by Emma Ruder Drollinger, initially published 1919. Available as a pdf, epub and kindle and other formats free from Internet Archive
To followers of the Padgett Messages, or indeed the Urantia Book, this is a somewhat curious book. The author claims seven "zones" which at first glance sound like Padgett's Seven Spheres, or the Urantia Book's Seven Mansion Worlds. But close inspection reveals they are not numbered the same. What appears to be the case, is she is using the spiritualist "system", where the First Sphere (which has two sub spheres) is counted as Zone 1 to Zone 3. So Zone 3 would be what we would know as the top part of the First Sphere, also called Summerland. And thus her Zone Seven, is at best Sphere 5, although it could be Sphere 6, if Sphere 5 is unknown to her. More of this later.
Once you are past that confusion, a further confusion is revealed. She claims that in the lower spheres inhabitants consume food. It is my understanding that only in the Astral Planes is this possible, because the Astral body has organs of digestion, but the spirit body does not. So for some period I wondered if in fact she was describing the Astral Planes, which are rather different, although they too have seven planes. One also has to bear in mind that the power of the mind is such that in these worlds its possible for folks to "create" conditions that are essentially unreal.
She drops short titbits that make you think she is on the money - such as "God is not found via the mind, but via the soul" (roughly) and then others that dismay, as "The New religion will be based on science". She is also very wordy without, in my view actually saying that much. I guess she was a very keen gardener, as she claims to have identified a host of flowers at each different zone. There are certainly things that resonate, as in the issue of children not being found low in the First Sphere, but she claims they are actually in Sphere 2 (Her Zone 4) whereas I understand it is more the case in her Zone 3 also called Summerland.
The method by which she obtains all this information is in out of body travel. So perhaps this is why she seems to concentrate on landscapes, flowers and buildings, as she has very little to say about what people actually do. Its possible this method of gathering information is more of a "look see" than would be the case if you lived there, but many people are indeed curious about what is actually done in this world. And books that are based on information from inhabitants are full of information about what they do.
I also found very little on some of the fundamental spiritual laws without which these worlds would not exist, such as the Law of attraction which causes like to congregate, and separates those who are not alike. She does make the point it causes like to congregate, but fails to mention the other aspect which is just as important. She also does not mention the Law of Compensation specifically, but mentions that she plans to write another book on the law of Progression. I see that there is indeed another book available: The New Messiah and the Journey of the Soul – Hardcover (1921) and I may try to obtain that to see if my opinion changes as a result of that. Its possible she deliberately withholds information that I am looking for which would confirm that she knows what she is talking about. For example she uses the words "Divine Love" frequently, yet there is nothing in the book to indicate that she has any deep knowledge of this subject. She also claims there are "Celestial Spheres" beyond her seven zones, and that is exactly in accord with Padgett and the Urantia Book, but since she gives no details, nor any indication of what would be required to fit one for these advanced spheres, I am left wondering if she really knows.
Another curious thing she does not mention. We know that no being, mortal or spirit, can enter a sphere for which it is not suited by virtue of their soul condition. She also says she is not highly advanced. If both of these are true, she could not possibly reach the fifth sixth or seventh spheres, never mind enter a Celestial Sphere, for which one must be a Christed spirit. We are also aware a powerful guide can bend these rules slightly, and take one a little higher, but certainly a non-christ spirit cannot enter the Celestial spheres. Yet she makes no mention of this point, and one must assume she travelled to all these spheres. But I would guarantee that that could not have happened. Perhaps that is why her Zones Six and Seven, plus the three Celestial Spheres are in a second book, and she simply forgot to tell us that she obtained this information from spirits.
As things stand, this is not a book I am willing to add to my favourites list. I think there are many better books available. Her second volume is reviewed here.
This forum is a short description/review of spiritual books. Its not meant to be in-depth.
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