lot of flak” for never being successfully “pinned down” on the record to state without question her belief in life after death. Despite often having access to seemingly unworldly information produced in a manner that seemed to support the survival hypothesis she was troubled not by the validity of the information she accessed but by a lack of understanding of its source. Her well-known statement illustrating her indecision sums up her life-long quandary: “On Monday, Wednesday, Friday I believe in the paranormal and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I don’t. On Sunday, I don’t give a damn!”
In culling the contents of her writings both published and unpublished along with interviews and correspondence I found the following statements that spoke to me. Herewith I share them with you as food for thought:
“Most of the dead are just as incapable of communicating with the living, as most living people are incapable of communicating with them. And while it is fairly simple for the sitter here to formulate a question concerning some matter or event that is of present interest to him I think we go much too far in expecting the dead to meet the inquiry on a level of equal interest. We have no good warrant for supposing that the dead are always ready to respond to our beck and call; and if they are not always ready, can we blame them if they respond to our approaches in inconsequential terms?
A large part of the criticism of Spiritism has been due to the inconsequential and trite nature of much of the material which has been received in psychic work. To me, a great deal of such criticism seems valid; but it should not be used in an endeavor to cancel the reality of humanity’s survival of death. It can be constructively used instead, to improve the general understanding of the actual relationship which exists between the living and the dead.
Stating the case at its simplest, I believe the dead should be allowed their peace. They have not died in order to continue to live as they have lived here. In death, they have surrendered up much of what we know as their personalities—physical body, senses and sensations and they now have an insubstantial kind of work to do. We do not know many of the facts of man’s condition beyond death. It may very well be, as I believe, that the dead retain some sort of “etheric” or “subliminal” body for some time. If so, that body is both a fruit and a seed—the fruit of the individual past and the seed of the individual future. From the teaching of which we have all received, most people are more or less ready to believe (however vaguely) that what survives is one’s soul. Since so few people know what the word “soul” means, however, it may be indicated here, from ancient texts and without elaboration that the human soul is the psychic factor which exists between the Universal spirit and the individual ego, and is a condition of fusion between the interactive qualities and experience of both the whole and the parts.
By means of the soul the hosts of individuals remain united to the universal. The soul is the way of individual development and evolution. And since religion, in its spiritual aspects, represents a natural process in which the individual ‘binds itself back to its source’ the soul is the path by which this return to the primal spiritual purity and unity is made.
No human life is ever completely expressed, no human project is ever completed and finished. Down the ages, the fullest flowering achieved by one epoch has been the seed of another. This is because the human consciousness, partaking of the nature of life itself, is continuous and without end, and eternally expansive. To every manifestation of existence which consciousness encounters it reacts; and in this continuous give-and-take between the universal environment and the individual capacities for impression and expression, the individualized consciousness develops towards universalism. Our egotism is a fragment of a whole—the universe, the eternal Unity. Like the simplest form in the chemical content of all substances—the atom—we are each and all ingredient in the whole. We are thus inseparable from the universal, and the purpose of our experience in this world is the discovery of the mystery of substance and a realization of those insubstantial powers which all physical forms and activities manifest. The spiritual core of the individual is the indestructible spiritual atom.
In death we surrender substance—the substance of our own physical bodies and their relations in the substantial world. But consciousness does not disintegrate as all true atomic forms disintegrate sooner or later. Like the seed that becomes the forest tree, and endures the vicissitudes of development through a hundred cycles of shedding and renewing its foliage and fruit, the human consciousness, once individualized, is the seed of a process the destiny of which it is, through cycles which we do not understand, to become a creative factor in the evolutionary processes of the universal life.
We commonly think of death as the end. But just as we daily abandon the world in sleep and so renew and revitalize all our capacities for further living, it is probable that in death we fuse the diverse impressions of our earthly experience into a new and unified capacity for more abundant living.”
So does this really sound to you that Garrett truly did not give a damn?
Find out more about Eileen J. Garrett and the Foundation’s past and present by listening to an interview I did on Signs of Life radio show hosted by Bob and Phran Ginsberg of the Forever Family Foundation.
Until next time!