Some time ago I posted a few thoughts on the introduction to The Afterlife Interviews, Volume 1, by Jeffrey A. Marks. I'd read the introduction online, and I was critical of it because I thought the author had oversold the novelty of his book, suggesting that detailed descriptions of conditions in the afterlife had seldom or never been channeled through mediums. Still, I felt a little bit bad about dismissing the book on the basis of the opening pages, without having read the rest. So after some delay, I finally got around to reading the book itself. And I enjoyed it.
Marks is a medium living in Washington state, where he is involved in a ghost-hunter society. His plan for the book was fairly simple. He wrote out a list of questions that he wanted his sitters to ask during his sessions. The sessions were recorded and transcribed, and his answers became the basis for this book. Before fielding questions about the afterlife, Marks brought through enough evidential material to satisfy the sitter and himself that he had made legitimate contact with the other side.
Naturally, the all-important question is: how do we evaluate material like this? I don't know of any really scientific way to do it. It is, after all, always possible that the medium got the evidential material from the other side (or via telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.) but relied on his subconscious mind to supply the non-evidential communications. Most mediumistic sessions seem to consist of a mixture of legitimate messages and subconscious invention, and it may be impossible to entirely separate the wheat from the chaff. The fact that we are dealing with only a single medium here complicates the situation. Had several mediums been involved, and had their statements dovetailed even though the mediums were kept in the dark about what their colleagues had said, the results might be more scientifically meaningful.
Still, any information along these lines can be helpful – and ultimately I think it has to be assessed according to one's own personal, subjective sense of what rings through or feels right. I admit that this is in not a scientific approach, but there are limits to the scientific method, especially when dealing with esoteric matters. And I have to say that nearly all of what Marks communicated did ring true to me. Moreover, some of it fit in rather neatly with my own speculations about the nature of the afterlife, as expressed in some of my previous posts. Perhaps it's just confirmation bias, but when a medium starts channeling information that matches my own hypothesis about how things work on the other side, I'm more inclined to take it seriously.
As regular readers know, I like to think of the afterlife as an extra-dimensional realm. Some of Marks's communicators use the same kind of language. For instance:
She shows me that once you get through the whole process of this Life Review, she shows it to me as water under the bridge… She says you get a whole new perspective on everything you did in your life. The imagery she's showing me is that we live in a two-dimensional world, and when you pass, you get to see it in three dimensions, and you go, "Whoa! This is what it's really about… Or this is how things really happened and what they are… And this changes my view on everything."
The communicators are insistent that, contrary to what some people believe, we do not gain omniscience simply in the act of crossing over. Instead, we gain a new perspective, but not necessarily a great deal of new knowledge – at least, not right away.
He's saying, "As in someone just waving a wand and ding! No. It's like anything, it's a matter of how you change your perspective." He says, "When you are there on earth you have one perspective; when you get out you have another perspective, but it is your own perspective. The universe isn't granting you any more wisdom than what you have." It builds slowly and in little pockets based on your perceptions and observations, is what he's showing me. "Because you are in this mold here on earth, you are predisposed to – based on the limitations of existing reality – to come up with certain ideas and thoughts. But once you are out of that…" He's showing the Other Side being like a box that goes over the three-dimensional realms and says, "Okay, this kind of expands… It incorporates the physical, but it also shows you a little bit beyond that. That does give you a little bit different perspective." He also says it doesn't make you a messiah or Moses....
He says, "If you're referring to some notion that the transition, the passing from here to there, wipes certain things away from you intellectually, no, no, no." He says, "You bring that forward. As you continue forward into this realm, you wind up leaving more of it behind, so there is a gradual letting go of pretty much everything that you no longer want to hold within your being… But going from here to there, no, you don't lose who you are." What is gained? Self-love.
By "self-love," what is meant is essentially self-acceptance, a realization that you've been doing the best you could and that you're where you need to be. In fact, the whole idea of striving for spiritual perfection is downplayed in these communications. Instead, we are told that in the extra-dimensional world of the other side, we have already achieved perfection even while we still progress toward it. This is a paradox in terms of earthly time, but not in terms of the "No-Time Zone" that constitutes the afterlife.
He shows Time like an ocean that has different currents going along at the same time (no pun intended). Like an upper current, a middle current, and a lower current. In some ways you're already there because of the way Time operates. He says he's already enjoying you there. But that's a very hard thing to grasp; it's a very hard concept to grasp. He shows me upper, middle, and lower. This complete lower one, he says is this idea of simultaneous time… Here, it's all wrapped up… "In that state, I can feel you and me wrapped up. It's a very real…" It's very – another one of his words – "cogent." He says, "In order for me to reach that state, I have to go into that middle ground… It's almost like a meditative state."
In this No-Time zone, your past and even your future earthly incarnations already exist. You can meet them and interact with them if you choose, though many people prefer not to.
She says, "I see and I can talk to that consciousness that I would perceive in a Time-sense being another lifetime two lifetimes down the river. Over here, that person is here with me; she has individual experiences and stuff that are unique to her. She has individual and unique experiences because of her life on earth. That is what separates her from the other personalities. That is what separates the personalities out – is that they are down in this soup of the earthly plain [sic]. When they come out of this on the Other Side, with there being No-Time… They're all connected, but due to the nature of separation of experience through the prism of Time, each personality retains their individual sense of being. However, we understand how this all wraps up into the greater identity of 'I.'"
And people who are still living on earth nevertheless also exist on the other side.
He says this is one of the things that really magnetized him to go forward into the spirit world. He seemed to have some kind of recollection or knowledge that Time was not a factor… And therefore when he reached wherever he was going, you, Debbie, were already there – because without Time, part of you would already be there. So, it was like, "I was already reunited with my family…" Now, he says, "This is not something you're going to easily grasp, but you're already there. You're there."
The Debbie in question is the sitter, still very much alive on earth, but apparently also present in the afterlife.
For him… He says when you're in the No-Time Zone and you see these other incarnations, you instantly become aware of an idea of levels… However in No-Time, since you are seeing all of this, you also get this notion that it's already completed… Whenever these levels are, they are already done.
As Marks puts it, discussing the idea of a hierarchy of levels on the other side:
To sum up, the whole idea of "levels" like a ladder is a misnomer to most spirits. Apparently there are energy frequencies – and awareness seems to play a role in which frequency one exists. And these frequencies allow for certain abilities or functionalities over others, yet no one is judged based upon what frequency they exist in. This freedom from judgment stems from the idea that at some point in the frequency domain, another portion of the Oversoul for which a lower vibrational personality is existing is also balanced out by a self existing in a higher frequency range.
Now, I find all of this interesting, mainly because it coheres pretty closely with a post I wrote some time ago and which I republished recently with additional thoughts. I won't repeat or summarize the whole thing here. But if you read that earlier post, I think you'll see the close similarity between my speculations and these channeled messages.
The idea that all of our experiences are recorded and stored as data also shows up in these communications.
She says, "Honey, the Akashic Record is a metaphor for the lives that are 'written in the universe.'" She's showing me this field of space and saying, "Take two or three lives here, their experiences are more or less laid out like data… There is no emotion attached to it. You can access the data if you want to… Everything is written in the universe and accessible..."
As for why we don't get more help from the other side, we are told that it's often not possible. Spirits do experience a degree of stress – even distress – in seeing our struggles and troubles on earth, but they are largely powerless to intervene.
Grace interjected with the next logical question: "Can you help from the Other Side?" Her grandmother responded:
"All we can do is ask for more guidance to be given, more energy to be given, but the people down on earth are the ones who make the choice for their own lives."
Reincarnational personalities are separate and distinct but come from a common source. Marks uses the image of fingers of the hand – each finger is a separate digit, yet all the fingers are extensions of one hand.
"You don't stop reincarnating until you feel you are ready; until you are done." He's making me feel like, it's an internal thing, it's a knowing when you are ready to advance somewhere else. But then he also says, "Okay, but keep in mind, Time is an illusion. The idea of you losing who you are right now to become another person is not necessarily really going on. It's another person; you retain who you are and you still live your life in the spiritual realm," but this other person – this future person "you," comes from the same – he's showing me, he comes from the same beam of light as you, so carries your… Okay… You know how you get some of your qualities as a human from your parents? So you could say your "parents" are in you and you are expressing them in your way. The future self has the experiences, the "DNA" of your experiences. So you are carrying the experiences of your former selves in you like you are carrying your parent's DNA; therefore, yours will also carry forward into the next individual. You're all part of the same energy being, though, that's being parceled out. But the experiences are cohesive and progressive.
This also dovetails with the explanation of reincarnation as something that occurs outside of time, involving simultaneous parallel lives, as presented by the channeled spirit Silver Birch and as implied by my own visual impression (during meditation) of the soul as a diamond, each facet of which is a separate living entity.
Overall, I found The Afterlife Interviews a very interesting read, and I regret being dismissive of it merely on the basis of the author's introductory remarks. I think most readers of this blog would find it interesting, and it does cast some additional light on many of the subjects we speculate about here.
Again, if you are looking for a textbook-style "scientific" treatise, you won't find it in Marks's book. And there is certainly room for books like that. But there's also room for books that push the envelope a little bit and provide us with insights that we can accept or reject according to our own predilections. I found a lot of truth in The Afterlife Interviews, and maybe you will too.