Insights into the After Life - Page 1
30 Questions and Answers by Nora M. Spurgin ‘What to Expect When We Die’
My interest in writing this booklet was inspired by the life and death of a dear friend Linna. For most of the five years she had battled cancer, Linna believed that she would conquer the fearful stalker; but in the end, she accepted that she was going to die.
It was the process of her preparation to die that prompted a desire in me to share with others the understandings which she gained in anticipating the next life. Linna and I were friends and colleagues. She was an educator and a woman of determination. It was a shock to all of her friends when she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember visiting her in the hospital where she joked, "We always thought I was the invincible one, so we have life insurance on my husband!"
Following surgery and a course of chemotherapy, Linna began a new life. It was a life with greater awareness of its value. She looked at her relationships with family and friends with new eyes. She pondered the things she wanted to accomplish and those things which were of less importance. She sought changes in her life and habits to bring about optimum health. She began meditating and, in so doing, found a place of peace within, as well as a greater spiritual awareness. She made changes in her diet and found friends who prayed for her and introduced her to healing music, writings on positive thinking, healing imagery and internal body cleansing. Her friends saw her blossom and make gains in spiritual and physical health.
However, underlying everything was a nagging fear that the cancer would snatch away her life. And so it did. But she had four and a half years to accomplish things she wanted to do, time to prepare with her husband and grown children and most of all, time to think about life after death. In the final half year, Linna knew that her life on earth was coming to a close. In those last months her concern was, what should I accomplish, and how can I best prepare to die? During this time, a close group of her friends learned much about death and life hereafter.
My heart aches for the many who die without preparation without a sustaining philosophy of life, or death.
This is the primary reason that I asked a few close friends of Linna's to help me in preparing this little booklet to share what we have learned through our experience with her, and throughout our own reading and searching.
If there is life after death, and if our earthly life is preparation for that then we have come to believe the greatest thing we could do for humankind is to share this understanding. While surveys show that most people believe in some form of life after death, most of us are less certain what form that life will take. Interest in death as a transition into a higher state of consciousness moved from the realm of the solely religious when psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who writes and speaks extensively on death and dying, caused physicians, psychiatrists, and scientists to take a new look at the meaning of death.
Knowledge and understanding of the afterlife can help many of us overcome fear and pain when making preparations for our own death, or for that of someone we love. Understanding can help tremendously with the grieving or separation process. Our lives on earth are preparation for the eternal life and this is a source of great hope, expectation and joy. We came to an understanding that every person has a place in the heart of God. Every individual has been created to receive the joy, the blessing and the delights of heavenly life because of God's love. Death or passing to the spiritual world is like birth, into a new and deeper level of existence, and, if we are prepared, the time of passing can be a celebration of joy, like a birthday!
For the format for this informative booklet, I have chosen 30 commonly asked questions with answers that you will hopefully find simple and clear. These answers are presented without specific religious doctrine and dogma and are for the sole purpose of enhancing life both on earth and beyond. This booklet is for those who are in the full bloom of life; for there is still time to prepare. For those who are terminally ill, it might make a difference in the quality of the final years or months and help the new arrival into the spiritual world.
I want to express my gratitude to Farley Jones, Lynn Mathers, June Kiburz, Nancy Barton, and Anne Edwards, a few of Linna's friends, who helped pull together these ideas and pass them on to you.
Nora M. Spurgin, M.S.W.
“Life is real! Life is Earnest! And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returneth, Was not spoken of the soul.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Is there life after death? How do we know?
From Plato and the early Greeks, through Jesus and Paul, through most African and Oriental cultures, to spiritualists of the twentieth century, a belief in some kind of survival of bodily death has been unequivocally affirmed. Jesus' assertion that in his Father's house there are many rooms, would seem to be justified by the fact that this common belief is held by such divergent peoples.
While many traditional believers tend to shy away from the topic, testimony to the existence of a spirit world actually permeates the Bible. Prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah report powerful spiritual visions, as does the writer of the book of Revelation. In the Gospels, angels speak (Lk 1:28) and on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus talks with the long-dead Moses and Elijah (Mt 17:1-3). Christian mystics and saints throughout history also spoke of spiritual experiences. The proposition that life continues beyond physical death goes a long way toward explaining well-recognized and otherwise unexplainable phenomena, for example, near-death experiences, visions of deceased persons and the experience of authentic communication from the other side. To understand what happens to us at death, we first need to understand of what we are made. Most of us tend to identify closely with our physical bodies, but this is only part of the picture. We are not only physical matter, but also spiritual essence. It is accurate to say that we are essentially spiritual beings who possess physical bodies. When we die, we in effect take off our physical bodies as one might take off an overcoat. The essential person remains.
If life continues after physical death, where is such life lived?
Our bodies exist, of course, in the physical world, which provides an environment for our activity and growth on earth and offers us nourishment, stimulation and joy. Likewise, there is a spiritual dimension of the universe the invisible spirit world- which serves as the environment for our spirits. Our spirit is the internal counterpart to our physical body, and the spirit world is the invisible counterpart to the physical world. This world is located not up in heaven, but in a different dimension, inter-penetrating the physical world and the universe. While on earth we exist in both worlds at once, in effect connecting the two. For this reason, people on occasion can have visions and communicate with the dead. While most people are prepared to admit belief in some kind of life after death, fewer accept the proposition that during our physical lifetimes we are existing in two realms at once a material one and a spiritual one. There is an invisible spiritual world surrounding this physical one, inhabited by those who have passed on. Because the two realms inter-penetrate each other, the spirit of a person near death can float out of the body. To begin to understand how we could simultaneously live in two realms and, for the most part, be unaware of it, we must remember that there are many things in the natural world that exist beyond the range of our five physical senses. For example, we cannot see infra-red light or x-rays, or hear sounds above or below certain frequencies. Nevertheless, x-rays and high and low frequency sound vibrations do exist. In the same way, even though we cannot perceive a spiritual world through our physical senses, it exists all around us. The discoveries of modern science lend credence to this prospect. Whereas in prior times scientists thought of the material world as constructed of solid, though minute, blocks of matter, they now believe this is not the case. Rather, what we think of as the material world seems to consist of invisible patterns of energy. The implications of this theory with regard to the existence of a spiritual dimension are clear. Indeed, it is probably such a discovery as this that gave rise to Albert Einstein's celebrated remark that his work was spiritual, involving the discovery of where matter ends and spirit begins. Just as we perceive the physical world with our physical senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell), so the spirit world can be perceived by a set of spiritual senses; which are not limited by the physical laws of nature. Because most of us are not attuned to our spiritual senses, we become aware of the spirit world only when we pass into it at the end of our physical lives.
What is a near-death experience?
Due to modern technology, the number of people who have been revived from clinical death and brought back to physical life has increased tremendously in recent years. Many such individuals have shared amazingly similar accounts of their experience. Whereas in the past people may have been reluctant to discuss their experiences, perhaps due to fear of ridicule, thousands are now reporting near-death experiences (NDEs). Documented observation on the subject of the next life reported by individuals who have had near-death experiences has taken this area of research beyond theory. Near-death experiences gained widespread publicity when Dr. Raymond Moody's book, Life After Life, became a best seller. Dr. Moody writes convincingly of his vast research on people who were clinically dead for a short time and were revived. Elements which appear most frequently in such accounts are the following: The identity of the individual who has died remains intact. The conscious self leaves the body and observes it in its lifeless state but feels no break in the continuity of consciousness. The sensations associated with leaving the body are described as being very positive lightness, brightness, love, joy, peace and cessation of pain. The consciousness, or spirit, enters a dark tunnel with an extremely bright light at the end. Relatives and friends (already deceased) are often seen. Usually they communicate a welcome, and the person who has just died may be given the choice to return to physical life on earth. Often the spirit is greeted by beings of great light and love perceived to be God, the Creator, or a religious figure such as Jesus. There may be a life-review, which is a rapid panoramic view of the earthly life in chronological order. The consciousness, or spirit, can hear and observe everything that is happening in the physical world, but cannot communicate with people on earth through speaking or touching. There is instinctive knowledge that in going into the light there is a point of no return to physical earth life. Since these accounts come only from people who have returned to physical life, there was a point past which they did not venture. When they return to physical life, most people who have had an NDE feel an enhanced quality in life; there is a lack of fear of dying, and a new purposefulness in living.
Is going to the spirit world automatic?
Yes. It is not a matter of choice or qualification. Every person is created as a being whose spirit is eternal. Life in the spirit world is simply the next step after life on earth, much as life on earth is the natural step after life in the womb. Physical birth takes place when a baby, having spent nine months in a small, dark, warm place, suddenly pushes through the birth canal into a bright, expansive new world.
There is a similar sequence of events in our birth into the next life. Those who have had NDEs describe a dark tunnel leading toward a bright light where loved ones await their arrival. It should be noted, however, that if one is educated to believe that there is no life after death, she may fail to recognize the natural process which automatically takes place. There are those who describe this lack of knowing as an incredible injustice, for the passage to the next world is confused and the spirit may wander indefinitely without the body, stuck between two worlds, feeling part of neither. This condition may persist until a spiritual guide is sent to rescue and
re-educate the lost soul.
What is the spirit world like?
Sensitive people who have had glimpses into the world beyond say it is a world much like our own, but having no time nor space as we think of these dimensions; it exists in a higher dimension of energy and, in its higher realms, is a world of inexpressible beauty. It is a world where it is possible to be fully alive, where, for example, the whole body perceives. It is a world of endless possibilities for creativity and full realization of self; and it is a world where the love of God is like the air we breathe. As air is the atmosphere on earth, God's love is the atmosphere in the spirit world. One's spiritual body can travel with thought waves. Therefore, if one thinks of a person and place, he can immediately be transported there. Communication is also by thought. In addition, one is free from the restrictions of the physical body; eating, for example, is possible, but not necessary to maintain the physical body. In the spiritual world, one realizes that life on earth has, like life in the womb, been preparation for a fuller, freer and richer eternal existence.
Can spiritual growth take place on the other side?
Yes, it appears to be a law of the universe that growth is always possible. According to many accounts, the spiritual world has teachers and guides (those who have died, sometimes centuries before, who have the mission to guide newcomers who want to learn and grow in the spirit world). For children, teachers are provided to give them basic knowledge, and people in the position of parents provide them with essential love. Those who are lacking in emotional growth, or who have lived unloving, resentful, vengeful, or selfish lives will be given the opportunity to serve and help others in order that they may advance to higher realms. They may even come back to earth as spiritual helpers, like guardian angels, to influence people to avoid misdeeds and harmful lifestyles, and to overcome unloving attitudes. Those who have passed on often come back to their descendants to help and protect them. In so doing, spiritual growth takes place for both. Desire for such spiritual growth arises from a desire to be close to God. The spiritual world is a world where an ever-increasing unity with the love of God is the goal of one's growth.
Continue reading more from Nora M. Spurgin - Insights into the After Life Page 2