Modern Theosophy came about as a sort of intellectual revolt against the excesses of the spiritualist revolution and the mundanity and mediocrity of the messages imparted by common spirits. Why not aim higher and channel messages of importance to mankind from the advanced spirits in the higher spheres? If you could get verifiable messages from your dead uncle, why not go for the ultimate truth from history’s great intellectuals who have also had the benefit of celestial enlightenment?
The larger question that the theosophists chose to ignore concerned the provenance of these higher spirits. Who, exactly, were these self-proclaimed “learned souls” who promised to lead mankind out of ignorance? As we learned in previous chapters, instant “celestial enlightenment” doesn’t happen when people die. Death of the body does not confer universal knowledge on any soul. Spirits have to learn their lessons in the same way we earthlings do; by dint of hard work. In addition, a spirit who communicates using eloquent language and preaches complex celestial theory might, in fact, be a spiritual conman posing as a higher spirit. Emanuel Swedenborg, himself the intellectual father of Spiritualism, wrote in 1748:
“When spirits begin to speak with man, he must beware lest he believe them in anything; for they say almost anything; things are fabricated by them, and they lie.”
This, of course, does not mean that the theosophical teachings on reincarnation are wrong, however one must always bear in mind that while there is much that is appealing, none of these newly channeled “higher celestial laws”, including the doctrine of reincarnation, can be verified in the same way as evidential messages from your deceased mother can. Some spirits tell outrageous lies (see chapter 19), and it is because of numerous bad historical experiences that traditional religions still reject messages purported to come from spirits. It is also the reason spiritualists resisted the urge to accept messages from spirits claiming to be nearer to God.