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The debate about whether there is life after death

Is There Life After Death? What awaits us after the physical demise of our bodies? What will happen to you and me after we die?

Is There Life After Death? The World’s Top Scientific and Spiritual Experts Share Their Insights

What happens to consciousness after the physical death of any living organism? From where does consciousness arise? Is consciousness an emergent property of complex information-processing systems, like brainsnervous systems, and possibly computers, or can it exist independent of a physical structure? Is everything conscious, as many mystics believe? This is one of the most ancient of all philosophical debates, and the question of what happens to consciousness after death is a recurring theme in my interviews.

Death—what Terence McKenna called the black hole of biology— is, perhaps, the greatest mystery known to human beings. While there is compelling evidence that there is life after death and that consciousness survives death, there is also compelling evidence that it does not and the truth is no one knows for sure what happens when we die. I would be highly suspect of anyone who tells you otherwise. Although the postbiological fate of human consciousness is a truly magnificent mystery, beliefs about what happens to consciousness after death generally fall into four traditional categories: This limited range of possibilities for life after death is likely due to our strong fear of death, which creates a powerful emotional charge and makes playful speculation on this topic difficult for most people.

The Consciousness Experts Weigh in on What Happens After Death But if our fears of the afterlife can be suspended or transcended, and we can set our hopes and expectations aside, how might we explore this mystery and come up with alternative possibilities for life after death?

  • Hell truly exists and the Church only repeats what Jesus himself said on the matter;
  • But, is the solution it offers a valid one?

Is it possible, as some people claim, that altered or mystical states of consciousness can give us insight into what happens after death? Death is like taking off a tight shoe. I think it jumps into a body of some kind, on some plane of existence, and it goes on doing that until it is with God.

From a Hindu point of view, consciousness keeps going through reincarnations, which are learning experiences for the soul. I think what happens after you die is a function of the level of evolution of the individual. I suspect that some beings go unconscious. They go into what Christians call purgatory.

Free Enlightened Living Course: They go to sleep during that process before they project into the next form. Others I think go through and are aware they are going through it, but are still caught. All the Bardos in the Tibetan Book of the Dead are about how to avoid getting caught in the afterlife. Those beings are awake enough for them to be collaborators in the appreciation of the gestalt in which their incarnations are flowing.

They are all part of the design of things. So, when you say, did you choose to incarnate? At the level at which you are free, you did choose. Then there are beings who are so free that when they go through death they may still have separateness. Then the next incarnation will be out of the intention to save all beings and not out of personal karma. That one bit of personal karma is what keeps it moving. I accept the near-death research and Tibetan Bardo explanations.

You have the potential to realize the clear light, our deepest and truest identity, if you recognize it as the true nature of your mind and are not freaked out. No one can know, of course, until they get there. Some people have had experiences which give them certainty, but consciousness is the ultimate mystery.

I have no idea what happens to life after death. It would seem that one way of understanding it is that the individual consciousness is dissolving back into the infinite consciousness. The consciousness that I experience has this individual limitation because it is functioning in the world through my body, through my nervous system, through my eyes and ears. When we begin to die and let go of our attachment to the body, consciousness lets go of that identity which it gained from its worldly functioning, and reconnects with a greater infinite identity.

Everything becomes light after death. Then they come to a threshold after death, beyond which there is no return. They feel incredible liberation in life. Pediatric Surgeon I asked physician Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine, and Miracleswhat he thought happens to consciousness after death. What I am sure happens to consciousness after death is that it continues on. So somebody will be born with your consciousness, and it will affect the the debate about whether there is life after death they live.

This is not conscious, like the answers I gave you earlier, but at a deeper level I chose to use a knife in this life to cure and heal with rather than kill with. But on a personal level, I believe that consciousness is nonlocal, and it can be carried on and picked up by people and so I believe in life after death. I think this shows in animals too. The Power of Prayerwhat he thought about this timeless mystery of life after death, he said: This is as hopeful as the current view of the fate of consciousness is dismal.

This totally the debate about whether there is life after death things. Our grim vision of the finality of death is revised. Death is no longer viewed as a gruesome annihilation or the total destruction of all that we are. So there are tremendous spiritual implications that flow from these considerations, in addition to the implications for health. In fact, I believe that the implications for health are the least of it.

A lot of people who encounter this area take a practical, bare-bones, utilitarian approach to it. The fear of death and whether there is life after death has caused more pain and suffering for human beings throughout history than all the physical diseases combined. The fear of death is the big unmentionable—and this view of consciousness is a cure for that disease, that fear of death.

  • He, the source of all goodness, makes goodness accessible to us;
  • We must refuse His mercy;
  • What will happen to you and me after we die?
  • So when you go into a deep meditation and you lose your sense of personality, that may be similar to what it might be like to be dead;
  • God predestines no one to go there, as the Jansenists wrongly believed.

The Spirit Molecule makes a convincing case for the possibility that endogenous DMT in our brains helps to usher our souls in and out of our bodies. So I was especially interested in hearing what he thought happens to consciousness after death. I think life continues after death, but in some unknown form. I think a lot depends upon the nature of our consciousness during our lives— how attached to various levels of consensus reality it is.

He also referred to like gravitating toward like in terms of the idea of the need for certain aspects of consciousness to develop further, before it can return to its source. That is, doglike aspects of our consciousness end up in a dog in a life after death, humanlike aspects get worked through in another human, plantlike aspects into plantsand so on. I expect that what we think of as ourselves—which is primarily personality, personal history, personality traits, and that sort of thing—goes away, because most of that information is probably contained in some way in the body itself.

In fact, I think that elementary awareness may be prior to matter. So when you go into a deep meditation and you lose your sense of personality, that may be similar to what it might be like to be dead.

In other words, you might have a momentary time when you have this sense of awareness, and then it just dissolves. It goes back and becomes part of the rest of everything. On the other hand, some people who either spend a lifetime preparing in meditationor who are naturally adept, may be able to sustain being a drop.

I imagine that all this probably occurs in a state that is not bound by space and time as we normally think about it. So, presumably, you would have access to everything, everywhere.

  • He thanked God for his discoveries for example, in his speech at the inauguration of the Pasteur Institute;
  • Several books, written over the past few years, speak of experiences of 'life after death' or 'near death experiences' NDE;
  • Is this the soul?

I imagine that something like that is the reason why ideas of reincarnation have come about, because people remember something about it. They may even remember something about the process of coming out of this ocean into a drop in the life after death, into a particular incarnation, because a drop is embodied in a sense.

So I imagine that there may be as many ways of experiencing after-death as there are people to experience it. For me the best starting point for this question of whether or not there is life after death, is experience.

We all have the experience of a kind of alternative body when we dream. Everyone in their dreams has the experience of doing things that their physical body is not doing. When I dream I might be walking around, talking to people, even flying, yet these activities in my dreams, which happen in a body, are happening in my dream body.

So we all have a kind of parallel body in our dreams. These are, as it were, extensions of the dream body. Now, whether that happens or not is another question, but it seems to me possible.

It may be that materialists and the debate about whether there is life after death who think that life after death will just be a blank would actually experience a blank. It may be that their expectations will affect what actually happens. It may be that the afterlife is heavily conditioned by our expectations and beliefs, just as our dreams are.

Why would life after death be any different? Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.

Debate: Life and death

He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The New Science of Psychedelics. He lives in Ben Lomond, California. Visit his website at MavericksoftheMind.