The followers of scientism (science as a belief system) and a small number of teachers assert that individual consciousness does not survive after death. The individual is an illusion, they suggest. The scientism followers suggest that consciousness dies with the brain because consciousness is simply an artifact of brain functioning. Some teachers suggest that the person's consciousness merges with the One, Universal consciousness at death obliterating individual consciousness.
I know as certainly as I know anything about my life that individual consciousness continues after death. Life is a bridge we are crossing, but we were before we walked onto the bridge and will continue after we exit. The bridge is just a brief transition period, an interlude, in the eternity of our travels.
We absolutely, without question are individual spirits who carry our individuality through Eternity. Those parts of our individuality that are physical-world phenomena are sloughed off at death with the body. They include physical ailments, preoccupation with physical concerns, hate, cruelty, depression, psychosis, neurosis, and so on. However, our central personalities, the intentions and uniqueness that makes each of us who we are, grow and change through Eternity. That part of us may be impatient, not as loving as it could be, aggressive, mistrustful, and not attentive to others. It will learn those lessons through life experiences in Eternity.Those in our circles of energy in life stay with us after life has ended. We know and remember. We don't develop spiritual amnesia when we cross over. Love, those we love, and the things we love, including pets, live with us through Eternity.
This essay explains why I am so certain that individual personality lives forever. It includes evidence in two categories: the psychic evidence and logical or metaphysical arguments.
For an extensive discussion of the survival of consciousness, read Jane Katra and Russell Targ's The Heart of the Mind, Chapter 4, "What Survives: An Empirical Look at Life after Death."
For a fascinating list of the common descriptions of the afterlife gathered across time and spiritual perspectives, go to http://www.ozemail.com.au/~vwzammit/afterlifech30.html#Heading30. The author has taken his descriptions from the book by Robert Crookall, The Supreme Adventure. Be willing to see some New Age vocabulary and some concepts that may not resonate with your sensibilities. Much of it contains statements that will resonate with you: "I've always felt that too!"
The Psychic Evidence
The psychic evidence is the most exciting, and is so compelling that it overshadows the logical and metaphysical arguments.
The Certainty that Mediums Have Extra Sensory
We begin with the acknowledgment that mediums have knowledge about people who have crossed over that does not come from the physical realm. That is an established fact and readings with the deceased are commonplace.
While hundreds of mediums are regularly doing readings describing facts about people they could not know, John Edward's readings close the issue of whether mediums have knowledge about those who have crossed over that does not come from the physical realm. John has been doing televised readings for several years, starting with readings of people randomly selected by the producers of the Crier Report (Katherine Crier's news/feature show). John would read anyone the producers sent through on the phone with remarkable accuracy, providing names of relatives, number of children, cause of death, and even describing perfectly houses in which the people lived. He has continued his readings several times a week for an hour on the Sci Fi channel with virtually 100% accuracy throughout each hour show.On a segment of Larry King Live, John told a caller the producers had selected that her husband had recently passed from lung cancer and was a smoker. She agreed. He asked if the woman had buried her husband with a pack of cigarettes. She laughingly replied that she had. But then the woman's deceased husband humorously communicated through John that they were the wrong brand; she replied that indeed they were the wrong brand. John's readings are a continual stream of such highly accurate statements.
The ability of several mediums, including John Edward, was studied at the Human Energy Systems Laboratory, Department of Psychology, the University of Arizona. During experimental readings of six deceased individuals, two sitters took notes and rated the responses for accuracy against preset information. The mediums' average accuracy was 77% to 83%. That would be similar to someone walking into a crowded mall, selecting six people, and accurately describing who had passed, what they had passed from, where they had lived, and a host of other facts, with four out of five facts being perfectly accurate.
Mediums undeniably have knowledge of people who have crossed over that could not come from knowing in the physical realm.
The Question is Whether the Readings Are from Psychic Knowledge
However, there is a legitimate question about whether the medium is communicating with the individual consciousness of people who have crossed over or receiving knowledge about the person from the storehouse of knowledge in the Greater Reality. After all, psychics receive knowledge about people without having the people communicate with the psychic. The psychic does a reading with a person and knows information about the person's past, present, and future, receiving knowledge about people the psychic doesn't know and events in far-removed places.
Since it is acknowledged that mediums do receive knowledge about people who have crossed over, it only remains for us to demonstrate that they are receiving it from the individual personalities of the people themselves, living in spirit absent from the body, to demonstrate that individual consciousness continues after death.
The Evidence: Focus of Information on the Deceased
The first evidence that the medium is communicating with the personality that has crossed over is that the medium's communication is very centered on the person's death. It dominates the session. We would expect that if the medium were simply reading information about the person available from the Greater Reality, it would range freely and may only inconsequentially contain information about the person's passing. That is not the case. The manner of death and issues surrounding the death are strong parts of the sessions, meaning it likely came from the personality that experienced the death.
The Evidence: The Personal Nature of the CommunicationThe second evidence that the medium is communicating with the personality that has crossed over is that information the medium receives is very personal while the information a psychic receives in a reading has no evidence of personality. The psychic's knowledge doesn't come with humor or frustration or a sardonic attitude. It is impersonal and objective. In other words, it is as though the psychic were reading the information in a book, not hearing a personality explain it.
However, when a medium is communicating with the personality of a person who has crossed over, the person's characteristics come through strongly. The spirit jokes with the person receiving the reading, is indignant over something, has regrets, expresses love, and shows a host of other personality traits that are absent from psychic readings. The information is personal, spoken by a person.
Targ and Russell describe one of the many anecdotes about spirits who have very personal interests they communicate clearly through mediums. In the 1930s, a spirit named Runki contacted several mediums who met for sťances regularly, showing his individual, gruff personality: "a yearning for snuff, coffee, and alcohol." He had been a tall man in life.
Runki, at times appearing as a clear apparition, kept reiterating that he was looking for his leg. When asked where it was, he said it had been in the sea because his body had washed ashore after a shipwreck, but now it was "in Ludvik's house." The person named "Ludvik" had just joined the group of mediums before the messages from Runki began. He had no knowledge of a leg in his house. But when elders in the community where Ludvik's house stood were questioned, they remembered that a leg of a tall man had washed ashore years before and, for some unknown reason, had been put into the interior wall of the house now occupied by Ludvik. Ludvik and the others searched for the leg and, in fact, found it in the wall of Ludvik's house; it was the leg of a tall man.
The Evidence: The Pointed Nature of the Information
The information a medium receives is pointed and has purpose. The personality behind the communication intends to communicate very specific messages. The content of the session is not simply far-ranging information about a person or circumstances. It often focuses on getting a specific message across and may result in some frustration on the part of the spirit when the message isn't being received.
That doesn't occur when a psychic is giving a reading. Often, the psychic's personality will come through indicating the strength of information, but it is clearly the psychic: "You know, you really need to have that tooth checked. It's going to cause you problems. OK?" However, the psychic doesn't communicate with an urgency and the communication usually doesn't have a clearly defined purpose.
The Evidence: The Drama of the Person's Accounts of His or Her Life
The messages given by spirits of those who have crossed over to mediums are full of action and drama. They are life stories with the passion of life. If the medium were just receiving psychic knowledge, he or she would have to originate the script of the dramas on the spot from the factual knowledge gleaned from the Greater Reality. It would require a genius playwright with greater talent than William Shakespeare to take ordinary psychic knowing and weave it into the rich tapestries that come through mediums from those who have crossed over. They describe scenes and occurrences that could only be recounted by the person who had lived them narrating what actually happened.
The Evidence: Impassioned Entreaties from the Spirit that Has Crossed Over
Messages from the person who has crossed over are often impassioned entreaties. The person wants to get a message to someone or wants to reveal something. That is especially true when there is someone living who doesn't know about the person's passing or the nature of the passing.
Targ and Russell recount the story of a medium during World War II in England who, while holding a sťance with a group of women, received communication from a recently deceased sailor who wanted to get a message to his mother sitting in the sťance audience. He was on the H.M.S. Barham which had just been sunk by the Germans. He explained that everyone had drowned, including him.
Word of the sťance reached British Naval Intelligence and the medium was imprisoned. The ship had sunk, but the Navy was keeping it secret so the public wouldn't be demoralized by it. No one except the Navy knew about it. The medium was tried and convicted as a witch, under a 1735 statute. She was kept imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
Clearly, a personality with loves, desires, concerns, and a gamut of other emotions was passionately communicating through the medium to his mother.
These personal entreaties and messages don't come through in simple psychic readings. The psychic knows information, but it is never attached to a personal desire or entreaty. The readings are relatively dispassionate and objective. The psychic is rather like a person writing a newspaper column from dry facts; the medium is more like an interpreter translating from the deceased person's language to the living person's, conveying all of the personality and individuality of the speaker.
The Messages Are Often
Given to People with
Personal friends, loved ones, and relatives, including children, are often visited by the person who has just crossed over. The visitation is personal and often conversational. It is an encounter between two people, with one in the physical realm and the other in the nonphysical. The relative visited most often has never had a psychic experience, and certainly has no psychic ability.
These experiences demonstrate that after sloughing off the body, the personality of the person who has crossed over continues and seeks out those the person loves who are still living. There is an unbroken continuity from life to Life (the physical to the nonphysical) that would be similar to the person crossing over wanting to visit a loved one before going on a long journey.
The Evidence: The Free Willed Choices of
The person who has crossed sometimes chooses to withhold information from the medium, with a very human stubbornness. The spirit may ignore the medium's questions and intrude his or her own messages, often to the consternation of the medium. Spirits who speak through the medium reveal their own natures that were present when they were in the physical realm, being dominant, shy and retiring, focused on other people, excitable and bubbling, serious, obstinate, and so on. They act in those ways, freely speaking or being quiet or joking.
Psychic readings are devoid of these marks of the person's personality, although the psychic may describe them. The psychic, in other words, is explaining the person's personality; the medium is experiencing it.
The Evidence: Manipulation of Physical World Events to Present Messages
There are also many verified anecdotes of people who have crossed over communicating messages to living family members by manipulating life events in remarkable ways. It is clear that a person who has crossed over has the ability to work with the Divine and higher self to manipulate the physical world to communicate with loved ones. That requires individuality, memory, and exercising free will.
John Edward describes an occurrence involving his own mother. A few weeks after his mother crossed over, he had a dream in which his grandmother and mother's younger sister, both alive, appeared in a bar sitting on bar stools. The door opened and his mother walked through in a purple coat she had when she was alive. He asked her, "I know you're here. But what is this really?" She replied in the dream, "Johny, this is your one last time," playing on the name of his book about speaking with the dead, One Last Time. Then on her way out the door, she turned to him, ran her fingers up and down the lapel of the purple coat she was wearing, and said coyly, "Would you pick up this coat?"
When he woke, John wasn't sure it was a genuine visit from his mother. He wanted it to be, but felt it could simply have been a dream. A half hour after waking, he had a craving for an egg sandwich from a local deli. He drove to the deli that was located beside a dry cleaner. As he parked, he saw the woman who owned the dry cleaner waving to him. He went into the dry cleaning shop, and saw her coming out of the back carrying a garment in a plastic bag. It was his mother's purple coat. Since she had passed away before picking up the coat, it was still at the dry cleaners.
John Edward's mother had manipulated the physical world, or had known the dry cleaner would bring out the coat before the event occurred, and brought it out in a dream as a validation that he really did communicate with her in the dream.
The Evidence: Medium Information Pertains to Many Different Sources
When the medium describes what the person who has crossed over is saying, the information is wide ranging. It would have to come to the psychic from a number of different people if it were the result of psychic knowing. It would be as though a spirit were telling about her Uncle Henry's love of beer, then the time she and her brother were playing on the roof of their home and almost fell off, and what happened as her husband was preparing for her funeral. To list all of this information, the psychic, getting only the knowledge from the Greater Reality, would have to be reading Uncle Henry, the deceased's brother, and her husband, or some repository of all information pertaining to her. As far as I know, that phenomenon doesn't occur in psychic readings. It only occurs when a medium is receiving messages from someone who has crossed over.
The Evidence: Some Revelations of Information Are Only Known to the Deceased
Mediums often reveal information known only to the person who has crossed over. The information is later validated. In other words, a psychic could not be reading someone because no one except the deceased knows the information. It could be conjectured that the medium is using precognition or is reading from that vast repository of knowledge independent of some person, but taken with the over evidence, it is very clear that the communications are coming from the personality of the person who has crossed over.
The Evidence: The Fact of Reincarnation
The fact that people, especially children, have knowledge that could only come from a person who has crossed over, is well documented. However, it isn't simply knowledge. It includes attitudes, emotions, loves, and even physical characteristics. This could result from two things: reincarnation--a soul is incarnated again in flesh and carries with it memories from the previous incarnation. Or it could result from the personal consciousness of a person who has crossed over influencing or entering the physical self of a young child.
The latter is even more fantastic than the former. We have no evidence that it occurs, and our tradition of knowledge about God and humanity has no suggestion that such possessions occur.
We are left with the fact that personalities--individuals with memories, loves, passions, personal characteristics, and drives--are reincarnated.
Arguments for the Survival of Individual Consciousness from Logic and Metaphysics
Compared with the compelling arguments from the experiences of psychic and mediums, the arguments from logic and metaphysics seem mundane and uninteresting. Nonetheless, they are relevant.
If individual identity were an artifact of the physical world, just as fingers and ears are, then it would have to end at death, just as fingers and ears do. And yet consciousness is not like fingers and ears. It is by definition the individual's knowledge of himself or herself, and the knowledge of a Higher Power. Without individuality, there can be no consciousness.
Consciousness is the God quality in us that is distinct from the physical. As such, for us to suggest that consciousness dies at the death of the body is to suggest that God dies. Describing it as merging again with the One and losing its individuality is the same as suggesting that consciousness is a product of the brain that ceases to exist when the neurons stop firing. Merging with the One effectively destroys consciousness as surely as it would be destroyed if it were integral with the brain when the brain dies.
The Divine Wouldn't Create Consciousness that Dies
The One is conscious of himself or herself. The One has motivation and free will. To suggest that the One is conscious of himself or herself and has free will but everything part of the One has only a counterfeit consciousness and is determined (has no free will) is not possible.
We can expect that consciousness in the Creation will be patterned after the consciousness in the One. Otherwise, the quality of the Creation will be flawed; it will be unworthy of Creation. It doesn't share the qualities of the One, which we would assume is the most perfect form that exists. The motivation for a perfect One, defined as that Being which has no Being greater than it, exists, to create an imperfect Creation would reveal a remarkable flaw in the One.
Nonlocality Means the Conscious Exists Independent of the Body
The nonlocality of mind isn't easily explained with the conception that there is no individuality or free will. We now know that minds are not separate, the mind affects matter even at great distances, good thoughts such as prayer and blessings have profound effects on people not even aware they are being prayed for or given blessings, and (in the laboratory) conscious attention and goodwill affect even such small beings as microbes and blood cells.
The mind is not local; it isn't confined to the brain. The result is that the individuality of the person in life is not confined to the body. It is joined with other minds in unity consciousness or collective consciousness. To suggest that the mind has no identify, is just an appendage of a One that commands it, ignores our understanding now that the mind is nonlocal. It knows no bounds of time, space, or separateness among people. That is now fact.
Our Experience with God Requires that We Are Individuals through Eternity
Those of us who know we have been touched by a compassionate, loving God have evidence that God approaches and touches us as individuals. That evidence, while personal and subjective, is no less real than observable research data that are impersonal and objective. The evidence may not be replicable, so other "researchers" might not be able to participate in the phenomena, but it is evidence nonetheless and it "matters" at the level which in the end is all that matters anyway, in our personal relationship to the Universe. Those touches from God are personal, not impersonal, and widespread among people. And all of the instances speak of a Divine presence that affects them individually, uniquely, as "children." That requires individuality.
People Grow and Become Fulfilled in Life, Requiring an Individuality
People enjoy remarkable changes in their lives, especially when they have experiences such as near-death experiences and the equivalent mystic encounters with God. Those are documented and apparent to everyone. It is hardly possible that people would grow toward greater bliss through communion with God that has at its basis the ability to make free will choices if it were not true that we are able to, in fact, make free will choices and the growth would continue after this life is finished.
We can never truly understand the great Purpose for our lives, but we can know truly that we feel we have purpose. That is more than simply superstition or illusion. Few things have substance in the physical realm. Science is unreliable; it has changed remarkably, repeatedly, and appears to be undergoing even more change with the acknowledgment of the nonlocality of mind. The only Truth that finally matters is the Truth that resonates in our spirits when we search for it and listen to it.
The fact that virtually all people, learned or unlearned, intelligent or dull, feel that they have a place and purpose in Eternity is testimony that Purpose is a real phenomenon that is central to humanity. And that Purpose has a concomitant conviction that it continues into an afterlife. That fact is sufficient in itself to demonstrate that something in us is individual, indestructible, immortal, and of the same substance as the Divine.
Commonsense Tells Us We are Individuals Who Live through Eternity
Commonsense, which is reliable at the individual level, shouts in our ears that we are individuals with free will who can commune with the Divine and make choices that are beneficial and not beneficial to us, and that our individuality survives after the body dies. To suggest that these choices are carefully orchestrated animations created by a master puppeteer for its own delight reduces the Divine to a physical realm despot with the psychotic personality level of an Idi Amin, commanding his subjects to perform as he requires for his own pleasure. To suggest that we are able to make freewill choices in life, then are cast into the fire at death, simply flies in the face of commonsense.
Beginnings and Endings Are Characteristic
The notion that our individual consciousness has a beginning and an end is thoroughly physical in its conceptualization. It has all of the trappings of a physical realm conclusion: beginning and end, cause and effect, control and submission, separation, lack of compassion and love, and materialistic determinism. We know that the greater reality has no beginnings and endings, and we are nonphysical begins in physical form. Our consciousness and individuality will not have an ending because it is part of the Greater Reality, not the physical realm.
The Consensus among Those Who Teach about the
Finally, nothing in me or in my study of the Greater Reality provides any evidence that consciousness is not individual, that it ends with the end of the body by falling into a sea of Oneness, or that a great amorphous super-consciousness determines behavior and makes free will an illusion. I just don't have anything, not one thing, on which I could base that belief. While on the other hand, I have volumes of support for the uniqueness of the individual, unbridled free will, the love of the Divine for me as a unique personality, and survival of individuality.
Feel free to e-mail the author of this site, Dr. R. C. Hogan.