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Why The Afterlife Is Beyond Science

Posted on 23 February 2015, 17:10

Co-founder in 1882 of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), Frederic W. H. Myers, a Cambridge scholar, is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Psychical Research.”  As Myers came to realize during his lifetime, mediumship is very complex and does not easily lend itself to human understanding or to scientific research.  After his death on January 17, 1901, he apparently found it even more difficult to communicate than he had realized.  “Lodge, it is not as easy as I thought in my impatience,” Myers communicated to Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist and fellow psychical researcher, through the mediumship of Rosalie Thompson, a trance medium, on February 19, 1901, a little over a month after his death.

“Gurney says I am getting on first rate,” Myers (below) continued, referring to Edmund Gurney, his close friend and co-founder of the SPR who had died in 1888.  “But I am short of breath.”  Lodge interpreted this to be a metaphorical shortness of breath. (The ability of a discarnate to lower its vibration to the more dense earth vibration and communicate has been likened to a human trying to hold his/her breath under water. Some are able to hold the breath for just a few seconds, some for several minutes, and so it seems there is a variance with spirits, apparently dependent upon the degree of spiritual consciousness achieved during the earth life and carried over to the real life).


Myers went on to say that he felt like he was looking at a misty picture and that he could hear himself using Thompson’s voice but that he didn’t feel as if he were actually speaking.  “It is funny to hear myself talking when it is not myself talking.  It is not my whole self talking. When I am awake I know where I am.  Do you remember the day I was with you here?  When I went home that day I was ill.  I had such a bad night. It is in my diary. It was in May, I think.”  Lodge recalled it all.  (As explained below, Myers had to enter a dream state in order to communicate and therefore was not “awake” at the time he communicated with Lodge).

Myers mentioned that he had been with Professor Henry Sidgwick, a fellow researcher who had died several months before Myers, and that Sidgwick was still very much the skeptic he had been in the earth life and was hoping Myers could convince him. (As often reported elsewhere, we take our beliefs with us and thus the non-believer, lacking full spiritual awareness, may not immediately realize he has died.  Those who achieved some spiritual consciousness may be in a stupor of sorts, not completely grasping the fact that they have died, living in a dream world of sorts, as if being absorbed in a movie and forgetting it is just a movie. This may have been the case with Sidgwick). 

“Tell them I am more stupid than some of those I had to deal with,” Myers continued, mentioning that he could not even remember his mother’s name.  “I thought I had lost my way in a strange town, and I groped my way along the passage.  And even when I saw people that I knew were dead, I thought they were only visions.  I have not yet seen Tennyson yet by the way.”  (The famous poet, who died in 1892, had also been a member of the SPR and was idolized by Myers.)

Lodge sat with Thompson a second time, on May 8, 1901, and again heard from Myers.  However, the conditions were apparently not ideal and much of the communication was muddled. Moreover, it was apparently easier for Nelly, Thompson’s spirit control, to pass on messages from Myers than for Myers to communicate directly.  Among other things, Nelly referred to an incident with a medium, Miss Rawson, which researchers had deemed fraudulent.  Myers said that “cheating” was not involved, although he couldn’t explain how phenomena which appear to be dishonest are actually genuine.  He said he was still trying to understand it himself. 

Many years later, beginning in 1924, the purported Myers communicated through the Irish medium Geraldine Cummins (below) and explained that for a spirit entity to communicate through a sensitive, the spirit must enter a dream or subjective state. “When we discarnate beings desire to communicate through some sensitive we enter a dream or subjective state,” Myers stated by means of automatic writing, further saying that this dream state often affects the memory in such a way that they forget facts, even names.  However, if the medium or the sitters have certain memories in mind, this can open the door to their own memories.  He likened it to someone still in the flesh trying to remember a casual acquaintance at a tea party 10 years earlier.  He might not remember the person until someone else begins describing the person and discussing the conversation they had had.  “Sometimes, when we are really thoroughly submerged in this dream atmosphere, we can get into touch not alone with one subconscious mind but with the subconscious mind of many thousands,” he explained. “It is like a wide sea stretching out before us.  Much of it is scarcely apprehended.  We can only tap it here and there, but with the assistance of the guide we may draw out of this sea of mind the particular association of ideas that corresponds with a happening, a name, or a place in our earth life.  We recognize it and use it as evidence of identity when we are communicating.”  (Such telepathic mind tapping is seen by some parapsychologists as being evidence against the spirit hypothesis; that is, they believe the medium is accessing the information directly from other minds, even minds not present at the sitting.)


Myers added that they communicate by pictures and images, and by signs which the deeper mind of the medium apprehends, and occasionally distorts.  “It is harder to put through a half sentence than an idea or an image,” he explained.  “...Now these ideas are a little coloured by [the medium’s] deeper mind, but only in so far as she possesses very strong prejudices which might inhibit the thought conveyed by me.”  (Many other communicators have said that they provide the ideas, while the medium’s mind puts words to the idea.  This might also explain why a spirit communicator who did not know English during his earth life can communicate through an English speaking medium who is not familiar with the communicator’s language.)

After Lodge’s son, Raymond, was killed in World War I, he communicated extensively with his parents through the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard.  As set forth in my book, Dead Men Talking, Raymond offered much in the way of evidence that he had survived death and was, in fact, communicating from the Other Side.  However, Raymond also made some comments that seemed ridiculous, such as cigars and whisky sodas being available in the afterlife condition.  That particular communication brought much scorn from Lodge’s peers in the scientific community.  Myers touched upon this when he communicated that if a person longed for a superior brand of cigar, he can have it in the afterlife.  “He wanted to play golf, so he plays golf,” Myers continued.  “But he is merely dreaming all the time, or rather, living with the fantasy created by his strongest desires on earth.”  Over time, whatever form time takes in that condition, the “dream” fades and the person or soul awakens to his true condition, Myers said.

Myers also discussed reincarnation, stating, in effect, that reincarnation is a fact, but not in the way most people who believe in it think.  “When I was on earth I belonged to a group-soul,” he communicated, “but its branches and the spirit – which might be compared to the roots – were in the invisible.  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 sense, true.  It was our life, and yet not our life.”

He elaborated on this, saying that a soul belonging to the group of which he was part lived a previous life and built for him a framework for his own earthly life.  The spirit – the bond of the group soul – manifests, he said, many times on earth.  “We are all of us distinct,” he continued, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.” He added that a group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred souls, or a thousand souls. 

“When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth,” Myers went on.  “And often a half-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 of 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.  (Other spirit communicators have said much the same thing as Myers.  Silver Birch, who communicated through the mediumship of Maurice Barbanell for many years, also stated that reincarnation is a fact but not in the way people think of it.  He said that explaining reincarnation is like trying to explain the color of the sky to someone blind from birth.  It is beyond human comprehension.)

Is it any wonder that science has been unable to get a handle on spirit communication and the way things work on the other side of the veil? 

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

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From Pop Movie Star to Cloistered Nun

Posted on 09 February 2015, 10:18

While watching the Bill O’Reilly show on Fox News a few weeks before Christmas, I observed an interview with Mother Dolores Hart, now a cloistered Catholic nun but a popular movie actress during the early 1960s, playing the love interest of such stars as Elvis Presley, Montgomery Clift, George Hamilton and others.  Clips of some of those movies were shown by O’Reilly. (See link). I was fascinated by the story, wondering what could possibly motivate a beautiful young woman, called a Grace Kelly look-alike, to leave the glamorous and exciting Hollywood lifestyle at age 24 to become a cloistered nun.  It was puzzling enough that she would want to become a nun, but to become a cloistered nun – one confined to an abbey and shut off from the rest of the world, even unable to socialize with other nuns – made it exponentially more puzzling.

I put “Dolores Hart” (below) into a Google search and found that she was engaged to be married at the time she made the decision to enter the Benedictine order at Regina Laudis Abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut during 1963 and that her former fiancé, Don Robinson, continued to visit her at the abbey in Connecticut every year until his death in 2011, never marrying himself.  That added further intrigue to the story and prompted me to buy the Kindle version of the book, The Ear of the Heart, subtitled An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows, by Hart and Richard DeNeut, published in 2013. While most of the writing is done by DeNeut, Hart’s words are inserted in italics.


As I was to read in the introductory remarks, DeNeut was Hart’s boyfriend before Robinson, but they broke up because DeNeut was unable to completely appreciate her Catholic faith, a religion she was converted to at age 10, independent of any parental influence, while attending a Catholic school.  Her grandmother, a non-Catholic, as were her parents, enrolled her in the school simply because it was closer to their home than other schools and didn’t involve crossing too many busy streets.
“When the priest sprinkled me with holy water, it was the greatest moment of joy in my ten years of life,” Mother Dolores writes of her baptism. “I experienced a sensation of acceptance that any child, and especially a child in my circumstances, would find quite empowering…I had found something that was now my own place, above and beyond all that had been cruel and dishonorable in my parents home.”

Having grown up a Catholic and having attended a Catholic school, I couldn’t imagine what there was about that experience that so empowered her.  My own Catholic faith was more fear-based than anything else and I never could get into the ritual and adoration part of the Sunday mass as I couldn’t believe that God wanted to be worshipped like some pagan idol.  At the same time, however, I had two good friends who answered the “calling” to the priesthood, and left for the seminary after grammar school, so I recognized even back then that people respond to different influences. 

Dolores Hart had made the biggest leap from the materialist side to the spiritual side that I had ever heard of – one from the excesses of Epicureanism, as represented by hedonistic Hollywood, to the extreme Stoicism that might be forced upon a person in exile on a deserted island.  To me, it seemed almost like agreeing to go to prison for the rest of one’s life.  But nobody was forcing young Dolores to abandon her comfortable and apparently satisfying lifestyle.  In fact, most of her relatives and friends were opposed to it.  I wanted to understand the inner calling that motivated such a change in a seemingly sane person, and so I continued reading. 

“I left the world I knew in order to reenter it on a more profound level,” Mother Dolores offers early in the book.  “Many people don’t understand the difference between a vocation and your own idea about something.  A vocation is a call – one you don’t necessarily want.  The only thing I ever wanted to be was an actress.  But I was called by God.”  That statement didn’t help me understand; in fact, it further muddied the waters, since it would have been easier to understand the transformation if she had not liked being an actress.

DeNeut didn’t understand, either.  He said that he struggled to grasp the meaning of the term “call,” as used in the expression, “I had a call.”  He even badgered Lady Abbess, the founder of Regina Laudis, in the hope that he could come to grips with Dolores’s decision.  He was told that a “call” can’t be explained any more than one can explain falling in love.

Mother Dolores recollected that even in grammar school she was curious enough about life to record the words of Italian actress Eleanora Duse in her diary:  “When we grow old, there can only be one regret – not to have given enough of ourselves.”  Even then, she remembers thinking that her life was not for her, “that it somehow was something outside of me.”  She further remembers babysitting two cousins – the daughters of her aunt and uncle (her uncle being Mario Lanza, the famous singer), and making sure they understood that “life was about something more than thirty-foot, Saks-decorated Christmas trees and wagons full of toys.”

Sometime during her grammar school years, while living with her grandmother in Chicago, Dolores was injured at a swimming pool and then had an adverse reaction to penicillin.  She remembered feeling that she was going to die. “I couldn’t explain it, but I felt the presence of something that I accepted as the presence of authority – the presence of God,” she explains.  “I spoke – not prayed, but spoke – to God: ‘If you want me to go to You, I’ll go.  I’m not afraid.’”  It was then, she adds, that she found the gift of faith.

I wondered if that experience was something akin to a near-death experience – an out-of-body experience in which she met a “being of light,” as sometimes classified, which she took to be “God” – and if she had remembered only a small part of it.  Many people who have had NDEs report life-changing behavior.  The brain chemistry seems to be altered in the process, or maybe it is a physics thing, the vibration frequency switched to another wave length, one at which they are more closely tuned to celestial realms.  Could that have been the case with young Dolores?

One big draw of the religious life mentioned by Mother Dolores was “continuity.”  Because of discord between her parents and later divorce, she was going back and forth between Los Angeles and Chicago, living with her parents at times and with her grandparents at other times.  This was very unsettling and the cinema lifestyle added to it in that she would make friends with various people while making a movie, then break off those friendships when the movie was wrapped up.  She apparently had hoped to find a stable “family” in the Benedictine order.  “Bonds would form,” she says of making movies. “The film would end, and then suddenly that relationship I trusted would be gone.  It was to me, shattering.  I felt there had to be some centering in my life in which there was continuity.”

Although Dolores clearly recognized that she was joining a contemplative order – one shut up in a monastery with limited interaction among its members – and not an order engaged in teaching or charity work, she seems to have misjudged the extent of the “family” environment in the monastery.    She states that she initially felt a tremendous rapport with the Benedictine Rule’s basic premises – simplicity, discernment and praise of God, but she may have underestimated the amount of “detachment” from the world that was required.

As she described her small “cell,” i.e., her room, five feet by eight feet with a cot and three-inch mattress with no bed springs, a wash bowl with no running water, a small window that looked out at the top of a tree, I could understand why she said she cried herself to sleep every night for the first three years and why she felt a gnawing sense of abandonment, along with confusion, aloneness, and bewilderment in those early years.  “What have I done?” she continually asked herself, wondering why God wasn’t there waiting for her and offering comfort.  While other would-be nuns couldn’t take it and left the order, Dolores persisted. “I was stubborn,” she goes on.  “I believed that I was called to take on this place and to follow Christ in His Passion…I couldn’t leave because deep down I trusted God had to be there and that was what mattered.  I swore that I would wait as long as I had to.” 

I stopped at this point to ponder on what seemed like a paradoxical situation.  I wondered if remaining in the convent because of stubbornness was grounded in pride, one of the seven deadly sins, while also wondering if leaving the convent called for humbleness or humility, a virtue, since it would have no doubt involved many friends and relatives telling her, “We told you so…,” while also having to depend on those same friends and relatives for financial support in starting over again. 

One friend told Dolores that the cloistered life is “selfish and useless,” something several spirit communicators have also said, explaining that life is about learning from our experiences while interacting with, loving, and serving others.  Dolores reacted to that friend by saying that she was finding some real challenges in living in solitude with 40 other nuns and that as a monastic nun she would be a witness to the truth that love is real.  That explanation pretty much went over my head, but I was still hoping to better understand what motivates a young person to take such a drastic leap into a secluded world as I continued reading. 

The changes in the Catholic Church brought about by Vatican II seem to have made the cloistered life a little more tolerable, allowing for more interaction among the nuns and a little more contact with the outside world, but the daily life still consisted of basically three elements – prayer, manual labor, and scriptural reading aimed at bringing a deeper knowledge of oneself, others, and God.  Clearly, such a life has appealed to more than a young movie actress.  As mentioned in the book, the Benedictine order at Regina Laudis now includes two former lawyers, several teachers, three with Ph.D.s, an artist, a former advertising account executive, and a former investment banker.

I finished the book without getting an answer to my question of what motivates a young person to pursue the cloistered life, at least an answer I could understand. The recurring explanation seemed to boil down to “praising God,” but that opens up a discussion as to the meaning of “praise” and “God.”  Reverting to the definitions I had of them as a young Catholic, I still question an anthropomorphic God’s need for praise.  Perhaps it is better understood by more advanced souls. However, there was one other explanation offered by Mother Dolores – learning to surrender.  That lesson may be worth a lifetime of suffering.

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

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Next blog:  Feb. 23 


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Ukraine War: A Story of Survival, Sacrifice, and Service – If charitable service to those in need is the ultimate in spirituality here in the physical life, this book most certainly deals with spiritual matters. The author, Amber Poole, an American woman and her husband, Paul, from Scotland but with Polish roots, operated an educational center in Poland when the Russians attacked Ukraine in 2022. As many Ukrainians fled to Poland, they turned their center into a home for as many as 40 refugees. The author kept a very interesting “war diary” over the first 18 months of the war, discussing everything from the cultural adjustments required by both the Polish and the Ukrainians to her own reactions and adjustments, as well as philosophical concerns and conflicts that often surfaced. In spite of the adversity and distress, she embraced the adversity. Read here
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