Thoughts On Life After Death – Does ‘Consciousness’ Survive When We Die?
Posted: 31 Jan 2020 04:00 AM PST
With over 100 years of research into the nature of death and survival of consciousness, a more sophisticated way of looking at the evidence seems to be emerging. Based on a number of interviews and wide reading, Lance Butler outlines a new understanding based on science as well as spiritual experience.
Even Life after Death changes; like everything else, ideas about Survival have both a history and, if I can put it this way, a future. Some changes are modestly noticeable if one first looks back to the heyday of Spiritualism and the founding of the SPR in the late nineteenth century and then forward to the late twentieth century. In that time ouija boards, to put it schematically, were replaced by NDE research. But there is also a feeling of sameness, even latterly of stagnation, over the period.
During the last twenty or thirty years, too, things have moved forward slowly, but the feeling one still gets reading the main summarising or investigative texts in the field – say Gary Schwartz’s The Afterlife Experiments of 2003 or David Fontana’s Is There An Afterlife? of 2005 – is that the paradigm has remained unchanged. If we put together, for instance, recent examples of mediumship, the NDE material collected since Raymond Moody’s Life after Life of 1975, the ITC evidence (by definition modern), and Scole we find that although it constitutes more evidence, it is roughly the same kind of evidence as it was thirty-five or, in the case of mediumship, a hundred-and-thirty-five years ago.
Fontana, for instance, is able freely to cite nineteenth-century material, stories from the 1920s and 1940s, research from the 1960s, his own experience of poltergeists from the 1980s and the Scole material from around 2000. It all fits quite well; it all adds up to an interesting case for Survival; and it’s still there. One of the strongest arguments for Survival seems to be the fact that, in spite of modern scepticism and modern analytical and investigative techniques, Life after Death hasn’t simply gone away like Phlogiston theory or Geocentrism or Phrenology or bloodletting. Fontana’s evidence is not of a new nature, but it is increasingly solid.
The Need For A New ParadigmAnd the evidence has continued to stack up, but it’s still apparent at the end of the first decade of the 21st century that the paradigm has not changed much. More veridical channelings, identifiable voices of the dead on untuned (sometimes even unplugged) radios, better NDEs, everything that happened at Scole – these are all useful grist to the Survival mill, but they do not seem to do have done much for a widening of scientific acceptance of any sort of afterlife. In particular we do not yet seem to have digested quantum physics properly, nor the recent thinking in consciousness studies.
In these circumstances I set out in 2009 to interview a handful of people, all well-known to the SMN, to find out ‘where they are now’ on the matter of Life after Death; I hoped thus to see if there are currently any developments of our Survival paradigm. The interviewees were Rupert Sheldrake, Bernard Carr, Peter Fenwick, David Lorimer, Iain McGilchrist, Matthew Manning and Pim van Lommel.
Van Lommel’s response to my opening question, which asked directly about the afterlife, was a little startling: ‘I never talk about life after death,’ he said. My heart sank a little. Had I got hold of the wrong Dutch cardiologist? But no, it appeared that what he meant is that ‘life after death’ may only temporarily resemble life as we know it here and now; more importantly the quantum ‘non-locality’ of the other side means that it is without time and can be considered to ‘contain’ past, present, and future simultaneously. It is ‘a space or dimension without place or time.’ The simultaneity of the Life Review during many NDEs is well known and that may give us a hint as to what the ‘infinite consciousness’ that apparently awaits us (while not of course really ‘awaiting’ anything) might be like.
Many people, van Lommel continued, have experienced non-duality, non-locality, greater or ‘cosmic’ consciousness. That is the ‘thing’ that is always there, timelessly; it is the incomprehensible greater ‘place’ with which we interface only at very special times. From the perspective of this quantum zone life and death are irrelevant concepts. ‘Life’ in this present world is a species of illusion that we go through, indeed that we actually create. Life ‘over there’ however is certainly not ‘life as we know it.’
Interestingly, van Lommel is quite happy to accept that NDE survivors cannot find the right language to describe their experiences adequately. Of course not. Our language is a tool for the here-and-now, for space and time. As is the case with quantum physics, we are able to mouth words about cosmic experiences, but the words have difficulty in demonstrating any significant content.
Beyond The Self?I will return to van Lommel at the end of this but for now come with me to visit Peter Fenwick, who also managed to take the feet from under me when I questioned him; in his case the moment came after a good hour of explanation of his research into End-of-Life Experiences when he said, with the smaller of his two smiles, ‘But we do not have a personal self. We are embedded in the matrix of the universe which is our consciousness.’ Different words for pretty much what van Lommel was saying, then, and incidentally what Neale Donald Walsch says repeatedly in his Conversations with God series (‘There is only one of us’).
Fenwick suggests, following Alain Forget, that we can be ‘awakened’ here in this life (to moments of cosmic consciousness) and says that the ego ‘casts a pall over our consciousnesses.’ We are parts of a whole and need to ‘crystallise the light body’ as we do in dreams in similar states. The ‘limited ego’ is a ‘false self’ but even a glimpse of universal consciousness (‘available right now!’) shows us a bigger self.
In extreme NDE cases, Peter pointed out, people seem to go very far, ‘to the point where the illusion of separateness is about to collapse completely.’ In this life we merely make up our stories of life and death. When we recognise that the real is universal consciousness, questions of Survival become non-questions because there is really no birth and no death, just consciousness. Religions, seeking vainly to sift the saved from the non-saved, have lost their spiritual nature by not recognising this universality.
Bernard Carr filled in some of the detail of this radical and rather Buddhist conception of the afterlife. He suggested a ‘hierarchy of dimensions’ that may lead up to or end in ultimate consciousness (‘anatta’ – the empty centre of the onion) but meanwhile there are astral levels and reincarnation possibilities as we all head for what must, by definition, be the only possible goal. For Carr there are different levels of space to accommodate these dimensions and the mind creates the world both here and hereafter where a species of ‘dream-world’ awaits us.
New MetaphorsFor Rupert Sheldrake, we already know what it will be like to be disembodied because we have the experience of possessing a ‘dream-body’ at night when we sleep. And, of course, for a physicist like Carr, everything comes down to energy, that is frequencies. Already for Sheldrake there are, famously, morphic fields in which the unknown energies, perhaps those of the ‘non-local’ quantum ‘world,’ operate. And all this, to go back to van Lommel’s opening remarks, is here as may become apparent after death when we may begin to ‘know the place for the first time.’
Sheldrake also observed, as many now would, that, for a while at least, we may get the Life after Death that we expect. We can move beyond our entrapment in desires and the unreal and come to expect something higher and more real, but then again we may not escape from our present lives all at once. He approves of imagination in the shape of myths, fairytales, and dreams, and points out that these are fields that are not based in material reality. They enact some of the possibilities contained in the infinite quantum field. Like Carr, Sheldrake is ‘not dualistic,’ ‘not a super-naturalist’; there is no separate realm into which we can ‘go.’
Mathew Manning, speaking from the deepest and widest experience of things psychic, spiritual, or, as I would now say, ‘non-local,’ stressed that knowledge of Life after Death is not ordinary knowledge. In his view we learn what we need to know in this life and then move on to less knowable realms. He is also more interested in energy than in ‘life’ as a metaphor for Survival. His famous psychic recreation of Durer’s drawings, and of many other works of art and texts in languages unknown to him, are not so much, he says, ‘Durer coming through’ (the older version of Life after Death perhaps) as a psychic picking-up of the energy of the original moment of artistic creation; it is less a matter of an individual’s survival and more a matter of energy circulating as the scientists tell us it does.
Personality & BeyondBy this time I felt that some sort of a pattern was building up. The new paradigm is perhaps only subtly different from the old one but it seemed to be emerging with some new and useful emphases. The claims now made about Survival are less personal than they used to be, for one thing, and the respect for the ideas of quantum-physics more solid. David Lorimer, for instance, told me that he sees Life after Death as ‘another state of consciousness’ in which it may be ‘a less distinctive personality that is you.’ He says he is less concerned now with the survival of his own personality as such. We may come to see that each ‘personality’ is ‘an expression of the universal.’ He quotes Betty Kovacs: ‘Birth is a coming into being of form (‘me’) and death a dissolution of form.’ Cosmic consciousness would be the ‘dissolution of all boundaries.’ We are like blocks of ice floating in the Arctic Ocean of universal consciousness; there is development, evolution, both here and hereafter, but we all belong to and return to the same sea in the end. This is not new, of course, it belongs in Hinduism and Buddhism where we become more ‘ourselves’ by becoming less our individual selves; it is also, according to Lorimer, the inevitable direction of consciousness studies as pursued since the founding of the Journal of Consciousness Studies in 1994.
The most ‘materialist’ person I interviewed was Iain McGilchrist. For him, ‘materiality is an important part of any kind of being we might have’; as he pointed out to me, ‘the universe has gone to an awful lot of trouble to produce this material world.’ Surely a useful corrective. If, to put it bluntly, cosmic consciousness is so terrific, why did it have to add us, messy as we are, not to mention the immense quantum charade of the universe, to what it already had? Why bother to Big Bang if you could just go on being perfect? I know that there are good answers to these questions but McGilchrist’s approach reminds us not to fall into the trap of treating spirituality as if our dinners, our doings, and our bodies didn’t matter at all.
But McGilchrist too is singing off the same page of our now-slightly-revised hymn book. As he put it, ‘the notion that one would be forever oneself is an appalling idea.’ For him consciousness ‘pre-exists us and isn’t created by our brains; our brains simply transmit or transduce it.’ But there is and always will be an ‘I’ – it is ‘God,’ we may come to see, who is the ‘Great I’ that is all of us.
New DirectionsThe publication in 2010 of Pim van Lommel’s Consciousness Beyond Life has been tremendously convenient for this small investigation. His book, subtitled accurately ‘The Science of the Near-Death Experience,’ seems to me to effect the shift in thinking that we have needed. It is not a huge shift but it should now change the quality of the debate.
Encouragingly, the interviews which I conducted before Pim’s book had been translated into English fit very well with its proposals. After undertaking them and reading Pim’s book I begin to discern the outlines of the altered paradigm. Here are some of its main features:
Written by Lance St John Butler, who is a Professor of British Literature in the University of Pau.
The veil still surrounds me. I think the premise is so outlandish and impossible the conscious mind can not grasp it. God has its time to lift the veil and all I can do is what I am doing. Do you get it?
The reason Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6 was to pave the way for the future life as Bruce. We are all God, as you know, and he wanted to remind us of that.
In one of my poems from 1975 in Messiah For Hire I said: “I Am God and so are you if you so choose to be.” I will continue to throw out the fishing line and one day the bobber will go down and stay down.
The next article expands on We Are All Messiahs and expounds on Curriculum Vitae (CV)which means COURSE OF LIFE. It is a job application and presents the applicant’s qualifications for the position. I Am applying for the job of world Messiah and not just Jewish messiah.
The new definition for CV is Course of Lifetimes as the soul’s qualifications are cumulative and not singular. We are born with all our past actions of all our past lifetimes and the goal of the soul is to fulfill the intentions the soul makes for the new incarnation to accomplish our mission, fulfill our destiny and achieve our higher spiritual purpose whatever that may be.
For ALL souls the goal is the same and is the ticket that gets us back to God. We all need to learn what it is to love unconditionally.
Since the seed and spark of “Christ”/love is already planted in every human being no matter how lowly or evil a human being may be that seed can grow and become activated by the sheer grace of God. All that is needed is a change of attitude and a desire to be all that Love is.
Peace, love, and light in 2020.
Sent from my iPhone
Global horoscope for January 12, 2020 in relation to the chart of Bruce Robert Travis. Go to Blog November 28, 2019 to put it in its proper perspective.
Happy New Year!
Here is what’s coming in 2020. The spiritual revolution will finally manifest. On January 12,2020, Pluto, Saturn, Sun and Mercury will all be at 22*+ (sun almost 22*)sidereal in Sagittarius plus Jupiter will be at 9*18’ of Sagittarius conjunct the south node of the moon 8* 24’.
According to astronomers the center of the galaxy is situated within the sign. Sagittarius represents philosophy, religion, the higher mind and the meaning of life. The Sign of Sagittarius is the Archer with his bow pointed to heaven and a new direction.
Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter the most expansive planet and is now back home in its own sign after 12 years. Sagittarius is the natural 9th house with the near same energies as the sign.
This is the time to let go of the outdated, antiquated and purely erroneous tropical astrological system which is perpetuating confusion, separateness and duality in the already totally dysfunctional 3rd dimensional reality of planet earth.
Pluto symbolizes death and regeneration. Saturn symbolizes hidden power, dominance and change. Saturn has a symbol made up of the cross of matter which represents reality. Mercury is the activator and rules the mind. It sweeps over the Sun, Pluto and Saturn and lights their fuses igniting the transformative spiritual energies of the sign they are in. The Sun, the giver of life represents our conscious mind, our will to live and our creative life force and ego. Now look at the energetic mix of these celestial bodies on January 12th which is a BIG DEAL. This is the real reality.
These energies are the death blow to Mr. Trump who is the opposite of everything this energetic combination represents. With every ending comes a new beginning. Trump is exiting the stage along with his corrupt and crooked ilk. He is the 45th president of the United States and 4+5=9 which represents the ending, the Omega point. The Alpha begins on the 12th. The Alpha and Omega day. The “beginning and the ending.”
All these celestial bodies will bec conjuncting my natal moon in Sagittarius 25*42’ in my 8th house of growth, new beginning and rebirth of the soul. The 8th house is an equal opportunity house placing death, rebirth and sex on the same energetic playing field. The 8th house rules inheritances and legacies.
“The meek( those that are modest and kind) shall inherit the earth.”
The sun, Pluto, Saturn and Mercury are exactly inconjunct, ie, 150* to my natal Uranus in Taurus 22* 35’. Uranus is the sign of sudden occurrences. All in a master # 22 year of 2020.
22 Uranus 22* Taurus
Bruce was born 1948=22 when Saturn and Pluto were also in conjunction. “What goes around comes around.”
Most likely nothing noteworthy will be in the news on the 12th. Just know that the shift in consciousness is now firmly rooted. It is up to humanity to step up and move forward in change.
Please visit: www.TheCenterForWorldPeace.Love
“A problem cannot be solved with the same consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein
“There are no problems; only solutions” John Lennon
“Be here now in constant change and be in divine consciousness with no problems.” Bruce Robert Travis 12/25/2019
I Ching Oracle reading on Christ-mas day. The great conjunction of Pluto, Saturn, Sun and Mercury at 22* 40’ in Sagittarius (sidereal)coming January 12, 2020.
_____ ______8 Above Chen/Arousing,
_____ ______8 Thunder
______________7 Heng/ Duration
______________7 The Gentle, Wind
_____ _____ 8 Below Sun
“ Here we have union as an enduring condition. The two images are thunder and wind, which are likewise constantly paired phenomena. The lower three lines indicates gentleness within; the upper three lines, movement without.
In the sphere of social relationships the six lines represent the institution of marriage as the enduring union of the sexes.
Duration. Success. No blame.
It furthers someone to have somewhere to go.
Duration. Is a state whose movement is not worn down by hindrances. It is not a state of rest, for mere standstill is regression. Duration is rather the self- contained and therefore self-renewing movement of an organized, firmly integrated whole, taking place in accordance with immutable laws and beginning anew at every ending. The end is reached by an inward movement, by inhalation, systole, contraction, and this movement turns into a new beginning, in which the movement is directed outward, in exhalation, diastole, expansion.
Duration brings about firmness and unity of character. Lasting perseverance in one’s course. The course of heaven and earth is enduring and long and never ends. An end is always followed by a new beginning.
The holy man remains forever in his course, and the world reshapes itself to completion. If we meditate on what gives duration to a thing, we can understand the nature of heaven and earth and of all beings.
Heavenly bodies exemplify duration. They move in their fixed orbits, and because of their light-giving power endures. The seasons of the year follow a fixed law of change and transformation, hence can produce effects that endure.
So likewise the dedicated man embodies an enduring meaning in his way of life, and thereby the world is formed. In that which gives things their duration, we can come to understand the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.
On the basis of the Judgment, the conditions necessary for duration are then set forth. They consist in perseverance in the right course, that is to say, continuity in change. This is the secret of the eternity of the universe.
Thunder and wind: the image of DURATION.
Thus the superior man stands firm
And does not change his direction.
...the independence of the superior man is not based on rigidity and immobility of character. He always keeps abreast of the time and changes with it. What endures is the unswerving directive, the inner law of his being, which determines all his actions.
Thunder is that which is mobile, wind is that which is penetrating- the most mobile of all things that have duration under the law of motion. The image of standing firm and fixed direction.
Remember: Christ- mas means Love More
Peace, light and love,
One who knows.
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