What is our best evidence for the afterlife? What do we know about it and what does that mean for how we live our lives?
Mind & Body Consciousness
||6 publishers interested
This book is about the afterlife. It is about the inevitable fact that you and everyone you know will shed their body someday. Given this, why not spend some time preparing for what to expect? I will be reviewing the literature and distilling these accounts into a single, universal description of the afterlife. Emphasis is placed on lived, first person experiences, especially the strongest, most awe-inspiring ones and including a discussion of how we need to expand and change what we consider the best evidence. This book is for fellow travelers who no longer doubt the existence of the afterlife but need a little extra guidance on how to approach it while still living in this world. This is my life’s idée fixe. Not only have I had a lifelong fascination with our immortal lives but also much of this book has been re-inspired by the deaths of people close to me, especially my father who was tragically killed. After a lifetime of researching transpersonal consciousness, I decided that it was time to finally make this book a reality.
Setup and introduction of the purpose of the book with guideline on how to read it. Introduces the two perspectives outlined in each part.
Part I: The Human Perspective (this side)
Chapter 1: Intimations of Immortality: The Human Perspective
This chapter focuses on the nature and limitations of the perspective most of are already familiar with. This chapter is really a starting point for the critical mind, that part of ourselves that struggles to accept conceptions and experiences of the afterlife. It is about our theories of knowledge and the different ways we can know the world. It challenges us to open our minds and hearts to other possibilities without sacrificing a healthy skeptical attitude.
Chapter 2: Where Are We At? The Afterlife Story: A Socio-Cultural Review
This chapter is a critical review of the literature and focuses on getting the reader up-to-date on the variety of ways the afterlife has been described and imagined.
Chapter 3: "Good Evidence" and the Problem of Pure Consciousness
This chapter is an in-depth discussion of how we can possibly know anything about the afterlife. It reviews our philosophy of science and includes a discussion of scientism, materialism, phenomenology, and expanded ways of knowing with degrees of confidence. It supports asking hard questions and cultivating a healthy skepticism while keeping an open mind to the possibilities. It also discusses the implications of the best evidence presented in Part II.
Chapter 4: The Psychology of the Afterlife
What does the afterlife represent in the psyche? I explore the psychology of the afterlife through the themes of cycles of birth and death and rebirth, the seen and the unseen, the Trickster, letting go, and Existentialism.
Part II: The Soul Perspective (the other side)
Chapter 5: Near-Death Experiences as the Gold Standard
This chapter will introduce NDEs and Near-Death Like Experience (NDLEs) to the reader and include a discussion of the current state of understanding and why they are so important to giving us a clear picture of consciousness beyond the body. The bulk of the chapter will be a presentation and discussion of the best and most moving case studies in this class of experiences.
Chapter 6: Out-of-Body Experiences and Robert Monroe
OBEs are similar in many ways to NDEs and first-person reports present compelling evidence that we cannot ignore. Among the best are those experiences described by Robert Monroe. Other examples will be given in detail along with discussion.
Chapter 7: Spiritual Regression and the Work of Michael Newton
Hypnotic regression has been around a long time but it wasn't until recently that the limits have been explored. Setting up the importance of hypnosis as a technique and a discussion of its limitations with a detailed analysis of Michael Newton's Life Between Lives approach and it's deeper implications.
Chapter 8: Mediumship, After-Death Communications, Channeling, and Related Experiences
A lot will be going into this chapter but the main idea is to cover a discussion and analysis of these varied types of experiences. I will be presenting and discussing the best of these including but not limited to the the work of Gary E. Schwartz, Julie Beischel, Ian Stevenson, the Guggenheims, and sub-section on the ever-fascinating phenomenon of channeled information.
Chapter 9: Psychedelic Experiences
This is a complex topic but mainly focusing on experiences under the influence of DMT. Rick Strassman and other sources will be explored and the implications for substance-induced direct experience beyond the body.
Chapter 10: Classical Mystical Experiences
In many ways, mystical experience is a very broad descriptor. Most of the above types of experiences can be considered mystical in nature. This chapter will focus on the classical variety with presentations of more historical accounts such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Cloud of Unknowing, William Blake, Swedenborg, R. M. Bucke, and many others. The sampling will be on the best, most complete descriptions of the afterlife, not on religious, cultural, or historical orientation.
Chapter 11: The Afterlife: A Description
This chapter is really the heart of the book. It is an attempt at a (re)construction of the afterlife as described by the evidence/case studies presented in previous chapters.
Wrapping it all up!
My primary audience are the large and growing numbers of cultural creatives (at least 50 million Americans). Of these, I am especially targeting people who have had a spiritual experience of some kind. Also, the "spiritual but not religious" are part of my target demographic, which, according to a 2012 Pew Research study is about 7% of the American population and rapidly growing.
I earned my Ph.D. and M.A. from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA and my B.A. from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. My main area of research interest is survival of consciousness, transpersonal experiences, and mysticism. I am the founder of the Ludus Amoris Institute, dedicated to the exploration of transcendent experiences. I am also the co-founder of the Journal of Conscious Evolution, assistant editor of the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, and a founding board member of the Society for Consciousness Studies. I have authored editorial pieces and articles on transpersonal and integral topics. I teach Psychology at Dominican University of California and at Sonoma State University. I have also taught psychology at Meridian University, Burlington College, John F. Kennedy University, UC Santa Cruz, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. This is my first book.
I'm engaging the campaign on my personal Facebook page and will be likely creating a Facebook ad to get it more visible.
I'm also promoting on my LikedIn account and through a few professional societies that I am connected to such as Charlie Tart's survialnet list and the Society for Consciousness Studies.
I also have my professional blog at ludusamoris.org that I am updating regarding the campaign.
Opening Heaven's Door: Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After by Patricia Pearson. Atria Books, 2014.
This book is very close to what I am aiming for. It is more journalistic than scholarly but has the right approach and tone. My approach will be more scholarly with more comprehensive sources and a discussion of research question around life after death. I will also be including my personal story.
The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death by Julia Assante. New World Library, 2012.
The bulk of this book is very much along the same lines that I will be writing about but I will be placing much more emphasis on the analysis of the most inspiring experiences.
Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife by Leslie Kean. Crown Archetype, 2017.
This book covers nearly every topic I hope to address but doesn't focus on the afterlife in the way that I will. It is more squarely focused on the question of "Is there survival of consciousness after death and what is the evidence?" My approach is to focus on rich, lived descriptions of what the afterlife is like and to come to a distilled description based on them. This book is also more journalistic in that there are fewer scholarly references and citations than what I will include. I will also been putting more emphasis on NDEs, OBEs, and the other areas outlined here and less emphasis on apparitions and psi phenomena. Again, my focus is on the most profound and complete lived accounts and proposing the most complete description of the afterlife possible.
Is There An Afterlife? A Comprehensive Overview of the Evidence by David Fontana. O Books, 2010.
Fontana's book is extremely comprehensive and scholarly. However, where he emphasizes the evidence for the afterlife at all, I will be focusing on what can we say with confidence about the afterlife. We owe Fontana a great debt for attempting to answer our questions about its existence but I want to go beyond that question to describing what happens once we enter it. In many ways, I am relying on his work and other like him to be able to inquire further into this realm.
Similar to a few other books on this list, Fontana spends a great deal of the book discussing mediumship, which makes sense if you are trying to answer whether or not the afterlife exists. My book takes the next step into a rich description of the afterlife once we have resolved to stop doubting its existence. If we can say the afterlife exists, then what does it look like?
Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death by F. W. H. Myers. Hampton Roads, 2001.
Originally published in 1882, this is the classic text in the literature and the one that has yet to be replaced. Over 100 years old and most of what Myers, a contemporary of William James, wrote is still relevant. I am not hoping to replace it as it is much too technical but I do take my cues and inspiration from it, especially as it pertains to the scientific literature and questions around researching life after death and the afterlife.
Memories of the Afterlife: Life Between Lives: Stories of Personal Transformation Edited by Michael Newton. Llewelyn, 2015.
This book will be a major part of my book. Although it will not be an edited collection such as this one, I will include a discussion of the implications of the stories in this book and include such stories in my book.
The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary E. Schwartz. Atria Books, 2002.
Schwartz' book is much more classically scientific in its approach than what I will be writing, which focuses on the narratives and a look at the assumptions of science and how we need to reevaluate what we take as "good evidence."
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander. Simon & Schuster, 2012.
I make no claims to having had such an impressive NDE as Alexander describes but I do feel that much of what he discusses will be elaborated and expanded upon in my book. This is an incredibly popular book and I offer it as an example of the most visible version of what I will be discussing.
The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram. Vintage Books, 1996.
Technically, what Abram writes about in this book is not directly related to the afterlife and life after death. It is, however, the quality and feel that I am going for: rich, nuanced, poetic, and philosophical. His discussion of phenomenology as it relates to his topic is very similar to what I'd like to include in my book as well.
A Sampling of Other Relevant Texts:
Death Makes Life Possible: Revolutionary Insights on Living, Dying, and the Continuation of Consciousness by Marilyn Schlitz.
Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra. Random House, 2008.
Life After Death: The Evidence by Dinesh D'Souza. Regnery Faith, 2015.
Cosmic Consciousness by R. M. Bucke. Dutton, originally published in 1901.
The Unanswered Question: Death, Near-Death, and the Afterlife by Kurt Leland. Hampton Roads, 2002.
Life After Life by Raymond Moody. HarperOne, 2015.
On Life After Death by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Celestial Arts, 2008.