What is Heaven Like?
Earlier I described the halls of healing as both a “state” and as a “place”. So which is it? Do we enter abstract forms of being when we go to the afterlife, or does it have places similar to those we know in earthly life? I have begun to address some of these questions earlier in this book, but now would be a good time to look at this in more detail, before we continue our journey in the afterlife itself.
HEAVEN IS LIKE A LUCID DREAM
Life in the afterlife is, I believe, similar to the world many people experience during what psychologists have called “lucid dreaming.” During lucid dreaming the sleeper “wakes up” while the dream is taking place and discovers that they can change the dream at will. Lucid dreams are extraordinarily vivid, and the colours and forms can be more “real” than waking life. They are much more realistic and consistent than most dreams. As you have a great deal of conscious control over the dream, it means that you can do pretty well anything you like. For example, in a lucid dream you may be able to fly, or run at great speed, or you can create landscapes and use your imagination to perform extraordinary feats of creativity. Somehow, the “whole” of your brain kicks into gear and a simple creative idea will unfold spontaneously into magnificent landscapes and panoramas. During lucid dreams, you may see some extraordinarily beautiful things.
Now, imagine what it would be like if you could enter this state of consciousness not during sleep, but while fully awake. Could life in the afterlife be like this?
Hypnos and Thanatos,”Sleep and His Half-Brother Death” by John William Waterhouse
When we have an ordinary dream, we may dream of doing things such as walking down the street. In your dream, you will be aware of the scenery around you and will have a body just like in waking life. You will feel your legs moving, may hear sounds and even smell things. The dream situation will be very much like normal everyday life. However, your physical body is doing nothing at all. It is in bed. Although we take it for granted, the body in which we find ourselves in dreams is not our real body. All the experiences take place in another body, which can be referred to as the “dream body.”
Some people have trained themselves to have regular lucid dreams and deliberately exploit them. The world they experience in lucid dreams is as real as the one they know in waking life. It may be the case that some of these dreams take place in the spirit body, as several people have visited their own bedroom during a lucid dream and seen themselves asleep in bed.
Life in the afterlife may be a little like an extraordinary lucid dream.
Lucid Dreams and Out-of-Body Experiences
Some of the most important work in this area of research was done by Robert A. Monroe (1916-1995). Monroe was a regular lucid dreamer and had many out-of-body experiences (OBEs). In the mid-1950s, Monroe set up his own foundation, the Monroe Institute, to try to understand his experiences. In particular, he invented a technology, called “hemi-sync” which consisted of feeding sound into the two hemispheres of the brain to facilitate altered states of consciousness–especially OBEs.
Monroe claims that, during his lucid dreams and OBEs, he was put in touch with the afterlife. He spoke of his contacts with benevolent non-physical entities whom he called “inspecs,” for intelligent species. He recounted his journey to the year 3500. He told of beneficial contacts with his former lives, all of these lives existing simultaneously in the parallel dimensions he visited. (Monroe discovers that his favourite inspec guide was himself, from his own future, which is now his present. He learns that, close to the end of his life, it is he who will conduct the conversations with himself that helped him, 40 years earlier, to first navigate other dimensions of our universe.)
Many of Monroe’s experiences follows ideas similar to those of the Spiritualists, except that they are interpreted with perhaps a more modern slant and modern-sounding names. For example, Monroe speaks of the “I-there,” which is much the same as the life record revealed in the “life review” described earlier. The “I-there” is a place where everything we have ever experienced in all our lives, in this and every other dimension, is gathered together to help us through our individual lives.
Monroe journeys to a place in the next world that he calls “focus 23.” It is here that confused spirits of the newly dead gather in order to orientate themselves. Monroe next comes upon a place that is similar to the “halls of healing” and which he calls describes as a park Spirits are brought here to rest and prepare themselves for the next step. He calls this focus 27. Monroe claims that in the Lifeline Program at his Institute, he has trained hundreds of people to help guide the dead to that focus 27 park. Lying in tiny cubicles in darkness and wearing earphones, his students are able to leave their bodies and embark on their out-of-body journeys, communicate with inspecs, and guide lost souls to the park. (This is very similar to what some Spiritualist circles do in what are called “rescue circles.”)
But is it all just fantasy? Probably not, for in a number of cases, Monroe’s voyagers beyond the physical have been able to obtain names, addresses, and other information about the spirits of the dead whom they have helped. Monroe has been able to search out corroboration.
Most of Monroe’s ideas are similar in essence to the classic descriptions of the afterlife from sources such as Spiritualism, Spiritism and the philosopher Swedenborg. However, Monroe places these ideas in a modern context and most importantly shows how it is possible to use lucid techniques to communicate with these realms. Perhaps future research will show that lucid dreams are a practical method to investigating the afterlife, because the lucid dream state and the state of consciousness after death are very similar.
AFTER LIFE STATES
The similarity of the after-death state and lucid dreams explains why different people describe the afterlife in different ways. The kinds of dreams we have depend on our memories, fears, hopes, desires, and beliefs. And just as dreams reflect our personalities and waking beliefs, so the world we enter after death depends on what we have done and believed while alive in the physical body.
Because of this, many people will continue to experience a dreamlike continuation of their life …before death. The Swedish visionary philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) describes this first state after death: “The first state of man after death is like his state in the world, because he is still in like manner in externals. He has therefore a similar face, similar speech, and a similar disposition, thus a similar moral and civil life; so that he knows no other than that he is still in the world, unless he pays attention to the things that he meets with, and to what was said to him by the angels when he was raised up–that he is now a spirit. Thus one life is continued into the other, and death is only the passage.”
EXPERIENCES OF HEAVEN
Imagine what sort of afterlife the surrealist painter Salvador Dali would experience. Some people may undergo the most fantastic adventures and see worlds and places that are incomprehensible to us now. Others may suffer from recurrent nightmares, trapped in some form of hell that has been created by their own minds. (Swedenborg and many great mediums such as Andrew Jackson Davis have emphasized that man must do penance in the afterlife for sins committed in this one, but that there is no hell as such.) There will also be many that will experience an afterlife that is completely in accordance with their spiritual or religious background. For example, a Catholic may meet St. Peter by the “pearly gates,” a Moslem may see the green gardens described in Islamic literature, or a Native-American may see a hunting ground with profuse wildlife running free. \OUT? Native American is not a religion and Native-Americans today are not those of yesterday. (the expected “happy hunting grounds.”)
Normal dreams are a very personal experience, but there is evidence to suggest that it is possible for telepathy to take place in dreams. From my newspaper columns and Internet site, I have received many letters over the years from people who claim to have shared the same dream as someone close to them, or spoken to each other through a dream.
Your afterlife state will not be confined to personal fantasy because there will be a clear telepathic link between your own inner world and that of other people you meet. Although you are sharing thoughts, you may sometimes choose to use language. You will also have “dreams” in common. For example, when you meet someone you knew well in life, you may generate a scene that you can both share, such as a happy place that you remember from the earth plane. This process will be spontaneous and automatic.
Dreams may also be able to take on a life of their own. Many of the early Spiritualists believed that the spirit world has an almost “physical” reality. During séances, the early Spiritualists would see a smoke like substance called “ectoplasm” exude from their mediums and build into seemingly solid forms of spirit people. During these incredible séances, the sitters saw their loved ones as being solid and could even touch them. It was theorized that ectoplasm is a substance that is neither material nor spiritual, but a material that could bridge the two worlds. In our world, energy vibrates at a slow speed to create matter. However, material in the spirit world is a form of matter with energy that vibrates at a much higher rate. Ectoplasm falls somewhere between the two. The “matter” of the spirit dimension has a similar physical reality but can be manipulated by mind. The environment of the spirit world is, therefore, a solid reality created from the collective thoughts of humanity.
In ‘The Unfolding Universe’ the Spiritualist pioneer Arthur Findlay describes it thus:
“Etheria, however, is the name for seven worlds, one within the other, and if we include the earth there are eight. These eight worlds or globes, one inside the other, resemble a wooden ball I have seen which can be unscrewed but only the outer ball or surface comes away from the rest, as underneath the outer ball is another, and so on till we come to a small one inside the rest. This last ball can be compared to our earth. Each of these worlds has a surface, an atmosphere and light, so what I say of one refers to all. It must not, however, be assumed that the places where we have mountains and seas on earth have corresponding mountains and seas just above them in Etheria. The forces which made mountains, land and sea on earth, likewise made them in Etheria, but not necessarily in the self-same locality as they are on earth.”
A clear explanation was given through the mediumship of Mrs. Leonard during a séance with the great physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, who received many messages from his dead son Raymond. “You live in a world of illusions,” said Raymond, “illusions necessary to enable you to do your work. We live in an extension of the illusionary world in which you live. The outer rim of it. We are more in touch with the world of reality than you are. Spirit and mind belong to the world of reality. Everything else, that is, external things, are in a sense necessary for a time, but superfluous and only temporary as far as the world of reality goes. Spirit and mind belong to that world and are indestructible.”
So there you have it. There are clearly many theories about what constitutes life in the next world. My own view falls on the side of the lucid dreamlike states. However, in essence the theories given by mediums, visionaries, philosophers, OBE travelers, and NDE cases all correspond in their basic ideas, though they may differ in the detail. The core of what have tried to explain is that we experience a “state” in the afterlife that can also manifest as a “form.”
I will now describe the “form” of some of the afterlife places you will visit. What follows are a composite of the ancient and modern visions put forward by mediums and seers. My “editor” for what follows is my own spirit guide Taratha, who has often guided this book during our trance sessions at my own circle. You will also now understand that your own experience of these afterlife places may differ slightly from what is described here, but the root experience will be intrinsically the same.
Places to Visit in the Afterlife
Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea; Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone, And under mountains in the moon.”–J.R.R.Tolkien
Reuniting with Family and Friends
Upon awakening from the cosmic sleep you will feel alive as ever. You will be met by your friends, family, and colleagues who made the transition before you. Naturally this will be a joyful experience. They will be dressed as you once knew them and at the age you remember them best. Your granddad, for example, may come as an old man, while a loved child will remain a child. Later you will discover that, in the afterlife world, we can live at any age we choose. Most probably prefer to exist in their prime; others may feel an affinity to a different age. Your bodily form easily shifts according to your will, as you are in reality a being of light. Recognizable forms, however, help in identifying each other, and making family and friends feel more comfortable.
Naturally it will be a wonderful experience, meeting all of those people you have not seen for so long. The initial grief you may have experienced, at having to separate from loved ones left behind on earth, will be replaced by a feeling of great joy. The process of dying will seem far behind you and you will marvel at the realization that everything you hold dear is within your grasp.
Meditation Exercise: Visualizing Your Entry into the Afterlife.
For this experiment. you are going to visualize yourself meeting the people you love in the next life. Although this is an exercise in imagination rather than the development of mediumship, it will nonetheless help you get an idea of what the afterlife experience is like. Part of you has been to the afterlife before you came to the earth, so part of you already knows what the afterlife is like. That part is what you are trying to access with this exercise:
Step 1. Read these instructions, then sit in a comfortable chair or lay down so that you can completely relax. As you close your eyes and breathe deeply, you feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper into a wonderful warm relaxation. All your troubles are gone and you are now focused on the inner world.
Step 2. With closed eyes, you use your inner vision to look all around you. You can see the landscape of a familiar beautiful place that you visited during your earthly life. Now it is even more beautiful than you remember.. Look at the colours in the environment. See how they radiate such colour and beauty. Everything exudes peace and contentment. Notice how comfortable the environment feels. You may see the sunshine lighting up the world around you. Notice how important light is in this place. Light here feels as if it is alive, as if it is the life force itself. You may hear birds and smell the fragrance of flowers.
Step 3. You can feel yourself moving across this landscape. As you focus on a landmark, you feel yourself moving towards it. You move with grace and gentleness. Imagine how it would feel to have no troubles and worries. All the troubles of earthly life are gone. Tension, stress, ill health, and anxiety are impossible here. There is a feeling that everything is as it should be.
Step 4. On the horizon, you see some figures. If you listen very carefully, you can hear them calling your name. You move a little closer to them, and now hear their voices. The voices are familiar, of people you have loved. Drawing closer still, you begin to make out their faces. Your heart beats a little faster as you recognize the faces as those you love who have come to this wonderful place before you. In enthusiasm, a pet breaks away from them and runs towards you, eager to be the first to greet you.
Step 5. You are now very close to the group and can see their shining eyes and welcoming smiles. “It has been so long,” you hear one of them say, in a familiar voice that you know so well. You notice that a simple low fence separates you from them. However, there is a gate. If you pass through this gate, you understand that there is no going back to your old life. For a short moment, you think about the people on earth who you would have to leave behind. You are aware that it is now impossible to turn back but have the reassuring innate knowledge that they will one day pass through this gate too. When you pass through the gate you will never be able to return.
Step 6. You pass through the gate.
Step 7. As you pass through the gate, notice the mixture of feelings you experience. There is anticipation, a sense of loss for those you leave behind, and a feeling of wonderful warm love as you embrace the people you love here in the afterlife.
Step 8. Finally, spend some time fantasizing about what you would say to the people you meet. What feelings would you express? What would you want to tell them? What do you think they would say to you about your life on earth, and what you could have accomplished to make it better?
Step 9. Eventually, one of them looks at you with love and softly whispers, “It is time now to go back.” Take with you the feelings and insights this visualization has given you. Some may come from your unconscious, but some may also come from the direct communication that occasionally happens when we are fully attuned. Now, return to normal consciousness and make some written notes about any insights that you may have been given.
Step 10. Apply the insights to your life.
The Plane of Illusion
You will discover that materials of this world are so pliable that they may be shaped by direct action of the imagination. If you wish something to be, it will form without needing a craftsman or designer. What you wish for will materialize.
Naturally, the things that materialize for you and the situations you find yourself in, are based initially on your earthly experience. You will probably be drawn into situations that help you to resolve the inner conflicts and desires you had on earth. For example, Fredrick Myers, one of the founders of the Society of Psychical Research, was able to speak through a number of mediums after his death. In particular, he was able to prove the reality of the afterlife by giving messages to a number of mediums that only made sense when the messages were brought together. When the fragments were assembled, they easily fell into place, forming a clear communication, even though none of the mediums knew about each other or had any idea that there were other messages involved. This method became known as cross-correspondence, and is solid proof of life after death.
In one communication, Myers tells us about a man named “Walter,” who had been a wealthy stockbroker in his former life on earth. On awakening from the cosmic sleep, Walter continues to have the desire to make money so he materializes a world around him similar to his earthly life. He meets his mother, who helps him to build an idealized version of his former life. Walter meets other souls who also loved the world of the stock market, and together they play the illusionary quiz of becoming multi-millionaires.
On earth, being so rich brought admiration, but here in the heavenly planes, where money counts as nothing, Walter begins to realize his spiritual poverty. This produces in him a feeling of disappointed restlessness. Eventually, Walter realizes that, spiritually, he did not amount to much. He comes to understand that his suffering originated from his desires, which were partially brought on by his father’s scorn and his mother’s possessiveness. Becoming angry, he is desperate to escape. Walter is reborn on earth together with his mother, who is this incarnation is given the opportunity to redeem the damage her possessiveness had caused in the last incarnation.
Perhaps something similar will happen to you if you are motivated by powerful materialistic drives. During your cosmic sleep, you may have dreams and nightmares about your previous life. Worlds will be gestated, while you are in this sleep state, and become actualised when you awake. This transition from cosmic sleep to wakefulness, Myers called the “journey down the long gallery.” It is generated from your own memory and will include both good and bad states, depending on the memory content of your psyche.
When the incubation is complete, you will awaken to your customized version of the afterlife. Many of the things you will see will be familiar to you. For example, you may awaken to find yourself at home or an environment in which you feel comfortable. The world around you will be just like the world you knew before. Later, this world will change as you become familiarized with your condition. However, a great many people continue with their old routines for a long period of time. For these people, the world of the afterlife is not very different from this world. They may continue to go shopping, eat food, and visit the bank or laundromat. If sex was important to you, then you may continue to make love with those of similar disposition. Even though your actual physical body is no more, you will generate a new one during this illusionary state of being.
You may want to linger in this plane of existence for a great deal of time. Some, I am sure, never progress beyond it, or may stay here for generations. Here you have the opportunity to resolve the things that you were unable to complete in life. You will meet others of like mind and perhaps develop new interests. You may develop a different family structure and take special interest in a religion, trade, science, or art. What is possible is only limited by your imagination.
Some may still appear to use language if they retain this attachment, but most people will communicate by telepathy. Because of this, you will easily befriend people who may have come from other countries in your former existence. As mentioned before, you will no longer be able to claim “My wife doesn’t understand me” because you will be able to express yourself completely, and there will be no misunderstandings created by the limits of language.
It will be easy to recognize who is a good person and who is a bad one, as the soul will be transparent. Indeed, those with a beautiful disposition will be seen as the real “beautiful people.” The beauty that may once have lain deep within is now revealed, clear for all to see. You will be judged by others by what you are, and no longer by what you “appear” to be.
Here at the Psychics & Mediums Network we value your opinions. Do you have any thoughts about what is heaven like? Please add your comments and thoughts to this thread. Perhaps you’ve had a near death experience and seen heaven. Tell us what heaven was like for you. You can also discuss this topic in our psychic chatrooms where Spiritualists give free advice and occassionally demonstrate psychic readings and mediumship.
The above article about is from my book What to do when you are dead. (Sterling Publishing ISBN 978-1-4027-7660-1) Buy it at my psychic books shop.