Spirit Guardianship, or What?
Theosophist, February, 1884
Article selctions by Dr. Rohner | Editor’s Note by H.P.B.
[Relaying a story about a family aboard a train] . . . one of the children walked out on the rear platform [and apparently fell off] . . . The train was running at the rate of forty miles an hour . . . the Conductor . . . instituted search and found it [the child] missing . . . About three miles from the city they found the little one lying beside the track, and picked it up for dead, but on being spoken to and shaken a little it awoke, and the discovery was made that it had been asleep all the time, and was entirely unconscious of what had happened. The youngster was not even badly bruised . . .
I met professionally with similar miracles in my life [i.e.] a miner had fallen down a shaft about one hundred feet deep. The messenger who fetched me to the scene of the catastrophe never expected to see his mate alive again in this world, but . . . on our arrival at the spot we found the man walking about, none the worse for his too facilis descensus averni. What saved the man’s life, answer, a miracle!
[Here followed another story of a child falling from a train and surviving.] This, I suppose, was another miracle? Be it so.
Let me relate now two miraculous escapes from death by railway accidents which I experienced personally . . . On my journey home from Vienna . . . I had entered one of the last three carriages of a train . . . two of my companions came along and . . . I immediately got out and joined my mates [in another car]. Shortly after starting, in crossing the River Lech, the railway bridge broke down, and the last three cars of the train were violently torn off and precipitated into the swollen river, all passengers on board perishing in the flood. What a lucky coincidence my leaving the seat I originally occupied! Truy, a miracle! I think differently; and what made me think differently afterwards was a similar narrow and miraculous escape on the same line . . . I had taken my ticket by the midday train . . . but having been unavoidably detained, the train left without me . . . [later] a telegram [informed me] the train I intended to travel by had gone off the line in the Bavarian Alps . . . drowning every man on board. . . . I attributed the saving of my life on these two occassions to chance, coincidence, good luck, but not to miracles; for at that time I had already given up all belief in miracles in the ordinary Christian sense of the term. Now, of course, I know better, but I leave my readers at liberty to settle the matter themselves to their own satisfaction.
Editor’s Note. [H.P.B.]—Let us, for a moment, grant that the facts given above by the estimable doctor point to something that is neither blind chance nor miracle: what are the other explanations that could be suggested? No other possible but the following: it is either “Spirit Guardianship,” or—Divine Providence. This—to the Spiritualists and believers in a personal God—sets the problem at rest. But how about the dissatisfaction of those who cannot be brought to believe in either the spirits of the dead as concerned with our earthly events, or in a conscious, personal deity, a telescopic enlargement—true, magnifying millions of times—still but an enlargement of the human infinitesimal infusoria? Truth to be heard and get itself recognized as one, must be a self-evident truth to all, not merely to a fraction of humanity. It must satisfy one and all, answer and cover every objection, explain and make away with every hazy spot on its face, destroy every objection placed on its path. And if events of the nature of those given by Dr. Rohner are to be attributed to the protection and guardianship of “Spirits,” why is it, that to every such one case of miraculous escape, there are 10,000 cases where human beings are left to perish brutally and stupidly without any seeming fault on their part, their death being often the starting point of the most disastrous subsequent results, and this with no providence, no spirit interfering to stop the merciless hand of blind fate? Are we to believe that “the sleeping child” and the “miner” were two very important units in humanity, while the many hundreds of unfortunate children who perished a few months ago at Sunderland during the terrible catastrophe in the theatre, and the hundreds of thousands of human beings—victims of last year’s earthquakes—were useless dross, with no “spirit hand” to protect them? It is pure sentimentality alone, with selfish pride and human conceit to help it, that can evolve such theories to account for every exceptional occurrence.
Karma, and our inner, unconscious (so far as our physical senses go) prevision can alone explain such cases of unexpected escapes. If Dr. Rohner knows of children who fell out of trains and cars running “at the rate of forty miles an hour,” who were neither killed nor hurt, the writer knows of two lap dogs who madly chasing each other fell from the terrace of a house over sixty feet high and, with the exception of a stiffness of a few hours’ duration in their limbs, came to no other grief. And, we have seen but the other day, a young squirrel falling out of its nest, a voracious crow pouncing upon it and actually seizing it, when suddenly as though struck with some thought the hungry carrion-eater dropped it out of its mouth, flew lazily away, and perching upon a neighbouring branch, gave the mother-squirrel the time to rescue her little one. Had these dogs and squirrel also “guardian-spirits” to protect them, or was it due to chance,—a word by the bye, pronounced by many, understood by very, very few.