The Lord is never angry, never takes revenge,
hates, condemns, punishes, throws anyone into hell, or tempts anyone; thus
never does evil to anyone.
(Emanuel Swedenborg in True Christian Religion)
Contents of this page:
1 Death and the
Entrance into the Spirit World
Part 1 gives an overview of the hereafter
according to Robert Crookal, and a couple of other authors. Robert Crookal
was a retired geologist (1960’s) who collected numerous accounts of astral
travels and carefully analyzed and evaluated them. In approximately 10 years
he collected and wrote about over 750 different cases. I also highly recommend
the books of Michael Newton: Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls. This
contemporary writer is a hypnotherapist who developed his own hypnosis technique
to reach the memories of the hereafter.
2 The Hereafter
according to Emanuel Swedenborg
Part 2 gives an overview of the hereafter according
to Emmanual Swedenborg (1653–1735). He is a highly reliable source for information
about the spiritual worlds, in spite of his archaic use of words.
3 The Tibetan View of Death
Part 3 gives an idea about how Buddhists think of
death and what lies beyond.
Ascent of the Blessed from paradise and hell, Hieronymous
1 Death and the
Entrance into the Spirit World
(based upon several sources)
When a person dies the silver cord, which is an
energy cord that connects the soul with the physical body, ceases to exist.
The physical body is now under the influence of its spirits and the four
Elements which will decompose it and return it to the earth. From near-death
experiences we know that when people die, some of them go through a dark
tunnel towards a light at the end; others are immediately greeted by already
deceased friends and relatives; or they are bathed in a brilliant light.
The way of dying has a strong effect on the state of mind of the deceased
immediately after passing over.
When a person dies a sudden death, as
with an accident, he often has no clue that he passed over. He thinks he
is still alive and is puzzled why he cannot do the things he used to do,
or why people do not respond to him. His consciousness is as clear as when
he was in the physical body just before he died.
When a person dies a
natural death, he notices that he leaves his body, but soon afterwards he
goes ‘to sleep’. His consciousness goes into a vegetative sleep which is
more like being in an undifferentiated state of mind for a while. In this
state of mind he can hang around in the neighborhood of the place where
he passed over. His nebulous consciousness is able to perceive the physical
world vaguely, and sometimes he will attach himself to objects, plants,
animals or people. In the esoteric teachings this is called the great Sleep,
caused by the Dark Angel, the Angel of Death. This initial vegetative state
can last from a couple of hours to several days.
When he leaves his place
of passing over, he still thinks he is alive, and visits the living, and
sometimes he lives with them for a while. He is still half or totally unconscious
of his deceased state.
Many souls have little interest in what happens
to their physical bodies once they are dead. But they do like to hover around
the place where they died for a few days.
Some souls are still attached
to the physical world. They try to communicate with the living. In houses
that have been built over an earth’s energy spot, they are able to use that
energy to manifest himself to the living.
Some of the deceased are still
so much attached to the physical that they attach themselves to a living
person to enjoy, through that person, the earthly pleasures, like the taste
of alcohol, cigarettes, food and so on. Those souls used to be habitual
drinkers, smokers and even compulsive criminals. Such a situation is always
to the detriment of the living person, as the deceased interferes with the
energy body of that living person. Ailments and disease will follow, sometimes
quickly, sometimes gradually. Some of the deceased have a grudge against
a living person and will attach themselves to him in order to cause harm.
Others had such a strong connection with for example a family member, that
when they pass over they attach themselves to that family member, because
they cannot give up the relationship they had with that person. This also
causes harm to the living person, and the deceased often does not realize
that. Such disturbed spirits are rare, and help is available from higher,
caring entities, who can assist in the adjustment process from the other
So, the deceased now knows that he has passed over. Some of the
deceased now create themselves a dream world based on that what they had
expected to find when they would die. Based on these expectations he creates
himself a heaven, a hell or any other place he likes. Here he indulges himself
in what he likes to do, like eating, feasting and so on, until, after a
while, he gets bored with it and realizes that heaven or hell, as he imagined
it, is a boring place, and that his expectations of these places were childish
constructs of his mind. More developed souls will move much faster through
Many spirits will hear relaxing music, allowing them to feel
more "at home". Souls will find themselves in an environment of
houses, rooms, parks, nature and so on. These are all places created by
their mind that relate to the laces they have lived in on Earth. This astral
world is usually much nice, more beautiful, more colorful, and much more
Although the soul itself is androgynous, it will usually adapt
an outer appearance of male or female in the spirit world. It is a question
of what sex one wants to identify with.
Once the deceased wakes up from
his dreamy consciousness, and is clear and lucid, he is calm and feels free.
In this of mind he can also contact the living.
Souls arriving in this
world are greeted by soul mates, friends, guides. Initially guides might
be in the background when friends welcome the deceased soul.
initial stages souls will speed to their destination. They arrive at their
own specific group of entities at their own maturity level. Group placement
is determined by soul level. The souls represented in these cluster groups
are intimate old friends who have about the same awareness level. It is
usually a small primary unit of entities who have direct and frequent contact,
such as we would see in a human family. Contact with souls from other groups
is also possible. Members of the same cluster group are closely united for
all eternity. They are often composed of like-minded souls with common objectives
which they continually work out with each other. Usually they choose lives
together as relatives and close friends during their incarnations on Earth.
If necessary the deceased will undergo a healing process and a reorientation
to its spiritual environment. The reorientation is a substantial counseling
session with one's guide. The newly refreshed soul undergoes a debriefing
of the life just ended. It is a self-evaluation process. It also provides
emotional release and readjustment back into the spirit world. More advanced
souls might skip the orientation process, although they will meet and talk
to their guides. They are usually able to move on much quicker after their
arrival in the spirit world.
At a later time the soul will meet with
a group of wise beings, usually called the Council masters or Elders. This
board of review is generally composed of between three and seven members.
While the Council is not prosecutorial, they do engage in direct examination
of a soul's activity. Here the soul's higher self will then show him his
entire past life with the highs and lows, and he will judge himself according
to universal spiritual laws. Yes, there is no one else to judge you than
yourself. You can also not deceive yourself in this regard, as your higher
self is straightforward, knows the truth, and shows you incontrovertible
where you failed.
After the soul has spent time playing, studying, creating
in the spiritual world in order to enhance its development, it will eventually
feel the need again to reincarnate. This involves an orientation process
too, during which a soul will be shown a series of possible lives on Earth.
2 The Hereafter
according to Emanuel Swedenborg
When man dies, the breath and the systolic movements
of the heart stop. The physical body and soul (the astral and mental body)
immediately separate. After the separation, the soul stays for a little
while by the physical body.
Once out of the physical body, consciousness
is in the soul, and one is attracted to those souls or angels who correspond
to the person’s inner state of being. Now he is in the World of Spirits,
which is an intermediate world between the heavens and hells. In the beginning
he keeps the same appearance as he had when he was in the physical body,
but this will slowly change, as his appearance will reflect exactly his
inner sate of being. By this other souls can see to which spiritual level
one belongs. In contrast to life in the physical world, one cannot hide
anything in the spiritual worlds.
In general, the deceased does not know
he has passed over when he arrives into the World of Spirits. He thinks
he is still in the physical body. He still keeps his memory and continues
to act as if he is still in the physical world.
When more highly evolved
beings interfere, the deceased is shown his past life in all the details.
There are three states the deceased undergoes before he goes to heaven or
The first state of the exteriors: this state is very much like
on the physical plane. The deceased does not know that he has passed over
and thinks he is still in the physical world. He meets old friends that
have already passed over before him. They show him places, cities, people,
and teach him about his new state of being, and the world he is now living
in. Most deceased are so ignorant that they think they are already in heaven,
because they think they have lived a moral and civil life. They never considered
that both the bad and the good live a similar life outwardly, alike in doing
good to others, attending public worship, hearing sermons and praying. They
are ignorant not understanding that external deeds and external acts of
worship are of no avail, only the internal state of being from which the
external acts proceed is real.
The second state of the interiors: now
he starts to go into his own inner state of being. In the previous state
he still could pretend to be different than he actually is. Now he can only
act according to his true intentions. He thinks from his own will, from
his own affection, from his own love. As in this world there is no fear
of losing one’s face, or one’s reputation, he starts to speak and act openly
that which he otherwise would have kept secret or hidden in the physical
world. His good and wicked characteristics come out unrestrained.
third state is of instruction: This state is only for those who go to the
heavens. They get instructions by angels of different orders. After the
instruction the deceased are clothed with angelic garments, which are mostly
glowing white as if made of fine linen, and they are lead towards the heavens
and introduced to societies. Those who are spiritually well evolved have
clothes that sparkle like flames; less evolved ones have cloths that shine
like light; and lesser evolved ones have glittering or just white cloths.
The lowest have cloths of different colors.
Swedenborg divides the spiritual
world into three: The World of Spirits where the deceased arrives and stays
at most thirty years. As we have seen in the above he receives help and
teachings. There are three main sections of hells where the souls create
themselves environments in which they continuously suffer, engage in heated
discussions, act out their anger and so on. There are three main sections
of heavens too.
3 The Tibetan View of Death
Tibetan monks have studied the human being for centuries
and have come up with a clear understanding of what death is and what happens
after death. According to Buddhism, death is the separation of the mind
and body. Each living being has a mind or consciousness which continues
to exist after the death of the body, and takes a new rebirth.
the name Bardo is used for the afterlife. The name bardo means "an
interval between two things" and can be used for any interval. In the
context of the afterlife we call it the Bardo of Becoming. As there is no
physical world present anymore for the soul to interact with, the desires
of the individual carry the largely helpless soul through a variety of emotional
states. As the inner state of the soul now immediately manifests itself,
the soul will experience pleasure, pain and other emotions depending on
the inner qualities of the soul. Nothing in the Bardo is real, it is all
projected by the soul, it is like a dream state where the soul creates what
it wants to experience.
The Tibetans say that immediately after death
the soul becomes unconscious for a short or long time.
When the soul
awakens it comes face to face with the Dharmakaya, the body of truth. It
is an all pervasive light, it is pure consciousness. With conscious effort
the soul should dissolve itself into the light, and thus enter a state of
light and bliss beyond the continual cycles of birth and death to which
most souls are subjected. It all depends, at that moment, if we can become
aware that this light is the true essence of our being. However few beings
have completed the necessary preparations to remain fully aware during this
state. To most souls the radiance of this light is too overpowering and
they shy away from it. An opportunity of enlightenment has been lost, although
it will present itself again later on but in a more fragmented and fleeting
way. The soul falls into darkness and awakens in the next stage of the Bardo.
The soul awakens again and is confronted with the brilliant light of the
realm of the enlightened beings, also called the realm of the Peaceful and
Wrathful Deities. All Gods, Goddesses and mythical images become vividly
alive within consciousness. Because the ego is habituated to dualistic perception,
the soul tries to cling to the forms of the Peaceful Deities and is repulsed
by the Wrathful deities. When the mind perceives these deities it should
remember that it still has a dualistic impression of an "I" experiencing
the "other" (the deities). It should take this opportunity to
transcend the illusion of duality and recognize the deities as projections
of his own mind. In essence they are neither peaceful nor wrathful, this
is only a perception of the mind. But most souls get confused and miss the
opportunity to liberate themselves. The habitual tendencies, like anger,
hate, attachment, ignorance and so on, drive the soul to the next stage
in the afterlife: the six realms of samsara, symbolized by the well known
Wheel of Samsara, or Existence, or Birth and Death.
In it we see Yama,
the god of death holding the Wheel. At the center we see a cock, a snake
and a pig. They symbolize the "Three Poisons": ignorance (pig),
which give rise to aversion (snake) and attachment (cock). Snake and cock
are sometimes taken for greed and pride. All three keep the human being
in a vicious circle of self-sustaining suffering. In the circle around it
are beings moving up or down, symbolizing their progress or downfall in
their spiritual lives. When death strikes man goes to the afterlife which
is divided in six realms: the realm of the gods (Devas), the realm of the
demi-gods (Asuras or titans), the realm of the humans, the realm of the
Hungry Ghosts or continually frustrated spirits, the realm of the hell beings,
and the realm of the animals. This correspond more or less with the heavens
and hells of other religions.
Where the soul will go in the realms of
the afterlife, depends on how the person has lived and thus on his state
of mind. In other words, it depends on the karma he has generated. As all
the subconscious things in the soul are coming up, and depending on what
the strongest tendency inside us is, then one of the six afterlife realms
begins to predominate.
If the soul has lived a life in which it has done
a lot of good things for other people, it will go to the realms of the gods
(Devas). However they are under the illusion that they have achieved the
highest level. They are filled with pride, condescension and self-righteousness.
When jealousy is the strongest feeling, the soul goes to the realm of the
demi-gods, as they are always fighting for what others have. They are bound
by competitive conditioning and underlying feelings of inadequacy. The Preta
or Hungry Ghosts realm is occupied by those beings whose hunger is insatiable,
not only for solid food but for subtle foods like knowledge and all forms
of stimulation. The animal realm is filled with those so confined by their
habitual tendencies that any threat to their narrow and frozen condition
sets off the "flight or fight" reaction (animals feel secure in
their habits and fear the unknown). The human realm is a combination of
floating anxieties about praise and blame, with hopes and fears rising and
falling, underlined by the painful reality of impermanence and death. The
realm of the hell beings is marked with catastrophic pain, panic without
rest. So you see, the six realms are a division of six main psychological
characteristics that keep the human mind bound to its projections in the
Although every ego may be dominated by a particular psychological
characteristic and dwell in one particular realm during certain times, there
will be a movement from one realm to another, because we, as humans beings,
contain all these realms within ourselves.
When in the Bardo one should
wake up from those dream states, or the projections of the soul, and start
meditating to make a connection with the divine. There is always the possibility
of experiencing the true nature of mind, and pure awareness. Only then the
soul can escape the realms of the afterlife.
However most souls reincarnate
again, as their desires and passions drive them to a new physical body.
It is said that the soul remains forty-nine days in the afterlife before
reincarnating again, but this number should be taken symbolically.