Insights Into the Afterlife
30 Questions and Answers on What to Expect by Nora M. Spurgin
My interest in writing this booklet was inspired by the life and death of a dear friend. For most of the five years she had battled cancer, Linna believed that she would conquer the fearful stalker; but in the end, she accepted that she was going to die. It was the process of her preparation to die that prompted a desire in me to share with others the understandings which she gained in anticipating the next life. Linna and I were friends and colleagues. She was an educator and a woman of determination. It was a shock to all of her friends when she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember visiting her in the hospital where she joked, We always thought I was the invincible one, so we have life insurance on my husband!
Following surgery and a course of chemotherapy, Linna began a new life. It was a life with greater awareness of its value. She looked at her relationships with family and friends with new eyes. She pondered the things she wanted to accomplish and those things which were of less importance. She sought changes in her life and habits to bring about optimum health. She began meditating and, in so doing, found a place of peace within, as well as a greater spiritual awareness. She made changes in her diet and found friends who prayed for her and introduced her to healing music, writings on positive thinking, healing imagery and internal body cleansing.
Her friends saw her blossom and make gains in spiritual and physical health. However, underlying everything was a nagging fear that the cancer would snatch away her life. And so it did. But she had four and a half years to accomplish things she wanted to do time to prepare with her husband and grown children and most of all, time to think about life after death.
In the final half year, Linna knew that her life on earth was coming to a close. In those last months her concern was, what should I accomplish, and how can I best prepare to die? During this time, a close group of her friends learned much about death and life hereafter.
My heart aches for the many who die without preparation without a sustaining philosophy of life, or death. This is the primary reason that I asked a few close friends of Linna’s to help me in preparing this little booklet to share what we have learned through our experience with her, and throughout own reading and searching. If there is life after death, and if our earthly life is preparation for that then we have come to believe the greatest thing we could do for humankind is to share this understanding.
While surveys show that most people believe in some form of life after death, most of us are less certain what form that life will take.
Interest in death as a transition into a higher state of consciousness moved from the realm of the solely religious when psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who writes and speaks extensively on death and dying, caused physicians, psychiatrists, and scientists to take a new look at the meaning of death.
Knowledge and understanding of the afterlife can help many of us overcome fear and pain when making preparations for our own death, or for that of someone we love. Understanding can help tremendously with the grieving or separation process. Our lives on earth are preparation for the eternal life and this is a source of great hope, expectation and joy.
We came to an understanding that every person has a place in the heart of God. Every individual has been created to receive the joy, the blessing and the delights of heavenly life because of God’s love. Death or passing to the spiritual world is like birth, into a new and deeper level of existence, and, if we are prepared, the time of passing can be a celebration of joy, like a birthday!
For the format for this informative booklet, I have chosen 30 commonly asked questions with answers that you will hopefully find simple and clear. These answers are presented without specific religious doctrine and dogma and are for the sole purpose of enhancing life both on earth and beyond. This booklet is for those who are in the full bloom of life; for there is still time to prepare. For those who are terminally ill, it might make a difference in the quality of the final years or months and help the new arrival into the spiritual world.
I want to express my gratitude to Farley Jones, Lynn Mathers, June Kiburz, Nancy Barton, and Anne Edwards, a few of Linna’s friends, who helped pull together these ideas and pass them on to you.
Nora M. Spurgin, M.S.W.
Life is real! Life is Earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returneth,
Was not spoken of the soul.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Questions and Answers
- Is there life after death? How do we know?From Plato and the early Greeks, through Jesus and Paul, through most African and Oriental cultures, to spiritualists of the twentieth century, a belief in some kind of survival of bodily death has been unequivocally affirmed. Jesus’ assertion that in his Father’s house there are many rooms, would seem to be justified by the fact that this common belief is held by such divergent peoples.While many traditional believers tend to shy away from the topic, testimony to the existence of a spirit world actually permeates the Bible.Prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah report powerful spiritual visions, as does the writer of the book of Revelation. In the Gospels, angels speak (Lk 1:28) and on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus talks with the long-dead Moses and Elijah (Mt 17:1-3). Christian mystics and saints throughout history also spoke of spiritual experiences.
The proposition that life continues beyond physical death goes a long way toward explaining well-recognized and otherwise unexplainable phenomena, for example, near-death experiences, visions of deceased persons and the experience of authentic communication from the other side.
To understand what happens to us at death, we first need to understand of what we are made. Most of us tend to identify closely with our physical bodies, but this is only part of the picture. We are not only physical matter, but also spiritual essence. It is accurate to say that we are essentially spiritual beings who possess physical bodies. When we die, we in effect take off our physical bodies as one might take off an overcoat. The essential person remains.
- If life continues after physical death, where is such life lived?Our bodies exist, of course, in the physical world, which provides an environment for our activity and growth on earth and offers us nourishment, stimulation and joy. Likewise, there is a spiritual dimension of the universe the invisible spirit world- which serves as the environment for our spirits. Our spirit is the internal counterpart to our physical body, and the spirit world is the invisible counterpart to the physical world. This world is located not up in heaven, but in a different dimension, inter-penetrating the physical world and the universe. While on earth we exist in both worlds at once, in effect connecting the two. For this reason, people on occasion can have visions and communicate with the dead.While most people are prepared to admit belief in some kind of life after death, fewer accept the proposition that during our physical lifetimes we are existing in two realms at once a material one and a spiritual one. There is an invisible spiritual world surrounding this physical one, inhabited by those who have passed on. Because the two realms inter-penetrate each other, the spirit of a person near death can float out of the body.To begin to understand how we could simultaneously live in two realms and, for the most part, be unaware of it, we must remember that there are many things in the natural world that exist beyond the range of our five physical senses. For example, we cannot see infra-red light or x-rays, or hear sounds above or below certain frequencies. Nevertheless, x-rays and high and low frequency sound vibrations do exist. In the same way, even though we cannot perceive a spiritual world through our physical senses, it exists all around us.
The discoveries of modern science lend credence to this prospect. Whereas in prior times scientists thought of the material world as constructed of solid, though minute, blocks of matter, they now believe this is not the case. Rather, what we think of as the material world seems to consist of invisible patterns of energy. The implications of this theory with regard to the existence of a spiritual dimension are clear. Indeed, it is probably such a discovery as this that gave rise to Albert Einstein’s celebrated remark that his work was spiritual, involving the discovery of where matter ends and spirit begins.
Just as we perceive the physical world with our physical senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell), so the spirit world can be perceived by a set of spiritual senses; which are not limited by the physical laws of nature. Because most of us are not attuned to our spiritual senses, we become aware of the spirit world only when we pass into it at the end of our physical lives. More