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Are Autopsies, Organ Transplants, and Hasty Disposal of Bodies Spiritually Contraindicated?

Posted on 14 May 2012, 13:07

In a recent episode of the popular NCIS TV series, a Marine, a young Muslim man, was murdered and the NCIS coroner was about to do an autopsy on his body when the dead man’s father showed up and begged the coroner not to disturb the body as his son’s spirit would be negatively affected if his body was cut into.   

I didn’t follow the program long enough to know if there was a time limit on when the body could be sliced up, but it’s something that I have sometimes wondered about, not only relative to autopsies but also to organ removals and hasty burials or cremations, as there have been a number of spirit messages suggesting that the spirit body can take some time – a day or two or three – to loosen itself from the physical shell.  If that is actually the case, then two questions present themselves:  1) Is physical pain experienced by whatever consciousness is still attached to the physical body when the body is so violated?  2)  If there is no physical pain, per se, does the spirit who does not yet realize he/she is “dead”  look on in horror and imagine the pain while observing his/her body being mutilated?

In his 1998 book, Light & Death, Dr. Michael Sabom, an Atlanta cardiologist, cites an article by Dr. Linda Emanuel, who comments that life and death are viewed as non-overlapping, dichotomous states, whereas in reality there is no threshold event that defines death. “Several scientific observations support Emanuel’s argument that loss of biologic life, including death of the brain, is a process and does not occur at a single, definite moment,” Sabom writes.  He goes on to mention that 10 organ donors diagnosed as “brain dead” showed an average increase in blood pressure of 31 millimeters of mercury and in heart rate of 23 beats per minute in response to surgical removal of the organs. He also refers to a study at Loyola University Medical Center in which it was found that 20 percent of patients diagnosed as brain dead had persisting EEG activity up to seven days after the initial diagnosis.

There have been numerous accounts of people being pronounced dead and then coming back to “life.”  The story of Dr. George Rodonaia, a psychologist in the Soviet Union, as related in several books on near-death experiences, is a particularly chilling one.  Rodonaia was said to have been murdered by the KGB as he was preparing for a trip to the United States in 1976. As medical personnel began cutting into him during an autopsy nearly two days after his “death,” Rodonaia opened his eyes and returned to life. He reported a very vivid NDE, one that transformed him from an atheist to a believer.

Workers relocating cemeteries in Great Britain have reported finding scratch marks on the inside covers of many caskets, indicating that the body was not yet “dead” when the cover was closed.  Of course, the cemetery victims were likely buried before embalming became commonplace, but that only leads one to wonder if embalming may now begin before bodies are actually “dead.”

In his 1916 book, Raymond or Life and Death, Sir Oliver Lodge, the esteemed British physicist and radio pioneer, in a séance with medium Gladys Osborne Leonard, discussed the subject with Raymond, his deceased son.  Raymond (below) told him that the body doesn’t start mortifying until the spirit has left it.  He went on to tell his father that he had witnessed a scene several days earlier in which a man was going to be cremated two days after the doctor pronounced him dead.  “When his relatives on this side heard about it, they brought a certain doctor on our side, and when they saw that the spirit hadn’t got really out of the body, they magnetized it, and helped it out,” Raymond explained through Feda, Leonard’s control.  “But there was still a cord, and it had to be severed rather quickly, and it gave a little shock to the spirit, like as if you had something amputated.  But it had to be done.”  Raymond suggested that there should be a seven-day waiting period before cremation.  “People are so careless,” he said.  “The idea seems to be ‘hurry up and get them out of the way now that they are dead.”


According to the mystic known as Abd-ru-Shin (1875-1941), the separation of the etheric body, or soul, from the physical body and the severing of the “silver cord” (sometimes referred to as the etheric umbilical cord), joining the two depends to a great extent on the spiritual development of the individual.  Dr. Richard Steinpach, who wrote extensively on the teachings of Abd-ru-Shin, stated that the more materialistic the person, the more the silver cord is tightly knit, and the more difficult it is to sever the connection. “The severance may then take many days, during which time such a person, because of the density of the connection-cord, must still feel what happens to his physical body, so that, for example, he does not necessarily remain insensitive to cremation,” Steinpach wrote, adding that it is with good reason that some rites, especially among primitive races, provide for minimum intervals between death and burial or cremation.

Allan Kardec, the French psychical investigator, stated that the affinity which continues to exist between soul and body after death is sometimes extremely painful “for it causes the spirit to perceive all the horror of decomposition of the latter.”
In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, we read that it might take up to three-and-a-half days for the consciousness to leave the body. Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, states that it is believed that if the body is touched in a certain place, as with an injection, for example, it may draw the consciousness to that spot. The consciousness of the dead person may then leave toward the nearest opening instead of through the fontanel, at the crown of the head, and make an unfortunate rebirth. But Rinpoche questioned several “masters” on the subject of organ donation. They all agreed that it is an extremely positive action. “So, as long as it is truly the wish of the dying person, it will not harm in any way the consciousness that is leaving the body,” Rinpoche summarized his interviews. “On the contrary, this final act of generosity accumulates good karma.”  One master added that the pain and suffering that a person goes through in the process of having the organs removed turns into good karma.

“I know about transplants, and am aware that the motive is often a very good one,” said Silver Birch, the spirit who communicated through British trance medium Maurice Barbanell (below) for many year. “But I must say that I am opposed to transplanting any part of the human body to other people.”  Although Silver Birch never fully identified himself, indications were that his Indian name was a convenient persona behind a very spiritually-evolved soul.

Until shortly before Barbanell’s death in 1981, Silver Birch delivered lectures and answered questions about every possible subject relating to the meaning of life and the evolution of the soul.  Silver Birch added that doctors cannot judge when death takes place and that death is final only when the silver cord is severed and the spirit body leaves the physical one. “When that severance has taken place, no medical man can make that body live again,” Silver Birch said.


But Silver Birch often mentioned that although he came from a realm with a considerably higher vibration than earth, he had not evolved to the point where he had knowledge of all things. He frequently prefaced his remarks, including those on transplants, by saying it was simply his opinion. “I do not think, from my point of view, and I speak only for myself, that the sustaining of the physical body must be the be-all of every endeavor,” he offered at one sitting. “I maintain that man should be instructed how to live aright, spiritually, mentally and physically. If he thinks right, then he behaves right and his body will be right. The solution is not the transfer of bodily parts. The solution is for every man to order himself to live as the Great Spirit intended. Man must have compassion for other men and for all the creatures with whom he shares his planet. They were not placed here by the Great Spirit to be used as experiments, to prolong the physical life of man.”

I don’t know how difficult it would be to oppose an autopsy by a government agency based on such spiritual concerns.  I suspect that most municipalities or whatever agency is involved would not respect those spiritual concerns. 

As for organ transplants, the “gift of life,” is hard to oppose, unless, of course, we go to the very core of spirituality and view death as the great liberator, even if the person has not lived his or her allotted three score and ten or more. “I do not see that what you call death is a disaster,” said Silver Birch when asked about the divine justice involved with people who die prematurely. “To me it is the great hour of freedom for the soul.”

In his 2010 book, Consciousness beyond Life, Dr. Pim Van Lommel, a world-renowned cardiologist, devotes several interesting pages to the organ transplant issue, pointing out that when brain death has been diagnosed, 96 percent of the body is still alive.  While not in principle opposed to organ transplants, van Lommel suggests that more consideration should be given to the nonphysical aspects of organ donation, including the fear of death.
Since not many people in this day and age of extreme materialism are prepared to appreciate the philosophy of Silver Birch, the case against early autopsies, organ transplants, and quick burials and cremations will likely never be widely heard.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die, Transcending the Titanic, and The Afterlife Explorers Volume 1., published by White
Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.

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Next blog post:  May 28



I can’t stop thinking about the scratch marks on the insides of those coffins.

I know of at least one person in the 19th century who requested in writing that his body be “opened” after he died, in order to avoid being buried alive.  There must have been some reason to think this was a strong possibility.

Elene Gusch, Mon 18 Jun, 11:59

Hi Michael,
Been many years since we discussed this. I agree with the Silver Cord theory. Perhaps we need psychics in the morgue to tell us if it has safely been severed? If it hasn’t for whatever reason, an autopsy or organ retrieval process or cremation mightn’t be a good thing for the departing soul to witness if it’s still in a state of confusion about being out of body and still aware of what’s going on around its body.

For a human being who has prepared him/herself for transition beforehand, his/her soul wouldn’t care a bit about its former host. It’s the unconscious ones who might freak out when they awaken to the other side. Though I doubt it’s more than a momentary setback… then it’s like, oh, I don’t need that suit anymore! Woohoo!

Diane Goble, Mon 28 May, 23:51

“Punishment” - load of medieval Christian BS.

And for those who now feel sick because they had a loved one cremated, my father has come back shining and smiling, telling me the two worlds are connected. Do what makes you suffer less and protect your loved ones however your conscience and inner knowing lead you.

john josepn, Thu 24 May, 04:08

“...why should it be so hard in the first place…”

Perhaps because “summerland” sounds so wonderful.This was the point of a story by Lucian of Samosata (“the cock”) written in about 150 AD.Not that he used the term “summerland”.
His story involved the god Apollo appearing on earth as a cockerel,which was talking to a human.The human asked Apollo if his (the humans) next life would be better because if so he would hang himself this moment from the branch that Apollo was standing on.
Given the misery of this world I feel that a lot, a large lot of humans would be very tempted to this view.
(The works of Lucian. vol 3. p.115.Translated by H.W.Fowler and F.G.Fowler.Oxford.Clarendon press.1905)

jack, Sun 20 May, 23:15

Blog Reader,

I think that free will enters the picture here somewhere. As I understand it, the general life path is planned, but it is up to the individual to make decisions and choose options along the way.

Michael Tymn, Sun 20 May, 02:15

What if a soul already knows in advance that there will be an organ transplant? I mean, there are theories/spiritual teachings suggesting that the life path is planned, pre-destined. So maybe for some souls it was a plan to receive or to give a transplant, and nothing is an accident, including organ donation? Nobody know the full story about life and death, we can only have glimpses to the knowledge about these big questions, while we are in our physical form.

Blog Reader, Fri 18 May, 11:28


Tough question.  I still go with Silver Birch’s philosophy, although if I had a young child in need of an organ I don’t know how I would react.
Also, there are organ transplants not involving death for either donor or recipient, e.g., kidney transplant. If I could donate a kidney to save the life of a loved one, I’d like to think I should do so and would do so.

Michael Tymn, Thu 17 May, 14:29


You said, “Each person “dies” when, and in the way, in which they deserve.”

What reason do you have to believe this? Are you suggesting that karma from past lives dictates this? Because, by my own lights, I have to reject this view entirely, especially if reincarnation isn’t on the table. Even if we accept reincarnation, I think from an ethical standpoint, the idea that we must die horribly for the misconduct of a previous life that we cannot even remember and have long disidentified with is a very poor way of teaching someone a lesson. Even basic behavioral psychology asserts that punishment is a very ineffective means of shaping new behavior and that, if it is to be effective at all, it must be intense and immediate. To die of a protracted and painful illness, or to be brutally tortured and killed in a lifetime divorced from the one in which our forgotten misdeeds occurred seems, at least by my own reasoning, to be not only entirely capricious and cruel but also absolutely ineffective and pointless. The sheer pointlessness of it borders on the idea of a wrathful God torturing us in eternal hellfire for the finite sins of a short time spent on Earth. Granted, all these things could be true regardless of what I think is sensible. I just think that if reality has been set up that way by the powers that be that it is nonetheless horrendous and reprehensible. I am all for upright living and for efforts to reform ourselves where those efforts appear necessary - I even am sympathetic to the idea that we can progress spiritually and ought to. It is just that to see a child die after a short and brutish period on Earth does not feel to me like something I can turn my nose up at and say, “Pfft! The wretched thing got what she had coming!” Yet, by such a philosophy as you appear to be suggesting, we might as well be glad that cosmic justice is being meted out and rejoice that karma is taking it’s course when awful things happen to our brothers and sisters. It feels akin to steely cold Calvinism, where God is all-powerful at the cost of being truly good. God forbid we shackle our hearts and conscience to such a rigid and inhospitable worldview, simply to rid ourselves the discomfort of uncertainty as we try to make sense of our existence!


I guess we all have good reason to avoid being organ donors. I suppose the question now, is: Should we refuse to receive an organ should we be in need of one?

Philemon, Thu 17 May, 07:01

I agree with you and have many of the same questions. At the same time, I consider the difficulties of communication along with the likelihood that few would believe it anyway.  Frankly, I’m not convinced that violating the body soon after death should be a concern. I’m just throwing it out there as something to ponder on. To be on the safe side, however, I’ve asked my wife to wait four days before telling the mortician that my remains should be cremated. I used to carry an organ donor card, but at 75 and having had hepatitus non-A, non-B, (not ncessarily C) some years ago, I am no longer a potential organ donor, so that is not a concern for me, personally.  If I could go back in time, I don’t know what I would do in that regard.  I lean toward the Silver Birch position. 

Dave, I don’t think there is a problem keeping a person “on ice” for several weeks. When my father transitioned 10 years ago, the mortuary kept his remains “on ice” for three weeks as travel plans had to be made and there were other obstacles to an immediate funeral. Moreover, I instructed that there was to be no embalming. The mortician didn’t seem to have any problem with the delay or the decision against embalming.

Wendy,  thank you for your comments and the you-tube link.  Yes, I do recall Dr. Wickland’s experience with an autopsy. I should have included that in the discussion. 

Yvonne, thank you for your comments.

Michael Tymn, Wed 16 May, 15:43

Fascinating discussion, Mike, and timely. I wonder if there are any funeral directors out there who could advise us on how long one can realistically wait before proceeding with cremation. I’m certain that there are, in the U.S. where the majority of deaths are followed by cremation, laws or other regulations stipulating the maximum time before disposition of the body by either burial or cremation. I can just see the reaction of the undertaker if someone asked to have their loved one “kept on ice” for two weeks!

Dave Howard, Wed 16 May, 09:48

The Creator’s Divine Laws are Perfect. Nothing important happens without just cause.
The Law of Cause and Effect comes into play, especially, in the process of dying.
Each person “dies” when, and in the way, in which they deserve.
Spirits assist us in many ways in the material world, more so for those who are morally deserving. However, this also includes when they receive our spirits back into the spirit world.

Yvonne Limoges, Wed 16 May, 07:47

You’ve raised some very interesting questions Michael.
Josef Rulof’s followers argue against cremation for the very reasons you mention.

I also seem to remember reading a case from Carl Wickland where he was followed home by the spirit of a man on whom he had performed an autopsy who then spoke through Wickland’s wife and accused him of trying to kill him.

Wendy Zammit, Tue 15 May, 11:58

It seems to me that, if the core teachings of spiritualism/spiritism are true, and, relatedly, what mediums teach about the afterlife is also true, then we ought to wonder about what progress is being made from the other side in order to spare us from our ignorance.

You mention in your article that a gentleman’s soul was essentially pulled out by spirits on the other side to spare him the experience of physical torment of cremation. I would assume that, considering there must be so many more souls disincarnate than incarnate, that methods and technologies ought to be abounding to help out the few who are currently embodied.

Personally, I am not an organ donor on account of a strange inner sense I have had to avoid becoming one. Still, I don’t know why the other side does not engage in a clearer and more undeniable effort to engage with us than what has been orchestrated thus far. We all could benefit a great deal by an amplified effort to do so. For myself, I believe more than I disbelieve in it all, but I can understand why people ignore it. You have to slog through countless old books and musty papers to find anything helpful, not to mention, have the discernment of a saint in order to know what to attend to and what to discard, and if you want any personal experiences of your own, God help you! - you either have them and can’t comprehend what is going on and question yourself, or you meditate to no end and experience nothing. Which is another nagging problem with all of this stuff, and in the same vein as what I was saying earlier, why should it be so hard in the first place if it is so important and there are so many disincarnate spirits who supposedly want to be of service?

Philemon, Tue 15 May, 08:13

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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