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Knowing if you are dead or not

Posted on 21 April 2014, 9:59

There have been numerous messages and signs from the spirit world indicating that many spirits are slow in recognizing that they are “dead,” some floundering in an “earthbound” stupor for a long time, however time is measured in that realm. This phenomenon was popularized in the hit movie, The Sixth Sense, a decade or so ago, when the Bruce Willis character apparently didn’t know he had died. 

Emanuel Swedenborg, (below) the brilliant 18th Century scientist who learned to leave his body and explore the afterlife realms, may have been the first to mention this phenomenon.  He said that he had met newly departed souls in something of a stupor, unaware they were “dead.”  This seemed especially true of people who had “denied the Divine” when alive in the flesh.  When they finally came to realize that they had left the physical body behind and were existing in a different state, they were, he said, “acutely embarrassed.”


Now and then I have discussed this phenomenon with people who do not believe in an afterlife.  They usually scoff at the idea that one cannot know he or she is “dead.”  I then ask them if they know that they are “alive” when they are dreaming during a deep sleep.  A puzzled look usually results. 

According to a number of esoteric teachings arising out of spirit communication, the magnetic currents hold the spirit body close to the physical body during earthly life and continue to some degree after death depending on the degree of spiritual consciousness achieved by the individual while alive in the flesh. That is, the more spiritual consciousness the person develops, the quicker the magnetic currents are destroyed.  Conversely, the soul who has not developed much spiritual consciousness will be slow in breaking the magnetic bonds, thus lingering around his or her physical remains in the “earthbound” condition, indefinitely, not completely comprehending the fact that he/she is “dead.” 

Allan Kardec, a distinguished 19th Century French educator and psychical researcher, likened the “earthbound” condition to somnambulism, as in sleepwalking, when the somnambulist who is thrown into a magnetic sleep cannot believe that he is not awake. “Sleep, according to their idea of it, is synonymous with suspension of the perceptive faculties, and as they think freely, and see, they appear to themselves not to be asleep,” he further explained.

“The moral state of the soul is the condition which determines the ease, or the difficulty, with which the spirit disengages himself from his terrestrial envelope,” Kardec continued.  “The strength of the affinity between the body and perispirit (spirit body) is in the exact ratio of the spirit’s attachment to materiality; it is, consequently, at the maximum in the case of those whose thoughts and interests are concentrated on the earthly life and the enjoyment of material pleasures; it is almost null in the case of those whose soul has identified itself before with the spirit life.”

If I am interpreting various metaphysical teachings correctly, the “magnetic currents” should not be confused with the so-called silver cord, the connecting link between the physical body and the spirit body.  The silver cord will have been severed at the time of physical death, liberating the spirit body, but the magnetic currents can still keep the spirit body close to the physical body. Moreover, cremation does not undo the gravitational pull of a materialistic life, but it at least mitigates the pull.

“Mind interprets our sensed world and environment using reason, the cumulative result of real experiences of the material four-dimensional world placed within a specific mental framework or worldview,” offers James E. Beichler, Ph.D., (below) a retired physics professor, in his book, To Die For.


As Beichler sees it, when consciousness is less evolved and the mind is more focused on the material/physical world of common four-dimensional space-time alone, those making the transition from this life to the afterlife in the non-material but still physical five-dimensional space-time may be faced with a very big gap, thus not recognizing that they are dead.  If the person had achieved a higher level of consciousness while occupying the material/physical body, “then the mind would already have memories of five-dimensional experience and would then merge with less difficulty into its new state of being,” he explains, adding that this mind can remain stuck in its four-dimensional material reality without any real material existence because it does not have any reference points in the higher-dimensional non-material world. 

In other words, the mind separates itself from the material/physical organ (the brain) and then attempts to orientate itself based upon the consciousness (both spiritual and knowledgeable about the world) that it has achieved during the time it occupied a material/physical shell. If the consciousness is more highly developed, through both spiritual awakening and through learning more about the true reality of existence, the mind quickly awakens to its new and true reality. But if that consciousness is not well developed – if it is still grounded in the material world – this “handicapped” mind does not quickly “awaken” and may not realize that the physical body has been shed. 

“The mind/consciousness complex [that survives bodily or material death] retains its identity (the personality still remains) after a manner in the fifth dimension, in so far as self-identity is not a material but still a physical quantity or quality,” Beichler further explains.  “However, the extent to which the complex is ‘conscious’ or mindful of its own existence, its being, would depend upon the extent to which it was ‘conscious’ or aware of its five-dimensional connections before the death of the four-dimensional [material] body and what is perceived by the mind as ‘self’ while the body still lived and functioned.”

Indications are that there are many degrees of awakening and consciousness in the spirit world and that many souls go back and forth over the threshold of awareness, just as most of us do in watching a good movie.  We get so wrapped up in the emotion being experienced by the actors that we forget temporarily that it’s not real.  We might even leave the movie theatre still feeling the emotion, though for the most part back in the real world.  In effect, our consciousness in partly in this world and partly in the unreal one we watched on the movie screen.  I recall being so wrapped up in the “24” weekly television series a few years ago that, while on a trip, I made sure I got back to my hotel in time to see what happened to Jack Bauer, the star of the series.  I kept telling myself that it’s not real and I shouldn’t care or go out of my way to see that segment, but the unreal was still somewhat real to me in spite of my reasoning mind.

We live in a paradoxical world, the biggest paradox being that the unreal has become the real and the real the unreal.  Consider, for example, that movie actors – people merely pretending to be real people – are celebrated as gods of some kind simply because they are good at pretending, an otherwise negative characteristic, while the real people they pretend to be go unrecognized.  Consider also that athletes – play warriors – are much more admired and celebrated than real warriors.  A gold medal in the Olympics is valued much more highly than a Medal of Honor earned on the battlefield.  A player falling on a fumbled football in the Super Bowl will be remembered much longer than a combat soldier who throws himself on a grenade to protect others.  Ironically, even the real warriors seem unaware of the paradox, as men in uniform are often seen lined up at athletic events waiting for the autographs of play warriors.  The real warriors are paying homage to the play warriors. How crazy is all that?

Just as this conflict between mind and consciousness can take place in the physical world, it can continue in the spiritual world as we struggle with the material universe’s magnetism.  I suspect that the majority of spirits in this in-between state, are fluctuating back and forth over that threshold of awareness, “earthbound” at times and free from the “earthbound” condition at other times.  However, those who were totally self-centered and materialistic in the earth life might be in a bad dream or nightmare for a time, with little or no fluctuation. 
Beichler’s model explains many of the characteristics and properties of the near-death experience. For example, noting that not all experiencers undergo a past-life review, he concludes that those who have a highly-developed consciousness – one that has kept pace with the development of the mind – may not need a life review as they probably reviewed their lives when alive in the flesh.  At the other extreme, there are those not advanced enough in their conscious evolution to appreciate a life review, and still others who may not accept a life review because they deny their death and sense nothing at all.  “In other words, people’s minds seize upon the most familiar surroundings when they enter the new environment of the five-dimensional universe,” Beichler writes,  “but can still reject the experience completely depending upon their mind set and mental priorities at the time of death.”

The bottom line here seems to be that the more you come to understand about the spirit world and spiritual matters in this life, the better off you will be when you first enter that life.  If nothing else, you will understand that you are no longer in the physical world.       

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

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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


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