Seth is the “personality” no longer focused in physical reality who speaks through author Jane Roberts in Seth Speaks (Bantam Books, $1.95). Some of his most revealing comments are about death, and the after-death state.
First of all, let us consider the fact just mentioned. There is no separate, indivisible, specific point of death. Life is a state of becoming, and death is a part of this process of becoming. You are alive now, a consciousness knowing itself, sparkling with cognition amid a debris of dead and dying cells; alive while the atoms and molecules of your body die and are reborn. You are alive, therefore, in the midst of small deaths; portions of your own image crumble away moment by moment and are replaced, and you scarcely give the matter a thought. So you are to some extent now alive in the midst of the death of yourself — alive despite, and yet because of, the multitudinous deaths and rebirths that occur within your body in physical terms.
In many ways you can compare your consciousness as you know it now to a firefly, for while it seems to you that your consciousness is continuous, this is not so. It also flickers off and on, though as we mentioned earlier, it is never completely extinguished. Its focus is not nearly as constant as you suppose, however. So as you are alive in the midst of your own multitudinous small deaths, so though you do not realize it, you are often “dead,” even amid the sparkling life of your own consciousness.
A belief in hell fires can cause you to hallucinate Hades’ conditions. A belief in a stereotyped heaven can result in a hallucination of heavenly conditions. You always form your own reality according to your ideas and expectations. This is the nature of consciousness in whatever reality it finds itself. Such hallucinations, I assure you, are temporary.
Consciousness must use its abilities. The boredom and stagnation of a stereotyped heaven will not for long content the striving consciousness. There are teachers to explain the conditions and circumstances. You are not left alone, therefore, lost in mazes of hallucination. You may or may not realize immediately that you are dead in physical terms.
. . . You will find yourself in another form, an image that will appear physical to you to a large degree, as long as you do not try to manipulate within the physical system with it. Then the differences between it and the physical body will become obvious.
If you firmly believe that your consciousness is a product of your physical body, then you may attempt to cling to it. There is an order of personalities, an honorary guard, so to speak, who are ever ready to lend assistance and aid, however.
Now this honorary guard is made up of people in your terms both living and dead. Those who are living in your system of reality perform these activities in an “out-of-body” experience while the physical body sleeps. They are familiar with the projection of consciousness, with the sensations involved, and they help orient those who will not be returning to the physical body.
Experiences with projection of consciousness and knowledge of the mobility of consciousness, are therefore very helpful as preparations for death. You can experience the after-death environment beforehand, so to speak, and learn the conditions that will be encountered.
This is not, incidentally, necessarily any kind of somber endeavor, nor are the after-death environments somber at all. To the contrary, they are generally far more intense and joyful than the reality you now know.
You will simply be learning to operate in a new environment in which different laws apply, and the laws are far less limiting than the physical ones with which you now operate. In other words, you must learn to understand and use new freedoms.
Even these experiences will vary, however, and even this state is a state of becoming, for many will continue into other physical lives. Some will exist and develop their abilities in different systems of reality altogether, and so for a time will remain in this “intermediary” state.
. . . (Mildly humorous): Now: For those of you who are lazy I can offer no hope: death will not bring you an eternal resting place. You may rest, if this is your wish, for a while. Not only must you use your abilities after death, however, but you must face up to yourself for those that you did not use during your previous existence.
Now, you may or may not be greeted by friends or relatives immediately following death. This is a personal matter, as always. Overall, you may be far more interested in people that you have known in past lives than those close to you in the present one, for example.
. . . Your true feeling toward relatives who are also dead will be known to you and to them. There is no hypocrisy. You do not pretend to love a parent who did little to earn your respect or love. Telepathy operates without distortion in this after-death period, so you must deal with the true relationships that exist between yourself and all relatives and friends who await you.
. . . Again, as mentioned earlier, an individual can be so certain that death is the end of all, that oblivion, though temporary, results. In many cases, immediately on leaving the body there is, of course, amazement and a recognition of the situation. The body itself may be viewed, for example, and many funerals have a guest of honor amidst the company — and no one gazes into the face of the corpse with as much curiosity and wonder.
At this point many variations in behavior emerge, each the result of individual background, knowledge, and habit. The surroundings in which the dead find themselves will often vary. Vivid hallucinations may form experience quite as real as any in mortal life. Now, I have told you that thoughts and emotions form physical reality, and they form after-death experience. This does not mean that the experiences are not valid, any more than it means that physical life is not valid.
Certain images have been used to symbolize such a transition from one existence to another, and many of these are extremely valuable in that they provide a framework with understandable references. The crossing a of the River Styx is such a one. The dying expected certain procedures to occur in a more or less orderly fashion. The maps were known beforehand. At death, the consciousness hallucinated the river vividly. Relatives and friends already dead entered into the ritual, which was a profound ceremony also on their parts. The river was as real as any that you know, as treacherous to a traveler alone without proper knowledge. Guides were always at the river to help such travelers across.
It does not do to say that such a river is illusion. The symbol is reality, you see. The way was planned. Now, that particular map is no longer generally in use. The living do not know how to read it. Christianity has believed in a heaven and a hell, a purgatory, and reckoning; and so, at death, to those who so believe in these symbols, another ceremony is enacted, and the guides take on the guises of those beloved figures of Christian saints and heroes.
Remember that in one way, your physical existence is the result of mass hallucination. Vast gulfs exist between one man’s reality and another’s. After death, experience has as much organization, highly intricate and involved, as you know now. You have your private hallucinations now, only you do not realize what they are. Such hallucinations as I have been speaking of, intense symbolistic encounters, can also occur in your sleep states, when the personality is at a time of great change, or when opposing ideas must be unified, or if one must give way to another. These are highly charged, significant psychological and psychic events, whether they happen before or after death.