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A Millennial Tackles the Afterlife

Posted on 14 December 2015, 10:44

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, “nones” – people who have no religious affiliation – now make up 23 percent of the American adult population.  That’s up from 16 percent in 2007.  Some nones are atheists, some agnostic, and some so indifferent or so wrapped up in our materialistic world that they haven’t taken the time to figure out what they believe or don’t believe. The upward trend in nones is due to an increasing number of millennials – those people born since 1981 – turning away from religion.

Cyrus Kirkpatrick, (below) a 29-year-old freelance writer living in Los Angeles, qualifies as both a none and a millennial, but that doesn’t mean he is a non-believer or a nihilist.  His recently released book, Understanding Life After Death, clearly attests to that.  Subtitled “An Exploration of What Awaits You, Me and Everyone We’ve Ever Known,” the book offers a comprehensive review of the evidence for an afterlife, the arguments against it, the nature of the afterlife, and the obstacles we encounter in accepting and realizing that afterlife. 

 cyrus

“To say this is an important topic is an understatement,” he writes in the book’s Introduction with unusual insight for someone so young.  “It is arguably more important than making money, politics, careers and vacation.  Our lives are stunningly short, and very soon – you are going to die – whether from a disease like cancer, an auto accident, or hopefully a natural passing in your sleep.  Given this reality is fast approaching, it makes sense to begin committing time to understand it, so that the moments you have left can be enjoyed without having to worry so much about mortality – because what we understand, we do not fear.”

As Kirkpatrick sees it, some of his generation’s disdain for the topic results from a distrust of religion and its vague dogma.  “As a non-religious, secular person myself – I can perfectly understand this distrust,” he explains.  “but we must be careful not to allow our disillusionment with religion to poison all spiritual concepts, and we must also be cautious in adopting drastic, antithetical philosophies with no benefit to us.” 

After reading his excellent book, I contacted him and put some questions to him by email.

How did you become interested in the subject of life after death, especially at such a young age?

“Sometimes it’s hard to understand the things that appeal to us. It started with an inability to reconcile the concept of death based on what society as a whole (and family members) were trying to tell me. I remember being about 13-years-old and thinking to myself, ‘This is ridiculous. What’s going on here? It can’t be true that there are absolutely no answers to this really fundamental thing that everybody has to deal with.’ That, combined with a general interest in the so-called paranormal, is what started me on a path of exploring the afterlife, and it’s a path I never stopped traveling.”

What motivated you to write the book?

“I’d been involved in publishing for a few years, creating smaller books about mobile income and travel (the ‘Lifestyle Design’ series), but I had yet to release a feature length project. I then decided I needed to create something I could be really proud of before I turned 30. I’d never stepped forward into the spotlight with my life-long interest in the afterlife before, but decided I would do it by creating a comprehensive book in a surprising change of genre from what I normally write about.”

How do you view the growing increase in “nones” among millennials?  Does it necessarily suggest a more materialistic, more hedonistic lifestyle?  More fear of death?

“The good news is that I think my generation tends to be exceptionally thoughtful and concerned with social issues, so we’re not hedonists or even extremely materialistic. However, because there’s so much disdain for religion—perhaps understandably so—there’s a lot of confusion about important, existential topics. Most people are unaware of the secular case for life after death, and they do not realize that completely rejecting the topic is irrational, because data strongly supports the existence of an afterlife. I think the more young people realize that this has nothing to do with religion but is an area of science, they will begin to explore the topic more seriously. And this would be a good thing, because I believe (based on personal experience) that when millennials and the younger Generation-Y are faced with concepts like nihilism and eternal oblivion (that scientists like Stephen Hawking espouse) it causes what I feel is more depression and existential uncertainty than I’ve seen in other age groups, probably due to their thoughtful nature.”

If you were asked to pick three cases in annals of survival research, which ones would you choose?  Why?
 
“Firstly, the Anni Nanji tapes from the Leslie Flint physical mediumship séances. This incidence was never widely publicized, yet it remains hard evidence of survival that anybody can listen to online. In essence, an Indian doctor communicated via direct voice with his deceased wife, Anni, over the course of a decade. They were able to carry on their relationship, discussing tiny details of each other’s lives which makes the possibility of fraud almost non-existent.

“Next, I always suggest to research the fairly recent Scole experiments out of England. This incidence was really a game-changer because it demonstrated how physical mediumship can occur in modern times, allowing supernatural phenomena to happen under controlled conditions.

“Lastly, for something different, I would suggest the work of Luis Gasparetto from Sao Paulo, Brazil. There is video available where he can paint four masterpieces at one time, with each limb operating a different paintbrush (while blindfolded). His claims that he channels multiple famous artists at once become very believable.”

You wrote that you first started exploring the out-of-body state in 2013.  Did it come quickly?  Please summarize your most dynamic OBE. 

“The OBE state unlocked a lot of doors that were sometimes hard for me to even believe were real due to their fantastical nature. It took a few months of nightly practice, crawling out of my body and trying to get past my doorway before it became easier, at which point a couple of extremely surprising experiences happened, that involved apparent direct communication with astral residents. The OBEs reached their zenith of absurdity when, one morning, I found myself being gently tugged out of my body and visited by the ethereal presence of a snarky old British man who claimed to be the famous occultist Aleister Crowley.

“This was my most dynamic experience because we had a completely regular conversation for around twenty minutes. Although I cannot confirm if his identity was really that of Crowley (I personally believe it was), it gave me a chance to have a real conversation with a so-called ‘spirit,’ which involved a mixture of completely normal, audible conversation alongside the projection of telepathic imagery; often used to aesthetically enhance the communication. 

“Crowley’s visit, he claimed, was a result of the fact that I had been researching him and he ‘detected’ my interest in him; and further the entity claimed that he likes to keep friendly tabs on those on my side with interest in otherworldly affairs (like myself). The whole experience was unforgettable and very exciting.”

If a skeptic were to say that OBEs are nothing more than dreams or products of your imagination, how would you respond to him?

“I would respond sympathetically because I once believed this as well. It’s important to remember the OBE is often a real, ‘physical’ experience with vibratory changes, electrical sensations as you disconnect, and the ability to have full sensory input, and you can even collect verifiable information to further prove to yourself that it was real.”

Do you expect to see much better evidence for survival 50 years down the road than we have now?  If so, in what area of research do you think it will come?

“A lot can change in 50 years. I’d currently place the most interest on the resurgence of physical mediumship. The Scole experiments kicked off highly scrutinized séances that could be confirmed by teams of qualified researchers. If some type of research lab is created where teams of mediums could break down the barriers between worlds in a consistent fashion, with help from the other side in a kind of large-scale organized effort involving many people from both dimensions, then we may see major progress.’

Do you see much interest in the subject of life after death among other people your age?

“In person, yes. As a traveler who stays in a lot of hostels, I meet many people in my age group and younger, and very often these topics arise naturally. I will mention how I wrote a book about life after death, and suddenly people feel like they want to just gush out and tell me about all these experiences they’ve had but were unable to share them with anybody before they met me.

“By contrast to real life, internet communities of younger people skew more closed-mindedly. I think there’s enormous pressure on people to conform to popular opinions; especially on the anonymous internet where people sometimes become meaner and allow their worst behaviors to come to the surface.”

Do your friends and relatives think you are weird?  What do you say to them to justify your interest?

“The ones who think I’m weirdest seem to believe I’m radioactive, and so they steer far enough away from me that I don’t have to worry about justifying anything to them. The truth is, this topic just does not resonate with a lot of people. And that’s perfectly fine. At some point in most people’s lives though, a time comes when they become curious about big questions, and then this subject may be important to them. But there’s no rush.

“That being said, I also know plenty of people who fully support my work, even if they don’t fully understand the nature of what I write about.”

You state that you are a secular person.  Do you think we would have less chaos and turmoil in the world and enjoy greater peace of mind if all churches suddenly closed their doors and ceased to exist?

“Not at all. A religion can still represent a cultural experience that may be important within the range of human expression (from Islamic culture to Japanese Shintoism), while the dark behavior of humans would persist whether it was justified by religion or not. The big problem is when religious people fail to ground themselves in reality; as in cases of extremism; from Westboro Baptist Church to ISIS. What do we do about this? At least with a secular approach to spirituality, we can obtain answers that are grounded in facts and data versus the fallible nature of scripture. But this doesn’t mean we should abandon the positive aspects of religious culture entirely, so long as they are not beliefs that can hurt yourself or others.”


Please summarize your conclusion about this big, mysterious topic known as the afterlife?

“At some point there may come a time to stop calling the afterlife ‘the afterlife’ because that’s not really what it is. I prefer the term ‘multi-planar universe.’ We have to imagine our culture as being very primitive. A more advanced society may have a perfect comprehension of these topics, but for us we are still grasping to advance to that level, and so we misunderstand these concepts, interpreting them through a primitive, narrow lens. The impression I get is that the way life works is that we are constantly moving between different planes—different dimensions—having a myriad of experiences as we meet new people and have new adventures. For the vast majority of people in the universe who live in planes beyond this one, this concept is blatantly obvious and there’s no need to place unnecessary importance on the transition point (death). However, for us on Earth, it’s all this new, crazy, magical thing. At a certain point we need to finally grow up and recognize how the universe works.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.


Comments

Oh dear, typo:

Thank you for your well chosen words.  Yes, I need to be hosed down from time to time.  My problem is that I am a longstanding engineer and it is my nature to fret whenever I cannot understand anything.  There is little doubt that there might be more understanding when none is actually there.

That should have read “when ONE is actually there’.

At least, that is my hope.  My big fear is that I won’t understand anything when I get there!!

Leslie Harris, Tue 29 Dec, 00:52

Mike and Amos,

Thank you for your well chosen words.  Yes, I need to be hosed down from time to time.  My problem is that I am a longstanding engineer and it is my nature to fret whenever I cannot understand anything.  There is little doubt that there might be more understanding when none is actually there.

Until that time, I will continue to puzzle over the anomalies and the large chunks of missing information.

Leslie Harris, Sat 26 Dec, 08:47

Leslie,
I don’t think there is a power dictating reincarnation.  If there is any directing at all I think that it comes from the individual consciousness wishing to re-incarnate.  I don’t think there is any force or coercion requiring any particular reincarnation.  Eventually you experience whatever is necessary for your spiritual growth and you are the one who determines what that is.

As spirit consciousness, one might choose how and where one wishes to reincarnate. Since sequential time arguably doesn’t exist, one might even be able to reincarnate in previous earth times, experiencing again the early 1800s for example.  I know it is anathema for some people to think but for me, I might even want to experience a little time in the body of something other than a human being—maybe on a planet other than earth.

I look at the process of reincarnation much as I would think about purchasing a new car.  As an 18-year-old teenager I might find that a monster truck was what I wanted to own and ride around in but as I became more interested in finding a mate I might want to buy a souped-up muscle car to impress the girls.  After I married I might want an SUV for a while but when children arrived, a Town and Country Chrysler Van might be more appropriate.  As I approached my midlife crisis I might think that red Miata Sports Car was just what I needed until somebody eventually took my keys away from me a bought me a motorized wheelchair in which I could ride off into the sunset.

Each time I reincarnated it would be like buying a new car—-a car/body that just happened to fit my needs or whims at the moment. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 22 Dec, 20:02

Les,

As I have said before, I believe that reincarnation is much more complex than people who believe in it take it to be.  It is, in my opinion, beyond human comprehension, and so I, for the most part, leave that subject alone, beyond commenting here and there.  There are no easy answers for it or for alien life, etc., etc.  I am satisfied with the evidence we have that consciousness does survive death and don’t feel the need to get answers to many of the questions you ask. Obviously, you want to go deeper than most of us, but I think we are about as deep as we are going to get and have to be satisfied with that.

Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Dec, 08:06

Leslie,
Don’t you suppose that if reincarnation would be available to you that there would be an unlimited number of options.  You wouldn’t have to come back to relive your present life over again.  You might want to come back as a south seas islander basking under a tropical sun, perhaps a flamenco dancer with dark flashing eyes and ruffled red skirts, a bald-headed Wall Street banker who gets sent to jail, an Indian Fakir among the untouchables in India.  Anything might be possible.  smile - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 21 Dec, 23:45

There are several things that fresh examination might reveal.  One is the structure and extent of the powers of whoever or whatever actually runs the afterlife, the next realm.  Something must create the rules and ensure compliance at the various levels that are said to exist.  I have never seen any mention of what these rules might be except in such generalized terms as to be meaningless. 

Probably the most evident power (to us) is the one that dictates reincarnation.  What is it that can compel souls to endlessly reincarnate.  Given that the reincarnatee goes into the next reincarnation with no knowledge of any previous reincarnation, this amounts to throwing them to the sharks.  The whole process has always struck me as being deeply masochistic, as in “No, you got it wrong again; try again!”

Thinking of my own life (as in this one!), I find it very depressing to contemplate having to repeat it, repeat the pain and suffering, repeat having to make decisions based on inadequate knowledge . . . 

Perhaps the ‘Millenials’ might be able to more specific information than anyone in the past.

Leslie Harris, Mon 21 Dec, 07:51

If Kirkpatrick is making a fresh approach, there are several things to which he might turn his mind, matters that were deeply obscure in the mid-1800s when current serious investigation of an afterlife began.

It is now accepted that Homo sapiens evolved over an extremely long time from simpler life forms.  Part of this evolution was the increasing size and capabilities of the brain.  At what point did the afterlife, as we currently know it, begin for the human species?  This is not a question that I have seen addressed anywhere.

We live in an average size galaxy that is estimated to carry around 100,000,000,000 stars.  Given the high probability that many or most of them will have a handful of planets, the probability that there are no other intelligent beings in this galaxy is microscopically small. 

It is estimated that there are 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the known universe, which puts the number of stars at around 10,000,000,000,000,000,000.  The probability of other intelligent life balloons accordingly.

It is inconceivable that other such intelligences would not also have an afterlife.

Leslie Harris, Sat 19 Dec, 10:54

Indeed, I must admit to a few milliseconds hesitation in my choice of words.  I was mindful that this is a power-hungry and wealth-hungry organization, deeply misogynistic, ruling by fear not reason, widespread sexual predation on little children supposedly in their trusted care, institutionalized denial of all of the foregoing, cover-up at the highest levels whilst simultaneously remaining terminally sanctimonious, living examples of evil that they preach against, the very embodiment of “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Sometimes, it is very difficult to observe social niceties in the face of such institutionalized depraved and corrupt behaviour.

Leslie Harris, Sat 19 Dec, 01:44

Suzanne,

Afterlife, as in the life after this life, is a bit on the clumsy side.  I tend to think of it as the next realm.

Leslie

Leslie Harris, Sat 19 Dec, 01:42

On this subject - Most researchers are in their sixties and older. I’ve wondered if there will be enough people under thirty who’ll care about consciousness research and education… It’s wonderful to read this great interview which helps answer that question. And I agree that “Afterlife” is an odd name for our existence on other planes. I’ve yet to meet a single spirit who calls their home the Afterlife smile

Susanne Wilson, Fri 18 Dec, 04:05

Great interview with an intelligent, open minded young man, Michael . And Leslie, I swear like a trooper when not in polite company, but all the same ,I prefer the term “fouling its own nest ” lol.

Snorks.

Paleface Snorkadorian, Thu 17 Dec, 05:47

excellent interview, good job both of you! W.

W Becker, Wed 16 Dec, 01:06

My 27-year-old daughter and her friends are in the same general category as Mr. Kirkpatrick and the millennials he describes talking with in person. 
Of course, my daughter grew up accustomed to having non-physical beings around the house, so that colored her attitude.

Elene, Tue 15 Dec, 05:45

Mike,
great idea for an interview.
Your subject (as may also be the case with other millennials)seems to take himself pretty seriously. And he also appears to be unimpressed with the views of preceding generations. Maybe these young writers are about to acquire “a monopoly on truth” as Lawrence Ferlinghetti used to phrase it.

Dave Stang, Tue 15 Dec, 04:56

Fascinating getting a glimpse into the mind of someone so young.  Great interview.

Stafford Betty, Tue 15 Dec, 02:55

It is very pleasing to see a young person taking a serious interest in the survival of the consciousness and even more so that he sees the significance of the Scole experiments. 

I was born fifty years before he was and at a time when children were effectively brainwashed by their exposure to religion at a very early age when they had absolutely no capacity for critical thinking.  The result was that children grew up having had concepts embedded in their brain that actively precluded critical assessment.

In the last several decades, it has become clear that major religions have long been shitting on their own doorstep.  The corrupt power structures are bad enough but the wholesale sexual abuse of little children is terminally evil.  For this to be followed by the top hierarchy either ignoring this abuse or frantically trying to cover it up is unspeakably evil.

Where once children were automatically introduced to religion at a very early age, parents are now confronted with the spectre of what could well happen to them in the hands of the clergy.  Where once families would remain attached to one religion for all of their lives, this is declining rapidly.  This allows room for critical thinking and provides a fertile ground for books like this one.  This is the right thing at the right time.

Leslie Harris, Tue 15 Dec, 00:03

A Wise head on a young body. Great!
It gives me hope.

Keith P in England, Mon 14 Dec, 22:01

Very interesting. Young ones are turning away from organised religion, except for all kinds of fundamentalists. I was watching The Life Of PI on an aeroplane a couple of nights ago, where the Hindu boy examines various religions….very interesting… I think he had the right idea. Good to see that young ones are thinking for themselves. I also note that a lot of children’s pc games use the term ‘souls’ a lot…hum…might be good…not sure.

Tricia, Mon 14 Dec, 21:44

Absolutely wonderful for you to write about this! And, to hear this from a young person who has written a specific book.
It is what I have found with young people who are newcomers to our Spiritist group over the last 15 years (we are on are 33rd year now).
They have a great interest, they just have a difficult time finding someplace to go to explore their curiosity in these matters and/or figure out what the spiritual experiences they are having are…
They can’t find a place where they fit in among traditional religious groups…
I believe spirituality (belief in the soul and in the afterlife) is alive and well!

Yvonne Limoges, Mon 14 Dec, 21:27

Fascinating! Kudos to Kirkpatrick for thinking out of the box, and exploring for himself.

Mike Schmicker, Mon 14 Dec, 20:09


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