The following is an excerpt from Leon Denis' book, "Here and Hereafter"1, Fourth Part, item 33, "The Life of Space", in which he describes the contrasting experiences of lesser & more advanced spirits, in the spirit realm:
"Were we to believe certain religious doctrines, the Earth would be at the exact center of the universe, while over our heads, the sky, like a round roof, would be spread. In the upper part, we are told, Heaven is located, while the gloomy viaducts of Hell bore into the bowels of the Earth.
But modern science and spirit revelation have destroyed such conceptions by revealing to us a vast universe flecked with countless inhabited worlds. Heaven is omnipresent; on every side, we are met with the incommensurable, the infinite. Turn where we will, there are suns and spheres innumerable, huge bodies beside which our Earth is but a puny unit.
In all the great infinitude of space, there are no longer any confided dwelling-places for spirits. The purer they are, the freer they become. They move through this vast infinitude and travel to where their affinities or sympathies call them. The inferior spirits, weighed down by their fluidic density, remain, as if wedded to it, close to the Earth on which they have dwelt, circulating through its atmosphere and mingling with its humankind.
The perceptions and happiness of the spirit do not depend upon its environment; they are the outcome of its inner state, the resultant of acquired perfections. A backward spirit whose perispirit is dense and full of darkness, may come in contact with some radiant soul whose subtle envelope responds to the most delicate influences as well as to the most intense vibrations. Each bears within itself its glory or unhappiness.
The soul’s condition in that life which lies beyond the grave, its elevation and its degree of felicity, depend upon its faculty to feel and perceive, which are proportional to the more or less advanced state of the spirit.
Even on Earth, we find that the intellectual enjoyment is proportionate to mental culture. Art and literature, the best achievements of civilization and the highest flights of genius, are alike beyond the appreciation of the savage – and indeed, beyond that of many of our own countrymen. Thus the spirits of a lower nature, like blind men, surrounded by the daylight or deaf persons in a concert, remain indifferent and insensitive in front of the wonders of the infinite one.
The spirits enveloped by dense fluids, are subject to the laws of gravitation, and are attracted by matter. Under the influence of their gross appetites, the molecules of their fluidic body are closed to external perceptions, and they remain slaves to the same material forces that dominate mankind. One cannot lay too much stress upon this fact, which is the very foundation of universal law and justice. Souls group and station themselves in space, according to the degree of purity in their envelopes; the rank of the spirit is directly proportionate to its fluidic constitution, which itself is of the spirit’s own making, the direct resultant of its past and of the deeds thereof. This is what determines its position; in this does it find its reward or chastisement. While the pure spirit is freely moving through the vast and radiant heavenly spaces, visiting the worlds and tarrying in them as it lists – encountering scarce any limits to its freedom – the impure spirit is constrained to abide in the vicinity of material worlds.
Between these two extreme states, there are numerous intermediate degrees in which similar spirits can come together, forming veritable heavenly societies. The community of thought and sentiment, the similarity of taste and tendencies, unite these souls in great families.
The life of the advanced spirit is essentially active, and fatigue is unknown to it. Distance does not exist for the spirit, which moves with the rapidity of thought. Its envelope, which resembles a light haze, becomes so subtle as to be entirely invisible to inferior spirits. It sees, hears, feels, and perceives – no longer by those material organs which are interposed between nature and man and which intercept, in transit, the greater number of sensations – but directly and without intermediacy, through every portion of its being. Hence, its perceptions are incomparably clearer and more varied than our own. The superior spirit would seem to be bathed in an ocean of ineffable sensation. Ever changing pictures unroll before it, and wonderful harmonies ceaselessly resound. Color has a perfume and scent becomes audible. But exquisite as its surroundings may be, the spirit can isolate itself and mediate when it so wishes, by enfolding itself in the fluidic veil which effectually isolates it in the midst of thronged space.
The advanced spirit is untrammeled by any bodily requirements. Food and sleep are no longer necessary. On leaving Earth, it has forever left behind it the vain worry, fear, and all the evil illusions that prison the life of man. The inferior spirits carry away with them, beyond the grave, their material habits, needs and preoccupations. Being unable to rise above the Earth’s atmosphere, they return to share in the life of men and to take issue in their battles, their labors, and their pleasures. Their instincts and desire, which are still alive, quickened by continual contact with men, beset them, and the material impossibility of satisfying these becomes a new source of torture.
Spirits do not require speech in order to make themselves understood. Every thought is reflected in the perispirit, like the image of the mirror; they exchange ideas without effort and with a bewildering rapidity. The superior spirits can read the mind of man and discern his most secret intentions. Nothing is hidden from it. It scans all of nature’s mysteries, and can, if it chooses, pursue its explorations to the entrails of the Earth, or to the bottom of the sea, there to ponder upon the remains of submerged civilizations. It passes through the densest bodies, and kingdoms, inaccessible to the vision of man, are like an open book to the spirit."
¹ Translation as published in 2005, by the Spiritist Alliance for Books, under the book title, "Here and Hereafter". The original book was written, in French, entitled “Aprés La Mort”, by Leon Denis (1846-1927).