!- KEYWORDS: NDE, Near-death experience, heaven, hell, god, jesus, ESP, psychic, religion, philosophy, afterlife, hereafter, soul -->
In the afterlife You could be headed for the serious side Now you make the scene all day Come tomorrow there'll be hell to pay -The Squirrel Nut Zippers A Forward To The Afterlife. --------------------------- by Richard Carrozza The recent mass suicide of the Higher Source cult and their unusual expectations has prompted me to give a lot of thought to the afterlife lately. I refer to the Higher Source as a cult only because of the few numbers in their group and not because of their beliefs. I am bearing in mind that all religions started out as cults. What most of us believe exists in the afterlife, if we believe at all in an afterlife, is usually based on a religious teaching. Our expectations can range from Pearly Gates to flying saucers behind comets to nothingness. The late anthropologist Joseph Campbell, when interviewed by Bill Moyers in the PBS TV six part series "The Power of Myth", stated he believed that religions were like software. You can run your computer with any number of operating systems software, whichever one works for you is OK. The Near Death Experiences (NDE's) I researched for this essay were all in English. Therefore many accounts implied a religious experience that was of a Western Christian nature. I cannot imagine a Hindu of a Muslim meeting Jesus in his NDE any more than I can imagine a devout Catholic meeting Buddha in his. EZ ESP. ------- At this point let me clarify what I mean when I use the term "Psychic Experience". By "Psychic Experience" I mean an experience that does not use what we would normally think of as the five corporeal senses. I do not exclusively mean what is commonly called ESP. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in his book "Being and Nothingness" points out that there is no more "phenomena" in ESP than in any other form of temporal activity. I completely agree with Sartre about this. What's the big deal about ESP? Who can explain how the eyes see and read the words from this page and transform them into thoughts and ideas? Who can explain how we can touch a surface and perceive that it is hot or cold, hard or soft, smooth or coarse? Can anyone explain ANY temporal activity. It is all phenomena. There is no less a miracle in hearing a song or smelling a rose than there is in predicting an airline disaster or knowing a loved one is in danger. Death By Definition. -------------------- If we were to completely disregard faith and rely on the facts in order to initiate a scientific inquiry then we will soon find ourselves at a dead end. If you will pardon the pun. The closest thing we have to facts are the accounts of people who have survived near death experiences. By near death I mean individuals who were clinically dead and returned to life. By clinically dead I mean dead as far as we can determine with our awkward scientific instruments. Since I am trying to be as scientific in this as possible I will assume that "clinically dead" means dead, gone and out of here. Some 60% of NDE survivors do not remember anything whatsoever of their experience which means that they could not or would not remember. It can also mean that they DO remember and that what they found after death was nothingness. Most NDE's were unique to the individual but many had similarities. The most common were as follows: The 14 Top Reasons People Think They Are Deceased. --------------------------------------------------- 1. A feeling of exiting and/or being out of their bodies and seeing their bodies from an outside point of view. 2. seeing their life pass before their eyes 3. an ability to move instantly from place to place 4. the sensation of moving backwards and away from their bodies through space or a tunnel 5. meeting another presence, be it God, Jesus, a deceased relative or an unknown entity. Some felt it was themselves or within them. 6. communicating as if by mental telepathy 7. being in a good place and not wanting to leave, a feeling of peace 8. being in a bad place and being terrified 9. seeing a bright white light, some at the end of the tunnel 10. being drawn to the light and wanting to go into it 11. being asked if they wanted to stay by the presence 12. being told by the presence that their time had not yet come 13. hearing someone in the proximity of their corporeal bodies 14. returning to their bodies The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of --------------------------------- My research comprised of randomly selecting and reading the first hand accounts of a few dozen survivors from the many testimonies available. Due to this random sampling technique I may have left out a few less common similarities but I feel the above list will suffice to make my point. The thing I find most striking about the testimonies is their unmistakable resemblance to dreams. Floating, traveling from place to place instantly, seeing deceased loved ones, communicating as if by telepathy and of course the dream-like symbolism. All the accounts I read seemed to be told as if one were describing a dream. Indeed many thought at the time that they were dreaming. When dreaming we do not use our eyes to see. We do not use our ears to hear or our feet to walk, we do not use any of our corporeal facilities to experience the dream world. Dreaming is a purely psychic experience. The feelings and visions reported in NDE's are pure psychic experiences, exactly identical to the psychic experience of a dream. It makes sense that if a one were to leave their body they would not have the use of their corporeal senses. Therefore they could only interpret the experience to themselves and others in the familiar setting of a dream. Some reported feelings of exiting the body, of moving back- wards away from the body, or of the self observing it's body from a distance. These are all in symbolic form the "knowledge" that one has or is being separated from their bodies. I am not saying that people who experienced NDE's were only dreaming. What I am saying is that the only way they could "recall" a non-physical world experience would be in the symbolic form of a recalled dream. Meeting deceased relatives, friends, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, even Elvis in the afterlife seems to be consistent with what the people expected they would find when they died. In other words some would expect to meet their ancestors, a devout Christian expects to meet Jesus, Higher Source members expected to meet aliens and so on. Let us not forget that Joseph Campbell said, in effect, that all religions work. If there is an entity that awaits us in the next world then we could not see him without our bodies to provide the eyes. Each person returning from such an encounter would have to provide a face and a body for the entity in order to recall it later. Hence the variety of descriptions given to the "entity" by NDE survivors who met Jesus, Muhhamed, dead friends or relatives and so on. The white light some recall seeing was interpreted differently depending on the individual. Some thought it was heaven, others eternity or God or even themselves. I believe the white light was symbolic of God, eternal peace or an eternal reward such as heaven. White and light in most cultures in this world are symbols of goodness in these cases eternal good. As stated Earlier some people had no recollection at all of their NDE's. Perhaps they could not translate the experience into empirical terms or perhaps they actually found nothing. My Conclusions ------------- Even if no one ever reported an NDE it makes sense to me that if their is a form of human awareness after death it could not incorporate the use of the body's sense organs. Therefore any awareness experienced after death could only be interpreted as a dream. That is any Self awareness, as we know it, is not likely to be at a level higher than as if in a dream. Finally I am really going to go out on a limb and suggest that what you think you WILL find after death is what you will think you HAVE found when you get there. Using Death As Your Confidant ----------------------------- I will leave the reader with this view of death adopted from Carlos Costeneda's book, "Journey to Ixtlan". I have always found this Native American story to be quite poetic. Just reading this page is very dangerous. You may die before you finish it. You see your death is standing there right behind you. He is always there. Stalking you. Waiting just behind your left shoulder. If you turn your head suddenly you can see him as a black shape, a shadow. He is waiting to tap you on the shoulder and take you. He has to wait until you are weak. When you are sick or injured and weak enough then his time has come. There is good in having your death with you all the time. You can turn to him and use him as your adviser. Death is your only wise adviser. When you are sad and things are bad for you just turn to him and tell him of all your troubles and how trying they are. He will listen. Then he will tell you, "That's OK. Things aren't that bad. Don't worry yourself. It isn't important. The only thing you really have to worry about is my touch."