This is one of the more interesting things I've seen in a piece of channeled material. It comes from the same book I discussed in my last post, The Country Beyond: The Doctrine of Re-Birth, by Jane Sherwood. I was just leafing through the book when I came across a passage that took me very much by surprise.
If the book had been published after 1975, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, because in 1975 Raymond Moody published his groundbreaking book Life After Life, which popularized the near-death experience (a term he coined). One of the key features of an NDE is the “life review,” in which a person relives his whole life–or at least its key moments–while seeing it from a new, enhanced perspective that includes not only greater clarity but a first-hand perception of the thoughts and feelings of the people affected by his own behavior.
This aspect of the NDE has since been reported in many well-documented cases, and would be known to anyone who is interested in paranormal or esoteric studies today. But in 1975 it was an unfamiliar idea. I'm not saying that nobody had ever recounted this particular observation before, but it certainly wasn't part of popular culture the way it has been ever since Life After Life.
Well, the thing is, The Country Beyond was first published in 1969, and if the author is to be believed–and I have no reason to doubt her on this point–the communications she recorded in the book were compiled over at least three decades. Life After Life cannot possibly have been an influence on her.
Yet take a look at this message channeled by Sherwood from a communicator calling himself E.K.:
“Soon after shedding the etheric body and waking fully on the astral plane,” he said, “one's thoughts begin to be much concerned with the life of earth which has been left behind. The clear-cut memory has been lost with the etheric body, and yet as one begins to use the astral body and it grows in strength, the scenes and events of the past life begin to come vividly back in terms of their feeling content and in a manner never experienced before. In the course of one's life on earth, experiences are reflected in consciousness and one never doubts that one has realized the whole of them. But the impressions of people, events and acts which now come crowding back are far more real and comprehensive than when they were actually experienced. The difference in this presentment of the past is that included in it now is the reaction of other people. I find this difficult to explain. Everything that happens to you affects others as well as yourself and every event has therefore has as many aspects in reality as there are consciousnesses affected by it. Each of these others concerned in these events had their emotional life altered thereby even though you were quite unconscious of what was being brought about by your agency. Now, in this process of recollection, as an instant comes back to one's mind it brings with it the actual feelings, not of oneself alone but of the others who were affected by the event. All their feelings have now to be experienced in oneself as though they were one's own. This means that the effects of deeds on the lives of others must be experienced as intimately as though to do and to suffer the deed were one. Where sorrow and wrong have been inflicted, sorrow and wrong must be felt, not merely known to exist.
"Most of our deeds on earth are performed in ignorance of their real bearing on the lives of others. There may be an uneasy sense that others are involved in suffering because of us but we often choose to ignore this. We have understood a situation with our mere intellect and have kept back sympathy which is the beginning of knowing in oneself what this suffering is. So often we have remained in ignorance of the real events we have set going in the lives of others and these things are now gradually revealed to us as a part of our own experience. Where sorrow and wrong have been inflicted, as I said, they must be felt. We have to face the reliving of our whole earth experience in this way.”
“That is retribution of such a deadly justice that it makes earthly justice look like mercy,” I said.
“Not only is it justice,” said E.K., “but it is redemptive suffering. It breaks up once and for all the hard core of selfishness and cruelty which earth life often forms and which would make a man unchanged in this respect an immense misery to himself and his world. It is a purely natural process, set going by the astral body itself which thus works to rid itself of impurity and disease. All these things which it has to re-live have been real events of this astral world and so are part of the unconscious experience of the astral self. As this is our actual, visible body now, and its reactions are no longer veiled by the physical, we have to know them intimately and the moral law is set for us now in physical terms.
“Now the detailed memory is lost, as you know, but this does not prevent me having a fuller knowledge of the real significance of all I did on earth. As I re-live it, I find it to be at once better, and worse than I knew. I saw it before ‘As through a glass, darkly, but now face-to-face’. I am only in the middle of this retrospect myself and have some way to go before all my earth experiences have been seen and known fully in the light of reality. I judge that by this process one is gradually emancipated from earth and, having repented and accepted the truth about oneself one is free to continue in other spheres the proper development of the being.” [Pages 135–137, emphasis in original, spelling and punctuation Americanized]
To me it is striking, to say the least, that an observation made by so many NDErs–people with no interest in spiritualism, occultism, channeling, etc.–should be foreshadowed so precisely by a channeled communication obtained years, if not decades, before NDEs were widely reported.