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5 Inspirational Books About Spirituality, Life, Death and the Gaps Between

Updated on November 23, 2014

Spiritual Answers from Books

We all sometimes wonder if there's more than this one life, don't we? Or are our births and deaths just bookends of interesting but finite space?

Often, something will start us wondering about big questions.

For me, it was the death of a loved one and, surprisingly, my inability to accept it as a final event. I'm not religious, but I'm also not so opposed to spiritual possibilities that I can't learn or listen.

In one of his talks, Wayne Dyer told of how much his philosophy of being "open to everything" let him discover truths and insights he'd otherwise have missed. Consider anything and everything possible.

So, it was for me. I decided to pay attention more openly to whatever came my way, especially in the context of what comes next - or before - in those curious spaces when we are not alive or dead, if anything.

Books have always been my favorite way to dig deeper. Alone with the author's ideas, you can disagree, absorb and learn at your own discretion. The five I'll be talking about...

  • Share experiences, like NDEs and past life regressions I probably never will have
  • Are written by experienced professionals, each of whom risked and received scorn from their colleagues for speaking out
  • Are engagingly written, easy to read and filled with wonder for open-minded searchers
  • Offer reasonable answers to puzzles about life, death and the afterlife
  • And, finally, are written with consideration, kindness and care about sensitive, difficult spiriitutal issues.

#1 A Pioneer in Afterlife Discovery - Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Exposed to the intense stresses of working on the razor's edge of life and death in an intensive care ward, my first wife found some relief in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's explorations into death and dying.

Some Distances Feel Unbridgeable

But there are ways to cross them.
But there are ways to cross them. | Source
On Death and Dying
On Death and Dying
Kubler-Ross started out researching how we face death as individuals. At the time, it was new territory. Religions had long given us answers we accepted, and what wasn't answered was beyond our inexperience and knowledge. Many people are now aware of the stages she so carefully described of how we face approaching death, but Kubler-Ross took it further. Returning to her office one evening, she was approached by a woman she knew who strongly encouraged her to continue her research. It was valuable in helping people resolve the turmoil about the death of loved ones, she said. It's not that this information was so special, it's that the friend who approached had died some months before, only to return on this mission. For Kubler-Ross, this brought new passion and enthusiasm that would take her into worlds she never imagined.
 

#2 Raymond Moody Discovers a Strange Indefinite Universe Beyond Life

As a young doctor, Raymond Moody stumbled onto some things others seemed to have missed.

When he looked deeper, he had no real choice but to write about what he found.

Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon--Survival of Bodily Death
Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon--Survival of Bodily Death
What Moody discovered while documenting the stories of individuals who'd approached death, some of whom had gone so far as to be declared clinically dead, was a striking similarity in their recall of experiences while unconscious, dead or near dead. Moody was the first to put into context the tunnel experiences we've now heard so much about from reported NDEs. He also carefully documented meetings with deceased relatives and other guides, some of whom appeared as experts and others who came with word that it was too soon. The dying were sent back. Skeptics had tried, vigorously, to rationalize the near death experience as a natural process, a kind of hallucination, but none I've read are convincing or have the resonance of true life experiences. One reason I admire Moody is that, decades later, he retains his convictions about what he found early in his career. The scorn of critics has not changed his convictions.
 

#3 Statistics Verify the Near Death Experience

Dr. Jeffrey Long, a practicing oncologist, was intrigued by the accounts he'd heard of near death experiences, but a scientist by profession and conviction, interest didn't automatically translate to belief.

On day, he built a website to let people who'd had near death experiences share them online. The results were impressive.

Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences
Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences
Long began a survey that continues today and statistically analyzes reports of near death experience. Because of their unpredictable nature, near death experiences are impossible to clinically test in real time. Statistics of the reports, however, might shed some light. Long's rigorous analysis and his willingness to play skeptic proved that near death experiences were more substantial than the scrabbled together criticisms being leveled toward the emerging science. Long looks at everything carefully, including the possibility that increasing exposure (the Oprah Effect) influences experiences being reported. Most convincing, he even takes on the published articles of critics and coolly exposes the errors and, less blatantly, the motives behind them.
 

#4 The Journey that Follows When You Die

Dr. Michael Newton, like Raymond Moody, stumbled his way into discovery. In the same way, he had the courage to write about it and accept the scorn in pursuit of truth about life after death and even more.

Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives, Fifth Revised Edition
Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives, Fifth Revised Edition
It isn't that Dr. Newton documented so much about his patients reported afterlife experiences, it's the robust life between lives that's an inevitable and crucial part of the process. Moody is careful to confess the limits of what his patients have described in past life regressions and believes, for whatever reason, we are only now beginning to see hidden parts of the universe. What Newton shows us is that our lives are only chapters in a much larger story. They may not even be the main story. The main story is the unbroken spiritual current from which we emerge and into which we return. Fascinating reading. The experience brought Newton himself from atheism to something much larger and affirmative.
 

#5 Dr. Michael Newton's Co-Explorers in a Rich Field of Spiritual Discovery.

A world stranger than any I imagined I'd learn about is delivered in selected highlights from thousands of reliable reports.

Memories of the Afterlife: Life Between Lives Stories of Personal Transformation
Memories of the Afterlife: Life Between Lives Stories of Personal Transformation
For the third book in this series, Dr. Michael Newton - who was drawn out of retirement to research and write the second book - leaves the reports to colleagues who have continued documenting life between lives in their own practices. Selected for their ability to shed light on specific areas of interest, these exciting stories are gathered from life after life practitioners from around the world. Read with an open mind, these stories are irreplaceable in their concern, not with proving a point already made, but in discovering the secret corners of existence we are learning about in detail for the first time. The good news, for me, is that the spirit world is not a conventionally religious one, but more a place of reflection on the past and preparation for future adventures in physical form. This area of science is maturing, and Dr. Newton is an active editor, joining the discussion many times to clarify and discuss the points made. On a personal note, I found this third release of reports more insightful as the practiitoners are more aware of touching lives in deeply personal ways
 

Conclusion

The emerging science of the afterlife is a relief for the curious and, also, a source of solace for those of us whose instincts and experiences tell us there is so much more.


© 2014 David Stone

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