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Reflections on the Existence of an Afterlife

Anne has a bachelor degree in Behavioral Science and has worked in Human Services as an Outreach Worker.

Siddhartha the Buddha gaining Enlightenment

Siddhartha The Buddha

Siddhartha The Buddha

My Journey from Religion to Spirituality

When I was aged about thirteen, my mother announced that we were now Atheists. She was reading a very lengthy tome that was all about how the rituals and activities of Christianity were all based on Pagan religions from earlier times. It described in great detail how the earliest European people had personified the growing of wheat and barley into a person who died in the winter and was reborn again in the Spring. This book was a classic called The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer.

My mother, who had been raised as a Catholic, encouraged me to read it. For me, who was a Presbyterian, and listened to simple sermons about the teachings of Jesus, it was a fascinating expose of Christian mythology. It was a very thick book and cited many examples of the roots of Christian tradition such as the Catholic Church giving their congregation wafers and wine as the body and blood of Jesus. Of course this goes back to fertility rites for grapes and wheat. So after reading this book I dutifully announced to other school children who asked me what I believed in, that I was an Atheist.

Unfortunately, before too long I began to feel very depressed about life. I quickly identified the source of my depression being linked to my new belief that death was the end. Many people who are Atheists will tell you that science has proven that there is not such thing as an afterlife. They will assure you that the body dies and returns to ashes or dust and there is nothing that science has identified as a soul that could continue after the physical body dies. Those who have experienced lucid dreaming with evidential information would disagree.

However, what I eventually learned in a basic psychology class is that science does not really know what consciousness is, or where it is located in the human body. What I read was that looking for consciousness within the human body, or the brain, is like looking inside a television set for the actors! The psychology text hypothesized that the human brain is merely a receiver, and consciousness is being projected into it from somewhere else, like a radio receiver. Since I read that many years ago I have searched to see whether science has come up with a better explanation and I have not found one. However, here is an article which describes how Princetown biologists have found the on and off switch for consciousness, and they are assuming that this is the same as consciousness.

In addition to this information, back a few decades ago a doctor named Dr. Raymond Moody performed a study of many individuals who had been declared clinically dead and had been revived. What surprised him was that while some of the participants in his study had no recollection of anything, a significant number had very similar experiences. he was able to get a generalized pattern from all of these people which was: they were above their body looking down on it when they saw a light and went towards it. They were drawn into the light and found themselves speeding down a tunnel towards a light at the end. They were greeted by a being, and the being varied on the person that was having the experience, and according to their belief system. The being knew them and emanated great love for them. Then they watched the person's life like a movie but from the point of view of being outside the body and seeing the effect that they had on the people around them. They saw themselves being born, going through childhood, and their life up until the time that they died. Then they were told that they had to go back and that there was work for them to do. Dr. Raymond Moody published his findings in a book called Life After Life.

Over a lifetime I have gone on a long journey of examining many different belief systems which started with a friend of the family giving me a book on Zen Buddhism by Alan Watts and which fascinated me. I learned that in the eastern religions like Zen, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, there was not a male God but a creative void out of which all things emerged. We might think of that in Western terms as the Quantum Field. When I studied some of the works of Madame Helena Blavatsky she referred to the Theosophist version of God as a "first principle" that was a presence of wisdom and love that permeated the universe. So I have come to think of "God" as a Unified Field of Consciousness that permeates reality. basically, over my lifetime I moved from religion to Spirituality, and I am not alone in this. There are many people who have come to the conclusion that there is only one consciousness expressing itself through billions of beings. It is beautifully expressed in Herman Hesse's Siddhartha when Siddhartha gains enlightenment and knows that he is one with all creation.

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