15. JOURNEY IN SPIRIT
In the late 19th century the newly formed Society for Psychic Research
began collating evidence on the abundance of psychic happenings that
had become the craze at that time19. Many ghostly tales were debunked,
more were discredited, while a small percentage withstood the efforts
of a generally sceptic governing body to offer a rational explanation.
19 Started chiefly by one, Mme Blavatsky, a Russian émigré who first taught the cult of Theosophy and the then preposterous concept of communication with the dead.
Now, a hundred years later a balanced and curiously consistent picture
emerges from a host of psychic communicators, mediums and sensitives
which give us an increasingly vivid image of the afterworld.
TIME OF DEATH
The exact time of death is now determined from the time it takes for
the brain to suffer irreversible blood starvation - this can be up
to half an hour after the heart has stopped, or it may be longer;
we can never know for sure. People who are successfully resuscitated
during the first half hour following circulation failure will probably
be brain damaged, (usually beyond repair) and may be blind, deaf,
mute, paralysed or comatose. The few that survive speak of near death
or out-of-body experiences and recall vivid memories imbued with light,
love and well being. These are often accompanied by culturally determined
visions of Christ, The Virgin Mother, God or the saints. These memories
generally have a profound effect on the person and changes them on
a deep level, and they develop a sense of vocation and faith that
guides them for the rest of their lives.
Scientist are now able to tell us, however, that this euphoria can
be triggered by endorphins, substances similar to morphine which are
released into certain function areas of the brain when the outer protective
membrane senses dangers like anoxia or blood starvation. Air Force
pilots training to fly supersonic aircraft are tested in giant centrifuges
to simulate gravitational pull ('g' forces) far in excess of normal.
At around 9g - 10g they experience black-out, then unconsciousness
followed by the same euphoric sensations and sense of well being,
all accompanied by the same visions of light described by the near
dead - but miss out on the cultural associations and the sense of
enlightenment. In other studies, a Canadian research doctor working
with electro-medicine, wires up the same image-forming parts of the
brain with electrodes - and replicates the vibrational frequencies
of the dying brain. Sure enough, the near death experience occurs
again, complete with tunnel vision, bright lights and feelings of
overwhelming beauty and well being.
The conclusions we must draw from these new findings is that the
near dead or out of body dead were never actually dead, only experiencing
the supercharged emotions of a brain reacting to near fatal shock.
This rational explanation doesn't explain the lasting sense of vocation
and purpose described by so many survivors (many books have been written
about them, see bibliography), and we are still left with the problem
of deciding how we accurately determine the moment of irreversible
The subject of death is one that western cultures don't much like
to discuss, preferring to claim atheistically that death is final
rather than consider any logical or illogical sequence to our life
on earth. Christians resort to the 'heaven-and-hell' tradition without
ever seriously considering the nature of either - preferring, instead,
to trust in divine providence.
Today our questing attitude to life and death is well provided for
with an ever increasing flow of information from communicators 'on
the other side'. All the collated information suggests we will find
ourselves in a state of continued mental awareness unchanged by the
experience of death. Death is described as a steady metamorphosis
into a realm of altered consciousness. We are still just ourselves,
albeit disembodied, and still questing but now experiencing a discarnate
perspective and the companionship of fellow spirits on their parallel
journeys of self discovery.
All spiritual communicators speak of the power of the mind which
must learn to express itself through the imagination, backed by our
own will. In short, what we want, we can have, and our heaven becomes
what we make of it. The only identifiable reality is ourselves and
our power to perceive it. If we spring from a religious tradition
then we shall fulfil our expectations of a religious experience. Or
if we have adopted an atheistic, agnostic or materialistic perspective
of life then our early experiences of the discarnate world will reflect
these same views, complete with material props and earthly pleasures.
In time, which could be instantaneous or linear, we will learn to
differentiate between what we now are and what we must yet become,
what constitutes a universal reality and what constitutes our own
limited expectations of reality.
Communicators speak of successive stages of spiritual development
during which we progressively lose our ego- consciousness and slowly
reunite with the many aspects of our group soul. This group soul is
our next step on the spiritual hierarchy and may comprise hundreds
of individual energies working toward the group's collective goals.
Some, it appears, have difficulty understanding that they are really
dead - believing instead that their mental vision of a dematerialised
environment is but a lucid dream.
We are powered in spirit as we are in body - by the forces of consciousness
and our willing surrender to higher values. As we create on earth
our own experience of life, so in spirit we face creative choice powered
by our individual mind.
Slowly we gain the ability to evaluate our earthly life and the
effect it had on ourselves and others... and this sometimes painful
self judgement helps us plot our new path of transcendence. The dazzling
reality of our mind's vision brings these memories into sharp focus,
undiluted by the material perspectives of the body and the slow vibrations
of earthly matter. This concentration of feeling can be a tough experience
as we examine motive rather than pretext, and we may come to cherish
for the first time the love and support of the entities who will accompany
us through this important stage of our spiritual awakening.
Communicators describe a wonderful mental environment, incomparable
with our world of matter. This realm is readily malleable by the power
of imagination, thought and invocation. We are taught to accept responsibility
for our thoughts, our motives and our actions. I believe this process
can start right here and now, so that when our faults and failings
are revealed in glaring nakedness they will be backed with the will
of love that powers spiritual transcendence. No one said life was
easy, but an indifferent and negative approach to life can perpetuate
the discomfort of spiritual evolution.
We will slowly shed our earthly perspective and wrestle with the
new experiences of spirituality. We then enter what guides call a
'second heaven', a realm of lost identity and metamorphosing spirituality.
We no longer know who we are in strictly human terms, but begin to
rediscover ourselves as our lost ego consciousness is slowly replaced
by a refined essence of identity which carries our soul towards new
spiritual horizons. This is the stage experienced, I imagine, by the
unsuspecting caterpillar before he emerges in the unsolicited, resplendent
and quite unrecognisable form of a mature butterfly.
We renew old friendships established through the centuries of successive
and often symbiotic incarnations. We learn to recognise and trust
the guiding light of eternity which powers so many diverse experiences
of life, death and rebirth.
All communicators tell us that each soul has experienced many incarnations
- and successive lives have forged bonds of lasting unity. Our fragmented
self is reunited with our group soul with whom we share the work of
Ultimate bliss is a vibrant experience that would quickly wither
the unevolved soul; we must learn how to bask in spiritual fulfilment.
This process may call for many souls experiencing and sharing many
incarnations in the Great Plan of the group's metamorphosis into spiritual
The experiences of the discarnate soul broadly follow the heaven,
purgatory and hell ethic of Christian teaching. The difference is
there is no judgement, no punishment, just the continuing goal of
spiritual growth that we experience in our life on earth, powered
by our own perspective and our maturing spiritual vision.
To know the experiences of the discarnate soul we must, as on
earth, know ourselves. To grow into what we might yet become we must
shed that which belongs to our temporal experience of body and matter.
Souls may become stuck in an inappropriate and outworn notion that
they still belong to their earthly heritage, categorised by their
class, creed and culture. Such important conditioning for physical
life has no place in the spirit world and those who rely on social
props for their identity will soon, we are told, find themselves anchored
by their own beliefs which are responding to the full and self fulfilling
power of thought that is their new experience of reality.
If all this sounds alarming, demanding and fraught, be comforted
by all the communicators' assurance of love, support and guidance
which prevails at all levels - and is available to all who are able
and prepared to accept responsibility for their own progress.
The capacity for love we can develop in this world is the one quality
we can carry with us into the next. Unresolved problems in life won't
be expiated merely by death but by a willing, trusting and positive
desire to continue evolving in pace with spiritual energies which,
like the caterpillar, we don't fully understand.