What happens next?

January 3, 2011

Ye’d best start believin’ in ghost stories, Miss Turner. Yer in one”, Captain Barbosa/Pirates of the Caribbean

Every morning M. and I open our respective pill cases and swallow a couple of pills each. We more than qualify for AARP now and prescription meds remind us daily that our time on earth is numbered. It may be a decade, two (three’s a push by anyone’s count, although my maternal grandmother lived ’til she was 99) or it may be months or even minutes, we have no way of knowing.

All we know for certain is that one day, we’ll leave this life and move on to….where?

That is the question. Where?

If you’re born Catholic, like we were, you were raised with the same grandiose mansion-in-the-sky view of heaven that we got. A kindly, bearded man named God, heads it up, celestial music plays on an invisible sound system, angels wing gracefully around Him and the rest of us lounge on clouds, eating bon bons.

Bad people go directly to hell, where they burn in eternity. No second chances. Same with people who have not been “saved.” {Of course, “bad” has changed somewhat through the years as the rules changed. Like meat on Friday, for example. The Catholic Church is complicated like that.}

Nonetheless, I just don’t think it works like that. None of it.

I never really thought about it deeply, at least not until my own mortality smacked me in the face. Or, more accurately, in the mirror. Once I did, though, it was difficult to connect with my cultural religion’s view of what happens next.

I can’t tell you exactly when I became interested in the metaphysical world. Oh–actually, I can. It was a few years after M. and I divorced, when my editor assigned me a freelance story about the local psychic. “Sister Fay” talked me into a reading and then predicted my divorce from my second husband and my move to California, including the circumstances of it.

It was uncanny.

Before that I’d had a few unexplainable experiences. Like when an animal psychic told me how I’d find my lost cat and it happened exactly in the way he predicted.

It isn’t like I jumped right into a different belief structure. I am not that easy a sell.

But in the decades since my move was predicted, I’ve had a growing interest in spiritual matters and seem to have been led step-by-step to the beliefs I hold now.

Ever thought about how mysterious it is that we’re even here, with consciousness and a life infrastructure?

It seems most plausible that our life on earth is one of many that we have had and will have. We’re placed here to learn lessons of love and compassion and to use our gifts to benefit others. We are not judged the way conventional Christian theology teaches and there is no hell. Instead, at the end of each of our lives we judge ourselves, facilitated by advanced souls.
We look at how well we achieved our purpose and how far the particular incarnation has taken us in our evolution to more advanced spirit. What lessons have we learned here? What do we still have to work on in our next life?

Those feelings of deja vu? We really have been there before. We’ve known some of the people now in our lives in past lives, perhaps in different roles.

My former husband — a relatively normal guy– had memory fragments of other lives and believed that we’d known each other in another life. I didn’t explore this with him at the time but wish I had and may still.

Old Testament notwithstanding, there is no punishing God. I don’t believe it. Instead, I believe there is a primary source, an advanced soul that creates. God is one name for the source. Our energy endures after earthly death and returns as we work to progress in spirit.

Wouldn’t this be irony: if Christianity, with all its judgment and exclusionary ways, had the wrong idea? And eastern religions were more on the right path? Talk about rocking our culture.

Thing is, we won’t know for sure ’til we’re there. And then, if we try to come back and talk about it, most people won’t believe it. They’ll think we’re crazy. Because that’s pretty much the way it is now.

Some of you probably already believe as I do. I’m a late bloomer in coming to my positions on big issues, actually, and only recently put all the pieces together on life after death.

Lest the rest of you think I’ve lost my mind, there have actually been scientific experiments that seem to show consciousness survives after physical death.

The implications of all this are mind-boggling. The pain and suffering (physical and emotional) we experience in this life? We’re working through necessary lessons.

The people in our lives? Not accidental. They’re here for a purpose. To teach us something.

For example, I’ve had a certain painful pattern appear consistently in my life. Its meaning eluded me. But as I superimpose this new belief structure on the pattern, I hope to find the larger lesson. Because I’m sure there is one.

So maybe you still think I’m nuts. It’s ok. I don’t need everyone to believe as I do. Or to think I am sane. But if you’re intrigued by the subject of life after death (or more accurately, life between lives), you might want to read a few books on the subject.

And feel free to let me know how you feel about life after death right here on the blog. I’d love to know.

*The key books that set me on my journey are:
Journey of Souls, Michael Newton, PhD
The Afterlife Experiments, Gary Schwartz, PhD
Books, broadcast programs and readings by John Edward, who is, in fact, the real deal

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