channelling

qmIn this last instalment of the mini-series on Jakob Lorber I will, as anticipated, share some of my own reflections and – as ever – many doubts and question marks about things which I fell I do not understand.

I find Lorber’s case emblematic of my feeling lost when thinking about channelling. I feel lost because, first of all, my rational mind refuses to discount this as a case of fraud – just an invention. I simply cannot bring myself to believe that – in 1840 – a professional musician on the verge of making a prestigious and highly desirable career move all of a sudden reinvents himself as an automatic writer. For him, I believe, the very process of automatic writing would have been utterly unknown. It is true that Emmanuel Svedenborg, who died 70 years before Lorber’s “illumination”, could have provided perfect blueprint, but I ask myself – How likely it is that Lorber (whose only literary reference was the Bible) would have known about Swedenborg? Very, very unlikely, I believe. What would have been the incentive to Lorber to ditch his musical career and his rich social life to then spend the rest of his life basically as a recluse?

Furthermore, the hoax hypothesis is even less credible if one considers the modalities of Lorber’s writing. Perfectly aligned with the tradition of automatic writers, his writing pours out as a continuous flow, without interruptions, without ever pausing or making changes. As they come out, sentences are perfectly formed, as if they had been long thought over. The same happens when he dictates to friends, and this, my readers will agreed, is an even more difficult feat to achieve if one were to simulate it. “Thinking by writing” is a thing many people do – including myself – but in order to do so one needs time to pause, reflect, and very often what comes out in writing requires edits, alterations, deleting, re-writing. But Lorber does not only write in complete sentences without ever pausing: he speaks in a continuous flow, without pauses, edits or corrections. As a university lecturer I can tell you that that does not happen even on subjects that I have been teaching for 15 years. What appears as the lecturers continuous flow is actually full of such pauses, edits and corrections. And, if it was to be transcribed, it would appear as spoken language, and not the kind of “print ready” written sentences that Lorber dictated to his scribe friends in the later years of his life.

Finally, in order to be a hoax, this would have had to be an extremely elaborated one, involving not only Lorber himself but also a relatively large number of other people, none of whom would have had the faintest motive to engage in such a fraud. My uneasy conclusion, therefore, is that Lorber was “the real thing”.

What do I mean by that? Here come the real difficulties. By “the real thing” I mean that Lorber was actually accessing a source of knowledge and information other than his normal waking consciousness, writing and dictating with modalities other than the normal creative process known to man.

The big, big problem then is what this source of knowledge and information might be. A sub-personality which had remained hidden for most of his life? A discarnate personality? And if that, what kind of personality? A deceased human? A “superior being”? Or, as claimed by Lorber, God himself?

Let’s briefly discuss each of these alternatives. Beginning with the last one, I simply do not believe in a God that looks pretty much as a bigger version of ourselves. And, in fact, as we have seen in the last article, this is not the kind of God Lorber is talking about. Lorber’s God looks much more like the “ground of being”, that ultimate consciousness similarly described by mystics of all traditions, experiencers of spiritually transformative experiencers and contemporary physicists. Now, I reflect, how can such a God have the clear, definite intentionality that emerges from Lorber’s writings? One thing is a general, cosmic drive towards betterment, more complexity, refinement, perfecting. I can live with that as an essential trait of that ultimate consciousness – a force of the universe at the most fundamental level. But a specific plan for mankind, which existed for a fraction of a second (compared to the age of the universe) on one planet orbiting one of 100 billion stars in a galaxy, in a universe in which there are at least another 100 billion galaxies, each one with an average 100 billion stars? There are more stars in the visible universe than grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth, and “God” has a plan for man? A tells this to Lorber? Sorry, I’m no game for that.

A discarnate personality, then. If this is the case, I specifically use the term “personality” because, again, whoever was talking to Lorber had a clear intent, and this is a typical trait of a person – as far as we know, a very human person. Although highly likely, we don’t know for sure if other sentient beings exist in the universe. If they do, however, I find it weird that they would manifest such a human trait as the intention for betterment, and that they would communicate in perfect German to and through a carbon-based life form on 19th century planet Earth. A human, then. A discarnate human, possibly a human who had lived before and went on existing after the death of the physical body. By looking at 150 years of studies on mediumship, we see that many communicators from the so called afterlife have in fact delivered messages of moral and philosophical nature. What is different in Lorber’s case is that the communicating spirit, on top of delivering sanctimonious messages, knew and talked about the dual particle/wave nature of light, practical applications of electromagnetic waves in long-distance communications and subatomic elementary particles. How can one make sense of this? One cannot. At least, I cannot.

Finally, the same hurdles make the sub-personality explanation untenable. By a stretch of imagination, I can think that a sub-personality of Lorber’s, imbued with Christian values from his reading of the Bible, would emerge and, through a sort of “savant syndrome” effect, deliver over 10,000 pages of written material. But again, what of the visionary scientific and technological knowledge?

No – to me the automatic writing of Jakob Lorber continues to look as a Koan in Zen Buddhism, a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.

Only that, in my case, intuitive enlightenment hasn’t come yet.

down_app

220px-Lorber1After the revelatory experience we briefly described at the end of the previous article, Jakob Lorber realised that he had been assigned an exceptional task from the unseen world above, and this was not compatible with the prestigious musical appointment he was about to take up in Trieste, Italy. He therefore decided to remain in Graz, Austria, and for the next 24 years, until his death, did little else than writing what this Voice was dictating to him. He lived a pretty modest existence, making a little money as a violin and piano teacher, but most of his time was devoted to channelling, as we would say today. He left thousands upon thousands of handwritten notes, which, once collected and printed, took up over 10,000 pages. Interestingly, before his revelation, Lorber had hardly written a single line. Even more interestingly, the manuscripts do not show any change, edit or correction, as it is typical of automatic writing.

His friend Ritter von Leitner, who went to visit him almost every day, so describes Lorber’s working method:

“He started to write in the morning, practically every day, before taking his breakfast. In his zeal, he often forgot even to have breakfast. He wrote sitting at a small table, typically wearing a woollen hat. In winter, he moved near a wood stove and the pen continued to write, at average speed, without ever pausing to think or correct something. Many times, he said that on top of hearing the Voice he also had visions of what the Voice was talking about. In order to convey what he was seeing, he found it easier to describe his visions to somebody else. In fact, especially in his later years, he dictated hundreds of pages to friends. As he was doing that, he sat beside the writing friend, gazing quietly in front of him, and never ever paused in his dictating, or went back to correct a sentence, not even a single expression.”

Lorber always wrote in first person. He always believed that the Voice came directly from God himself:

“I can only say that I hear the holy word of the Lord pronounced in the area of the heart, like the clearest, most luminous and shining thought. Nobody, even if very close to me, can hear this mysterious Voice, which for me resonates clearer than any other physical sound, no matter how strong.”

I would like to ask my readers to take note of these “phenomenological” details, as I will discuss them and their possible meaning/relevance in the last and more reflective article of the mini-series.

Now, it is essential – in light of the reflections to come – to briefly describe what Lorber was writing about.

Lorber’s writings have globally been called New Revelation: they talk about creation, they illustrate God’s project for man’s salvation, they broaden the Gospels without replacing them and, critically, they contain countless statements about the future. I say critically because if Lorber only wrote about religious matters, his case would still be interesting on account of the automatic writing, but I think it would be easier to come up with normal explanations. These other “visionary” statements are incredibly more puzzling and force us to ask ourselves very difficult questions.

Inexplicably, Lorber wrote at length and in considerable detail about astronomy, physics, the atom, elementary particles and a number of technological advances which were utterly incomprehensible to himself and his contemporaries, but which are perfectly understandable by us in the present day. To give you an idea, Lorber, a musician living in the first half of the 19th century, described the dual nature, wave and particle, of light; described how white light is formed through the summation of different colours; put colours in relation to wavelength, placing red light at the bottom of the spectrum and violet at the top. He predicted the invention of radiotelegraphy and he even described radiotelescopes; he described galaxies, quasars (!), the immense spaces of the cosmos and the overall structure of the universe. He predicted those electromagnetic waves which were discovered by Hertz in 1887, that is 23 years after Lorber’s death, and their practical applications in telecommunications, which only came about with Marconi in 1903.

Lorber’s metaphysics is strikingly similar to the theories currently being discussed by quantum physicists and philosophers of mind in the Science and Non-Duality circles. Lorber says that matter as we commonly understand it does not exist, as everything is “energy, that is spiritual or divine force, divided into infinitesimal particles”. The whole universe is made of such particles, which are “divine thoughts made autonomous”.

A man writing from 1840 onwards – therefore laden with huge religious and cultural references – Lorber seems to talk about a personified God with practical, somehow mundane concerns for the “betterment” of mankind. The full picture, however, is a lot more interesting. Lorber’s God is eternal, infinite spirit, at the origin of all that is. His highest attributes are love, wisdom and will. His spirit pervades the entire universe. Such eternal spirit emanates from a sort of spiritual sun and to that it returns.  This energy centre is eternally active and creative, and the whole creation is a gigantic process of evolution and refinement of God’s thoughts. Please compare these ideas with the description of any mystical experience – of any spiritual tradition -, or with the testimonies from near-death experiences, and even with the thinking of such a refined philosopher as Bernardo Kastrup, and you will immediately recognise the same esoteric core.

In the next and last article I will share some of my questions concerning this most interesting case.

down_app

This lorberarticle is the first one of a new mini-series dedicated to a relatively obscure but – in many ways – rather striking historical example of what today we would call channelling. I found this story quite interesting in itself, and delving into it will allow me to share with you some of my ever-present doubts and confusion about the popular subject of channelling.

In a way of introduction, let me say that I have always been uneasy with channelling. On the one hand, this form of alleged communication from nonmaterial entities is – by its own nature – so open to all sorts of voluntary or involuntary delusions (including self-delusion) that I find it difficult to muster up any real interest. On the other, whatever I have read/learnt was overwhelming, contradictory and massively confusing. The reference book on the subject, Channelling, by psychologist John Climo did nothing to ease my doubts and, if anything, left me with more questions. Therefore, I am telling  here the story of Jakob Lorber (1800-1864) and discussing some of his writings (allegedly channelled directly… from God!) as an aid to my own internal discussion process, and in the hope to receive interesting/enlightening comments from my readers.

In this first article, we’ll look at the background of the extraordinary character known as “God’s scribe”. Practically all the information we have on the life of Jacob Lorber was related by a close personal friend, the poet Ritter von Leitner, for Lorber himself did not write anything about his own life. Jakob Lorber was born in a small village near the modern town of Maribor in Slovenia; in the 19th century that region belonged to Austria. Lorber’s father, a farmer, had a talent for music, and the parents strived to give their three sons the best education they could within the limits of their modest means. Jacob qualified as a primary school teacher, but the real interest of his life was music. He had inherited from his father both passion and musical talent and learned to play several instruments. Violin was where he really excelled, and he embarked in a successful career both as a music teacher and as a performer, playing concerts in Europe’s most prestigious theatres. In 1828 he even managed to get private lessons by celebrity virtuoso Niccolo’ Paganini.

A gregarious character who enjoyed a good life, Lorber wasn’t much of a reader. According to von Leitner’s biography his favourite book was the Bible, which, was actually the only book to be found in his home. After he had started to write in depth about subjects such as philosophy, theology, medicine, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics – about which he shouldn’t have known the first thing – some friends of his secretly went searching his place for books relating to those matters, but they could only find his Bible.

In 1840, at the age of 40, Lorber was offered a prestigious musical position in Trieste, North-Eastern Italy. It is as he was going about the preparations for this important move, which he considered as definitive, that an unexpected episode happened that was to transform his life forever. On March 15, 1840, around six o’clock in the morning, as he was stepping out of bed, he heard a clear voice telling him “Get your pen and start writing”.

Without asking questions and without wasting any time, Lorber obeyed this mysterious command. He sat down with his pen and a piece of paper and began writing, word by word, what he heard from this inner voice:

“So speaks the Lord for everyone, and this is true, sure and certain: who wants to speak with Me must come to Me and I will put the answer in his heart. Only the pure, however, those with a heart full of humility, will hear the sound of My voice. And he who prefers Me to anything in the world, he who loves Me like a bride loves her groom, with him I will go hand in hand; he will look at Me like a brother looks at a brother, and like I looked at him since eternity, long before he was.”

In the next article, we’ll look at some interesting details about Lorber’s automatic writing process, and later we’ll discuss some of the most intriguing messages he delivered.

down_app