While materialist scientists and academics dismiss the possibility out of hand, there is not only an extensive amount of research suggesting the validity of reincarnation, near-death out-of-body experiences, and the like - but also much more to the reality of an afterlife than many people assume. Through automatic writing and the use of mediumship there exists a whole body of literature that presents such a world to us. While perhaps impossible to prove the validity of this material, it is worth taking a look at it.

This week on MindMatters we examine some of texts that make the case for what life after death might look like, what functions the 'place' serves, what people do there, and how beings on that plane of existence seem to be acutely aware of the challenges and struggles of those who live and breathe in our 'land of the living'. We'll also be discussing the implications of this information and what it might possibly mean for the choices we make, and how we live our lives in the here and now.

Running Time: 01:20:19

Download: MP3 — 73.6 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Elan: Hello everyone and welcome back to another Mind Matters show. We will be talking about a subject that we've been wanting to discuss for quite a while now. It's the afterlife. It's the idea, the reality of what happens when we pass on. Now, maybe we can preface this program by saying that if you don't think that such a possibility exists, you might listen with an open mind. If you really have no openness to the ideas then it would perhaps be a waste of your time to listen in {laughter} because what we're about to present, we find at least, to be fairly compelling information to suggest that souls, if we can be said to have souls, or consciousness, does go someplace, not in the physical sense that we would come to understand about reality, but that there is an ongoing life once we physically die to this reality.

So I would say that, for one thing there is a lot of information out there that points to the possibility of an afterlife. We'll be getting into some of those things today, but we'll also be focusing more on those descriptions that have come to us of what a heaven may be like, what its function is, what it exists to do, how it functions in the context of a cosmology that's been presented to us in all sorts of esoteric literature. I would say that what we can do is acknowledge that a lot of people have had near death experiences, out of body experiences. They've seen apparitions of people long gone who've passed away, ghosts, poltergeists, a great plethora of paranormal activity, things that would fall under that grouping, that suggest a non-physical, in the sense that we understand reality, that a lot of materialists and so-called scientists would attempt to poo-poo and dismiss out of hand because of their paradigm of how they think of the world and reality.

Harrison: Before you get into that, I just want to comment on what you just said. Today we won't be talking about the evidence for the afterlife, or at least not in any great depth. We might mention bits and pieces here and there. But for those of you who are not familiar with that, I'm going to recommend a couple of books. One came out recently, I think it was just last year by Leslie Kean, who is a journalist and it's called Surviving Death. It's a pretty good book, laying out all of the different areas of evidence suggesting an afterlife and it's pretty well done and pretty comprehensive for what it is.

Something a bit for academic and going even deeper is by the philosopher Stephen Braude, his book called Immortal Remains. It's a great book to read because he does cover pretty much all the evidence. His conclusion is inconclusive. He argues that it's not possible to know with any certainty whether that evidence actually points to an afterlife but the only reason he can say that is because he says the alternative is that Psi or psychic abilities or whatever you want to call that element, that must be true to a very strong degree. It would be like either/or in terms of what hypothesis you can go with. You can look at the evidence and say, "Okay, if we don't' accept Psi then it seems like the afterlife must be a reality." This isn't exactly how he argues it though. "On the other hand, if we accept the evidence for Psi, we can't prove any of that afterlife evidence actually suggests an afterlife, but it must actually prove that Psi exists to a remarkable degree." So while he's inconclusive, at least he's open to the possibility and lays out the evidence.

And then the third one would be a book that we talked about before, a book by David Ray Griffin. I think it's called Process Philosophy and Parapsychology or something like that. If you just Google David Ray Griffin parapsychology it will come up. He also deals with the vast literature on the topic and arrives at the conclusion that it is possible and even probable that the afterlife exists, or an afterlife. So if you want a background in all of the evidence and philosophical arguments from Leslie Kean's book, just an overview of all the evidence, those would be good resources to go to.

Elan: I would just add to that list this book by Stafford Betty, When Did You Ever Become Less By Dying? It's a short book. It's very well-written. He's an academic and it really covers a number of the areas of suggestion that point to the strong possibility of an afterlife. With that, maybe we'll launch right into those ideas we find most compelling on this subject. One of the things that's most interesting to me is that list of books that you just made mention of Harrison, which is an analysis that's by psychologists and academics that look at it from a scientific point of view.

Then there's a whole body of literature out there that is almost pure unadulterated content that has been communicated through spirit mediums or individuals who have been inspired to do automatic writing, a process by which they're being told something and are kind of a vehicle through their writing, of all of these messages that they've been told. There's a rather large body of work on this type of content. One in particular that we'll be discussing today is a favourite of mine. It's called The Life Beyond the Veil. This was transcribed by a Reverend George Vale Owen and started in the19-teens. I think we have a picture of him, Adam. I'm not sure which one that is, but he was quite a big figure in his days even though I had never heard of him until a few years ago.

The messages that he conveyed and had written out were of such a high quality that they were picked up and distributed by a weekly publication in the UK. He was a pastor in a church, living in very modest means with his family and he shot to fame with his writings because it gave a lot of people a great amount of faith and hope that there was indeed more to this life than they had been told, in essence. He was supported by such figures as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is the author of the Sherlock Holmes books. He was known internationally. There was an article - I think we have a clip of it - from a publication in Brooklyn, New York.

He gave talks. His writings were widely distributed and we'll be reading a few passages from this text today which hopefully gives you some idea of why he was hailed and appreciated to the extent that he was. I just thought I would start with a description of what the world is in the afterlife, according to Vale Owen. He writes,

"All these zones of which we have spoken are inhabited by beings according to their degree who progress from one sphere to a higher as they accumulate knowledge within themselves. You will see from what we have already written that as we advance from the lowest to the highest spheres, there comes a region of spheres which are interplanetary inasmuch as they embrace within their circumference, more planets than one. Still advancing, we come to a state where the spheres are of such a diameter that they are interstellar, that is, they embrace within their circumference not only more planets than one but more stars or suns than one. All these are filled with beings according to their degree of sublimity, of holiness and of power whose influence extends to all, both spiritual and material within the sphere to which they have attained.

We have but advanced you see, from planet to star and from star to stars in their grouping beyond our spheres, more awful still and more tremendous. But of these we in the 10th sphere know that little indeed and nothing certain. But you will be ably faintly to realize by a large effort of your imaginative powers, the meaning we had in mind when we wrote last evening of him whose name is to us, unknown and unknowable. So, when you worship the creator you have, I suppose, no very definite idea of the order of creator you intend. It is easy to say you mean the creator of all, but what do you mean by all?"

I would love to read more from this passage. It's beautiful and compelling, but I suppose we have a lot we want to get to today. Suffice it to say in this opening, that Vale Owen was contacted initially by his deceased mother and I believe at one point by his deceased child, who was from the other side also in communication with other, let's say, beings of higher station in the afterlife who had also, as a group effort, spoken to Vale Owen and conveyed to him many things about the reality of the afterlife.

Corey: I think it's interesting, the description of the hierarchy of beings, being based on knowledge, because in the previous shows we've done on Jordan Peterson's Maps of Meaning, one thing that I found really interesting is that at the core of these meta categories he has for existence, the known and the unknown and the knower being present in every conscious person's life and we are biologically adapted, I guess, in some way, to this basic structure of the universe and that at its core is knowledge, something very critical to the entirety of our existence.

So when I'm hearing you say that I'm thinking that in some way it matches the framework that we understand of existence itself, that there is in the world that we see around us, a hierarchy of beings. A lot of it is knowledge. But in this way it seems like knowledge is the prime criteria, the entire hierarchy. It's not a competence hierarchy but it's knowledge in that very fundamental sense.

Harrison: I want to share my outlook on the afterlife evidence and all the stuff in these books before getting into a couple of points. I don't know what to think about all of it because a lot of it's contradictory. A lot of it sounds really cool. I'll read these books and think, "Oh that's very interesting, it's very fascinating" It's like reading a science fiction book or something because the ideas are very intriguing and eye-catching in a non-visual way.

But it's hard to know what to think, what to take seriously. So one of the things that I've been doing while reading this stuff is to try to see, regardless of its truth value, regardless of whether this is actually the case for exactly how the afterlife is, what can I glean from that about ordinary life? What implications might it have for how I live my life and how humans live their lives? So on that subject right there, you have this recurring theme in all this mediumistic literature about the afterlife of this cosmos that is structured hierarchically in levels of planes or dimension or whatever. Oftentimes you'll get different numbers for number of planes, like seven planes, 10 planes, 12 planes or whatever.

So like you pointed out Corey, for me that is interesting in that it reflects the reality that we find ourselves in right now, as the living. We can parse reality. We can parse human interaction and human beings into those types of hierarchies. It is reflected in everyday life. I think it's hard for anyone to deny when you look at a group of individuals that on any given feature, they will rank according to some criteria. The criteria for these books, it's as if they are recommending or pointing out a set of criteria that aren't generally recognized among the public.

If you look at any given society you can point out all their shallow features and the things they worship, whether it's money, status and wealth or talent in some degree, like in sports or music or academic ability. But if you go back to some of the early Christian writings, it's like they're saying, "Those categories, those hierarchies are irrelevant. Here are the things that really matter." You find that in philosophies and religions, not explicitly dealing with the afterlife, just about how to live your life here, what really matters?

It's a trans-valuation or something. For me, it's almost like a call to re-value your own values, to say what really matters. You can see it in something very practical. If you read studies and interviews that people have done with people who are approaching death or who are about to die and ask them what matters and what their biggest regrets are, you find that prior to dying that people have remarkably similar things that they value now that they're older, that they feel like they should have valued beforehand and that is really their relationships, the way that they've behaved with their family and friends and the legacy they'll leave behind, not in terms of their social status or anything like that, but the legacy of who they are and what they will represent to the people who survive them.

So you find that radical shift in values just in the normal aging process. And then when you add in the afterlife stuff, if you get into near death experiences and things like that, you have a similar thing where these people who have these experiences, who die and then get translated to this other afterlife realm, experience that. They often have a life review where they look back and see all of the mistakes they've made, from this new perspective. They're re-evaluating their entire life and all the choices they have made from a different perspective, from a new perspective. Oftentimes afterwards they will change the way they live their life in some way that will now reflect those new values.

So the afterlife experience, the near death experience, has this effect of changing the way that you approach life and that you live your life. You can do the same thing when reading all these things, regardless of whether you think they're true or not, I think there's a lot that can be gleaned from this new perspective because it's presenting this picture of a radically different perspective on life from what a lot of people have generally, either because they don't think about it or because they have rigid beliefs already, then using that as a model to then compare your present self with.

If we go back to Maps of Meaning that's the core diagram of Maps of Meaning ,of the unbearable present and then the ideal future. It's through the constant comparison with that ideal future that will determine how you bring about the future in the present, what goals you have in mind and what means you use to obtain those goals. So just studying this kind of stuff can reshape that picture. That's the revolutionary shift that Peterson talks about of totally changing your outlook, because if you change your world view, the way you see the world, and you change your ultimate goals and aims, that you've moved on to a different diagram, a different trajectory.

One of the books I've been reading is this one by Geraldine Cummins, The Road to Immortality. We've been talking a bit about it. As a brief summary and introduction, there are a lot of things in there that I've been looking at in terms of that. What does that say about life now and what are the implications for action, for viewing the world and the self within the world and your place within the world? How does that change when you look at things in terms of this new light?

Corey: The stories that we tell ourselves and one another about death are extremely significant in relation to how we live our lives. Nowhere is that more evident than with these radical jihad-type, mythological imaginations, that if you are completely fearless in battle, with a suicidal way of fighting, that's how you know that you'll be guaranteed Allah's pleasure because you gave up everything to the will of Allah and determined it was up to him whether you would live or die, so basically being a good radical jihadi. That's one of the traits and that's conditioned by an attitude and a belief in the afterlife.

That's just one extreme example. We've been telling stories about the afterlife for eons, for as long as we know that we've been telling stories. It's reasonable to want a story that's more accurate than it is pure dogma or craziness. In recent years, in the 20th century, philosopher Raymond Moody came up with that term "near death experience" back in the 1960s. Then the modern, materialistic paradigm of academia, even though a lot of these researchers wouldn't be described as materialist, it still fits within the larger paradigm as these near death experiences and trying to compare them to hallucinogenic drugs and finding the commonalities and what is the afterlife and is there life after death.

But for ancient cultures, it seemed like there was much more of an other-worldly journey, the shamanistic type of journey, the fact that there are worlds that we can't see and they exist all around us. It's just some fundamental aspect of human nature, that there are gods, there are places where these gods reside. There is something higher than us. The unknown extends throughout time and space for eternity and is populated by all sorts of different worlds, this infinite expanse. I was also reading The Road to Immortality and different books on the afterlife and I couldn't help but be struck with that impression. If there was one thing to take away from all of the research on Psi and the afterlife and shamanic initiations and modern day research, it's that there's a lot more going on that needs some sort of study using the methods that we have today.

We're not going to talk a lot about evidence but the problem is that the kinds of evidence that we want, that we could even hope to get in this kind of field, would have to be the kinds of evidence that would be ruled out a priori by materialists, such as séances, channeling, all of the different kinds of evidence that was being utilized in the 19th century by the Society for Psychical Research and that continues to a large degree today, but is really relegated to the looney bin, so to speak. It's not considered actual. But at the same time, like I said, it is important. Our beliefs about the afterlife are very significant to us as a species. They determine how we act in our daily life, whether the great beyond wants us to seek knowledge and live a Christian lifestyle, the pursuit of heaven in the afterlife or if the great beyond wants us to act like crazy jihadis now so that we could be promised something in the afterlife.

I also bring the attitude that it's not that critical to have a detailed map of what the afterlife is, as long as you're living your life in the best way possible. I think that a lot of people, especially in the west and those of the liberal modern mindset, would say that that's good enough. I'm not hoping to go to heaven or hoping for this or that, but if your value system is based on the pursuit of knowledge, then this is obviously one area that is still in the territory of the unknown. It's probably been shut off to people for selfish interests. It's obvious that you can't really have the government come out and say, "We're going to solve the mystery of death for everyone, once and for all."

Elan: Well Corey, you've said so many interesting things that are worthy of comment. Earlier you mentioned that there are worlds unseen and unknown to us, that permeate our reality, that we are largely ignorant of. Many people go to school for so-called religious instruction, but does that really include spiritual instruction in the way that perhaps we're trying to explain to ourselves here today?

So there's that. You made a few points and one of them just made me think that everything that's popular about our understanding of the world, science, reality, and life and death and values, is pushing western civilization towards the belief that this is not only everything that is, but that you want to accrue as much power, wealth and short-term gratification for yourself as possible without this acknowledgement of the value of knowledge and without the aim of growing oneself as a vehicle towards being a source of love and help to other people. It's not only knowledge that would seem to help individuals grow in the afterlife in these various hierarchical spheres that are said to exist, but it's also their willingness and the responsibility that they choose to take to carry out definite tasks!

One of the things that this literature suggests quite strongly is that it isn't some passive, navel-gazing life of thinking completely on past things, but of taking on very definite tasks and work that is of the nature of helping others, to bring others to understanding within that realm, but also in the realm of humanity. That's also in large part, the purpose of a lot of these books and the reasons why these books even exist. It's because there is, according to them, an impetus, a desire to assist humanity in knowing that there's more to life than this very veiled 3D experience of ours.

Corey: I just want to read one quote, just to follow up on the points that you've made. It's from the book that we've been reading, Geraldine Cummins' The Road to Immortality.

"The reason therefore, for the universe and for all appearances, for even the little mundane joys and sorrows of human beings, is to be found in the term 'evolution of spirit', the need for complete fulfillment which can be obtained through limitation, through the expression of the spirit in form. For only through that expression can spirit grow, developing from the embryo only through manifestation and appearance can spirit obtain fulfillment. For this purpose were we born. For this purpose we enter and pass through myriad worlds or states and always the material universe is growing, expanding, giving fuller and fuller expression to mind.

The purpose of existence may be summed up in a phrase. The evolution of mind and matter that varies in degree and kind so that mind develops through manifestation and in an ever-expanding universe, ever-increases in power and gains thereby the true conception of reality. The myriad thoughts of god, those spirits which inform with life all material forms, are the lowest manifestation of god and must thus learn to become god-like, to become an effective part of the whole."

Now it's a very interesting hypothesis. {laughter} Harrison, can you talk a little bit about this book and the author who wrote those words?

Harrison: Sure.

Elan: I think we have a picture of her.

Harrison: Yes, this is Geraldine Cummins. Elan might have more details than I do, but she was one of these mediums that engaged in automatic writing. So she'd go into a light trance and just start writing. In the introduction they have a really cool description of how this would happen. She'd go into this trance and her assistant - I'm not sure if it was a man or woman next to her - would have sheets of paper and she'd just start writing and then when she was down a page, the other person would take it out and put another page in and then she'd continue on. There was no punctuation or spaces. She was just writing the letters, all the words jumbled together. Then they might stop for the night and come back the next day and pick up right where it left off.

There are a lot of cases like this in the parapsychological literature of automatic writers like this. I can't remember the name of one of the most famous ones. It might have been Leonor Piper, who would write novels and whole books like this, sometimes separated from the sessions between with weeks or months, and picking up right where they left off and they wouldn't need any editing. They were complete works, as if taken from dictation. The spirit that was allegedly inspiring these words was that of Frederik Myers who was one of the original founders of the Society for Psychical Research. He'd written a book that is a forgotten classic called The Human Personality and Its Survival After Death. I've mentioned the book on a previous show in passing. William James gave it a great review saying that it contains the entirety of our knowledge, speaking about psychology because Myers was a such a great researcher.

I've got Human Personality and it's two 700-page volumes. And it's not just parapsychological stuff, psychical research as they called it. It's all kinds of weird, interesting bits of psychology from hypnotism and altered states, all of the stuff that you might hear about in psychology courses but that don't go into much depth about, various forms of automatism, which is automatic writing or a Ouija board or a spirit board because a lot of people who have tried a Ouija board, for instance, when you're trying it as kids you think that when it's moving around that the other person must be moving it and they think you're moving it. In fact neither of you are consciously moving it.

There are all kinds of phenomena like this where, when you take away the belief or the things that force you to believe that you are acting and moving consciously, then that opens up the space for your limbs to move on their own, unconsciously. At least that's the way I understand it, based on reading about these automatisms. We could go down a whole rabbit hole there. But that's essentially how this book was written. Each of the chapters came in one of these automatic writing sessions. Did you have anything to add about her?

Elan: I just thought it was funny that William James gave a glowing review of Frederic Myers' work and must have been inspired to because in the 1970s Jane Roberts who folks might know for her Seth books, which is pretty interesting channeling material, in any case, through Jane Roberts, William James wrote his own after death biography. {laughter}

Harrison: That's right!

Elan: So he's like, "Well, if this other guy's going to do it, I'm going to do it too!" {laughter} Certainly he had a lot to say that was quite interesting. I haven't read the book in a very long time. You have these kinds of anonymous angels, for lack of a better word, or beings living that are trying to communicate these truths. And you also have these guys who are living here who are saying, "Hey! I've made it to the other side and I've got something to tell you guys and it's kind of important!" I just thought that was very interesting.

Harrison: Yeah. And these would be the guys to do it Fred Myers I believe was a classicist. William James was a psychologist but they were both intensely interested in what we would call parapsychology today. Not a lot of people know that about William James. He's still well-regarded in the scientific community for his Principles of Psychology which he wrote, but not a lot of people know that he was very much involved and interested in psychical research. So it's kind of funny that they've both apparently come back to dictate some afterlife material.

By way of a couple of comments on this book, through Geraldine Cummins, Myers gives his picture of the afterlife. He divides it up into these seven planes. It's kind of interesting because by the end of the book he says that he is currently at the fourth or the fifth plane. I can't remember. But he describes the planes above him so it makes you wonder, "Well how does he know about the planes above him if he hasn't experienced them yet?" So maybe from his perspective. I'm going to be speaking as if it's all true, just for ease. But it's almost as if maybe he had these higher spirit guides telling him what the above was like, but you've got to take some stuff with a grain of salt.

But the picture that he paints of these planes is very interesting because the way he describes it, between these planes there's a period of relaxation or going to sleep. He describes these as journeys to Hades, as he calls it, fitting given that Myers was a classicist. So right after death you go into this kind of stupor, sleep-like state of Hades which can be just an easy passing for a lot of people, or a lot of people can get lost in the haze, perhaps not know that they're dead and just be groping through the fog, chasing after the possessions they left behind or the people that they're looking for and get perhaps temporarily lost in this Hades-like environment.

But then in the next plane, which he calls the plane of illusion, this was the most interesting for me because there are some correlations with near death experience stuff and religious traditions, but as he describes it, this is like a realm or place that is a dream world that is created based on the memories of the consciousness involved and it's a dual effort by these higher spirit beings that are already in this plane and the dead person themselves who are creating this illusion world. The reason it's called the plane of illusion is because when you find yourself there, you are presented with yourself in your ideal form, young and full of vigor and the environment you find yourself in is the environment you'd want to find yourself in. Maybe it's your home, an ideal cottage that resembles your own but everything's better because it's your ideal image.

So just like in Hades, you can get lost in this realm, spend long periods of time there because it's the thing that you've longed for. It's the life that you've longed for. It reminds me of the few scenes in Gladiator where the Roman goes to the afterlife and he's moving his hand through the wheat. That's the place he wanted to go. It's where he feels safe but what Myers is saying is that that's an illusion. It's created out of your own desires and the lifelong image that you've formed in your mind. It's that goal that you've been directing your life towards, whether you're conscious of it or not.

So you'll encounter people you want to meet. It might be dead relatives or going in the opposite direction, any kind of vice you have will be fulfilled. Anything you want will be fulfilled because it's a fantasy realm. It's where you can live out your fantasies. Another way of getting trapped there is through whatever more negative vices that you might have. So if you're a cruel person, if you're a sadist or something, you'll find spirits that want to fulfill those urges for you, let you be cruel to them. For sexuality, you'll find lots of willing participants in your sexual escapades. There are similar descriptions, not quite the same, in the out of body experience stuff.

Who's the guy who wrote all the out of body experience books? Bob Munro I think.

Elan: Robert Munro, yeah.

Harrison: He talked about going through these realms of heaps of bodies engaged in sexual activity. The way he saw it was they were trapped there because they were so obsessed with sex that first of all they didn't realize they were dead and they didn't realize there was anything more. So it was a constant search for sexual gratification that was never fulfilled. That's one of the points that Myers makes. There's always something missing in this realm of illusion, in this fulfilling of fantasy because you're always chasing something that you can never quite get. That's what it's like with cruelty he says, for people who are constantly looking for cruelty. It never quite pays off.

You see that in real life too with serial killers that we've talked about, how they're chasing this fantasy that they've developed in their mind for years and every time they fulfill that fantasy, it's never quite enough. They have to do it again and they've got to do something different. It's that...

Elan: This idea of perfection.

Harrison: Yeah, it's chasing this impossible ideal that they've built up in their mind and never quite getting there. That leaves them dissatisfied so they keep reengaging in these behaviours. That's why they're serial killers. They get something out of it but it's never enough so they have to keep doing it. That's what the plane of illusion is like. It's this place where, if you don't have your shit sorted out, if you don't have your hierarchy of values in order, then you'll get trapped in these cycles that go nowhere.

Elan: Well that's very interesting. In Life Beyond the Veil there are a few similar correlations going on in what's described in this book as the dim lands or areas that are physically and spiritually quite unpleasant to people because if they are people who were just existing in their physical existence to satisfy their whims and engage in pride and arrogance and self-gratification, then they will naturally fit into these dimmer areas of the afterlife where they're surrounded by all of these other people who have very similar inclinations. It's an unpleasant place. It's deeply upsetting to read about but then there's something very interesting that the beings present as a possibility for these individuals and that is that there's always a chance for the people who've found themselves in these dim lands or lands of illusion, to grow and to be aided and assisted by powerful beings whose job it is to listen to them, to work with their psychology and if necessary, to do a kind of evacuation from this dim land to areas that are gradually more filled with light and understanding, where they're not going to be subject to those beings who are closed off to the possibility, who have closed themselves off to the possibility of growth and knowledge of themselves.

That reminds me of this little passage from the book.

"That is what perplexes many who come over here. They expect to find all set ready for this dismissal from the presence into torture and cannot understand things as they are. Others who have cultivated a good opinion of their desserts are much disappointed when they are given a lowly place, sometimes a very lowly one, and not ushered immediately into the presence of the enthroned Christ to be hailed with his 'well done'. Oh believe me, dear son, there are many surprises awaiting those who come over here, some of a very joyful kind and others the reverse. I have, only lately, seen a very learned writer who had published several books, talking to a lad who, in the earth life, was a stoker in a gasworks and being instructed by him. He was glad to learn too, for he had partly learned humility and the curious thing was that he did not so much mind sitting at the feet of this young spirit, as going to his old friends here and owning up to his mistakes and his vanity of intellect in his past life.

This however, he will have to do sooner or later and the young lad is preparing him for the task. It is also whimsical to us to see him still clinging to his old pride when we know all about him and his past and present status which latter is rather low. And all the time he's trying to think he's hiding his thoughts from us. With such, their instructors have to exercise much patience which is also a very good training for them.

And now let's see if we can explain a difficulty which is perplexing many investigators into psychic matters. We mean the difficulty they have in understanding why we do not give them information which they desire about one thing or another, which they have in their minds. You must try to realize that when we come down here, we are not in our proper element but are hampered with limitations which are now strange to us. For instance, we have to work according to the laws which are in vogue in the earth realm or we could not make you understand what we wish to do or say. Then we often find that when anyone has his mind fixed on some particular person whom he wishes to hear or see or some special matter about which he wishes to inquire, we are limited by the straitened means at our disposal. Other reservoirs of power in that inquirer are closed and those only are open to us which he himself has willed should be open. These are frequently not enough for us to work with.

Then again, the activity of his will meets the activity of ours midway, as it were, and there is a clash and the result is either confusion or nil. It is nearly always better to allow us to work in our own way, trustfully and afterwards to examine critically what we managed to get through. If information on any particular point is desired, let that point be in your mind at times as you go about your daily occupation. We shall see it and take account of it and, if it is possible and useful and lawful, we shall find opportunity and means sooner or later, to answer it."

Corey: Who is this 'we'?

Elan: We?

Corey: Yeah.

Elan: Well this speaker I think is Zabadiel. {laughter}

Corey: I don't like this guy! {laughter}

Elan: Well, you may not like the message Corey, but it is truth. They work in groups. They work in tandem, according to this material. They network. They put their heads together. They consult beings that are of higher station than they are and they coordinate and pass on tasks that they are unable to, because of their abilities - again according to the material...

Corey: I'm just thinking this is one of the perennial problems that I have with this material, the fact that it can be so creepy. If you open your mind to entertain this idea you're like, wow, what a worm in the universe I am. Some archangels are doing some stuff somewhere. I think that's a big barrier. The human ego wants to feel so much bigger than it is.

Elan: Exactly.

Corey: And we also don't want to feel like we're in some mouse labyrinth while these things are looking down at us. Do you know what I mean? You don't want to get that impression and clearly, I think that's a big message that you take away from a lot of this stuff, that there is that element of the universe, of this giant crazy universe that we're discussing here, that is cruel. There is cruelty in there. There are intelligences or whatever that are negative, but you have to keep in mind this duality to the universe and also the situation where you're seeing all this stuff take place.

Elan: When your parents disciplined you for something, was it cruel?

Corey: Well I don't think of my parents as archangels so much as they do if it's my parents. {laughter}

Elan: No, but you get the point.

Corey: Yeah, absolutely. And it's all about learning too. That what it really comes down to I think.

Elan: Don't feel so bad Corey. We're all in the same boat over here.

Harrison: I want to come back to a previous point, the story of the big author that's being taught by the stoker. I'll read one paragraph from Geraldine Cummins.

"On the lower rungs of this ladder of consciousness, dwell those souls who still cling to human habits of thought, to the earthly personality, to their own individual line of thought. On earth some of the have been extremely learned but knowledge does not make a wise man. A great Indian Yogi, a Chinese sage, a learned or holy Christian father may dwell for eons of time within the third and fourth super terrestrial states. They are typical representatives of soul man..."

Soul man is the step above animal man, just ordinary people.

"...and they have his shortcomings. They cling to the line of thought which was theirs on earth and so they remain sadly individualized in it. They are caught in its dream and are snared in the many errors thereof. For instance, the Indian yogi and the Chinese sage may still seek only to follow the aspiration of their particular religion or philosophy, the freeing of the soul from matter, ecstatic contemplation of the universe."

This is a theme that comes up in this book repeatedly. The rigid belief systems that you hold while on earth carry over into the afterlife and these are actually a burden because a devout Christian, for instance, might get into the realm of illusion and be convinced that they're in heaven. "Oh, I've made it. That's it! Time to relax and listen to the harp music" and might be essentially trapped in that static state for all this time and be totally neglectful of the fact that there are vast distances yet to travel up this ladder of consciousness.

So again, bringing it back to the practical sphere, if this is the purpose of life, to evolve in spirit and in wisdom, then you can't be rigid in your beliefs because what if they're wrong? Chances are they're wrong, just right off the bat. So if you hold onto these rigid beliefs, they're actually going to hinder you and your own development because you haven't analyzed them, you haven't questioned them and you'll be stuck in them. There are a couple of other things in this. One is, if you imagine the realm of illusion as this kind of fantasy creation realm, then you can apply this to everyday life, for example, by looking at your fantasies. If you do some imaginative work of going into your mind, catching yourself when you have a daydream, when you're fantasizing about something, and then analyzing it or recognizing that you're daydreaming, that you're wasting your mental energy on some fantasy that doesn't have any basis in reality, then maybe you can do some work in that fantasy.

Well what are you fantasizing about? What are the main themes in your fantasies? What kind of lack does it show? What does it show that you're searching for that you don't have in your life? What kind of psychological features does it have? Are you constantly...

Elan: Do you obsess yourself?

Harrison: Yeah, what are you obsessing over? Maybe it's your constantly fantasizing about awkward situations at work or failing at a meeting that you have to go to and do a presentation or something like that. Whatever it is in your particular situation. If you put into practice now what presumably happens in the afterlife, then there might be some benefit to that, both in the afterlife and definitely in your regular life because if you actually look at the things that frighten you or the pleasures that you're seeking that you're not seeking consciously and you don't actually have a plan for and that don't have any basis in reality, if you actually do some of that work now, you're going to be a more effective person. You're going to know yourself a bit better and you're not going to be this sad person daydreaming about reality instead of actually living your life. So you're going to have benefits in your actual life.

This made me think about the review process. So you die and then you review your life and see all the mistakes you've made. Well, you don't have to wait until you die to do that. You can review your life now and try to see the mistakes that you've made. {laughter} You can do this before you go to bed at night, looking back at the day that you've just lived and you look at the interactions you've had. You look at the things that you've said. You look at the way that you've behaved with the people around you and you compare that to your ideal that you have. What did I do wrong? Did I do anything wrong? Changes are you did something wrong because everyone does and no one lives up to their ideal. It pays in the present to have a picture of your ideal and to actually be able to judge yourself based on that ideal. Do you want to say something Corey?

Corey: Yeah. I just want to add that there's no eternal damnation necessarily around doing things wrong. Basically it all comes back to, taking what we've been reading at face value, that it's all about learning. There are a number of different elements involved in these afterlife studies and other world type studies and one of them is the duality of man, that yes we are physical bodies. We have physical limitations, but these limitations are there in order for us to learn through the necessity of having to learn and that the problems that you have, the sins that you commit are sins insofar as you don't learn from them. But if you take this entire thing seriously, like you said, you don't have to wait until you die to think, "Well shoot! What could I have done better today?" Or "What can I do better tomorrow?", to be proactive?

I think in some way, when you start to apply those kinds of things that what you're doing is you're showing what you've learned, the lessons that we're here to learn and deep down it's not about changing the world so that the utopia comes in. It's simply that you've learned.

Harrison: And then maybe, when you die...{laughter}...

Corey: You can write a biography!

Harrison: Right.

Corey: Your autobiography.

Harrison: You'll be prepared for this kind of thing. Ideally you won't have a rigid idea of what's going to happen. You'll just be aware of the possibilities. So when you find yourself perhaps experiencing a life review, you'll already have done it. It won't be as much work as it might have been otherwise. Even in this book, one of the things I don't really like about some of the afterlife stuff is skirting over the unpleasant aspects. This guy gets into some of it but he'll even say at various points, "Oh, I won't dwell on that nasty stuff." But I think you should really consider and be prepared for it and if you deal with that stuff in the present then it might not be such an issue later on.

The way I see it, it's a very rational perspective to take on the afterlife in comparison to the more traditional views on the afterlife. The very rigid, heaven or hell for instance. If you've considered these things, if you really deeply believe in this eternal torment, you might go there and you might experience it and it might seem like an eternity but again, without the awareness that "Oh, maybe I'm just dreaming this eternity of torment. Maybe I'm partially creating this for myself." And again that applies to real life. If you're living in a perpetual torment in your life, maybe there's something you can change. Maybe there's something you can do a bit better to get out of that torment. Chances are that you can because a lot of people have done it, picking themselves up out of that hellhole that they're in, in their everyday lives and making something more worth living about their everyday lives.

From my perspective, it pays off either way, whether you believe in it or not.

Corey: Well why believe now when you can believe that the world's just a big accident and nothing matters?

Elan: Well that's the thing. You said earlier Corey, that we're here to learn certain things. The other choice is that you don't have to! Life on earth presents you with another possibility. You can be totally self-satisfied and not learn a damn thing and then find yourself utterly surprised as a possibility, to have this same consciousness and belief in another unpleasant sphere of existence.

So the choice is ours. In acknowledging that choice we also get to decide just how much we want to learn or open our ways of thinking to ideas that may in fact lift us out of these problems that we quite often make for ourselves. You don't even have to think of it in any kind of metaphysical or spiritual sense at all. You can think of it very practically, à la Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Effective People if you wanted to.

But on the subject of being proactive, there was another passage here that I found quite interesting on the subject of prayer. I'll speak for myself. Sometimes life is quite difficult and in a fit of difficulty and challenge you might reach out in such a way as to ask for some assistance and some ideas and some way forward when things seem implacable. So here's this passage. I don't know which archangel or being it is that's describing this. There are several in the book.

Harrison: It's probably a jerk. {laughter}

Elan: "One thing it may be well to notice is the efficacy of prayer and meditation. You have already received some instruction on this subject and we would add to it. Prayer is not merely the asking for something you wish to attain. It is much more than that and because it is so, it should receive more careful consideration than it has yet received. What you have to do in order to make prayer a power is to cast aside the temporal and fix your mind and spirit on the eternal. When you do that, you find that many items you would have included in your prayer, drop out from the very incongruity of their presence and the greater and wider issues become to you the focus of your creative powers. For prayer is really creative, as the exercise of the will as seen in our lord's miracles such as the feeding of the 5,000."

I don't know what that is or remember.

"And when prayer is offered with this conviction, then the object is created and the prayer is answered, that is, the objective answers to the subjective, in such a way that an actual creation has taken place. This does not happen when the prayer is wrongly directed. Then the projection of the will glances off at a tangent and the effect is only proportionate to the scattered rays by which the objective is touched.

Also, when the prayer is mixed with motives unworthy, it is proportionately weakened and also meets with opposing or regulating wills on this side, as the case may require. So the effect is not attained or desired. Now, all this may sound rather vague, but it is by no means vague to us for you must know that there are appointed guardians of prayer here whose duty it is to analyze and sift prayers offered by those on earth and separate them into divisions and departments and pass them on to be examined by others and dealt with according to their merit and power.

In order that this may be done perfectly, it is necessary that we study the vibrations of prayer as your scientists study the vibrations of sound and light. As they are able to analyze, separate and classify the rays of light, so are we able to deal with your prayers. And as there are light rays with which they are confessedly unable to deal, so many prayers present to us those deeper tones which are beyond the range of our study and knowledge. These we pass on to those of higher grade to be dealt with in their greater wisdom. And do not think that these latter are always found among the prayers of the wise. They are frequently found in the prayers of children whose petitions and sighs are as carefully considered here as those of nations."

This is very interesting to me.

Harrison: A whole prayer bureaucracy.

Elan: Yes. That you have, as a possibility, these beings whose job it is to consider - because what is a prayer? It's a message, a signal, an act of humility that's being communicated to powers greater than or above us as individuals and it's a proclamation of one's own ignorance, difficulties, challenges, that acknowledges the existence of higher powers that may be in a position to be of assistance.

Corey: Just as a personal exercise, it's been so long since I've done it regularly before bed, but I remember as a kid just praying for mom, for dad, for everybody else in the family and then you're like, aaaaaaannnnnndddd, if I could get that new MegaMan toy, that'd be great. {laughter} You know what I mean? But as you're praying you're putting your heart into it and you're really doing your best to be authentic and to really think about the person with the intention. You're giving some part of your heart, I think, to somebody.

I worked as a homeless shelter manager for a while and before every dinner we would get together and say a prayer or somebody special decided they had a prayer and they'd come and say a prayer. There's always something very effective about it, very effective in promoting an atmosphere of trust. There's something very healthy and beneficial about prayer in general, whether or not there's a bureaucracy sitting there stamping this prayer and then they're like "VOID, CANCEL!" {laughter}

Elan: I had a difficult time some time ago and it was with a friend and I was praying for understanding, to be a better friend and that the situation wouldn't become worse than it was. At some point during this attempt at a prayer I thought, "No! Stop praying for yourself! Stop praying for less anguish over this whole thing. Pray for the other person. Pray for their well-being and their understanding and their relief." I don't know for a fact that it was the right prayer or the right attitude to take, but for me it did feel right. It felt like I was realizing at least one correct or more correct dimension to what it means to pray with all your heart, as you said Corey, and to really think of the other.

Harrison: I just want to talk about one other subject on this, and that's reincarnation because different religions have different views on it of course, what happens when you die. Some religions believe in reincarnation, some don't. What I find interesting about Geraldine Cummins book is the combination of both possibilities because from the Christian perspective you have one life and then you go to the afterlife and that's it. From an eastern, like a Buddhist perspective, reincarnations just accepted. You come back. I personally think the evidence for reincarnation is pretty good. Again, it's talked about in some of those books that I mentioned. Ian Stevenson did a lot of good work on that. I can't remember the name of the guy who's taken over the mantle of this kind of research but if you search Ian Stevenson you'll find this guy's books too.

But the question is, "Well what is reincarnation then, exactly? What does that even mean?" In Road to Immortality Myers gives a couple of very interesting ideas on what that actually is. He says a lot of what we might think of as reincarnation isn't actually reincarnation. But he says reincarnation is possible but it's in the job description of what he calls those soul men. So the people that are a bit more advanced spiritually and that in these higher planes, at a certain level of advancement you can come back, you can reincarnate and then that's an actual reincarnation. It's your individuality reincarnating in a new body.

But what we often tend to think of as reincarnation is actually just the repetition of a pattern. So one of the things we didn't talk about is one of his overarching ideas of a group soul, that all souls are part of a group. They are like cells in a body but they are soul cells in a soul body and that what might happen is you live your life, you establish a pattern, you learn certain things, you have certain features, talents and achievements and then on your death, that is an established pattern. Then that pattern is then available to be reused and carried on by a different soul fragment. So now it inhabits that consciousness and for all intents and purposes, if you're looking at the evidence, if you have the ability to look at it, you might say "Oh well that's a reincarnation of that person" when according to Myers, it's not. It's just the pattern. It's just the life pattern. The soul might dissolve into the soul pool and then a different fragment emerges out of that soul pool and adopts the shape that has been established in that previous life.

So that's an interesting way of looking at it because it's counterintuitive to the ideas that are put forward about reincarnation. If you look at the cases for reincarnations, these are often children who have memories of past lives and whose memories match up with people that they're able to identify, oftentimes involving very sudden, traumatic and violent deaths. It might be a car crash or a murder or something like that. The pattern is the same, even on a physical level. You'll have facial characteristics. They look similar. They've got deformities, maybe if the person died and was missing a hand, the new body, the new person might have been born with a deformity missing that hand or having birthmarks. In some cases, just little deformities might be moles or blemishes on the skin in the pattern of a gunshot wound.

Elan: Almost as though they'd been imprinted with something nonphysical.

Harrison: Right. The heightened emotion of that violent death has crystallized that injury into some immaterial form that then guides the development of the fetus in utero and they're born with that shape. So those seem like a very good case for that soul died and then came back in this body and remembers all these things. It could be, or it could be the pattern was established, the pattern was abruptly broken off and then continued in a new form but with a totally different soul fragment or whatever.

So an interesting possibility to keep in mind, to not be too rigid in the belief system that you have. It reminded me too of one of Gurdjieff's ideas. We've mentioned Gurdjieff a few times on this show. His idea was that you don't reincarnate unless you have a soul and no one has a soul until they've developed a soul and that when you die, without having crystallized your own soul, whatever that is just dissolves after a certain amount of time and there's no reincarnation. Or if it might be developed it lives on for a certain amount of time and then can reincarnate. Again, very similar to Geraldine Cummins. Basically reincarnation isn't necessarily a given. It isn't necessarily something that happens automatically and for everyone.

In one sense it can be seen as a curse, which is I think what many religions see it as. "You have to come back here." Or is can be a duty, a responsibility that you take on for yourself that some very rare individuals take on for themselves. Or it can just be an artifact of something that we don't understand. When we look at it we interpret it as reincarnation when it's not actually that in fact.

One thing that I found interesting in this book and I'm not quite sure what I think about it, one final thing is what I guess you could call a vision that he has of the afterlife as this place where you die and then you just progress through these higher planes and it's just all roses. It might be hard work, but you've done your life, you've done your work on earth and then you just progress through these immaterial spheres until you're one with the godhead. I don't know how accurate that is.

Elan: According to this book, it's not, that even advanced beings in higher spheres are presented with some challenges for which they sometimes fail and are knocked down several spheres.

Harrison: Oh yeah, he talks about that too.

Elan: So, if all of this is even to be considered as a possibility. Like you said, I don't think you can look at any of this material and be too rigid about it. You really have to consider all the possibilities and do a little work because some of it does sound incorrect or wrong and that could just be a reflection of one's own ignorance or rigidity or it could be something else. Who knows?

Harrison: Or if we take this idea of illusion land seriously, of living in a dreamland, people have great imaginations and when you die, presumably you have the same degree of imagination that you had on earth, maybe even greater. So we get all these messages from the imaginations of people who may have created worlds out there in the afterlife that aren't the whole picture or their particular picture might be inhabited by millions or thousands of beings who all share the same illusion of the afterlife. So you come back to the perspective of having a healthy dose of skepticism about it so that you don't get trapped in a rigid belief system that then limits your capability, your capacity for whatever spiritual advancement is because if you're stuck in a rigid belief system, then it's a prison of your own creation that you may have a lot of difficulty escaping. So again, if you put into practice something in life now, you can escape that prison, presumably, in life now, as opposed to spending eons in a really cool fantasy world after you die that is an illusion that you've created for yourself and collectively with other individuals and that you might not have to inhabit.

Elan: Did you have anything else to add Corey? Well I think that's a good place to end this show. End your illusions. Find out what your illusions are first, maybe. It's a very interesting topic, the afterlife. We hope to be revisiting it at some point in the not too distant future. In the meantime, thanks for listening, folks. We appreciate it. Smash like and hit subscribe and we'll see you again very soon.