Thought I might re-publish something I, and several others, found interesting on a take on what happens when you die. This is as a result of various postings on "the Soul" I have been involved in recently, and over the last few months, and several putting forward ideas of the theories that abound. Not sure it will work, as it was originally published on Classic Newsvine. There is a lot there so you might need a coffee and a comfy chair, but I had to try and put as much as I could in translating the book because of copyright issues, bringing in various quotes as appropriate.
The book I have is nearly 30 years old, found in a charity rummage box! It is called Survival of Death - Theories about the nature of the Afterlife edited by a Peter Brookesmith. First published in the UK 1984 by Orbis Publishing Ltd. Reprinted 1989 Macdonald & Co Publishers Ltd. Reprinted 1990,1991 Black Cat imprint (which is the copy I have). Seems material in the publication previously appeared in the weekly partwork The Unexplained 1980-1983. Various "consultants" are acknowledged - Prof. AJ Ellinson - Dr J Allen Hynek - Brian Inglis - Colin Watson. Whether any of these or the editor are still alive maybe can be traced on the internet. Psychic Research establishments may have something in the States as to any current "research".
The reason I thought it might have been of interest is because there is no mention of religion or any faith as such and does not seem to bring these issues into play. The onus seems to be firmly on individual responsibility to oneself and to the "Group" family one's soul belongs. The completion of tasks are a must and the whole Group cannot transcend into the next Heaven supposedly until all in the Group are "educated". It only mentions that the two Institutions involved accrued the material over a period of 100 years!!! and where there were consistencies they managed to piece together some kind of a template of an Afterlife. The material was vast however but amazingly consistent.
From a jigsaw a "picture" of a possible journey of a Soul. If we do indeed survive death then the first feature of their accounts is that we take with us the same memory bank, emotions and mental concepts which we had before death.
Death, seemingly, appears to be a state of altered consciousness and that it is a progress through seven spheres, or dimensions, or Heavens. We supposedly drift in and out being "asleep" and being "awake" and then, suddenly, waking up and seeing all those that we wish to see again when we were alive. This seemingly is a preliminary to the real work that has to be done as we pass into Summerland.
Summerland is seemingly where matter is of a fine texture and highly malleable to thought, and it is possible to create what was most highly desirable on Earth. However, it is stressed that this is not "Heaven" but a place where we gradually acknowledge that all we thought desirable is materialistic and valueless. It seems that if a person's life has been devoted to selfish gain, violence, malevolence, he finds he can contribute very little to his after-death environment and his environment will reflect himself, his poverty of soul which consequently assumes "an awful reality". Such a spirit feels anger and indignation for his lot and accounts speak of darkness, mist, bare earth and eventually some kind of "hovel". The theorists who have built up this picture stress that such souls are not being punished but are the creators of their own suffering from a nature that they have created!! (Winterland)
Apparently, the theorists go on to explain that when a soul has become more spiritual after this experience of Summerland he then transcends into the First Heaven. There selfless ideals are shared with others and the Soul is shown step-by-step it's nature as it was on Earth and includes the revelation and evaluation of all faults, errors and blindness and, apparently, this is a very difficult process and hard for us to accept. This process, seemingly, is called the judgement. This judgement is not made by a God, as in the popular idea of The Day of Judgement. It is self-induced. One's actions are shown as they truely were and not as one preferred. Once we recognise these faults we can then transcend into the next Heaven.
From what the theorists can piece together from the information that has been gleaned from a long period of research, the various "stages" of the afterlife is experienced one after another in surroundings which is part of a wonderful mental world. How much we can see and transcend is bounded by our own limited consciousness on lessons of a moral or spiritual nature that we seemingly experience in these "heavens". Eventually, we are then reincarnated back to Earth after we have fully surrendered the Self which is called the Second Death. All masks fall away and it is necessary to leave this plane behind and all things that have been valued, achieved, loved must be left behind and given up. A True Self, the one which has always been searched for, is then transcended.
The Soul then, it seems, is re-united with his Group Souls - those that have been watching over him when he was alive - his true family. He recognises them as he has always been with them, sometimes they or some have been reincarnated on Earth at the same time in past lives. The members of this Union relive past experiences and ancient memories, and begin to see a distinct purpose and meaning emerging. "Tasks" of learning make sense but still these Tasks apparently have not all been completed and we need many chances to learn all the necessary lessons.
"If death is not the end of man's personality, but rather the beginning of a sort of 'pilgram's progress' as many psychical researchers claim, then what are the stages of this adventure? The discarnate spirit, after meeting the loved ones who died before him, lives first in Summerland or Winterland, both of which he creates from his own habits of thought, good or bad. These are both on the ideo-plastic plane and seem to serve to break him of his earthly preoccupations and make him yearn for the benefits of higher, more spiritual faculties. But he must first undergo the judgement (his own) and the second death, processes that hold a mirror up to the person he was, mercilessly stripping him of his illusions about himself and making him realise what his actions and words had done to others. He then "earns" his entry into the Second Heaven."
What he has shed in the trauma of this experience it would seem is his outer Self - the earthly Mask. When this has been cast away, he then emerges as his real "undivided" Self. The researchers then go on to explain the Second Heaven in which the questing spirit grows and develops and the accounts call this a "great silence". There is an experience of a some kind of greater peace and the spirit or soul no longer knows who or where one is. It is stressed that this is not a distressing process no more than if it were a butterfly undergoing the emergence from its cocoon. At this point it would seem he loses all contact with those he had known during his earth life.
There then follows, it is reported, a series of significant "meetings" with souls who he feels a deep spiritual link to and an intimate familiarity, and with whom he had shared profound experiences with. I quote - "The spirits on this plane, although they are indeed old friends, belong to relationships formed over many lifetimes. And this one fact is central to the understanding of the whole nature of the afterlife". This Group Soul reveals a pattern and purpose it seems and each is awakened to his postion towards that "goal" which is having to be worked on until all "tasks" are completed in future incarnations. The Second Heaven is a plane of insight - into the past and into the future. This re-uniting with the Group Soul or Whole Soul is then seen by the individual how his life on earth was only a fragment of a Whole and his life was only a tiny piece of a much larger prospect.
Interestlingly, the theory does address the big question of "Why Me"? It seems that as the spirit begins to witness the panorama of his whole lives he "feels" how influences of all those lives play on the consequences of each of them. This is quite difficult for me to translate from the book as it is not very clear and the dialogue is weighty. But is seems that not everyone profits from his earthly experiences and not all spirits learn at the same rate but there will be many opportunities to put things right. That there is some kind of "continuing thread" in the incarnations.
These narratives that come from the research documents therefore claim to describe "conditions" in an afterlife. We are also looking at the answering of the questions of Why me? and the purpose of life itself. There is some harmony in these accounts with conventional Christian belief and seemingly paints a picture of a "purgatory", heaven and a hell all of which is of our own creation and not part of any initial judgement.
"Each has to redeem those parts of themselves that are bound by the chains of his own creation"
Apparently, while in the Second Heaven the spirit learns there are yet further states of bliss, dimensions or levels of some kind but that these are too "intense" for a spirit that is not yet ready to experience the next level. The third level, or Third Heaven, is yet a further expansion of his consciousness but many spirits cannot endure this level for very long but is open to them to endure for as long as it is possible for that individual. It is explained by the communicators of this material that it is almost impossible for them to understand; that this Third Heaven brings the spriit to the limits of his consciousness and that is all they can seem to glean.
"After a brief glimpse of this plane he finds he cannot go further into it than his nature allows. Faced with his limitations he has no choice but to return to earth. However, if his next incarnation goes well and he grows spiritually as a result, he will find that he can then proceed deeper into the Third Heaven".
The theory does go on to ask the question - What happens when a person has little more to learn from Earth? Most of the accounts are not in total agreement but only in part - but there seems to be some kind of choice that awaits the matured spirit. Communications are vague at this point but there is some kind of leap into a great "unknown" and may involve a new cycle of physical lives "on another planet". This seems some kind of "confirmation" therefore that Others do exist.
"Few spirits are sufficiently strong to go the first time a chance arises preferring to wait and help others - even if it means being reincarnated back on Earth yet again".
There does not seem to be in the book anything further about an explanation of other dimensions or heavens although it does mention further "states" but does not go into detail - the narrative then beginning to look at why there seems so many injustices in life
-"...if the accounts of the afterlife summarised herein are substantially true, then there is such a thing as absolute justice, there is cause for hope, there is free will and ever expanding consciousness."
It quotes the last words of Mary, Queen of Scots 'In my end is my beginning'.