A Spirit Visit
Theosophist, May, 1884
Article Selection from The Diocesan Vyedomosty of Mogilev (Russia) | Note by H.P.B.
The “Diocesan Vyedomosty” of Mogilev (Russia) quotes an interesting experience in the life of the Venerable Platon, one of the three Metropolitans of the Russian Empire––as narrated last year by himself, during his visit to the town of Tver, his birth-place. While holding a conference at the Monastery of Jeltikoff in the cell of the Father Superior, he related to the assembled guests some episodes of his long life. Among other events, he described what the spiritualists would call a “Spirit visit,” ––he had received years before. We translate verbatim.
“. . . Yes; I had such an experience in my life; I saw once before the shadow of a dead man, and in as vivid and natural a form as any one of your own I see now before me. It was in the year 1830, when I was Inspector at the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg. Among other students there was one, named Ivan Kriloff, that I had known in the Seminary of Orloff. I see his face before me as vividly as ever, whenever I think of him. He progressed well, was a fine looking young man of good behaviour and a promising student. Once he came to ask my permission to enter for a few days the hospital, as he felt unwell. So thinking that, perchance, the poor boy had made himself ill through too much austerities and that he might recuperate in the hospital diet of chicken and white bread and, at the same time, not lose time in writing his examination essay, I consented. After he had become a patient for a long time, I heard nothing of, nor from, him, nor had I been notified of any danger to him by the doctor. Once I was lying in my room on a sofa, reading a book, with a table placed behind me. Suddenly I left off reading and turned to the other side, thus facing the table, when, to my surprise, I saw Kriloff standing at the other end of it, and looking earnestly in my face. Thinking, as he had not been announced, I might have been dreaming, I rubbed my eyes, and arose from the sofa, . . . yes, . . . it was Kriloff, motionless, and still gazing fixedly at me . . . His head and face as clear and as distinct as yours, but his body hazy, as though veiled in a mist or a cloud. Once more I looked at him. It is he. He! . . . but what’s the matter with him? I felt a shuddering when the phantom finally moving, glided noiselessly from the table to the window, where it finally disappeared. I was still trying to unriddle the meaning of this, still uncertain whether I had not dreamt the whole scene when some one knocked at my door. I donned my clericals and called out to the visitor to come in. It was the Hospital Warden who had come to notify me that one of the students had just delivered his soul to God.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Ivan Kriloff,” he answered.
“When did he die?” I exclaimed, completely taken aback.
“About five minutes ago or so. I lost no time in coming down to report to your Reverence,” said he.
“And now,” added the holy Archipaster, addressing the monks and guests assembled around him—“I leave the mystery to be solved by yourselves.”
But every one kept silent.
“All this,” concluded the Metropolitan, “proves to us undeniably the existence of some mysterious connection between us and the souls of the departed.”
Note. [H.P.B.]––Quite so, and the word “undeniably” is here properly used. That such a connection exists was proven to the world by thousands upon thousands of well authenticated cases of the apparition of the dead making themselves visible to the living. But it can take place only immediately, or very soon, after the separation of the surviving principles from the body. Such visions, when they take place, are serious and full of solemnity to the living. The “Spirit”—a real Spirit in such cases, fulfils the last desire of the soul, some praiseworthy craving, beneficent to the survivor in every case, if not to the departed entity. But one has yet to learn that one of such phantoms has ever shouted, “Good evening to you Mr. So and So,” performed Japanese juggling feats with flying musical boxes and rapped Yankee-doodle on a guitar à la “John King”—or any other like worthy of the “Summer Land.”