An Easter Message That Makes Sense
Posted on 07 April 2014, 12:19
With Easter approaching, I think of how much more sense it would make if Christianity would totally dismiss the idea of a physical body being resurrected and accept the evidence that has come to us through psychical research. I am reminded of the 2001 movie, The Body, in which the bones of Jesus were supposedly discovered by an archeologist in a tomb in Jerusalem. A Vatican priest was dispatched to investigate and concluded that the body was indeed that of Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph. He was so shattered by the finding that he lost all faith and committed suicide.
In a 2007 Discovery channel documentary, The Jesus Family Tomb, filmmaker James Cameron of Titanic fame, offered evidence that the tomb of Jesus had been found, and included the bones of his mother, Mary, as well as Mary Magdalene, his wife, and his son, Judah. Needless to say, there was a real outcry from the Christian community.
If scientists were to link up the DNA in the bones found in the tomb with blood residue found on the Shroud of Turin, it wouldn’t affect my belief in the resurrection of Jesus or the resurrection of anyone else, in the least. In fact, I would rejoice at the news. That’s because my brand of Christianity rejects any literal interpretation given to a physical body rising from the dead, either by Jesus, or by the masses on some far-off day of resurrection.
In the 15th chapter of First Corinthians, Paul said that the body that has to be “raised” is not the body that was buried. He used the analogy of a grain of wheat, pointing out that the grain of wheat that is planted is not the grain of wheat that is raised. But for some reason most of orthodox Christianity still clings to the resurrection of a physical body. Of course, like so many other things in the Bible, there can be many self-serving interpretations.
My faith today is based on psychical research. Such research in the area of the near-death experience (NDE) strongly suggests that we all have an energy body that separates from the physical body at the time of death and vibrates so far beyond the physical shell that it is not seen by ordinary eyes. This energy body has also been referred to as a spirit body, astral body, subtle body, radiant body, etheric body, celestial body, odic body, perispirit, phantom, double, soul, and higher self, although these terms are sometimes given different meanings. In Theosophy, the etheric body, or double, is a subtle interpenetrating extension of the physical body. It is this body that is held to the physical body by the silver cord. At some point, the astral body separates from the etheric body.
Ecclesiastes seems to suggest that the loosening of the “silver cord” is one of several ways by which the physical body and spirit body separate at the time of death, perhaps referring to old age. Clairvoyants, out-of-body travelers, and spirit communicators, however, see the severance of the silver cord involved in every kind of death. This cord is said to be the counterpart of the umbilical cord of birth. While the umbilical cord must be severed when we come into the material world, the silver cord must be severed when we return to the real world. This severance is sometimes referred to as “giving up the ghost” or, as Shakespeare called it, “shuffling off this mortal coil.”
Frederic W. H. Myers, the Cambridge scholar who became a pioneering psychical researcher, communicated extensively through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins of Ireland, perhaps the most famous and credible automatic writing medium ever, after his death in 1901. Myers referred to the energy body as the “double,” explaining that it is an exact counterpart of the physical shape. “The two are bound together by many little threads, by two silver cords,” Myers communicated. “One of these makes contact with the solar plexus, the other with the brain. They all may lengthen or extend during sleep or during half-sleep, for they have considerable elasticity. When a man slowly dies these threads and two cords are gradually broken. Death occurs when these two principal communicating lines with brain and solar plexus are severed.”
Myers went on to explain that life occasionally lingers in certain cells of the body after the soul has departed and that during this time the double is still attached to the physical shell by some threads which have not been broken. However, he pointed out that the soul does not suffer during this time. As a rule, Myers stated, the soul achieves complete freedom within an hour or two or three of physical death. He added that there is usually no pain connected with the separation.
According to Myers, death results from a change in vibration, the physical body vibrating at a much slower rate than the “double.” There is a temporary dislocation as the soul passes from the confines of the physical body to the spirit body. Myers explained that the double hovers above the physical shell for a brief time, during which a “little white cloud” or “pale essence” can be discerned by some. Since my blog post of October 4, 2010, a number of people have left comments about their own observations in this respect. See my blog, Deathbed mist explained.
Estelle Roberts, one of England’s most famous mediums, recalled being at the bedside of her husband, Hugh, as he died. Her clairvoyance allowed her to see his spirit leave his body from his head and mold itself into an exact replica of his physical body. She observed a cord connecting the two bodies. When the cord broke, the spirit body floated away and passed through the wall. She also reported hearing strange, terrifying noises as if someone was “rending linen” and occasionally sounding like the cracking of a whip. This apparently was the spirit body breaking loose from the physical body.
There have been reports of difficulties in “giving up the ghost.” In Zeitschrift fuer Parapsychologie, a clairvoyant man who preferred to remain anonymous reported sitting at his dying wife’s bedside and seeing an “odic body” take form over his wife’s physical body. It was connected to the physical body by a “cord of od.” The arms and legs of this odic body were flailing and kicking as if struggling to get free and escape. Finally, after about five hours, the fatal moment came at last. “There was a sound of gasping,” the man reported. “The odic body writhed to and fro, and my wife’s breathing ceased. To all appearances she was dead, but a few moments later she began to breathe again. After she had drawn her breath twice, everything became quiet. At the instant of her last breath, the connecting cord broke and the odic body vanished.”
One of the earliest accounts of a person’s dying moments, as reported by the deceased person himself, was set forth in an 1863 book by Sophia Elizabeth De Morgan, the wife of Augustus De Morgan, a famous mathematician. She reported on the experience of Horace Abraham Ackley, M.D., of Cleveland, Ohio, as communicated through a medium: “I experienced but very little suffering during the last few days of my life, though at first there were struggles, and my features were distorted; but I learned, after my spirit had burst its barriers and was freed from its connection with the external body, that these were produced by it in an attempt to sever this connection, which in all cases is more or less difficult; the vital points of contact being suddenly broken by disease, the union in other portions of the system is necessarily severed with violence, but, as far as I have learned, without consciousness of pain. Like many others, I found that I was unable to leave the form at once. I could feel myself gradually raised from my body, and in a dreamy, half-conscious state. It seemed as though I was not a united being – that I was separated into parts, and yet despite this there seemed to be an indissoluble connecting link. My spirit was freed a short time after the organs of my physical body had entirely ceased to perform their functions. My spiritual form was then united into one, and I was raised a short distance above the body, standing over it by what power I was unable to tell. I could see those who were in the room around me, and knew by what was going on that a considerable time must have elapsed since dissolution had taken place, and I presume I must have been for a time unconscious; and this I find is a common experience, not however, universal.”
Much more recently, in their 2008 book, The Art of Dying, Dr. Peter Fenwick of England and his wife, Elizabeth Fenwick, quote one NDEr as feeling “like a kite on an endless string.” This “cord” seemed to be attached to the back and the person could feel it pulling her back into her body. Another NDEr told the Fenwicks that although he could not see his body, he could see that he was attached by a “light grey rope.”
Communicating through the direct-voice mediumship of Lilian Bailey, Bill Wootton, a World War I victim, described the life cord as silver and thick, glowing and glistening. He said that it emerges from the pineal gland in the head and extends to the solar plexus. Wooten added that spirits are able to tell the health of a person by the cord. When they see the cord getting down to a hair’s breadth, they know that the cord is about to snap. When it does snap, it is as if a rope were breaking, and death then takes place.
So why should Christianity fear the discovery of the bones of Jesus? Credible scientific research has revealed that it has absolutely no bearing on the great message of soul immortality that Jesus came to give.
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 will be published by White Crow Books in July, 2014
Thanks for the comment. I frequently read comments at the “religion” and “atheist” categories on Quora, and the biggest misunderstanding seems to be that God must be identified before one can accept or even consider the evidence for survival. As I have often argued, we should first look at the evidence for survival and then ask whether there is a God, even though God seems to be beyond human comprehension. That’s the way I see it.
Michael Tymn, Fri 15 Apr, 08:36
Great post Mike.
wendy zammit, Fri 15 Apr, 01:04
1) Your comment “it wouldn’t affect my belief in the resurrection of Jesus or the resurrection of anyone else, in the least” reminds me of the comment by Krishnatmurti when asked if he believed that Jesus was God - something to the effect that he would not deny anyone their divinity.
2) I have always been attracted to the theory that one of Jesus’ disciples was a physical medium and that his appearance in the upper room was a materialisation - which would explain his telling people “touch me not”. Speaking to the materialised “risen” Christ would be just as motivating to the disciples as if he was in his physical body.
3) On another note, in a recent zoom discussion Inge Crosson told us how their circle had the recent experience of seeing their medium’s etheric body move out of the cabinet (while the medium was tied in) and they could all see it connected to the physical body by a silver cord.
Such a good article! As an Anglican clergyman I can only say Amen.
Michael Cocks, Thu 10 Apr, 01:02
As always, I look forward to receiving your next article ...
This article is not only timely (relative to the Easter season), but,in my opinion, an extremely important topic for any time ...
I found both Paul Hauser and David Howard’s comments (see above) of distinct interest. “Physical Materialization” should be becoming quite accepted in certain circles (perhaps primarily Psychic circles). And David Howard speaks of Arthur Findlay’s writings (which should be included in any discussion of such) which includes mention of “Apparition” or “Materialization” when discussing the “Resurrection” of Jesus.
To me, this makes perfect sense - the “Resurrection” was indeed real, and fulfilled part of Jesus purpose in being on earth - to present the reality of the “Afterlife”, and possibly the concept of “Immortality”...
Richard Brannon, Wed 9 Apr, 16:05
My friend John White reminded me that there is a third alternative. That is, Jesus’s body dematerialized in a burst of radiant energy as is the theory with the Shroud of Turin. I don’t know if that equates to “being taken bodily into heaven.” I doubt it. In spite of carbon testing suggesting that the Shroud dates back to around the 13th Century, it seems clear now that the test was of a patch, not the original cloth. Pollen taken from the shroud dates it to the time of Christ and the imprint left on the cloth cannot be explained other than by that burst of radiant energy. Perhaps a topic here for a future blog
Michael Tymn, Wed 9 Apr, 10:18
I believe more and more people (who I find don’t read or know much about what is in the Bible) believe as we do.
Yvonne Limoges, Wed 9 Apr, 10:01
I agree Mike that the orthodox Western religious view of the afterlife needs complete overhaul. And yet - there are many who claimed to have touched spirits of discarnate loved ones or felt their hand touch them. Could it be that the situation varies from one soul to another?
Dr Howard A. Jones, Tue 8 Apr, 09:04
I agree with this beautiful description of Jesus’ resurrection 100%. If the two spirits, Aneka and Mario, who physically materialized in front of the Barhams and their friends during regular meetings over a 20 years period, it’s no surprise that Jesus also “materialized.” After all, we are all energy and some of us who are more spiritually evolved have more “control” over the energy that surrounds us.
Paul J Hauser, Tue 8 Apr, 02:11
Leslie Harris, Tue 8 Apr, 01:53
Christianity is probably the longest surviving carrot and stick exercise in human history.
The physical resurrection was the carrot and hell was the stick.
This worked exceptionally well when literacy was extremely rare. All that the shonkey clergy had to do was wave their religious tracts in the faces of the serfs and the illiterate and no-one dared to disagree.
For this still prevailing Christian belief, there is absolutely no objective proof. I have engaged a number of religious people in discussion about this. When I ask for proof, they quote statements in their bible. When I point out to them that they are using their bible to prove their bible, they tend to be either quite mystified or get quite huffy! Frequently, objectivity is not understood, let alone recognized!
The survival of consciousness and probably an etheric ‘body’ has a considerable body of objective evidence via many mediums.
My personal attitude is to leave the Christians to their unfounded and proof-free delusions.
As always, Mike, this is an excellent post. You are quite right in bemoaning the perseverance of the resurrection myth in modern day Christianity because Jesus’ alleged bodily resurrection gave birth to the idea that all believers will also have their bodies resurrected on the day of judgment. That belief, we are told through mediumship, has caused many souls to become earth-bound and comatose. Spiritualist scholar Arthur Findlay, in his excellent but massive history of religion (The Psychic Stream) postulates that the early Christians (most being gentiles) transformed the Jewish teacher Joshua (translated “Jesus” in the West) into a “pagan” god-man because Jesus apparently made several appearances to disciples following his death. Those appearances were, Findlay writes, apparitions or materializations—manifestations well known to researchers of the paranormal. The theology eventually evolved that as Jesus was resurrected, so, too, believers in him would likewise experience resurrection. A natural event (apparition) grew into a religious superstition. Clergy have for a century and a half branded those of us who realize what really happened as heretics (or worse) in order to steer their flocks away from psychic research. Once the lay people find out the truth, clergy fear, ministers may be looking for work. We may yet see this scenario play out!
Dave Howard, Tue 8 Apr, 00:12
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