January 19th, 1916
Received by James Padgett
I am here, your old partner, Albert G Riddle.
I desire to write to you to-night upon a subject which I think will be interesting, but it is so late now I hesitate to do so.
Well, as you think it will be all right, I will do so. I want to write on the subject of the soul's progression as I have experienced it.
As you know, when I first came into the spirit world, I was an unbeliever in things pertaining to the soul, except that I thought that the soul, which in my then opinion was the equivalent of that part of man which survived death, would continue to exist, and progress as the mental qualities of the man should be developed. That the mind was the great and only thing in the future existence, and as the mind was developed more and more on earth the condition of the man in his progression would be determined.
I had no conception of the soul as a distinct and independent existence from the mind, and I thought that all the qualities and attributes of the mind were those which belong to the soul, and that I had none others. And so, I say - I entered the spirit world and did not change my beliefs until a long time after I became a spirit.
But, as I continued to live in the spirit world in this belief, I found that the mental faculties and their development did not bring to me the satisfaction which I had anticipated; and also, met some of my friends of earth, who had preceded me by long years, men of great mental acquirements. I found that their condition was not as satisfactory a nature as I had led myself to believe that they should be, for many of these friends were only in the earth plane, and some were in darkness which was wholly contrary to what they should be if my theory of the 'allness' of the mind was true. All this caused me to think, and in thinking, I commenced to realize that there might be something wrong in my theory, and that the soul might be a distinct thing from the mind in its nature and functions.
I did not find that these intellectual friends of mine had any very great happiness nor were they satisfied with their condition, and yet they could not by the exercise of any mental progress get out of their condition of darkness. Of course they were engaged in pursuing studies of one kind or another, and such studies gave them considerable happiness and satisfaction, yet, notwithstanding all this, there was some restraining force that prevented them from going to spheres higher than they were then living in.
I found that there were higher spheres where the mind was developed to a much greater degree and where many spirits who believed in the supremacy of the mind, lived and enjoyed the pursuits of their studies. At times, some of these spirits would come to our plane and tell of the wonderful development and happiness in these higher spheres, and urge us to make the effort to progress and become inhabitants of them, and you may be assured we were willing and anxious to make such progress. But try as I would, and as my friends would, the efforts produced no visible effect and we continued in darkness.
Being of an inquisitive nature, I sought for the reason of our inability to get out of the darkness. At last I found that the mind was not everything, but the development of the moral qualities were necessary to enable us to progress as we desired, and that in order to develop these qualities, something more than the mere exercise of the mental faculties were required.
Conscience must be satisfied and our recollection of evil deeds on earth must be gotten rid of, and our qualities of soul which determined our position and condition in the spirit world must be so adjusted to the demands of the laws of harmony, so that we could be able to advance in our progress to that place which such adjustment would entitle us to occupy.
I further found that the darkness in which we lived was not created by any defective condition of the mind, for many spirits whose minds were highly cultivated and possessed of unusual knowledge were in just as much darkness as were many spirits of very meagre mentality and information.
All this knowledge came to me and caused me to seek a way to improve my moral nature and to get rid of the recollections of those things which tainted and darkened such nature, and I sought very diligently, but it was slow work and the efforts required were great.
But some progress was made, and if I had continued long enough and used my will powers in urging the cultivation of kind thoughts, and love for the truth and affection, etc., I would undoubtedly have progressed from darkness.This had been the experience of many spirits who believed as I did, that the mind was the thing, and depended upon their own will and exertions to bring the desired results.
But while in this condition of struggle and slow progress, I would occasionally meet spirits who seemed to be of a higher order and more beautiful than was I, and naturally I wondered what the cause was, although, strange as it may seem to you, I never made the inquiry until one day I met some of our folks who had this beautiful appearance, and seemed to be so perfectly happy.
Naturally in our conversation, I asked them the cause of their happiness, and when they told me I was so surprised that I gave very little credence to what they said, because what they told me was so similar to what I had heard on earth in the orthodox churches. I supposed that these friends had brought with them their old orthodox faiths and emotions, and were deceiving themselves as to the cause of their appearances, and that the probable cause was that they were more moral than I, when on earth, and hence, their recollections of earthly sins were less and conscience was not so severe on them, and therefore they had gotten out of their darkness into light with the resultant appearance of beauty and happiness. I would not at first accept their explanations of the cause of their conditions, and continued for sometime longer in the effort to improve my moral condition and advance in my mental acquirements.
But there was one other thing, I noticed, and that is that while these beautiful friends had not the mental development, apparently, that some other spirits who had progressed out of the darkness into the higher spheres of light, yet the beauty, and seeming happiness of these friends were so much greater and of a different nature from the happiness and appearance of those more highly mentally developed spirits.
And again, I thought and concluded that even moral and mental development could not explain the cause of the difference between the appearances and happiness of these friends and those of these more mentally developed spirits; so I again determined to seek the cause and, as a consequence, I sought these friends with the intention and desire to listen more seriously to what they might tell me, and to open my mind to the secret as it was to me.
Well, I listened to them and they told me that their progress and condition was caused by the soul development which they had received in seeking for and obtaining the Divine Love of the Father. That the soul is the great and important part of being spirits. That the condition of the soul development determines the position and appearance and happiness of the spirit, - that the spirit body and mind are both subordinate to the soul, and whenever the mind submits to the control of the soul, and the will of the mind, as you may say, to the will of the soul, that then the progress to the highest sphere will commence, and the spirit who is thus progressing will show the state of his advancement by the appearance of his beauty and happiness.
They further explained to me the nature and power of the Divine Love and its great developing potentialites and the absolute necessity of its entering into and possessing the soul, in order for it to make its greatest progress. That as this Divine Love became more and more a part of the soul's possessions, the soul took on itself the Divine Nature of the Father, and all these things which had a lodgment therein, and which tended to make it dark and sinful disappeared, and as these things disappeared, the soul mounted to higher spheres, and became happier and more beautiful, and the spiritual body correspondingly manifested this happiness and beauty.
All these things and many more these friends told me, and urged me to seek for the Divine Love of the Father and offered in every way to help me. At first I could not understand what seeking this Divine Love meant, but they took great pains to instruct me, and told me that only through prayer and faith would it come to me. That while this Love was waiting to fill the soul of every spirit and anxious to do so, yet only by earnest, sincere, seeking would It enter the soul and fill it with Its Great Essence.
At last they persuaded me to pray to the Father and then prayed with me, but it was hard to have faith in that which my mind did not understand and could not grasp. But they said, the soul has its faculties and is not dependent upon the mind for this faith, and upon my exercising these soul faculties would depend the question of my receiving this love and this faith, for as love came, faith would come also, which faith was not a mere mental belief, but something greater and different.
Well, I continued to pray for this love, and after awhile, I felt a sensation which I had never felt before, within my soul, and as I prayed this feeling increased, and faith in a small degree came to me, and I realized that there was a love possessing me that was never with me before. I continued thus to seek and pray until at last, this Great Love came to me in great abundance, flooding as it were, my whole soul, and happiness unspeakable came to me and, as these friends said, light and beauty also.
Well you can imagine that my longings and desires became insatiable - the darkness disappeared - my recollections of the evils of my life became fainter and fainter and suddenly I found myself in the third sphere, which then appeared to me to be the very heaven of heavens and the very fountainhead of beauty and happiness.
Now during all this time, and it was not accomplished in a day, I gave no attention to the development of my mind, or to the acquiring of knowledge of the material things, as I might say, of the spirit world, but when I found myself in the beautiful sphere that I have mentioned, it seemed to me that my mental faculties had expanded beyond all possibilities of belief and knowledge of things that I had never before heard or conceived of; came to me with wonderful clearness.
But the soul and not the mind was the thing! And Love - this Divine Love of the Father - made happiness mine and everything beautiful and satisfying. He who seeks only the development of the mind, and lets the soul slumber is poor indeed; but he who seeks the development of the soul finds that as his soul develops his mind does also, and rich he is beyond compare.
Well, I continued in this soul development, and in the increased happiness and the attainment of great brightness, and more than all the possessions of this Great Love, until I passed through the fifth sphere, where everything was much more beautiful, and Love so more abundant than in the third sphere, and entered the seventh sphere where I now am. I will not attempt to tell you the glories of this sphere, for I feel that words are inadequate to do so.Then in a faint, unsatisfying way, have I attempted to rehearse to you the soul's development, and the wholly sufficient thing that it is.
And my advice to all mortals, based on my own personal experience, is to seek with all their might and earnest efforts the development of the soul, and that of the mind will follow. This they can commence while yet on earth, and they will find that progress after they have crossed the border line will be much more rapid and easier.
Well, it is late and I have written long enough. But I wanted so much to write to you to-night upon this subject of the soul development as I see its vital importance to the future happiness of man and to his immortality.
So with all my love and blessings, I am
Your brother in Christ,
Albert G Riddle