Saturday 18 February 2023

Contact with the (so-called) dead - past and present

Seeking contact with the (so-called) dead has a bad reputation among most Christians; due to the high levels of charlatanism, exploitation, inconsistency of information; and scope for self-gratification and/ or self-deception.

There is also the concern that, when real, attempting to contact the dead invites demonic influence. 

Protestants (in particular - for theological reasons) sometimes prohibit any dealings-with, or -about, the dead - even in prayer.  

But almost all societies in history have regarded the dead as part of mortal life; and the modern idea that the death brings annihilation of spirit as well as body - that the dead are dead and gone - is surely a vast and despair-inducing error or sin, due to our metaphysical materialism.

The proper question, therefore, is how - not if - we should have dealings with 'the dead' - at least, those who are not actually dead; because it may well be that those who die while desiring annihilation may, de facto (if not in terms of disappearance) transform into a state without consciousness. 

The first thing I remind myself about, is that 'he dead' are not a homogenous group; but that each departed spirit is unique in his or her nature; and also may continue in a variety of possible states. 

To my mind; a major problem with the kind of attempted contact with the dead associated with 'spiritualism', the use of trance mediums, and ritual-magical procedures; is that there may be contact with demons, or 'ghost'-type spirits who seem to exist in an earth-bound region between moral life and death.  

If such spirits are indeed contacted, there is no reason to assume they will be honest, and many reasons to suppose they are likely to be at least as flawed and mixed in motivations as we mortal incarnate Men - and quite likely even worse 9which is why they are what they are). They are likely to have selfish agendas at least; and may spitefully delight in lying, wreaking misery and harm. 

But, contact with resurrected Men in Heaven is another matter altogether; since these will be wholly Good, living and behaving in harmony with divine creation - and contact will be made only when it is likely to benefit us in our intent for salvation, and search for theosis.

(By theosis I mean our attempts to develop towards higher divinity while still mortals; by learning spiritually from the experiences of this mortal life; such that this learning will be manifested after resurrection.)

Indeed; it is a consequence of resurrection that even those who were very flawed or sinful in their mortal lives, but who attained salvation, become wholly Good in their resurrected Heavenly lives. So that we get the best from contact with the dead - such that the dead are always better than they were when alive.

This may be an element in the idealization of some of the dead. When someone has died and been resurrected they really have become ideal version of themselves! 

So that - if a person was known before death, as well as after resurrection; there will be experienced a qualitative improvement in their nature after death. Likewise, someone contacted after his resurrection who has been known only (for example) as a writer, or via biographies, will be experienced as wholly-Good - even when it is clear that before death, he may have been mostly-bad. 


I regard contact with resurrected Men - who I regard as a type of angel - is not only a Good Thing, but probably an important and perhaps necessary thing for some people; perhaps especially among the old. 

For some people, in some situations, contact with one or more of the resurrected dead may even be their primary spiritual task. 

For a start, it can be a vital source of spiritual guidance

While the guidance of the Holy Ghost is primary; since the Holy Ghost is one personage, this guidance is of general kind, and concerned mainly with the key essential aspects of our mortal existence. 

By contrast; the guidance of those dead who are resurrected Men is very various, as various as those who are resurrected; and may therefore be tailored to our exact nature and circumstances - even down to the minutiae of our lives. 

The main problem is likely to be our own motivations for seeking contact. It is difficult, in the short-term, to eliminate distortions due to self-deception, or demanding self-gratifying or self-affirming contacts or 'guidance'. 

But many of these adverse motivations can be eliminated by maintaining secrecy about our contacts - by not disclosing to others with whom we have contact, and keeping secret their information and guidance. 

Such privacy (which I think ought to be observed for miracles, as well) makes it difficult to 'use' spiritual contacts for selfish purposes - eg. to claim special status or authority because our our contacts.


Another aspect of motivation is concerned with the matter of whose contact is sought. The resurrected dead are typically engaged in the lives of some mortal people, and may be seeking contact with us; and such interest may be conveyed by various means (according to the person whose attention is sought) - by directly communicated thoughts or interest, by synchronicities and so forth.  

Or we may be guided towards particular people among the resurrected dead, by God and via his ongoing work of creation; in accordance with the nature of our spiritual needs. 

We need to be open to the idea f contact with the so-called dead, willing to recognize and act-upon guidance, and willing to participate in the processes of contact - while maintaining intuitive discernment to check that that spirits are what and who they claim to be, and that our conclusions from contact are objective - and not merely expedient.


Epimetheus said...

I sometimes pray to a deceased relative who suffered a similar fate to me in life, on the theory that he learned from his mistakes in the afterlife and might be motivated to help me avoid the tragic waste of potential he himself suffered. I don't know if that's how it works, but there it is.

agraves said...

Bruce, spirit contact with us seems to be guided by their desire to convey something to us rather than us trying to reach them. Most contact is unexpected and innocent while brief and to the point. Brevity giving the message it's impact, no long winded sermon about what to do, etc. Regarding the Church admonition against such contact, I believe that in the early days of Christianity people were receiving such contact regularly as stated in the gospels as people now understood that the departed were not living under ground in Hades but had a soul that continued on. To me one of the interesting things is when such communication my be in variance to what the church may teach as holy or good. Even if this is the case it is always given in a gentle way which can easily be discarded. So the Church has always had an interest in making sure such communication only supported their teaching and anything else should be avoided. This is the work of typical power structures whether it is church, government, medicine, etc. as is well obvious today.

Serhei said...

I know you sometimes have people come onto your blog and thank you for a post as happening to be exactly the right message delivered in the right way at the right time for them -- though you could not have known this while writing. Today it is my turn to do so. In the spirit of the post itself, I won't provide details, but thank you in any case.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Serhei - As usual, even while writing it, I knew this was one of those posts. It would seem weird - if it wasn't so normal.

Inquisitor Benedictus said...

My sister is a nurse and one of her patients turned out to be some sort of a psychic. He told her things about her past boyfriend which she suspected but didn't know for for sure, and later confirmed. He correctly identified the illness my grandmother was suffering from, and accurately predicted that she would succumb to it this time, and told my sister to comfort my mother because she thought she was prepared for my grandmother's death but really wasn't. He told my sister that one of the people watching over her was our grandfather. I have no reason to disbelieve it. From my sister's account he sounded genuine, especially seeing as he said his reason for saying all this was to encourage my sister to help my mother, who indeed wasn't as emotionally prepared as she thought she was for my grandmother's death.