Arthur Guirdham - Camelot magazine

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Reflections on Psychic Survival
A guide to making the most of life on earth – and beyond

“The other day when walking down a lane an iron cage tightened round my breastbone. The tide of life went out. My psyche, pulsating in a thin wavelet on the shore, resisted the suction of the ebb tide. I had another and sharper attack of angina. I sat on a stone and let it pass. It was a still day with a touch of autumn in the air. I wondered if in the seasons of my soul, it was later than autumn. Because of this closer intimation of mortality it seemed to me that the day has come when I should summarise what I have learnt in my passage through this world. It seemed that by so doing I might return, dressed in another garb, to my vocation as a doctor, because what I have to say is both realistic and reassuring. Though it starts off with the proposition that we endure the worst here in this world, we end with the knowledge that we achieve a peace not of annihilation and unending sleep, but something of which we are conscious.
The evening of my attack I insisted on going to a small dinner given by a woman whom I had appointed to her first job forty-three years ago and who wished for the presence of her first chief. I was very happy. It was obvious that my hostess had given and received much affection from the staff she had directed. There was such a harmony of love and gratitude that I was loathe to leave the party early. Inside the well lit room with its white walls my psyche was loosened from my personality. The psyche is the immortal and mature element of our nature which enters us at conception. The personality is what we fabricate slowly from the conspiracy between our genes and our environment. My liberated psyche relived those earlier days when the high trees deadened the traffic past my house, when what is now a park was a field glistening with buttercups and with the cuckoo calling from beyond the high elms on mornings of May.
Because of my soulʼs ephemeral freedom from the chains of personality I was joined to the psyches of those around me. This is a deeper, rarer and briefer experience of love than what we mean by the word which conveys too often possession smeared with the anodyne of beautiful sensations. Out in the dark streets it was different. I could, because I was still living in my psyche, enjoy the iridescent green of the leaves near the street lamps and the shape of the trees, their branches raised in imploring arms to a starlit but inscrutable sky.
Then the spell was broken. I wondered how it was with those with whom I had dined, when they went home and whether, like me, they shunned the hostile frontiers of night beyond the street lamps; whether, alone, at home, they reverted to a sense of their own solitude, recollecting that in the end, at death and often years before it we are so often alone as far as contact with other personalities are concerned. Sometimes in dying we are able to smile at arms raised to welcome us by psyches still watching over us.
Nevertheless it was a dark thought to think of the light room and the unity of love within it, and to recall that, away from others, away from such rare harmonies, away even from the coarser consolation of the tribal instinct, so many of us are frightened and alone.
It is for this reason that I begin to write this book which tries to answer questions we all ask, of others if we are honest, of ourselves if we bluff. Where do we come from and what are we here for? What happens after death and what, if any, is the purpose of life? There will be little theorising. I leave that to the theologians and scientists who constitute the two sides, one dulled, the other unnaturally burnished, of the same worn penny. What I write expresses not only my philosophical attitude but is the story of my inner life. The two motives are inseparable. All philosophy is the muted story of one man’s struggle with the universe. In writing this record I will not discard the weapons of intuition and logic which served me well enough in the practice of medicine. The older I grew the more I relied on the former for diagnosis and the latter for its justification. Nor will I reject those deep and sudden convictions which pierced me like lightning when, as a boy in Cumberland, on the road to Loweswater, walking between hedges frothing with honeysuckle, its odour borne towards me by the soft sea wind, I was stabbed to the heart by my sudden realisation of the changeless, grocer’s shop prescriptions of Christianity, of the special allowance which would be undoubtedly made (provided the representations to God were suitably phrased) for blacks and other zoological embarrassments who had never heard the Word. In these moments I was tiptoeing cunningly past the elastic and rapidly expanding frontiers of hell; but the seawind was blowing, the roses were blooming. By Loweswater it was all heaven and no wind and the silence and beauty were unbroken by the mutterings of hell expressed in the echoes of theological ideas. In this hell I had walked in heaven. Such sudden convictions which fill the gulf created by a missed heartbeat are of great importance. I will speak also a little of the truth implicit in beauty, and which I felt in my childhood and boyhood as a total experience to be lost with age. In adult life I was still transported by beauty, but its manifestations were more external and I was not wholly engulfed by it. But what I am most concerned with is revealed truth because, without pride or humility and mostly with regret, I accept that I have been given the capacity to hear those who speak truth from worlds where this life is seen, not in its fullness, but in its very littleness as the ripple of a breath on the waters of the Cosmos. I have also learnt truth directly from a memory extending over millennia and which includes an immensity of pain.
For those for whom to communicate with the ones we call dead spells imbalance and hysterical suggestibility, it should be said that my approach to revealed truth was logical and progressive. It began with the intensive verification of minute historical data, and proceeded onwards through psychic synchronisations to direct communications from the dead who, in speaking of past lives, fulfilled the dictum of Plato that truth and wisdom are merely memory, provided the latter extends beyond the confines of a single life. I learnt what I know not in the timeless half-dream, half-death of life as a lecturer in philosophy at an Oxford College, but in psychic warfare extended over decades; when people took their lives because they could not penetrate the mystery of the hell about them, and in which, at peace for a moment watching the tapers of the almond blossom hastening the dispersing mists of winter. I was suddenly aware of someone in need and hastened to find them at the point of suicide”.


“The first chapters of this book have been in my mind for decades. They are an expression of my basic  nature. In my attitude to organized religion I could not have felt other than I did. It was all in the marrow of my bones. In the first chapters I make my case for revealed truth.  Afterwards I divulge its contents. I learnt what I have divulged by a process of initiation in which I learnt the symbols through which psychic and spiritual men have communicated with each other through centuries. When I achieved the capacity to talk to the discarnates at different degrees I acquired an understanding of what would formerly have been incomprehensible to me. Sometimes what they communicated was so difficult that I only understood it while I was actually speaking with them and had to write it down in order not to forget it. I have excluded such matter from this book which contains nothing which is not now clear to me at the conscious level.
It may seem to some that I have stressed too much the virtues of passivity, that I have spoken too much of knowing rather than being and doing. When I speak of passivity I am describing an inner attitude and not an outward demeanour. The last thing I wish  to convey is that the truth is the prerogative of a self-elected immobile elite. I have met these people who, sitting with folded arms, seek to impress by claiming special insights and exuding a self-conscious serenity. It is not a pleasant sight. All of us are born to occupy different action stations in this life. We cannot escape our destiny. But let it be said with resounding emphasis that our destiny is also our duty. We are here to work, whatever the outcome, and to express those traits of personality which we have developed in past lives and which must be evolved further. They are the mechanisms by which we learn.
If this world is a battleground between good and evil, it is not enough to recognize this and remain neutral. Certainly benevolent neutrality towards ourselves is better than a protracted puritanical brawl between the spirit and the flesh. We must accept that we ourselves are an expression in miniature of the battle in the macrocosm. If we hate and castigate ourselves too much for our own failings we increase our tension and with it our sense of apartness and this is a great evil. We must recognize that we live in a world of emanation. Our own good acts are not our own. We do not generate love but are possessed by it. The evils which afflict us, the very diseases from which we suffer, are rarely self-inflicted. In them we are overborn by the power of evil. This is where an understanding of the nature of the Cosmos is so vital to our well being. It helps us to accept that we are interconnected molecules in nature and not lords of creation.
To accept that we are enveloped in waves of good and evil enables us to live naturally and to avoid being trapped in ethical systems. The moralists are all too often the persecutors.
We are here to accept ourselves as we are and other people as they are. This is not fatalism but commonsense. Fatalism implies doom and is only logical to those who think in terms of this world only. What we have to accept is the certainty of defeat in this world, but this is no tragedy if we are partakers in a continuing evolution in which we recognize the world as the lowest rung of the ladder. But what happens even in this world is that acceptance, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, of our own limitations and of those of the world about us, enables us to change. As soon as we recognize that we cannot change we are changed, because to recognize that we cannot change is an abnegation of the cult of personality and when this dies the wings of our psyche are unfolded and we are reborn in this life. We pass from the world of social and ethical standards to that of emanation. We emit light rather than explanations.

PARADISE FOUND - The musings of a distinguished psychiatrist and author that pull a lifetime’s experiences together in an attempt to answer questions that concern us all, door Arthur Guirdham. Uitgave van Turnstone Press Ltd, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, Engeland, 1980

Arthur en zijn vrouw Mary in Bath, Engeland, oktober 1979

Arthur Guirdham (1905–1992) was psychiater, schrijver en dichter en jarenlang hoofd van een psychiatrische kliniek voor kinderen in Engeland. Hij heeft een indrukwekkende reeks boeken geschreven, een van zijn laatste heet Paradise found - A guide to making the  most of life on earth - and beyond (1980). Ik heb een aantal malen bij Arthur thuis gelogeerd in Bath, Engeland. In de jaren zeventig stuurde hij me op een dag een artikel op over de Catharen en reïncarnatie, een van de onderwerpen waarmee hij zich bezighield.
Arthur had onorthodoxe ideeën die in de jaren zestig en zeventig welkom waren. Het was de tijd van bewustzijnsverruiming en spiritualiteit. Jongeren trokken naar India, Nepal en Afghanistan voor spirituele verlichting, die ze in hun eigen samenleving niet konden vinden. Men wilde een vrije en vitale burgermaatschappij met open grenzen naar kennis. De verbeelding moest aan de macht, de slogan van de jaren zestig: L'imagination au pouvoir! Arthurs ongebruikelijk ideeën betroffen psychosomatische geneeskunde, de oorsprong van ziekte, extra-sensory perception - buitenzintuiglijke waarneming - in Nederland onderdeel van de parapsychologie. Paraspychologie had veel belangstelling in die tijd, ook in Nederland. Er was hier zelfs een faculteit Parapsychologie aan de Universiteit van Utrecht. Het ziet ernaar uit dat dat anno 2021 niet meer zou kunnen.
Een van Arthurs baanbrekende boeken was A Theory of Disease (1957), een alternatief perspectief op ziekten. Het gaat bijvoorbeeld in op de ontwikkeling van macht in de persoonlijkheid. In competitie met de kuddemens raakt de ambitieuze mens verslaafd aan macht: "Beter worden dan je medemens wil zeggen dat je, in termen van psychologie en ook spiritualiteit, je je onderwerpt aan hun dictaat. Men wordt gedreven tot steeds hoger klimmen omdat men geen vergelijking accepteert". Arthur was ervan overtuigd dat suggestie een grote rol speelt en zowel fysieke als licht psychiatrische ziekten veroorzaakt. Vooral het zenuwstelsel van de Westerse mens is kwetsbaar, bezien vanuit zowel fysiek als psychiatrisch oogpunt. Hij voorzag een gestage groei in
obsessionals - 'geobsedeerden' - en  psychosomatische en stressziekten. Dikwijls bracht hij de gregarious herd ter sprake, de kuddemensen die o zo vatbaar zijn voor  massahysterie of massapsychose. Tegenwoordig hebben we het wel over intensieve menshouderij, een term die geen nadere uitleg nodig heeft.

Arthur beschouwde religiositeit als een wezenlijk onderdeel van het mens-zijn. Maar tegelijkertijd stond hij argwanend tegenover de georganiseerde godsdienst. In zijn boeken wees hij er telkens weer op dat georganiseerde godsdienst, waaronder het kerkelijk christendom, altijd uit is geweest op macht en manipulatie.
Een van Arthurs boeken is getiteld The psyche in medicine (1978). Hij vertelde me eens dat de psychologie het begrip ziel had weggewerkt uit haar eigen academische discipline. Een kwalijke ontwikkeling volgens hem.

Arthurs beschrijving van het begrip - onsterfelijke -
1. No final and perfected aspect of being
2. Essentially a vibrating channel
De ziel is de verbinding tussen de aardse, tijdgebonden persoonlijkheid en de geïndividualiseerde geest, die weer de verbinding vormt met het universele (ondeelbare) bewustzijn, de ultieme bron van het zijn

Alexandra Gabrielli, november 2021

© 2019-2024 Alexandra Gabrielli
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