Is the Afterlife What We Think It Is? A Challenge from Near-Death Studies
Almost to a person near-death experiencers say “I got what I needed. ”The most oft-repeated phrase near-death experiencers say after their episode is “Always there is life.”
Near-death states show that once you leave your body in death, regardless of whatever comes next, you eventually find yourself moving to or present within an energy frequency you resonate with. What you find there corresponds for the most part to what you are capable of responding to, i.e., beings, shapes, forms, activities. These frequency realms resemble a “layer cake” of many levels, each separated from the other by degrees of lighter or heavier vibrations. The heavier more dense vibrations hold what most people call “hell” in that they consist of negative or lower forms of thought that reside in close proximity to the earthplane. Apparently you stay within this range of vibration for as long as it best serves your development as a soul. You do not leave until you have changed your attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and are ready for another opportunity to improve and advance. The faster, higher, more subtle vibrations are what most people term “heaven” and they also are in close proximity to the earthplane. There is a sense of benefit here, as if one has found one’s true home. You leave whatever level of this positive, supportive domain you are in once you have further advanced as an awakened soul and are more unified in spirit.
Claims of souls forever and eternally trapped or condemned in the heavier levels, or basking in the glory of ascension in the finer, lighter ones, do not hold up. When you really study the import of what people encounter on the other side of death, you come to realise that unlimited possibilities are available because of the power unleashed from awakenings. To whatever degree a soul awakens, consciousness expands – individually and universally.
Yes, “detours” are reported, to places like borderlands or shadow areas where individuals in spirit form may tarry. It seems that in some cases where the ego personality refuses to merge with its soul, spirit can remain “apart” somehow, as if lost, disconnected, confused, or determined to fulfill a vow or promise before moving on. Spirits like this are often seen as “ghosts” by those who are still embodied. The idea, then, of “way stations” is upheld in near-death accounts, places where spirits reside until helped in some fashion. These “catch-all” places appear to be necessary diversions so that one can “shake” free of that which initially hinders. What matters most throughout this entire arrangement of heaven/hell/borderlands, though, is the resonance factor, i.e., “like attracts like.” Our religions insist that it is deeds done or not done that is the final determinate of where we wind up once dead, yet nothing from experiencer cases fully validates this. Their testimony indicates something else – that self-acceptance or self-rejection is what creates our energetic “signal.”
ime and Space, Soul and God
The concept of time and space also changes when we take that second look. Near-death experiencers are adamant in stating that neither time nor space exist. They claim that everything on the other side of death resides in a kind of “NOW” moment devoid of boundaries, limits or definitions other than that of the relationship between perception and perceivers. Time and space are seen as purposeful, however. From the bulk of near-death accounts, time is experienced by individuals as a type of “doorway” space moves through in sparkling waveforms of potential. That sparkle comes from light in the process of becoming dense enough within the “cradle” of space to take on the shapes and forms of what is termed matter. What becomes apparent from experiencer testimony, however, is that, in a way few can understand or explain, time not only enables but protects the manifestation of existence that space allows, so thought can reproduce itself. It’s consciousness. It’s as if all of life, every tiny speck of it, all of what we encounter on the other side of death, every vibratory “wiggle” of it, exists as it does within a giant brain processing thought… and we are projections of that thought, and so are planets, asteriods, solar systems, and so forth.
This brings us to another way of considering soul.
Near-death states illuminate the reality of soul, our soul, everybody’s soul, and establish soul as a power source without form or gender. Some call it our Higher Self or our Greater Self, and that we as a soul are immortal, an extension of The Divine. Soul is experienced as having its own will, and an agenda above and beyond anything we might relate to from the personality level of our egos. What emerges from this discovery is the realisation that souls go through learning cycles similar in purpose to people on earth, and that souls can and often do incarnate in groups to accomplish specific things of a larger nature. The soul-level of our being is recognised as possessing perfect memory and an almost unbelievable grasp of Creation’s Story and our place in its overall scheme. On this level, which most experiencers consider a higher level of being, the goal of continued incarnations in human or other forms, appears to be a furtherance of what can be experienced creatively as we seek to expand our roles as Co-Creators with the Creator. Winding our way through the peaks and valleys of humanness appears to aid in this process. You get a real sense that life and death and the forms we take on fulfill an even Higher Will for an even Greater Purpose.
The greatest discovery the vast majority of near-death experiencers make after realising there is life on the other side of death, is that an intelligence beyond what we can fathom exists – there is a Deity. And that Deity or God is so massive, so powerful, so encompassing, that it is often described by experiencers as more brilliant and mighty than a million suns, existent as a Presence without need of name, identity or definition. The biblical injunction to call It “I AM THAT I AM” suffices as a reference. All that exists is seen to exist within this allness, this oneness. It is as if there is only One Mind, yet many thinkers. This, the One Mind, is often described as spreading out from a webbing or matrix field of Its Own Consciousness, embracing what exists from the stirring of Its Own Thought. Changeless as the Supreme Consciousness it is, The One appears ever changing once projections of Its Thought take on free will and the endless variation possible in that freedom. Life is God made visible. The awesomeness of this tends to dissolve any ideas or previous beliefs anyone ever had about religious dictums or mythological characterisations. A favourite phrase experiencers come to use is: We are one with The One.
When reconsidering near-death cases, realise as you do that four patterns to the phenomenon exist, not just one. The spread that follows results if you also factor in deviations in experiencer behaviour and beliefs before and after their episode:
Initial Experience (very few elements): An introduction for the individual to other ways of perceiving reality… stimulus.
Unpleasant or Hellish Experience (frightening scenarios): A confrontation with distortions in one’s own attitudes and beliefs… healing.
Pleasant or Heavenly Experience (uplifting scenarios): A realisation of how important life is and how every effort that one makes counts… validation.
Transcendent Experience (limitless expanses): An encounter with Oneness and the collective whole of humankind… enlightenment
If you are objective about this spread, what you see here is a fascinating panorama, not about the existence of an afterlife and the do’s and don’ts of living, but of what very well could be the movement of our consciousness as it evolves through the human condition via stages of awakening. These stages of awakening extend from the first realisation of something greater, an initial awareness, to confrontations with the bias of perception followed by opportunities to cleanse and start anew. This leads to the bliss and the ecstasy of self-validation and the discovery of one’s worth, until at last the moment comes when unlimited realms of truth and wisdom are embraced.
It’s all about consciousness, moving in and through our story and larger types of stories, as the One Mind experiences Itself through variations in Its Thought. Still, there is more to note here. Present in experiencer accounts is a deeper sense seldom vocalised that consciousness itself, by itself, as itself, is also awakening and expanding. To give this meaning, let me quote St. Teresa of Avila, the great Spanish mystic and reformer, who, near the end of her life, said: “The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” The invitation here is for us to move past defining concepts and ideas of an afterlife that are birth-to-death centred, and embrace instead a new vision of life as an emanation of spirit evolving in its capacity to handle the power from its Source. Why limit ourselves; experiencers don’t.
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