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Traveler Summary

Let us think of ourselves as we were then. We know that on this day we would remember what happened to us on the previous day. We would probably remember much farther back than that, perhaps a month, perhaps several months. In each case let us go back in imagination to that earlier date which we could then recollect, and continue the process of retracing our conscious existence as far back as possible.

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Finally we would reach a point where the picture would be too hazy, but in each and every case as we went farther and farther back in our imaginary journey toward infancy, we would recognize ourselves on that day as the same Ego, the same I-AM-I as on the "yesterday" before it. We know by this that the Ego did not come into existence with its first conscious memory, but that it existed, was active, and observing events much earlier, and that it had a day-to-day recollection of other and earlier events which it later forgot.

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We can confirm all this, for it becomes very evident, if we watch a two or three-year-old child, that the Ego is present, active and observing, much earlier than the child will be able to recollect later in life. Our interests and our fields of experience vary greatly during the different periods of our life. In maturity they may extend over a wide range, while in infancy they are limited to the four walls of the nursery. But no matter whether the field is great or small, the nature and essential function of the Ego is to observe and learn from life, and this is characteristic of the infant just as much as it is of the full grown man.

Right from the start and all through life the occupation of the Ego is that of spectator and experiencer of life. When we took the retrospective view, trying to determine if the Ego came into existence with its earliest memory, we arrived at a point where the Ego was probably unable to recollect any event in its earlier existence because the picture was too hazy. Does this mean that the Ego had no existence prior to its first faint recollections? If we watch an infant in its earliest months, even shortly after birth, we notice that during its relatively brief waking periods, part of the time there is an observing consciousness present, for we can see the eyes following the mother as she moves around the room.

But at other times the eyes, as if exhausted, stare vacantly into space, and though the body is not asleep, the consciousness has absented itself, much as it does when an adult is "day-dreaming. This appearance and disappearance of the consciousness keeps repeating itself with gradually shortening sleep periods and lengthening periods of conscious existence.

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In this we see a duplication of what often happens to an adult when he awakens only to fall asleep again, and we see a "repetition in reverse" of what so often occurs at death when the consciousness withdraws, only to return again, perhaps several times before final withdrawal. What happens to the infant's consciousness during its absent periods? There seem to be two possible alternatives: 1. The consciousness passes out of this plane onto some other plane of consciousness where it dwells until it returns to this plane, or 2.

The consciousness is annihilated each time it goes, and a new consciousness comes into existence each time the infant wakes up. If the second alternative were true we would have a new consciousness coming into existence with each waking-sleeping cycle.

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That would make a whole string of different consciousnesses coming into being, only to be snuffed right out again, and each time the baby woke up there would be one more to add to the list. The idea does not appeal to the reason. The first alternative is supported by the fact that as soon as memory begins to operate we have proof that it is the same consciousness that comes and goes, for the infant in one conscious period will remember events from a former, even though the two periods were separated by intervals of unconsciousness. The fact that the memory was non-operative in the earliest stages should not produce a change in the status of the consciousness itself.

And if it is the same consciousness unit coming and going after memory is developed, it should be reasonable to conclude that is the same consciousness unit, the same Ego, that has been present ever since birth. If then, during its absence from this plane, the consciousness has retreated to some other plane, it must have had some kind of vehicle for existence on this, to us, invisible plane. If it can exist in this vehicle and on this inner plane during the periods of its absence from the body and the material plane, it can just as well exist in this same vehicle on this same inner plane before its first visit to the body, or before the body existed.

So it seems that there is nothing in our knowledge regarding the first appearance of consciousness in the body contradicting the ancient teaching that this consciousness existed before the birth of the body. A circumstance that also points to an existence of the consciousness before its entry into the body is the early appearance in children of definite gifts, aptitudes and talents. These gradually come to the surface without being in any way prompted or inculcated by the parents. For instance, there may be two children in the same family, one of which has distinct artistic ability that the other completely lacks.

The first one will produce with a few lines scrawled on a piece of paper the picture of a natural and even good-looking face, while the other child, even with help and instruction, can produce only a crude caricature — a "goblin-face. The artistic child did not acquire his ability in this life; neither did prodigies in music, mathematics and other fields learn these subjects in this one life.

When and where could these arts have been mastered then, except in former existences? Does not the growth from infancy through childhood and youth show every sign of an incoming soul overshadowing, vitalizing and gradually taking possession of a material body furnished it by Nature?

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It is the soul that left a dying body sometime in the far distant past that is now "waking up" in a new body, gradually displaying the heritage it brought with it. It might be said that a man's house is in one sense a part of himself, for it is a necessary adjunct to his life here. Every time he passes out through the door he finds himself in open space where the conditions are vastly different from those inside the four walls of the house. Perhaps his work keeps him out-of-doors all day, but in the evening he returns and re-enters his home where he again finds the old familiar surroundings.

But a house will in time get out of repair; perhaps the foundation settles, and one evening when he comes home the door jams, and he finds himself locked out.

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The passing of the man from indoors to out-of-doors did not change the man except that it enlarged his view and perhaps put him in a different frame of mind. The fact that he could not return through the jammed door did not in any way change his condition in the out-of-doors. Man's consciousness lives in a body, a "house" of flesh. Every twenty-four hours it passes out of this house through the door of unconsciousness into sleep, and then finds itself in some sort of "out-of-doors" of consciousness, with conditions of existence very different from those inside the "house.

Preceding death the consciousness also passes out of its "house" through the door of unconsciousness and may remain absent for long periods, only to return and repeat this coming and going many times before final withdrawal. During each of these absent intervals the consciousness has some sort of an existence in some "out-of-doors" of consciousness, which for all we know to the contrary is the same or similar to that experienced in sleep.

Each time when the consciousness returns after one of these pre-death absences, it is the same Ego, the same I-AM-I as before, so that in this case also the out-of-the-body existence did not change the identity of the Ego and did not interfere with its continuity of existence. Now let us suppose for the sake of illustration, that the Ego passes into unconsciousness six times, and six times returns to consciousness, but the next time it loses consciousness it does not return.

Does the number of times it returns have any influence on the out-of-the-body existence of the Ego? Suppose it had come back a seventh time; would it not still have been the same essential Ego as the one that came back the fifth, fourth or third time? And suppose it came back many more times; would it not still be the same Ego as before? Does not this indicate that the Ego had a continuous existence whether in or out of the body? And may it not be possible that even when the Ego failed to return, it had tried to re-enter the body this time also, but found it too far disintegrated?

The Ego was locked out as the man who could not re-enter his house, because of the jammed door, but the Ego had not ceased to exist any more than the man who was locked out. And why should we think, when the consciousness failed to return after its last disappearance, that its condition in the "out-of-doors" on the other side of death was any different from what it would have been if the door had not jammed and the consciousness had returned this time also?

Is there not a remarkable similarity, operating in reverse, between the consciousness slowly, gradually and intermittently taking possession of the body after birth, and that same consciousness slowly and alternately interrupted by briefer and briefer return visits, gradually withdrawing from the body at death? Death then, is the opposite to Birth, not the opposite to Life.

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Life is continuous. Consciousness comes into this material plane through the door of birth from some "out-of-doors" of consciousness. It sojourns on this plane for a period of years and then leaves through the door of death to re-enter the "out-of-doors" of consciousness from which it came. But what happens to the consciousness after it has left this material plane and entered the great "out-of-doors" on the other side of the portal of death?

Here as also in sleep the ordinary human consciousness is unable to follow. The friends who watch at a deathbed are like those who gather on the seashore to bid farewell to a departing friend whose boat is slowly passing out to sea. At first it is within hailing distance but gradually it passes farther and farther out of reach and approaches closer and closer to the horizon. Finally it seems to pass the line where it drops out of sight behind the horizon, and to those on shore it seems that a sudden and complete change has taken place.

But to the man in the boat there was no sudden change, for it all came gradually and naturally. He is gone from the sight of his friends on shore, but to him there are opened other horizons, new vistas, new experiences in other states of consciousness — other mansions of life.

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But the traveler does not remain permanently in any one place. He continues his journey farther and farther, like a ship that keeps sailing always in the same direction, to the West, let us say. When, after months or years, this ship finally returns to its starting point, it comes not from the West where it disappeared, but from the East, where it seems to come out of nowhere.

While out of sight to those who stayed at home, it has still existed and been busily engaged in circumnavigating the globe. This may be considered a figurative representation of what happens after death, for during the long absence of the consciousness between earth lives, when it is completely out of touch with this world, it journeys through many mansions in the house of life, and when it returns to earth life, it makes its entry at the opposite side of the stage from where it left.

It enters at birth. When we go to sleep we do so in the full conviction that we shall awake the next morning. We know that we shall become unconscious, but that does not frighten us in the least, for we know that in the morning our consciousness will return to its familiar setting, pick up the threads from yesterday and continue life where it left off. We know so well the complete cycle of activity and rest which we experience every twenty-four hours, that we hardly give it a thought.

It feels so good to lay down the tired body after a day's hard work and forget it all, especially as during the night Nature will renew the worn out tissues and in the morning we shall awaken rested and refreshed. All in all then, sleep is both a happy experience and a beneficial one.