Beyond Reality The Next Life Contact With the Other World

Contact With the Other World

Contact With the Other World
Catalog # SKU1211
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name James H. Hyslop


Contact With
the Other World



The present volume endeavors to treat every aspect of the problem regarding a future life and especially emphasizes a large mass of facts that ought to have cumulative weight in deciding the issue. The facts consist of both spontaneous and experimental experiences, the latter designed not only to add to the force of the evidence, but to suggest more problems than the mere fact of survival. It has not been possible to exhaust any one subject in the field. That would require several volumes.

Excerpt from the Introduction:

SOME years ago a well-known college president thought to put an end to psychic research with the public by calling it a return to fetishism. He has lived long enough to learn that calling names does not refute facts, and we no longer need to apologize for the subject.

When the work of investigation was first organized, no man's reputation was safe unless be joined in with the persiflage of the Philistine or the skepticism of the scientific world generally. It is easy to understand the accusation that psychic research is connected with fetishism, for its fundamental interest is in a doctrine that had its origin in what is known as animism, which is the spiritualism of savages, among whom it even took the form of regarding inorganic objects as animate. But the attempt to throttle investigation by invoking the contempt heaped on primitive minds was hasty and ill advised.

Those who think it dignified to study folklore certainly cannot consider it undignified to pursue inquiries into the real causes of animism. But culture always has its antagonisms, and none is stronger than that which exists in the intellectual classes against ideas supposed to be wholly barbaric. That feeling I myself at one time shared, but Idid not purpose to ignore facts in the opinions that I might hold. Prejudice had to be overcome in the face of what was indisputable, or so widespread as to demand explanation. Primitive minds may have been wrong in their theories, but they seem to have had facts which require consideration, even though we go no further than fraud or hysteria to account for them; and to find these facts is to discover their kinship with those of modern times.

But true psychic research took its origin not from any sympathy with the ideas of savages nor from any consciousness that the two stages of culture are connected. It was a very concrete set of incidents that exacted of fair-minded men the examination of the facts. Even the types of phenomena did not present themselves clearly at the outset. The most prominent were those claiming to embody some form of communication with the dead; but types of unusual phenomena were soon found that could lay no claim to this character, and as they seemed less clearly to contravene the accepted laws of nature, they offered a ground for compromise between orthodox science and the claims of the supernatural. Among such phenomena were telepathy or mind-reading, dousing, hypnosis, suggestion, muscle-reading, and perhaps a few others. They opened a field for discussion that made the consideration of spiritualism unnecessary, at least for the time, since they were possibly susceptible of (natural) explanation.

It was a mistake of scientific skepticism to invoke any preconceived ideas about the explanation of things in order to eliminate the consideration of psychic phenomena. The question of fact, not of explanation, is the first concern of science. In selecting his course, however, the skeptic "posed himself to all the reactions which follow the proof of what he doubts or denies; and we are to-day reaping the harvest of his imprudence. The public is running off into every imaginable philosophy and religion, because of the trust of believer and skeptic alike in religious and philosophic traditions.

Sympathy would have given the skeptic the leadership in a course in which he has been outrun; he now appears as the hindrance to knowledge instead of its supporter. A man should never be required to choose between doubt and belief. He should be able to intermingle both in due proportions. The spirit of open-mindedness and impartiality is to the intellectual world what brotherhood is to the ethical world. Woe betide the man who does not see this elementary truth, for he is sure to fall into one dogmatism or the other.

The facts that led to the conception of psychic research were a set of phenomena which, at least superficially, appeared to be inexplicable by the ordinary theories of science. They were taboo to normal psychology and psychologists, for no scientific man was prepared to reinstate the traditional idea of the supernatural.

The opposition between the natural and the supernatural was so fixed that it was necessary to avoid misunderstanding of the latter term in order to pacify the orthodox psychologist. Hence the terms "psychic research" and "psychic phenomena" were chosen to denominate a borderland set of phenomena that might possibly be resolved into recognized types of events which, though unusual, would not necessitate a revision of orthodox beliefs. Abnormal psychology had come to accept many extraordinary things, but only as exhibitions of acute sensibility or as phenomena of coincidence. It was therefore necessary to make one's peace with this attitude and not to rush off prematurely into the regions of the miraculous. Psychic research thus became a compromise offered by one school of recognized scientists to another in the hope that some means might be found to extend tolerance to certain persistent facts that would not disappear at the command of conjurer or skeptic.

The three types of phenomena which gave most offense were telepathy, apparitions, and mediumship. Hypnotism had won recognition, though only after meeting opposition hardly less bitter than that which these more inexplicable facts encountered. Muscle-reading and phenomena due to hyperaesthesia, or acute sensibility, lay on the borderland, and offered to the conservative mind a natural explanation of the facts to which they were relevant. Fraud, coincidence, and suggestion were explanations which further limited or refuted the claims of the supernormal and the supernatural.

For this reason psychic research appropriated for its territory all phenomena that might be explained by hyperaesthesia, whether visual, auditory, or tactual: the nature and limits of guessing and. chance coincidence; hypnotism; hallucinations, whether subjective or veridical; apparitions, whether visual or auditory; mediumistic phenomena of all types; the physical phenomena of spiritualism, including raps or knockings, table-tippings, and telekinesis, or the movement of physical objects without contact, as well as the so-called materializations of common fame.

Not all of these are of equal value in the study of the problem which came easily to the front; namely, the problem of the existence of discarnate spirits. The theory of spirit agency had been advanced from time immemorial to cover the whole field; but it was the first task of investigators to discriminate among the phenomena and to determine their evidential values. For instance, neither telepathic coincidences nor the movement of objects without physical contact is in itself evidence of spirit agencies. The field had to be mapped out for scientific scrutiny on the basis that many people were not discriminating in the explanation of the facts. Only apparitions and mediumistic phenomena presented any immediately apparent evidence for discarnate spirits. The others, however they might ultimately be explained, offered no manifest evidence for such a hypothesis. But all of them were related at least as unusual phenomena hitherto not explained by ordinary causes, and so constituted a group of facts that had been disregarded by orthodox science.

Psychic research simply claimed the field as a new country, possibly like the old, but not superficially so. It challenged science to apply its methods to the facts and, if possible, to reduce them to some sort of natural order. In all ages the discovery of any new fact which is either not easily or not at all reducible to the normal has excited speculations of all kinds. The discovery of galvanic electricity roused all Europe to an interest in metaphysics; even Humboldt wrote a book, which he afterward regretted, that proclaimed magnetic forces to be the basis of cosmic causality. The discovery of radium started a revolution in science, though by this time scientists usually took discoveries of the kind more cautiously. But any new fact alters the perspective of previous knowledge, even when it does not revolutionize it. Psychic research was well adapted to rouse curiosity on the subject of the supersensible. Even telepathy so threatened the stability of materialism that skepticism was irreconcilably opposed to it, though telepathy did not involve spirit agencies. But phenomena that even looked like evidence in favor of spirits excited the most rabid skepticism, because they seemed to threaten all the conquests of physical science over the supernatural. Their recognition seemed to affect the laboriously built fabric of natural science as well as to offer hope and consolation to the human mind.

No one objected to the latter, but the sacred structure of physical science must not be touched by hands soiled 'by the supernatural. Consequently, the interest of two opposing parties was strongly aroused by the claims in behalf of the supernormal in so far as these seemed to open the way into a transcendental world, one of support, because of an emotional satisfaction, and the other of hostility, because of the disturbance to the materialism of many years.

530+pages - 8.25 x 5.25 inches SoftCover


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