What’s This About An Afterlife?

From New Dawn 199 (Jul-Aug 2023)

So you think the continuity of consciousness after physical death is just a bunch of faith-based woo-woo? 

You think it’s something cooked up to make us feel better about our inevitable journey from the womb to the rubbish heap of physical decay? 

You think the notion of a timeless existence outside the framework of the physical universe is too vague and slippery ever to be taken seriously by our culture’s arbiters of reality – the sciences?

Please think again. 

Until recently, the belief that the whole of reality is based in matter has dominated our modern understanding of space, time, life and death. Most tellingly, our consciousness has been viewed as little more than an illusory by-product of mechanistic brain activity. 

But over the past half-century, Western science – traditionally hemmed in by materialistic assumptions – has begun to wriggle free of this centuries-old ideological straitjacket and is breaking some astonishing new ground. In fact, there are now at least fifteen promising avenues of post-materialist scientific investigation currently underway, quite apart from modern physics’ excursions into the mysterious quantum realm!

The majority of these inquiries point distinctly toward the possibility, if not the near-certainty, of a “greater reality” in nature that includes what we call the “afterlife.”

My new book, A New Science of the Afterlife: Space, Time, and the Consciousness Code (Inner Traditions, 2023), delves into each of these intriguing fields of inquiry. 

I peek behind the “veil” to ask, “What is the veil, anyway?” and venture a strikingly clear and simple answer. I also take a critical look at the language we use in connection with the afterlife, exposing the militant cult of scepticism that has delayed bonafide afterlife research for decades and that has scoffed at the succinct accounts, from a variety of sources, of the transition to the “next life” and of what one might expect when one arrives there. 

How Did I Come to Write this Book? 

I was born in 1942, raised in the New York City area in a nonreligious family, and at an early age zeroed in on the arts and sciences. I attended Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, intending to pursue a career in Industrial Design, but soon latched onto a similar marriage of art and technology: documentary filmmaking. My first such effort, a film titled SUNDAY (www.bit.ly/1961sunday), garnered nine international awards and launched my lifelong career in media production, interrupted only by three semesters at Harvard University in the early 1960s. 

Parallel to my creative and professional life I’ve maintained a lifelong fascination with the so-called paranormal. (“So-called” because persistent cultural taboos have made it impossible to gauge its actual degree of normalcy!) It all started when, in my early childhood, I experienced a number of precognitive dreams. These suggested that there might be hidden or denied aspects of reality that beg to be better understood and perhaps befriended. Later in life I experienced a variety of inexplicable events – UFO-related experiences, materialisations, and other “culturally unauthorised” phenomena – which persistently piqued my curiosity about the deeper nature of reality.

British biologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake

In the early 1980s, I met British biologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake and produced a radio documentary, as well as writing the first American reviews and articles about his ground-breaking book A New Science of Life. Sheldrake points out the still-unexplained gap between the DNA code and the actual three-dimensional forms, developmental stages and habits of living organisms. He proposes that the gap might be bridged by an as-yet unacknowledged field phenomenon, which he termed morphogenetic or simply morphic. Morphicfields, Sheldrake suggests, retain and pass on information from previously existing forms and situations. In this view, the DNA acts as a sort of “tuning device” that invokes the morphic fields appropriate to the particular developmental stages of an organism.

Sheldrake also speculated that such fields, rather than fixed laws, might be responsible for a broad spectrum of other patterns in nature.

So revolutionary were Sheldrake’s insights that the editor of the prestigious British journal Nature suggested that Sheldrake’s book should be burned! 

This motivated me to write “Zen.. .and the Art of Debunkery” (www.bit.ly/debunkery) – a lengthy, tongue-in-cheek essay that skewers some of the absurdly unscientific sceptical attitudes that can prevail within our academic and nominally scientific establishments. Later I produced a short computer-animated film, I’M A SKEPTIC (www.bit.ly/imaskept), which pokes a different kind of fun at the thoughtless rhetoric and arrogance of self-styled debunkers and nay-sayers.

In the early 1990s, I discovered the books of Robert Monroe. Monroe had been a mainstream New York radio producer back in the 1950s who began spontaneously experiencing out-of-body states. Eventually, he mastered the art of “astral travel” and founded the Monroe Institute, which offers practical training in this intriguing ability of the inner self.

This then led me to the work of other explorers in what had become known as the “New Science” movement. This included research into the Crop Circle mysteries, ET contact experiences, and breakthroughs in Remote Viewing. It also encompassed afterlife studies and a host of other practical and visionary pursuits at the borderline where the physical and metaphysical meet in an increasingly comfortable embrace.

My particular fascination with afterlife communication came to a sharp focus when, in 1995, I met Mark Macy. Mark had been one of the pioneering investigators and practitioners of Instrumental Trans-Communication, in which voices and images from the afterlife are received via modern electronic systems. 

At first, I was a tad sceptical of Mark’s claims, but after meeting enough ITC practitioners – from ordinary folks to scientists and academics – and collecting and analysing enough samples of their work, I became convinced that this mode of communication across the veil was indeed a reality. It was, and is, a practice that apparently can be pursued and developed by folks with keen desire, some simple recording equipment, and perhaps a strong emotional bond with someone who has passed over to the other side of life.

In the early 2000s I teamed up with co-producer Tim Coleman to produce a series of independent documentary films about modern afterlife research and communications. Over a decade later, having crisscrossed the US and visited five European countries, we had at last completed a pair of unique feature documentaries that can be viewed for free on Vimeo.

CALLING EARTH (www.bit.ly/callearth) runs for 95 minutes and focuses on electronic communications from the other side – both audio and visual. It includes dozens of examples of this form of afterlife communication and includes conversations with some of its pioneering developers and most successful practitioners. It rebuts the popular sceptical arguments against ITC point by point, documents an international conference devoted to ITC, and reports on a group of mothers who use electronic devices to receive communications from their deceased children. The film also provides basic instructions on how to do one’s own ITC experimentation and includes a short sequence on the Scole Experiment, which is elaborated on in our second documentary.

SCOLE: THE AFTERLIFE EXPERIMENT (www.bit.ly/scolemovie) is an 85-minute film documenting the most extraordinary experiment in physical mediumship ever attempted. (The practice of physical mediumship goes far beyond simple communication with the other side and seeks to produce physical evidence that can be recorded or preserved for study and analysis.) Conducted in the tiny English hamlet of Scole over a five-year period in the late 1990s, the Scole Experiment is widely acknowledged as the most fruitful and most rigorously controlled and meticulously documented exercise in the history of physical mediumship [you can read more about this experiment on pages 8-9 of New Dawn 196].

My involvement in these film projects pointed me to other influential sources of afterlife-focused information, notably including the works of Dr Julia Assante, Dr Kenneth Ring, and the International Association of Near Death Studies. Soon IANDS chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the US in Chicago and Atlanta invited me to present screenings of these documentaries, which were followed by lively Q&A sessions.

These, in turn, directed my attention toward modern reincarnation research, which has been pursued over a half-century at the University of Virginia Medical School’s Department of Perceptual Studies. Perhaps the most compelling, exhaustively researched and widely known reincarnation case of modern times is that of a young American, James Leininger, who recalled in considerable detail his life and death as an American fighter pilot who was shot down by the Japanese during World War II.

In 2018 I made the acquaintance of a remarkable team of mediums. Together we created a website, Cosmic Voices Network (www.bit.ly/covoice), which posts extraordinarily inspiring and thought-provoking channelled messages from dozens of individuals, both well-known and obscure, who now reside in the Greater Reality.

By 2019 I had begun pulling together these seemingly disparate threads into a series of essays that eventually became the core of my 2023 book, A New Science of the Afterlife. My purpose was to encourage a more relaxed, comfortable and rational conversation about what awaits us all sooner or later on the other side.

A New Science of the Afterlife

The book’s introduction asks why a new understanding of the afterlife is important in these times. It suggests that many of our mounting planetary challenges (notably including those caused directly or indirectly by the compulsive accumulation of wealth) spring partly from a universal undercurrent of fear that ultimately comes down to a fear of death. 

As religious doctrines about life and death prove increasingly unsatisfying, mainstream science (our modern world’s “gold standard of truth”) has largely failed to step in and fill this yawning gap in our understanding… though that has begun to change.

I hope, in concert with so many other such efforts now underway, to contribute to a conscious course correction in our individual and collective priorities and, ultimately, in our very experience of life.

My new book is divided into three main parts.

Part I: Getting Oriented. This opening part points out that, while science is often equated with materialism, they are entirely separate concepts: Science is basically a method of inquiry – essentially “organised curiosity.” Materialism, on the other hand, is a belief system about reality

It also points out that our popular belief in a “material” world tends to be based on an overriding focus on matter that ignores the other three indispensable ingredients of physical reality: energy, space, and time

As well, it touches on the problem of pseudoscientific scepticism and argues that a paradigm shift into post-materialist thinking is already underway.

I survey the landscape of afterlife research, including Near-Death Experience research, reincarnation research, Instrumental Trans-Communication research and practice, mental mediumship research and practice, physical mediumship research and practice, Out-of-Body Experience research and practice, and diverse avenues of research represented by the twenty-nine award-winning essays in an unusual contest established by the Bigelow Institute in 2022.

Examining a range of supportive studies in related phenomena, including the abilities of autistic savants, Terminal Lucidity, the Shared-Death Experience, psychedelics, the placebo effect, lucid dreaming, precognition and pre-sentiment, Remote Viewing, map dowsing and telepathy.

It asks, “What is the consciousness Code?” (Spoiler alert: The answer hides in plain sight!) Finally, it takes a deep dive into the problem of language, which tends to frame our worldview in terms dictated by the traditions of our culture rather than enabling fresh perspectives.

PART II: Some of the Best Evidence for the Continuity of Consciousness. This section is based on the two documentaries mentioned above – CALLING EARTH and SCOLE: THE AFTERLIFE EXPERIMENT, as well as an extensive report on the contemporary American reincarnation case of young James Leininger.

PART III: The Nature of the Afterlife. Part III offers some answers to five questions: What’s the afterlife made of? Where’s it located? How does it work? What’s it like? and What’s it for? Sorry, no spoilers here. To find out the answers, you’ll have to read the book! 

But here’s a consolation prize: The complete Epilogue.

What Do We Know, and Where Do We Go from Here? 

If the evidence offered in this book is valid, the existence of a Greater Reality – a matrix in which our awareness and sense of self apparently dwell between our physical lives and in which our entire physical universe may itself be embedded – appears to be beyond question. 

The fact that this matrix exists beyond the reach of our narrow senses, our current scientific instruments, and our language, does not rule it out. Meanwhile, mounting objective evidence for its existence rattles the gates – and gatekeepers – of our academic, scientific, and cultural institutions.

Breakthroughs are being made in psychic and electronic communication with the “other side.” Stringent academic research is being conducted into reincarnation, mediumship, terminal lucidity, and other previously neglected fields of inquiry. Newly developed or rediscovered techniques and practices are building bridges between this world and the next. All these and more are inexorably forcing the question of an afterlife into the light of day, following centuries of passive neglect and active avoidance or suppression by our dominant academic, scientific, and religious institutions. 

This book is only one small contribution to the emerging flood of science-based afterlife-related literature… 

And if you are so inclined, gently broach the subject to others. You may be surprised at how many will welcome sharing their own thoughts and experiences relating to the afterlife. 

I hope this rising tide of awareness maintains its momentum toward a courageous, responsible approach to answering the eternal questions surrounding the deeper experience and meaning of birth, life and death.

Readers can obtain Daniel Drasin’s new book A New Science of the Afterlife: Space, Time, and the Consciousness Code from all good bookstores.

This article was published in New Dawn 199.
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About the Author

Daniel Drasin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and has been a photographer and media producer for more than six decades. Since the early 1990s, as featured in his documentary Calling Earth, Drasin has been actively investigating the field of afterlife communication through traditional mental and physical mediumship as well as modern electronics. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Website: www.dandrasin.com

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