I have been pondering over this concept for a long time now and if someone was to ask me if there is an afterlife, my answer would be: "Maybe". I canâ€™t be sure even though I experience the Phase. I suspect that, when we die, we go back to being in the same state that we were before we were born, whether existent or non-existent.
Many people fantasise about an afterlife of otherworldly exploration, contact with other beings and the eventuation of their wishes. The Phase state is often surmised to be a glimpse of the immediate afterlife even though it is very much a condition of being alive in which the brain is active - more so than the delta waves of deep dreamless sleep - and the cerebral areas associated with waking states are often found to be functional during lucidity.
If death really is the cessation of being - and thus the end of experience and cognition - then it is also the end of suffering. You wonâ€™t know that you are dead, you wonâ€™t know that you are not suffering, you wonâ€™t know that you are not perceiving, and you wonâ€™t know anything. In conclusion: there is no you!
People find this hard to imagine and some even go as far as to say that such notion is more incredible than the idea of an afterlife in the spirit realms. Some even say that non-existence makes no sense. But the truth is that we were dead before we were born, alas, we already know what death is like. This could mean that death is simply going back to the pre-birth state.
Theoretically speaking, what constitutes us becomes something else which gives rise to the possibility of rebirth. Iâ€™ll use the computer analogy in that, if death means deletion of a file (sentient being), the information it contains goes in the recycle bin, where, overtime, the data that constitutes it gets reconfigured. Being absent from life or any sort of interaction is a notion that can convey a sense of much needed rest from the living perspective, but, in death, you are not even resting - you are beyond that!
When something as important as the cerebral cortex is damaged, for example, one may very easily slip into a long-term coma. Individuals who have woken up from these were oblivious to how much time had passed due to their lapse in consciousness. Because they were unaware of the time that passed while unconscious, the coma experience from their experience was losing their senses in one moment and regaining awareness the next.
Confusion manifests as soon as they become conscious and suffering usually begins when they realise how much time has passed and wonder how much theyâ€™ve missed and how things have changed. Their nightmare begins in consciousness and effort is required to get used to their newfound status of loss and overcome their problems. If death is the cessation of being, then it is also the end of all problems.
On the other hand, consciousness could survive death if we consider the possibility that the existence of â€œIâ€œ is not dependent upon brain or bodily functions and that thoughts may operate on another frequency of reality. An afterlife then, would perpetuate experience and everything that comes with it. Do we tap into this hypothetical frequency of reality when we enter the Phase or is it all an illusion produced by brain chemistry and physics? Hereâ€™s an interesting story for pondering purposes:
[i]"My stepfather Sergio was an alcoholic who developed cirrhosis. Eventually he committed suicide and I started to have a series of strange vivid dreams, one in particular where he confirmed to me that the afterlife is real. In others he seemed unhappy and appeared to carry what looked like phantom black bags attached to his torso.
Then I learned about OOBEs and I set myself the goal of making contact with him. The first contact with what seemed to be him, after having entered the Phase, seemed to show me that he was living out some fantasy in a summer landscape which looked like Portugal and the sky was deeply blue and surreal.
I had separated into what looked like my bedroom and had the urge to fly at high speed in one particular direction. I found myself in an airport hovering as a floating head. I descended into the ground and went right through it. Underground I saw people in some kind of basement and they seemed to be cooking something. Embedded in some wall, I also saw a mouse or a rat scurry past me through some passage. I wished to leave that place and found myself elsewhere. There was a room and two people asleep on a bed. I then thought that perhaps I could visit Sergio and thought about nothing but him.
I found him in the Portugal-like environment. He was driving a car really well and fast, like a kid. When he was alive he was a terrible driver. Every time he drove accidents did or almost happened. But he always wanted to drive because if he didn't he'd feel worthless as a man. My mum and him would argue over this. In my Phase experience, he drove at an incredible speed and I could feel his excitement. He swerved away from obstacles and he was in total control, it was like his own lucid dream. He also had passengers in the car which he spoke to and they seemed to admire him and his driving skills.
I saw what was happening from the outside and then I was inside the car next to his passengers. They ignored me. I was still a floating head. Then I shouted his name. He turned and looked perplexed. Then I felt this huge force pull me back before waking up. I felt as though I had been a 'ghost' in his world.
The next encounter was in a strange room and he was crying. I asked him if he was alright and he told me he regretted many things he had done when he was alive. I patted him on the back and told him that everyone makes mistakes and that no one blames him for what he did. This put a smile on his face. Then he turned to me and asked in bewilderment how was it that I could visit him. I told him about OOBEs and he seemed interested.
The next experience was a lucid dream where I was observing a great landscape from a strange room which seemed to be the top floor of a tower. The sky outside was pink. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and this took me by surprise. I did not expect to see anyone. I opened the door and a strange man, who seemed Portuguese, told me I had a visit. I looked behind him and saw Sergio. He told me he was visiting. I asked him who the other man was and he said that it didn't matter, what mattered was that he was there. The other man entered what looked like a bathroom and disappeared.
Sergio's skin was white and slightly shiny. He then told me that he would have been â€œ42â€