Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Akasha Think



Posted: 07/10/2012 8:21 am Huffington Post.
 
Ervin Laszlo



"You can't solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to the problem" -- Albert Einstein



There is something new on the horizon -- a new kind of thinking. One that could solve the problem -- the entire complex conglomeration of challenges that makes our world unsustainable, intolerant, and prone to violence. This is not thinking out of the blue: It is thinking that has been around for thousands of years. What is new is that it's rediscovered -- of all things, at the cutting edge of the sciences. It is "Akasha think."
In this column with my Akashic "A-team" I will review for you the principal dimensions of Akasha think -- the rediscovered revolutionary concept of life and universe, and freedom, wholeness, and wellbeing. New answers to questions we have all been asking since the beginnings of time.
Adam and Eve, Socrates and Plato, Constantine and the Crusaders, Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII, Hitler and Churchill, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Gandhi, yes even now Obama and Romney are giving us answers. Every answer has been given thinking that it is right. Yet with each delivery, the great divides are inexorably forged -- in color, creed, genders and territories. How many answers were really right? Right now, as our precious world cries out because of the collateral damage of all our answers, how many of our answers, your answers, about the economy, education, energy, your health and life, can you be sure are right?
Try Akasha think. Here you get different answers. Find out what they can do for you -- and through you, for the world.
Are you ready? Here is a question that can get you started:
What Is Akasha Consciousness -- For You?
What is Akasha consciousness for you, a dream -- or a nightmare? Or could it be your own deep consciousness -- "re-cognized" for what it really is? Your answer could make a difference -- a difference to you and to the world. See how you resonate with the 16 ideas that hallmark this consciousness.
  1. I am part of the world. The world is not outside of me, and I am not outside of the world. The world is in me, and I am in the world.
  2. I am part of nature, and nature is part of me. I am what I am in my communication and communion with all living things. I am an irreducible and coherent whole with the web of life on the planet.
  3. I am part of society, and society is part of me. I am what I am in my communication and communion with my fellow humans. I am an irreducible and coherent whole with the community of humans on the planet.
  4. I am more than a skin-and-bone material organism: my body, and its cells and organs are manifestations of what is truly me: a self-sustaining, self-evolving dynamic system arising, persisting and evolving in interaction with everything around me.
  5. I am one of the highest, most evolved manifestations of the drive toward coherence and wholeness in the universe. All systems drive toward coherence and wholeness in interaction with all other systems, and my essence is this cosmic drive. It is the same essence, the same spirit that is inherent in all the things that arise and evolve in nature, whether on this planet or elsewhere in the infinite reaches of space and time.
  6. There are no absolute boundaries and divisions in this world, only transition points where one set of relations yields prevalence to another. In me, in this self-maintaining and self-evolving coherence- and wholeness-oriented system, the relations that integrate the cells and organs of my body are prevalent. Beyond my body other relations gain prevalence: those that drive toward coherence and wholeness in society and in nature.
  7. The separate identity I attach to other humans and other things is but a convenient convention that facilitates my interaction with them. My family and my community are just as much "me" as the organs of my body. My body and mind, my family and my community, are interacting and interpenetrating, variously prevalent elements in the network of relations that encompasses all things in nature and the human world.
  8. The whole gamut of concepts and ideas that separates my identity, or the identity of any person or community, from the identity of other persons and communities are manifestations of this convenient but arbitrary convention. There are only gradients distinguishing individuals from each other and from their environment and no real divisions and boundaries. There are no "others" in the world: We are all living systems and we are all part of each other.
  9. Attempting to maintain the system I know as "me" through ruthless competition with the system I know as "you" is a grave mistake: It could damage the integrity of the embracing whole that frames both your life and mine. I cannot preserve my own life and wholeness by damaging that whole, even if damaging a part of it seems to bring me short-term advantage. When I harm you, or anyone else around me, I harm myself.
  10. Collaboration, not competition, is the royal road to the wholeness that hallmarks healthy systems in the world. Collaboration calls for empathy and solidarity, and ultimately for love. I do not and cannot love myself if I do not love you and others around me: We are part of the same whole and so are part of each other.
  11. The idea of "self-defense," even of "national defense," needs to be rethought. Patriotism if it aims to eliminate adversaries by force, and heroism even in the well-meaning execution of that aim, are mistaken aspirations. A patriot and a hero who brandishes a sword or a gun is an enemy also to himself. Every weapon intended to hurt or kill is a danger to all. Comprehension, conciliation and forgiveness are not signs of weakness; they are signs of courage.
  12. "The good" for me and for every person in the world is not the possession and accumulation of personal wealth. Wealth, in money or in any material resource, is but a means for maintaining myself in my environment. As exclusively mine, it commandeers part of the resources that all things need to share if they are to live and to thrive. Exclusive wealth is a threat to all people in the human community. And because I am a part of this community, in the final count it is a threat also to me, and to all who hold it.
  13. Beyond the sacred whole we recognize as the world in its totality, only life and its development have what philosophers call intrinsic value; all other things have merely instrumental value: value insofar as they add to or enhance intrinsic value. Material things in the world, and the energies and substances they harbor or generate, have value only if and insofar they contribute to life and wellbeing in the web of life on this Earth.
  14. The true measure of my accomplishment and excellence is my readiness to give. Not the amount of what I give is the measure of my accomplishment and excellence, but the relation between what I give, and what my family and I need to live and to thrive.
  15. Every healthy person has pleasure in giving: It is a higher pleasure than having. I am healthy and whole when I value giving over having. A community that values giving over having is a community of healthy people, oriented toward thriving through empathy, solidarity, and love among its members. Sharing enhances the community of life, while possessing and accumulating creates demarcation, invites competition, and fuels envy. The share-society is the norm for all the communities of life on the planet; the have-society is typical only of modern-day humanity, and it is an aberration.
  16. I recognize the aberration of modern-day humanity from the universal norm of coherence in the world, acknowledge my role in having perpetrated it, and pledge my commitment to restoring wholeness and coherence by becoming whole myself: whole in my thinking and acting -- in my consciousness.
If you had an "aha experience" while reading even just one of these ideas, you have the foundations of Akashic consciousness. And if you had this experience all the way through, you already possess this crucial consciousness.
How did you resonate with what you have read? Tell us -- and we shall do our best to respond.
Your A-team:
Charlie Stuart Gay, Györgyi Szabo, Kingsley Dennis, Alexander Laszlo, and Ibolya Kapta
Ervin Laszlo is the author of 89 books published in 24 languages, including his bestselling Science and the Akashic Field. His latest book is The Akasha Paradigm, just released on the Internet: http://www.akashaparadigm.com/
      
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Mental Health and Anomalous Experience

By Craig Murray (ed.)

From the publisher's website: The importance of spiritual and religious frames of reference in making sense of and recovering from mental health difficulties is increasingly being recognized by mental health researchers. This book focuses on a variety of broad existential experiences. These are variously termed ‘religious, ‘spiritual’, ‘anomalous’ ‘extraordinary or exceptional experiences’, or ‘aberrant perceptions or beliefs’ by researchers and health practitioners active in this field. In recognition of the burgeoning work in this area in recent years, this book brings together a broad range of approaches and perspectives to focus on an important set of topics that are important in demarcating this topic area.
Table of Contents:
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1. The role of understanding, engagement and meaning in anomalous experience: A narrative review of the evidence from cultural research (Greg Taylor and Craig Murray)
Chapter 2. Religious visions and voices (Simon L. Dein)
Chapter 3. ‘Sense of presence’ experiences in bereavement and their relationship to mental health: A critical examination of a continuing controversy (Edith Steffen and Adrian Coyle)
Chapter 4. Reflections on researching sense of presence experiences with a bereaved population (Catherine Keen)
Chapter 5. Psychological and mental well-being in palliative care: Needs of patients and caregivers (Mary Oliver)
Chapter 6. Clinical psychology of anomalous experiences: Roots and paradigms (Renaud Evrard)
Chapter 7. Health and well-being benefits of exceptional human experiences (William Braud)
Chapter 8. Psychopathological and psychodynamic approaches to anomalous experiences: The concept of a paranormal solution (Thomas Rabeyron)
Chapter 9. On niches and nutters: An alternative view (Pieter R. Adriaens)
Chapter 10. Anomalous experiences and mental health: the double-edged sword (Kerry L. Schofield)
Chapter 11. Psychosis and religious/spiritual experience: Ethnographic, cognitive and neurobiological perspectives (Simon L. Dein)
Chapter 12. Grief illusions and/or pseudo-hallucinations in children: A “ghost” slips by (Pascal Le Maléfan)
Chapter 13. Humanistic group therapy, mental health and anomalous/ paranormal experiences (Alejandro Parra)
Chapter 14. Musings on anomalous experience in a therapeutic context (Lisa Herman)
About The Authors/Index

Mental Health and Anomalous Experience. Nova Publishers, April 2012. ISBN: 978-1-62100-350-2

Reviewed for the SPR, 2009
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The Mind-Body Problem: The Brain as filter for universal Mind

The official scientific view of humans is we are just lumps of meat and consciousness is just a side effect of a ferment of activity in a certain part of any given lump of meat. There is however an increasing body of evidence that indicates mind is not just activity in the meat we call our brain.
Kastrup [1] presents an overview of the filter theory of consciousness. Kastrup is not concerned with quantum physics but the filter theory is consistent with the requirements Dossey cites theoretical physicists as claiming to be essential features of mind required by quantum physics. It may also be consistent with the notion that a complex 8 dimensional space time metric known as Complex Minkowski Space may offer some explanation of Psychic Phenomena [3[.
The filter theory of consciousness explains not only why mental events are normally correlated with neural activity but also helps explain those times where mental activity seems to be independent of the brain and indeed of space time. Normally mental experience is strongly correlated to brain state. There is a lot of evidence that under unusual conditions this correlation breaks down which suggests either that the brain does not cause all mental experience, or, and Kastrup considers this more likely, that the brain is not the cause of mental states.
This is consistent with a view this author has held for a long time, that the brain is an interface used by the mind to drive the body, a notion consistent with the apparent hijacking of subjects's free will by using electrodes connected to the brain to control a subject's muscles contrary to their will: such an experiment is like remotely controlling a car that is normally under driver control.

Free will and the Unconscious

The idea the mind is not an epiphenomenon of neural activity is consistent with experiments Libet carried out which showed that the unconscious mind could initiate a voluntary action [4] . His experiments do not show that free will is an illusion, merely that at times the will that produces an action is that of the “unconscious” mind, not the conscious mind: the term “unconscious” here presupposes something about the part of the mind. that initiates the action. Many people are aware of doing things without knowing why. Sometimes these actions seem irrational but turn out to have a reason. For example one famous hunter of the early 20th century was noticed that while walking along a road in India he had crossed to the other side and back again. The next day he retraced his steps and found that where he had crossed a tiger had been resting by the roadside. He concluded that his unconscious mind had noticed signs a tiger was there and had made him cross the road to avoid the risk. It seem difficult to accept that the “unconscious” is truly unconscious in the normal sense and perhaps it is better to talk of Primary and Secondary consciousness. If that approach is taken the secondary consciousness would be of a different kind from the Primary consciousness and not be limited by space and time as indicated by the cases mentioned in [5] . The different quality of secondary consciousness would explain why its workings are not normally accessible to Primary consciousness. In many ways the unconscious is like a second person in the body who behaves as a polite guest . Most of the time. But, like having the Queen of England living in your house, occasionally they can demand certain actions of you.

Mind and Neurons

Brain states and mental experience normally go together. A pint of Beer changes both your mental state and the state of the brain. Stimulating some parts of the brain alter ones subjective experience. But for all the evidence of correlation between brain state and subjective experience correlation is not causation. Brain state may cause Subjective experience or vice versa, or both may be caused by a third event. Large numbers of firefighters tend to appear at large fires, but that does not mean the firefighters caused the fire.


Problems with Materialism

The materialist view is that our subjective experience is caused by the state of the brain. The precise nature of the map between brain states and mental experience is left unexamined. If experience arises from the firing of brain cells then it should be possible to link experience to the firing of certain sets of brain cells. Kastrup notes that observations show an inconsistent or even contradictory association. This can perhaps be explained by assuming that experience is produced by the firing of a subset of all the cells that fire when the subject is experiencing something. This is already getting messy as an explanation. Furthermore some neuroscientists think experience originates from unobservable quantum processes in structures known as microtubules.
One major problem with the materialist view, is that it is impossible even in principle, to deduce the properties of a mental experience from the properties of matter. This is known as the explanatory gap or the hard problem of consciousness. Since it is impossible to determine a mapping between neurons and mental experience any mapping is as good or as bad as another and can be used to support the materialist paradigm. Or presumably to attack it. It is not therefore possible to claim that observations support the materialist paradigm. Kastrup concludes that materialism does not at present provide a causal chain from matter to mind or an explanatory framework for the mind body problem.
There are many atheists who hold to the materialist view point more as a matter of Religion than Science. Indeed many of them feel that to abandon the materialist viewpoint would validate Religion, something against which they revolted at an early age. Leiter [6] says of skeptics he has observed
‘‘Each one who has disclosed personal details of their formative years, say up to their early 20’s, has had an unfortunate experience with a faith-based philosophy, most often a conventional major religion. Very often their family or community has (almost forcibly) imposed this philosophy on them at a very early age; but then as they matured, they threw off this philosophy with a vengeance, vowing at a soul level never to be so victimized again.”
It therefore seems plausible that the materialist paradigm is not embraced on purely rational grounds by the Scientific Community, and that deviant observations like those mentioned by Kastrup are ignored in an effort to minimise cognitive dissonance.

The Filter Theory

Even in the early days of Quantum Theory it proved impossible to remove the consciousness of the observer from an experiment. Kastrup cites other researchers as having found powerful physical evidence that nothing physical can be explained independently of the associated mental experience. Consciousness cannot therefore be derived from matter but must be an irreducible fundamental entity. This shows that militant atheists are right to fear any evidence that threatens the materialist view for it raises the possibility of a “Mind Before Matter” universe[7] and the possibility Religion may be “true”, for if consciousnss is fundamental and irreducible Mind must exist before and indeed be able to exist independently of matter.
But if this is the case why are mental states and brain states so strongly correlated MOST of the time?
The Filter Hypothesis is that the role of the brain is to localise consciousness, pinning it to the space-time region of the body so that Mind is “Trapped in Time and Sealed by Thought” [8]. The brain therefore adjusts perception in accordance with the situation of the body in order to further survival of the body.
When not localised by the brain consciousness is unbound and it may be able to travel anywhere or anywhen or further.
Kastrup considers the brain as an evolutionary mechanism to capture, constrain, and put to use an otherwise unbound and irreducible aspect of nature: subjective experience itself, just as plants evolved to capture sunlight and use it for their own ends. Of course there is the logical possibility that consciousness decided to create brains for some unknown purpose, but this possibility cannot be examined here: it would open too many cans of worms.
The Filter Hypothesis implies that the brain SELECTS conscious experience in terms primarily of the needs of the body. This relates to some earlier speculations by the Author [9] that the universe may be like a multiple image hologram and the brain selects the “angle” at which it is viewed. It leaves open the question of how the brain selects experience for psychological needs, particularly dysfunctional ones.
The Filter Hypothesis implies all possible experiences ( possible worlds in Quantum Theoretic terminology) exist already and are merely selected by the brain. The brain processes that are normally correlated with mental experience are just the traces of the filtering at work, just as the activity of circuits in a television are the traces of the machine selecting a particular channel.
For there to be a survival advantage the Mind must also be able to affect brain structurem and there is evidence this is the case. Kastrup cites experiments where subjacts have been able to reverse brain pathologies just by directing conscious intent, and in The Shallows Nicholas Carr points out that simply using the internet or driving a taxi alters the structure of the brain. Such a feedback loop is difficult to contemplate, perhaps even paradoxical, in the materialist paradigm, but straightforward in the prior-consciousness paradigm.
This phenomenon, known as “self directed neuroplasticity” should be like a red rag to a bull to materialist skeptics because it weakens arguments against psychokinesis.


Predictions from the theory

Kastrup makes the following predictions for the Filter Hypothesis.
  1. Since each brain selects only a small subset of possible experience the rest becomes the unconscious and since the amount selected is infinitesimal compares with the amount rejected, the unconscious will be almost identical for all brains therefore there is a collective unconscious.
  2. Transpersonal non-local subjective experiences may happen when certain brain processes are interrupted or deactivated.
Both predictions contradict the materialist paradigm. The second prediction is consistent with the experience of meditation students who find they develop psychic powers, and with that of those who go on shamanic journeys. Meditation students are advised to ignore these powers because they may seduce the student and reinforce the ego not help dissolve it.

The Wrap

The Materialist mind-body paradigm is not supported by observations. Further it has foundational problems such as the hard problem of consciousness.
By contrast the Filter Theory is supported by observations, does not raise the hard problem of consciousness, though the mechanism of interaction between consciousness and the brain is unclear ( morphic resonance may be a step forward in this direction), explains those mental experiences not correlated with brain activity and why consciousness and the brain are so tightly correlated MOST of the time.
The theory has a lot going for it and deserves further investigation.

Further reading

[1] A Paradigm-Breaking Hypothesis for Solving the Mind-Body Problem, Bernardo Kastrup, Paranthropology 3 (3) July 2012 page 4
[2] Space, Time and Medicine: Larry Dossey, Shambhala Publications Inc (1 April 1982)
[3] The Speed of Thought: Investigation of a Complex Space-Time Metric to Describe Psychic Phenomena ELIZABETH A. RAUSCHER AND RUSSELL TARG Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 331–354, 2001
[4] Scientific evidence that you probably don’t have free will
[5] Sorcery: J. Finley Hurley Routledge & Kegan Paul 1985 ISBN 0-7102-0292-X
[6] Organized Skepticism Revisited, L. DAVID LEITER, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 661–664, 2004
[7| The Secret History of the World, Jonathan Black, Quercus; 2 edition (29 July 2010)
[8] This is a line from a track on Arthur Brown's album Galactic Zoo Dossier
[9| The Holographic multiverse
[10] The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember
Nicolas Carr, Atlantic Books (1 July 2011)
http://alexk2009.hubpages.com/hub/The-Mind-Body-Problem-The-Brain-as-filter-for-universal-Mind

http://alexk2009.hubpages.com/hub/The-Mind-Body-Problem-The-Brain-as-filter-for-universal-Mind





 

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Afterlife

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Ancient Egyptian papyrus depicting the journey into the afterlife.

Paradise of Bhaishajyaguru discovered at the Mogao Caves.
In philosophy, religion, mythology, and fiction, the afterlife (also referred to as life after death or the Hereafter) is the concept of a realm, or the realm itself (whether physical or transcendental), in which an essential part of an individual's identity or consciousness continues to reside after the death of the body in the individual's lifetime. According to various ideas of the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul, of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity. Belief in an afterlife, which may be naturalistic or supernatural, is in contrast to the belief in eternal oblivion after death.
In some popular views, this continued existence often takes place in a spiritual realm, and in other popular views, the individual may be reborn into this world and begin the life cycle over again, likely with no memory of what they have done in the past. In this latter view, such rebirths and deaths may take place over and over again continuously until the individual gains entry to a spiritual realm or Otherworld. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics.
Some belief systems, such as those in the Abrahamic tradition, hold that the dead go to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by a god, gods, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life. In contrast, in systems of reincarnation, such as those in the Dharmic tradition, the nature of the continued existence is determined directly by the actions of the individual in the ended life, rather than through the decision of another being.

Contents

The afterlife in different metaphysical models

In metaphysical models, theists generally believe some sort of afterlife awaits people when they die. Members of some generally non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, tend to believe in an afterlife, but without reference to a God. The Sadducees were an ancient Jewish sect that generally believed that there was a God but no afterlife.
Many religions, whether they believe in the soul's existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one's status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation refers to an afterlife concept found among Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Rosicrucians, Spiritists, and Wiccans. Reincarnation is also a belief described in Kabbalistic Judaism as gilgul neshamot (Reincarnation of Souls).[1] In reincarnation, spiritual development continues after death as the deceased begins another earthly life in the physical world, acquiring a superior grade of consciousness and altruism by means of successive reincarnations. This succession leads toward an eventual liberation.
One consequence of the Hindu and Spiritist beliefs is that our current lives are both afterlife and a beforelife. According to those beliefs events in our current life are consequences of actions taken in previous lives, or Karma.
Rosicrucians,[2] in the same way of those who have had near-death experiences, speak of a life review period occurring immediately after death and before entering the afterlife's planes of existence (before the silver cord is broken), followed by a judgment, more akin to a Final Review or End Report over one's life.[3]

Heaven and hell

In Abrahamic religions, the view is generally held that one goes to hell or heaven depending on one's deeds and/or faith while on Earth,[4] or predestination and Unconditional election, or to the intermediate state to await the Resurrection of the Dead. In most denominations, Heaven is a place of everlasting reward for the righteous to go after they die. Hell in comparison is a place of eternal torment for the wicked. Similar places of torment and reward can be seen in Greek Mythology with Elysium versus Tartarus.

Limbo

Despite popular opinion, Limbo, which was elaborated upon by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, yet, at times, the Church incorporated the theory in its ordinary belief. Limbo is a theory that unbaptized but innocent souls, such as those of infants, virtuous individuals who lived before Jesus Christ was born on earth, or those that die before baptism must wait before going to heaven. Therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin although they have not received baptism, so still bear original sin. On Friday, April 20, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, abolished the whole idea saying he "showed doubt about the concept of limbo". He cited his concerns about it when he was a cardinal. In other Christian denominations it has been described as an intermediate place or state of confinement in oblivion and neglect.[5]

Purgatory

The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church, all those who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven or the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The tradition of the church, by reference to certain texts of scripture, speaks of a "cleansing fire" although it is not always called purgatory.
Anglicans of the Anglo-Catholic tradition generally also hold to the belief. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed in an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the dead and in the possibility of "continuing to grow in holiness there", but Methodism does not officially affirm this belief and denies the possibility of helping by prayer any who may be in that state.[6]

Ancient religions

Ancient Egypt

The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egyptian religion, and its belief system is one of the earliest known in recorded history. When the body died, parts of its soul known as ka (body double) and the ba (personality) would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. While the soul dwelt in the Fields of Aaru, Osiris demanded work as restitution for the protection he provided. Statues were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.[7]
Arriving at one's reward in afterlife was a demanding ordeal, requiring a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords and formulae of the Book of the Dead. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased's heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma'at.[8] If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit.[9]
Egyptians also believed that being mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an ancient Egyptian "coffin" carved with complex symbols and designs, as well as pictures and hieroglyphs) was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a mastaba, could the dead live again in the Fields of Yalu and accompany the Sun on its daily ride. Due to the dangers the afterlife posed, the Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewellery, and 'curses'. They also used the "opening of the mouth".[10][11]
Ancient Egyptian civilization was based on religion; their belief in the rebirth after death became their driving force behind their funeral practices. Death was simply a temporary interruption, rather than complete cessation, of life, and that eternal life could be ensured by means like piety to the gods, preservation of the physical form through mummification, and the provision of statuary and other funerary equipment. Each human consisted of the physical body, the 'ka', the 'ba', and the 'akh'. The Name and Shadow were also living entities. To enjoy the afterlife, all these elements had to be sustained and protected from harm.[12]
On March 30, 2010, a spokesman for the Egyptian Culture Ministry claimed it had unearthed a large red granite door in Luxor with inscriptions by User,[13] a powerful adviser to the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut who ruled between 1479 BC and 1458 BC, the longest of any woman. It believes the false door is a 'door to the Afterlife'. According to the archaeologists, the door was reused in a structure in Roman Egypt.

Ancient Greek and Roman

The Greek god Hades is known in Greek mythology as the king of the underworld, a place where souls live after death. The Greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods, would take the dead soul of a person to the underworld (sometimes called Hades or the House of Hades). Hermes would leave the soul on the banks of the River Styx, the river between life and death.[14]
Charon, also known as the ferry-man, would take the soul across the river to Hades, if the soul had gold: Upon burial, the family of the dead soul would put coins under the deceased's tongue. Once crossed, the soul would be judged by Aeacus, Rhadamanthus and King Minos. The soul would be sent to Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel Fields, or the Fields of Punishment. The Elysian Fields were for the ones that lived pure lives. It consisted of green fields, valleys and mountains, everyone there was peaceful and contented, and the Sun always shone there. Tartarus was for the people that blasphemed against the gods, or were simply rebellious and consciously evil.[15]
The Asphodel Fields were for a varied selection of human souls: Those whose sins equalled their goodness, were indecisive in their lives, or were not judged. The Fields of Punishment were for people that had sinned often, but not so much as to be deserving of Tartarus. In Tartarus, the soul would be punished by being burned in lava, or stretched on racks. Some heroes of Greek legend are allowed to visit the underworld. The Romans had a similar belief system about the afterlife, with Hades becoming known as Pluto. In the ancient Greek myth about the Labours of Hercules, the hero Hercules had to travel to the underworld to capture Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog, as one of his tasks.
In Dream of Scipio, Cicero describes what seems to be an out of body experience, of the soul traveling high above the Earth, looking down at the small planet, from far away.[16]
In Book VI of Virgil's Aeneid, the hero, Aeneas, travels to the underworld to see his father. By the River Styx, he sees the souls of those not given a proper burial, forced to wait by the river until someone buries them. While down there, along with the dead, he is shown the place where the wrongly convicted reside, the fields of sorrow where those who committed suicide and now regret it reside, including Aeneas' former lover, the warriors and shades, Tartarus (where the titans and powerful non-mortal enemies of the Olympians reside) where he can hear the groans of the imprisoned, the palace of Pluto, and the fields of Elysium where the descendants of the divine and bravest heroes reside. He sees the river of forgetfulness, Lethe, which the dead must drink to forget their life and begin anew. Lastly, his father shows him all of the future heroes of Rome who will live if Aeneas fulfills his destiny in founding the city.

Norse religion

The Poetic and Prose Eddas, the oldest sources for information on the Norse concept of the afterlife, vary in their description of the several realms that are described as falling under this topic. The most well-known are:
  • Valhalla: (lit. "Hall of the Slain" i.e. "the Chosen Ones") Half the warriors who die in battle join the god Odin who rules over a majestic hall called Valhalla in Asgard.
  • Fólkvangr: (lit. "Field of the Host") The other half join the goddess Freyja in a great meadow known as Fólkvangr.
  • Hel: (lit. "The Covered Hall") This abode is somewhat like Hades from Ancient Greek religion: there, something not unlike the Asphodel Meadows can be found, and people who have neither excelled in that which is good nor excelled in that which is bad can expect to go there after they die and be reunited with their loved ones.
  • Niflhel: (lit. "The Dark" or "Misty Hel") This realm is roughly analogous to Greek Tartarus. It is the deeper level beneath Hel, and those who break oaths, abduct and rape women, and commit other vile things will be sent there to be among their kind to suffer harsh punishments.

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

She'ol

Writing that would later be incorporated into the Hebrew Bible names Sheol as the place of the dead.[17] The Christian writer's traditional re-interpretation is that the Hebrew word Sheol can mean many things, including "grave", "resort", "place of waiting" and "place of healing". It can also mean "deep", as it is used when the earth opens up and destroys the rebellious Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their 250 followers (Numbers 16:31-33). One might take this as implying that Sheol is literally underground, although it is as easily read literally, as signifying an earthquake or split in the earth.
Solomon states in the book of Ecclesiastes: "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" (Ecc. 3:19-21 NKJV)
"But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun." (Ecc. 9:4-6 NKJV)
Similarly Psalms 146:2-4 (NKJV) states: "Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish."
In the book of Job it is stated: "But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? ... So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep ... If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:10,12,14a NKJV)

Olam Haba

The Talmud offers a number of thoughts relating to the afterlife. Talmudic authorities agree that any virtuous gentile will be given a share in the world-to-come. After death, the soul is brought for judgment. Those who have led pristine lives enter immediately into the "Olam Haba" or World to Come. Most do not enter the World to Come immediately, but now experience a period of review of their earthly actions and they are made aware of what they have done wrong. Some view this period as being a "re-schooling", with the soul gaining wisdom as one's errors are reviewed. Others view this period to include spiritual discomfort for past wrongs. At the end of this period, not longer than one year, the soul then takes its place in the World to Come. Although discomforts are made part of certain Jewish conceptions of the afterlife, the concept of "eternal damnation", so prevalent in other religions, is no tenet of the Jewish afterlife. According to the Talmud, extinction of the soul is reserved for a far much smaller group of malicious and evil leaders, either whose very evil deeds go way beyond norms, or who lead large groups of people to utmost evil.[18][19]
Maimonides describes the Olam Haba ("World to Come") in spiritual terms, relegating the prophesied physical resurrection to the status of a future miracle, unrelated to the afterlife or the Messianic era. According to Maimonides, an afterlife continues for the soul of every human being, a soul now separated from the body in which it was "housed" during its earthly existence.
The Zohar describes Gehenna not as a place of punishment for the wicked but as a place of spiritual purification for souls.[20]

Reincarnation

Jewish mystics who believed in reincarnation accepted it as a divine reality.
Although there is no reference to reincarnation in the Talmud or any prior writings,[21] according to rabbis such as Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, reincarnation is recognized as being part and parcel of Jewish tradition. Rabbi Trugman explains that it is through oral tradition that the meanings of the Torah, its commandments and stories, are known and understood. The classic work of Jewish mysticism whose origins date back 2000 years,[22] the Zohar, is quoted liberally in all Jewish learning; in the Zohar the idea of reincarnation is mentioned repeatedly. Rabbi Trugman states that in the last five centuries the concept of reincarnation, which until then had been a much hidden tradition within Judaism, was given open exposure.[22]
Rabbi Shraga Simmons commented that within the Bible itself, the idea [of reincarnation] is intimated in Deut. 25:5-10, Deut. 33:6 and Isaiah 22:14, 65:6.[23]
Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman wrote that reincarnation is an "ancient, mainstream belief in Judaism". The Zohar, written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai close to two thousand years ago, makes frequent and lengthy references to reincarnation. Onkelos, a righteous convert and authoritative commentator of the same period, explained the verse, "Let Reuben live and not die ..." (Deuteronomy 33:6) to mean that Reuben should merit the World to Come directly, and not have to die again as result of being reincarnated. The great Torah scholar, commentator and kabbalist, Nachmanides (Ramban 1195–1270), attributed Job's suffering to reincarnation, as hinted in Job's saying "God does all these things twice or three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit to ... the light of the living' (Job 33:29,30)."[24]
Reincarnation, called gilgul, became popular in folk belief, and is found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Among a few kabbalists, it was posited that some human souls could end up being reincarnated into non-human bodies. These ideas were found in a number of Kabbalistic works from the 13th century, and also among many mystics in the late 16th century. Martin Buber's early collection of stories of the Baal Shem Tov's life includes several that refer to people reincarnating in successive lives.[25]
Among well known (generally non-kabbalist or anti-kabbalist) Rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation are Saadia Gaon, David Kimhi, Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud, the Rosh and Leon de Modena. Saadia Gaon, in Emunoth ve-Deoth (Hebrew: "beliefs and opinions") concludes Section VI with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis (reincarnation). While refuting reincarnation, the Saadia Gaon further states that Jews who hold to reincarnation have adopted non-Jewish beliefs. By no means do all Jews today believe in reincarnation, but belief in reincarnation is not uncommon among many Jews, including Orthodox. Most Orthodox siddurim (prayerbooks) have a prayer asking for forgiveness for one's sins that one may have committed in this gilgul or a previous one.[citation needed]
Other well-known rabbis who are reincarnationists include Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Talmud scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Rabbi DovBer Pinson, Rabbi David M. Wexelman, Rabbi Zalman Schachter,[26] and many others. Reincarnation is cited by authoritative biblical commentators, including Ramban (Nachmanides), Menachem Recanti and Rabbenu Bachya.
Among the many volumes of the holy Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (known as the "Ari"), most of which come downfrom the pen of his primary disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital, are profound insights explaining issues related to reincarnation. His Shaar HaGilgulim, "The Gates of Reincarnation", is a book devoted exclusively to the subject of reincarnation in Judaism.

Christianity

Mainstream Christianity professes belief in the Nicene Creed, and English versions of the Nicene Creed in current use include the phrase: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." Christian eschatology is concerned with death, an intermediate state, Heaven, Hell, the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, a rapture, a tribulation, the Millennium, end of the world, the last judgment, a new heaven and a new earth, and the ultimate consummation of all of God's purposes. Eschatological passages are found in many places, especially Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, and the Book of Revelation. Although punishments are made part of certain Christian conceptions of the afterlife, the prevalent concept of "eternal damnation" is a tenet of the Christian afterlife.
When questioned by the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead (in a context relating to who one's spouse would be if one had been married several times in life), Jesus said that marriage will be irrelevant after the resurrection as the resurrected will be (at least in this respect) like the angels in heaven.[27]
Jesus also maintained that the time would come when the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who were in the tombs would come out, the faithful to the resurrection of life, and the unfaithful to the resurrection of judgment.[28] According to the Gospel of Matthew, at the death of Jesus tombs were opened, and at his resurrection many saints who had died emerged from their tombs and went into "the holy city", presumably New Jerusalem.[29] No other New Testament account includes this event.
The Last Day: Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven, over which He rules, to a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age also known as the Last Day. The angels will separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of unquenchable fire. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The Book of Enoch describes Sheol as divided into four compartments for four types of the dead: the faithful saints who await resurrection in Paradise, the merely virtuous who await their reward, the wicked who await punishment, and the wicked who have already been punished and will not be resurrected on Judgment Day.[30] It should be noted that the Book of Enoch is considered apocryphal by most denominations of Christianity and all denominations of Judaism.
The book of 2 Maccabees gives a clear account of the dead awaiting a future resurrection and judgment, plus prayers and offerings for the dead to remove the burden of sin.

Domenico Beccafumi's Inferno: a Christian vision of hell
The author of Luke recounts the story of Lazarus and the rich man, which shows people in Hades awaiting the resurrection either in comfort or torment. The author of the Book of Revelation writes about God and the angels versus Satan and demons in an epic battle at the end of times when all souls are judged. There is mention of ghostly bodies of past prophets, and the transfiguration.
The non-canonical Acts of Paul and Thecla speak of the efficacy of prayer for the dead, so that they might be "translated to a state of happiness".[31]
Hippolytus of Rome pictures the underworld (Hades) as a place where the righteous dead, awaiting in the bosom of Abraham their resurrection, rejoice at their future prospect, while the unrighteous are tormented at the sight of the "lake of unquenchable fire" into which they are destined to be cast.
Gregory of Nyssa discusses the long-before believed possibility of purification of souls after death.[32]
Saint Augustine counters Pelagius, arguing that original sin means that the unbaptised go to hell, including infants, albeit with less suffering than is experienced by those guilty of actual sins.
Pope Gregory I repeats the concept, articulated over a century earlier by Gregory of Nyssa that the saved suffer purification after death, in connection with which he wrote of "purgatorial flames".
The noun "purgatorium" (Latin: place of cleansing[33]) is used for the first time to describe a state of painful purification of the saved after life. The same word in adjectival form (purgatorius -a -um, cleansing), which appears also in non-religious writing,[34] was already used by Christians such as Augustine of Hippo and Pope Gregory I to refer to an after-death cleansing.
During the Age of Enlightenment, theologians and philosophers presented various philosophies and beliefs. A notable example is Emanuel Swedenborg who wrote some 18 theological works which describe in detail the nature of the afterlife according to his claimed spiritual experiences, the most famous of which is Heaven and Hell.[35] His report of life there covers a wide range of topics, such as marriage in heaven (where all angels are married), children in heaven (where they are raised by angel parents), time and space in heaven (there are none), the after-death awakening process in the World of Spirits (a place halfway between Heaven and Hell and where people first wake up after death), the allowance of a free will choice between Heaven or Hell (as opposed to being sent to either one by God), the eternity of Hell (one could leave but would never want to), and that all angels or devils were once people on earth.[35]
On the other hand, the enlightenment produced more rationalist philosophies such as deism. Many deist freethinkers held that belief in an afterlife with reward and punishment was a necessity of reason and good morals.
Most Christians deny that entry into Heaven can be properly earned, rather it is a gift that is solely God's to give through his unmerited grace. This belief follows the theology of St. Paul: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. The Augustinian, Thomist, Lutheran, and Calvinist theological traditions all emphasize the necessity of God's undeserved grace for salvation, and reject so-called Pelagianism, which would make man earn salvation through good works. Not all Christian sects accept this doctrine, leading many controversies on grace and free will, and the idea of predestination. In particular, the belief that heaven is a reward for good behavior is a common folk belief in Christian societies, even among members of churches which reject that belief.
Christian theologians Thomas Aquinas and Jonathan Edwards wrote that the saved in heaven will delight in the suffering of the damned. Hell, however, does not fit modern, humanitarian concepts of punishment because it cannot deter the unbeliever nor rehabilitate the damned, this however, does not affect the Christian belief which places Biblical teaching above the ideas of society. Some Christian believers have come to downplay the punishment of hell. Universalists teach that salvation is for all. Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists, though they have among the strictest rules on how to conduct their lives, teach that sinners are destroyed rather than tortured forever. John 3:16 says that only those that accept Jesus will be given eternal life, so the people that do not accept him cannot burn in hell for eternity because Jesus has not given them eternal life, instead it says they will perish.
In American pop culture depictions of Heaven, particularly in vintage cartoons such as those by Looney Tunes in the mid-20th century, the souls of virtuous people ascend to Heaven and are converted into angels. However, this is not in accordance with the orthodox Christian theology. Christianity depicts a sharp distinction between angels, divine beings created by God before the creation of humanity and are used as messengers, and saints, the souls of humans who have received immortality from the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who dwell in Heaven with God.
Latter Day Saints believe that the soul existed before earth life and will exist in the hereafter. Angels are either spirits that have not yet come to earth to experience their mortality, or spirits or resurrected beings that have already passed through mortality and do the will of God. See Job 38:4-7, D&C 93:29. According to LDS Doctrine, Michael the Archangel became the first man on earth, Adam, to experience his mortality. The Angel of Moroni visited the boy, Joseph Smith, after living out his mortal life in ancient America. Later, he received Angelic administrations from the Apostles Peter, James, and John, John the Baptist, and others.

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, teaches that the first death, or death brought about by living on a planet with sinful conditions (sickness, old age, accident, etc.) is a sleep of the soul. Adventists believe that the body + the breath of God = a living soul. Like Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists use key phrases from the Bible, such as "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten" (Eccl. 9:5 KJV). Adventists also point to the fact that the wage of sin is death and God alone is immortal. Adventists believe God will grant eternal life to the redeemed who are resurrected at Jesus' second coming. Until then, all those who have died are "asleep". When Jesus the Christ, who is the Word and the Bread of Life, comes a second time, the righteous will be raised incorruptible and will be taken in the clouds to meet their Lord. The righteous will live in heaven for a thousand years (the millennium) where they will sit with God in judgment over the unredeemed and the fallen angels. During the time the redeemed are in heaven, the Earth will be devoid of human and animal inhabitation. Only the fallen angels will be left alive. The second resurrection is of the unrighteous, when Jesus brings the New Jerusalem down from heaven to relocate to Earth. Jesus will call to life all those who are unrighteous. Satan and his angels will convince the unrighteous to surround the city, but hell fire and brimstone will fall from heaven and consume them, thus cleansing Earth of all sin. The universe will be then free from sin forever. This is called the second death. On the new earth God will provide an eternal home for all the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, where Eden will be restored. The great controversy will be ended and sin will be no more. God will reign in perfect harmony forever.(Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10; Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19; 2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 35; 65:17-25; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-5; 11:15.)[36][37]

Mormonism

Joseph F. Smith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presents an elaborate vision of the Afterlife. It is revealed as the scene of an extensive missionary effort by righteous spirits to redeem those still in darkness—a spirit prison or "hell" where the spirits of the dead remain until judgment. It is divided into two parts: Spirit Prison and Paradise. Together these are also known as the Spirit World (also Abraham's Bosom; see Luke 16:19-25). They believe that Christ visited spirit prison (1 Peter 3:18-20) and opened the gate for those who repent to cross over to Paradise. "--- what Jesus' immortal spirit did after His death and before His Resurrection is a mystery to all but the Latter-day Saints ---" (Elder Spencer J. Condie, Liahona, -Church magazine – July, 2003) "- - - unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant - - his voice was not raised. - - But behold, from among the righteous, He organized His forces and appointed messengers ..." (D&C 138:20, 30–32). "Christ opened the doors of hell to missionary work among the dead ..." (H. Donl Peterson, "I Have a Question", Ensign, Apr. 1986, 36–38). This is similar to the Harrowing of Hell doctrine of some mainstream Christian faiths.[citation needed] Both Spirit Prison and Paradise are temporary according to Latter-day Saint beliefs. After the resurrection, spirits are assigned "permanently" to three degrees of heavenly glory––Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial––(1 Cor 15:44-42; Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76) or are cast with Satan into Outer Darkness. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76.)

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally use the terms "afterlife" and "hereafter"[38] to refer to any hope for the dead, but they understand Ecclesiastes 9:5 to preclude common views of afterlife:
For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they any more have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe that death is the price for sinning.[39][40] Individuals judged by God to be wicked, such as in the Great Flood or at Armageddon, are given no hope of an afterlife. After Armageddon there will be a resurrection in the flesh[41] of "both righteous and unrighteous" dead (but not the "wicked"), based on Acts 24:15. Survivors of Armageddon and those who are resurrected are then to gradually restore earth to a paradise.[42] After Armageddon, unrepentant sinners are punished with eternal death (non-existence).

Orthodox Christianity

Orthodoxy teaches that, "after the soul leaves the body, it journeys to the abode of the dead (Hades). There are exceptions, such as the Theotokos (the virgin Mary), who was borne by the angels directly into heaven. As for the rest, we must remain in this condition of waiting. Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called "Particular Judgment". When Christ returns, the soul rejoins its risen body to be judged by Him in the Last judgment. The 'good and faithful servant' will inherit eternal life, the unfaithful with the unbeliever will spend eternity in hell. Their sins and their unbelief will torture them as fire."[43]

The Catholic Church

The Catholic conception of the afterlife teaches after the body dies, the soul is judged, the righteous and free of sin enter Heaven. However, those who die in unrepented mortal sin (or original sin if unbaptized) go to hell. In the 1990s, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defined hell not as punishment imposed on the sinner but rather as the sinner's self-exclusion from God. Unlike other Christian groups, the Catholic Church teaches that those who die in a state of grace, but still carry venial sin go to a place called Purgatory where they undergo purification to enter Heaven.

Islam

The Islamic belief in the afterlife as stated in the Qur'an is descriptive. The Islamic word for Paradise is jannat and Hell is jahannam. Jannat and Jahannam both have different levels. Jannat has eight gates and eight levels. The higher the level the better it is and the happier you are. Jahannam possess 7 deep terrible layers. The lower the layer the worse it is. Individuals will arrive at both everlasting homes during Judgment Day, which commences after the Angel Israfil blows the trumpet the second time. Their level of comfort while in the grave depends wholly on their level of Iman or faith in the one God or Allah. In order for one to achieve proper, firm and healthy Iman one must practice righteous deeds or else his level of Iman chokes and shrinks and eventually can wither away if one does not practice Islam long enough, hence the depth of practicing Islam is good deeds. One may also acquire Tasbih and recite the names of Allah in such manner as "SubahannAllah" or Glory be to Allah over and over again to acquire good deeds. The levels in Jannah are 7[44] and 7 ((15) HİCR Suresi. Âyet - 44) for Jahannam.
Islam teaches that the purpose of Man's entire creation is to worship the Creator of the Heavens and Earth—Allah alone that includes being kind to other human beings and life including bugs, and to trees, by not oppressing them. Islam teaches that the life we live on Earth is nothing but a test for us and to determine each individual's ultimate abode be it punishment or Jannat in the afterlife, which is eternal and everlasting.
In the 20th century, discussions about the afterlife address the interconnection between human action and divine judgment, the need for moral rectitude, and the eternal consequences of human action in this life and world.[45]

Bahá'í Faith

The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith state that the nature of the afterlife is beyond the nature of those living, just as an unborn fetus cannot understand the nature of the world outside of the womb. The Bahá'í writings state that the soul is immortal and after death it will continue to progress until it attains God's presence. In Bahá'í belief, souls in the afterlife will continue to retain their individuality and consciousness and will be able to recognize and communicate spiritually with other souls whom they have made deep profound friendships with, such as their spouses.[46]
The Bahá'í scriptures also state there are distinctions between souls in the afterlife, and that souls will recognize the worth of their own deeds and understand the consequences of their actions. It is explained that those souls that have turned toward God will experience gladness, while those who have lived in error will become aware of the opportunities they have lost. Also, in the Baha'i view, souls will be able to recognize the accomplishments of the souls that have reached the same level as themselves, but not those that have achieved a rank higher than them.[46]

Dharmic religions

Hinduism

Upanishads describe reincarnation (punarjanma) (see also: samsara). The Bhagavat Gita, an important Hindu script, talks extensively about the afterlife. Here, the lord Krishna says that just as a man discards his old clothes and wears new ones; similarly the soul discards the old body and takes on a new one. In Hinduism, the belief is that the body is but a shell, the soul inside is immutable and indestructible and takes on different lives in a cycle of birth and death. The end of this cycle is called "Mukti" (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) and staying finally with supreme God forever; is "Moksha" (Sanskrit: मोक्ष) or salvation.
Garuda Purana, a book solely deals with what happens to a person after death. The God of Death Yama sends his representatives to collect the soul from a person's body whenever he is due for death and they take the soul to Yama. A record of each person's timings & deeds performed by him is kept in a ledger by Yama's assistant "Chitragupta".
According to the Garuda Purana, a soul after leaving the body, travels through a very long & dark tunnel towards South. This is why an oil lamp is lit and kept beside the head of the corpse, to light the dark tunnel and allow the soul to travel comfortably.
The soul, called "Atman" leaves the body and reincarnates itself according to the deeds or Karma performed by one in last birth. Rebirth would be in form of animals or other lower creatures if one performed bad Karmas and in human form in a good family with joyous lifetime if the person was good in last birth. In between the two births a human is also required to either face punishments for bad Karmas in "naraka" or hell or enjoy for the good karmas in "svarga" or heaven for good deeds. Whenever his or her punishments or rewards are over he or she is sent back to earth, also known as "Martyalok" or human world. A person stays with the God or ultimate power when he discharges only & only yajna karma (means work done for satisfaction of supreme lord only) in last birth and the same is called as "Moksha" or "Nirvana", which is the ultimate goal of a self realised soul. Atma moves with "Parmatma" or the greatest soul.According to Bhagwadgita an "Atma" or soul never dies, what dies is the body only made of five elements—Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Sky. Soul is believed to be indestructible.None of the five elements can harm or influence it.Hinduism through Garuda Purana also describes in detail various types of "Narkas" or Hells where a person after death is punished for his bad Karmas and dealt with accordingly.
Hindus also believe in 'Karma'. 'Karma' is the accumulated sums of one's good or bad deeds.Satkarma means good deeds, vikarma means bad deeds. According to Hinduism the basic concept of Karma is 'As you sow, you shall reap'. So, if a person has lived a good life, they will be rewarded in the afterlife. Similarly their sum of bad deeds will be mirrored in their next life. Good 'Karma' brings good rewards and bad 'karmas' lead to bad results. There is no judgment here. People accumulate karma through their actions and even thoughts. In Bhagavad Gita when Arjuna hesitates to kill his kith and kin the lord reprimands him saying thus "Do you believe that you are the doer of the action. No. You are merely an instrument in MY hands. Do you believe that the people in front of you are living? Dear Arjuna, they are already dead. As a kshatriya (warrior) it is your duty to protect your people and land. If you fail to do your duty, then you are not adhering to dharmic principles."

Buddhism

Buddhists maintain that rebirth takes place without an unchanging self or soul passing from one form to another. The type of rebirth will be conditioned by the moral tone of the person's actions (kamma or karma). For example, where a person has committed harmful actions of body, speech and mind based on greed, hatred and delusion, rebirth in a lower realm, i.e. an animal, a ghost or a hell realm, is to be expected. On the other hand, where a person has performed skillful actions based on generosity, loving-kindness (metta), compassion and wisdom, rebirth in a happy realm, i.e. human or one of the many heavenly realms, can be expected.
In Tibetan Buddhism the Tibetan Book of the Dead explains the intermediate state of humans between death and reincarnation. The deceased will find the bright light of wisdom, which shows a straightforward path to move upward and leave the cycle of reincarnation. There are various reasons why the deceased do not follow that light. Some had no briefing about the intermediate state in the former life. Others only used to follow their basic instincts like animals. And some have fear, which results from foul deeds in the former life or from insistent haughtiness. In the intermediate state the awareness is very flexible, so it is important to be virtuous, adopt a positive attitude, and avoid negative ideas. Ideas which are rising from subconsciousness can cause extreme tempers and cowing visions. In this situation they have to understand, that these manifestations are just reflections of the inner thoughts. No one can really hurt them, because they have no more material body. The deceased get help from different Buddhas who show them the path to the bright light. The ones who do not follow the path after all will get hints for a better reincarnation. They have to release the things and beings on which or whom they still hang from the life before. It is recommended to choose a family where the parents trust in the Dharma and to reincarnate with the will to care for the welfare of all beings.
"Life is cosmic energy of the universe and after death it merges in universe again and as the time comes to find the suitable place for the entity died in the life condition it gets born. There are 10 life states of any life: Hell, hunger, anger, animality, rapture, humanity, learning, realization, bodhisatva and buddhahood. The life dies in which life condition it reborn in the same life condition."

Sikhism

Sikhs also believe in reincarnation. They believe that the soul belongs to the spiritual universe which has its origins in God. It is like a see-saw, the amount of good done in life will store up blessings, thus uniting with God. It needs to be clarified whether the ideal is union or link with 'Waheguru' (God) or merger in God (Hindu belief). Before the creation of the world, God was all by Himself, in a Self-absorbed state. In that state, God's Will, Naam or Attributes were not expressed, since they have relevance only in the created world. At next stage, universe was created. Since then God's Naam and Will have become expressed and creative functioning in the universe goes on. The suggested merger in God (Hindu belief)in this state involves virtually a reversion to the first state of God being Self-absorbed. This reversal would evidently be counter to the expressed Creative Will of God. So Sikhs believe in union as opposed to merger. A soul may need to live many lives before it is one with God. But there is more to it than this; there are four classes that are included in this belief. Above these four classes is God "Waheguru" and the soul can choose to stay with him it wishes, or take another step and go to its people and serve them. Below these four classes are non-humans such as plants and viruses. Souls move up and down according to their deeds, a good life and death moves them up to a higher class and a bad life and death results in going down a class.

Neopaganism

Wicca

The Wiccan afterlife is most commonly described as The Summerland. Here, souls rest, recuperate from life, and reflect on the experiences they had during their lives. After a period of rest, the souls are reincarnated, and the memory of their previous lives is erased. Many Wiccans see The Summerland as a place to reflect on their life actions. It is not a place of reward, but rather the end of a life journey at an end point of incarnations.[47]

Others

Unitarian Universalism

Some Unitarian Universalists believes in universalism that all souls will ultimately be saved and that there are no torments of hell.[48] Unitarian Universalists differ widely in their theology hence there is no exact same stance on the issue.[49] Although Unitarians historically believed in a literal hell, and Universalists historically believed that everyone goes to heaven, modern Unitarian Universalists can be categorized into those believing in a heaven, reincarnation and oblivion. Most Unitarian Universalists believe that heaven and hell are symbolic places of consciousness and the faith is largely focused on the worldy life rather than any possible afterlife.[50]

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism states that the urvan, the disembodied spirit, lingers on earth for three days before departing downward to the kingdom of the dead that is ruled by Yima. For the three days that it rests on Earth, righteous souls sit at the head of their body, chanting the Ustavaiti Gathas with joy, while a wicked person sits at the feet of the corpse, wails and recites the Yasna. Zoroastrianism states that for the righteous souls, a beautiful maiden, which is the personification of the soul's good thoughts, words and deeds, appears. For a wicked person, a very old, ugly, naked hag appears. After three nights, the soul of the wicked is taken by the demon Vizaresa (Vīzarəša), to Chinvat bridge, and is made to go to darkness (hell).
Yima is believed to have been the first king on earth to rule, as well as the first man to die. Inside of Yima's realm, the spirits live a shadowy existence, and are dependent on their own descendants which are still living on Earth. Their descendants are to satisfy their hunger and clothe them, through rituals done on earth.
Rituals which are done on the first three days are vital and important, as they protect the soul from evil powers and give it strength to reach the underworld. After three days, the soul crosses Chinvat bridge which is the Final Judgment of the soul. Rashnu and Sraosha are present at the final judgment. The list is expanded sometimes, and include Vahman and Ormazd. Rashnu is the yazata who holds the scales of justice. If the good deeds of the person outweigh the bad, the soul is worthy of paradise. If the bad deeds outweigh the good, the bridge narrows down to the width of a blade-edge, and a horrid hag pulls the soul in her arms, and takes it down to hell with her.
Misvan Gatu is the 'place of the mixed ones' where the souls lead a gray existence, lacking both joy and sorrow. A soul goes here if his/her good deeds and bad deeds are equal, and Rashnu's scale is equal.

Parapsychology

A study conducted in 1901 by physician Duncan MacDougall sought to measure the weight lost by a human when the soul "departed the body" upon death.[51] MacDougall weighed dying patients in an attempt to prove that the soul was material, tangible and thus measurable. Although MacDougall's results varied considerably from "21 grams", for some people this figure has become synonymous with the measure of a soul's mass.[52] The title of the 2003 movie 21 Grams is a reference to MacDougall's findings. His results have never been reproduced, and are generally regarded either as meaningless or considered to have had little if any scientific merit.[53]
The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882 with the express intention of investigating phenomena relating to Spiritualism and the afterlife. Its members continue to conduct scientific research on the paranormal to this day. Some of the earliest attempts to apply scientific methods to the study of phenomena relating to an afterlife were conducted by this organization. Its earliest members included noted scientists like William Crookes, and philosophers such as Henry Sidgwick and William James.
J. B. Rhine, who was critical in the early foundations of parapsychology as a laboratory science, was committed to finding scientific evidence for the spiritual existence of humans. Scientists who have worked in this area include Raymond Moody, Susan Blackmore, Charles Tart, William James, Ian Stevenson, Michael Persinger and Pim van Lommel among others.[54]
After 25 years of parapsychological research, Susan Blackmore came to the conclusion that there is no empirical evidence for an afterlife.[55][56] David Fontana however on the subject of parapsychology has said that "the evidence for survival is so strong that anyone who cares to study it is likely to end up convinced". He further says that the reason there is no complete conclusive repeatable evidence is because that if the afterlife was so demonstrable then it would become "another chapter in a school textbook" and that "the whole process of questioning, probing, studying, observing, meditating and of wanting so desperately and enduringly to know, is part of the development of mind itself".[57]
Some, such as Francis Crick in 1994, have attempted a "scientific search for the soul".[58] Frank Tipler has argued that physics can explain immortality, though such arguments are not falsifiable and thus do not qualify, in Karl Popper's views, as science.[59]
In 2008, Penny Sartori, an intensive care nurse from Swansea, published a book about near death experiences following 10 years of research. Sartori says that people who went through out-of-body experiences felt as if they floated above themselves and were able to accurately recount what had happened in the room even though their bodily eyes were closed.[60]
Investigation of the afterlife also includes the study of (among others) cases of haunting, apparitions of the deceased (including, in some cases, information conveyed by those same apparitions), instrumental trans-communication (recording of electronic voice phenomena on tape), and mediumship.[61]

Hypotheses

An early psychical researcher to propose an afterlife hypothesis was Edmund Fournier d'Albe he wrote that at the moment of death the soul floats into the atmosphere. The soul then inhabits a realm of the earth-atmosphere extending upwards for two- hundred miles, and that the souls live off ultraviolet rays from the sun.[62][63]
The parapsychologist H. H. Price had also developed his own hypothesis about what the afterlife may be like. According to Price after death the self will find itself in a dream world of memories and mental images from their life. Price wrote that the hypothetical "next world would be realms of real mental images". Price however believed that the self may be able to draw upon its memories of previous physical existence to create an environment of totally new images. According to Price, the dream world will not follow the laws of physics just as ordinary dreams do not. In addition, he wrote that each person will experience a world of their own, though he also wrote that the dream world doesn't necessarily have to be solipsistic as different selves may be able to communicate with each other by dream telepathy.[64][65][66][67]
The most common criticism of HH Price's afterlife hypothesis has come from the religious community as his suggestions are not consistent with traditional Christian teaching, nor the teachings of any other monotheistic religion.[68]
Gardner Murphy wrote that a persons mind might survive death in a fragmentary state and merge itself into a collective consciousness. Murphy had opposed the idea that an individual mind with personality as an entity would survive, instead he claimed the mind and all of its memories would merge itself into a larger field of consciousness. He wrote there would be no personal ego left but the consciousness would be able to take on new qualities.[69][70] Patterson (1995) has proposed a form of afterlife equivalent to a collective dream but concludes that the individual will still have subjective consciousness.[71]

Philosophy

Modern philosophy

There is still the position, based on the philosophical question of personal identity, termed open individualism, and in some ways similar to the old belief of monopsychism, that concludes that individual existence is illusory, and our consciousness continues existing after death in other conscious beings. Positions regarding existence after death were supported by some notable physicists such as Erwin Schrödinger and Freeman Dyson.[72]
Certain problems arise with the idea of a particular person continuing after death. Peter van Inwagen, in his argument regarding resurrection, notes that the materialist must have some sort of physical continuity.[73] John Hick also raises some questions regarding personal identity in his book, Death and Eternal Life using an example of a person ceasing to exist in one place while an exact replica appears in another. If the replica had all the same experiences, traits, and physical appearances of the first person, we would all attribute the same identity to the second, according to Hick.

Process philosophy

In the panentheistic model of process philosophy and theology the writers Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne rejected that the universe was made of substance, instead reality is composed of living experiences (occasions of experience). According to Hartshorne people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality in the afterlife, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. However other process philosophers such as David Ray Griffin have written that people may have subjective experience after death.[74][75][76][77]

Science

The scientific method demands much greater skepticism than is found among most religions in relation to afterlife belief. It is generally thought in scientific circles that the mind, psyche, consciousness and personality are products of the functioning brain.[78]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Gilgul Neshamot - Reincarnation of Souls
  2. ^ Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Christianity Lectures (The Riddle of Life and Death), 1908, ISBN 0-911274-84-7
  3. ^ Max Heindel, Death and Life in PurgatoryLife and Activity in Heaven
  4. ^ Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001)
  5. ^ limbo - definition of limbo by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Ted Campbell, Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials (Abingdon 1999), quoted in Feature article by United Methodist Reporter Managing Editor Robin Russell and in FAQ Belief: What happens immediately after a person dies?
  7. ^ Richard P. Taylor Death and the afterlife: A Cultural Encyclopedia ABC-CLIO, 2000 ISBN 0-87436-939-8
  8. ^ Bard, Katheryn (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge.
  9. ^ Kathryn Demeritt Ptah's Travels: Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt 2005, p. 82
  10. ^ Glennys Howarth, Oliver Leaman Encyclopedia of death and dying 2001, p. 238
  11. ^ Natalie Lunis Tut's Deadly Tomb 2010, p. 11
  12. ^ Fergus Fleming, Alan Lothian Ancient Egypt's Myths and Beliefs 2011, p. 96
  13. ^ "Door to Afterlife found in Egyptian tomb". www.meeja.com.au. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30.[dead link]
  14. ^ Social Studies School Service Ancient Greece 2003, pp. 49–51
  15. ^ Perry L. Westmoreland Ancient Greek Beliefs 2007, pp. 68–70
  16. ^ N. Sabir Heaven Hell Or 2010, p. 147
  17. ^ Harris, Stephen. Understanding the Bible.
  18. ^ Tractate Sanhedrin: Interpolated Section: Those Who have no Share in the World to Come
  19. ^ Jehoiakim
  20. ^ soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)Section - Question 12.8: What do Jews say happens when a person dies? Do Jews believe in reincarnation? In hell or heaven? Purgato...
  21. ^ Saadia Gaon in Emunoth ve-Deoth Section vi
  22. ^ a b Reincarnation in the Jewish Tradition - YouTube
  23. ^ Ask the Rabbi - Reincarnation
  24. ^ Reincarnation « Ask! « Ohr Somayach
  25. ^ Martin Buber, "Legende des Baalschem" in Die Chassidischen Bücher, Hellerau 1928, especially Die niedergestiegene Seele
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ Matthew 22:23-33
  28. ^ John 5:29
  29. ^ Matthew 27:50-54
  30. ^ Fosdick, Harry Emerson. A guide to understanding the Bible. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1956. page 276.
  31. ^ Acts of Paul and Thecla 8:5
  32. ^ He wrote that a person "may afterward in a quite different manner be very much interested in what is better, when, after his departure out of the body, he gains knowledge of the difference between virtue and vice and finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by the purifying fire" (emphasis added)—Sermon on the Dead, AD 382, quoted in The Roots of Purgatory
  33. ^ "purgatory". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press., 2003. Answers.com 06 Jun. 2007.
  34. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary
  35. ^ a b Swedenborg, E. Heaven and its Wonders and Hell. From Things Heard and Seen (Swedenborg Foundation, 1946)
  36. ^ White, E.G. (1858). The great controversy. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association
  37. ^ Adventist.org: The Official Site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church
  38. ^ "The Hereafter—Where Will It Be?", The Watchtower, January 1, 2000, page 3, Read online
  39. ^ Reasoning From the Scriptures pp 168–175
  40. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses website on Hell
  41. ^ Acts 24:15 KJV
  42. ^ Insight on the Scriptures vol. 2 pp 574–6
  43. ^ Michael Azkoul What Are the Differences Between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism?
  44. ^ Saheeh Al-Bukhari
  45. ^ Afterlife - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  46. ^ a b Smith, Peter (2000). "burial, "death and afterlife", evil, evil spirits, sin". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 96–97, 118–119, 135–136, 322–323. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
  47. ^ Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own - Page 162, Arin Murphy-Hiscock - 2005
  48. ^ Unitarians: unitarian view of afterlife, unitarian universalist association uua, unitarian universalist association
  49. ^ The A to Z of Unitarian Universalism - Page 147, Mark W. Harris - 2009
  50. ^ Searching for Spiritual Unity ... Can There Be Common Ground? - Page 582, Robyn E. Lebron - 2012
  51. ^ Roach, Mary (2005). Spook – Science Tackles the Afterlife. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-05962-6.
  52. ^ Urban Legends - Reference Page (Soul man).
  53. ^ Park, Robert Ezra (2010). Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p. 90. ISBN 0-691-14597-0.
  54. ^ Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands
  55. ^ Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers pp 85–94
  56. ^ Kurtz, Paul (2001). Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-884-4.
  57. ^ Does Mind Survive Physical Death? By David Fontana
  58. ^ Crick, Francis (1995). The Astonishing Hypothesis – the Scientific Search for the Soul. Touchstone Books. ISBN 0-684-80158-2.
  59. ^ Tipler, Franl, J. (1997). The Physics of Immortality – Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead. Anchor. ISBN 0-385-46799-0.
  60. ^ "Nurse writes book on near-death". BBC News. 2008-06-19. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  61. ^ David Fontana (2005): Is there an afterlife. A comprehensive overview of the evidence.
  62. ^ Mark Lemon, Henry Mayhew, Tom Taylor Punch, Volume 135 1908, p. 440
  63. ^ Life After Death, Colonist, Volume LI, Issue 12454, 2 February 1909, Page 4
  64. ^ Price, H. H., 1953. "Survival and the Idea of ' Another World'," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 50 (182): 1–25. Reprinted in John Hick (ed.), 1970. Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, second edition, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, pp. 370–93. Page references to Hick 1970.
  65. ^ Price, Hick, and Disembodied Existence, Bruce R. Reichenbach, Religious Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Sep., 1979), pp. 317–325
  66. ^ Toynvee, A., Mant, A.K., Smart, N., Hinton, J., Yudkin, S., Rhode, E., Heywood R., Price, H.H. (1968). Man's Concern with Death. London, Great Britain: Hoddler and Stouhton.
  67. ^ Christopher Moreman Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions 2010, p. 270
  68. ^ Libby Ahluwalia Understanding philosophy of religion Edexcel 2008, p. 275
  69. ^ Murphy, G. (1973). A Caringtonian approach to Ian Stevenson's Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 67, 117–129.
  70. ^ Ramakrishna Rao, V. Gowri Rammohan New frontiers of human science: a festschrift for K. Ramakrishna Rao 2002, p. 54
  71. ^ Patterson, R. W. K. (1995). Philosophy and the Belief in a Life After Death. Palgrave MD. ISBN 0-333-61633-2
  72. ^ Kolak, Daniel (2005). I Am You: The Metaphysical Foundations for Global Ethics. Springer. ISBN 1-4020-2999-3.
  73. ^ Peter van Inwagen. "I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come".[dead link]
  74. ^ Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York, 1984) p. 32–36
  75. ^ David Griffin, "The Possibility of Subjective Immortality in Whitehead's Philosophy," in The Modern Schoolman, LIII, November. 1975, pp. 39–51.
  76. ^ What Is Process Theology? by Robert B. Mellert
  77. ^ A Whiteheadian Conception of Immortality by Forrest Wood, Jr.
  78. ^ Rosenberger, Peter B. MD; Adams, Heather R. PhD. Big Brain/Smart Brain. 18th October, 2011.

Further reading

  • Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions edited by Hiroshi Obayashi, Praeger, 1991.
  • Beyond Death: Theological and Philosophical Reflections on Life after Death edited by Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Christopher Lewis, Pelgrave-MacMillan, 1995.
  • The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection by Jane Idelman Smith and Yazbeck Haddad, Oxford UP, 2002.
  • Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion by Alan F. Segal, Doubleday, 2004.
  • Brain & Belief: An Exploration of the Human Soul by John J. McGraw, Aegis Press, 2004.
  • Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions by Christopher M. Moreman, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  • Is there an afterlife: a comprehensive overview of the evidence by David Fontana, O Books 2005.
  • Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations: Universalism, Constructivism and Near-Death Experience by Gregory Shushan, New York & London, Continuum, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8264-4073-0.

External links

     
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