The following article is excerpted from the forthcoming book by James L. Foster, Holonic Humanity: How God Makes Us Holy, due to be released in 2017. It is a sequel to his earlier work, Holy Humanity: We Are All Made of God Stuff, published in 2013. The latter book, Holy Humanity, is reviewed in the January 2016 issue of Awareness magazine.
What We Will Discover When We Die
(if we have not made the discoveries beforehand)
Deepak Chopra has listed seven events which take place at the moment we cross over to eternal life at the dawning of our new life beginning at our physical death:
1. The physical stops functioning. The dying person may not be aware of this but eventually knows that it has occurred.
2. The physical world retires. This can happen by degrees; there can be a sense of floating upward or looking down on familiar places as they recede.
3. The dying person feels lighter, suddenly freed of limitation.
4. The mind and sometimes the senses continue to operate. Gradually, however, what is perceived becomes non-physical.
5. A presence grows that is felt to be divine. The presence can be clothed in a light or in the body of angels or gods. It can communicate to the dying person.
6. Personality and memory begin to fade, but the sense of "I" remains.
7. This "I" has an overwhelming sense of moving on to another phase of existence." (Chopra, Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, 2006)
Others, especially those who have reported on their own near death experiences (NDEs) have characterized their experience somewhat differently, perhaps reflecting their acculturated expectations of the death experience. These often included the inadequacy of language to describe the experience, feelings of warmth and peace and stillness, a perceptible rise in our personal vibration level, the experience of love as a vibration, the sensation of being out of our bodies, meeting other persons--known and unknown--who had died earlier, meeting beings of light, a non-verbal and non-judgmental life review, entering a tunnel and moving effortlessly toward a bright light, disappointment at having to return to our former life, and an all-together new appreciation of death--almost a longing for it and a total lack of fear of it. In our physical life our vibrational level was very slow and dense but we will feel our vibration level rise precipitously as we make the transition to pure Spirit.
Our afterlife is created by our own consciousness, but this does not mean that what we have created is not real. It means that as divine beings we are quite capable of creating our own reality. We quite regularly do so, even in this earthbound life.
The following conclusions have come from a combination of insights I have received through (1) the first hand reports of those who have had near death experiences--particularly those recorded by Raymond A Moody, Jr., Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, George Ritchie and Ian Stevenson, (2) my study of various religious traditions (primarily Christian, Hindu and Buddhist and shamanic mystical teachings--particularly the Christian mystics, including Jesus and Paul; the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead; and the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita), (3) the writings of Plato (428 BCE), particularly in Phaedo and The Republic, (4) my reading of current discoveries from the sciences of quantum physics and cosmology, (5) the many intuitive insights I have received in the process of writing Holy Humanity: We Are All Made of God Stuff and in this current writing on holonic humanity, and (6) current intuitions born of my contemplation of the meanings of "infinity" and "eternity" and "Spirit." You, the reader, will probably have already discerned some of the following affirmations. If there are a number here that are new to you, don't worry about it. Nobody is keeping score.
When we die...
1. We will discover that death as an end to life is a fiction and that death is, instead, a transition from our current life to an incomparably greater life. This realization will be immediate and seamless.
2. We will discover that our true essence is Spirit. We are not the bodies we thought we were. Our true identity, even throughout our earthly life, was and is, spiritual.
3. We will discover that as our physical sensations recede our subtle spiritual sensations expand, eventually replacing the physical altogether. Money, sex, power, sickness, sin--all these end. Our spiritual bodies will be ageless and free of sickness and all other limitations. We will experience again, as if for the first time, pure consciousness.
4. We will discover that there are some things we can take with us through death's portal--things we have learned during our earthly sojourn--our memories (contrary to #6 in Chopra's list above), and knowledge we have acquired, and understandings and experiences upon which we can continue to build in future sojourns. We also take our consciousness of both our past and present.
5. We will discover that Love can and does survive death. Those we have loved in our earthly life we will still Love--even more and better than before.
6. We will discover that connections made during our life on earth continue into eternity. This is particularly the case with those who we know to be our soul mates. With them we have a bond that cannot be broken throughout eternity.
7. We will discover that we are reunited with loved ones who preceded us in death. Our "homecoming" will be the occasion for celebration by those loved ones, family and friends, who have been awaiting our return.
8. We will discover that death is not painful. It is our somatic existence that was painful. This we will realize immediately as we pass from sometimes excruciating pain to complete freedom from pain.
9. We will discover that we are one with our Source, that we have never in fact been separated from our Source, and that our only "sin" had been in believing we were separate when, in reality, we were not. This, too, will be an immediate realization.
10. We will discover that we really are One with the Many, that our perceived separation from others in this present life was an illusion. If we had had this perception earlier, it would have significantly accelerated our holonic journey.
11. We will discover that to have been human was to be beautiful, even elegant and exotic. Even in spite of our failures and mistakes, we were an incredible species. We will come to see this because we will be seeing the essence of ourselves and all others, a startlingly beautiful essence in stark contrast to what we may have perceived in our earthly sojourn.
12. We will also discover that the whole of Creation is stunningly beautiful and that we had not previously succeeded in destroying it.
13. We will discover that our identity is spirit and we no longer identify with body, mind, or ego. Each of these were limitations we no longer have.
14. We will discover that the Cosmos was our planetary home, yet infinite; full of life, and utterly the pregnant, nourishing and living dwelling of the gods.
15. We will discover that we are not inherently evil, that soul (that which is of God in us) is not evil. Jesus came to show us who we are already (as did other prophets and avatars), not to save us from eternal punishment.
16. We will, therefore, discover that we have no need to be "saved," not by Jesus or anybody else, that in all eternity we were never lost. As eternal beings we were made to self-correct. Jesus did not die for "anybody's real or imagined sins," as Christian theologian Roberta Bondi so succinctly put it. And it was Bishop John Shelby Spong's conviction that "Humanity is not alone [as we once thought],...separated from God and thus in need of rescue." (Spong, Eternal Life..., p. 207)
17. We will discover that Life in the astral realm is not just a time to do nothing, but rather a timeless experience of continuing holonic evolution. We will be building on the things we learned in our earthly sojourn.
18. We will discover that we are enveloped in pure Light, that we have become one with the Light, and Light Givers ourselves.
19. We will discover that our doubts and confusion have vanished, that what had been struggles on the earthly plane no longer exist.
20. We will discover that the ability to choose did not end with our earthly passing, but is instead vastly expanded.
21. We will discover that the Big Bang, the beginning of our cosmos, the cosmos of which we were and still are caretakers, is but one of an infinity of Big Bangs distributing Life, Love, and Light through an infinity of universes.
22. We will discover that creating is an endless process in which we are key participants as co-creators with our Source, that we as eternal Beings have indeed participated in the creation of an infinity of universes, including our own cosmos.
23. We will discover that we are both within the interstellar void we helped create and that, at the other end of the size spectrum, the void is within us, in as much as infinity includes the infinitely small as well as the infinitely vast. Infinity goes in every direction.
24. We will discover that God is not just "out there" somewhere in the vast reaches of space, but is also "in here," in me, in you, in us.
25. We will discover that the whole of Creation, even our consciousness of it, and we ourselves, are made of Light, that God is Light, and that God is all there is--that God is Being itself, not a being. (See my book, Holy Humanity, chapter 8, "The Omega Point", pp. 171-181)
26. We will discover that the whole of the universe is imaged by Spirit, including all gods, all demons and angels and heavenly hosts, and that we, ourselves, are Spirit.
27. We will discover (with the Persian poet, Rumi) that "death is our wedding with eternity" and is therefore an occasion for rejoicing.
28. We will discover that death replaces time with timelessness, that eternity is not just a long, long time, but is the absence of time altogether.
29. We will discover that such identity as we do have in the astral realm is non-local, meaning that we have not just expanded boundaries, but that there are no boundaries, that as spirit we may be in more than one place simultaneously. Neither time nor space will have relevance in eternity and infinity. The eternal "now" means that past, present, and future are all now.
30. We will discover that death fulfills our most audacious dreams. If, for example, we have dreamed of travel, we will find that we can travel instantly, anywhere we choose, both within this universe, and beyond.
31. We will discover that only our physical bodies were made of stardust--not our Spirit. Our spiritual essence has always been. We, along with all other divine beings, are uncreated, that there was never a time in which we were not.
32. We will discover that our memories, both short and long term, are not contained in our physical brain. We still have them, and that without our former physical brain. They are, along with our memories of other lives, stored in an immense data field such as that postulated by Rupert Sheldrake as a "Mind Field" or the Zero Point Field thought by Albert Einstein to be the only reality.
33. We will discover that Love is an emanation of Light and that as divine Lovers we spiritually embody the Light, Power, and the Love of God.
34. We will discover that there is no death in any final sense. What we call death is just a transition to an old, but ever new beautiful and fuller life, in which we will continue to evolve into the fullness of God.
35. We will re-discover that we are a part of God, that we have never been separated from God in the past and will never be separated from God in eternity.
36. We will discover that many of the things we valued in this life--comfort, money, sex, privilege, material things--are gone but that the really important things--unconditional love, life, compassion, memories, knowledge, the capability to continue learning, loving relationships, and meaningful goals--these things remain
37. We will discover that there is no Hell, at least no more than we had created for ourselves on earth. In this latter sense we may have undergone a multitude of heavens and hells in many incarnations.
38. We will discover that the primary difference between the heavenly plane and the earthly plane is a matter of consciousness. It is our consciousness in each that determines our perceived reality in each respective plane.
39. We will discover that our physical body on the material plane was like clothing for the soul. It gave us a planetary identity which is not needed in the heavenly realm.
40. We will discover that the subtle energies we experienced on earth are no longer subtle, but are rather an acknowledged and trusted aspect of eternal life. We will have immediate access to the entire spectrum of subtle energies. These will replace whatever physical senses we lose at death.
41. We will discover that our evolution continues, driven by our choices. We can go wherever our desires take us and do whatever we wish to do.
42. We will discover that as free spirits we can roam both the astral and the earthly planes. We can roam the cosmos, visit the places we were unable to visit in our earthly incarnation, even return to our earthly home if we so desire, though this latter may be a bitter-sweet experience, as our presence will likely go unnoticed. But as spirit beings we can be everywhere at once, should we so choose.
43. We will discover that there is no retrogression in the spiritual realm--only holonic growth as we accumulate the skills and develop the will to be the bearers of unconditional agápé Love. (See pp.16-23 above for the definition of holonic.)
44. We will discover that if we eventually choose to re-incarnate, we will return to the earthly plane more highly evolved than when we last left it and it will likely be to a life of service to those who continue to struggle. It may also be in the company of soul mates with whom we have traveled for eons.
45. We will discover that death is not a movement to another place or time, but a change in our perspective, a change with which we resonate. We resonate only with that with which we vibrate as in the quantum vibrations which connect us with all things physical and spiritual.
46. We will discover that those persons who have shared deeply in our earthly lives will continue to share our lives throughout eternity.
47. We will discover that the mysteries we wrestled with on earth have passed into even greater mysteries on the astral plane, thus insuring that even as wholly spiritual beings we will never cease to be stimulated to dig deeper and to discern more.
48. We will discover that on the astral plane we can only progress to greater understanding and enlightenment. We cannot regress. Our evolution continues on all planes.
49. We will discover that we have finally transcended the limitations of our earthbound humanity--all of them.
50. We will discover pure Truth, and further that Beauty is one of Truth's most eloquent expressions.
51. We will discover that quantum physicist David Bohm correctly theorized that from a loftier perspective than that provided by earth we will see that everything and everybody are connected by a universal matrix (which he called the implicate order)--that there is no separation whatsoever, that we are all part of an undivided whole.
52. We will discover that our consciousness is the key to our co-creative capabilities which, though potentially available to us during our life on earth, are fully available to us in our life hereafter. We will discover that our consciousness does, both here and there, not simply observe the universe, but actively participates in its creation--fully so in our elysian identity and partially so even during our earthly sojourn(s). This is the implication of the Apostle Paul's assertion that "For now we see the dim image as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." (I Corinthians 13:12)
53. We will discover that earth is but a mirror of heaven, its beauty the obscure reflection of the heavenly realm. The applicable rule of thumb is "As above, so below."
54. We will discover that, collectively, as divine beings, we are the only intelligence and consciousness that the cosmos has. Indeed, God has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet, no mind but our mind, and no heart but our heart. God is all there is, and that all includes us as Her primary manifestation to the cosmos. We humans, on both sides of the Eternal Now, have been and will continue to be the guardians of all Creation, including both incarnate and spiritual humanity, because we possess the only incarnate spiritual consciousness the cosmos has. We are God's only self-conscious presence on this earthly ground and our presence makes it holy ground. This fact alone provides sufficient rationale for belief in reincarnation. The Earth and all its creatures needs our representation as conscious agents of the Divine in order that it may fulfill the Divine mandate to bring about the Kingdom of God throughout the Cosmos--"For God so loves the cosmos, that She incarnates Herself in her children to take up the task of filling the cosmos with Her Life and Light and Love." (a 21st century paraphrase of John 3:16 by the author).
Given the above, perhaps the only question we need to answer now, in this earthly incarnation, is...
How then should we live now?
Chances are that, in this life, we will not have completed our work, but that it will continue into eternity. Whatever we accomplish in this life towards the goal of our evolutionary development will not be lost at death but will provide the foundation for our continuing development in eternity. Our work will never be finished. Even if we eventually reach the mountaintop, there will be others behind us who will need a hand up, so our work will continue. Our work will not be complete until all who follow us have joined us at the top of the mountain, so whether in this life or in the next, our work continues.
The next question we need to ask is:
What does it mean to be the incarnate presence of the Divine now?