We have supposed two extreme cases, - one, a simple case of experimental telepathy, and one, of a death by violence. Between the two extremes there is every variety of manifestation and every grade of power. But they are all governed by the same laws and limitations.
That the posthumous phantom is not the soul, or subjective entity, of the deceased, is evidenced by many other facts, among which may be mentioned the following:-
1. It is not controllable by suggestion. This is abundantly shown by what has been said regarding its persis-tency in following the one idea which it represents, and ignoring every effort to obtain information pertaining to other matters. This peculiarity characterizes every phantasm, whether of the living or of the dead. Again, no ghost was ever laid by the power of exorcism until the object of its existence was accomplished. Obsessing spirits, so-called, can be exorcised, because the exorcist is dealing directly with the subjective mind of the obsessed, and amenability to control by suggestion is the law of its being. But a ghost is not amenable to that law; it cannot be scolded out of existence before the object of its existence has been accomplished. In this, therefore, the phantom possesses the characteristics which might be expected to distinguish an embodied thought of a soul from the soul itself.
2. If we are to suppose a phantom to be the soul of the person it represents, we must also be prepared to believe that inanimate things and animals possess souls. Ghosts, it will be remembered, are always well provided with wearing apparel. We must therefore suppose clothes to have souls, and that the soul of the dead, or dying, man provides himself with an outfit of the souls of his hat, coat, trousers, boots, etc. Moreover, ghosts are frequently seen riding in ghostly turnouts, comprising horses, carriage, harness, and all the paraphernalia of a first-class establishment. Are we to suppose that the souls of all these things are pressed into the service of the nocturnal visitant ? The same is true of telepathic visions of all grades and kinds. In this, again, the vision, or phantom, possesses the characteristics which one can easily attribute to an embodied thought-creation, but not to the actual soul of a person, living or dead.
3. Another peculiarity of ghosts is that they invariably disappear, never to return, when the building which was the scene of their visitation has been destroyed. Another building may be erected on the same spot, but the ghost never reappears. There must be some valid reason for this, for it is impossible to attribute to coincidence that which so frequently and invariably happens. It would seem to be but another limitation of the power and intelligence of the embodied thought. Its mission seems to be confined, not only to conveying the one item of intelligence, but to the actual scene of the tragedy. The effect of changing the physical environment appears to have the same effect as an attempt to change the current of its thought by asking a question foreign to it. It disappears. Now, it is impossible to conceive of an intelligent entity, in full possession of all the faculties and attributes of a human soul, being so easily diverted from the pursuit of a given object.
4. M. d'Assier arrives at two conclusions regarding ghosts, neither of which can afford any satisfaction to those who seek, in their manifestations, for evidence of a happy or a continued life beyond the grave. One is that the continued existence of the shade is a burden too grievous to be borne; and the other is that it eventually disappears by atomic dispersion, and loses its identity. On page 270 of "Posthumous Humanity" he says: -
"Most of the manifestations by which the shades reveal themselves seem to indicate that the posthumous existence is a burden".
Again, on page 273, he says: -
"To sum up, one may say that the impression left upon the mind by the lamentations and rare replies of those shades who succeed in making themselves heard is almost always a sentiment of profound sadness".
On page 274 he has the following to say regarding the ultimate fate of posthumous man: -
"I have said that the existence of the shade is but a brief one. Its tissue disintegrates readily under the action of the physical, chemical, and atmospheric forces which constantly assail it, and it re-enters, molecule by molecule, the universal planetary medium. Occasionally, however, it resists these destructive causes, continuing its struggle for existence beyond the tomb".
M. d'Assier is undoubtedly right regarding his facts, but wrong in his interpretation of those facts, and consequently wrong in his conclusions.
It is undoubtedly true that the shade is always imbued with a sentiment of profound sadness. The circumstances under which it is produced, and the emotions and desires which call it into being, are necessarily of such a character as to project a profoundly sad thought. And this fact is another evidence of its being an embodied thought, rather than a human soul. If it were the latter, it would be subject to varying moods and emotions, modified by its environment for the time being. But, being an embodied thought, it never changes its attitude or sentiment, but goes on in its predetermined line of action, regardless of its surroundings and utterly oblivious of anything which may be said or done to divert it. Truly, "thoughts are things".
Again, M. d'Assier is right in his declaration that the shade sustains but a comparatively brief existence. Some ghosts persist for years, it is true, in haunting a given spot, but they all eventually disintegrate. Their capacity for continued existence depends upon the intensity of the emotion which produces them. Their actual longevity depends largely upon the importance of the thought or message which they personate. It depends principally, however, upon the successful performance of its mission. When that is accomplished, it disappears at once and forever. As has already been pointed out, an ordinary telepathic message between two individuals disappears at once upon its successful delivery; whereas a phantom of the dead may persist in haunting one spot for years. It will, however, eventually disintegrate and disappear, even if its mission has proved to be a failure.