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Soul, Spirit and the Near-Death Experience

We think of the universe in three-dimensional terms of time, space, and motion. We think of space in terms of height, length, and width. We think of time as past, present, and future. We speak of ourselves as having physical, mental, and spiritual life. The world about us can be seen as having mineral, plant, and animal life. According to near-death studies, psychology and the mystical traditions, there are three dimensions of human awareness which are: (1) the “conscious” mind – also known as the personality, the “id“, the self-consciousness, physical awareness; (2) the “subconscious” mind – also known as the “unconscious psyche“, the “astral body“, the “dreaming” mind, the “soul“, the “ego“; and (3) the “superconscious” mind – also known as the “spirit“, the “collective unconscious“, the “Higher Self“, the “Holy Spirit“, the “super-ego“. Accordingly, we are multi-dimensional beings existing simultaneously in a multi-dimensional reality.

Evolution of man

Edgar Cayce’s “Ascent of Man”

Science and evolution reveals how, a long time ago, our physical bodies evolved from primates. The mystical religious traditions reveal how even longer ago, our minds evolved from the stars at the time of creation (for example, the “logos“). But even before the universe was created, our spirits have always existed as part of the divine in even higher dimensions according to near-death experience testimony. The mystical traditions inform us that, at the conscious (physical) level, our bodies are like a miniature replica of the solar system with our hearts performing the function of the sun – the center of the system. We are told how other organs within our body, the endocrine glands, are also used by the soul to find a means of expression. According to astrological principles and the Edgar Cayce readings, the planets in our solar system exert subtle vibrations upon our physical bodies which influence our personalities and soul patterns. At the subconscious (soul) level, the solar system is our larger body in which we are connected to the planets, the stars, and the soul realms of the afterlife. At the superconscious (spirit) level, we are told that we are one with all that exists: the “Whole” or the Divine. The following article explains these concepts in detail.

1. Humans as multidimensional beings

a. Encountering our three minds during NDEs

Edgar Cayce

The NDE of the late Dr. Dianne Morrissey reveals how everyone consists of a physical body which operates in one dimension (the physical world), a “soul body” operating in another dimension (the astral or soul realms), and a “spirit body” operating in another dimension (the spirit realms). During Morrissey’s NDE, she observed all three of her bodies (physical, soul and spirit bodies) at the same time. While immediately outside of her physical body, she spent a great deal of time wondering about her dead body and noticed how her soul body was attached to her physical body by a “silver cord“. Later on during her NDE, she encounters her spirit body laying on a kind of “heavenly bed”. When this happens, she wondered how she could be three places at the same time. Here is how she describes it:

Dr. Dianne Morrissey: “In this rapturous place, I recognized that there were two aspects of ‘me.’ My soul was my consciousness, everything that had made me who I had been and what I had become. My spirit, on the other hand, was the part of me that was now transparent and glowing, dressed in white. As I looked around me, I initially found everything dimly lit. Then, I clearly saw a canopy bed resting in the center of an infinite vista stretched out before me. The bed was actually glowing within a Heavenly radiance which enveloped me as well. To my astonishment, I saw a duplicate of myself lying on the bed. ‘How can there be two of me? Or three of me?’ I wondered. But I was instantly reassured by the loving vibrations around me. The feeling reminded me of being reassured by a dear, trusted friend saying, ‘Don’t worry, all is well.’ There were two things I knew for certain: first, that I was Dianne, and second, that my physical body was dead. I also knew that the duplicate of Dianne on the bed was another me, but I did not know what she represented. Now, I was beginning to feel as if I were in three places at once! One part of me was the transparent Dianne on the bed. The second was my physical body in the den, the body that no longer had life. The third part of me was my spirit, now out of its body. This part of me remained conscious and aware of all my experiences, both here and back on earth.” (Dr. Dianne Morrissey)

b. NDE examples of encountering living persons

The NDE phenomenon of encountering all three aspects of the human being also explains how experiencers have encountered living people during their NDE [1] [2] [3] [4]. In such cases, experiencers come into actual contact with the “soul body” of the living person.

In near-death studies, experiencers frequently encounter deceased loved ones. But in many cases, experiencers have also encountered loved ones in the afterlife who are not deceased and are still living in the physical world. Such NDEs are classified as “Peak in Darien experiences” (PDF). Skeptics who insist NDEs are merely brain anomalies often cite this phenomenon of encountering living people in NDEs as evidence supporting their skeptical case. Read Keith Augustine’s erroneous skeptical argument here. But this phenomenon of seeing living people in heaven only reveals the multi-dimensional nature of every human being both living and deceased. Here are some good examples of this phenomenon:

(1) Carl G. Jung, the father of Analytical Psychology:

During Jung’s NDE, he found himself suspended far above the earth. Then from the direction of Europe, an image of his doctor (Dr. H. ) floated up to him. He was framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel wreath. Jung knew at once it was his doctor appearing to him in his “primal form” as an “avatar.” A “mute exchange of thought” took place between them. According to Jung, his doctor had been delegated by the earth to deliver a message – a protest against his going away and that he no right to leave the earth and must return. The moment Jung heard this, his NDE ceased. Afterward, Jung felt a violent resistance to his doctor because he had brought him back to life. At the same time, Jung was worried about him because he appeared to Jung in his primal form – an indication to Jung that his doctor was going to die soon. It happened just as Jung foresaw.

(2) E.L., an Orthodox Jewish women:

E. L. had an NDE where she begged to be allowed to return to this world as she had small children to raise for the service of God. She was told that if she had a righteous person in this world who would beseech on her behalf it would be granted. She mentioned the name of a righteous Hassidic Rabbi with whom she was associated. At that moment, the Rabbi was surrounded by his followers as is usual on Friday nights; but his soul, however, made an appearance in the spiritual world in order to benefit E.L. She was told that there were 3 conditions for her to return. One of the conditions was that she write a letter of thanks to the Rabbi telling him that his merit is what saved her. She was then allowed to return. (E.L.)

(3) Lynnclaire Dennis, whose NDE led to the discovery of the “Mereon Matrix” – an algorithm representing the unification of knowledge that relies on whole systems:

“As the experience dissolved into the light, I found myself again moving higher up the mountain … I closed my eyes and wondered, ‘Am I home? Or am I going home?’ With my eyes closed, as if in a vision within a vision, I saw my mother. I could not understand why she was there. As far as I knew, my mom was very much alive. Wasn’t this ‘the other side?’ I knew I was no longer alive and felt that I was in a space between the worlds…” (Lynnclaire Dennis)

c. Dream examples of encountering living persons

Many people are not aware of the evidence that whenever we are asleep and dreaming, our soul body leaves our physical body to experience the “astral” or soul realms. Everyone has probably had a dream(s) where we encounter living people we know. Some people have had dreams where deceased loved ones are encountered. But there is a special kind of dream where the dreamer is given evidence of having actual contact with a living person(s). Such dreams are called “veridical dreams” or “dream telepathy“. Read these articles for more information and examples of veridical dreams:

(1)Telepathy and the Subliminal Self: An Account of Recent Investigations” by Rufus Osgood Mason
(2)Occultism and Common-Sense” by Beckles Willson
(3)On the Cosmic Relations (Volume 1)” by Henry Holt
(4)Studies in Psychical Research” by Frank Podmore
(5) The Chaffin Family Will Case by Occult World
(6) The Bible also contains many examples of “prophetic dreams”: Daniel 2, Daniel 4, Daniel 7, Zechariah 1, Matthew 1:20, Matthew 2:11-13, Matthew 27:19, Acts 16:9, Acts 18:9.

d. Edgar Cayce on the three levels of human consciousness

Edgar Cayce identified three levels of consciousness or “dimensions” of the human being as: (1) consciousness (mind), (2) subconsciousness (soul), and (3) superconsciousness (spirit). He defined “consciousness” as the dimension of mind we are most familiar with: the level within which our personality and three-dimensional self develops and has much of its activity. He defined “subconsciousness” (soul) as being that part of our mind which bridges the outer self with the spiritual self. According to Cayce, the subconscious mind is both in the body, through the autonomic system, and beyond the body, in the soul realms of telepathy, non-physical life, and timelessness. This subconscious mind is the “mind of the soul,” says Cayce. As the mind of our outer self is the conscious mind and that portion containing our personality, so the subconscious mind contains our developing individuality, which Cayce identifies as our true self. He defined the “superconsciousness” (spirit) as the dimension of mind that is the part of us made in the image of the Creator, as recorded in Genesis 1:26. It is that part of us that is a “godling” as even the ancient Egyptians termed it. Cayce explained how our superconscious mind is something apart from anything earthly and only makes its presence known or is knowable when the conscious mind with the subconsicous soul lifts itself up into the vast, expansive level that is the superconsciousness. This is the part of our being Cayce referred to when he said that, “… not only God is God, but self is a part of that oneness.” To know the superconscious, Cayce says one must learn to achieve deep levels of meditation. He also said that if a dream feels more like a vision than a dream, then it most likely originated from this highest level of consciousness.

In relation to Biblical terminology, Cayce identified the “Mind of Christ” as being the “Son” – the light of God; the “Body of Christ” as being the “Father” – the life of God; and the “Spirit of Christ” as being the Holy Spirit – the love of God – or as I like to say the “Mother”. According to Cayce, Jesus the man became “the Christ” (literally the “anointed one”) and had complete access to his superconscious mind. Cayce identified Jesus the man as being a soul who was created with all other souls in the beginning; and, like all souls, his spirit is a part of God’s Universal Spirit or Consciousness. This is not to say that “Christ Consciousness” is a created entity. Jesus the man was a created entity or “logos” as the mystical traditions refer to it. In the Cayce readings, the Christ Consciousness is the spiritual condition of the soul becoming one with God, or as Cayce would refer to it as “at-onement.” The union of the human Jesus with the Christ Consciousness constituted, according to the readings, a unique human-divine unity. Nevertheless, this human-divine unity is properly understood as a goal for all human souls, and is spiritually possible for all human souls, and will be ultimately be attained by all human souls in due time. Many early Christian sects such as the Ebionites, the Elcesaites, Christian Gnostics and the Arians believed in this human-divine potential in people.

Psalm 82 in the Bible expresses the human spirit’s “godling” status this way:

“God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment … I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.'” (Psalm 82:1; Psalm 82:6)

The phrase “the divine council” reflects how intimately connected we “godlings” are to our Creator. In John 10:22-39, Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6 in defense of his claim of being the “Son” of God which even his opponents knew was the equivalent of claiming to be equal to God:

Bible: “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe … I and the Father are one.’ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said, ‘you are gods?’ If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son?’ Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.” (John 10:22-39)

Notice how Jesus does not limit “godship” to himself but retains the application of the word “gods” in Psalm 82:6 to refer to other “sons” of God as well. Our spiritual nature with our Creator is also expressed in Genesis 1:26 with the use of the plural form for God “Elohim“.

Bible: “Then God (“Elohim”) said, ‘Let US make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Then in Genesis 2:7 the author of Genesis uses the non-plural word for God “Yahweh Elohim” (which most English Bibles translate as “Lord God“) in referring to an apparent second creation event:

Bible: “Then the Lord God (“Yahweh Elohim”) formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

So we see from Genesis how the plural “Elohim” created the spirit and the spirit realm in Genesis 1:26. In Genesis 2:7, the singular “Yahweh Elohim” formed the human body from the “dust of the ground”, breathed the “breath of life” into it, and the human body became a living soul. The two creation accounts in Genesis, therefore, refers to two separate creations: the first creation event refers to our divine spiritual origins and the second creation event metaphorically refers to the evolutionary processes of how our physical bodies evolved from “dust” to our incarnating physical bodies with both a soul and a spirit.

It is also important to understand how the reference to “sons” of God in both Psalm 82:6 and John 10:22-39 also refers to our spirit bodies and not our physical bodies. Our soul and spirit bodies are neither male or female; but are the combined energies of both. This is why reincarnation is said to be a process where the soul must experience both male and female incarnations to attain “Wholeness”. As Jesus explained:

Bible: “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:34-36)

So the soul and spirit are without gender – that is – without genitals. One particular near-death experiencer, a gynecologist named Dr. Richard Eby, noticed almost immediately how his soul body did not have genitals. Also, according to mystical reincarnation tradition, a large percentage of souls choose to incarnate many consecutive times as one particular gender which can create a natural “imbalance” when incarnating as the opposite gender. For example, when a soul has incarnated many consecutive times as a female, and then incarnates as male, this condition can naturally produce a gay man. I use the words “natural” and “imbalance” because I want to convey the fact that homosexuality is a perfectly natural condition and is certainly NOT an act against nature or God. There are valid and natural reasons why souls might choose to reincarnate this way. Likewise, when a soul has incarnated many consecutive times as a male and then incarnates as female, this condition can naturally produce a lesbian woman. Again, I want to make this perfectly clear and very frank: God is concerned about our “hearts” and not whether we prefer a mouth, or an anus or a vagina for sex. The evidence from NDE research is clear about this. For more on this topic, visit Dr. Liz Dale’s research page.

So now we understand how the so-called “trinity” which many Christians refer to as the triune nature of God consisting of the “Father”, the “Son”, and the “Holy Spirit”, is actually how we can understand God from our three-dimensional perspective as a three-dimensional God. That is, divinity can be understood in three dimensions as having a Mind, a Body, and a Spirit. This is why the Bible refers to the “Mind of Christ”, the “Body of Christ”, and the “Spirit of Christ” as a way of understanding God’s nature from our three-dimensional physical perspective. However, when perceived from other higher dimensions, the Godhood is more complex and the fractal nature of divinity applies.

2. Humans as conscious minds (the personality, self-consciousness)

a. The conscious mind according to NDE studies and the mystical traditions

While we are alive and awake in the physical world: our conscious mind is our dominant level of awareness. Our subconscious mind (soul) plays a less dominant level of awareness and our superconscious mind (spirit) plays an even lesser dominant level of awareness. At death, our conscious mind (i.e., our “personality” or “persona” literally meaning “mask”) dies, and our subconscious mind (soul) plays the role of our conscious mind and the dominant level of awareness while existing in the soul realms. Our superconscious mind (spirit) then plays the role of level of awareness that our subconscious mind had while in the physical world. In other words, our physical body is the “vehicle” for both the soul and spirit. At death, we shed our physical body and become a soul body – the “vehicle” for our spirit. At this point, we are like a “spirit within a spirit” – or more precisely – a spirit within a soul. Once we attain the highest level of consciousness, into the Wholeness of the One (God), our soul body is “absorbed” into the light and we become pure spirit – our Higher Self – who we REALLY are in the spirit realms. Some near-death experiencers have described this phenomenon as “becoming God” or “becoming everything” or just “becoming the universe”. Those fortunate enough to experience this phenomenon tell us that words are inadequate in describing this experience. Also, as a pure spirit in the light of God, we do not lose our individuality as one might imagine. It is a paradox how we can become “one with the Whole” yet still maintain our individuality. Mathematicians call this condition – a part of the whole also containing the whole – a “fractal“. According to the NDE research and the mystical traditions, the human spirit is both a part of the Whole (God) and the Whole itself. Another way to describe our fractal nature with God is to say we are “wholes” within the Whole.

b. How NDEs reveal our soul’s astronomical interconnections

One of the main principles behind astrology is the notion that all things are connected together, specifically the connection of planetary influences to the mind, body and soul. Near-death experiencers have observed this astrological connection in an astounding and explicit manner. Such NDEs reveal how everything is connected to each other by a spiritual “matrix” or network. Here are some NDE examples:

“I perceived how the earth, the sun, the moon, the darkness, the light, the planets, and all forms of life – plants, rocks, animals, people – are interconnected; they come from the same source of light. Everything is united by a transparent net, or web, and each thread shines with great radiance. Everything pulses with the same luminosity – a magnificent light of unparalleled brilliance.” (Josiane Antonette)

“As I asked the light to keep explaining, I understood what the Higher Self matrix is. We have a grid around the planet where all the Higher Selves are connected. This is like a great company, a next subtle level of energy around us, the spirit level, you might say. As I rode the stream on and on, I could eventually see a huge light coming. I knew it was the First Light; the Higher Self Light Matrix of our solar system. Then the entire solar system appeared in the light, accompanied by one of those velvet booms. I saw that the solar system we live in is our larger, local body. This is our local body and we are much bigger than we imagine. I saw that the solar system is our body. I am a part of this, and the earth is this great created being that we are, and we are the part of it that knows that it is. But we are only that part of it. We are not everything, but we are that part of it that knows that it is. I could see all the energy that this solar system generates, and it is an incredible light show! I could hear the Music of the Spheres. Our solar system, as do all celestial bodies, generates a unique matrix of light, sound and vibratory energies. Advanced civilizations from other star systems can spot life as we know it in the universe by the vibratory or energy matrix imprint.” (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

“Extended from above throughout the heaven and the earth, a straight light like a pillar, most nearly resembling the rainbow, but brighter and purer … and they saw there at the middle of the light the extremities of its fastenings stretched from heaven, for this light was the girdle of the heavens like the undergirders of triremes, holding together in like manner the entire revolving vault.” (Plato’s Er)

“Suddenly I saw a streak of light come and it was absorbed into the earth. I thought, “A shooting star!” No, it was impressed on me, it was not a shooting star, but it was a stream of power coming to the earth from the celestial bodies. These streams of power were coming down from all angles to the earth. There were also streams that were going between star and star and star like a tremendous web. These streams of power had a set pattern like a web of a fishing net, which was all continuous with the power of lights pulsating backward and forward.” (Margaret Tweddell)

c. How our multi-dimensional body is connected to soul and spirit realms

Edgar Cayce described how everyone is connected in body, soul and spirit to astrological bodies such as the moon, sun, planets, and stars which are connected to corresponding afterlife realms or dimensions. In fact, Cayce affirmed how our the solar system is actually our “larger body” with our physical body acting as a miniature solar system and our hearts performing the function of the sun – the center of the system. While we live in the physical world, we are influenced in strong ways by desires originating from our bodies which in turn affect our soul as well. How we deal with these influences determine our level of soul development. Through meditation and prayer, we can unlock the doors to these many dimensions – the many “mansions” of God’s kingdom. But the door must first be unlocked here in the physical world. For example, Jesus taught people how the kingdom of heaven resides within us. By looking within ourselves we can find God and heaven. Our physical body acts as a “temple” for our spirit – part of the Spirit of God – both as the place where we can meet God and as an instrument of awareness through which we can attune to God. According to Cayce and the Eastern religions, there are locations within the physical body which act as spiritual energy centers called “chakras” which correlate with the endocrine glands in the body. It is through these spiritual centers where our soul finds a means of expression.

Cayce’s view of the universe is as a kind of heavenly “university” and our solar system as a heavenly “college” with each planet representing a particular “school” of education for the soul. Cayce identified our planet earth as being the place for soul “testing” – the “cause and effect” dimension – or as I like to call it the “School of Hard Knocks.” If a soul has a mental ideal and would like to apply this ideal for the purpose of self-education and/or for helping other souls, the earth is a perfect place to do it. By applying our ideals and being tested on them, the soul can discovery if these ideals are true or not true for themselves. We also come here also to overcome certain weaknesses (and they can be many) by applying oneself to see that these weaknesses are truly overcome. It is one thing to have an ideal; but it’s another thing to make that ideal into a physical reality and be tested on it. Cayce also identified earth to be a kind of “laboratory” for the other afterlife realms (which are invisible to us on earth) associated with our solar system. Cayce revealed how only on earth is free will completely dominant and only on earth does intelligent, three-dimensional life exist in our solar system. In the other afterlife “schools” or dimensions associated with our solar system, some measure of control is kept over the soul to see that it learns its proper lessons. This control is usually handled by the soul itself if it has evolved sufficiently. Once the soul has sufficiently learned its lessons on earth and has overcome any obstacles to soul-progress in the physical world, the soul can then move on to the next phase of soul growth in higher afterlife dimensions associated with our solar system. Once the soul has completed its mission and/or education within our solar system’s “heavenly college”, it can then move on to other “colleges” within the “university” with the ultimate goal of soul “graduation”. Soul graduation is achieved when our soul attains at-onement with God; thereby causing us to become a permanent “graduate” in spirit with God and become the perfect companion to God we were designed to be.

3. Humans as subconscious minds (the soul)

a. Dr. Michael Newton’s research on the journey of souls

When the late Dr. Michael Newton, at www.newtoninstitute.org, began regressing his clients hypnotically back in time for therapy and treatment, he stumbled onto a discovery of enormous proportions: that it is possible to regress his clients to former past-lives and learn what their soul was doing between lives on earth. His book, Journey of Souls, presents ten years of his research and insights in helping people understand the purpose behind their life choices. In the process, Dr. Newton discovered how various souls can be grouped into particular categories based on certain soul characteristics. These categories are: (1) “Beginner” souls, (2) “Intermediate” souls, and (3) “Advanced” souls. Here is a description of each soul group:

(1) The Beginner Soul: Dr. Newton identified two types of beginner souls: souls who are truly young in terms of exposure to an existence outside of the spirit world, and souls who have been reincarnating on earth for a long period of relative time but still remain immature. Dr. Newton believes almost three-quarters of all souls who inhabit human bodies on earth today are still in the early stages of development and in this category. Souls end their incarnations on earth when they reach full maturity. The beginner soul may live a number of lives in a state of confusion and ineffectiveness quite different from the supportive harmony of the spirit world. Less developed souls are inclined to surrender their will to the controlling aspects of human society. Such inexperienced souls tend to be stifled by a lack of independent thinking, lean towards being self-centered and do not easily accept others for who they are.

(2) The Intermediate Soul: Souls evolving into this level of development have acquired the maturity and experience for operating more independently. They also begin to reduce the number of incarnations they have on earth. Such souls are ready for more serious lessons and responsibilities. The relationship such souls have with their guides now changes from teacher-student to one of colleagues working together. It is now their turn to develop teaching skills which will eventually qualify them for the responsibilities of being a guide to someone else. As with many other aspects of soul life, such souls are carefully tested. The intermediate levels are trial periods for potential teachers.

(3) The Advanced Soul: Dr. Newton believes that people who possess souls which are both old and highly advanced are scarce on earth. A person whose maturity is this high doesn’t seek out a regression therapist to resolve life-plan conflicts. In most cases, they are here as incarnated guides. We may recognize them when they appear as public figures, such as Mother Teresa; however, it is more usual for the advanced soul to go about their good works in a quiet, unassuming manner. Without displaying self-indulgence, their fulfillment comes from improving the lives of other people. The mark of an advanced spirit is one who has exceptional insight. They may be found in all walks of life, but are frequently in the helping professions or battling social injustice in some fashion. The advanced soul is not motivated by self-interest and they may disregard their own physical needs and live in reduced circumstances.

b. P.M.H. Atwater on why souls take on human forms

“Once you have seen your soul or merged with your soul or have a sense of your soul, there’s no mixing it up with the face you see in the mirror. Nor do you mix your soul up with your name or how you look – nor with your personality. These are “extras.” These are the particular “packaging” which enables you to take on human form and live in the physical world. Why would we want to do this if we are Divine Beings? Because here is where we test out and experience the curriculum of what we need to learn so we can rejoin with Source – so we can be the Co-Creators with The Creator we were meant to be. Earth life enables us to mature as a soul. It is an extremely valuable experience, one to be grateful for. Time and space does not have the same meaning to a soul as it does to our human self. Neither does tragedy or success. The soul learns from everything that occurs both good or bad. Nothing is ever wasted. Nothing. The soul is not limited in form or experience as our physical bodies are. The soul’s choice in becoming human is always growth oriented, which includes cleaning or clearing out anything negative or unfinished from previous incarnations which might be holding it back from attaining its goals. This means that forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation are important to the soul. The soul’s plans may seem strange to our human way of thinking, but there is more sense to them and more love than you can imagine. Near-death experiencers often describe how suddenly all the pieces of life’s puzzle fall into place on the Other Side. They know or are shown why things are the way they are. Life makes sense when seen from a larger perspective. The real purpose of a religious or spiritual life is to rejoin our “lesser self” with our “Higher Self” – to heal all separation or sense of separation – and to be who we really are and act accordingly. (P.M.H. Atwater)

c. P.M.H. Atwater on the soul’s characteristics

The following are some of P.M.H. Atwater’s NDE insights about the characteristics of the soul:

The soul is huge – too big and too powerful to inhabit any one body. When near-death experiencers return to their body they report having to shrink to fit back in. But once the soul is out of the body, they are much larger and far more capable than being inside a body. Faculties are sharper. The mind functions more expansive and multi-dimensional in its scope. The mind becomes capable of 360-degree vision, sound, smell, action and response. The soul is featureless and sexless. It consists of a type of light. Some experiencers see the soul as having a somewhat human form while others see it as more of a globe or sphere, pulsating or radiating with energy. We are Co-Creators with the Creator and made in the image and likeness of God. We are enjoined by our very existence to discover our identity and to live according to this discovery and to be everything we can be. We are here to honor the gift of life and uphold our part in ‘A Greater Plan’. Soul discovery is the overriding reason behind spiritual development. In this lifetime, we can be more mindful of who we really are and can align our will with God’s Will. When this occurs, we can merge more and more with the power of our own soul. It is the soul which seems to be the major ‘player’ in the outworking of God’s Greater Plan. To use an analogy, we are like worker bees and the soul is the guiding intelligence keeping us on track. God provides us with the environment and the power source where we can – not only learn and grow – but transcend the things which seems to limit us. We do this to ‘awaken’ to a higher reality and a grander view in order to realize there really is no separation, no distinction of three in one, but One – All in One. You can view this situation yet another way: One Mind, many thinkers. No matter how you view the soul, it is awesome. It is simply awesome when you see your own soul. I saw mine and I was stunned at its beauty and its power and the love it possessed. Most near-death experiencers feel the same way. (P.M.H. Atwater)

d. The soul as an orb

Many near-death testimonies describe encounters with orbs. An “orb” is defined in the dictionary as: “a sphere, a spherical body, a globe.” NDE orbs are often viewed as spherical representations of souls and they have been described in a variety of ways. The following is a list of various descriptions of orbs seen in NDE testimonies profiled on this website:

Soul orbs have been described as being: tiny sparkling lights like transparent bubbles; shimmering, luminescent spheres where the soul is enveloped, like being inside a crystal globe; red and yellow; beach-ball sized of lavender-purple light; tiny balls of light, glowing with light and color and bouncing like bubbles in a glass of carbonated water; balls of light with different hues such as shades of rose petals, bluish hue, pinkish, and deeper shades of red and orange; millions of orbs joining with creatures on planets like bees flitting from flower to flower; millions of spheres of light entering and leaving a great being-ness at the center; a giant sphere of light which Jesus and angels transformed into; a globe of infinite dimensions whose center is full of light, the purest of God’s creations; and a bright, warm, loving orb of understanding.

e. Examples of souls as orbs as seen in NDEs

“We saw that the sparkling lights were tiny, transparent bubbles that drifted in the air and sparkled on the grass. We realized that each tiny sparkle was a soul.” (May Eulitt)

“All attention seemed to be directed to the celestial field around me, and a shimmering, luminescent sphere enveloped me, making me feel as if I had stepped into a crystal globe. Although I was aware that the crystalline sphere was suspended on the celestial field in view of all the spiritual beings in attendance, I found myself in a different celestial realm. Somehow the spiritual beings were still observing me inside this crystal sphere.” (Ned Dougherty)

“I saw off in the distance something that looked like the picture of a galaxy, except that it was larger and there were more stars than I had seen on earth. There was a great center of brilliance. In the center there was an enormously bright concentration. Outside the center countless millions of spheres of light were flying about entering and leaving what was a great being-ness at the center. It was off in the distance.” (Howard Storm)

More examples of the soul as an orb can be found on the Orbs and the Near-Death Experience.

f. Edgar Cayce on the soul and its relationship with the cosmos

According to Edgar Cayce, all souls were created in the beginning and none have been created since. All souls are finding their way back to whence they came. In the beginning, all souls were one with God. The separation or turning away of souls from their Source is what brought evil. Each soul is destined to become a permanent part of the First Cause once again – back to its Maker. God has not willed any soul to perish and is mindful that each soul has again, and yet again, opportunities for making its paths straight. Each soul enters earth with a mission to accomplish. We are all on a mission from God. Entering into the earth plane has been, and is, for the evolution of the soul to enter a higher state of awareness. Life is, in all its manifestations and in every animate force, is the Creative Force in action. And life is about expressing love where truth becomes the result of life’s love expressed. For these ideals are only labels unless they are experienced and expressed in the consciousness of each soul. The conquering of self in these matters is truly greater than conquering many worlds. We are growing to heaven. We don’t go to heaven. Here are some more important truths by Cayce:

“What is Truth? Law. What is Law? Love. What is Love? God. What is God? Law and Love. This is the cycle of Truth itself.”

According to Cayce, the spirit is life. The mind is the builder. The physical is the result. We may separate ourselves from God – the Spirit – but the Spirit does not separate from man. All power and force is a manifestation of God-Consciousness. In each atom, in each corpuscle, is life. Life is God. Life is what people worship as God. The earth is merely an atom in the universe of worlds. Thoughts are real things. As currents of thought run free, they become miracles or crimes in the experiences of an individual’s life. Thoughts are things in the same manner that the mind is as concrete as a post or tree. The Akashic Record (a person’s Book of Life) records them as such.

For the deeply attuned Cayce, thoughts were as real as actions. In fact, during his readings from a person’s Book of Life, he had to strain to determine whether the person he was reading for had actually done something or had just thought about doing it.

g. Experiencing the soul in near-death experiences

The following are two excellent examples of experiencing the soul in NDEs:

Macam: “After going through the whole building process of my identity and I understood how I became who I was, God began taking my personality apart one facet at a time. My sense of right and wrong was very strong. As was fairness. Challenges to succeed, self-worth, etc., every tiny to the biggest facet of “me”, was taken away. Oh, how horrid this emptying time was. Piece by piece, every facet of me was shown to me and then God put the truth of all my actions and thoughts for me to see until nothing of me was left but my soul. Bare naked soul. Excuses and reasons mean nothing. Our actions alone are dealt with and God makes sure we see our actions without any of the human reasoning here. This is where the accountability really began. All God was interested in was making sure I realized that whatever events that occur here are only superficial in the scope of His truth. He’s not interested in hearing about how bad or unfair things here are. He already knows and has basically labeled it irrelevant. By realizing that my value foundation was solid regardless what happens here, I’m free now to deal with facets of my soul’s values still to be established. This is why we’re here. To keep working on getting our soul’s values learned and established. I had basically stopped working on my own soul’s needs.” (Macam)

Mellen-Thomas Benedict: “As the light revealed itself to me, I became aware that what I was really seeing was our Higher Self matrix … a mandala of human souls … in each of us is a matrix. It’s also a conduit to the Source … And it became very clear to me that all the Higher Selves are connected as one being … we are actually the same being, different aspects of the same being … It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It was like all the love you’ve every wanted, and it was the kind of love that cures, heals, regenerates … We have a grid around the planet where all the Higher Selves are connected … I was astonished to find that there was no evil in any soul … I realized that we have already been saved, and we saved ourselves because we were designed to self-correct like the rest of God’s universe … The center of the earth is this great transmuter of energy, just as you see in pictures of our earth’s magnetic field. That’s our cycle, pulling reincarnated souls back in and through it again … But just being born a human, whether deformed or genius, shows that you are on the path to developing an individual consciousness. That is, in itself, part of the group consciousness called humanity. I saw that races are personality clusters. Nations like France, Germany and China each have their own personality. Cities have personalities, their local group souls that attract certain people. Families have group souls. Individual identity is evolving like branches of a fractal; the group soul explores in our individuality … This is how Godhead is exploring God’s Self – through you … I began to see that each one of us humans are soul mates. We are part of the same soul fractaling out in many creative directions, but still the same. Now I look at every human being that I ever see, and I see a soul mate, my soul mate, the one I have always been looking for. Beyond that, the greatest soul mate that you will ever have is yourself. We are each both male and female. We experience this in the womb and we experience this in reincarnation states. If you are looking for that ultimate soul mate outside of yourself, you may never find it; it is not there … Don’t look “out there” for God … Look through your Self.” (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

h. Edgar Cayce on the soul’s mission

God’s plan for the soul is a cycle of experience that is unlimited in scope and duration. Through this evolutionary cycle, the soul will come to know the creation in all its aspects at the discretion of the will. The cycle would be completed when the desire of the will was no longer different from the Thought of God. The consciousness of the soul would then merge with its spiritual consciousness of its identity with God. Then the soul will return to its source as the companion it was intended to be. As a companion, the soul would remain conscious of its separate individuality and would be aware of its own free will as it now acted as a part of God, but not diverting its mind because it was in agreement with God’s influence on the mind of the soul. Until this state of at-onement was reached, the soul would not be a companion in the true sense of the word.

The idea that returning to God means a loss of individuality is paradoxical, since God is aware of everything that happens and must therefore be aware of the consciousness of each individual. The return of the soul is the return of the image to that which imagined it. The consciousness of the individual – its soul record – could not be destroyed without destroying a part of God. When a soul returns to God it becomes aware of itself not only as a part of God, but as a part of every other soul, and everything. What is lost is the ego – the desire to do other than the desire of God. When the soul returns to God, the ego is voluntarily relinquished. This is the symbology behind the crucifixion of Christ.

The plan for the earth cycle of souls was a limited series of incarnations with periods in between of dwelling in other heavenly dimensions of consciousness. Reincarnation would continue until a soul’s every thought and action of the physical body was in accord with the plan originally laid out for the soul (i.e., a human-divine unity, Christ consciousness). When the body was no longer a hindrance to the free expression of the soul – when the conscious mind has merged with the subconscious (soul), the earth cycle was finished and the soul liberated to move on to new adventures. When the individual has attained complete human-divine unity, its cycle of reincarnations is finished, the soul is liberated, and the soul then merges with its spirit and, therefore, with God. The soul record (memory) is forever retained. This record is, at all times, is the sum total of what the soul personality has been: all it has thought, all it has experienced; all it has eaten, drunk, and felt through the ages.

Thus, as the soul is subjected to reincarnation, both the atheist and the religionist are correct. The atheist believes the personality does not survive after death. The religionist believes the soul is judged after death by its Creator. Substituting “personality” for “soul”, both are expressing the truth. The personality is evaluated after death and then returns to the soul which created it, thereby giving up its own independent existence and becoming once again a facet of the soul. This process is different from the process where the soul merges with the spirit after it completes its cycles of reincarnation.

i. The concept of “soul merge” from various NDE insights

(1) Thomas Sawyer on Soul Merge: “Once you enter into the light and blend with God, you become God. God is light and light is love. You can’t take a knife and cut out a part of love and take it away. If you theoretically cut love in half and take it, there’s not half love here and half love there. Each part is wholly God. The incomprehensible part is at that point at which you no longer exist and you become only light when you fully merge with the light. This is because the character and the characteristics that you are, the uniqueness that is you and nobody else, still exists when you cease to exist as a personality. But every bit of your personality is available for reincarnation. That’s the paradox part. I just kind of became little photons of light and there is only the slightest of memories of anything after that. Even though I was in my soul body, not my physical body, that which I was before the light blended in and ceased to exist. In other words, if you have pure light you have all of the masses of photons in the universe in a purified state only white light. One of the last things I can recall is that I was blending into and becoming homogeneous with that light. I had the feeling of the light just engulfing me. About the only accurate word that I can use to describe what I felt then is the word “power.” But it wasn’t an earthly type of power, it wasn’t greedy power, or an I’m-better-than-you-power. One of the purposes of the life review is to make an informed choice between remaining in spirit and returning to flesh. Should we choose to merge completely with the light of God, we will never again be able to choose, on our own decision, to return to physical life. The decision to merge in the light is the best decision. If a person dies and merges completely into the light, another reincarnation is improbable. However, it is more usual for people to have earthly attachments and not merge completely with the light. Such souls may have characteristics of their personality, which they do not want merged with the light.” (Thomas Sawyer)

(2) Christian Andreason on Soul Merge: “I saw that we were indeed made in the image of God, which is an essence taken from the Creator’s own LIGHT. It is because of this Light that we can never die. Every single child of God carries this Light within their Soul, and we call this Light, Spirit. As we learn how to LOVE, we build the Light of Spirit within. A day will come (in a time not so far away) when all of our Light(s) will have become so large that we will merge and go back to the Creator and be as ONE – just as we were in the beginning. Once we are ONE again, there will be a great celebration. And after a certain amount of time has passed, yet again, there will be another great explosion, only this time it will be much bigger and the process of Creation will be far more advanced.” (Christian Andreason)

(3) Betty Bethards on Soul Merge: “Married couples will be reunited after death, and may choose to stay together if they want to, provided they are on the same level of vibration. This is free will. If you have been married three or four times, you will find that you will want to be with the one whom you truly love. It could even be someone from another incarnation. You will be with those you love, and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything you can know on the earth plane. This total merger is like stepping inside one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. What you know on earth as a sexual relationship takes the form of a higher merger of souls. There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. For this merger of energies is far superior to the physical mechanics of the sexual experience. This merger is not limited to husbands and wives, but may be experienced by any two souls who are loving and caring.” (Betty Bethards)

(4) Hindu afterlife beliefs: Moksha” is the traditional Sanskrit term for release or liberation from the endless chain of deaths and rebirths. In the southern Asian religious tradition, it represents the supreme goal of human strivings. Reflecting the diversity of Hinduism, liberation can be attained in a variety of ways, from the proper performance of certain rituals to highly disciplined forms of yoga. In the Upanishads, it is proper knowledge, in the sense of insight into the nature of reality, that enables the aspiring seeker to achieve liberation from the wheel of rebirth. What happens to the individual after reaching moksha? In Upanishadic Hinduism, the individual Atman is believed to merge into the cosmic Brahma. A traditional image is that of a drop of water that, when dropped into the ocean, loses its individuality and becomes one with the sea. Although widespread, this metaphor does not quite capture the significance of this merger. Rather than losing one’s individuality, the Upanishadic understanding is that the Atman is never separate from Brahma; hence, individuality is illusory, and moksha is simply waking up from the dream of separateness. The most that the classical texts of Hinduism say about the state of one who has merged with the godhead is that the person has become one with pure “beingness,” consciousness, and bliss. From the perspective of world-affirming Western society, such a static afterlife appears distinctly undesirable. (Hindu afterlife beliefs)

j. Edgar Cayce on how death affects our levels of consciousness

Edgar Cayce revealed that death is “God’s other door” through which we enter a new way of life. Death is a brief transition where conscious awareness becomes the subconscious mind (the soul). The death of the physical conscious body and mind is merely the process where subconscious mind takes over and becomes the operative, conscious awareness. The superconscious mind (the spirit) then plays the role the subconscious mind performed while in the physical body. Later, upon reincarnation, the subconscious mind projects another part of itself into the newly developing outer, three-dimensional mind and body. Intuitions, knowings and psychic perceptions originate from this projected subconscious mind. Cayce explained that not all of the subconscious mind is projected; some of it remains in very high levels of perception and activity. Part of the soul in the body maintains the autonomic systems of the body (respiration, circulation, digestion, etc.) and the seven spiritual centers or chakras which correspond with the seven endocrine glands. We may feel as if we do not know our subconscious soul, but we do, and we are comfortable with it. For example, when we awaken from a dream because our bladder is full , we go empty it; only to return to bed with no recall of the dream. Here we have just experienced our two selves: one is the dreaming mind (the subconscious soul) and the other (the conscious mind) which is in charge of the bladder and the central nervous system. Yet, notice how comfortable we are in the dream state. This is because our subconscious soul is our true self and we know it well. Yet, there is a “veil” that drops whenever we move outside of it. This veil is opaque. As the Apostle Paul said:

Bible: “For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

The outer, physical self and consciosusness cannot look back through this veil and clearly recall the contents of the dream. This is because our conscious mind never experienced the dream. It was only awakened when the physical body needed to act. Now we understand how our body can die and still live. Sleep is often called “death’s sister” and known as “the shadow of death”. Falling asleep is like death in miniature each night. Mind is our true nature. We have multi-dimensional minds. Mind is the part of us that lives forever. So it is more accurate to say that we are a mind inside of a body and not a body with a mind. Cayce considered the mind to be a kind of “savior” – a redeemer – the part of us which can mend and restore us.

k. NDE examples of soul expansion through the stars

Many near-death experiencers describe how their consciousness expanded during their NDE until it filled the entire universe and beyond. Such experiences have been described as literally “becoming the universe” or “becoming God” by those who experienced it. The expansion of our conscious soul through the cosmos at death corresponds to astrological principles of how cosmic forces and our otherworldly sojourns in higher or lower dimensions affect us here and now. The following NDEs provide great examples of this phenomenon:

Mellen-Thomas Benedict: “Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream of life. I saw the earth fly away. The solar system, in all its splendor, whizzed by and disappeared. At faster than light speed, I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more knowledge as I went. I learned that this galaxy, and all of the Universe, is bursting with many different varieties of LIFE. I saw many worlds. The good news is that we are not alone in this Universe! As I rode this stream of consciousness through the center of the galaxy, the stream was expanding in awesome fractal waves of energy. The super clusters of galaxies with all their ancient wisdom flew by. At first I thought I was going somewhere; actually traveling. But then I realized that, as the stream was expanding, my own consciousness was also expanding to take in everything in the Universe!” (Mellen-Thomas Benedict)

Virginia Rivers: “The stars seemed to fly past me so rapidly that they formed a tunnel around me. I began to sense awareness, knowledge. The farther forward I was propelled the more knowledge I received. My mind felt like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with each addition. The knowledge came in single words and in whole idea blocks. I just seemed to be able to understand everything as it was being soaked up or absorbed. I could feel my mind expanding and absorbing and each new piece of information somehow seemed to belong. It was as if I had known already but forgotten or mislaid it, as if it were waiting here for me to pick it up on my way by.” (Virginia Rivers)

Thomas Sawyer: “And in your life review you’ll be the universe and experience yourself in what you call your lifetime and how it affects the universe.” (Thomas Sawyer)

Josiane Antonette: “I am love; I am understanding; I am compassion! My presence fills the room. And now I feel my presence in every room in the hospital. Even the tiniest space in the hospital is filled with this presence that is me. I sense myself beyond the hospital, above the city, even encompassing earth. I am melting into the universe. I am everywhere at once.” (Josiane Antonette)

Jayne Smith: “I was involved in this tremendous pouring forth of gratitude and joy and as that was going inside me, this white light began to infiltrate my consciousness. It came into me. It seemed I went out into it. I expanded into it as it came into my field of consciousness.” (Jayne Smith)

l. Dr. Michael Newton on the soul’s transition after death

According to Dr. Michael Newton, there are souls who have been so severely damaged they are detached from the mainstream of souls and go back to a spiritual home base after death. Compared to all returning entities, the number of these abnormal souls is not large. There are two types of displaced souls: those who do not accept the fact their physical body is dead and fight returning to the spirit world for reasons of personal anguish, and those souls who have been subverted by, or had complicity with, criminal abnormalities while in the body. The first type of souls we call ghosts. These spirits refuse to go home after physical death and often have unpleasant influences on those of us who would like to finish out our human lives in peace. These displaced souls are sometimes falsely called “demonic” spirits because they are accused of invading the minds of people with harmful intent. Those subverted by criminal abnormalities do undergo separation in the spirit world and this happens at the time of their orientation with guides. They are not activated along the same travel routes as other souls and will go into seclusion upon reentering the spirit world. These souls don’t appear to mix with other entities in the conventional manner for quite a while. Because wrong-doing takes so many forms on earth, spiritual instruction and the type of isolation used is varied for each soul. The nature of these variations apparently is evaluated during orientation at the end of each life. The relative time of seclusion and reindoctrination is not consistent either. For instance, there are maladjusted souls who return to earth directly after a period of seclusion in order to expunge themselves as soon as possible by a good incarnation performance.

All souls, regardless of experience, eventually arrive at a central port in the spirit world which Dr. Newton calls “the staging area”. Once past the orientation station there seems to be no further travel detours for anyone entering this space of the spirit world. Apparently, large numbers of souls coming from earth are conveyed in a spiritual form of mass transit. Souls are brought in, collected, and then projected out to their proper final destinations similar to a central terminal of a metropolitan airport that has the capacity to fly people out in any direction. The most outstanding characteristic of this world is a continuous feeling of a powerful mental force directing everything in uncanny harmony. People say it is a place of pure thought.

After souls arrive back into their soul groups, they are summoned to appear before a Council of Elders. While the Council is not prosecutorial, they do engage in direct examination of a soul’s activities before returning them to their soul groups. Group placement is determined by soul level. After physical death, a soul’s journey home ends with debarkation into the place reserved for their own soul colony. The souls represented in these cluster groups are intimate old friends who have the same awareness level. Members of the same cluster group are closely united for all eternity. These tightly-knit clusters are often composed of like-minded souls with common objectives which they continually work out with each other. Usually they choose to reincarnate together as relatives and close friends on earth.

m. Dr. Michael Newton on the soul’s transition back to the physical realm

According to Dr. Michael Newton, there comes a time when the soul must once again leave the sanctuary of the spiritual world for another incarnation to earth. This decision is not an easy one. Souls must prepare to leave a world of total wisdom where they have lived in a blissful state of freedom for an experience with the physical and mental demands of living in a physical body. Souls have misgivings about even temporarily leaving a world of self-understanding, comradeship, and compassion to go to a planetary environment of uncertainty and fear brought about by aggressive, competing humans. While our spiritual environment is difficult to leave, as souls, we also remember the physical pleasures of life on earth with fondness and even nostalgia. When the wounds of a past life are healed and we are again totally at one with ourselves, we feel the pull of having a physical expression for our identity. Our karma of past deeds, our mistakes and achievements, have all been evaluated with a focus toward the best course of action for future endeavors. The soul must now assimilate all this information and take purposeful action based upon three primary decisions:

(1) Am I ready for a new physical life?

(2) What specific lessons do I want to undertake to advance my learning and development?

(3) Where should I go and who shall I be in my next life for the best opportunity to work on my goals?

Once a soul has decided to incarnate again, the next stage in the return process is to be directed to what Dr. Newton calls “the place of life selection”. Souls go to this place to consider when and where they want to go on earth before making a decision on who they will be in their new life. The place of life selection resembles a movie theater allowing souls to see themselves in the future, playing different roles in various settings. In this place of life selection, the soul previews the life span of more than one human being within the same time cycle. When souls leaves this place, most souls are inclined toward one particular candidate presented to us for soul occupation. Spiritual advisors give the soul ample opportunity to reflect upon all that the soul has seen in the future before making a final decision.

After souls have completed their consultations with guides and peers about the many physical and psychological ramifications of a new life and body choice, the decision to incarnate is made. It would be logical to assume that souls would then go immediately to earth. But this doesn’t happen before a significant element of preparation occurs. The location where souls go to for this kind of preparation is called by Dr. Newton the “place of recognition” or the “recognition class”. The activity here is like cramming for a final exam. One of the last requirements before embarkation for many souls is to go before the Council of Elders for a second time. The spirit world is an environment personified by order and the Elders want to reinforce the significance of a soul’s goals for the next life. Some souls return to their soul group after this meeting to say goodbye while others say they leave immediately for reincarnation. Souls getting ready for embarkation to earth are like battle-hardened veterans girding themselves for combat. This is the last chance for souls to enjoy the omniscience of knowing just who they are before they must adapt to a new physical body.

4. Humans as superconscious minds (the spirit)

a. P.M.H. Atwater’s insights about the spirit

The spirit appears to be as an invisible emissary of the Divine, like the stirring within and around us of a “breath,” a zephyr of fresh air and clear thought, an essence. Many adult experiencers of near-death states claim that during their NDE it seemed as though the whole universe and all of Creation were breathing – expanding and contracting. To these experiencers, “breathing” represents the stirring of God’s Thought as it reverberates throughout an ever-expanding field of conscious awareness – what we would call “Creation”. It sustains this Creation as it did on the “stage” where our dramas, our roles, our endeavors and our dreams of who we are, are arranged and played out. One comment from a child near-death experiencer referred to it this way, “Spirit is everywhere, like air, and it breathes, but not like our nose does. That means everything breathes. I do. You do. So does God. God’s Breath is what keeps the universe alive.” In the Bible, “spirit” literally means “essence” or “breath”. All three of these words are used interchangeably in the Bible as if referring to the same thing. For instance, when we say we’re being spiritual, the inference is that we have chosen to live in “the fullness of breath’s essence.” When we speak of spirituality, we are actually describing “the source from whence the pureness of breath comes.” Spirit realms, if we continue further with this line of thinking, exist as “source places of pure essence,” while spirit beings become “visitors or emissaries from source places of pure essence.” If you regard spirit in light of its original meaning, everything alters: our view of ourselves, our beliefs and emotions, the breath we breathe, and reality itself. Numerous Bible scholars have come up with: “The Breath of God Breathing.” When I discovered this it triggered all kinds of memories and associations for me. Mainly because, during my near-death experiences, I had the distinct sensation that the universe and everything therein was alive and breathing. This breath was what moved the creative fire. That which exists in-between the motion of God’s Breath is the Center-Point of Truth – ever hidden, yet ever exposed. The link then between spirit, breath and essence weaves together into one fabric like a tapestry we call existence. It is a tapestry which we can better appreciate if we reduce its scope to the basic function of … breathing in and breathing out. Spirit is what permeates air. It is what enables life to move. It is what we live in, God’s Breath. But more than that, it is The Breath of God Breathing. It is an active force and movement. It is ever ready to respond and ever ready to assist. Enjoy this sense of spirit, this aliveness which caresses you, and cares about you, and knows you. (P.M.H. Atwater)

b. Edgar Cayce’s insights about the spirit

According to Edgar Cayce, spirit is the life force, the vital “spark” animating all life. Cayce said, “Spirit is the spark, or portion of the Divine that is in every entity.” But spirit is not just a force. It is a consciousness with individualness, though not nearly as individual as we are in our physical condition. Jesus told the woman at the well that, “God is a spirit, and seeks same to worship Him.” This is a call for us to get into our spirit if we would really connect with God. According to Cayce, our spirit self is, has been, and always will be before the Throne of God. It is perfect, unblemished, made in the image of God. Cayce said the spirit is something apart from anything earthly and does not descend into the realms of earth unless we lift ourselves up to it and connect with it. Even then, it remains shielded from earthly influences. The “spark” Cayce referred to is the light and life of mind – consciousness. Within the One, Universal, Collective Mind of God are infinite points of consciousness – spirits like the Great Spirit. The consciousness of our soul is the superconscious (spirit) which is a level of consciousness indistinguishable from God’s consciousness.

c. Jesus Christ’s insights about the spirit

Jesus is born of the Spirit: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he [John the Baptist] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” (Matthew 3:16)

The Spirit is willing: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Follow the Spirit no matter what: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

The Spirit of the Lord: “He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'” (Luke 4:16-21)

Ask for the Spirit: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Born of the flesh and born of the Spirit: “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water (childbirth, reincarnation, water baptism) and the Spirit (spiritual regeneration and enlightenment). Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

Christ Consciousness: “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34)

God is Spirit:God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

The Spirit is life: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

The Spirit of living water: “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39)

His command is love: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you … But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:15-17; 14:26)

The Advocate Spirit of truth: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)

The Spirit of truth: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:13-15)

For those who are victorious: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God … The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death … To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it … To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star … The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels … The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name … To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26-29; 3:5-6; 3:12-13; 3:21-22)

The Kingdom of heaven within and without: Jesus says, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fishes will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father. But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty.” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 3)

The resurrection has already occurred: His disciples said to him, “When will the resurrection of the dead take place, and when will the new world come?” He said to them, “That which you are awaiting has already come, but you do not recognize it.” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 51)

About your previous images: Jesus says, “When you see your likeness you are full of joy. But when you see your likenesses that came into existence before you – they neither die nor become manifest – how much will you bear?” (Gospel of Thomas, saying 84)

d. Apostle John’s insight about the spirit

God’s commands and the Spirit: “The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24)

The Spirit is love: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love … Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us … And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:7-8; 4:11-12; 4:16-21)

e. Apostle Paul’s insights about the spirit

Mind of the flesh versus the mind of the Spirit: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children … Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:5-16; 8:23-27)

The Spirit of God and the Mind of Christ: “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

The body is a temple for the Spirit: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Gifts of the Spirit: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Love is greater than faith: “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues[ of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 12:31; 13:1-13)

The resurrection body: “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'” (1 Corinthians 15:35-55)

The veil is lifted: “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

The body is a temple for the Holy Spirit: “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)

The Spirit is in all: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Quenching the Spirit: “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

The power of the Spirit: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)