exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Editor's 1-Minute Essay:
return to "Archetype" main-page
One primary reason motivated me to include "archetype" in the roster of Word Gems topics to be explored.
"Archetype," that "original pattern from which copies are made," relates importantly and directly to our discussions of the afterlife.
Which is the copy and which is the original?
As we learn of life in Summerland, it's natural to exclaim, "oh, they have rivers and lakes just as we do; they have trees, flowers, and singing birds in gardens just as we do; Summerland must be a copy of the Earth."
In fact, the Earth is a copy - a poor, faded, black-and-white replication - of the glorious archetype awaiting us in the "real world." This is a very important point to understand, as much hinges on it.
I'd like to share with you Father Benson's own comments in this regard:
No, the spirit world is not a copy of the earth. The spirit world was in being
aeons of time before the earth came into existence. Does man think that he has formed and fashioned all that is man-made upon earth entirely of his own mind and genius, then man is woefully mistaken.
Without the spirit world, the earth and mankind, who is barely living as
judged by the greater life of the spirit world, would soon get into
inconceivable difficulties. The beauties of the earth are but a foretaste of the beauties of the spirit world and the life that lies before all mankind. We do not copy you who are on earth, we have no need to do so. We give you glimpses of the spirit world so that you may have some slight acquaintance with the spirit world before you come to take up your life and residence here…
In my references to the countryside, I have mentioned rivers. How do they
flow? They flow in exactly the same manner as do earthly rivers. They begin their life as a small stream, perhaps as a little trickling brook, and they flow on and on becoming deeper and broader in their passage, and finally they flow into the sea. There is nothing very remarkable in that, but the rivers themselves are very remarkable when they are compared with earthly rivers.
The rivers of the spirit world are never fast-flowing streams, muddy looking, or heavy in appearance. Nor are unsightly buildings to be found upon their banks, with merchant vessels of all shapes and sizes and degrees of disrepair alongside dingy wharves. However picturesque the ships may be, we have no need for them here, and so they do not exist. Boats of all sorts we do have, but not of the description that I have just mentioned.
And we do not have unpleasant factory buildings spoiling the beautiful riverside scenery. Instead, we have magnificent edifices built of spirit world materials such as you are already familiar with, reposing along the waterside, with spacious embankments and splendidly laid-out gardens through which the river threads its placid way, slowly, very slowly, and calmly...
You can have no conception how glorious it is to glide along such a river in some graceful boat, passing through the rolling banks of flowers upon either hand, or through some peaceful meadow where the trees reflect their shapely forms in the tranquil waters; or again, to draw alongside some beautiful broad marble steps, to go ashore, mount to a greater height and view the ribbon of scintillating colour that the river reveals itself to be from this higher elevation; or, yet again, to proceed up some sequestered backwater to find one’s self in the midst of a friend’s garden.
Nothing can possibly convey to you the brilliance of the colour, always the
colour, that seems to abound in such full measure in the neighbourhood of the rivers. Perhaps it is that the streams themselves reflect back so much colourful light from the flowers that this effect of seeming preponderance of colour is produced. Whatever it may be, we all feel the same about it, and for that reason the rivers always have a very great attraction to the folk in their leisure moments.
The water is of the purest, as you know, but its most remarkable feature, in the opinion of so many of us here, is the ability it has of changing its colours and shades of colours… Akin to the rivers of the spirit world are, of course, the seas. They are like the seas of the earth merely as a body of water, but in no other respect. The waters of the rivers here, and the seas into which they flow, are of the same elements; that is to say, the water is what is known on earth as fresh water. As far as I was able to observe I could not trace the presence of any salt in the sea.
In general appearance there is not a great deal of difference between the
rivers and the ocean. Each has the same brilliance of colour, but the rivers by virtue of the fairly close proximity of their banks, with the large masses of flowers and the elegant buildings which adorn them, will have more colours to reflect in their surfaces, and so they will appear to be more colourful. But it must not be presumed that the sea lacks a full measure of colour. Very far from it. No water, wherever situated here, lacks colour. And the sea is never empty of the signs of Life. There are always vessels of one sort or another to be seen sailing upon it or riding at anchor. In addition, however far one may travel one is scarcely ever out of sight of an enchantingly lovely island, upon which one is at liberty to wander to one’s heart’s content, and enjoy the special features which all these islands possess. One of the islands, of which I have spoken to you before, contains a veritable paradise of bird-life…
In the spirit world there are no such things as germs of any description,
therefore there can be no disease of any sort whatever. Moreover, the spirit body is completely impervious to any kind of injury. It cannot be damaged by accident, and it is imperishable and incorruptible. So that whatever organs we possess they can never become disordered in the slightest degree. We are constantly enjoying a state of perfect health, upon which there are no two opinions among all of us here in these realms. The slightest trace of ache or pain is something not only unheard of, but from our point of view, fantastically impossible.
It is obvious from what I have told you that one or two [internal] organs of the earthly body would be manifestly superfluous in the spirit body. We do not eat food because we are never hungry. There is therefore no waste that has to be eliminated from our bodies as is essential with your physical bodies. The food that you eat goes through its processes, after you have consumed it, to provide what is necessary for the physical body, until it finally becomes waste matter.
And to perform this series of actions various organs are vital. We possess an interior mechanism which follows much upon the same lines as does yours, but there is this supreme difference, namely, that we have no
waste matter that must be eliminated from the body. There is no such thing as waste matter in these realms. That which is not wanted either ceases to exist altogether, or is returned to the source whence it came.
By ceasing to exist, I do not mean that which is not wanted is annihilated, but that it ceases to exist in the form it held before it became unwanted…
The organs that we possess, therefore, have their very definite purpose for their existence. We do not carry about with us organs, that are redundant. Their purpose is to act as a channel for the life force, the etheric power, if you wish to call it so, that emanates from a multiplicity of sources. There is no fear that some organs, or all of them, will become atrophied because they do not seem to be employed in the same manner as their counterparts in the earthly body. The organs of assimilation of the earthly body will become seriously affected if a sufficient quantity of food is not passed through them. No such situation could arise in our spirit bodies, because the life force here amply sustains them, and keeps them in proper working order, and thus they fulfil their objects.
The spirit body, then, possesses only such organs as are vital to it, and they can be regarded as a modification of their earthly counterparts. The further significance of this will be plainer to you when I tell you that, with the exception of the higher and highest realms, the spirit world, in which millions upon millions of us are living, is populated entirely from the earth, and from no other source…
Time, in its measured sense, can be said to have commenced with the formation of the earth, but human life was already in existence long before then. The spirit world was long in existence before the earth, but the spirit world was not empty. It was inhabited by great souls whose knowledge and wisdom and spiritual progression and evolution have been proceeding steadily, throughout the whole of this colossal period of time.
All these beings possess a body which in its parts and its functions are exactly similar to the body of anyone of us here, regardless of our position upon the ladder of spiritual progression, though, under certain conditions, that body would appear outwardly to us infinitely lesser beings as a blaze of light.
The spirit body which we all possess is the normal body. The earthly body, which temporarily covers the spirit body during its earthly passage, is a modification of the spirit body, an accommodation to earthly laws and
conditions and modes of life. The life of the individual begins upon earth, it
spends a limited period in that sphere, and then comes to us in the spirit
world. The personality and individuality and attributes of the person are in
their initial stages of formation upon earth, and the process is continued after his arrival in the spirit world…
The true sphere of life is the spirit world because it is permanent. The spirit world is therefore the standard of life as it is ultimately to be for us all, and so the spirit body, not the earthly body, is the standard of the human form. In company with many others I have seen and spoken to at least one illustrious being whose period of life, in years, reaches astronomical figures. He possesses, just as do you or I, the ordinary normal complement of limbs; he has hair upon his head. His hands, anatomically like yours and mine, have their full number of fingernails. And so we might go on, through the complete catalogue of the parts of the human anatomy as it exists in the spirit world.
The exalted nature of his being and the elevated realm in which he resides
make no difference, anatomically, from the rest of us. His spirituality and
wisdom and knowledge are, of course, in their high degree incomparable with us here. But we are not considering that for the moment. What we are considering is that when man, who has lived upon earth, comes to the spirit world to continue his life here… The organs with which he now finds himself are forever beyond harm of every description. No germ can attack the body; no destructive force can exert the slightest influence upon it. It is incorruptible. Its various organs, such as the heart and lungs, act perfectly.
For example, the beating of the heart remains constant and normal under all conditions. We cannot literally become breathless... Our respiration, like the action of the heart, remains always at its normal rate. And so it is throughout the rest of our bodies. I do not pretend to the knowledge of a physician or a surgeon, but I do know that my body functions perfectly, that I enjoy, as we all enjoy, a state of perfect health such as I never for one moment enjoyed during my life on earth.
Indeed, it is impossible to know what absolute, perfect health can be until one comes to live here in the spirit world. The body I possess is not a hollow drum, a mere empty vessel in the ownership of which I am able, in some mysterious fashion, to carry on my life. There is good rich blood flowing through my veins. There is no doubt about that, for I can observe the fleshpink tinge it gives to my skin, as it does to us all. We have the complexions of healthy individuals, though the former may vary in the depth of their color by virtue of the various racial characteristics which you can easily call to mind.
Whatever may be the precise shade of our complexions or of our skin in
general, we none of us have the pallor that is usually associated either with a poor state of health or with some particular form of earthly occupation. The circulation of the blood within our bodies is the means of diffusing the vital force that keeps us alive. If you should ask me why it should be necessary to have these organs to do this work, then I can only say that it is impossible for me to explain the fact of human creation itself. We might ask in turn, why does the incarnate person have his organs to do such work as is required of them? We should have to go to the very beginning and ask why has man come to be in the form that is familiar to us, and not in some other form. We must take things as they are in this instance at least. To do otherwise is rather to suggest that we could make several improvements upon the anatomy of our bodies were we given the opportunity.
As far as we, in the spirit world, are concerned no improvement could possibly be made upon the structure and operation of our spirit bodies.
And I think that in these very bodies we have at least one assured example of perfection in our midst, and which we enjoy now. The greater perfection, I use this phrase in accordance with the terms of our previous discussion upon perfection, the greater perfection that awaits us when we proceed to a higher realm is a spiritual perfection, and will not apply to the state of health of our bodies. We may feel so much lighter, more etherealised, more ratified, but as far as I have been able to ascertain, we shall feel in a precisely similar state of buoyant, brilliant health as we do now in these realms.
It is manifestly impossible for me to take every organ of the body and deal
with its particular functions in due order. What we can do, to sum up the
matter briefly, is to reflect upon this: the spirit body is possessed of organs that are proper to it and to the world in which it carries out its functions. The earthly body will answer to the same description in its own sphere of action.
The spirit body, coming first in the order of ’creation’, is the standard of human form and figure…
A question may naturally be asked as to how we can live with some of our
organs missing. The answer is that they are not missing; they were never
there! The spirit body performs perfectly because it is perfectly constructed, complete in all its parts, and only possesses such organs as it requires, in number slightly less than those required by the earthly body.
- Editor's note: "... never there" because the spirit body is the archetypal unit, not the earth-body.
Editor's last word:
Father Benson's disquisition of spirit archetype leads into a discussion of personal temperament, which discourse is posted in the article on "anger."
I mention this here because, given the stress of living in our troubled world, our present personalities, subject to moodiness, anger, despair, and the like, in a sense, do not reflect our true selves. "Archetypal perfection" will manifest once we take up residence in the "real world."
Spirit archetype is a potent concept and will yet affect most aspects of our lives; for example, the typical John-and-Mary relationship of the Earth is but the pale, faded copy of eternal Twin-Soul romance and marriage to be discovered in Summerland.