Dia de los muertos
I’m continuing my series that explores what happens after we die. Yesterday I talked about the journey I began after my mother died to to answer the question, “Where did she go?” In yesterday’s post, I talked about how that journey took me to well-regarded mediums and afterlife investigations by Raymond Moody, MD and Gary Schwartz, PhD.
Then, I began to read everything I could. Scholars and scientists. Doctors and mediums. (I’ve included a reading list at the end of this post.)
My journey has been more than colored by my need to wrap more than my heart around the idea of an afterlife. I had to wrap my brain and my intellect around it, as well.
So, about religion. Religion is institutionalized spirituality. Some call it superstition, but I don’t. Religion is a way to make sense of why we live, I think, and what happens after. And it’s almost always culturally based, or at least was, until missionaries began traveling.
Now, I always believed Jesus Christ walked the earth. I believe he was a teacher and a holy man. But I never could get myself on board with the concept of “Son of God dying for our sins.” I had no idea what “accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior” meant and further, I really didn’t think he WAS a Savior. Holy man, yes. Teacher, yes. Savior? No.
This has bothered some of my fundamental Christian friends no end. They fear I’ll go to hell because I’m not saved. That’s not what I believe.
In my belief structure, we all end up the same place. It might take some of us longer, but no one literally burns in hell. That’s not how it works in my belief structure.
When I had the chance to hear Prof. Stafford Betty speak on Heaven and Hell Redefined at the Afterlife Awareness Conference, I was super –impressed. He’s one of the world’s most significant scholars in all religions and has read all of the master works on evidence of afterlife going back centuries–finding significant consistencies in those reports. and his talk summarized some of them. Heaven, he says, is reported to be full of pilgrims on an infinite march, because the Divine Source wants us to evolve and perfect our souls.
I wasn’t as surprised as some of my friends will be to hear him say that reports from the Afterlife do not mention Christ as God. Jesus is revered as a holy man, but not God. There is no one and only true faith–heaven is pluralistic. The dead tell us there are many paths to Heaven. It’s not just reserved for Christians. But I knew that already.
And that it’s not faith that saves us, it’s good character.
Does it seem weird that scholars quote the dead? Yeah, it does to me, too. But why wouldn’t they communicate?
It sounds fantastical, doesn’t it? But what new discovery didn’t sound that way at first? That’s why if you really want to know what happens, an open mind is imperative. Imperative.
What I’m describing is just one tiny fraction of the information that has been studied but there is really no way that I can summarize here everything I’ve read and heard, except to encourage you to begin reading on your own and formulate your own conclusion.
Key for me was remaining open to the possibilities. Any possibilities.
Often, people who hold fast to dogmatic beliefs –or even disbelief–won’t let in any contradictory evidence or information. They deflect it because it doesn’t fit their paradigm. That wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t have a paradigm.
I was , in fact, a blank slate, or better, a big lump of quarried marble waiting for a chisel. And slowly, very slowly, over a period of years, my beliefs began taking shape. They were evidence-based. Carved out by science. Colored with personal narratives.
It was one big stew, to switch metaphors and it’s still simmering. New ingredients are added as I come across them. I fully anticipate this will be a lifelong study, because new information comes out all the time. It’s not a static field, not by a long shot.
If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, or think I’m crazy or misguided or going to hell–but still, you’re interested in what happens after we die–I recommend you do as I did—begin to study it. Read everything you can. Have experiences of your own. Analyze them with an open and objective mind. And a critical eye—and I mean critical in the best of ways.
If this is of interest to you, here’s a beginning reading list that will provide the basis for the concepts I describe. By the way, I’ve met all these authors and have even had discussions with a few of them. Please note the academic degrees these folks have. Oh, and yes, this series is continuing….more to come.
Life After Life by Raymond Moody, MD, PhD
The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary Schwartz, PhD
The G.O.D Experiments: How Science is Discovering God in Everything, Including Us also by Gary Schwartz, PhD
Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander MD
The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming our Fear of Deathby Julia Assante, PhD
The Afterlife Unveiled: What the Dead are Telling Us About Their World by Stafford Betty, PhD
I’ll post a second tier reading list in the future, too.