The Bright Messenger, by Algernon Blackwood

Chapter 3

THE net result of his inquiries and research, when, at the age of nearly forty, he established his own Private Home for unusual, so-called hopeless cases in North — West London it was free to all, and as Spiritual Clinique he thought of it sometimes with a smile may be summed up in the single sentence that man is greater than he knows, and that completer realization of his full possibilities lies accessible to his subconscious and superconscious powers. Herein he saw, indeed, the chief hope of progress for humanity.

And it was to the failures, the diseased, the evil and the broken that he owed chiefly his inspiring optimism, since it was largely in collapse that occurred the sporadic upheaval of those super-normal forces which, controlled, coordinated, led, must eventually bring about the realization he foresaw.

The purpose, however, of these notes is not to furnish a sensational story of various patients whom he studied, healed, or failed to heal. Its object is to give some details of one case in particular whose outstanding peculiarities affected his theories and convictions, leaving him open-minded still, but with a breath of awe in his heart perhaps, before a possibility his previous knowledge had ruled entirely out of court, even if which is doubtful he had ever considered it as a possibility at all.

He had realized early that the individual manifests but an insignificant portion of his being in his ordinary existence, the normal self being the tip of his consciousness only, yet whose fuller expression rises readily to adequate evocation; and it was the study of genius, of prodigies, so-called, and of certain faculties shown sometimes in hysteria, that led him to believe these were small jets from a sea of power that might, indeed ought, to be realizable at will. The phenomena all pointed, he believed, to powers that seemed as superior to cerebral functions as they were independent of these.

Man’s possible field of being, in other words, seemed capable of indefinite extension. His heart glowed within him as he established, step by step, these greater powers. He dared to foresee a time when the limitations of separate personality would have been destroyed, and the vast brotherhood of the race become literally realized, its practical unity accomplished.

The difficulties were endless and discouraging. The inventive powers of the bigger self, its astonishing faculty for dramatizing its content in every conceivable form, blocked everywhere the search for truth.

It could, he found, also detach a portion of its content into a series of separate personalities, each with its individual morals, talents, tendencies, each with its distinct and separate memory. These fragments it could project, so to speak, masquerading convincingly as separate entities, using strange languages, offering detailed knowledge of other conditions, distant in time and space, suggesting, indeed, to the unwary that they were due to obsessing spirits, and leaving the observer in wonder before the potential capacity of the central self disgorging them.

The human depths included, beyond mere telepathy and extended telepathy, an expansion of consciousness so vast as to be, apparently, limitless. The past, on rare occasions even the future, lay open; the entire planetary memory, stored with rich and pregnant accumulated experience, was accessible and shareable. New aspects of space and time were equally involved. A vision of incredible grandeur opened gradually before his eyes.

The surface consciousness of today was really rather a trumpery affair; the gross lethargy of the vast majority vis a vis the greater possibilities afflicted him. To this surface consciousness alone was so-called evil possible as ignorance. As “ugly is only half-way to a thing,” so evil is half-way to good. With the greater powers must come greater knowledge, shared as by instantaneous wireless over the entire planet, and misunderstanding, chief obstacle to progress always, would be impossible. A huge unity, sense of oneness must follow. Moral growth would accompany the increase of faculty. And here and there, it seemed to him, the surface ice had thawed already a little; the pressure of the great deeps below caused cracks and fissures. Auto-suggestion, prototype of all suggestion, offered mysterious hints of the way to reach the stupendous underworld, as the Christian Scientists, the miraculous healers, the New Thought movement, saints, prophets, poets, artists, were finding out.

The subliminal, to state it shortly, might be the divine. This was the hope, though not yet the actual belief, that haunted and inspired him. Behind his personality lurked this strange gigantic dream, ever beating to get through . . . .

In his Private Home, helping, healing, using his great gifts of sympathy and insight, he at the same time found the material for intimate study and legitimate experiment he sought. The building had been altered to suit his exact requirements; there were private suites, each with its door and staircase to the street; one part of it provided his own living quarters, shut off entirely from the patients’ side; in another, equally cut off and self-contained, yet within easy communication of his own rooms, lived Paul Devonham, his valued young assistant. There was a third private suite as well. The entire expenses he defrayed himself.

Here, then, for a year or two he worked indefatigably, with the measure of success and failure he anticipated; here he dreamed his great dream of the future of the race, in whose progress and infinite capacities he hopefully believed. Work was his love, the advancement of humanity his god. The war availed itself of his great powers, as also of his ready-made establishment, both of which he gave without a thought of self. New material came as well from the battlefields into his ken.

The effect of the terrible five years upon him was in direct proportion to his sincerity. His mind was not the type that shirks conclusions, nor fears to look facts in the face. For really new knowledge he was ever ready to yield all previous theories, to scrap all he had held hitherto for probable. His mind was open, he sought only Truth.

The war, above all the Peace, shook his optimism. If it did not wholly shatter his belief in human progress, it proved such progress to be so slow that his Utopia faded into remotest distance, and his dream of perfectibility became the faintest possible star in his hitherto bright sky of hope.

He felt shocked and stupefied. The reaction was greater than at first he realized. He had often pitied the mind that, aware only of its surface consciousness, uninformed by thrill or shift of the great powers below and above, lived unwarned of its own immenser possibilities. To such, the evidence for extended human faculties must seem explicable by fraud, illusion, derangement, to be classed as abnormal rubbish worthy only of the alienist’s attention as diseases. To him such minds, though able, with big intellects among them, had ever seemed a prejudiced, fossilized, prehistoric type. Restricted by their very nature, violently resisting new ideas, they might be intense within their actual scope, but, with vision denied them, they never could be really great.

One effect of the shock he had undergone will be evident by merely stating that he now understood this type of mind a good deal better than before.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31