Here are some thoughts on Chapter 9 of Seth Speaks, by Jane Roberts. The book was originally published in 1972, three years before Raymond Moody's groundbreaking Life After Life popularized near-death experiences. Nevertheless, much of what Seth says about the death experience seems to dovetail with Moody's data on NDEs. It also fits in well with other sources of information on this subject, though admittedly some of that information predates Seth Speaks and therefore could have been obtained by Jane Roberts in the normal way.
Seth begins by stressing a particular issue:
Basically there is not any particular point of death in those terms, even in the case of a sudden accident.
He goes into some detail about this, emphasizing that the process of death may be drawn out over a long period, and that the spirit can depart gradually or suddenly, at any time. This ties in pretty closely with resuscitation expert Sam Parnia's recent observations, as well as with Lyall Watson's The Romeo Error (published in 1975, three years after Seth Speaks).
Seth then discusses the essentially subjective nature of the early part of the death experience:
A belief in hell fires can cause you to hallucinate Hades' conditions. A belief in a stereotyped heaven can result in a hallucination of heavenly conditions. You always form your own reality according to your ideas and expectations. This is the nature of consciousness in whatever reality it finds itself. Such hallucinations, I assure you, are temporary.
This fits in perfectly well with a number of NDE reports, such as Don Piper's 90 Minutes in Heaven, in which Piper, a traditionalist Christian, found himself in a stereotyped heaven complete with pearly gates and a choir of angels. There have also been "hellish" NDE's, of course.
Furthermore, cultural differences in NDEs have been observed: Hindus raised in India, for instance, generally find the early stages of the afterlife to be bureaucratic; they are taken by spirit messengers (Hindu gods) to stand before a clerk, who discovers that the dead person was taken too early, on account of a clerical error. This kind of thing admittedly sounds rather absurd to those of us who do not share those "ideas and expectations." But Seth informs us that similar charades are carried out routinely in order to serve the belief system of the dying or newly dead person. Chapter 9 includes an account of an elaborate charade performed by Seth and another spirit guide, who impersonated the iconic figures of Moses and Allah in order to soothe the fears of an Arab. As far-fetched as Seth's story might seem, it is not really much different from the idea that spirit guides might masquerade as bureaucratic clerks and Hindu deities in order to meet the expectations of the dying.
Seth goes on:
Your true feelings toward relatives who are also dead will be known to you and to them. There is no hypocrisy. You do not pretend to love a parent who did little to earn your respect or love. Telepathy operates without distortion in this after-death period, so you must deal with the true relationships that exist between yourself and all relatives and friends who await you.
Communication by thought, rather than by spoken words, is a common theme of NDEs. The idea that you cannot hide who you truly are is also a regular feature of NDEs and mediumistic reports.
You examine the fabric of the existence you have left, and you learn to understand how your experiences were the result of your own thoughts and emotions and how these affected others.
Clearly this description corresponds to the famed "life review" in the NDE, in which you relive your life and experience it not only from your own perspective, but from the perspectives of the people who were affected by your behavior.
Until this examination is through, you are not yet aware of the larger portions of your own identity. When you realize the significance and meaning of the life you have just left, then you are ready for conscious knowledge of your other existences.
You become aware, then, of an expanded awareness. What you are begins to include what you have been in other lives, and you begin to make plans for your next physical existence, if you decide upon one. You can instead enter another level of reality, and then return to a physical existence if you choose.
This portion of the channeled material seems to correspond with reports of "between lives" memories recovered by hypnosis. Though it is always dicey to rely on hypnosis, because of the known tendency of hypnotized subjects to confabulate, it is interesting to note that hypnotherapist Michael Newton's books go into detail about exactly this kind of reunion with one's soul mates, and about the process of choosing another incarnation. As far as I know, all of these "between lives" reports postdate Seth Speaks.
The Road to Immortality, by Geraldine Cummins, which purportedly channels the words of pioneering psychical researcher F.W.H. Myers, also tells us that the deceased can reincarnate or proceed to other levels of reality, as Seth claims. Cummins' book, however, was published in 1932, well before Seth Speaks, so in this case Jane Roberts may have come upon the idea in her reading.
Seth then describes the earliest stage of the dying process in terms familiar to anyone who is read about veridical out-of-body experiences in NDE':
In many cases, immediately upon leaving the body there is, of course, amazement and a recognition of the situation. The body itself may be viewed, for example, and many funerals have a guest of honor amidst the company …
The deceased visiting his own funeral is a common feature of mediumistic reports. Of greater interest is the description of leaving the body and viewing it with "amazement and a recognition of the situation," which closely parallels NDE accounts.
In recounting different types of after-death experiences, Seth seems to agree with a good deal of channeled material about the need for "rest homes" and "hospitals" on the other side:
It should be obvious from what I have said so far that there is no one after-death reality, but each experience is different. Generally speaking, however, there are dimensions into which these individual experiences will fall. For example, there is an initial stage for those who are still focused strongly in physical reality, and for those who need a period of recuperation and rest. On this level there will be hospitals and rest homes. The patients do not yet realize that there is nothing wrong with them at all.
In some cases, the idea of illness is so strong that they have built their earthly years about this psychological center. They project ill conditions upon the new body as they did upon the old one.
Another part of the after-death experience is learning how to manipulate one's environment by the power of thought:
There are also training centers. In these the nature of reality is explained in accordance with an individual's ability to understand and perceive it ...
They are taught, in other words, the methods that allow them to translate emotions and thoughts into physical actuality.
This, too, corresponds well with much other channeled material and with some NDEs.
You may after death utterly refuse to believe that you are dead, and continue to focus your emotional energy toward those you have known in life.
The above is a description of so-called earthbound spirits, which have been discussed throughout the history of mediumship. Nothing new here, but at least it does correlate with other sources.
You may die at eighty, and after death think of the youth and vitality that you had that twenty, and find then that your form changes to correspond with this inner image.
Most individuals after death choose a more mature image that usually corresponds to the peak physical abilities, regardless of the age when the physical peak was reached.
It is typical for an NDEr to perceive his loved ones as looking youthful and vigorous, even if they were infirm or aged when they passed on.
Seth adds that if you, as a deceased person, wish to appear to a living person, "you may instead adopt the form you had when you were known to the individual you want to contact."
This detail also dovetails with a great deal of channeled material, with many apparitions, and with those NDEs where the person sees his loved ones as they were last known to him.
Finally, Seth makes a comment about space that I found interesting in light of our discussions of M-space and N-space:
As your perceptive mechanisms insist that objects are solid, for example, so they insist that such a thing as space exists. Now what your senses tell you about the nature of matter is entirely erroneous, and what they tell you about space is equally wrong – wrong in terms of basic reality, but quite in keeping of course with three-dimensional concepts.
Remember that, according to the idea of M-space and N-space, there is actually no such thing as physical "space" at all. There is only a matrix of pure information (N-space) and a mental projection (M-space) rendered as multidimensional images.
He also reiterates a point made in a previous chapter – that the so-called physical world flickers in and out of existence constantly, adding that consciousness itself also flickers on and off at the same rate, though it never ceases to exist; in the apparently "off" phases, it is focusing on another dimension of reality. (In my terms, this other dimension might be N-space ...)