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The “Second Death”  – Going into the Light?

Posted on 27 May 2019, 9:42


The term “second death” is found in the New Testament “Book of Revelation” four times, two of them referring to it as a “lake of fire” and suggesting that it is something experienced by very evil people. Bible scholars seem to agree that physical death is the “first” death, but beyond that interpretations become very convoluted. One popular fundamentalist interpretation puts it that he who has accepted Christ has already died the second death – death to sin.  Therefore, it cannot hurt him.  Another reference states that those who actually experience the second death end up in that lake of fire on the day of final judgment when souls are either admitted into heaven or cast into hell.

Although one might infer from biblical interpretations by fundamentalists that the second death means some kind of condemnation, the more metaphysical interpretations suggest just the opposite – a graduation from a lower state to a higher state, or moving from an earthbound state into the light.
The predominant metaphysical teaching, if I interpret it correctly, is that the second death takes place within hours or a few days for the spiritually advanced, but may take months of years in earth time for the spiritually challenged, those who remain “earthbound.”  In effect, the second death is an “awakening” to one’s condition based on one’s spiritual consciousness in the earth life.  The second death might be equated to the now popular expression, “going into the light” at the end of the tunnel as well as to the “Ground Luminosity” of the Buddhist.

This transition stage – between the first and second deaths – has been referred to as Hades, which is not synonymous with hell, as some religions would have us believe.  In the Hades state there may be great confusion, a “fire of the mind,” so to speak, by materialistic or spiritually challenged souls; hence the belief that Hades is the hell of religion.  In effect, Hades seems to be an intermediate or staging area where the soul must adjust its vibrations to the spirit world.  It is said that even Jesus needed a period of adjustment, or at least wanted to experience it so that he knew what others were going through.  Thus, he initially spent a day or more in Hades and then on the third day “rose into Heaven.”  That is, he apparently experienced the second death on the third day. 

Communicating through renowned Irish medium Geraldine Cummins, Frederic W. H. Myers, (below) one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research, said that he could not generalize as to the conditions in Hades, which he also referred to as the “place of shadows,” because conditions varied so much.  However, he stated that the “average man who has led a well-ordered life” may very well experience communion with deceased loved ones and see fragmentary happening of his earthly life, judging himself, before resting, seemingly in a veil while in a state of semi-suspended consciousness.  He added that three or four days of earth time may suffice for the Hades experience, but also pointed out that many souls “linger a long while in Hades and wander to and fro in its grim ways, encountering certain strange beings who hover near the borders of the physical world, who wake old sorrows and troubles in the minds of men, and who play upon the understandings of certain individuals they would possess while still in the flesh, dethroning the reason, stealing from man his birthright.”


Myers died on January 17, 1901 while in Rome.  The first communication from him came through Rosalie Thompson, a medium, to Professor Oliver Lodge and his wife on February 19, 1901.  However, it was clear that Myers was struggling to communicate.  He told the Lodges that he was confused when he first arrived on the other side, before he realized he was dead.  “I thought I had lost my way in a strange town, and I groped my way along the passage,” he said, adding that when he saw people that he knew were dead he thought they were only visions (hallucinations?).   

“The duration of the state of confusion that follows death varies greatly,” explained Alan Kardec, the pioneering French psychical researcher of the nineteenth century. “It may be only a few hours, and it may be of several months, or even years,” Kardec wrote.  “Those with whom it lasts the least are they who, during the earthly life, have identified themselves most closely with their future state, because they are soonest able to understand their new situation.”

Kardec went on to say that there is nothing painful in this mental confusion for those who have lived an upright life. “He is calm, and his perceptions are those of a peaceful awakening out of sleep.  But for him whose conscience is not clean, it is full of anxiety and anguish that become more and more poignant in proportion as he recovers consciousness.”

One spirit communicated to Kardec that his state was a very happy one and that he no longer felt the pains he experienced during his final days in the earth life.  “The transition from the terrestrial life to the spirit life was, at first, something that I could not understand, and everything seemed incomprehensible to me; for we sometimes remain for several days without recovering our clearness of thought; but, before I died, I prayed that God would give me the power of speaking to those I love, and my prayer was granted.” 

Silver Birch, the spirit entity who spoke through the entranced Maurice Barbanell, said much the same thing.  “This [awakening] depends on the degree of awareness that the newcomer possesses,” he explained.  “If completely ignorant of the fact that life continues after earthly death, or if so indoctrinated with false ideas that understanding will take a long time, then there is a process of rest equivalent to sleep.”

Silver Birch went on to say that the time for realization is self-determined.  It can be short or long, as measured by our duration of time.  For the enlightened, at least those whose actions in the physical world were in accordance with their enlightenment, it is a speedy process.

A very similar message comes from the writings of medium Alice A. Bailey and her teacher, the Tibetan master, Djwhal Khul.  They point out that most people, being focused on the physical plane, experience a semi-consciousness in the period after death, usually one of emotional and mental bewilderment.  The etheric body of the spiritually-undeveloped person can linger for a long time near its discarded physical shell because the pull of the soul is not as potent as the material aspect is. 

The Tibetan Book of the Dead refers to this period of awakening as the “Ground Luminosity” or “Clear Light,” and says that the vast majority of people do not immediately recognize the Ground Luminosity and are therefore plunged into a state of unconsciousness.  As explained by Sogyal Rinpoche, the spiritual director of Rigpa, an international network of Buddhist groups and centers, “consciousness continues without the body and goes through a series of states called “bardos.”  The problem is that in the bardos “most people go on grasping at a false sense of self, with its ghostly grasping at physical solidity, and this continuation of that illusion, which has been at the root of all suffering in life, exposes them in death to more suffering, especially in the ‘bardo of becoming’.”

As I see it, the second death might be likened to the “second wind” of the endurance athlete. Even for the well-conditioned marathon runner, the first 150 to 200 yards of a race involves some stress and struggle as the heart and lungs are asked to suddenly quicken.  However, after around 30 seconds, the second wind kicks in and the body settles down into a relatively effortless rhythm.  It is like a car going through first and second gears before reaching high gear.  Likewise, the spiritually evolved person will experience some stress and confusion as the spirit body is released from the physical body, some adjustments and adaptation to the quickened vibration being necessary.

Going to the other extreme, one might liken the “earthbound” spirits – those taking some time to experience the second death – to the overweight couch potato who attempts to run a marathon.  He might run for 200 yards, but instead of getting a second wind, he is forced to slow to a trot or just walk, and even surrender in frustration.  While the Olympic marathoner will finish the marathon distance in a little over two hours, the couch potato might take two days or longer to cover the 26.2-miles, with many rest breaks along the way.  In between the two extremes, there are many degrees of both spiritual fitness and athletic fitness.      According to those who see more than a single spirit body, there can be a third death and even a fourth death as the spirit sheds the additional bodies or goes to an even higher vibration.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.

Next blog post:  June 9


There is this book: War in Heaven, where the author claims that after death the soul will exist, as an astral body, only for some time, after which it loses substance and eventually dies. If this book reflects any truth, this could be the “second death”. It says that to avert this fate the soul must reincarnate.

Frankie, Sun 8 Sep, 11:13

To the fanatic debunker who tries to masquerade as a honest and rationale skeptic :

1) So, since we officially have no evidence of life on any other planet, “we should proceed on the basis that there isn’t any”. -> No logic there. We have no evidence of life on other planets, as well as having no evidence of its absence (at least beyond the solar system). Hence, we should proceed on the basis that we just don’t know. Absence of evidence of life is not evidence of its absence.

2) Since more humans are living today on Earth than ever lived before, is a proof that reincarnation doesn’t exist? How so? No logic there. I can as well interpret it as most people living on Earth today are newcomers in their first incarnation, but others could still have had prior lives. But truth is that if you actually read the linked article, it appears that contemporary 7 billions humans on Earth are only 7% of all humans who ever lived on this planet. So this argument was just another lie.

3) Those who remember past lives only remember those as Cleopatra? False: Helen Wambach who made statistical research on this subject of reincarnation, found that people remembered past lives in accordance to historical statitics (i.e.: many more poor peasants than community leaders).

DOM, Fri 21 Jun, 08:58


You state that “reincarnationists” don’t remember previous lives as other species well apparently they do. See ” Realms of the Human Unconscious” by Stanislav Grof.

Chad Luter, Mon 3 Jun, 21:11

The “second death” from the Christian viewpoint must be the death of the soul. It is clearly stated in Ezek 18:20 “The soul that sins, it shall die…” The goal of Christianity is to save the soul from ultimate death. There is no immortal soul - losing it is the ultimate tragedy. Reincarnation is a strategy to avoid or alleviate this problem.

This leaves the third component of the body-soul-spirit not discussed in the Bible as to its final state. It is not destroyed, but is perhaps the immortal part of a human being - the part not possessing a recognizable human identity.

Kenneth Heck, Sun 2 Jun, 20:07

Thanks, Jurgen, for the two links.  You are obviously way ahead of me on this.

Michael Tymn, Sat 1 Jun, 10:52

Amos Oliver Doyle wrote: “They [people who claim to have been reincarnated] were invariably. . . kings / queens / Mandarins . gladiators / bomber pilots / Jesus Christ / one of Napoleon’s generals..”

Kevin’s reply: According to Edgar Cayce, we do tend to reincarnate in groups with those we share karmic ties. I have a memory of being my great grandfather who was obvious bipolar like me. During the Great Depression, he lost his job and became an alcoholic. He ended up shooting himself in the head in front of his entire family. I learned these facts while taking care of my grandmother during the last 7 years of her life. It explained why I ended up taking care of her in her most critical time, why I became an alcoholic (recovered), why I am bipolar with suicidal ideations, and the many parallels between my great grandfather’s life and mine. So, not everyone remembers having a past life as Julius Ceasar.

Kevin Williams, Fri 31 May, 16:52

The following comment by James is unequivocally not true. See Stevenson’s “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation” and others.- AOD

“They [people who claim to have been reincarnated] were invariably. . . kings / queens / Mandarins . gladiators / bomber pilots / Jesus Christ / one of Napoleon’s generals, if not the Emperor himself / a Pharoah / etc.  Always someone rich and powerful, famous or interesting.”

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 31 May, 14:05

For what it’s worth, in my two books “Multidimensional Man” (2008) and “Vistas of Infinity” (2015) in which I chronicle in graphic detail my first hand observation of the Afterlife states obtained during the past forty years of Out-of-Body experiences (Astral Travel).

I described the “Second death” as the shedding of the Astral Body (ego identification), after which one enters the pure, non-egoic states of higher or cosmic consciousness. On my website I have written several articles on this subject, all based on personal experience and first hand research. At that time I referred to these realities as the “Super Dimensions”, because so little has been reported about it from a first person view point via actual experience.

Here is a link to the four-page article I wrote, (even illustrated as I am a commercial illustrator by trade). It also includes instructions of entering these states:

Entering these worlds an “awakened” state of consciousness is required, where the identification with the lower mind has to be resolved. Following the four part article mentioned there is more information regarding this state.

More recently I wrote another article describing where the “Enlightened” go after death, relating to another part in Michael Tymn’s post.

Anybody interested can check the link here:

Jurgen Ziewe, Fri 31 May, 12:50


No fighting, please.  I prefer to remain in the middle on reincarnation, subscribing to the “group soul” theory. 

The group-soul concept was advanced by the discarnate Frederic Myers through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins.  “When I was on earth, I belonged to a group-soul, but its branches and the spirit – which might be compared to the roots – were in the invisible,” Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research before his death in 1901, communicated.  “Now, if you would understand psychic evolution, this group-soul must be studied and understood.  For instance, it explains many of the difficulties that people will assure you can be removed only by the doctrine of reincarnation. You may think my statement frivolous, but the fact that we do appear on earth to be paying for the sins of another life is, in a certain sense, true.  It is our life and yet not our life.  In other words, a soul belonging to the group of which I am a part lived that previous life which built up for me the framework of my earthly life, lived it before I had passed through the gates of birth.”

Myers further explained that the group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred, or a thousand. “The number varies,” he said. “It is different for each man.  But what the Buddhist would call the karma I had brought with me from a previous life is, very frequently, not that of my life, but of the life of a soul that preceded me by many years on earth and left for me the pattern which made my life.  I, too, wove a pattern for another of my group during my earthly career.”

Myers added that the Buddhist’s idea of rebirth, of man’s continual return to earth, is but a half-truth.  “And often half a truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement. I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern or karma I have woven for him on earth.”

Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.  He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.

In 1918, a spirit entity identifying himself as Johannes of Glastonbury, a monk who had lived from 1497 to 1533, communicated by means of automatic writing a number of messages to Frederick Bligh Bond, the director of excavations at Glastonbury Abbey, concerning the layout of the abbey grounds in his day.  Johannes alluded to a group soul when it was suggested by another spirit entity that Johannes might be “earthbound” and his recollection colored somewhat by “clinging to vanished dreams.”  In fractured English, Johannes responded:  “Why cling I to that which is not?  It is I, and it is not I, butt parte of me which dwelleth in the past is bound to that which my carnal soul loved and called home these many years. Yet, I, Johannes, amm of many partes, and ye better parte doeth other things – Laus, Laus Deo – only that part which remembreth clingeth like memory to what it seeth yet.”

Bottom line, I think: Reincarnation is for the most part beyond human comprehension.  That’s why I avoid the subject here as much as possible.

Michael Tymn, Fri 31 May, 08:58

James, I’m not particularly interested in whether there are more people on the planet or not, I’m just quoting research. While the BBC may not be the arbiter of truth, it is not a newspaper. It was quoting the Population Reference Bureau in Washington.

Jon, Fri 31 May, 08:36

I am a simple man.  I guess I always thought of the ‘second death’ as when the soul dies back to earth again.  That could be regarded as a ‘hell’ for some after having been in paradise.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 31 May, 01:50

James McArthur, you make it very difficult to be civil when responding to your comments.  I think you might benefit from expanding your knowledge about the multitude of research that has been done about reincarnation.  Ian Stevenson and his successor Jim Tucker have thousands of reported cases of reincarnation in their files not just thirty.  Obviously it is not reasonable to expect that all of them would be published.  Apparently you have only read one of his books. I assume that Stevenson published his best 30 cases in that book but there were many more that did not make into that book.  In no case would I consider Stevenson’s evidence “shoddy” as you suggest. I don’t understand how one could say that if one had read his book “Thirty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation”.  Stevenson studied cases where they were easy to find, in India, but since Stevenson’ s work, cases of the reincarnation type have appeared in many other parts of the world including the United States (see James Leininger) and the United Kingdom (see Jenny Cockell), Lebanon (Nazih) and many, many more.

There are many other researchers who have published reincarnation cases among which are Carol Bowman, Jim Tucker, Brian Weiss, Edgar Cayce, Dorothy Eady, Erlendur Haraldsson, Choco Xavier and other individuals. You might benefit from reading some of their books. 

Many stories in the Bible should not be taken literally as apparently you have.  Many are relevant to peoples and civilizations over the centuries and within many different cultures and societies. Only by metaphorical interpretation may one find the applicability to modern day civilizations.  I know that you are a stickler for words and word definitions but sometimes it is necessary to look for a deeper meaning than what is superficially in the written word symbols. Ancient stories are in the form they were in so that they would be understandable by the people to which they were given.  Otherwise there would have been no way to bring deeper concepts to developing humanity.  Each generation only learns what it is capable of learning.  Guidance is usually given appropriate to those who will receive it.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 May, 23:14

Amos Oliver Doyle: You have some great pantheistic religious speculation there. But none of it has any basis in science.

1) There is no evidence that the universe itself has any form of consciousness. To believe so is purely pantheistic religious speculation.

2)There is no evidence of life, sentient or conscious or otherwise, anywhere IN the universe, other than our own planet. (I don’t say that there isn’t life elsewhere in the universe—the mathematical odds are that there is—but we have not yet found any EVIDENCE that there is. Unless and until we do, we must proceed on the basis that there isn’t any).

3) I am quite certain that many animals possess a highly developed consciousness. Most dogs and cats of my acquaintance possess considerably more common sense than most humans.

However: what does this have to do with our discussion? Reincarnationists don’t remember their past lives as deer or palm trees or field mice. They were invariably. . . kings / queens / Mandarins . gladiators / bomber pilots / Jesus Christ / one of Napoleon’s generals, if not the Emperor himself / a Pharoah / etc. Always someone rich and powerful, famous or interesting.

In other words, always the total opposite of the sort of person they are now.

I often wonder why no one remembers a past life as a potato digger or rice picker or any of the other sort of people who constitute the vast majority of people who actually lived in the past?

Anyway. . . reincarnation is, as I said, a religious doctrine. If it’s yours, so be it, and try to live the best life you can in what you regard as your current incarnation. I’m no more going to change your mind about it than you’re going to change mine.  I’ve said what I have to on the subject. Over and out. grin

James McArthur, Thu 30 May, 23:03

Jon: “According to a BBC article, this means. . . ”
Good Lord! You can find articles in newspapers that say anything.

The fact is that the world population was relatively small, and grew only incrementally, until about the year 1850. Since then—and only since then—it has been exploding: 2 billion in 1940. . . 3 billion in 1965. . . more than 7 billion today.

Where did all these B.C.E. people reside? Atlantis? Lemuria? Mu? grin Certainly not anywhere in the historically-documented world.

James McArthur, Thu 30 May, 22:33

Amos Oliver Doyle wrote:  It is equally impossible—not in theory, but in actual operation—for
the soul to reenter a new, different, physical body. Why? Simply because there are more people alive on planet earth, right at this moment, than the total population that has lived and died here in the past.

Kevin Williams’ reply: Nope! You are wrong because there are many souls in the spirit realms which have never reincarnated before to this planet. Only a relatively small number of souls have reincarnated to this planet.

Kevin Williams, Thu 30 May, 22:06

According to a BBC article, “This means that we are nowhere near close to having more alive than dead. In fact, there are 15 dead people for every person living. We surpassed seven billion dead way back between 8000BC and AD1 .“

Jon, Thu 30 May, 21:38

Kevin Williams: Interesting, religiously-based speculation there.

The problem with the theory, as I pointed out earlier, is that reincarnation would have us going through life after life in a human physical body here on earth; and this possibility has been refuted by the science of demography, which has demonstrated that there are more people occupying physical bodies here on earth, as I type this, than the total of all people who have lived and died here in the past.

We’re therefore wasting our time with religious or pseudo-scientific theories as to WHETHER reincarnation occurs, HOW reincarnation occurs, WHO believes in it: in the face of the fact that demography has proven that it COULD NOT occur.

It is a religious belief, pure and simple; not even a scientific possibility, much less a factual reality. Those who draw some sort of comfort from this archaic religious doctrine are welcome to do so, as are those who believe that 40 days and nights of rain covered the earth while a few folks and a boatload of animals floated around safely, and repopulated the planet afterwards.

By the way: the idea of “children allegedly remembering past lives” as somehow being evidence that they themselves lived them is quite dubious. There are numerous alternative explanations, including hoaxes, children’s imagination, and their minds being overshadowed by discarnate spirits.

Also: did you ever wonder why Ian Stevenson had to travel far and wide to dredge up a paltry “THIRTY Cases SUGGESTIVE OF Reincarnation”? If reincarnation actually occurred, wouldn’t he be hard-pressed to find 30 cases where people DIDN’T remember their past lives? grin

I know of no other theory where such shoddy evidence that appears in such rare instances is accepted as proof of the norm, as in the theory of reincarnation.

James McArthur, Thu 30 May, 20:38

Ah James, good response; I have heard it many times before.  Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

Like most people who dismiss the theory of reincarnation, you seem to restrict consciousness only to humans and only to humans who lived on planet earth.  But if one gives a little more thought to it, it could it be that consciousness exists in all living things, dogs, cats, fish, fowl, insects, reptiles and amphibians—-all living creatures not only on earth but throughout the universe.  I believe that to be a reality. Anyone who has spent time observing the other life forms on earth will know that they all are sentient beings aware of their environment.  The more advanced ones experiencing life as feeling beings with emotions and desires similar, but not identical to my own.

As a reincarnationist, I believe that the consciousnesses of all creatures on earth are not a whole lot different than my consciousness except that perhaps my consciousness is a little bit further along on the path to enlightenment. But, I also acknowledge that I too have a lot more to learn and expect that reincarnation will allow me the time to do that either as a human being or something else as my soul may manifest.  That leads me to acceptance of all creatures as I accept myself.  I respect all creatures however seemingly small and insignificant maybe perhaps because I, in a less perfect state have existed as such myself.

The universe is full of consciousnesses.  Each consciousness generates a form according to its evolutionary spiritual development.  Every form is perfect in its own right and appropriate for its purpose.  Without consciousness, there would be no life.  Everything that is alive has a consciousness that is growing and evolving.  And each consciousness is part of that one great consciousness that is, ever was, and ever shall be.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 May, 19:45

Amos Oliver Doyle: I am using the term ‘reincarnation’ in the traditional sense of a soul returning to earth in A physical body. Obviously, the physical body it would have previously occupied has decomposed and returned to its elements, so it would be an impossibility for the soul to reenter THAT PARTICULAR physical body.

It is equally impossible—not in theory, but in actual operation—for the soul to reenter a new, different, physical body. Why? Simply because there are more people alive on planet earth, right at this moment, than the total population that has lived and died here in the past.

Reincarnationists try to convince us that we have all lived multiple lives before; the fact is that there weren’t enough lives to go around for each of us to have lived even ONCE before.

Reincarnation should be regarded like the stories of Adam & Eve, or the Noahic flood; as religious allegories, not meant to be taken literally. Just as biology and geology have proven that these Genesis tales couldn’t possibly be literally true, so too demography has proven the falsity of reincarnation.

Unfortunately, this belief is deeply rooted in Eastern religions, and has become more popular (new toy syndrome?) in the West. However, I am optimistic that this old religious superstition will one day be recognized as being nothing but that, and consequently discarded.

James McArthur, Thu 30 May, 17:54

James McArthur wrote: “Why is it that reincarnationists always interpret other words - like ‘resurrection’ - to ‘mean’ or to ‘refer to’, reincarnation?”

Kevin Williams reply:  Because the concept of a worldwide Endtime reanimation of corpses originated with the Persian Zorostrian religion and not Judaism nor Christianity. While Jesus’ resurrection was a miracle, reincarnation is a natural process equivalent to evolution because what evolution is to the physical body, reincarnation is to the soul. In other words, human beings are the result of double evolution: the evolution of the body and the evolution of the soul (reincarnation). So evolution and reincarnation go together. In the last chapter of Dr. Ian Stevenson’s book entitled Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1967), he provides rigorous scientific reasoning to show how reincarnation is the only viable explanation that fits the facts of his study. He considers every possible alternative explanation for his twenty cases of young children who were spontaneously able to describe a previous lifetime as soon as they learned to talk. He was able to rule out each alternative explanation using one or more aspects of these cases. Later research has even bolstered his case in favor of the existence of reincarnation. His study is also completely reproducible which means that anybody who doubts the validity of this study is perfectly welcome to repeat it for themselves. I believe it is only a short matter of time before his discovery of the existence of reincarnation is finally realized by the scientific community and the world to be accepted as one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time. You can review the details here:

I also have an eight-page on reincarnation in the Bible here: . The existence of reincarnation in early Judeo-Christianity and Second Temple Judaism cannot be denied. All Hebrew and Christian scriptures support reincarnation: the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Gnostic gospels, the Torah, the Biblical Apocrypha, the New Testament Apocrypha, the Kabbalah and Zohar. The clearest descrption of reincarnation in the Bible is Jesus’ affirmation of John the Baptist as a reincarnation of Elijah the prophet.

Matthew 17:1-13:  When Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain where he transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah also appeared and talked with Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “The disciples asked him, ‘Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.”

The Hebrew Bible ends with this prophecy in Malachi:  “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5) If John the Baptist wasn’t Elijah, then Jesus was not the Messiah. So there are two important conclusions we can draw from this:

(1)  The Old Testament prophesied Elijah himself - not someone like him or someone in the same ministry as him - but Elijah himself would return before the advent of the Messiah. (Malachi 4:5)

(2)  Jesus declared John to be Elijah when he stated Elijah has come. (Matthew 17:1-13)

Based on the Bible verses in (1) and (2) alone, either (a) or (b) must be true:

(a)  John was the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet. Therefore, reincarnation must become once again a part of Judeo-Christian theology. It also means the current concept of the Resurrection of the Dead, the “reanimation” of corpses on “Judgment Day,” can be discarded and replaced with:

1. Bodily “resurrection” (reincarnation); and

2. Spiritual “resurrection”, which is the spiritual regeneration of spiritually dead LIVING people. In other words, becoming “born again” of the Holy Spirit.

Or else…

(b)  John was not the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet. Then this would mean Elijah himself had not returned. And if this were true, then we must conclude the following:

1. The Old Testament prophecy about Elijah returning before the coming of the Messiah failed to come to pass (meaning Biblical prophecy is fallible).

Or else…

2. Jesus was not the Messiah.

So based upon the above logic, only one of the following can be true:

(1)  Reincarnation is a reality, or else…
(2)  Jesus was not the Messiah, or else…
(3)  Bible prophecies are not reliable.

There are no other options. You must select one. And because Jesus’ declaration of “John is Elijah” was overt and direct, then the only logical option is option (1) Reincarnation is a reality.

Had Elijah’s spirit not reincarnated in the life and body of John the Baptist, the prophecies of Malachi 4:5 and Luke 1:17 would never have been fulfilled; and the Messiah—with Elijah yet to come—could not have possibly arrived! Therefore, Christian anti-reincarnationalists are inadvertently agreeing with Jewish Rabbis who, to this very day, await the return of Elijah before the Messiah. However, the fact that these prophecies were already fulfilled is self-evident when John identified himself to be “the voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord.”

Much more evidence can be found here:

Kevin Williams, Thu 30 May, 17:05

James McArthur:  Interesting comment you made.  I assume when you are referencing “reincarnationists” you are thinking about people who propose return or rebirth of a soul consciousness in another body, in another lifetime, perhaps multiple times on planet earth or other planets. I am not aware of a group of “reincarnationists” as such so I don’t know that, whoever they are, that they “always” equate ‘resurrection’ with ‘reincarnation’.  As a “reincarnationist myself I do make a distinction between reincarnation and resurrection.  I think that that equation may have been more prevalent in the past, say one or two hundred years ago and beyond especially in western cultures than it is today when there is a greater general understanding of the concept of being reincarnated.

I say this as I suspect that Patience Worth, a spirit communicator of 100 years ago in a dissertation about reincarnation which like you, she didn’t believe in, seemed to discuss reincarnation as if one would be returning in the same body in another lifetime.  When asked, she said, “How may it be that flesh created may become as flesh again, in like exact?  Nay, I say me that flesh created of the same material, builded of the same atoms, but the honey of God is ne’er the same. .  .  .  The bowl is—- and breaked may become a new bowl, fulfilling the same office; but the wine once drunk may not be drunk again.”

Now this may be interpreted in several ways but in her rambling text it seems clear to me that she was speaking about resurrection and not reincarnation as is commonly defined today, and she just didn’t understand the concept of reincarnation, reportedly having lived more than 300 years ago.  Few reincarnationists today think that when a consciousness is reincarnated it is reincarnated in flesh “in like exact’ as a previous incarnation.  Obviously when there is a sex change the new body is not ‘in like exact’.

It bothers me though that in some of the reports of reincarnation there seems to be an effort to look for a similarity of appearance in the new body to the previous body.  Why some people think this is necessary I don’t know but perhaps it is reassuring for them to believe that they will never die; that they will return again and again looking exactly like they did in previous lives. That desire suggests to me that those people really don’t understand reincarnation and to that extent perhaps they equate subconsciously reincarnation with resurrection.

Words are changeable things that evolve over time and generations of people.  Unless there is agreement of definitions of words then there can be no intelligent communication. -  AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 30 May, 14:26

Thanks, Gordon, for the additional reference, and thanks to all others for their comments here, especially Kevin, who explained so much about the biblical interpretations.

Another good reference on the subject of the Second Death is Paul Beard’s “Living On,” which was published in 1981.  He devotes an entire chapter to the subject, offering different schemes.  He says, however, that “each is unmistakingly describing the same event.”

Beard further suggests that organized religion is too anxious to dwell on eternal life while not having any idea what is involved.  “This surely is to require too much too soon,” he states.  “It is also to deny the value found in the intermediate parts of the journey.  Let man be content first with survival of the personality, then with recognition of the long span of experiences, past and to come, and only later, within the higher self, lose himself in eternal life, when he has sufficiently perfected himself.  Teachers tell us that this takes a very long time indeed.”

Michael Tymn, Wed 29 May, 23:39

Kevin Williams: why is it that reincarnationists always interpret other words—like ‘resurrection’—to ‘mean’ or to ‘refer to’, reincarnation? This gets us back to the Alice in Wonderland character who declared that ‘a word means what I want it to mean’.

I don’t believe in reincarnation; nor in resurrection, for that matter. But I pay people who do believe in either the respect that they know what they are saying, and that the word they’re using correlates with the concept they’re talking about.

James McArthur, Wed 29 May, 17:58

Just like to add, since I see no-one else has, that the best account of the second death is in Jane Sherwood’s “Post-Mortem Journal”, her communications from the spirit known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.  The w book can be recommended on all levels, but its account of the second death is unique in the literature I feel.

Gordon Phinn, Tue 28 May, 17:07

There is a journey that we all will be taking that will last for eternity, and very few are making any preparation at all. I find this astounding. To me, it is patently obvious that it pays to be a long term planner. Nevertheless, thanks for another great article Mike.

Ken, Tue 28 May, 05:02

Great article! It behooves all of us, while still in the corporeal state, to learn as much as we can about the life after the death of the physical body. More importantly, to organize one’s life and thought patterns around the fact that this short earthly life is but a prelude to a Greater World. We may learn this through organized religion; we may not. The important thing is that we learn it, internalize it, and live accordingly.

James McArthur, Tue 28 May, 04:18

Another great article! I prefer the metaphysical interpretation. Edgar Cayce revealed the “dream” interpretation of the Bible with Genesis as the symbolic testimony of humanity’s fall from heaven and paradise lost; and Revelation as humanity’s restoration to heaven and paradise regained. Cayce gave a large amount of information specifically for the purpose of discovering the book’s hidden meaning. “Hades,” of course, represents the earthbound realm and other lower hellish realms (bardos). The “Lake of Fire” or the “second death” is the death and purification of “the wicked” in the earthbound realm and lower hell realms before reincarnation to Earth. “Resurrection” in the Book of Revelation always refers to reincarnation. The biblical “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:4 is connected with the “second death”: 

“They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the FIRST RESURRECTION. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. THE SECOND DEATH has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)

The metaphysical “first resurrection” is therefore the first reincarnation of souls into the “Kingdom of Heaven” on Earth at the beginning of the thousand year reign of Christ on Earth. “Satan” symbolizes the “fallen” spiritual nature in humanity (as opposed to the spirit of truth): the spirit of hate, contention, strife, faultfinding, lovers of self, lovers of praise, etc. The “thousand year reign of Christ” is a literal thousand year reign of Christ and Christ Consciousness on Earth—the coming golden age predicted in the Bible. The “first resurrection” is the reincarnation of only advanced souls to Earth during the thousand years. “Satan imprisoned into the Abyss” is the prevention of souls from the lower afterlife realms from reincarnating to Earth during those thousand years. “Satan released from the Abyss” symbolizes the permission of souls from the lower afterlife realms to reincarnate to the Earth once again after the thousand years is over. During the thousand years of peace, the planet will be healed. Great spiritual schools will be developed. Great institutions and organizations will be established, all by spiritually enlightened human beings to help those unenlightened souls when they are once again allowed to reincarnate. When the remaining souls from the lower afterlife realms begin to reincarnate, bringing with them their unsatisfied ambitions and desires, this will attempt to bring about the former conditions of imbalance (wars, plagues, Armageddon). These conditions, all man-made, will then be themselves eliminated and all mental forms and patterns not formed by divine will are purged. The “dead in judgment” symbolizes reincarnating souls. The “Book of Life” is a person’s “akashic records”—all the memories and knowledge of the soul’s experience in time. “Hell” and “fire and brimstone” represents purification. The “second death” is for the purpose of the destruction of all man-made unevolved conditions of the soul.

Revelation 20:14-15: states: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” This verse contradicts the dogma of eternal damnation in hell because hell itself is thrown into the “Lake of Fire” with implications for purification. Concerning the “second death,” death is never the end of life. The immortal soul cannot be destroyed. The spirit cannot be punished forever as an image of God. In verse 15 of Revelation 20, anyone not found in the Book of Life is cast into the “Lake of Fire.” But considering all the Bible verses dealing with universal salvation, reincarnation, and the eternal divine nature of the human soul/spirit, verse 15 can only be interpreted as a metaphor for judgment, purification, and reincarnation. And there is scriptural support for this. Fire is a metaphor used in the Bible to describe God and manifestations of God through the metaphor of purifying fire:

Hebrews 12:29:  “Our God is a consuming fire.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19:  “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”
Matthew 3:11:  “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Luke 12:49:  “I (Jesus) have come to bring fire on the Earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
Isaiah 4:4:  “He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.”

Fire is always a metaphor used in the Bible to describe the purification of people on Earth such as the following verses:

1 Peter 1:7:  “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Revelation 3:18-19:  “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.”

1 Corinthians 3:11-15:  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

Malachi 3:2-3:  “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

One can suppose hell to be any place of torment such as the tortured mind, a prison, skid row, a lonely palace, a disembodied realm. So even here on Earth, there are conditions and situations which can only be described as “a living hell” and places of purification. All Bible verses referring to “purification” through trials and tribulations in this world supports this.

Kevin Williams, Tue 28 May, 01:57

Nice to see Alice Bailey quoted here, she’s not referenced nearly enough in my mind.  And yeah, the notion of third and fourth deaths ties in nicely with the theosophiocal view of merguing with higher and higher bodies (buddhic,causal).  My experience is certainly that referred to here, the more one focusses on the foreknowledge of the afterlife states, through meditation and readings, the faster and smoother all these transitions will be, like having all your boarding passes at a busy airport.

Gordon Phinn, Mon 27 May, 21:19

There is another interpretation of second death as the eventual death of the ethereal (vaporously thin but still slightly material) body as one passes into pure spirit, and that this is viewed by ethereal beings as complete disappearance torward to another, purer world. . . thus seen as a real death (permanent separation) by those still bound to an ethereal body. This version seems more likely to me in that it parallels the first death as the passing into a phase that is, again, distant and unknowable, and another release from the thin veil of remaining materiality.

MichaelD, Mon 27 May, 20:15

Superb article, Mike! This is a topic that is not discussed enough but is essential for ensuring a smooth transition for those who believe in an afterlife. We like to think we’ll just wake up on level 3 of the astral (Summerland) but we are all likely to have issues to process, issues we would be better off dealing with now, in life. I love your second wind/couch potatoe analogy.

Suzanne Carter, Mon 27 May, 15:47

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Fallen Soldier Convinces His Famous Father of Life After Death – On September 14, 1915, Second Lieutenant Raymond Lodge, the youngest of six sons of Sir Oliver Lodge, a distinguished British physicist and pioneer in electricity and radio, as well as the former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was killed in WWI action in Flanders. Read here
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