Channeled Vision of Life After Death

DD2 white wings sq Life After DeathIn an earlier blog, I explored some of the ways people get their ideas about life after death. Religion has been the primary source of these ideas throughout most of history.

Since the advent of hospice and modern medicine, we now have the first-hand experiences of people nearing death (see Final Gifts) and those restored to life after dying (see Life After Life). These new sources have provided a somewhat consistent picture of the initial phase of death, e.g. appearances by the dead, out-of-body consciousness, effulgent light, life review, celestial guidance, etc.

For a more fleshed out picture, however, people have sought details from the dead themselves. This information arrives in four distinctive ways: via mediums,through past-life recall, by Instrumental TransCommunication, i.e. electronic devices, and in dreams. Real? Silly? Fraudulent? Perhaps all three?


Psychically talented persons, called mediums enable contact with the dead through channeling and telepathy. In channeling, a deceased or other-worldly entity takes over the body of the medium in order to speak. The entrance of the entity is typically marked by a preparatory trance meditation by the medium followed by an awakening and noticeable change in posture, voice, mannerisms, and verbal expression indicative of the new resident. It is very theatrical. Some mediums channel a single entity, others provide a multitude of characters, like a telephone operator switching to different lines, or a very good actor switching roles. In telepathy, the medium (perhaps lacking the requisite theatrical skills) is not taken over by the entity but rather hears (clairaudience), sees (clairvoyance) and/or feels (clairsentience) the messages of the dead. As in life, there seems to be a hierarchy in channeled entity world. Some are simply the dead relatives of bereaved families while others command a much wider audience as spiritual teachers  (e.g. Abraham, Art & Pursah, Michael, Matthew, Seth, the Akashic Records, Pleiadeans, Edgar Cayce).

Carolyn North, author of The Experience of a Lifetime: living fully dying consciously has written a very interesting piece, Life Post-Mortem on life and the afterlife gleaned from the published communications of ten or more channeled entities who appeared in either England, the U.S. or South Africa between 1909 and 1978. Their numbers included such notables as Arthur Conan-Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) along with lesser-known personages. Both skeptical and intrigued, Carolyn was impressed by the consistency of description among the various entities, “. . .  although there was little chance that they (the channelers) could have either known each other or come across each others’ accounts during their lifetimes, what they had to say was virtually identical across the board!” Below are a few quotes to inspire further reading.

  • Regarding the difference between life and death, Dr. Myers, a deceased Cambridge scholar, says: The secret of death is to be found in the rate of speed at which the outer shell vibrates. For instance, a human being is primarily aware of the visible world about him because his body is traveling at its particular rate of speed. Alter the timing of your physical form and the earth, men, women and all material objects will vanish for you as you vanish for them. Death, therefore, means merely a change of speed. For the purpose of this change a temporary dislocation is necessary, for the soul must pass from one body traveling at a certain vibration to another traveling at a different rate or time.
  • Diplomat and Far East adventurer, Joe Gascoigne, explains our earthly existence: The earth is a place where we learn and grow by experiencing life in matter. We repeat the process lifetime after lifetime until, by becoming literally “enlightened” we make ourselves accessible to Light by effacing layers of density until what is left is our most subtle core of being.
  • Frances, an ex-nun, describes her experience of the life review: Somewhere in the depths of the mind two blueprints are brought forward into consciousness. These are so clear that one can literally take them out and study them. One is the Perfect Idea with which the spirit goes bravely into incarnation. The other is what results from an only partially-understood Plan – in fact, life as it is actually lived.
  •  On the various level of death, Arthur Conan-Doyle reports: The difficulty is to find adequate words with which to describe the conditions of life after death. Every soul must some day pass through a second death before it quits this first after-death plane. After experiencing a period of unconsciousness which may last for minutes, hours, days or even years, the soul then awakes to to a renewed, rich and vivid life when it sees truth revealed. With this in view, man advances into the mental conditions of his being, automatically migrating to the particular mental plane to which his soul is attuned.

I have personally witnessed a number of channelers in action. While their performances are quite captivating, I find myself unwilling to whole-heartedly accept their claims of entity inhabitation. It’s not that I disbelieve in an afterlife or in the possibility of communications between the living and the dead. I am open to both. My reticence is due in part to the high potential for fraud and deception in the channeling trade. How very disturbing it would be to be duped. And the carefully orchestrated theatric quality of the channeling feeds my disbelief.

Popular in early 19th century United Kingdom and the United States and coinciding with the rise of Spiritualism, mediumship quickly fell into disrepute after several popular and widely followed mediums were exposed for the use of stage magic tricks to dupe their audiences. People do hate to be deceived. In her book, The Wheel of Life, death expert Kubler-Ross provided a contemporary example of this kind of metaphysical disillusionment. A trance medium she had followed for many years was exposed for sexual indiscretions along with faking much of his channeling. Although it utterly destroyed her belief in the medium, interestingly, it did not shake her belief in some of his channeled entities which she apparently met separately without the medium assistance.

One often hear about the use of mediums and psychic during murder investigations.This certainly lend to their credibility. However, it is possible their  talents have been greatly exaggerated. For arguments on either side see Police Psychics: Do They Really Help Solve Crimes?, Wikipedia and Psychic Detectives. Scientific studies have attempted to test the psychic abilities of mediums. Only a few studies support their claims and those that do often suffer from procedural biases. For example, mediums were tested in the presence of their subjects and thus allowed access to non-verbal and physical clues regarding personal information — much in the way Sherlock Holmes deduced impressive details about a person merely by noting their clothes, manner and the roughness of their hands.

A more recent study conducted at the Windbridge Institute addresses these procedural issues by eliminating direct contact between subject and psychic. Even the person who contacts the medium is kept in the dark regarding the subject for whom the reading is to be given. Results of this study, reported in Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing 3, no. 1 (2007): 23-27, show some support for the psychic abilities of medium. However the study provides no indication of how mediums obtain their information, i.e. from the dead or otherwise.

An alternative explanation of how mediums get their information may be found in the holographic theory of quantum physicist, David Bohm on the interconnectedness of the universe. In a nutshell his theory postulates a higher order realm, the implicative order, from which everything manifests on the worldly level, the explicative order.

“Bohm suggests that the whole universe can be thought of as a kind of giant, flowing hologram, or holomovement, in which a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. The explicate order is a projection from higher dimensional levels of reality, and the apparent stability and solidity of the objects and entities composing it are generated and sustained by a ceaseless process of enfoldment and unfoldment, for subatomic particles are constantly dissolving into the implicate order and then recrystallizing.” See David Bohm and the Implicative Order

Interpreted according to this theory, mediums obtains their psychic readings by tapping into the implicative order. Locality and contact with the subject of the reading is irrelevant because the information is everywhere. Interestingly, Bohm’s theory of an implicative order, is consistent with the explanation of channeling given to me by a trance-medium I interviewed for a television show back in the mid-90’s. This medium characterized channeling as tapping into a higher realm (like Bohm’s implicative order) and extracting information. It is an ability, he told me, that we all share to varying degrees. Doing a Tarot reading or consulting the I Ching are common tools of taping into that other realm.

I like Bohm’s theory, it resonates with my own belief system. This brings up the other reason why I do not whole-heartedly believe in the channeling dead spirit — my underlying belief system. Channeled entities and spirits do not quite fit in to my Sufi training and spiritual experiences whereas tapping into the implicative order does. How something “fit” with one’s current beliefs is probably the way most of us judge metaphysical phenomenon and discriminate between the sublime and the ridiculous. Lest we chastise ourselves too much for our illogical reasoning, it is important to remember that even scientists are susceptible to this bias and are just as reluctant to welcome new theories that are at odds with their own. We are protective of our belief systems. They provide meaning to our world and make us feel comfortable. We do not let go of them easily

This blog was first posted November 19, 2011. It has some good information. However, my thoughts on the subject have shifted and more current expression of my views on mediumship may be found HERE.

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