What happens to us when we die?
If there is a heaven and a hell, where or what are they?
Why are we here on earth?
These are some of the questions I have been asking since I was a child. My own upbringing was one of faith but it never quite did it for me. It never answered the big questions. I always felt it did not satisfy me or provide sustenance in times of grief.
Thankfully, I discovered Spiritualism which is not based on blind faith like most other religions. Mediumship provides proof of life after death. Spiritualists base their religion on evidence which comes not only from mediums but also from scientific research. Spiritualist mediums prove the continuous existence of the human soul by bringing forward messages of comfort, love, and inspiration from those who are no longer with us in body but are most certainly with us in spirit. All religions teach the idea of some spiritual state, heaven or hell, but their teachings fail to produce any fundamental or lasting influence in the lives of the majority of people.
The society for psychical research has carried out much in the way of paranormal investigation and they have proven scientifically time and time again that spirits can communicate through mediums.
Frederick Myers (1843-1901) was one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research.
He was a professor of classics at Cambridge University and although an academic, he also had a passionate curiosity about the meaning of human life. Myers was interested to know if the human soul survived physical death. His book, “Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death” is probably the most important work ever written in this field.
Myers was a true pioneer of spiritualism in life and even in death. Myers communicated through automatic writing with mediums in England, India and the U.S.A.Over a period of 30 years, each medium received fragments of information which when pieced together created coherent phrases. It seems that Myers intention (post mortem) was to cause dozens of psychics, in various parts of the world, to refer to the same topic. Like a jigsaw puzzle, these ‘pieces’ joined to provide evidence of the afterlife.
Individuals who studied and tried to interpret these ‘jigsaw puzzles’ called them cross-correspondences. The Cross-correspondences were a tremendous body of information which were produced over thirty years but in the end what they “only” seemed to prove was that “something” survived death.
The question that needs an answer is, what is that something?”
Extraordinarily the individuals who designed and performed the experiments were already dead when they undertook the work. Myers’ has other spirits who helped him with his project. They were Edmund Gurney (died 1888) and Henry Sidgwick (died 1900).
Myers described Hades, the underworld, the world of shadows. He did this through the mediumship of Irish medium Geraldine Cummings. It seems that this is the level that many – or perhaps most – individuals experience soon after death. Hades is said to be the shadowy, misty environment as described by the ancient Greeks. Spiritually advanced individuals are said to bypass Hades, but for others it seems to be a place of half-light. Transition to the “normal spirit world “has been delayed for people on this plane. Myers suggested that Hades was not so much a place but a state of mind. For each person this was a different state depending on his or her own life experiences and their level of spiritual development. Spirits complain that they wander in darkness or dense mist. Some communicators have called it Purgatory. Should they come into the vicinity of a psychically sensitive person with a bright aura, they will be drawn to this light. Spirits at this level can perceive neither the after-death environment nor the previous physical one. Only a minority of the dead have to endure this state. Other communicators refer to it frequently, and describe it as an opportunity to review one’s earthly life. It is a developmental experience, and it may be connected with the so-called ‘life review’ said to occur after death (or sometimes before death, as in the reported experiences of those who come close to drowning).This enables the spirit person to study his earthly behaviour in detail and experience at first-hand the emotional suffering it may have caused to others.
Above the ‘darkness’ is the normal physical environment of the living - our present world. When people talk of haunting, poltergeists possessions etc. they are most likely experiencing the presence of spirits who are “stuck” or earthbound. These spirits are understandably frustrated and sometimes mischievous for they have to operate in the physical realm. They often have no idea they are dead and they still have their old physical and earthly interests, obsessions and desires. Because they don’t have a body they can become very perturbed. This state can last for centuries, even millennia. Thankfully most of us will not have to endure unconsciousness, darkness, or bodiless frustration. We pass immediately to the first “normal” after-death plane of existence.
Myers’s feelings about the plane after earth were deeply undecided. Many descriptions from near-death survivors say they passed through a tunnel towards the light. As they go, memories of their entire past live flash before them. If this contains sinister episodes and terrifying experiences, these will drift by the person’s vision along with the more joyful happenings. Myers described the Heaven that most of us know of but he discovered there were realms beyond it, and once he had developed enough to dwell there, he defined this first state of existence negatively and called it - “the plane of illusion.”(Sometimes called The Lower Astral) He gave it this name because the “reality “experienced there was a creation of your own mind – your own heaven or hell. Spirits liken the Plane of illusion to what we experience here on earth. Myers tells us it is even possible for beings to ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ and to ‘sleep’ and experience ‘sexual passion’ if they wish to do so using their etheric body, created by the mind. According to Myers, after death, most of us can expect to enter this realm. This world will not seem strange to us for our dreams and our earth life will have prepared us for it.
Spirits will come to a point where they feel they have developed insight attained through experience of earthly life, bodily death and life on the plane of illusion. This may happen very quickly or after a great deal of ‘time’. The Souls may reincarnate to earth after being on the plane of illusion and some may choose to go on to The Plane of colour (Sometimes referred to as Summerland or Upper Astral).This plane is created by thought. What is created is based on one’s deepest desires - for pleasure, for beauty, for the familiar, and the fulfilment of one’s beliefs. According to Myers, people who are close to one another, and who have similar tastes and inclinations, come together in little communities where their entire world is mutually constructed. Those of a more solitary temperament may build their own worlds. Often the real nature of these thought creations are completely unknown to their creators, who simply find themselves in a world where every desire is gratified. This world, then, is a depiction of the ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise’ of the ancient theologies. There has been a tremendous variety of after-death descriptions of “heaven” or” the spirit world“received through mediums and near-death experiences related by survivors. It could be proposed that this is because this plane is a creation of our own thoughts and therefore will be very different to each individual spirit. Myers suggested that this is a world of magnificent, unimaginable beauty. Using substances, light and colour unknown on earth, the mind, now god-like in its powers, learns to create an infinite variety of forms having beauty of an ultimate, unsurpassable quality. Spiritual beings find a much wider freedom to function with more highly energized intellect and creativity, presenting challenges that are not competitive but far more fulfilling.
The plane of Colour is still illusory. It seems strange that anyone would choose to leave the Plane of Colour, but the desire to draw closer to the divine source of reality eventually leads the individual to undergo what is referred to as a joyful ‘second death’ and to then pass beyond the world of form into the formless realms. Before leaving, however, the more inventive souls may choose to experience one of the great wonders of this plane of consciousness - to view desired sections of The Akashic Records.
The Akashic Records may be likened to a library on earth. Everything that has ever happened has been recorded by the cosmic memory. Spirits also undergo a kind of karmic ‘review’ - similar to and yet in a way crucially different from - the ‘life review’ he experienced immediately following death. The individual relives the incidents of his previous life once again but this time re-experiences the emotions he felt at the time; and simultaneously he experiences the emotions of the other persons who were involved. In other words, the torturer becomes, concurrently, both torturer and victim. This would be a very chastening experience. A spiritual guide from a higher plane would assist with this.
In The formless realms love is the only reality and all things share in a cosmic unity.
In these planes a person has no more desire for an earth existence. Here the spirit has moved to a higher realm where it is no longer possible to reincarnate. Myers had not progressed beyond the plane of colour at the time of his communications. He did however have an idea of what would come next. He described a Plane of flame where the being explores the physical universe beyond the earth, and completes its knowledge of matter. The spirit acquires a body of flame, enabling him to tour the solar universe without being harmed by its temperatures and instability .This enables the spirit to return with a fuller experience of the Universe.
The sixth plane is the “plane of light”. Individuals on this plane have lived through, with conscious consideration, all the aspects of the created universe and fashioned every variety of mentally-created form. They are capable of passing beyond matter and form, of existing as white light, as pure thought.
Myers described the final stage of evolution as baffling. You dwell not only outside of time but outside of any universe. It might be described as an existence which has no need to express itself in a shape, however fragile. The soul who enters that seventh state passes into the Beyond and becomes one with God.”
Myers was not a religious man. His lifelong commitment was to experience, and to the teachings of experience. The final passage to the ultimate plane of being, the achievement of the last goal on an infinitely long path of personal evolution is where the spirit becomes part of God. What he reports from beyond the grave he has either experienced himself or been told of by those more highly evolved than he.
Myers ‘communications could be taken with a pinch of salt if it were not for the fact that identical explanations have been asserted by others, both discarnate and incarnate.
© Joanne Ward