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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead


[1] "Human Personality" (Longmans, Green & Co.)

If I were free to use the simplest illustration without any pretence at scientific exactitude, I should say that the new theory supposes that there are inside each of us not one personality but two, and that these two correspond to husband and wife. There is the Conscious Personality, which stands for the husband. It is vigorous, alert, active, positive, monopolising all the means of communication and production. So intense is its consciousness that it ignores the very existence of its partner, excepting as a mere appendage and convenience to itself. Then there is the Unconscious Personality, which corresponds to the wife who keeps cupboard and storehouse, and the old stocking which treasures up the accumulated wealth of impressions acquired by the Conscious Personality, but who is never able to assert any right to anything, or to the use of sense or limb except when her lord and master is asleep or entranced. When the Conscious Personality has acquired any habit or faculty so completely that it becomes instinctive, it is handed on to the Unconscious Personality to keep and use, the Conscious Ego giving it no longer any attention. Deprived, like the wife in countries where the subjection of woman is the universal law, of all right to an independent existence, or to the use of the senses or of the limbs, the Unconscious Personality has discovered ways and means of communicating other than through the recognised organs of sense.

How vast and powerful are those hidden organs of the Unconscious Personality we can only dimly see. It is through them that Divine revelation is vouchsafed to man. The visions of the mystic, the prophecies of the seer, the inspiration of the sibyl, all come through this Unconscious Soul. It is through this dumb and suppressed Ego that we communicate by telepathy,--that thought is transferred without using the five senses. This under-soul is in touch with the over-soul, which, in Emerson's noble phrase, "abolishes time and space." "This influence of the senses has," he says, "in most men, overpowered their mind to that degree that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is in the world the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul." It is this Unconscious Personality which sees the _Strathmore_ foundering in mid-ocean, which hears a whisper spoken hundreds of miles off upon the battlefield, and which witnesses, as if it happened before the eyes, a tragedy occurring at the Antipodes.

In proportion as the active, domineering Conscious Personality extinguishes his submissive unconscious partner, materialism flourishes, and man becomes blind to the Divinity that underlies all things. Hence in all religions the first step is to silence the noisy, bustling master of our earthly tabernacle, who, having monopolised the five senses, will listen to no voice which it cannot hear, and to allow the silent mistress to be open-souled to God. Hence the stress which all spiritual religions have laid upon contemplation, upon prayer and fasting. Whether it is an Indian Yogi, or a Trappist Monk, or one of our own Quakers, it is all the same. In the words of the Revivalist hymn, "We must lay our deadly doing down," and in receptive silence wait for the inspiration from on high. The Conscious Personality has usurped the visible world; but the Invisible, with its immeasurable expanse, is the domain of the Sub-conscious. Hence we read in the Scriptures of losing life that we may find it; for things of time and sense are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.