Death trap

Universe

I often think that if I (or you) could talk to dead people, as if it was second nature and no big deal, I (or we) would react a lot differently to life on this planet.

Our guiding lights would be re-set. We would have some personally verifiable experience to shape our conclusion that consciousness survives physical death. We would have evidence to back up the notion that the organic brain does not originate all consciousness—that consciousness (or mind) exists outside the body. Maybe there’s much more to life than the limited perspective of it pandered and promoted in so much of our mediocrity culture.

Mediums on TV or online sometimes surprise me. They don’t all seem to grasp the deeper implications of their own ministrations. Even though they talk to dead people for a living, they still cater to much of the same socially ingrained fodder presented in mainstream, materialistic media.

What does that mean?

If mediums actually talk with dead people, the very act is diametrically opposed to the depressing morbidity you’ll hear at the average doctor’s office or during the average newscast. It would mean that reality as we’re taught to perceive it is a false one. It’s a death trap. People don’t just stop living when they die, the mediums say. We the people go somewhere else to continue living.

If I knew for sure that I could talk to dead people, I would lead an entirely different life than if I thought death ended everything and we only had one shot at it. Immortality is a fundamentally different consciousness than mortality,, especially if lights out here means lights on somewhere else. If I knew I had much more living to look forward to, I would not regard death as the enemy. I would not embrace the meme that death is sad or tragic or horrible. I expect that I would be an activist against social and religious teachings that contradicted the reality I knew that “dead people” were partying hearty in another dimension—and oh, by the way, there is no hell.

GRIEF PARADIGM

Society has organized itself around the death and grief paradigm. For example, we commonly think of death as loss. Sorry for your loss, sorry for your loss. In a society that grew up with an entirely different paradigm, death might not be seen as a loss. It might be seen more like graduating with honors, getting a great new job, or some sort of miracle. Currently, we have thousands of hours of conditioning (religious, scientific, peer group, advertising, etc.) telling us that death is a tragic loss. Yes, it hurts like hell to lose a loved one, but I believe that much of that hurt comes from all the conditioning we get at how we are supposed to grieve.

When my mother died, and then my father 30 months later, I got the well-intended deluge of “sorry for you loss.” Both my parents were already incapacitated by then, my mother almost 93 and my father almost 96. Death freed them both from the confines of their worn-out bodies. Life was more an ordeal than a pleasure for them by then. “Loss” really did not fit the equation anymore. I envisioned them as being much happier where they were—a win for them. It surprised me how people acted as if my not playing the loss game translated into insensitivity or lack of love. They would come close to arguing with me that if I was a good son, I would display much more sadness.

I understand that many people die under far less than desirable circumstances. Their departures could be termed tragic. Yet we are groomed all through life to view death as tragic. Our resulting fear of death creates fortunes for entrepreneurs who capitalize on its emotional grip. The insurance business, the heath business, the funeral business, the therapy business, the spirituality business, the entertainment business, the war business—to name just a few—are all fueled by our conditioned fear and dread of death.

But mediums talk to dead people! Dead people are alive. Death did not kill them. Rejoice, for he is risen. (Well, sort of.) People who have had near-death experiences often report that death, or going into the light, is sheer ecstasy. Their common message is, “Don’t worry. Death is an illusion. I have been to that incredible place we call heaven. I know that life goes on and I am not afraid to die.”

Here is how one Facebook friend (a near-death experiencer) put it: “I always feel bad for those left here in pain after losing a loved one. But I never feel bad for the one who has moved on to the next exciting leg of their journey… I am one who can’t wait to get back there. I’ve never forgotten how confining and limiting it felt to come back here [to Earth.]”

Messages from spirits channeled through mediums report little in the way of pain. While the dying process is sometimes painful, death itself releases a person from physical pain. The entertainment industry shows us tortured, brooding souls in books and movies, yet mediums portray the dead as feeling little if any emotional pain. In Ghosts Among Us, medium and creator of the Ghost Whisperer TV series James Van Praagh wrote, “Not once when doing my work have spirits ever said to me that they wished they could come back to Earth and live again.”

Even most people who were murdered (often including those who killed themselves) harbor no resentments. Spirits don’t ruminate sadly over lives cut short. They know that life goes on both in and out of human bodies. They are stimulated by their new reality, which sounds something like an all-expenses-paid vacation to Shangri-la-on-Steroids. By heavenly standards, life on Earth is like laboring in a work camp.

Are mediums like James Van Praagh just making up this portrayal of heavenly bliss to sell hope via their books and readings? Or do they channel truth that heaven is off the clock from duality, conflict, suffering?

MEDIUMS AND MARKETING

A great irony of contemporary life is that culturally we make a big deal out of death while at the same time, we eschew afterlife research—more death trap. When another celebrity dies or a mass killing dominates the news, people take to social media and lament and vent their hearts out. We talk in terms of sadness and loss and outrage. Yet we don’t pay much attention to near-death experiencers and afterlife researchers and helpful mediums who have been steadily sharing evidence for soul survival. Culturally speaking, the drama of loss intrigues us more than winning with woo-woo.

I would love to see more mediums participate in afterlife research, gathering more data and using it to improve the quality of life here, but there is a problem. Mediums are too busy masterminding their careers. Science is not too keen on researching voices from heaven, and those few souls who attempt it are often ridiculed. Whether for self-protection or legal requirement, mediums are often compelled to note that their services are “for entertainment purposes only.”

Isn’t that reassuring? Your lawyer and doctor are not required to say that. Sometimes I think the services they render are for their own entertainment (or pocketbook) purposes only.

As a student of the truth, I have often been frustrated watching the dumbing down of metaphysical phenomena for public consumption. So many shows are more annoying than educational, such as the ghost-chasing shows. One of the best books I have read about the search for truth versus the culture at large is Steve Volk’s Fringe-ology. When we still treat woo-woo as an oddity, an amusement, or a vacation from reality, we are not advancing humanity.

MEDIUMS AND MEDIOCRITY

In my informal poking around Facebook, I see many mediums marketing themselves. Here is something one medium wrote on his page: “I never talk about, or compare myself to other mediums or psychics, but I can promise you this, none of them give as many messages as I do.”

So besides the fact that he just compared himself to other mediums, which he said he never does, he also highlighted what mediums sell: messages from dead people. People come to mediums because they are often grief-stricken, desperate to hear from a loved one they “lost.” So here’s the dilemma. For high-end mediums, a person generally has to wait (sometimes more than a year), pay hefty prices (sometimes more than $500 an hour), and then de-cipher cryptic messages from beyond. “What does rosebud mean?” Low-end mediums without a following often have untested, undocumented, unproven skills.

Society puts mediums in this position. We turn the rich and famous ones into celebrity rock stars, into show business icons. Science generally does not embrace them, and besides, a trendy medium is too busy to conduct serious research. Trendy psychics get thrown into the popular culture money-making miasma with books, movies, cruises, luxury retreats, and galas. They often reduce themselves to easy talk show and social media friendly sound bites to important questions that deserve exploring.

In turn, we often create culture wars: mediums versus skeptics. Professional skeptics like James Randi engage in culture wars against mediums under the guise of saving humanity from frauds and illusionists. They don’t do their skeptic schtick for free. Professional naysayers make hefty fees to play their roles and sell their own products. Career skeptics are no more likely to actually seek the truth than Darth Vader is to sing a love song. They are in it for the paycheck.

Under these circumstances, the search for truth is riddled with obstacles. The student of the afterlife is faced with a largely unresponsive scientific community on one side and woo-woo marketers selling easy but shallow answers on the other side. Personal experiences are the most empowering form of acquiring knowledge, but for many of us, they are as rare as seeing total solar eclipses.

We’ll never understand the insights mediums could offer us if we don’t open our minds to that potential and research the hell out of it. As this war between science and woo-woo rages on, I still have my questions.