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Why COVID-19 doesn’t scare me to death

Posted on 11 April 2020, 10:02

Unlike so many of the world’s population, I am not terrified of dying. I respect death and want to avoid it, of course, and I take reasonable precautions to postpone it as long as possible. What leads up to death, as long as it’s not sudden, is usually painful and thoroughly unpleasant, but the moment of death is painless. It’s not the horrifying experience that many imagine. You just gently slip out of your body.

What horrifies most people about death is not usually fear of that moment, but fear of what follows. And there is nothing so horrifying as the thought that nothing follows. That’s what most of us dread the most.

But if you believe that life goes on, only in a somewhat different kind of world, fear of dying is greatly reduced. And the coronavirus, at its worst, can do no more than send you on your way to a different set of adventures.

I am one of these fortunate people, but not for the reasons you might assume. My confidence that life goes on is not based on religious teaching but on research. I’m not alone. Many consciousness researchers have concluded that the chances of surviving death are very high. They see mounting evidence that the brain is not the originator of consciousness but its transmitter. The mysterious immaterial self that we are uses the brain as an instrument — rather like a television set picking up electromagnetic waves and translating them into image and sound.

According to their research, the self disengages from its instrument at death and moves on. I find the evidence for this, which I’ll get to below, compelling and want to share it with two types of people.

First, people of faith. My long experience with my friends who fall into this category, almost all of them Christian, is that they are very afraid of death any way it comes, COVID-19 or otherwise. Why should this be? The reason is uncertainty about what follows. Is there suffering? And what about heaven? Is it really blissful? How so? The tenacity with which some of my very old friends hang on to life suggests misgivings.

Second, agnostics and nonbelievers. Quite a few of my friends fall into this category, and I would have joined them long ago if it weren’t for the evidence we’ll look at in a moment. These people always see themselves as scientific, and science tells them we are only our physical body. End of discussion. But they have not looked at the evidence.

One facet is purely philosophical: none of our thoughts or feelings have anything in common with physical stuff. They have no weight, size, color or smell. They aren’t to the left or right of anything. They are immaterial, or what we sometimes call “spiritual.” This is suggestive, but we need more.

So we turn to empirical data. They fall under nine headings, each by itself a powerful argument pointing to a world beyond ours. These include deathbed visions, the near-death experience, apparitions or ghosts, the uncanny memories of little children about what feels to them like a previous life, poltergeist phenomena, spirit channeling, instrumental transcommunication from the deceased, terminal lucidity among advanced Alzheimer’s victims just before death, and unwelcome intrusions by earthbound entities. If any of these, let alone all, are what they seem, then some kind of personal afterlife is strongly indicated.

Digesting this information should greatly reduce the feeling of panic at the thought of dying by COVID-19 or any other cause. Here are the best sources for reducing the terror: David Fontana’s monumental Is There an Afterlife?, Chris Carter’s Science and the Afterlife Experience, my own When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying? Afterlife: The Evidence, Michael Tymn’s blogs at White Crow Books, Jeffrey Mishlove’s YouTube video collection at New Thinking Allowed, and Keith Parsons’ YouTube videos on the afterlife.

From this massive amount of evidence, I long ago concluded that we survive bodily death. What we live into is a fascinating subject in its own right. But that is for another day.

Stafford Betty is a Cal State Bakersfield professor of religious studies and author of The Afterlife Unveiled and Heaven and Hell Unveiled.

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