Descriptions of the "afterlife"

whitecoast

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A few of the things said in this long thread, particularly about how some seemingly insignificant actions disproportionately influence our life recapitulation, as well as the Jordan Peterson Q&A, made me think of the below quotes I found in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.

Again, Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse —so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be.

And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.
And that leads on to my second point. People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing." I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

That explains what always used to puzzle me about Christian writers; they seem to be so very strict at one moment and so very free and easy at another. They talk about mere sins of thought as if they were immensely important: and then they talk about the most frightful murders and treacheries as if you had only got to repent and all would be forgiven. But I have come to see that they are right.

What they are always thinking of is the mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure—or enjoy—for ever. One man may be so placed that his anger sheds the blood of thousands, and another so placed that however angry he gets he will only be laughed at. But the little mark on the soul may be much the same in both. Each has done something to himself which, unless he repents, will make it harder for him to keep out of the rage next time he is tempted, and will make the rage worse when he does fall into it. Each of them, if he seriously turns to God, can have that twist in the central man straightened out again: each is, in the long run, doomed if he will not. The bigness or smallness of the thing, seen from the outside, is not what really matters. {This also reminded me of how when we shed our material bodies our spiritual appearance, clothing, dwelling, etc all reflect what is in our innermost essence - without any of the distortions of material reality}

One last point. Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.
 

goyacobol

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A few of the things said in this long thread, particularly about how some seemingly insignificant actions disproportionately influence our life recapitulation, as well as the Jordan Peterson Q&A, made me think of the below quotes I found in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.
whitecoast,

I enjoyed that excerpt from C.S. Lewis. For some reason the only book I have read by him was The Screwtape Letters. I didn't really know that much about him then but I found the book fascinating (now I realize he was Irish and an atheist for awhile but latter converted to Christianity). His The Chronicles of Narnia became popular in some Christian circles (even a film series) and I found that enjoyable too. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe based on the Narnia series might be more familiar and recent.

To someone coming from a Christian background (which was my upbringing) The Screwtape Letters presented a behind the scenes story of what a "Christian" is unknowingly battling. Now I would compare it to the behind the scenes struggle with 4D STS creatures who tempt, attack and drain us until we too become STS and distract us away from anything STO.

The gist of The Screwtape Letters for me was:

The Screwtape Letters comprises 31 letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood (named after a star in Revelation), a younger and less experienced demon, charged with guiding a man (called "the patient") toward "Our Father Below" (Devil / Satan) from "the Enemy" (Jesus).
I guess I sometimes see the "battle is through you" as if attacks directed by 4D STS beings are very similar to the character Screwtape using subordinates like his nephew Wormwood do battle. I am always hoping that I recognize the battle for what it is and use the knowledge gained here for the protection that only knowledge can provide.

The good part for me was that C.S. Lewis portrayed Wormwood as often inept and failing to succeed so that gave me some hope and maybe still does.
 
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Windmill knight

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By chance, I came across this account of a Near Death Experience on Youtube, which I found fascinating. Unfortunately, it's in French (or fortunately for the Frenchies ;) ) :


Her experience was quite dramatic and she describes many things in a lot of detail - how it happened, what she saw on the other side, what it was like to come back, etc. She was attacked violently, forced to drink alcohol and raped four years ago in her own house, and it was her attacker who called the emergency services when he thought she was going to die, and tried to make it look like she had attempted to kill herself.

One thing I found interesting is that she says that once out of her body she saw from the ceiling the whole scene of the aggression, and the attacker trying to cover his tracks, but that she was a detached observer, non-judgemental. She understood that her soul wanted to give her a lesson on self-love, to have her see how much she had mistreated and debased herself throughout her life. That's one thing to consider - what sort of experiences we may choose to give ourselves from our Higher Self in order to teach us something we have been too stubborn to learn otherwise!

Before leaving, she also tried to communicate with the doctors regarding the nature of her injuries, and she thinks that a certain nurse did get the message as an intuition, cause she made a certain question to a doctor about it. Then, she lived through the similar experience as described by others: she perceived herself as blue electricity, in an timeless space, had a life review, followed a magnificent light and reached a heavenly garden, where she met her daughter who had died in 1994. She saw an abstract geometrical space that represented 12 areas of her life to work on, things like family, work, consciousness, etc., and other things like going 'for a walk on the Multiverse', and so on.

Another interesting thing is that she came back to her body after making the choice (she had the option to stay there), and for some 3 years she had to deal with the PTSD of the attack, naturally - but at the same time, she had gone through this magnificent reassuring, loving experience in the Great Beyond. It's as if at the body and psychological level, she had to heal that trauma, but at the soul level she still gained something else.
 

Cleo

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A couple weeks ago while at a book store, looking for books mentioned in this thread, I found a book by Raymond Moody called Glimpses of Eternity. The book is about a phenomenon related to the Near Death Experience called the 'Shared Death Experience.' I was only slightly familiar with the term so wasn't aware that the phenomenon included such extraordinary elements as a shared life review and shared out-of-body experience, for example.

A description of the phenomenon from the site, Shared Death Experience:

The core elements of the Shared Death Experience are remarkably similar to those of the Near Death Experience (NDE). Although no single SDE has included all of the elements listed below, and although no two SDE's are exactly the same, a person who experiences even one or two of these elements receives profound benefits from their SDE. The following elements may characterize Shared Death Experiences:
  • Mist at death
  • Hearing beautiful music
  • Change in the geometry of the room
  • Strong Upward Pull on the Body
  • Shared Out-of-Body Experience
  • Seeing a Mystical Light
  • Empathically Co-living the Life Review of the Dying Person
  • Greeted by Beings of Light
  • Encountering Heavenly Realms
  • Boundary in the Heavenly Realm
Shared Death Experiences have been documented in research by the Society for Psychical Research in London since the late 1800s. Peter Fenwick, MD, and Elizabeth Fenwick, RN, who research end-of-life phenomena, have collected hundreds of Shared Death Experiences in the United Kingdom and in Northern Europe. Dr. Raymond Moody formally coined the term “Shared Death Experience” in his 2009 book, Glimpses of Eternity. Previously, the phenomena now identified as the Shared-Death Experience was associated with Death-Bed Visions (William Barrett), Death-Bed Coincidences (Fenwick), and other extraordinary end-of-life phenomena.
The following are two accounts of a Shared Death Experience from the book Glimpses of Eternity that I also found listed at the website, People Can Experience Someone Else's Near-Death Experience (the part I quoted below is from the website).

In one example of a shared death experience, Dr. Moody reports about a woman who experienced a vivid shared life review with her dying husband named Johnny and included events she was completely unaware of:

"I was beside him the whole time in the hospital and was holding onto him when he died. When he did, he went right through my body. It felt like an electric sensation, like when you get your finger in the electrical socket, only much more gentle.

"Anyway, when that happened our whole life sprang up around us and just kind of swallowed up the hospital room and everything in it in an instant. There was light all around: a bright, white light that I immediately knew - and Johnny knew - was Christ.

"Everything we ever did was there in that light. Plus I saw things about Johnny... I saw him doing things before we were married. You might think that some of it might be embarrassing or personal, and it was. But there was no need for privacy, as strange as that might seem. These were things that Johnny did before we were married. Still, I saw him with girls when he was very young. Later I searched for them in his high school yearbook and was able to find them, just based on what I saw during the life review during his death.

"In the middle of this life review, I saw myself there holding onto his dead body, which didn't make me feel bad because he was also completely alive, right beside me, viewing our life together.

"By the way, the life review was like a 'wraparound.' [Webmaster Note: This refers to 360 degree vision often experienced in NDEs] I don't know how else to describe it. It was a wraparound scene of everything Johnny and I experienced together or apart. There is no way I could even put it into words other than to say that all of this was in a flash, right there at the bedside where my husband died.

"Then, right in the middle of this review, the child that we lost to a miscarriage when I was still a teenager stepped forth and embraced us. She was not a figure of a person exactly as you would see a human being, but more the outline or sweet, loving presence of a little girl. The upshot of her being there any issues we ever had regarding her loss were made whole and resolved. I was reminded of the verse from the Bible about 'the peace that passeth all understanding.' That's how I felt when she was there.

"One of the funny things about this wraparound view of our life was that we had gone to Atlanta in the seventh grade, to the state capital, where there was a diorama. So at one point we were watching this wraparound and watching ourselves in another wraparound - a diorama - where we stood side-by-side as kids. I burst out laughing and Johnny laughed too, right there beside me.

"Another thing that was strange about this wraparound was that in certain parts of it were panels or dividers that kept us from seeing all of it. I don't have the words to this, but the screens or panels kept particular parts of both of our lives invisible. I don't know what was behind them but I do know that these were thoughts from Christ, who said that someday we would be able to see behind those panels too."
In another example, Dr. Moody documented the account of a woman in her seventies who described a shared death experience while tending to her dying mother.

As her mother died the light in the room suddenly became much brighter and she felt a rocking motion through her whole body. [Webmaster Note: Such rocking motions are an indication of an out-of-body experience.] She then found herself seeing the room from a different angle, from above and to the left side of the bed instead of from the right side.

"This rocking forward motion was very comfortable, and not at all like a shudder and especially not like when a car you are riding in lurches to the side and you get nauseous. I did not feel uncomfortable but in fact the opposite; I felt far more comfortable and peaceful than I ever felt in my life.

"I don't know whether I was out of my body or not because all the other things that were going on held my attention. I was just glued to scenes from my mother's life that were flashing throughout the room or around the bed. I cannot even tell whether the room was there any more or if it was, there was a whole section of it I hadn't noticed before. I would compare it to the surprise you would have if you had lived in the same house for many years, but one day you opened up at it and found a big secret compartment you didn't know about. This thing seemed so strange and yet perfectly natural at the same time.

"The scenes that were flashing around in midair contained things that had happened to my mother, some of which I remembered and others that I didn't. I could see her looking at the scenes too, and she sure recognized all of them, as I could tell by her expression as she watched. This all happened at once so there is no way of telling it that matches the situation.

"The scenes of my mother's life reminded me of old-fashioned flashbulbs going off. When they did, I saw scenes of her life like in one of the 3-D movies of the 1950s.

"By the time the flashes of her life were going on, she was out of her body. I saw my father, who passed seven years before, standing there where the head of the bed would have been. By this point the bed was kind of irrelevant and my father was coaching my mother out of the body. I looked right into his face and a recognition of love passed between us, but he went right back to focusing on my mother. He looked like a young man, although he was 79 when he died. There was a glow about or all through him - very vibrant. He was full of life.

"One of his favorite expressions was 'Look alive!' and he sure did look alive when he was coaching my mother out of her body. A part of her that was transparent just stood right up, going through her body, and she and my father glided off into the light and disappeared.

"The room sort of rocked again, or my body did, but this time backward in the opposite direction and then everything went back to normal.

"I felt great tenderness from my mother and father. This entire event overflowed with love and kindness. Since that day I wonder: 'Is the world we live in just a figment of our imagination?'"
 

Joe

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A last little excerpt from this book on happiness that I found interesting and more or less accurate.

Happiness for the average man and woman
In discussing happiness it is necessary to have a sense of proportion and to classify human beings. The life that brings true and permanent joy to one will bring only discontent and positive distress to another.

Learned men have endeavoured to declare hard-and-fast principles of happiness and in so doing have worked on a false premise. Infinite is the variety of human nature. You cannot say to any class, nation, man or race, "Follow the principles I have imparted to you and you will discover happiness." The individual or nation in question may not be in a sufficiently developed state physically, mentally, and spiritually to be capable of applying such principles to their daily life, or, if they are capable, the principles may be so framed that the promised happiness resolves itself into boredom or acute disillusionment.

For instance, the Christian and Buddhist ascetics and mystics are in accord as to the road to happiness. They will assure you that no true happiness can be derived from the use of the senses, neither can it be obtained by money or by power and authority over others. They recommend complete renunciation, scorn of wealth, power, beauty, in whatsoever way it expresses itself. They claim that true happiness can be found only in contemplation, in communion with God - in contempt of all those works of God which please the senses or satisfy natural desires. I am afraid their views are open to many and serious objections.

For the mystic, perhaps, this inner life consists of the only real happiness. But ninety men out of a hundred are not mystics, they belong to a general pattern and are constitutionally incapable of putting such recommendations into practice, or, if they attempt to do so, they merely warp, limit, and embitter their natures.

True happiness for the average man is to be found in such words as moderation, self-control, and freedom.
He must first learn to control himself, and, that power once acquired, he must learn to control people and situations wisely. Thus he wins his freedom. Secondly, Tom Jones has to gain some knowledge of his own unimportance in the prevailing scheme of things. Thirdly, he should cultivate any special creative power he may possess.

Now, his control of himself gives to him a certain serenity, so that daily worries and misfortunes fall to penetrate, fail to upset his calm. His power to control other people will save him from physical distress, from destitution, and will enable him to defeat any persons who may, in various emotional ways, endeavour to turn his life into a hell. His sense of his own unimportance will, in itself, bring happiness by leading him naturally to throw himself into other people's lives, so that "self" can be temporarily forgotten and a lively sympathy extended where it is genuinely needed.

Now, the creative instinct is an essential part of a man's nature. Its wise expression should be one of his principal preoccupations. It springs, partly, from the sex urge, but often offers the greatest happiness in activities quite apart from sex. Whatever a man's sex life, he would be wise if he sought in some way or other for an outlet for the creative principle. If he has not a constructive mind or imagination he can express it merely in the enjoyment of beauty in some form or other, in a wise but controlled indulgence of his senses. But happy is the man with self-control as well as real creative power, however humble may be the medium of its expression.

Usually, the ascetic who recommends you to scorn money has no anxieties on that score. Either his friends or admirers supply him with all he needs or he has an excellent income of his own.

I therefore strongly advise the seeker of happiness to have a due appreciation of money. Without it he must starve or experience such physical discomfort, such ill-health, that he is unable to keep the light of his intelligence or soul bright within its temple. He is no longer free because, hourly, the clamorous needs of the body besiege him, and if he is employed for long hours at a small wage he has no time or physical strength for the cultivation of his own nature or for the enjoyment he can give to others through its fruition.

A desire for money in moderation is a virtue, for it happens to be a desire to become a complete man, and, through such completion and its resultant content, to benefit others.

Happiness comes through effort;
through a wise and controlled indulgence in the pleasures of the senses; through athletic activities for the perfecting of the body; through study for the development of the mind; and through toleration or a charitable outlook. The development of these leads to the cultivation of the spirit.

True happiness will be found by the average man in the constant and wise use of all his talents, all his powers - of body, senses, mind, and spiritual perception.

Lastly, in wisdom will the modern human being find the secret of life and the secret of serenity. Faith, hope, and charity - all these virtues commended by St. Paul - are contained within this lofty word and all are made lovely by its radiance. For faith, hope, and charity without wisdom are without light, and things that are hidden in darkness may not attain to healthy growth.
 

Joe

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In relation to this topic, and also the intelligent design topic, I was thinking recently about just how pernicious the materialist/darwinist world view that has been foisted on modern society really is. Materialism, by definition, implies that there is nothing more that physical existence, the physical universe, and that after death there is 'nothing'. I think it's highly likely that that idea - spread widely throughout the population - has a net negative effect on human beings, creating in them a pervasive, if mostly unconscious, (or all the more pernicious because it's unconscious) fear or anxiety about death.

If we consider the 'survival instinct' that all living beings have - which among humans includes an attempt to achieve 'immortality' through procreation - the drive to stay alive and avoid injury and death and to 'continue on' is very strong. We can reasonably assume therefore that the idea that there is 'nothing' after you die, no continuation, is pretty stressful and unpleasant, and may create a tendency in people to block out thoughts about their own mortality by escaping into ever more materialism and materialistic pursuits. Materialistic beliefs create more materialistic thinking and behavior.

In that context, think about the many terror attacks in recent years and the effect they have had on many people around the world. They cause fear and anxiety that may arise from the pointed awareness of our own mortality that such attacks provoke. That, I think, is why you have such an outpouring of anger and demands that "something must be done" in the aftermath of such events, and why politicians use executive power to pass laws that invariably lead to more restrictions on civil freedoms, that the people themselves misguidedly welcome. So the general public response to such attacks may be motivated less by real sympathy for the victims than a visceral fear-based response centered on a sense of their own existential vulnerability.

Imagine, on the other hand, if everyone was more or less convinced of the reality of life after death. How would people then view death, in it's varied manifestations, including terror attacks? If people were aware that the people who were killed really are in a 'better place', and there is no existential harm done, and for that reason no personal existential anxiety was provoked, the response would be very different I think. There could and would be a similar level of justified anger, but for less self-centered reasons that would focus more on rejection of the obvious infringement of the free will of the people who were killed to keep on living. Then again, I think I remember in a session somewhere that it was said that when someone kills someone else, there is always an 'agreement' "at some level" for that to happen. That raises an interesting question about whether or not free will is actually abridged in that kind of scenario, although the session comment may relate only to specific circumstances.

We can't mention materialism and darwinsism without mentioning atheists. I asked in a session a while back whether atheists are people who have no ability to conceive of something higher than the material world because there isn't much in the way of anything 'higher' about them, and the answer was 'yes'. Still, I find it hard to believe that atheists don't experience some form of existential dread. I mean they too have a self-preservation instinct, so I'd be surprised if they can contemplate the idea that they are 'nothing' after they die without being a bit concerned about it. Then again, maybe people who are only able to conceive of and therefore 'worship' the material universe find the idea of a non-physical existence more disturbing than the idea that they will cease to exist, and that is the source of atheists strident rejection of an afterlife or anything more than the material universe.
 

anka

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Then again, maybe people who are only able to conceive of and therefore 'worship' the material universe find the idea of a non-physical existence more disturbing than the idea that they will cease to exist, and that is the source of atheists strident rejection of an afterlife or anything more than the material universe.
I think that is precisely the case. I.E. A psychopathic person who can clearly see that other people experience something more than what s/he can understand or feel, is driven to control the situation to the highest possible degree, to climb up the ladder of societal hierarchy to the top so s/he can ultimately dictate what others will think and do because if s/he did not attempt it s/he would have to live with the fact that perhaps there is something more to life but they are not going to get it by any means. Truly terrible feeling, no? And on top of that, they may be recognized as such and get cast off. So they must do everything in order to stop anyone from even expressing an idea, a worldview that would allow for contemplation of something higher than material existence. And they will do so at any cost, especially at the expense of others. No mercy.
 

Mariama

The Living Force
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A description of the phenomenon from the site, Shared Death Experience:
[...]
Shared Death Experiences have been documented in research by the Society for Psychical Research in London since the late 1800s. Peter Fenwick, MD, and Elizabeth Fenwick, RN, who research end-of-life phenomena, have collected hundreds of Shared Death Experiences in the United Kingdom and in Northern Europe. Dr. Raymond Moody formally coined the term “Shared Death Experience” in his 2009 book, Glimpses of Eternity. Previously, the phenomena now identified as the Shared-Death Experience was associated with Death-Bed Visions (William Barrett), Death-Bed Coincidences (Fenwick), and other extraordinary end-of-life phenomena.
I just watched an interview with Peter Fenwick and thought it was very interesting.
Peter Fenwick (born 25 May 1935) is a neuropsychiatrist and neurophysiologist who is known for his pioneering studies of end-of-life phenomena. In this interview he talks about near-death-experiences (NDE), death-bed-visitors and how we can achieve a good death. NDE research is at the cutting edge of consciousness research and offers a convincing model for the understanding of what happens when we die. Peter Fenwick describes the different transitional phases of the dying process and highlights the importance of letting go at the end of ones life. He offers fascinating insights into common phenomena at the end of life, such as premonitions, seeing a light, death-bed-visions and coincidences. In his opinion everybody should know about death and the dying process, because it is a normal part of living.
A.o. he said that people who are less self-centred will find it easier to let go of life when the time comes, but that guilt will weigh people down and will make it harder for people to give up life.
He also said that you would want to be prepared for death, so you can talk about the phenomena surrounding it.
And according to Fenwick materialists who begin the dying process give up their beliefs in nothingness after death: "they all start looking forward to what's happening to them".

I thought it was fascinating that apparently, some cats and dogs start howling when their humans pass away, clocks (even the modern ones) stop ticking and so on.

 
I just watched an interview with Peter Fenwick and thought it was very interesting.


A.o. he said that people who are less self-centred will find it easier to let go of life when the time comes, but that guilt will weigh people down and will make it harder for people to give up life.
He also said that you would want to be prepared for death, so you can talk about the phenomena surrounding it.
And according to Fenwick materialists who begin the dying process give up their beliefs in nothingness after death: "they all start looking forward to what's happening to them".

I thought it was fascinating that apparently, some cats and dogs start howling when their humans pass away, clocks (even the modern ones) stop ticking and so on.


Thank you Mariama,
That was a very calm clear and measured presentation. Very easy to listen to . I really enjoyed it.
 

Breo

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Thank you Mariama. I thought that the whole video was fascinating too. Very comforting in many ways.
Indeed, Mariama, I second what goyacobol says.

Fenwick's emphasis that being stuck with guilt and attachments of all kinds make the passage rough and tough is such a good reminder for self observation. This and all the many other aspects in this great thread put how to work on self into a "final" perspective concerning wishful thinking.

I also liked a lot that he said that "how to die" should be tought in schools. Maybe future generations will grow up to this awareness.

I wonder if there is a great "sense of humor" hidden in these cosmic laws, eg. materialists are in such a bad place even concerning their personal death. Then they might wake up to the fact that entropy is just another lesson to be learned...?
 

Tuulikki

The Force is Strong With This One
This is a fascinating subject and one very close to my heart. There didn't seem to be a time when I did not believe in the spirit world. During the forty years I have spent nursing there have been many occasions when I have been in the company of the dying. Many times I have wanted to reassure them and calm their fears of death by telling them that this was not the end and that they would go into the spirit world and continue their existence. Naturally this would be frowned upon by the authorities and we would not have been allowed to push our beliefs onto others. I have been very tempted though. I could not have nursed if I did not have this belief because death would be all too sad and traumatic to witness.

I saw my own mother's spirit a week after she died and that gave me a wonderful feeling. I also heard my dad calling my name and hers after his death ten years ago. Perhaps he was not able to appear in spirit form. I think she had help though as I saw several lights near her which may have been supplying the energy for her appearance.

I wish everyone could have this knowledge and have the fear of death taken away. It is a very privileged position to be in and I try to pass it on to my family but it falls upon deaf ears mostly. I am quite content to return to the spirit world as long as I can still draw, paint and eat cake.
 

3DStudent

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I am quite content to return to the spirit world as long as I can still draw, paint and eat cake.
Yep, creative endeavors continue in the afterlife. That's relieving for me as I seem to have trouble finding time to purse them. Not to brush them off, as I think they are important while still in a physical body too. And eating is optional (I'm supposing cooking too, which I don't really enjoy)!
 

Altair

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After finishing this book I listened to his another audiobook The Afterlife Unveiled: What the Dead are Telling Us About Their World and actually found it richer in detail. So here are some interesting excerpts:


As the soul lives in the earth-life, so does it go to spirit-life. Its tastes, its predilections, its habits, its antipathies, they are with it still. It is not changed save in the accident of being freed from the body. The soul that on earth has been low in taste and impure in habit does not change its nature by passing from the earth-sphere, any more than the soul that has been truthful, pure, and progressive becomes base and bad by death.

Socrates is with the advanced spirits, way up in the spheres. We cannot go there, only know that it is a very lovely world. They come to us to teach and inspire, by what you would call scientific philosophy. Progression to the higher spheres depends greatly upon the desire of each person, and also upon the effort to acquire knowledge. The higher one goes the more elevated he is in knowledge and goodness. We are satisfied in this, the second sphere [Summerland], and must stay here as long as we are satisfied.

You might think that death would call them to their senses and unleash spiritual energy that would lead to a quest for enlightenment. In several places Hatch laments that this is not so:

This is not a place where everyone knows everything... far from it. Most souls are nearly as blind as they were in life. Elsewhere he says, I am sorry to say that the person who has a clear idea of the significance of life is about as rare here as on the earth... a man does not suddenly become all-wise by changing the texture of his body. Or again:

«This is a great place in which to grow, if one really wants to grow; though few persons take advantage of its possibilities. Most are content to assimilate the experiences they had on earth … most souls do not demand enough here, any more than they did in life. Tell them to demand more, and the demand will be answered.»

As for hell, Hatch does not describe it as a single place where sinners are lumped together. Instead, there are hells to fit every vice: hells of lust, of avarice, of hatred, of untruthfulness, of anger, of various addictions. But these hells, though full of suffering, are not punitive; rather they exist for spirits who want to be there and who want to express themselves in the sick ways they used to back on earth. Often they do so at our expense. Hatch describes a scene at a bar:

A young man with restless eyes and a troubled face … was leaning on the bar, drinking a glass of some soul-destroying compound. And close to him, taller than he and bending over him, with its repulsive, bloated, ghastly face pressed close to his, as if to smell his whiskey-tainted breath, was one of the most horrible astral beings I have seen in this world since I came out. The hands of the creature … were clutching the young man’s form, one long and naked arm was around his shoulders, the other around his hips. It was literally sucking the liquor-soaked life of its victim, absorbing him, using him, in the successful attempt to enjoy vicariously the passion which death had intensified. But was that a creature in hell? you ask. Yes, for I could look into its mind and see its sufferings. For ever (the words ‘for ever’ may be used of that which seems endless) this entity was doomed to crave and crave and never to be satisfied. And the young man who leaned on the bar in that gilded palace of gin was filled with a nameless horror and sought to leave the place; but the arms of the thing that was now his master clutched him tighter and tighter, the sodden, vaporous cheek was pressed closer to his, the desire of the vampire creature aroused an answering desire in its victim, and the young man demanded another glass.

Broadly speaking, every human being falls under one of three headings. He or she is either Spirit-man, Soul-man, or Animal-man. The Animal-man, probably a majority of the human race during any time period, lives for pleasure. He doesn’t care for the joys of the intellect or the fine arts. He doesn’t read good literature. His appetites are exclusively physical and, as Myers puts it, paltry. There is no danger he will have gotten this far in our book. He is probably not cruel or corrupt; he might be sweet and generous. But his mind and spirit are still slumbering. And when he grows tired of the unchallenging look-alike world of the Third Plane, he desires change:

«Usually, at this point, when longing for a new life with all his being, he desires that it shall be one with the flesh, that it shall be another episode passed in the grosser bodily forms. So he goes downwards; but he descends in order to rise. … During his next incarnation he will probably either enter into the state of the Soul-man, or he will at least be less of an animal, and will seek an existence and follow a life of a higher order than the one he led when previously lodged in the flesh.

On the other hand, I am told that the Animal-man occasionally prefers to enter a material existence on some other planet in which matter may be even denser than any earthly substance. But the Soul-man, as opposed to the Animal-man, when finally bored of the Third Plane, will embark on a very different kind of experience. He or she is now an intelligent, ethically developed soul and will elect to go upward to the next level, the Fourth, not downward for a repeat performance on a dense planet. On the Third level, where familiarity and comfort had the highest priority, one’s ‘astral’ body was usually a replica of one’s earth body.

But it’s not only the greats of the world that AD encounters in the afterlife. At the other end of the spectrum, he finds house pets:

«… all the dogs that we’ve had in our family I can find here – all of them. They are still individualized. However, the dogs that I knew as a boy are no longer here. When I asked why, I was told that they have gone back to the group soul and have added their quota of affection, love, and devotion, to be used again when other dogs come to earth.»

A Group Soul is a number of souls all bound together by one spirit. There are countless Group Souls, each headed and inspired by a single spirit of uncommon power. Each Group Soul might contain as few as 20 souls or as many as a thousand. And there is some unifying interest, for example music, that acts as the thread that binds the group together. Not all groups, however, are conducive to the growth of the souls that make it up. Although every soul is free, a fanatical Buddhist or a very devout Christian may be held within the groove of his earthly beliefs as if held in chains, and such conditions tend to inhibit progress. But most Group Souls significantly quicken progress. Myers is himself a member of one:

The interesting feature of my state here is that I am within a larger mind, and many of my affinities are contained in it. He tells us we will realize how fine and beautiful is this brotherhood within the one being; how it deepens and intensifies existence; how it destroys the cold selfishness so necessary to an earth life.

Of special interest is the economy of the Group Soul. Each soul is so privy to the experiences of its fellows that the lessons normally learned only by a succession of many reincarnations can be speeded up. It works like this:

what the Buddhists would call the karma I had brought with me from a previous life is, very frequently, not that of my life, but of the life of the soul [in my group] that preceded me by many years on earth and left for me a pattern which made my life. I, too, wove a pattern for another of my group during my earthly career. We are all of us distinct, though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.

Myers tells us he will not reincarnate. The surrogate experiences of his brothers and sisters, which he feels with as much intensity as if he were the actor, are teaching him all the remaining lessons of earth needed for his advancement.

The Sixth Plane {density?} is even more nebulous. The bodies of spirits at this level are formless white light, and pure reason reigns supreme. Emotion and passion, as known to men, are absent. White light represents the perfect equanimity of pure thought. Such equanimity becomes the possession of the souls who enter this last rich kingdom of experience. … They are capable of living now … as the pure thought of their Creator. They have joined the Immortals.

The Seventh (and last) Plane {density?} – which Myers refers to simply as Out Yonder – is the end game, the final purpose, and no longer counts as a realm of creaturely experience. Without a body of any kind, you merge with the Great Source and reign in the great calm of eternity. Yet you still exist as an individual [and] are wholly aware of the imagination of God. So you are aware of the whole history of the earth from Alpha to Omega. Equally all planetary existence is yours. Everything created is contained within that imagination, and you … know it and hold it. An eon of spiritual evolution is usually required before taking this final step: Only a very few pass out Yonder during the life of the earth. A certain number of souls attain to the sixth state, but remain in it or, in exceptional cases for a lofty purpose, descend again into matter. They are not strong enough to make the great leap into timelessness, they are not yet perfect.

What exactly is the Infinite’s plan for us? Myers states it early on:

«The purpose of existence may be summed up in a phrase – the evolution of mind in matter that varies in degree and kind – so that mind develops through manifestation, and in an ever-expanding universe ever increases in power and gains thereby the true conception of reality. The myriad thoughts of God, those spirits which inform with life all material forms, are the lowest manifestation of God, and must learn to become God-like – to become an effective part of the Whole.»

But why do souls reincarnate? AD is clear on the point, and what he says is the classic answer we hear from other communicators:

«It’s an interesting fact that most persons grow faster spiritually while incarnate. The incarnate energy is denser. That makes it more possible for you, while embodied in flesh on earth, to take hold of a particular problem area and shape it into a more constructive pattern. Your period of incarnation on the physical plane is thus a very important period of education. It contributes to your own spiritual evolution and that of all humanity. You can elect not to return, and many do, after they have achieved a certain spiritual development. But the physical plane is a ‘school’ for learning and development, and so most souls do desire to return for a series of incarnations.»

You might think there is no place for science in the spirit world, but this is not so. Scientists are plentiful, and much of their time is spent trying to understand better the incredibly complex laws of their own new world. Others seek to transmit (telepathically) to earth the discoveries they have made that will help it. Benson claims that the earth world has the spirit world to thank for all the major scientific discoveries that have been made throughout the centuries. In fact the spirit world is far ahead of earth, so far that certain discoveries are withheld until a time that they would not be misused by unscrupulous people.
 
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