Reviews of The Stephen Experience
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AWESOME, March 21, 2006
Reviewer: Michael E. Tymn (Depoe Bay, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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"The "Stephen" referred to in the title is St. Stephen, the Christian martyr of nearly 2000 years ago. However, this fascinating book is not about St. Stephen and his times. It's about the meaning of life and death, as communicated to the author, a retired Anglican priest, and several others by St. Stephen through a New Zealand trance medium, Thomas Ashman, during the 1970s.

Author Michael Cocks explains that Ashman's wife, Olive, heard her husband speak in Latin while he was sleeping one night, and on subsequent nights she recorded his words on tape. They turned out to be profound messages on spiritual matters. Ashman soon developed into a trance medium, as the author and a few friends gathered periodically at Ashman's home to hear St. Stephen's discourses and to ask questions of him.

Cocks states that normally Stephen spoke through Ashman in a "rather curious English," but that he occasionally spoke in an ancient Greek dialect, which apparently was for purposes of confirming his identity. Initially, very skeptical when he heard of the phenomena in 1973, Cocks began to realize there might be something to it after he investigated and discovered that the Greek spoken by Stephen in some of his early sittings with Ashman was a dialect of 2,000 years ago from Ancyra (modern Ankara), where St. Stephen was said to be from. The appendix of the book presents the results of Cocks' extensive research into Stephen's Greek and how he confirmed that it belonged to the first century AD and could not have come from the mind of Ashman, who knew no Greek, modern or ancient. "The facts were that Thomas was allowing himself to be displaced by Stephen deliberately, after prayer, and as an act of obedience to God," Cocks writes, pointing out that Thomas, in his trance state, was not always aware of what was going on or what Stephen was saying.

Stephen told the small group that he does not speak English and never has. "I activate these words that are in Thomas' memory and are known to him," he stated, continuing on to explain that he was able to effectuate the Thracian Greek by joining together sounds and symbols that were in Thomas' mind.

Stephen told of his early life in Ancyra, now modern Turkey, mentioning that his actual name was "Stenen" and that he was 14 years old when Jesus was crucified. He stated that his death by stoning is reported "quite accurately" in the Bible, but stressed that he was not communicating to tell about his life but rather to help them understand their own lives. On several occasions, Christ spoke through Thomas. "The task of your servant Stephen is that of a messenger and he speaks with great authority," was one such early communication from Christ.

Stephen pointed out that he was no longer the Stephen of the Bible, that he had given up his separateness "to be one with the Whole," but that to be of service to the Father and make those with whom he is communicating comfortable he had to "put on again the clothes of Stephen." When asked if he felt like "Stephen" or "The Whole," or even a figment of Cocks' imagination, the response came: "For if I speak that I am Stephen, I must first create Stephen, and be he. For I cannot be nothing. For once I decided I was nothingness, then I have learned nothing of nothing."

Stephen speaks of why we are on earth ("Your trials and tribulations are essential, and part of the purification."); about Jesus (that it was his spiritual body, not his physical body that was resurrected); about spirits immediately after transition ("Think not that when you are without your body, you are going to be much different..."); about prayer ("But I say this, that each prayer is answered, each time prayer is made with the heart."); about sin ("The greater your consciousness expands, the greater the number of things that you will feel are sin."); about abortion (.."when the child is born, and the body is separated from the body of the parent, this then is the time when it would be right to speak of murder."); about reincarnation (not as commonly understood); and numerous other aspects of spirit life.

Cocks also presents some very intriguing synchronistic experiences and cross correspondences concerning the teachings of Stephen. As he points out, however, Stephen's teachings, while profound, are not new. They are in accord with the experiences of the great mystics and many have been set forth in recent years in Jane Roberts' Seth and Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God. At times, the messages are very abstract, much as they are in A Course in Miracles, as Stephen explains that the abstractness increases as we go inwards, i.e., it is to a great extent beyond human comprehension. But even in the abstractness the discerning reader will find meaning.

"The good things about Stephen were his love, his lack of judging, his balance, his thinking in terms of science, experience, and emphasizing the positive aspects of Christian belief," Cocks told me in a recent e-mail exchange. "He seemed to help in the letting go of the rubbish in our thinking."

Overall, this is an intriguing and awesome read.