“The Last Frontier”: An Interview with author Julia Assante, Ph.D.
Posted on 07 November 2012, 14:17
My personal library consists of around 500 books dealing with spiritual, metaphysical, paranormal, and philosophical matters. I’ve given away another thousand or so because of space problems. If I had to choose just five of those 1,500 or more books to be given to every hospice in the world, The Last Frontier by Julia Assante, Ph.D. (below) would definitely be one of them. Recently released by New World Library, this book, as the subtitle states, is about “exploring the afterlife and transforming our fear of death.”
In addition to being an academic, having taught at Columbia, Bryn Mawr, and the University of Münster in Germany, the author is a professional intuitive, medium, and past-life therapist. She explores the whole area from inside out and outside in, discussing every conceivable subject related to dying, death, and the afterlife, including after-death communication, angels, deathbed visions, dreams, karma, life reviews, spirits, near-death experiences, reincarnation, suicide, telepathy, thought forms, xenoglossy, what-have-you. Included are a number of personal experiences with the dying and the dead.
“There is so much fear around illness and death that it is literally killing us,” Assante explains her motivation for writing the book, going on to say that it has made our society schizophrenic. “On the one hand, the topic of death is scrupulously avoided; on the other hand, it is a cultural obsession.”
Since writing the book, Assante has given up teaching to give workshops and talks on afterlife phenomena, psi-development, conscious death, and related topics.
I recently put some questions to her by e-mail.
Dr. Assante, many people say we shouldn’t concern ourselves with what happens after death, but should live for today. How do you respond to them?
“Knowing something real about what awaits us after death takes the fear out of living and dying and replaces it with wonder. It makes dying immeasurably easier and opens up the pathways for communication. If we were to truly understand the nature of our immortality, we would let go of petty stresses. We would be freer to be ourselves, to be creative and playful, and not grab so hard at life. We would know that the good things in life are not things and immediate gratification does not in the end bring great reward but rather destructive exploitation of nature and a population problem that is threatening to devour the earth.
“Knowing that what awaits us is ineffable love, understanding, and forgiveness restores our innate morality. It creates a safe, positive framework of reality that fosters honest evaluations of our lives now—where our fears are blocking self-expression, creativity, and love. And it fosters forgiveness. Knowledge of the afterlife is known for sharpening a sense of life purpose, while expanding our definition of the self. As it is now, we impose enormous limitations on humanity, which would be immediately lifted if we better understood the self that survives the body. Knowledge of the afterlife includes knowledge about reincarnation and how it works. Realizing that our soul histories include different races, different sexes and social categories would break down prejudice. Lastly, I have worked with a great many people who died confused about the afterlife or with false expectations and it caused a lot of unnecessary trouble after their deaths.”
How did you become interested in the subject of life after death?
“I think I was set up for it. From my conception through the prenatal period, my mother was in powerful mourning from the recent deaths of her infant son and father. My absorption of her grief later led to this interest, no doubt urged by my late grandfather who believed he was channeling Tolstoy while alive. As a professional intuitive, working with the dead is an every-day occurrence. But in 1983, when my husband died only 11 days after our wedding, my dog, my only living brother, and my father, all within 6 months, I began to have strong personal afterdeath communication. My husband, who lay dying for days in quarantine—with no phone, left a thank-you message on my answering machine after he died. Events like these are bound to generate high interest in the afterlife. Soon after, I started working with those deceased, sometimes for days at a time, who were having serious adjustment problems on the other side. This was a turning point in my understanding of life after death.”
Have you always been a believer in an afterlife?
“I would say yes, although I had doubts about the existence of anything outside my own perception in my teens. At that time, I wanted to be a scientist. Three extraordinarily influential experiences from my childhood made it impossible to forget that there is an eternity. My first came at seven, as what I call an infinity moment. While I was hugging a big old maple tree, I felt swept up in a kind of vortex. As I was whirling upward, I instantaneously understood everything and felt the indescribable love that is at the foundation of reality. The second occurred while I was sitting in a cherry tree in full bloom, staring up into a crystal-blue sky. I became overwhelmed with a sense of a luminous Presence around me and through me that lovingly knows and cares for absolutely every little thing that exists. Later, at 16, I had an NDE in which that luminous Presence returned.”
I understand that you are an intuitive and a medium. Could you explain how you acquired these gifts?
“First let me say that without exception everyone has these gifts. It’s simply a matter of awakening them. In my case, the abilities never had a chance to go underground. I needed them in my childhood for defense. For instance, in order to protect myself from emotional or physical harm, I had to know what my parents were thinking. The results are telepathic and remote viewing abilities that according to clinical tests are off the charts. Childhood stress or trauma usually leads to heightened abilities and plays a decisive role in who has a near-death experience and who doesn’t. It also explains why intuitive abilities often go hand-in-hand with psychological problems. In fact, traditional societies frequently induce stress in rituals as a way of provoking sacred visions. Think of the forty days and forty nights in the desert. Obviously, stress is what triggers sacred visions of the NDE type. Nonetheless, there are far better ways to keep those inborn abilities in working order. Parents should encourage creativity in children and allow them full use of their imaginations, reincarnation recall, and intuition without censorship.”
In your book, you discuss reincarnation in simultaneous time. I realize it is difficult to explain this in a few hundred words, but please give it a try.
“Reincarnations operate outside of time because they originate in the non-spacetime of inner dimensions. Our incarnations all burst out at once in simultaneous time, going in different trajectories of experience we interpret as different time zones. Time is only the way our nervous systems order data, including solar data, a perception influenced by our biology and cultures. Many scientists already know that time doesn’t exist. The Block Theory claims that all past and future zones still exist now but can’t be perceived.
“The notion of a sequence of lives, one replacing the other, is not true. The idea of reincarnations proceeding from a lower to higher vibration or lower to higher spiritual advancement along a timeline is also not possible in the non-time reality in which our incarnations are anchored. The individual personality never dies, even after death. Individual reincarnations co-exist in the afterlife. And they can co-exist in this life too. I know a woman who is a reincarnation of me. We both have the same past-life memories and share one future-life memory, even the name of the man we are going to be, a man named Bernerd, who lives about 200 years from now. Our other-life memories were already known to us before we ever met. She and I simply split up into two bodies. After death, the individual personality expands enormously. Part of that expansion is absorbing the knowledge and experiences of other lives, until we reach the state of awareness equivalent to that of our oversouls, which spawns and contains all of our incarnations.”
The way I see it, the civilized world is becoming more and more materialistic and hedonistic, but a number of my friends believe we are becoming more spiritual. What are your thoughts on this?
“There is no doubt that the ego’s view of reality — that only what is perceived through the physical senses is real — has led to an insane focus on materialism and greatly hampered our intuitive faculties. Ironically, however, the very pressure of repressed intuition has led to a creative explosion in communication technologies that are training us to develop unprecedented abilities. It all began with the invention of the telephone, really. We are now accustomed to communicating with disembodied voices even from outer space. Still today, afterlife encounters and other communication phenomena involve the humble telephone, either as a physical instrument or as a symbol of telepathy, more than any other object or concept. The internet has primed us to deal with multiple inner dimensions in which time and distance play little or no role. You are never more than one page away from where you want to be. Because of technology, we can imagine crossing the cosmos. The picture taken from outer space of our tiny planet has served as a powerful reminder that we are one family with one home. Perhaps more than anything is family upbringing in which the intuitive faculties are not beaten out of us as children as they were generations ago. The change during my lifetime is quite noticeable. More and more people are easily accessing their intuitive selves. I believe the change will be globally fixed in mass consciousness by the end of this century. Abilities like telepathy, for instance, and afterlife communication, will be considered normal. Our awareness of the nonphysical, of immortality, and the benign universe will be far greater than it is now. Hence, our values will change.”
Many writers feel that knowing with absolute certainty, or at least with something close to it, that we do live on after death would deprive us of those challenges uncertainty brings that spur spiritual evolution. Do you agree?
“You might already have guessed that I’m not much of a supporter of spiritual evolution in which we progress sequentially. I know I have had past incarnations in which I was more advanced than I am now. And nearly everyone is more “spiritually evolved” as children than as adults. The notion that discomfort makes us grow is to a large extent the nineteenth-century thinking that produced the conflict theories of Darwin, Freud and Marx. In all these theories, change or growth is inextricable from pain, fear, or conflict. My question is, Would we be more spiritually evolved if we didn’t know for certain that we could keep a roof over our heads? Would we grow more enlightened or just grow differently, wasting energy in worry and strife?
“A better way to answer this is to look at what happens to people when they are certain of a life to come. An inner awareness of what is important for the planet and its residents resurfaces. Dying is no longer an enemy or an end but a miraculous turning point in the life of the eternal self. Creative, intellectual, and psychic capacities measurably increase. People become more reflective, more altruistic, and more sensitive to nature and the environment.
Prejudice and a “them-versus-us” mentality give way to compassion for others. The desire for material success wanes, as does the need to compete. People feel instead a sharpened sense of life purpose, usually involving service. That’s a lot to gain from certainty.”
How do we know that afterdeath communication is not just wishful thinking or fantasy?
“Statistical studies show that people are not wishing for an encounter when they happen spontaneously. In encounters when people do not know of the death of the discarnate visitor — and I have in mind here a mother’s encounter with her teenage daughter before the police informed her of her daughter’s fatal car accident — wishful thinking can be ruled out. What the dead do and say almost always takes us by surprise anyway, which shows that they are independent of our thoughts. Wishful thinking does not save lives, but warnings from the dead do. Fantasy won’t instantly heal a person of post-traumatic stress disorder, but a visit from the dead can. Something else that cannot be attributed to wishful thinking is the all-over body sensation of tingling that people often feel when the dead are present.”
One last question – What do you see as the benefits of after-death communication?
“The instant alleviation of grief is number one. Knowing that relationships between the living and the dead continue to grow and contact is normal transforms the way we die and the way we live. Contact also brings us face-to-face with immortality, a life-changing event. More specifically are the messages we get from the dead, the reassurances, encouragement, warnings, asking for forgiveness or giving it — the list is long. If allowed, the dead will help us reset our values to build a better world. As communication develops we will be able to tap into the greatest resource of knowledge imaginable about anything you can name, science, the arts, history, including the nature of reality itself.”
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die,
href="http://whitecrowbooks.com/books/page/transcending_the_titanic_beyond_deaths_door_/" title="Transcending the Titanic">Transcending the Titanic, and The Afterlife Explorers Volume 1., published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online bookstores.
Next blog: November 26
It’s been several months since I read Julia’s book, and so I don’t recall what she had to say or not say about the Shadow Lands. It may be a matter of definition or semantics, but I still see quite a bit about the lower realms, earthbound spirit, etc. in current literature, although some authors prefer to focus on the brighter realms. I’m sorry that I don’t have a better answer than that, but I believe that the Shadow Lands or whatever name we give to it these days is more populated than ever.
Michael Tymn, Fri 18 Jan, 09:31
After reading this book, I was struck by the absence of any discussion of the so-called Shadow lands. My impression is that these dark realms are much more a concern of older writings, decreasing to the point of irrelevancy in current materials.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Rob H, Fri 18 Jan, 00:06
Those of you who are having issues with Dr. Assante’s assertion that many scientists know that time doesn’t exist have apparently not become acquainted with ideas in physics from relativity on—over a century now, folks. It is pretty much a scientific given that time is not what we think it is. It is also reiterated by a great many spiritual sources. When have you heard of spirit entities saying that they experience sequential, linear time? Not often, I wager. Jon’s way of putting it, “our higher self is outside of time,” sums this up well.
And why does jumping about in Earth time contradict the idea of spiritual progress? If Dr. Assante or anyone else has a “more advanced” Earth life in, say, 1400, as compared to one in 2000, that doesn’t mean that the SPIRIT failed to progress, or that it regressed. The spirit could simply manifest in a different time period.
The Seth entity discussed all this in detail decades ago, including the idea that different incarnations of the same being could exist simultaneously. I would suggest that if this subject of time and reincarnation interests you, you might go back to Jane Roberts’ classic books, as Seth helped make this business a bit clearer.
Daniel wrote, “If I could go beyond my conscious mind to access the highest level of mind, what some might refer to as God or Source Consciousness, then I could see all these lives happening at once.” Indeed, that is exactly what many spiritual masters have reported seeing during their meditations.
Dr. Assante has had a direct experience of finding another person who has the exact same memories of past and future lives that she has. This is fascinating and evidential, and really quite extraordinary. If any of you say you “don’t accept” this or are “skeptical” about it, you are essentially saying that she is lying (as Keith pointed out). If someone had an unusual NDE experience, for example, you might quibble over how to interpret it, but you would not be likely to insist that the person did not have this experience or that it was somehow not valid. You certainly wouldn’t call them a liar. Just because Dr. Assante’s direct experience fails to match your preconceived notions, that doesn’t mean she didn’t have it. And none of our opinions matter remotely as much as direct experience.
Elene Gusch, Tue 27 Nov, 14:55
Like so much in this field, this raises far more questions than it answers.
In our here and now, in the only universe known to us, time is linear. It is conceivable that time might have other characteristics but there is no proof – just intellectual speculation.
This is such a thorny matter! Many theories are proffered but few have ever made any sense to me.
I was born at a time and in a place where orthodox religion was all powerful and stepping outside those boundaries provoked immediate and drastic retribution.
According to most reincarnation theories, I am doomed to many reincarnations because it took me most of my life to patiently seek out the fundamentals surrounding the apparent survival of consciousness after physical death.
This same scenario would apply to vast numbers of people but the common reincarnation hypotheses dictate that they will be punished for being born into restrictive times and places.
And the truly worrying question – who or what mandates these reincarnations?
The Time Traveller, Tue 27 Nov, 06:51
This is where so very many afterlife theories worry me deeply. A common concept is that one does a self-review then passes on to a higher level and I find this downright frightening.
So Herr Hitler reviews the millions of people that he slaughtered then becomes a higher being?
So Stalin, who murdered uncountable millions of his own people reviews his earthly life, nods to himself, says “I could have murdered more if I had tried harder” and then becomes a higher being?
Nowhere in the literature do I find any suggestion that a life of unmitigated evil is called into account, let alone made to recompense the murdered innocent millions
Nope, just a “self-review”. So much for any sense of ‘natural justice’!!
I was going to reply to your comment before leaving on a trip, but last minute packing prevented it. I agree with you that it is difficult to reconcile free will with non-local time, but I think Daniel Neiman expressed my understanding of it in his comment below.
Coincidentally, while on the trip, I picked up a book called “The Vertical Plane” by Ken Webster. It is supposedly a true account of Webster’s communications on his computer with someone from the 16th Century and also with someone from the year 2109. The person from the 16th Century had occupied Webster’s house in Chester, UK, and couldn’t understand what Webster was doing in his house. He communicated in Old English. I am skeptical about the story, but one never knows.
Michael Tymn, Sat 17 Nov, 00:32
Also, I assume you have heard of the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp about 30 miles north of Orlando. They may be able to direct you. Good luck
Michael Tymn, Sat 17 Nov, 00:24
Traveling right now and unable to reply to questions. Will respond after returning home on November 16.
Michael Tymn, Sun 11 Nov, 07:28
My girlfriend found out that she is a clairavoyant. Do you know any spiritlistic church’s in the state of Florida near the Tampa area? She wants to improve her gift and learn how to control it. She made it through a NDE about 20 years ago and this went she realized she had this gift. Thank you John Tedesco
john tedesco, Sat 10 Nov, 12:08
What struck a chord with me is Julia’s reincarnation explanation. I’ve long thought that our ultimate reality is outside space and time, and therefore when and if we reincarnate, we are entering into a false environment - a space/time environment; it’s as if we are participating in a computer game or some other form of virtual reality. Time being a false construct.
The idea that we lived 1000 years ago, and now here we are again, and that we will return in 200 years time makes no sense to me. If our higher self is outside of time then future memory is as conceivable and valid as past memory.
Since, if we ultimately exist outside of space and time, (eternity) there is no past or future, and therefore we could be reincarnating (having space/time experiences) in the past, present, and future, all at the same time. Our higher/true self (or Atman to coin a Hindu term) could be experiencing many life experiences from its eternal/timeless vantage point, and we are here in a space/time matrix feeding back experiences to that higher self and possibly to a group soul.
Who knows? I think it’s far more complex that we can understand.
Jon, Fri 9 Nov, 22:50
As far as the time issue goes, I do believe that all time is happening in the ever present NOW. However, only from a “Godhead” perspective would you ever see it that way. Time is a useful construction so that we don’t experience everything at once. Yes, my future lives and past lives are all going on right now because there really is no time, but that’s not how I experience them. I experience consciously one life at a time. There can still be spiritual progress in such a view. I will still die and have a life review and learn from this life. Then in the next life I might carry over certain character traits and learning from this life. The only stipulation is that the future life I’m referring to is actually happening NOW. If I could go beyond my conscious mind to access the highest level of mind, what some might refer to as God or Source Consciousness, then I could see all these lives happening at once. I think learning and having many varied experiences are integral parts of the succession of lives. Certainly if you take a look at Brian Weiss’s books or Roger Woolger you’ll see that there is a big learning component to life. We can’t all stay static. There is continual change and growth.
On another note, someone mentioned about devolving from a past life to a future one. I don’t see any inherent problem with this per say. It would simply involve a temporary “forgetting”. We all must “forget” (I put that in quotations because actually all knowledge and information/experience is there somewhere in the subconscious) about our past lives and time spent in another dimension when we incarnate. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to focus on this life and what we need to do/learn. (Not to mention there would be a lot less uncertainty and debate which would inhibit free will and learning) However, we are still influenced by our subconscious, including those past lives that are buried there. I suppose ones environmental programming in this life could cause them to become a bad person when once they were spiritually evolved in a past life. It would just depend on how strongly that subconscious information was influencing you and if there were any psychic barriers to it coming through.
That’s it for now. Food for thought.
Daniel Neiman, Fri 9 Nov, 07:42
Dr Assante asserts that “Many scientists already know that time doesn’t exist”, that it is “only the way our nervous systems order data”. But if there is no time, then surely there is no free will. Free will involves making decisions that precede (in time) the selfless or selfish actions we take. But personally, I think we do have free will as a component of our individual development, and that there may be non-locality in other dimensions, but not here on Earth, where time is of the essence. So I have doubts about Dr Assante’s view. But there is more….
If Prof Stafford Betty is skeptical of there being more than one version of ourselves at the same time, by implication he must be doubting her veracity. If Antony Lea does not accept her view on reincarnation - that you could possibly regress to a lower level in the next life, he also is doubting her veracity. It follows from these comments that Dr Assante’s views are not just ‘challenging’ as Dr Betty politely puts it, but highly questionable. Only reading ‘The Last Frontier’ would help us to appraise the usefulness of her assertions - which admittedly I have not yet done - but even in the limited context of this interview by Mike Tymn, there seems to be plenty to disagree with.
Keith P in UK, Thu 8 Nov, 05:53
If she is right about the benefits to our lives that belief in the afterlife would bring we should expect that the Spiritualist church would be alive and growing and that is certainly not the case.
Bill Stoney, Thu 8 Nov, 03:03
Here is a remarkable woman, and I’ll be reading her book. Nevertheless, I’m skeptical about her belief that time is an illusion and that we don’t progress over lifetimes. Also, and especially, that there are more than one version of ourselves at the same time. But much of what she says strikes me as sound and inspired. I’ll be challenged as I read!
Stafford Betty, Wed 7 Nov, 23:27
Interesting post however I just find it difficult to accept her view on reincarnation when she said that in previous lives she was more advanced than now. If a certain spiritual level has been achieved through facing & overcoming challenges how could you possibly regress to a lower level in a next life. This makes no sense at all. Are we to believe that a psychotic killer alive today could have been a saintly humanitarian in the past. No chance as this would make a mockery of karma & spiritual progression.
antony lea, Wed 7 Nov, 23:10
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