"If you will reflect upon the condition we are now in, you will perceive that it must be one of unusual scientific interest. If you imagine a body at rest, in an intangible medium, and not in contact with a gas or any substance capable of creating friction, that body by the prevailing theory of matter and motion, unless disturbed by an impulse from without, would remain forever at absolute rest. We now occupy such a position. In whatever direction we may now be situated, it seems to us that we are upright. We are absolutely without weight, and in a perfectly frictionless medium. Should an inanimate body begin to revolve here, it would continue that motion forever. If our equilibrium should now be disturbed, and we should begin to move in a direction coinciding with the plane in which we are at rest, we would continue moving with the same rapidity in that direction until our course was arrested by some opposing object. We are not subject to attraction of matter, for at this place gravitation robs matter of its gravity, and has no influence on extraneous substances. We are now in the center of gravitation, the 'Sphere of Rest.'"
"Let me think it out," I replied, and reasoning from his remarks, I mentally followed the chain to its sequence, and was startled as suddenly it dawned upon me that if his argument was true we must remain motionless in this spot until death (could beings in conditions like ourselves die beyond the death we had already achieved) or the end of time. We were at perfect rest, in absolute vacancy, there being, as I now accepted without reserve, neither gas, liquid, nor solid, that we could employ as a lever to start us into motion. "Tell me," I cried in alarm, "is this to be a living tomb? Are we to remain suspended here forever, and if not, by what method can we hope to extricate ourselves from this state of perfect quiescence?" He again took the bar of iron from my hand, and cautiously gave it a whirling motion, releasing it as he did so. It revolved silently and rapidly in space without support or pivot.
"So it would continue," he remarked, "until the end of time, were it not for the fact that I could not possibly release it in a condition of absolute horizontal rest. There is a slight, slow, lateral motion that will carry the object parallel with this sheet of energy to the material side of this crevice, when its motion will 'be arrested by the earth it strikes.'"
"That I can understand," I replied, and then a ray of light broke upon me. "Had not Cavendish demonstrated that, when a small ball of lead is suspended on a film of silk, near a mass of iron or lead, it is drawn towards the greater body? We will be drawn by gravity to the nearest cliff," I cried.
"You mistake," he answered; "Cavendish performed his experiments on the surface of the earth, and there gravity is always ready to start an object into motion. Here objects have no weight, and neither attract nor repel each other. The force of cohesion holds together substances that are in contact, but as gravitation can not now affect matter out of molecular contact with other forms of matter, because of the equilibrium of all objects, so it may be likewise said, that bodies out of contact have at this point no attraction for one another. If they possessed this attribute, long ago we would have been drawn towards the earth cliff with inconceivable velocity. However, if by any method our bodies should receive an impulse sufficient to start them into motion, even so gently though it be, we in like manner would continue to move in this frictionless medium—until"—
"We would strike the material boundary of this crevice," I interrupted.
"Yes; but can you conceive of any method by which such voluntary motion can now be acquired?"
"Does it not seem to you," he continued, "that when skillful mechanics on the earth's surface are able to adjust balances so delicately that in the face of friction of metal, friction of air, inertia of mass, the thousandth part of a grain can produce motion of the great beams and pans of such balances, we, in this location where there is no friction and no opposing medium—none at all—should be able to induce mass motion?"
"I can not imagine how it is possible, unless we shove each other apart. There is no other object to push against,—but why do you continue to hold me so tightly?" I interrupted myself to ask, for he was clasping me firmly again.
"In order that you may not leave me," he replied.
"Come, you trifle," I said somewhat irritated; "you have just argued that we are immovably suspended in a frictionless medium, and fixed in our present position; you ask me to suggest some method by which we can create motion, and I fail to devise it, and almost in the same sentence you say that you fear that I will leave you. Cease your incongruities, and advise with me rationally."
"Where is the bar of iron?" he asked.
I turned towards its former location; it had disappeared.
"Have you not occasionally felt," he asked, "that in your former life your mind was a slave in an earthly prison? Have you never, especially in your dreams, experienced a sensation of mental confinement?"
"Know then," he replied, "that there is a connection between the mind and the body of mortal beings, in which matter confines mind, and yet mind governs matter. How else could the will of men and animals impart voluntary motion to earthy bodies? With beings situated as are the animals on the surface of the earth, mind alone can not overcome the friction of matter. A person could suspend himself accurately on a string, or balance himself on a pivot, and wish with the entire force of his mind that his body would revolve, and still he would remain at perfect rest."
"Certainly. A man would be considered crazy who attempted it," I answered.
"Notwithstanding your opinion, in time to come, human beings on the surface of the earth will investigate in this very direction," he replied, "and in the proper time mental evolution will, by experimentation, prove the fact of this mind and matter connection, and demonstrate that even extraneous matter may be made subservient to mind influences. On earth, mind acts on the matter of one's body to produce motion of matter, and the spirit within, which is a slave to matter, moves with it. Contraries rule here. Mind force acts on pure space motion, moving itself and matter with it, and that, too, without any exertion of the material body which now is a nonentity, mind here being the master."
"How can I believe you?" I replied.
"Know, then," he said, "that we are in motion now, propelled by my will power."
"You may prove it yourself," he said; "but be careful, or we will separate forever."
Releasing his grasp, he directed me to wish that I were moving directly to the right. I did so; the distance widened between us.
"Wish intensely that you would move in a circle about me." I acquiesced, and at once my body began to circle around him. "Call for the bar of iron."
I did as directed, and soon it came floating out of space into my very hand.
"I am amazed," I ejaculated; "yes, more surprised at these phenomena than at anything that has preceded."
"You need not be; you move now under the influences of natural laws that are no more obscure or wonderful than those under which you have always existed. Instead of exercising its influence on a brain, and thence indirectly on a material body, your mind force is exerting its action through energy on matter itself. Matter is here subservient. It is nearly the same as vacuity, mind being a comprehensive reality. The positions we have heretofore occupied have been reversed, and mind now dominates. Know, that as your body is now absolutely without weight, and is suspended in a frictionless medium, the most delicate balance of a chemist can not approach in sensitiveness the adjustment herein exemplified. Your body does not weigh the fraction of the millionth part of a grain, and where there is neither material weight nor possible friction, even the attrition that on surface earth results from a needle point that rests on an agate plate is immeasurably greater in comparison. Pure mind energy is capable of disturbing the equilibrium of matter in our situation, as you have seen exemplified by our movements and extraneous materials, 'dead matter' obeys the spiritual. The bar of iron obeyed your call, the spiritless metal is subservient to the demands of intelligence. But, come, we must continue our journey."
Grasping me again, he exclaimed: "Wish with all intensity that we may move forward, and I will do the same."
I did so.
"We are now uniting our energies in the creation of motion," he said; "we are moving rapidly, and with continually accelerated speed; before long we will perceive the earthy border of this chasm."
And yet it seemed to me that we were at perfect rest.