In The Next World, historian of religions Gregory Shushan explores the relationships between extraordinary experiences and beliefs in life after death. He first shows how throughout history and around the world, near-death experiences have influenced ideas about the afterlife. Shushan also takes a deep dive into the problem of similarities and differences between NDE accounts. Not only do they vary widely, but so does a culture’s way of responding to them and integrating them into their belief systems.
In this book Shushan also compares NDEs with accounts of shamanic spirit journeys to afterlife realms, intermission states between reincarnations from people who remember past lives, and descriptions of otherworlds by souls of the dead communicating through mediums. Accounts of all these phenomena bear striking similarities to NDEs, though also have important differences. Examining them each in relation to the other results in a kind of reciprocal illumination, in which each type of extraordinary experience sheds light on the other.
Drawing on over two decades of research into cross-cultural afterlife beliefs and extraordinary experiences, The Next World presents not only an accessible overview of Shushan’s work, but also takes a bold new step in psychical research. By combining ideas and methods from a variety of disciplines – archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and the study of religions – Shushan’s unique take on the issues leads to new understandings of them. Unlike any of these disciplines, however, Shushan also crosses over into metaphysics, philosophy, and parapsychology, considering the implications of the cross-cultural data for the survival hypothesis: Are NDEs and other extraordinary experiences actually glimpses into another world and a taste of the true spiritual reality? If so, what could this afterlife actually be like in light of all the diversity of accounts?
1. Near-Death Experiences: Unpeeling the Universal, Cultural, and Individual Layers
2. Revelations in Near-Death Experiences
3. Near-Death Experiences in Early Civilizations
4. Shamanism and Near-Death Experiences in the Indigenous Traditions of Oceania
5. Next Worlds in Victorian and Edwardian Mediumship
6. Between Lives: Reincarnation Intermission Memories
7. What Kind of Afterlife? Culture, Individual, and the Survival Hypothesis
Appendix I: Extraordinary Experiences or Cultural Imagination: “All in the Brain” Revisited
Appendix II: The Near-Death Experience of Mrs. Leonora Piper
Praise for The Next World.
“This fine new book by Gregory Shushan encapsulates his decades of painstaking ethnohistorical research on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) and various related phenomena, spanning a remarkable range of cultures and times. Strongly recommended!”
~ Edward F. Kelly, co-editor, Irreducible Mind, Beyond Physicalism, and Consciousness Unbound.
“Advances our understanding of NDEs and of our own nature as few other books have. This truly is a remarkable book.”
~ Bruce Greyson, M.D., author, After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal About Life and Beyond.
“Gregory Shushan is one of the brightest lights in the rising generation of scholars in psychical research.”
~ Alan Gauld, author, The Heyday of Mental Mediumship: 1880s – 1930s: Investigators, Mediums and Communicators.
“What a breathtaking tour of the expanse of human experience! It left me with a sense of wonder and admiration.”
~ Zofie Weaver, Society for Psychical Research; author, Other Realities? The Enigma of Franek Kluski’s Mediumship and A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki.
“Both academically accurate and highly entertaining, a remarkable combination. A brilliant book – fun to read!”
~ James McClenon, Ph.D, author, Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion and The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery.
“The Next World draws together several decades of detailed cross-cultural research on phenomena such as Near-Death Experience, Shamanism, Mediumship, Reincarnation and the Afterlife. Shushan’s great strength is his interdisciplinarity and the depth of his scholarship, which makes this book outstanding in an otherwise crowded market. This is a genuinely original work, drawing on classics, history, archaeology, anthropology and the
study of religion, as well as a thorough knowledge of parapsychology. It is also an extremely readable book, always balanced in tone and authoritative. The Next World is set to become a key item in the library of anyone seriously interested in religion and the big questions of individual survival and the purpose of life. A good read and I was reluctant to put it down!”
– Dr. Fiona Bowie Research Affiliate, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, Oxford University Member of Wolfson College Oxford, Author of the best-selling Anthropology of Religion (Blackwell).
About the author
Gregory Shushan, PhD, is the leading authority on near-death experiences and the afterlife across cultures and throughout history. He is the author of Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions, and Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations. Currently Visiting Fellow at University of Winchester, and Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, Dr. Shushan was previously Honorary Research Fellow at the Religious Experience Research Centre at University of Wales, Perrott-Warrick Researcher at University of Oxford’s Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, and Scholar-in Residence at the Centro Incontri Umani (The Cross Cultural Centre), Ascona, Switzerland. He has lectured at universities in the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland and has given numerous talks on his research in nine countries.
“The Parapsychology Association Book Committee has elected Gregory’s book, Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions, for the PA Book Award. This Award recognizes books in the field of parapsychology that make significant contributions to science and to the cultural conversation about the implications of parapsychology.”
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published April 2022
Size: 6 x 9 inches / 229 x 152 mm