What is Heaven Like?
Article by Craig Hamilton-Parker asking what is heaven like? He answers the question from a spiritualist viewpoint.
Earlier I described the halls of healing as both a “state” and as a “place”. Do we enter abstract forms of being when we go to the afterlife, or does it have places like those we know in earthly life? I have begun to discuss 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 colors and forms are more “real” than waking life.
Video by Craig
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 are able to fly or run at great speed, or you can create landscapes and use your imagination to do 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?
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 a 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 is called 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 is 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 is like an extraordinary lucid dream.
Lucid Dreams and Out-of-Body Experiences
Some of the most important works in this area of research 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. Monroe recounted his journey to the year 3500. He told of beneficial contacts with his former lives, these lives existing simultaneously in the parallel dimensions he visited. (Monroe discovers that his favorite 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.)
Robert Monroe’s Experiments
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 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 to orientated 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 “rescue circles.”)
But is it all just fantasy?
Probably not, for some, Monroe’s voyagers beyond the physical have been able to get 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 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 of investigating the afterlife because the lucid dream state and the state of consciousness after death are very similar.
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 depended 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 is 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 Islāmic literature, or a Native-American may see a hunting ground with profuse wildlife running free. Native American is not a religion and Native-Americans today are not those of yesterday. (the expected “happy hunting grounds.”)
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‘What to Do When You are Dead’ explores what happens after death and describes the world we will find there. It is a powerful book that draws on near-death experiences, spiritual traditions as well as the mediums direct experiences.
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References and Works Cited
- Hamilton-Parker, Craig (2010) What To Do When You Are Dead Sterling imprint Barnes & Noble ISBN 978-1-4027-7660-1 (Languages: English, Dutch, Portuguese) BUY THE BOOK HERE