The Afterlife: What might it be like?
Before addressing the idea of how one might spend the time in an afterlife – in fact ‘Things we can do when we are dead’ – we should take time to clarify just what an afterlife may (or may not) be like.
As I am not dead at the moment, I cannot speak from personal experience and can therefore only look to the reported experiences of others and at seemingly good literature on the matter.
Silver Birch, a corporate intelligence and a spiritual teacher who speaks wisely on many things, explains that different portions of a person’s consciousness incarnate at different times. He says:
There is a consciousness which is you, of which you in the world of matter are expressing but a tiny portion, and there are portions of that same consciousness which are expressing themselves in other spheres of expression. You and the other expressions are all reflections of one inner spiritual reality.
Try to picture the greater consciousness as a circle and then realise that there are segments of that circle which are revolving around its centre; when they finally cease to revolve, the different segments occupy their allotted places and the circle is united and complete.
I have also heard this idea described as similar to facets of a diamond. When one life is finished, the experiences that it has endured in that lifetime are taken back to the main “diamond” and added to it to become part of the whole.
When Silver Birch was asked the question, “Does not your explanation of ‘split’ consciousness express the same truth as F.W.H. Myers’s declaration regarding ‘group souls?’’ The answer was: “It is really the same thing except that it is not a grouping of different souls, but a union of the different portions of consciousness returning to complete the whole.”
When asked if two parts of the same “whole” could be incarnated at the same time the answer was, “No that would be contrary to the whole purpose. In each (life experience) you become increasingly conscious of more and more of yourself.”
He continued, “It is hard for you to understand because you do not understand what living really means. Life to you has expressed itself practically in its lowest forms. You cannot visualise real life, living intensely in a consciousness that is superior to anything which you can conceive.”
Regarding human development on Earth he said:
What you must learn is that there are two forms of development. You can unfold that which is of the soul and you can unfold that which is of the spirit. One is the development of the psychic faculty and the other is soul-growth. Where you get the development of the psychic without the spiritual, there you have a low plane of vibration. When you get a combination of both, then you not only have a great medium, but a great man or woman.
Silver Birch always spoke about ‘Natural Law.’ He states that the Law is perfect; the soul reaps its own reward and makes its own punishment.
The following are answers to questions put to Silver Birch.
Q. Shall we be with those we love in the spirit world, although separated by convention in the physical world?
A. It is impossible to separate love from its beloved.
Q. When we enter the spirit world do we meet relatives who have passed on before?
A. If love exists – yes. If love does not exist – no.
Q. Is the life on the other side everlasting?
A. All life is everlasting, for it belongs to the Great Spirit who is eternal.
Q. Is there only one spirit world.
A. Yes, but it has an infinite number of expressions.
Q. Are the divisions separated in a geographical sense?
A. Not geographically, but in mental scale, which is to some extent conditioned by its physical expression, which effectively means that there are differences for a time until there is evolution beyond that which is conditioned by a physical life.
Let us now look at The Presence of other Worlds by Wilson Van Dusen, which examines the work of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that he, while still alive, was permitted to walk in heaven and hell. (Which he, incidentally, also described as mental scales)
He speaks about these regions as being extremes of different “levels.”
Indeed he proposes that people who claim to speak to the dead are mostly only reaching a very low level – and this level can be quite deceptive.
Swedenborg states that, “Fundamentally, a man’s life in these other worlds is based on what he really is. In other words people move toward the essential reality of their existence. It therefore follows that the worlds beyond this one are even more essentially psychological and spiritual than this one. The first state after death is the state of exteriors – everything is the same, people are the same and life is like before.
After a time a person is opened to their real nature and it becomes impossible to act one way and be another.”
They are seemingly instructed by friends concerning the state of eternal life. Swedenborg said that the possibility of cheating one’s way into heaven dims when the second stage of the spirit world is opened up.
“A person can even go through the opening of the book of lives in which every detail of the life is reviewed. When this is complete a person joins the multitude of others who are essentially at the same ‘level’.”
‘In all respects heaven resembles life on earth – corresponding to earth, there is a government – but those who are given power are those who are of use to others. There are buildings, cities, woods etc. The speech of spirit is not with words, but of ideas, but when they speak with man their speech falls into the words of the man’s language.’
Swedenborg says that everyone has work to do within their own level. Heaven is not a place of idleness.
To me this sounds similar to “In my house there are many mansions.”
There is no doubt in my mind that sensitives can obtain information from some of these levels. Information which could not possibly be known in any normally accepted way and often outside what we call space and time. It also appears to me that different mediums have such varying ability that they appear to reach different ‘levels’ and that some can go no further than the initial after death condition.
Psychometry in fact may be just such an example. Oh yes, it works and can work well as a form of information transfer, but does it tell us anything about the afterlife?
Take for example the work of Dr Osty circa 1923 – a French Physician with a deep interest in – and a scientific approach to – psychical research.
There was no doubt left in Osty’s mind that this type of information transfer was a fact.
One of the sensitives that he used in his work was Mme. Morel. She worked under hypnosis. Osty obtained a book from M. Boirac, Rector of the Academy of Dijon, for the lady to psychometrise.
“In absolute ignorance of the person whose book this might be I put it in the hands of Mme Morel, hypnotised, asking her to speak of the life of the person to whom it belonged. She said, ‘A young man appears to me tall and rather slight. There is nothing characteristic in his appearance but in his eyes, which are not like that of other people. There is nothing wrong with them, but their form is peculiar….. I see this young man for a long while in a place where there is no danger….. He was there with many other men….. Then one day, one morning, he departs with others….. a long march….. then he goes on a train. I see him a little later with others in a kind of hole….. He is standing up with shining eyes….. I hear much noise….. I see fury in his brain; he goes up….. What a noise I hear! He feels a blow and falls….. gets up….. receives another blow and falls afresh with others on a road….. on one side I see grass and cultivated land, on the other side grey mud. He is wounded in the throat and head by a piece of iron.”
Two days later this account was sent to M.Boirac, who replied as follows.
“The little manual of Esperanto that I gave you was taken from the civilian clothing left at my house by the son of one of my friends. The young man was a second lieutenant in the 27th regiment, killed or missing on Dec 12th in a trench attack at Bois-Brule. G.M. was aged 26, tall, slight, face rather long and his eyelids had a slight fold like the Chinese, serious and quiet expression..… As far as is known he was wounded leading the attack, but continued at the head of his men, then fell at the edge of the German trench which was still in the hands of the enemy. The first wound seems to have been in the shoulder, the second in his head. The body is supposed to have been taken up by the Germans and buried by them, but there is no certainty. He was returned as “missing.” The vision is therefore correct, with some particulars that cannot be ascertained. I can state that the little book was touched by G.M. some months before the scene to which it gave rise.”
Therefore this psychometrist correctly described the death conditions of the young man – by touching a small book that belonged to him, but the last time the man touched the book, he was alive and well! There are thousands of such accounts which have been carefully examined over many years. All very curious, but does it tell us anything about our existence and a possible afterlife?
In Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch, the author asked:
“How does God talk and to Whom?”
The answer received through automatic writing was, “I talk to everyone: all the time. The question is not to whom I talk, but who listens. When we try to speak to each other we are immediately constricted by the unbelievable limitation of words….. for this reason my most common form of communication is through feeling. Feeling is the language of the soul. If you want to know what is true for you, look to how you are feeling about it. I also communicate with thought. Thought and feelings are not the same although they can occur at the same time. Words are really the least effective communicator. They are most open to misinterpretation, most often misunderstood. The highest thought is always that thought which contains joy….. The grandest feeling is that which you call love. Joy, truth and love, these three are interchangeable, and one always leads to the other.”
In answer to the question, “Why are we here?” the reply was, “To remember and recreate who you are. The soul, your soul, knows all there is to know – all of the time – yet knowing is not enough – the soul seeks experience. You know that you can be generous but, unless you do something which displays generosity, you have nothing but a concept. You know yourself to be kind but, unless you do someone a kindness, you have nothing but an idea of yourself. It is your soul’s desire to turn its grandest concept about itself into its greatest experience.”
It has been said that there are only three things in starting a new business: location, location, and location. So what will be the location of your new life and where are you going to be when you pass over? It is quite a thought that we inadvertently sculpture our new state of being when we ‘go’.
This would seem to me to tie in with the “mental scale” of existence described by Silver Birch and the “levels” described by Swedenborg.
So the optimist is correct and the pessimist is correct, yet one differs from the other from his own particular point of view. Each is building his world from a particular standpoint which relates to himself. The word Heaven means harmony. The word hell is from old English meaning “to build a wall around, to separate;” to be helled was to be shut off.
To me, all of this makes sense if we look at evidence from some spontaneous cases. Many earthbounds try to cause problems for people still alive, probably because they have locked themselves away in their own particular “hell” – shut off, afraid to move on, scared to let go.
As already discussed, other people who have recently passed seem able to make themselves known to someone on Earth almost immediately by one means or another. E.g. movement of objects, raps, taps electrical disturbances. Their “level” must be such that they can do this.
On The Death of my Son, by a lawyer, Jasper Swain, is a marvellous book. It takes the tragedy of his son’s demise from the car crash that caused the death, to the realisation that he can still communicate with him. Jasper asked his son, through a trance medium, “But where are you? What world are you in?”
The reply was, “I’m in a world that looks pretty much the same as your world, Dad; only there are different laws up here….. When I say laws, I don’t mean laws that govern the behaviour of people here, I mean laws that govern thought….. While you are still on earth, your thoughts, your intentions, everything that you do, gives your soul a certain rate of vibration. For argument sake, let’s suppose your soul is vibrating in a fifty megacycle band. When you die and manifest here, you would go straight to the part of our world which vibrates at fifty megacycles. By the same token, if you’re a slow thinking sort of bloke who can only vibrate to fifteen megacycles, then you’ll become part of this world in the fifteen megacycle range. Therefore you yourself select the kind of scenery that will await you when you arrive here. The worlds above us are even richer in light and happiness. If I go up there (and I can) I find it too bright; the light hurts my eyes….. so I reverse gear and return to this world – which suits me just fine….. The planes below this one are denser, dimmer planes. If I go down to them it becomes murkier and murkier until it is so creepy that I scoot back here where I belong. This world is the right one for me at this stage of my development; but as my vibrations become more refined, I shall be able to visit the higher planes with ease.…. There are many Halls of Knowledge and Wisdom here – you discuss the subject with the lecturer face to face. You can stay all day if you like; except that could be forever, because we have no day or night here.” Jasper asked, “Mike, if you are safe in the infinite domain of God; where is hell?” This was met by a burst of hearty laughter. “Gee Dad I’m afraid there’s no such place!
My Father is a father of love and compassion. He would never permit one of his souls to suffer; and hell would be a place of suffering. I guess it only exists where you are now lovingly preserved in aspic by the sanctimonious!”
So, how do all of the above accounts fit in with our experiences here and now?
For one thing the idea that the lower levels can be deceptive is borne out by a great number of spiritualistic type “circles.” So often circle sitters are told that this is going to be the greatest circle of all time – promises, promises and they fizz out within a relatively short time – achieving nothing.
So, what is the afterlife like?
That seems to depend on you and the way you live and think in this one.
I would like to add a quote here from the Rt. Rev. Mervyn Stockwood, Lord Bishop of Southwark, as taken from the book The Woman who Stunned the World, Ena Twigg: Medium. With reference to life after death he says,
The Church ought to provide the answer for its followers, but I doubt whether it does, except in a minority of cases. My experience suggests that most priests are ill qualified to provide knowledge, comfort and assurance; instead they content themselves with a routine ‘death patter’ they picked up in their theological college. My contention is that, if we were to take psychic studies seriously, we would learn to appreciate that our experience in this world is not the consummation; instead we live now sub specie aeternitatis. There are other worlds and dimensions and this should be taught in schools as part of our general education – we must concentrate on psychic studies insofar as they impinge upon our life now and in the future I would hope that it might affect his (man’s) values and behaviour in this world, for what is the purpose of survival unless those who survive are prepared for it?
I propose that the preponderance of evidence would tend to suggest that you are a soul within a body, not a body with a soul. Once the ‘old glove’ of the body has been discarded, the soul still exists with all of its intelligence, motivation, intention and emotion. I feel that this has now been demonstrated and proven in my books as in a court of law, beyond any reasonable doubt, and that once we have passed over there are indeed many, many, things that we can do when we are dead.
Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity; and I am not sure about the Universe.
“The Afterlife: What might it be like?” is an extract from More Things you Can do When You’re Dead: What Can You Truly Believe? by Tricia Robertson.