We are so used to watching or reading stories about people dying — oh, how sad, oh, how awful, oh, how tragic — that I thought it would be fun to explore what happens next. Why do stories about people stop when they die, particularly if death doesn’t truly kill us?
That’s what prompted me to begin writing a novel — still in progress — where the protagonist croaks in the first chapter, and we follow him into heaven. How does it feel? What does he find there?
That, of course, means that I have to invent a heaven for him to exist in. That’s where the fun is. I know that I am inventing a heaven for my fictional characters, but I also think that I am previewing my future.
I’ve read books on what it’s like in the afterlife. One of my favorites is Conversations with Jerry and Other People I thought Were Dead by Irene Kendig. Another favorite is Letters from the Light: An Afterlife Journal from the Self-Lighted World.
I have also read hundreds of accounts of near-death experiences where people discover that they’ve been liberated from their physical bodies and are free to explore new dimensions.
So I had a pool full of collected anecdotal knowledge from which to design heaven.
Heaven is a place where thoughts control your outer environment. You can think up your environment. If you want to go to the beach, you think yourself there. Zap. Waterfalls? Zap. Alpine meadow with stream? Zap. City street with posh shops? Zap.
People create their homes and their fashions and their favorite hang-outs through their thoughts. This is a fairly popular concept in metaphysical literature, but I also think it suffers from the limitations of language. Here on physical Earth the idea of dreaming up a steak cooked medium-rare with garlic mash on the side or a free-admission Disneyland to play in just by imagining them seems like quite a stretch. Many people in 3D Earth have trouble visualizing what color to paint their living room, let alone the intricacies of a spatial reality where you are truly and profoundly free to go wherever you please. Zap.
Nevertheless, the idea is pretty consistently expressed, so in my heaven I give it a test drive. For me, fiction writing is a proving ground. Playing in my daydream heaven lets me see how it might be to live in an environment where thoughts create things. Many people won’t even consider a strange concept unless it has been scientifically proven. As for me, I like to think if it were real, what would it feel like?
Another huge reality of heaven, assuming you remain conscious that you lived on Earth, is knowing for certain that there is no death. That becomes a new fact of life. Imagine what your life would be like here if you absolutely, positively knew that all the death you see on TV is based on crap thinking. What if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that all the war dead, the crash dead, the terminal disease dead, the suicide dead, the infant mortality and the old-age, natural causes really most sincerely dead only applied to a physical body? What if you knew that physical death was all that death was and that consciousness was eternal?
In the heaven I created for my novel, they all know this. They see physical life as Earth School. They view our life events, including things we call tragedies, as life lessons. They see where this is all going — where on Earth we’re so often taught to regret, feel ashamed, and expected to cower in a corner — and it’s likely that we also have to throw money at the problem.
One delicious feature of the heaven I’m creating is that people there can read minds. We cannot hide behind our secrets or cloaked identities there. I base this on frequent reports from near-death experiencers that when they were in the light, they felt they knew everything. Answers were everywhere. Ask a question, receive an instant answer.
This is also based on the idea that if “thoughts are things,” thoughts can be stored somewhere, and the akashic records are said to be that somewhere. This is like a beyond-massive Library of Congress for the whole planet. I’ve heard it’s possible to literally step into the lives of people as if to attain instant empathy in a kind of consciousness encyclopedia. Rather than just read about Abraham Lincoln, you could experience a multidimensional hologram of Abraham Lincoln and grok his thoughts and feelings — his consciousness. Talk about a freedom of information act.
On a less intense scale, if you died and could suddenly watch anybody in the flesh, you would quickly pick up huge amounts of embarrassing data through simple observation. In the case of my protagonist, he quickly learned shocking truths about the wife he left behind as preparation for becoming one of her spirit guides.
This creates an opportunity to explore what true transparency is like, something pretty unheard of here. (Imagine knowing what all of our elected leaders are really thinking!) Here, we can hide and always have the element of surprise. There, thoughts are open for scrutiny. If you want to see how interesting this plays out, just try imagining (writing works best for me) what it would be like to do anything in an environment where there was no such thing as mental privacy. Many religions teach that God knows everything, but I don’t know if we ever consider that somewhere life could be like that for us, too.
THE BIG PICTURE
My version of heaven does not portray it as a final destination. It, too, is a school, and once there we can choose different paths (or worlds) to explore. The “afterlife” becomes more of a “next life” because other options continue after that. That in turn means that Earth life could be an “afterlife” from some previous yet unremembered existence, not only of past lives on Earth but lives from other worlds.
Opening up the paradigm of the nature of life and death dramatically changes how spirits in heaven see events on Earth. Their perspective makes this book fun, and it also helps me as a human to view life on this planet from a different perspective. For example, spirits would see human pregnancy from an entirely different viewpoint. They would know the soul purpose or karma driving the embryo’s existence. I marvel at what life on Earth would be like if we had information like this for every baby that was born.
I like how this “reality” colors various social issues people face. For instance, same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t it make a huge difference to know that this was planned in advance for spiritual-learning purposes? And it’s made even more ironic to think that one of the main adversaries for gay people in many cases is organized religion.
What we do for a living could be more profound if we viewed it through the filter of soul survival and personal accountability. For example, my protagonist was in Earth terms a highly successful advertising copywriter. He made a fortune and got prestige. In heaven he was faced with confronting the karmic consequences of his career choice of becoming a paid professional liar.
Although it might sound like it, the afterlife that I have created is not about punishment. Nor is it about reward. It is a picture of a place where people arrive and simply have more access to truth. It’s something like a post-final exam debriefing where professors discuss the test of life and explain the questions. The exam is supposed to answer the ultimate question, “Did you achieve the purpose for which you were born?”
Of course, I wonder if my view of heaven is just an elaborate daydream, even though it was based a great deal on what others have written. So for me the next intriguing question is did I cook this up from scratch or am I channeling what it’s really like there?