> The Atmospheric Presence and the Knowing-Light




The Atmospheric Presence and the Knowing-Light

The Atmospheric Presence and the Knowing-Light

“Nowhere have I encountered the furnishings of a conventional heaven, or glimpsed the face of God. On the other hand, certainly I dwell in a psychological heaven by earth’s standards, for everywhere I sense a presence, or atmosphere, or atmospheric presence that is well-intentioned, gentle yet powerful, and all-knowing. This seems to be a psychological presence of such stunning parts, however, that I can point to no one place and identify it as being there in contrast to being someplace else. At the risk of understating, this presence seems more like a loving condition that permeates existence, and from which all existence springs.

The feeling of safety mentioned earlier is definitely connected here, in that I know that no evil or harm can befall me, that each of my choices will yield benefits, and that this loving condition upholds me in all of my ways. As in life I was always aware of an underlying melancholy, I am here always delightfully conscious of an extraordinary sense of safety that leas, say, to heroic acts and courage – naturally. There is the constant feeling that the universe is with me, for me, and with and for all others at the same time. Not only does it not conspire against me, but it ever lends its active support.

The willingness to help is everywhere apparent and promotes, of course, a sense of ease that, at the same time, stimulates the personality’s abilities in ways most difficult to describe. While I mention this presence as itself, so thoroughly does it pervade everything that attempts to isolate it are useless. All theological and intellectual theories are beside the point in the reality of this phenomenon. I know that this presence or loving condition forms itself into me, and into all other personalities; that it lends itself actively to seek my good in the most particular and individual ways; yet that my good is in no way contrary to the good of anyone else, but beneficial.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“I connect the knowing light with the well-intentioned atmospheric presence mentioned earlier, since both have been a constant in my afterdeath experience thus far, and I study this phenomenon rather steadily at times, reminding myself of a caveman or other prehistoric man looking up at the sun and trying to understand its properties. Specifically, I have not called this knowing light an entity, in terms of personhood. Yet I am sure that it possesses a psychology far divorced from any with which I have ever been acquainted; that it knows of my curiosity and examination; and is not annoyed, but invites it.

This presence must be termed atmospheric. Again, I can think of no better word, and it (the presence) cannot be pinpointed as existing in any “here” as separate from there, but coexists in all places. Searches for an analogy do not particularly help either. The closest idea I have is to compare this atmospheric presence with the quality that exists on the most ideal summer day: the delightful, enchanting scent and touch of the air itself seems to be imparted everywhere, so that flowers, trees, people, mountains, valleys – all seem to lie in its enchantment and add to it. So this atmospheric presence with its knowing light has the same effect, both psychologically and in my experience of everything that exists outside of me.

Surely such a summer day seems benevolent, alive, an has a buoyancy that is added on to the other seasons. That is, an extra-appealing aura seems to be imparted to earth on such a day. No doubt this is the reason that many spiritualists referred to afterdeath as Summerland, but as a psychologist I am fascinated by something else: I know that this atmospheric presence does not have what I refer to as human characteristics, yet it does possess characteristics of an emotional nature, and it is this exuberance, this well-intentioned quality, that psychologically supplies my feeling of complete safety. It is as if I bask in the light of a psychological atmosphere that corresponds to the physical atmosphere of an ideal summer day.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“There is an immense, I can only term it, loving permissiveness that imparts exuberance and zest such as I have never known, and I feel within myself the coming birth of a new kind of creativity, involving all of my own characteristics, abilities, and idiosyncrasies as if each nook and cranny of my known being was preparing its own delightful surprise, expansion, and further expression; a challenge of the most extraordinary kind, as if in life you sensed the approach of a time when each areas of your living was about to expand immeasurably, the smallest talent being magnified and coming into practical use. I possessed, I thought, some latent musical ability never used, for example, and I feel it somehow rousing within me and feel myself drawn toward expressions that on earth were beyond my means.

This atmospheric presence seems furthermore, then, to possess qualities that act as potent psychological stimulants of the most profound nature. The words “psychological growing medium” come to mind, as if this atmosphere promotes psychic growth to the most advantageous degree, or provides a spiritual and psychological medium arousing the creative development of even the smallest incipient seeds of personality. Qualities and characteristics that I never suspected I possessed now surface within me so that I feel to myself like a garden ever coming to growth, containing far more flora and fauna than I ever realized; and as if earlier I had only identified with one crop of abilities that I called my own.

A steady confidence sustains me also, and a stronger sense of balance than I have ever known, so that these euphoric feelings are not unstable or overwhelming, but taken quite as my natural heritage, adding a buoyancy to my subjective steps. To an extraordinary degree I must have changed myself, then, from who or what I was; and surely my own demeanor reflects at least some portion of the spiritual resiliency and good intent that is my lot.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“For that magnificent good intent is strangely combined of impersonal and personal elements, of this I am sure. Intellectually this implies a contradiction, though on an emotional level, none exists. This good intent is seemingly directed toward me because I am me; and I sense, at least, a deep understanding on its part of my subjective reality, a comprehension that far exceeds my own understanding of myself. On the other hand, if I were someone else, this intent would be just as powerful and as personally directed. Indeed, everyone with whom I have come into contact feels in the same relationship to that atmospheric presence as I do.”

“The impersonal and yet personal nature of this presence leads me to make certain tentative assumptions of an intellectual and emotional nature, for now at least I can blend intuitions and intellect in ways impossible for me before – using one or the other separately if I choose, or blending them in any mixture, so that in their combined light a more expansive vision is possible than one alone allows. In so doing, I make automatic adjustments, each one presenting a different focus or view of the subject at hand whatever it is, with each alteration bringing further understanding and giving me the keenest delight, as with new surprise I see how mind and intuitions together ever open up fresh views and combinations.

My thoughts do falter, however, when I try to verbalize even to myself the staggering implications of creativity grasped by my intuitions, even though my emotional realization also lag and cannot follow beyond a certain point. It is as if this atmospheric presence were a psychological repository for all possible subjective beings, of such import that no one could comprehend these at once or in any combination of “times”; and that each of us draws from that repository whatever it is we require, according to our understanding and circumstances, whatever they may be – while simultaneously our own experiences also add to that supportive psychological framework. In it, personal and impersonal meet and blend, forming new combinations and creative versions.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“The sense of freedom emitted by this atmospheric presence is so energizing and refreshing, so conducive to creativity, that it is impossible not to realize that in life also, repression is a denial of creativity for whatever reason.”

“By comparing my own and others’ psychic reality now with that general state I knew on earth, I’m able to see what errors of interpretation I made. Hopefully the following suggestions made in hindsight can serve others, and stress man’s need for a psychological theory that will encourage and not limit his psychic growth.

In life it is not what particular incidents or feelings we repress that cause difficulty but the mental set or habit of repression itself, and our belief in the need for repression to begin with. Repression on a daily basis restrains and restricts us on every side, in thought and action alike, limiting our exuberance and expressions of love.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“Now, however, I am surrounded by a sense of psychological luxury and supported by that atmospheric presence whose qualities I find at once so curious and so familiar. This presence is responsive. I am sure that it reacts to me, yet while it is everywhere, it is not obtrusive but again, like the summer day, it is more like a delightful medium in which all living is bathed so that it is quite possible to forget it almost, or take it for granted. I say “almost” because its qualities emerge upon you slowly, or did upon me, so that it was some time before I realized its responsiveness, for example. Therefore I suspect that the dimensions of its existence reveal themselves or are revealed according to the attention one accords them.

Again, as far as I can tell, this knowing light and atmospheric presence are the same, which is to say that at every hypothetical point, this presence is wholly here and responsive, while still retaining its atmospheric rather than specific nature.

And I know that I am cut from the same cloth, a self formed about me like the finest garment stitched according to an eternal pattern, tailored with multicolored beads of time, figured flesh without seams. And each self is put on, taken off, and worn again like a beloved article of clothing, never discarded or hung limply in a dark closet but renewed, brightened, newer with each wearing; a living garment, lovingly rendered.

I can only compare this atmosphere presence, then, to some kind of creative psychological medium possessing within itself all of the qualities necessary for existence, a repository of individuation and perceptive abilities. As all the required elements for life spring up from the ground of the earth, which also natures them, this medium seems to perform the same services, only giving birth to psychological entities and the entire universe that sustains them.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“I am convinced, then, that this atmospheric presence is the creative medium from which all consciousness springs. This same omnipresent light seems to attract the smallest of my psychological seeds, buried or struggling for freedom, sodden from the overwatering of my melancholy, so that each hope rises once again. My heart becomes ever lighter. More, this light is surely the same that in another fashion lit the skies of Boston, dawned over the ocean and splashed upon my study floor. But the quality of this knowing light differs, for it is alive with a loving intent that is instantly felt and experienced in a direct manner. There is no mistaking its intent, and again I am struck by the ambiguity of its vastly personal and impersonal aspects.

Its atmospheric qualities, for example, its unobtrusiveness, may exist only at certain levels of understanding, for in a strange manner I was comforted by the fact that this presence did not seek me out, examine me, or attempt to overwhelm me in any way. Instead it quietly offers – what? Solace, support, a buoyancy in which my existence is everywhere strengthened, refreshed, and led to perceive enticing further developments, or rather to feel itself able to expand, even to be transformed, in perfect safety.”

“Yet I am equally sure that each other person here feels the same way and is nurtured in the same fashion; and with no way to prove any of this. There is no demanding quality to the atmospheric presence or its light, yet it seems possessed of what I can only call a divine active passivity. It attracts but does not push, and yet its force is a passive one in that it seems to exist in a state of active waiting or invitation, ever welcoming, with the gigantic tenderness of power held in control, as if it is so aware of its own energy that it knows its most nonchalant caress could carry such strength as to squash the object of its love.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“Words and even my own impressions and limited perceptions may be misleading in this respect, in that I believe that comprehension of this atmospheric presence is automatically meted out according to the needs and conditions and nature of the perceiver. Again I am reduced to analogies, but using the exotic plant simile, it is as if I am “watered,” nurtured, and given light in exact proportion to my own needs; not – for example – given too much light or overtended with fertilizer (richer comprehensions than my own rooted thoughts can take), but spontaneously receive exactly what I require.

This suggests some cosmic automatic plant-tending device of an impersonal nature, leading to the complications I mentioned earlier. For I barely sense that this seemingly automatic relationship rests upon an intimated contact of the most personal nature imaginable, one deeper than any possible in what on earth is considered intimate contact.

That is, this seemingly automatic nurturing, this meting out of comprehension and light, seems to be based on an intimate, loving knowledge of my own state and being so complete that it spontaneously delivers what is needed before I realize my own needs – in a way more characteristic of a mother, say, than a father. And as a suckling’s pressure on a cow’s teat brings forth milk, so in some unfathomable psychological nurturing, the pressure of man’s needs automatically inclines this presence to bring forth whatever strength, understanding, or support is required. And as a mother gains satisfaction from nursing her child, so this atmospheric presence feels as part of any creature as that creature’s mother in the act of nursing, so that the seemingly automatic cultivation is more intimate, based on an impossibly complicated relationship.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“Because man has set himself apart from nature it seems that he must manipulate it to his advantage. He does not let it work for him as it wants to do, for nature also possesses a good intent, flowing as it does from this atmospheric presence.”

- William James (The Afterdeath Journal of An American Philosopher)

“The intermediate sphere is also primarily populated by spirits in whom there is still some light of redemption based on the light of their conscience (Romans 2:11-16). There are many different levels in the earth sphere ranging from very dry and parched landscapes to those resembling paradise as one goes higher. Many thousands of various sections, each one like a totally different country, exist within this sphere; each catering for the diversities of spiritual schools and education still necessary for those whose spirits have redemption quality and who have only a partial revelation of Christ through their conscience (Romans 2 category).

The revelation of Christ is given in varying degrees to all those in accordance to their spiritual development. Spirits in the earth sphere are not able to see all of the glory of Christ in the highest heavens but a measure of the light of Christ is given dimly at this level. Some of those humans who have OBE (out of body experiences) and NDE (near death experiences) saw this realm without seeing the light of Christ. Others saw this realm and came to know the light of Christ. Many had a genuine experience in the spirit world but did not interpret it correctly. For in this realm are thousands of redeemed souls who are now serving as ministering spirits and depending on the spiritual development of the ministering spirit assigned to humans with OBEs or NDEs, they are given only a partial knowledge of the spirit world. It is wrong of them to assume that their partial knowledge is the total knowledge of the spirit world.

For this reason some of the knowledge acquired from OBEs and NDEs seems to be contradictory to one another. For even within the spirit realm, free will is still respected and redeemed spirits progress from one level of knowledge to another level from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). No revelation is ever forced upon a redeemed spirit but each must acquire and come to know the full revelation of Christ and of God as they progress.”

- The Spiritual World (Peter Tan)

“In the Spiritual World, what you believe (including false beliefs about God) hinders your spiritual progress and ability to interact with Truth. A person who does not believe that God has a form, is darkened by his own incorrect understanding even in the Spiritual World; and to him, the Spiritual World seems to only consist of invisible energies without shapes or forms because of his own undeveloped understanding. To him, God remains invisible.

We have a similar situation on a smaller scale in human encounters with angels. Sometimes in visions, dreams or even when a human spirit leaves the physical body and enters the Spiritual World, the angels seem like flickering balls or images of light to the human spirit. This is caused by his own spiritual sense of sight being undeveloped. If his spiritual sight is developed properly, he would see that the lights that he is seeing are actually human-like forms – angels coming to his aid.”

- The Spiritual World (Peter Tan)

The True Light of the Entire Universe

In the Spiritual World, the only light that lights up the entire universe is the light of Christ that shines from His throne. This light does not cast any shadows but rather flows right through all living creatures in the spiritual realm. Even the light of the brightest angels is the refraction of the light of Christ. Those who are on the earth spheres do not see the light of Christ all the time because in the spiritual world you need the same equivalent spiritual level to see in that same level of spiritual light. From time to time, the light of Christ would shine according to the needs of individuals in the earth sphere but the visibility of that glorious light has to be diminished according to the level of the individual. However, the presence of Christ is always there without the individual spirit, who is not developed to the higher glory, realizing it. This light is also the very means by which all life in every sphere is sustained and nourished.

The light of the spiritual world is different from the physical sunlight that the material earth has. It is interpenetrating and shines through the physical realm. Thus when we look at a human being from the spiritual realm, we do not really see the physical body, it appears like a mist or envelope – although this also depends on the spiritual development of the spirit; those who are still earth-bound see the material realm as a solid. The well developed spirits of the higher spirit realm see right into the spirit and soul of humans.

The spiritual world has its own substance and just as the spiritual world is invisible to us, our material world is more or less like a mist to those in the spiritual realm – with the exception of spirits in the lowest earth spheres whose basic character and mind is still very much earth based. When the spirit world looks at this material earth, it primarily sees only the spiritual aspects of the earth (the spirits of humans and the spirit life that sustains the material world). The material world is almost invisible to the spirit realm especially to those of the highest sphere. The material world is only temporary and its “temporariness” is visible (like a mist) to those in the spiritual world.

The light of God shines through Christ who sits on the throne in the highest realm and lights up all of the universe and the spiritual spheres around the earth. Those who are highest in spiritual development see Christ in His full glory; while to those in lowest development, His appearance is like the sun shining upon them. Unlike the sun, the spiritual light from Jesus shines through all objects and when a spiritual being radiates with light, it is because the light refracts through the spirit being.

All the light of everything in the spiritual world come from Christ at the throne on high. The reason why spirits of the lowest realm cannot perceive or see this light is not because it is not there but rather that their own spiritual blindness has prevented them from seeing this light. Like a blind man born without proper eyes, their spiritual eyes are not yet developed to see the light of Christ which ever shines through all His creation. Thus to them, all is darkness save the light of angelic help which they receive. The light of Christ, which shines to and through all, casts no shadows.”

- The Spiritual World (Peter Tan)

“There are many “heavens” where the presence of God is manifested to a different degree in each sphere. All planetary spheres of God have their own heaven and progress to the heaven of heavens where God dwells. The glory of each heaven is progressively greater with the least glory in the sphere of heaven nearer the earth and the greatest glory in the sphere of heaven nearest to the heaven of heavens.”

- The Spiritual World (Peter Tan)