Spiritualistic Doctrine

Higher Spiritualism. John C. Leonard. (The Philosophical Book Co., Washington, DC).

It may be taken for granted that virtually every man and woman of ordinary intelligence wonders now and then just what significance, if any, life on this planet may have. Looking at the question from a purely commonsense viewpoint — which, on the higher levels of sense perception, becomes the modern scientific viewpoint — one is likely to arrive at no very hopeful answer. For surely, if death be the end of this curious, brief adventure, it is hard to see just what all the hubbub is about.

Those who have a well-defined religious answer to the question may be counted as fortunate: and perhaps the religion one has is the best – if one realty has it. Almost any sincere faith that tends to piece at the perplexing, fragmentary matters of human life and give it meaning may be better than no faith at all.

Psychical research is a distinctly modern attempt to arrive at some believable conception of man’s relation to some larger and more significant pattern of existence than that which the five senses reveal to us. The motive force behind it is the ancient religious yearning, come into being at a time when realistic science had, for many, made the old revealed re-ligion impossible. Having been de-deprived of the old faith by science, there were those who sought by scientific means to build a new foundation for the hope of immortality. F. W. H. Myers, one of the finest spirits that England has produced, was a leader of this movement; and anyone who will conscientiously study his great work on Human Personality must at least respect his labors. Also a surprising number of the best minds of our time have been con- vinced by the vast mass of evidential material that has been accumulated by the Society for Psychical Research.

It is probably that most of those who have taken some interest in psychical research have done so out of curiosity or through superstitious leanings: and it is to be noticed that in the minds of the majority the subject still is con-cerned largely with “fortune-telling” and “ghosts.”

Just what the subject is concerned with may be learned with the minimum of menial effort by reading Leonard’s “The Higher Spiritualism.” Therein is given a comprehensive survey of the Spir-tualistic movement in our time. Beginning with the alleged revelations of Andrew Jackson Davis in the 40s and 50s. Though a considerable portion of the book is con-cerned with the specific experi-ments of the leading European and American investigators during the past half century, the author’s purpose is to present Spiritualism. Not as scientific hypothesis, but as established revelation. For this reason even very many of those who have been greatly per- saided by the evidence that has been find much of the book demanding rather more credulity than they are able to supply.

It is Mr. Leonard’s belief, shared by the extreme left wing of the movement to which he appears to belong, that scientific experiment, though interesting and suggestive, can never arrive at any definite conclusions, that only through direct contact of highly spiritualized types with a higher form of life can the truth be ascertained.

It is Mr. Leonard’s conviction that mediumship of the abnormal, lower type is now definitely on the wane; that the Society for Psychical Research has already fulfilled its purpose, and that the future of the movement lies wholly with a higher type of mediumship which can be developed only through the cultivation of spiritual powers by thinking and living on a high plane.