A Millennial Tackles the Afterlife
Posted on 14 December 2015, 10:44
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, “nones” – people who have no religious affiliation – now make up 23 percent of the American adult population. That’s up from 16 percent in 2007. Some nones are atheists, some agnostic, and some so indifferent or so wrapped up in our materialistic world that they haven’t taken the time to figure out what they believe or don’t believe. The upward trend in nones is due to an increasing number of millennials – those people born since 1981 – turning away from religion.
Cyrus Kirkpatrick, (below) a 29-year-old freelance writer living in Los Angeles, qualifies as both a none and a millennial, but that doesn’t mean he is a non-believer or a nihilist. His recently released book, Understanding Life After Death, clearly attests to that. Subtitled “An Exploration of What Awaits You, Me and Everyone We’ve Ever Known,” the book offers a comprehensive review of the evidence for an afterlife, the arguments against it, the nature of the afterlife, and the obstacles we encounter in accepting and realizing that afterlife.
“To say this is an important topic is an understatement,” he writes in the book’s Introduction with unusual insight for someone so young. “It is arguably more important than making money, politics, careers and vacation. Our lives are stunningly short, and very soon – you are going to die – whether from a disease like cancer, an auto accident, or hopefully a natural passing in your sleep. Given this reality is fast approaching, it makes sense to begin committing time to understand it, so that the moments you have left can be enjoyed without having to worry so much about mortality – because what we understand, we do not fear.”
As Kirkpatrick sees it, some of his generation’s disdain for the topic results from a distrust of religion and its vague dogma. “As a non-religious, secular person myself – I can perfectly understand this distrust,” he explains. “but we must be careful not to allow our disillusionment with religion to poison all spiritual concepts, and we must also be cautious in adopting drastic, antithetical philosophies with no benefit to us.”
After reading his excellent book, I contacted him and put some questions to him by email.
How did you become interested in the subject of life after death, especially at such a young age?
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand the things that appeal to us. It started with an inability to reconcile the concept of death based on what society as a whole (and family members) were trying to tell me. I remember being about 13-years-old and thinking to myself, ‘This is ridiculous. What’s going on here? It can’t be true that there are absolutely no answers to this really fundamental thing that everybody has to deal with.’ That, combined with a general interest in the so-called paranormal, is what started me on a path of exploring the afterlife, and it’s a path I never stopped traveling.”
What motivated you to write the book?
“I’d been involved in publishing for a few years, creating smaller books about mobile income and travel (the ‘Lifestyle Design’ series), but I had yet to release a feature length project. I then decided I needed to create something I could be really proud of before I turned 30. I’d never stepped forward into the spotlight with my life-long interest in the afterlife before, but decided I would do it by creating a comprehensive book in a surprising change of genre from what I normally write about.”
How do you view the growing increase in “nones” among millennials? Does it necessarily suggest a more materialistic, more hedonistic lifestyle? More fear of death?
“The good news is that I think my generation tends to be exceptionally thoughtful and concerned with social issues, so we’re not hedonists or even extremely materialistic. However, because there’s so much disdain for religion—perhaps understandably so—there’s a lot of confusion about important, existential topics. Most people are unaware of the secular case for life after death, and they do not realize that completely rejecting the topic is irrational, because data strongly supports the existence of an afterlife. I think the more young people realize that this has nothing to do with religion but is an area of science, they will begin to explore the topic more seriously. And this would be a good thing, because I believe (based on personal experience) that when millennials and the younger Generation-Y are faced with concepts like nihilism and eternal oblivion (that scientists like Stephen Hawking espouse) it causes what I feel is more depression and existential uncertainty than I’ve seen in other age groups, probably due to their thoughtful nature.”
If you were asked to pick three cases in annals of survival research, which ones would you choose? Why?
“Firstly, the Anni Nanji tapes from the Leslie Flint physical mediumship séances. This incidence was never widely publicized, yet it remains hard evidence of survival that anybody can listen to online. In essence, an Indian doctor communicated via direct voice with his deceased wife, Anni, over the course of a decade. They were able to carry on their relationship, discussing tiny details of each other’s lives which makes the possibility of fraud almost non-existent.
“Next, I always suggest to research the fairly recent Scole experiments out of England. This incidence was really a game-changer because it demonstrated how physical mediumship can occur in modern times, allowing supernatural phenomena to happen under controlled conditions.
“Lastly, for something different, I would suggest the work of Luis Gasparetto from Sao Paulo, Brazil. There is video available where he can paint four masterpieces at one time, with each limb operating a different paintbrush (while blindfolded). His claims that he channels multiple famous artists at once become very believable.”
You wrote that you first started exploring the out-of-body state in 2013. Did it come quickly? Please summarize your most dynamic OBE.
“The OBE state unlocked a lot of doors that were sometimes hard for me to even believe were real due to their fantastical nature. It took a few months of nightly practice, crawling out of my body and trying to get past my doorway before it became easier, at which point a couple of extremely surprising experiences happened, that involved apparent direct communication with astral residents. The OBEs reached their zenith of absurdity when, one morning, I found myself being gently tugged out of my body and visited by the ethereal presence of a snarky old British man who claimed to be the famous occultist Aleister Crowley.
“This was my most dynamic experience because we had a completely regular conversation for around twenty minutes. Although I cannot confirm if his identity was really that of Crowley (I personally believe it was), it gave me a chance to have a real conversation with a so-called ‘spirit,’ which involved a mixture of completely normal, audible conversation alongside the projection of telepathic imagery; often used to aesthetically enhance the communication.
“Crowley’s visit, he claimed, was a result of the fact that I had been researching him and he ‘detected’ my interest in him; and further the entity claimed that he likes to keep friendly tabs on those on my side with interest in otherworldly affairs (like myself). The whole experience was unforgettable and very exciting.”
If a skeptic were to say that OBEs are nothing more than dreams or products of your imagination, how would you respond to him?
“I would respond sympathetically because I once believed this as well. It’s important to remember the OBE is often a real, ‘physical’ experience with vibratory changes, electrical sensations as you disconnect, and the ability to have full sensory input, and you can even collect verifiable information to further prove to yourself that it was real.”
Do you expect to see much better evidence for survival 50 years down the road than we have now? If so, in what area of research do you think it will come?
“A lot can change in 50 years. I’d currently place the most interest on the resurgence of physical mediumship. The Scole experiments kicked off highly scrutinized séances that could be confirmed by teams of qualified researchers. If some type of research lab is created where teams of mediums could break down the barriers between worlds in a consistent fashion, with help from the other side in a kind of large-scale organized effort involving many people from both dimensions, then we may see major progress.’
Do you see much interest in the subject of life after death among other people your age?
“In person, yes. As a traveler who stays in a lot of hostels, I meet many people in my age group and younger, and very often these topics arise naturally. I will mention how I wrote a book about life after death, and suddenly people feel like they want to just gush out and tell me about all these experiences they’ve had but were unable to share them with anybody before they met me.
“By contrast to real life, internet communities of younger people skew more closed-mindedly. I think there’s enormous pressure on people to conform to popular opinions; especially on the anonymous internet where people sometimes become meaner and allow their worst behaviors to come to the surface.”
Do your friends and relatives think you are weird? What do you say to them to justify your interest?
“The ones who think I’m weirdest seem to believe I’m radioactive, and so they steer far enough away from me that I don’t have to worry about justifying anything to them. The truth is, this topic just does not resonate with a lot of people. And that’s perfectly fine. At some point in most people’s lives though, a time comes when they become curious about big questions, and then this subject may be important to them. But there’s no rush.
“That being said, I also know plenty of people who fully support my work, even if they don’t fully understand the nature of what I write about.”
You state that you are a secular person. Do you think we would have less chaos and turmoil in the world and enjoy greater peace of mind if all churches suddenly closed their doors and ceased to exist?
“Not at all. A religion can still represent a cultural experience that may be important within the range of human expression (from Islamic culture to Japanese Shintoism), while the dark behavior of humans would persist whether it was justified by religion or not. The big problem is when religious people fail to ground themselves in reality; as in cases of extremism; from Westboro Baptist Church to ISIS. What do we do about this? At least with a secular approach to spirituality, we can obtain answers that are grounded in facts and data versus the fallible nature of scripture. But this doesn’t mean we should abandon the positive aspects of religious culture entirely, so long as they are not beliefs that can hurt yourself or others.”
Please summarize your conclusion about this big, mysterious topic known as the afterlife?
“At some point there may come a time to stop calling the afterlife ‘the afterlife’ because that’s not really what it is. I prefer the term ‘multi-planar universe.’ We have to imagine our culture as being very primitive. A more advanced society may have a perfect comprehension of these topics, but for us we are still grasping to advance to that level, and so we misunderstand these concepts, interpreting them through a primitive, narrow lens. The impression I get is that the way life works is that we are constantly moving between different planes—different dimensions—having a myriad of experiences as we meet new people and have new adventures. For the vast majority of people in the universe who live in planes beyond this one, this concept is blatantly obvious and there’s no need to place unnecessary importance on the transition point (death). However, for us on Earth, it’s all this new, crazy, magical thing. At a certain point we need to finally grow up and recognize how the universe works.”
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die is published by White Crow Books. His latest book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife is now available on Amazon and other online book stores.
His latest book Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I is published by White Crow Books.
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