Life After Death?

Chris: I am wondering what you understand about the subject of life after death. What do you think happens to you when you die?

Tony: I have formed a fairly clear idea of this from experiences I met over the last 30 years. So from these I have worked out something that, for me at least, is not only based on my own, but also on other people’s experience.

I know that if you went out to people in the street and asked if they believe in life after death, some would smile and say they do not believe that there is any life continuing after physical death. In fact they might have a sort of supercilious view of those who do believe, because as far as they are concerned there is no evidence at all that consciousness survives physical death.

What I feel about this is that they are simply not educated in this area. They have not read the vast amount of information by serious researchers who have investigated the subject. There is even laboratory research done by Charles Tart showing evidence that consciousness can exist separated from the body. But such beliefs are ridiculous because hundreds of thousands of people have come back and told us – not through mediums but personally (See: The Wonder of You and Charles Tart‘s experiment.

It is because of this level of disbelief that I am taking time to preface what I want to say.

In the film Contact, Ellie, a scientist played by Jodie Foster, is being questioned about her disbelief in God by Palmer Joss, played by Matthew McConaughey. Ellie says to Palmer that there is no evidence for God scientifically, and that he cannot therefore prove his belief. She tells him she is looking for something tangible and provable. So Palmer very gently asks her if she loved her father who is now dead. Ellie, who in fact loved her father very deeply, says that yes, of course she did. Palmer then, again gently, asks her to prove it to him.

Many of the things we take for granted in life, and believe in very fully, are extremely subjective when we look at them directly as Joss asked Ellie to do. Such things are very difficult to grasp and pin down on a laboratory table to investigate. And when we look at the subject of life after death, we are talking about whether consciousness survives the death of the body. In doing so we have to remember in the first place that consciousness itself is by no means understandable scientifically. Nobody has yet arrived at an agreeable definition of what it is — certainly not in any laboratory sense. As far as how it exists or what its possibilities are, we are at the foot of a mountain, most of which is covered in clouds. So to scientifically say there is or is not life after death is not possible. We do not know scientifically whether awareness survives the body’s breakdown. What we can do though is to look at subjective human experience, just as Joss asked Ellie to do. So to prove the existence of consciousness after the death of the body means we are entering an area beyond what we can at the moment measure with instruments. See Near death experienceDimensions of Human ExperienceDeathdreaming of

Therefore what I am going to say is about subjective experience connected with consciousness. My experience of this is as real to me as the pains and pleasures of love that I have experienced, but hard to produce any physical model of. It is not like a piece of tissue you can put under the microscope. But I must add that the advances in brain scanning might be taking us nearer to understanding.

The first step in this is to recognise that our physical body, like any other thing that has a beginning also has an end. It dies. Change is a fundamental part of cosmic and physical events. The personality, what we call self, also has a beginning, it develops, and it ends. Those are observable and basic facts of physical life. The question is, does anything of that personality survive? Does self awareness exist beyond physical death?

Well, would your personal awareness survive the loss of an arm? Would ‘you’ survive losing both legs? What is the difference then between losing your whole body?

To answer that question it is helpful to recognise that within change there are certain constants. Within the changing seasons of the year, the seasons themselves remain as an overlying constant. This paradox is everywhere in nature. Wherever there is death there is also a constant. For instance the human body that is born and dies, has also been alive since the beginning of life on this planet. It is the unbroken trail of cellular lives from the beginning. Nowhere in that line was there death, otherwise you would not exist as a physical body. Your body is also, in every moment, changing. Yet along with that change there is a constancy that gives you continued life day by day, despite the death of millions of cells.

We also have to carefully look at what we consider survival after death means. Do we mean that our personality, exactly as it is, continues in some way? But that doesn’t even happen while we are alive. We are constantly going through change and transformation of one sort or another. Strangely enough, despite the incredibly powerful changes that occur from infancy to possible old age, there is still a sense of constancy within all that change.

Then we come to the question of what it is to be a person anyway. If we take a look at your body, as already suggested, it is an outcrop of living cells that have subdivided and subdivided through millions of years. It certainly wasn’t formed by you personally, but by the action and lives of thousands of previous beings and various environments.

As for your sense of self, that probably depends on the language you learned and viewpoints it contains about life, and what it is to be a person. Whatever you believe, those beliefs did not originate with you. All of them are thousands of years old. Do you honestly believe you in any way originated what you think or how you look at the world? Do you honestly believe that you exist without any influence from the past? Do you honestly believe that your present personality has not inherited massive amounts from other beings who pre-existed you? See: Archetype of the Paradigm

Well, you may agree that you have inherited, incorporated, and are expressing a great deal from what pre existed you. But in common with a prevailing belief that also pre-existed you, you may see this as a purely physical phenomena. But we come back to the question of what is consciousness. What is this consciousness that knows itself? Evidence suggests that it is not simply a product of the brain. In fact, Sir Auckland Geddes, and one-time British diplomat to the US, who himself met a powerful near death experience, said that the mind is not in the brain, the brain is in the mind.

After I experienced a serious stroke during which I lost ability to speak and to use the right side of my body, I could see that ‘I’ was still existing but I had lost the mechanism that enabled physical speech. The hole in my brain had not wiped out any of ‘me’. See Tony’s Experience of StrokeQuantum – A Huge Change is Happening


However, remember another fundamental. If you were born blind no careful words on my part, no crafted explanations, could give you an experience of light and colour. If you lived amongst people, the majority of whom were blind, and you yourself were blind, and only a few people talked of light, you would probably think them quite irrational and a little crazy. Perhaps they would need to be pitied. Similarly, if you knew nothing of love, no talk of mine could convince you of its existence. You would probably think me fanciful and with a vivid imagination.

So, take time to consider what constancy within change means in your life and your death. Take time to consider what it means that your life is an expression of what lived prior to your own physical birth. Take time to recognise that what you are convinced of in terms of consciousness needing the body is simply a long held THEORY that started with Newtonian physics which believed that the atom was the fundamental particle in the universe, and so all things were material. That ‘truth’, now moved on from, meant death was the end of awareness. Read the investigations into near death experiences. Ask yourself what you are at the very base of your being, when arms, legs, body and brain have gone. In the widest sense, how is it you exist? Somewhere in those speculations I believe you will gain insight into how your living and dying body and personality can also be a part of a constant that does not die. See: Closer to the Light.

The strongest personal evidence for me of survival arose from an incredible out of body experience I had. During it I became aware of what was happening hundreds of miles away and visited my mother, and this was later verified. From this I understood that whatever my personal consciousness is, it could operate quite separately from my physical senses and body. In a way that I still do not understand, in that state I could observe what was happening in what we call the physical world, and could in a very limited way, interact with it. Since that time I have had many other experiences that have developed my view of life after death more fully.

My present viewpoint is perhaps explainable by something that we each experience. Early in each day there are things that you do that you pass on during the day to other experiences. But even late in the day you can look back and remember what you did. The strange thing about this is that the event and its direct experiences are gone. In a sense they are dead, yet the memory of them remains. You might even say that the person you were at that time, during those moments, died. Yet here you are, remembering the events, and having a sense of continuity.

If there is survival after death, there must presumably be something that continues to exist despite the body and brain dying. Well, that isn’t an unusual thing in nature. In fact it is quite an everyday process. The tulip that blooms in spring dies and rots away, yet beneath the soil the bulb remains and will next year produce another tulip flower that is quite unique, yet emerging from the same source. It absorbed the essence of the previous flower and creates anew. To read on go to Life Within Change.

An important question is, if we survive death why cannot we communicate with the dead? The answer is evident to anyone who thinks about it. The dead no longer have a physical mouth to make sound with. With us humans we do all communication with our mouth or body. The dead communicate with thoughts and feelings. When I left my body and visited my mother I could see her and tried to communicate but it was as if she couldn’t hear me. So I tried shouting, but still she didn’t respond – but my dog who was asleep woke and saw me and jumped around me with joy. You see, my mother was not able to communicate via thoughts. Try it yourself – communicate with someone sitting opposite without any physical signs using thoughts. That is why we feel we cannot communicate with the dead. But in dreams it does happen often.

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