John White – USA
[A Practical Guide to Death and Dying was originally published by QUEST books in 1980. This particular version was previously published in the Theosophical Digest, y1992 v4 i2-p90.]
Out-of-Body Experience — The Ecstasy of Astral Projection.
Out-of-body experience (OBE) is the experience in which you find your consciousness or your center of self-awareness floating in space exterior to your physical body. In the OBE condition, you are fully and normally conscious. The effect of having an OBE, parapsychologist Dr. Charles Tart tells us, is enormous. In almost all cases, the person’s reaction is approximately, “I no longer believe in survival after death — I know my consciousness will survive death because I have experienced my consciousness existing outside my physical body.” The conviction gained by OBE experiencers that they will survive death, Tart adds, has undoubtedly led to the concept of soul.
Parapsychologist D. Scott Rogo, who is himself an experienced OBE “flier,” has recently said that his research shows that many people who have the out-of-body experience later look back upon it as a “rehearsal for death” and, as such, regard it as proving the immortality of the personality. Listen to some of the comments Rogo gathered from OBE cases, as reported in his book on the surviving of death, The Welcoming Silence:
“The knowledge I gained at that time assured me of a future life.”
“It makes me feel certain that there is a life after death which does not require a material handy for us to be able to see and hear, and that we shall retain our personality.”
“Death is like passing from twilight into the glories of the full midday sunshine.”
“I know that death does not end all.”
“I was always afraid to die, but not now.”
“To me there is nothing truer than ‘there is no death.’”
Just as reincarnation studies are proving that time is no limitation to the survival of human personality, OBE research is demonstrating that space is no limitation either. Consciousness transcends time and space. In fact, from the point of view of those who best understand the nature of consciousness — mystics and spiritual teachers — time and space are illusions derived from consciousness; specifically, from the ordinary state of consciousness which also creates the illusion of ego. This is precisely the message of the great religious traditions: we are infinite and eternal. Cosmic consciousness shows this through direct experience to be perfectly true.
You Have Died Before — Reincarnation and Past Life Therapy.
Have you lived before? If so, then you have died before. The theory of reincarnation says this is precisely the case. You have lived and died many times as an evolving soul moving through time, through history, to a fuller and larger existence, and ultimately a total reunion with the All.
Earlier, in this book, I said that reincarnation was not proven definitively, but there is a great deal of evidence suggesting its reality — evidence which cannot be explained away by any other interpretation. Psychic researchers conclude that it would be absurd to dismiss it all as simply involving coincidence because the agreement of facts is too consistent and too complex. The best-known reincarnation researcher, Dr. Ian Stevenson, has published several books describing the best cases of thousands he has collected.
Lately, some psychologists and counselors have been using hypnosis to regress people to what the people themselves feel are prior lives. The purpose of this “past life therapy” is to help the person deal with problems in his present life which apparently are due to conditions that have carried over from a past life — or even several lifetimes!
One of the most notable people in this field is a psychologist, Dr. Helen Wambach. Her evidence is so professionally marshalled that one must conclude that her subject merits further exploration. Wambach drew her data from more than 1,000 “past-life recalls” by hypnotized subjects. They provided information about their culture, technology, environment and personal history. These “memories” coalesced into demographic, economic and cultural patterns that mirrored historic and statistical data with remarkable accuracy.
When I spoke with Wambach recently, she volunteered an additional insight that isn’t in her books. It seems from her research that present life phobias, when due to an experience in a previous life or lives, are not the result simply of having had a traumatic experience in the previous life but rather of not having resolved or integrated the trauma in that life. “If people die with a lot of fear, confusion and resentment, she told me, “that is what causes a phobia in a later life.” She illustrated her point with the case of a woman who feared to go swimming. Through hypnotic regression, this phobia was traced to incidents in two previous lives in which she had drowned. Granted that those are traumatic experiences, it nevertheless seems from Wambach’s research that even if the woman had not actually drowned in those lifetimes, her present life phobia could still have resulted because the flight of near-drowning had been so great in each past life and it had never been relieved or resolved.
This points up all the more strongly your own need to face the fear of dying and conquer it. Reincarnation research indicates that you’ll be back, and what you don’t deal with in this life you’ll have to face in another. It’s best to do it here and now, sages and saints tell us. Get off the wheel of death and rebirth in this lifetime.
A Closer Look at Heaven and Hell.
Heaven and hell are popularly thought of as places in the universe, locations in space where the spirits of the dead go. To quote evangelist Billy Graham “I believe the Bible teaches that heaven is a literal place.” To a degree, this is correct. The evidence from out-of- body and near-death cases indicates a journey of the soul beyond this three-dimensional physical world into other sets of dimensions.
Many people reject the notion of heaven and hell because, they feel, it is “unscientific.” But is it? That depends on how you define science. Many scientists presume that the material world is all there is to reality because that is all they can observe. Their philosophy of existence is called scientific materialism, and they wrongly equate that with science itself.
Since the afterlife worlds are imperceptible to the normal physical senses, they are beyond the range of present scientific observation.
And if you have a basic idea about reality being limited to observations by the physical senses, then when someone claims to have made extrasensory observations, you dismiss them as nonsense because they do not conform to your idea of what’s real and unreal, possible and impossible, in the universe. Consequently, from the perspective of scientific materialism, heaven and hell are simply childish fantasies. But from the perspective of someone who has enlarged his scale of observation beyond the sensory to the extrasensory, reality as scientific materialism defines it, is itself a fantasy based upon a constricted and partial awareness that filters out as much, if not more, than it lets in.
Our sense of reality, then, is a function of our state of consciousness. This is an extremely important point to grasp. Reality itself is unchanging, but our sense of reality — our understanding of how the universe is structured and operates — is dependent upon our state of awareness. Our worldview depends upon how fully we perceive and experience our existence.
Parapsychologists have a larger range of observation than strictly materialistic scientists, although their method of observation is the same. Thus, despite resistance by dogmatic scientists, the scientific case for other worlds grows stronger daily. That’s not to say that science will prove heaven and hell exist, as you’ll see in a moment. It is to say, however, that the logic of science and the power of empiric observation are helping nature to demolish the conceptual barriers in our own minds — barriers which prevent clear perception of the other worlds in reality.
To be continued