27 June, 1918
After the sleep there is a difference. Before there is always a certain amount of illusion that you are still just the same person that you were in the earth life. That illusion doesn't get dispelled before the sleep, only the spirit gets enough quieted, enough reconciled to feel the sense of personal fatigue. You see, the understanding is carried just far enough to relieve the immediate sense of trouble and worry.
Then comes the sense of tiredness, the spirit longs to rest, there comes the great desire to sleep.
In that sleep a great deal happens but I don't know enough yet to tell you about it. It's not exactly a sleep, but your sleep in the earth life is very much the nearest thing to it. You know how much can happen to you in sleep that you can't explain. All you know is that you wake up another being. When the spirit comes out of that sleep he knows where he is and what he is, as you sometimes wake up in the morning with some knotty problem solved.
Those who pass over with full knowledge and understanding of the life beyond do not need that sleep at all, unless they come with their spirits tired with long illness or the worries of life. In practice almost everyone needs the sleep period for a shorter or longer time. The greater difficulty of the spirit in adjusting itself to the new conditions, the longer and deeper the sleep period that is necessary.
Now to describe what it feels like when you come out of that deep sleep. You know quite clearly that you are alive, without any muddle about thinking that you are still in earth life. During that experience something has taught us and told us. I think perhaps we have been able to reach out and understand completely than we can realize at once when we wake up there is a curious inner feeling, a comforting sense that we do understand somewhere, somehow.
But on waking, the first thing that follows the realization of where we are and what we are, that we are really surviving spirits and that we really are on another plane of experience, is an enormous curiosity, and a very strong desire to explore and understand further. First there are things - that is what first strikes you - of the same kind as you see on earth, only somehow different. They are real, but you have a sense that they are only temporary, that they just belong to that first waking stage.
Then you find, and it seems very curious and fascinating, that you can change those things by wishing them to change. You can only do it with quite small and unimportant things, but for instance - you can look at a pine needle on the ground where you are sitting, and begin to think of it as a real needle, a steel needle, and then it is an ordinary sowing needle and you can pick it up.
You can't change big things, you can't change the whole scene around you. That is because it is not your scene, it belongs to lots of other spirits too, but you can change any little thing, when the change won't affect anybody else. Then you begin to realize that all the things around you are all thought forms, memory forms, and that it is arranged like that so as to make the transition easy from material life to spiritual life. You learn a great deal simply by finding out what you can change by changing your own thought about it, and what remains unaltered however you think about it.
That makes you understand how little belongs to you alone so that you can do exactly what you like with it individually and how much belongs to the whole concourse of spirits of which you are part. So far I have only told you of one's own perceptions and realizations, but there is also a great deal that cannot be learnt only from what we see.
First there is talk and interchange of ideas with others who are in the same stage of development. It is like ordinary speech between people with ordinary bodies and clothes and features, only you have that curious sense, which one often has in earth life, of understanding a great deal more than what is said. You have that sense in the first spirit conversations, only you have it very much more strongly, and very soon you begin to feel that the words are only a kind of artificial framework, almost unnecessary to the thought.
Well, we converse together and help ourselves to understand, that is the most important thing about it. Second, there is further help that we need, and get, from very from rather more advanced spirits who come and talk with us and explain things. I won't say that they are very advanced because that happens to be the particular job I am doing myself at present, but you can see that it comes just a step beyond helping people before their sleep.
We don't go to lecture them, just to answer their questions, because they want to know more than they can find out, and we who have just not so long ago passed through their stage and got on a little bit further can tell them just enough to satisfy them. Just as much as they can take in as yet. Especially, we can tell them that they will not get on until they are fit to go back and help other people through the first stage before the sleep. That makes them keen to shove forward a bit, because it does not do if they get dreamy and just play about with their thought forms and nothing else.
You see, there you can have anything you like within reason, games and all that sort of thing, and if they did not know about anything they would probably think this was heaven, and just go on playing like children, indefinitely. So they really need us to come and tell them that there is something further to get on to. After they have had enough rest and play they begin to want work, and they are keen when we come along and tell them that there is work, and explain to them how to get at it.