What Do We Really Know About Life After Death?
The Other Side of the Rainbow
On Death and Dying - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Life After Death Assumptions
What Do You Take for Granted About Life After Death?
What was it like for you? Was there ever a time when the expectation of life after death wasn't part of your beliefs?
Like most people I knew, I became an adult as a casual Christian, not really following the religion that closely or knowing much about it. I seldom went to church. When it came to life after death, I accepted the basics without much thought.
Whether heaven and hell were real destinations, in my mind, shouldn't change the way I lived. If I needed fear of the devil to make me do the right thing, I was weak, and after all, none of us were going to know the truth anyway until we died, which to me seemed a million years away.
The heaven I heard about, I should add, wasn't especially appealing, something like an eternity with nothing to do, and honestly, it seemed more like a balm to lessen our fears of death.
But while I wasn't really concerned about being dead, I hated the idea of not being alive. To imagine not being here to see the days go by and to have new adventures, meeting new people, seeing new places, seeing how the world changes - that made me feel awful.
Still, there wasn't anything we could do about it, anyway, was there?
Meeting Up With Ghosts
Coincidence is the most likely thing to bump anyone off course. For me, that coincidence was meeting a nurse who later became my first wife. She'd stood next to death many times, enough so that a desire to understand led her to the first great pioneer in understanding life apart from what we then knew, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
Kubler-Ross was a psychiatrist interested in the death experience and what it was like going through it. Early on, she was approached by an acquaintance in an elevator and encouraged to continue her studies, since they were of enormous value in helping with the grief amplified by the mysteriousness of death. Simple enough - except that the woman who approached was a former patient who had died some months before.
A patient had returned after death to let her know there was more to come. Kubler-Ross' bestselling book, On Death and Dying, became a textbook for teaching caregivers how to understand what the dying were experiencing. Her writing that followed tried to describe what came next.
A whole new vista opened. We began to see a universe apart from our everyday lives that exposed us to new meanings and explanations about what it was to be human.
Dr. Raymond Moody's Pioneering Work
Dr. Raymond Moody & The NDE
In 1975, Dr. Raymond Moody published his breakthrough book, Life After Life. The book resulted from his studies of his patients and what they experienced on the periphery of the end of life.
Collected from patients who had, sometimes, clinically died and been revived and others who were transitioning into death, the stories were shocking in their detail - which rarely took the expected religious tone, even in patients who were religious, and seemed to suggest a life after death that could be seen at a distance.
Dr. Moody called these "near death experiences," NDEs, journeys into a universe that lay between life and death and from which both states of existence can be seen.
Fascinating as they were, the NDE experience could neither be scientifically verified or repeated. Still the details, as described, were irresistible. Many patients, for example, were met by escorts on the border at the end of physical life.
Often, the escorts were familiar, friends and relatives who'd died before, even sometimes individuals the subject was not aware had died until discovering it during the NDE. Other times, the escorts might be religious figures, helpful strangers or no one at all.
What interested me most was the relatively common tunnel experience in which the dying seemed to enter a passageway to another world where they'd resume their next (or after) life. These were tantalizing glimpses of something profoundly strange and, we always thought, unknowable.
But Dr. Moody's research couldn't help us with that. His NDE patients never got far past that tunnel, and many never got there at all.
The Latest on Life Between Lives
Research to Prove It
Dr. Michael Newton's Journey Of Souls
While discussions about NDEs and questions about their validity and what we might learn from them expanded public awareness, the lack of real conclusions left a void.
It wasn't until Dr. Michael Newton, a counseling psychologist, stumbled onto "life between life," LBLs, that the necessary insights emerged.
You can read more details about how this occurred at Michael Newton, Souls and What Comes Next, but briefly, while using past life regression therapy to help a patient uncover the source of feelings of extreme loneliness, he witnessed his patient's entry into an apparent foundation for all life that was not a past life, as we know them, at all but an eternal universe in where we exist between them.
The door Dr. Raymond Moody had cracked open was sprung free. An avalanche of information about what happens after death and between lives has been accumulated since 1994 when Dr. Newton published his discoveries in Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives.
Dr. Newton, soon joined by psychotherapists around the world, has recorded thousands of histories of recalled LBLs that startle with their consistency and what they tell us about who and what we are, why we are here, and what we can expect for the future.
Keep in mind, of course, that the LBL doctors are therapists whose primary mission is to heal through past life discovery. Fortunately, what they've learned from these experiences is being shared, most recently in Memories of the Afterlife, stories collected from patient histories from around the world, collected and edited by Dr. Newton.
What we've learned is that the core of us, our essential lives, is eternal and that we go through many incarnations as we work toward some sort of perfection or universal harmony. In all of their studies, the ultimate goal is never that clear.
Dr. Newton speculates that it isn't information available to us at this point in human evolution and may be withheld. Nonetheless, we assume goals for the lives we emerge into and we review our progress over many lifetimes.
The details gathered from so many histories makes it hard to deny that essential truths have been revealed. They give us insight into the mysteries of intuition, coincidence and the feelings that many of us have that we are helped along by ineffable guidance, inexplicable insights and nudges to action.
There are people who will never accept life after death, no matter what the evidence, and others who will want more before being convinced. For the latter, there's good news. Dr. Jeffrey Long has taken an objective, statistical look at the NDE stories and confirmed what pioneers since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Raymond Moody have been telling us.
The case is closed. There is a life after (or between) lives. It leaves it to us, now, to discover more about this newest of territories.
Life After Death
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