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Surviving bodily death?


Do We Survive Our Bodily Death?  

Keith Parsons trawled the internet for answers  

By the time you start taking an interest in, it's likely that you are old enough for someone close to you - family or friend - to have died. To remember them, maybe you went to the funeral or sent flowers. But after they died, what had happened to the person you lost?  Many agnostics think that once you're dead, you're dead. And that's it. The End. Curtains. There is no more. This is known as the  'Oblivion Theory'. Its stark, not very comforting, but many think, realistic.  


Religious folk are more inclined to expect life after death; going to heaven or hell, depending on how you've behaved on earth. There's a burgeoning industry in Britain , with psychics and clairvoyants offering contact with the dead. If you're interested, just 'Ask Jeeves' via the internet, only don't expect all the sites to be genuine!  

Is there any  real evidence that we survive bodily death, even a shred? This is a huge subject and I offer just three interesting perspectives. You might like to follow them up when you've logged off laterlife.  

Fred Myers was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge . In 1882 he helped found the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and he investigated survival after death for twenty years. It seemed to him that when a medium appeared to be talking to someone who'd been dead for some time and was the able to answer detailed questions about his or her life, then that dead person might still be living 'on the other side'.

As a test on this theory, sitters were sent to mediums, concentrating on entirely fictitious personalities, only to receive communications from those personalities from beyond the grave! To add to the problem, mediums could at times pick up accurate information telepathically.  

Myers never solved this issue in his lifetime, but he did appear to solve it after he died!  

Within a few weeks of his death in 1901, communications were received in England , the USA and India through the automatic writing of a dozen different psychics. More than three thousand scripts were transmitted over a period of thirty years, most signed ‘Myers’.  None of these in themselves made any sense.  

Although the messages seemed indecipherable, the instructions accompanying them said the script should be sent to a particular person, or to the SPR. Typically, Myers might write ‘Record the bits and when fitted they will make the whole.’  And when the fragments sent from different parts of the globe were fitted together, investigators found coherent, continuous communications!   

Was it mere coincidence, wishful thinking, or was the deceased Myers making his scripts obscure to the psychics themselves, for some reason? These scripts were called the Cross-Correspondences.  Myers, if that was he, said he struggled to 'get through' and likened the process to ‘standing behind a sheet of frosted glass, which blurs sight and deadens sound, dictating feebly to a reluctant and somewhat obtuse secretary’.  

The scripts seemed to say that when we die, most of us pass immediately to the first normal after-death plane of existence, which could be supremely beautiful. But, according to Myers, there were realms beyond it, and once he had 'developed' enough to dwell elsewhere, he defined this first state of existence negatively, as ‘the plane of illusion.’  

Does this provide evidence of life after death?  Check on the internet and decide for yourself.  

Psychical research has attracted many students. Famous names include Sir Alfred Russel Wallace the co-discoverer with Darwin of the principles of evolution; Lord Arthur Balfour, British Prime Minister 1902-1905; John Logie Baird, the first man to demonstrate television in 1925;  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer, Thomas Edison, physicist and inventor of the phonograph and light bulb; and Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of radio telegraphy who sent a radio message a year before Marconi.  

Some of the most interesting research relates to the materialisation of spirits under scientific test conditions. Sir William Crookes, Professor Richet (Nobel prize winner), Professor Geley, Professor von Schrenck-Notzing, and Professor Alexander Aksakof each took photographs of ‘spirits’ manifested by trance mediums. If you want to see some remarkable photos, go to the web site of the International Survivalist Society, and click on 'photographic evidence'. The whole site is fascinating, and includes free online books on this topic.  

Perhaps the most famous 'spirit' of all time was Katie King. She claimed to be the daughter of the buccaneer, Henry Morgan and was created through the trance mediumship of a fifteen year old, Florence Cook, who was rigorously investigated by Sir William Crookes for three years. Katie could only exist in low light, and could talk and walk around the room. She even, allegedly, had her pulse taken by a doctor! One witness described what happened to Katie when, before an invited group, she agreed to dematerialise:  

‘She (Katie) took up her station against the drawing-room wall, with her arms extended as if she were crucified. Then three gas-burners were turned on to their full extent in a room about sixteen feet square. The effect upon Katie was marvellous. She looked like herself for the space of a second only, then she began gradually to melt away. I can compare the dematerialisation of her form to nothing but a wax doll melting before a hot fire. First the features became blurred and indistinct; they seemed to run into each other. The eyes sank in the sockets, the nose disappeared, the frontal bone fell in. Next the limbs appeared to give way under her, and she sank lower and lower on the carpet, like a crumbling edifice. At last there was nothing but her head left above the ground - then a heap of white drapery only, which disappeared with a whisk, as if a hand had pulled it after her - and we were left staring by the light of three gas burners at the spot on which Katie had stood.’  

Perhaps the most recent psychic sensation in the UK was known as 'The Scole Experiments'. (Scole is in Norfolk ). These began in 1993, lasted five years, and were monitored by the SPR. During seances, a team of 'spirit' scientists on 'the other side' cooperated with the Scole group to create dancing lights that could travel through solid objects, warm hands that caressed the sitters. In addition, 1200 hours of voices and noises were recorded.  

The 'other side' also placed photos, supposedly of the spirit world, directly onto unexposed factory-wrapped 35 mm film stock left in a locked box on the seance table; without a camera being used! Some of these single photographs take up the whole length of the film. The mystery visitors also made 'spirit' videos and provided a design for a gadget to enable spirits to speak from far dimensions, without involving mediums at all.  

The photographs can be seen on the web site:

Look for 'Blue' from a seance in 1998, where you will see an 'alien' face that looks like what ufologists would call a 'grey'. There's also a picture where a man's face is clearly visible inside a bubble, while all the rest is abstract. On the face of it (to use an appropriate expression) inexplicable.  

If this interests you, look on Amazon for the book, 'The Scole Experiment', or you could get it from the library. The Scole Group made no money from their activities and had hundreds of witnesses. 

Whether you  believe or not, the subject is fascinating and quirky. Definitely worth a browse through the internet – though beware, you could be hooked.  

Keith Parsons, a former BBC radio producer, has written a novel about the afterlife 'Shakespeare was wrong' and is looking for a publisher. Anyone out there who can help?     

If you would like to find out more, Keith has provided the following selection of good websites associated with life after death:

The Society for Psychical Research

The Campaign for Philosophical Freedom


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