Is there Life After Death?
The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When we die
By Anthony Peake
Review: Tim Bragg
(Part of Body, Mind, Spirit & Time)
Am I treading the same road that I have trod so many times? Am I alone on my wanderings – have I walked this way before so often that I am in an inescapable rut – or – is there a guide, placing signposts for me to veer onto new lanes? A guide that has intimate knowledge of my many intended or worn trails…
What a curious mesmerizing book this is! Gripping, thought provoking and unsettling. Great – my cup of tea! With ideas fashioned around the theories of Many Worlds; Multi-Universes; Quantum Theory…Time itself (and the nature of its and our subjective perceptions); shared consciousness; neurology; psychiatry and more – the reader is guaranteed a stimulating read. A book that provokes thought and a thoughtful response.
For some time now (well this is my subjective perception!) I have had this rather clichéd and simple notion that “Time is the Answer”. And yet this notion has deepened and become deeper and been given more credence through reading Peake’s book. Time – subjective – bending to the occasion…speeding up and slowing down…and fragmenting? Time stretching so that at death we cease to be ‘time-full’ but enter a new relationship with it. Does time cease or are we catapulted back to its (our) beginning? What is the relationship between Time, Matter and our Consciousness? Has our universe and human consciousness sprung from a time-less and matter-less place? Although Peake doesn’t answer this last question he does give his coherent idea of what happens to (our) time as death approaches…
Is there life after death? Existence after death – a continued existence…if you’re looking for reassurance about conscious existence after ‘death’ then you’ll be both excited and – perhaps disappointed by this book. Excited because through its pages we learn about Quantum Theory – about how we bring into existence external reality through our sensory perceptions – that we are subjective beings in a subjectively made reality. There may not be an identifiable, objective reality – at least to us subjective beings. But more than this – we might not even be alone. And when I use the word ‘we’ I don’t just mean the consciousness reading these words – there is also a ‘we’ that is ‘us’ – a dual consciousness within that we all seem to share. The brain divided and mirrored – holding two different ‘mind-beings’.
I am not going to use Peake’s scientific or esoteric words in this review – this is my review (and accordingly may only exist in ‘my’ reality – and in your reality I may not actually exist!) – but respond simply as a reader who has been affected by and has given considerable thought to the ideas. I am also aware that I don’t want to spoil the unfolding of the book’s ideas by giving too much away – because you need to be taken on its journey (as was I). Also, I am not without criticism or further questioning of ideas within it and, ultimately, not without a sinking feeling that what Peake’s research and originality offers is no more comforting than the traditional idea of reincarnation.
In Western societies the concept ofre-incarnation can sometimes be used to make sense of our existence and offer the hope of rebirth and re-existence rather than a one off life followed by annihilation…and yet, I, the ego am not aware of this pre-existence except through unusual “flash backs” to a supposed previous life. Thus the ‘I’ – the ‘me’ that I am fully aware of – will face obliteration. Now, without giving too much away (I hope) Peake argues for (and there is always enough scientific corroboration to make his points) that each human has indeed dual consciousness – that there is a Higher and Lower self…and that these entities exist in a form of communion, but that the Higher Self is only manifest (seemingly) at certain times – including in dream states and during hypnotism. This Higher Self also plays its ultimate significant part at the approach of death. This is where the possibility of “life after death” comes – though technically there is no death – only the perception of one’s death by other folk!
All sounding a bit much? Well you will discover the strange world of quantum particles and their unresolved existence until brought into ‘focus’ by sentient life…you will glimpse into the world of the schizophrenic which might be the world of your other consciousness (Higher Self) – an unfiltered world that our lower self finds overbearing; a world where ALL is perceived…why do we perceive all? You will have insight into those who experience Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and the idea that life is experienced between epileptic fits at birth and death…And how our mind has (perhaps) evolved to cope with the dying experience.
Sometimes we are treated to great rabbit-holes of fun and imagination that ultimately lead nowhere. We rush off after the White Rabbit – constantly eyeing his watch – “I’m late, I’m late!” – but find that though this pursuit is fascinating we are left somewhat perplexed and unfulfilled. This might result from my own intellectual failing. I have to state again: I LOVE this book. I love how it takes me into my own mind and for my mind to question itself and its very reality – but the ending felt a touch like bathos with questions seemingly left unanswered: what is the point of the eternal return (if any); is this reliving simply a product of a peculiar universe and mortal existence or is there some higher hand at work; can we escape this reliving – and if so how? …Perhaps there’s another ending waiting to be written – it felt a little unbalanced. I appreciate Peake’s desire to fuse science with areas of enquiry normally dealt with by religion or philosophy – but there’s so much more to delve into surely? I prefer to fuse science with spirituality – looking to science to answer WHY as well as HOW (however beguiling that HOW is!). It is in that WHY – that questioning that the spiritual element will be found – if we are the way we are and we are programmed to an eternal return – then WHY? Why does that mechanism exist?
The brain and the mind (co-dependent?!) are fascinating – figures given in the book reveal the brain’s amazing complexity. It’s a wonder people can manage to be so ‘un’ conscious having such a tool! Can consciousness exist apart from the brain – and if so – how? What can/could sustain it? Are “out of body experiences” proof of the ability of consciousness to exist independently? I have had an OBE – but was it within the capacity of my mind to PROJECT such a reality at an extreme type of stress…thus I wasn’t “out” of anywhere – just experiencing a different perspective?
Perhaps, as Peake suggests, we all eventually “fall out of time” – perhaps we stretch time into a kind of infinity…perhaps we re-tread this life over and over and over again. But if there is an escape to this mundane repetition it is an escape denied to ‘us’ (the ‘us’ that is connecting with these words) because the escape itself will exist in another universe, in another reality. Trillions of versions of us – like a mirror reflecting upon itself – like an infinite number of mirrors reflecting infinitely! And even the word ‘infinite’ is useless here because it suggests Time! And the BIG question – what for? Is there any profound reason behind all this? Becoming Perfect? – How close to perfection would we need to come to escape this Eternal Return? Has anyone ever achieved perfection? Jesus gave into anger, was he forced to return and, if so, why didn’t he become Greater Than Jesus – or did he – yes you’ve got it – manifest in a different reality/world/universe? Not so much a Second Coming but a long time coming.
Déjà vu, that notion of being here before, of experiencing the same feelings and senses before, is perhaps the key to unlock our sense of return…but – for “us” who have but an inkling of a re-run – so what? And even those in Peake’s book that seem to re-live their lives – and be aware of such – there is no comfort or satisfaction. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of justice in getting things right simply for a version of ourselves to exist in another Quantum Leap. And if ALL has happened to ALL then any sense of meaningful independent reality is lost! The subtlety of difference between ‘this’ and ‘that’ choice would be diluted in a vat so large that any such choice would be rendered meaningless! And given that people seem to go on making the same mistakes, are some ‘souls’ bound to re-live nightmare lives that are short and brutal over and over again!?
There certainly is more to Heaven and Earth than meets the eye, it seems. Quantum physics shows us a micro existence without common sense. But can we extrapolate into the world of Here and Now? Are there realms of the brain we can lose ourselves in? When we dream are we dreaming a reality? Perhaps this is evidence for survival of death – when I dream I certainly am in a ‘reality’ and though it is me – this ‘me’ is unconnected to the me that wakes into my apparent ‘normal’ reality (but only made ‘normal’ by the act of waking and of a sense of repetition). There is a connection at times (lucid dreaming fuses these two realities) but normally ‘I’ can live in two very different experiential worlds that have similarities – each seemingly with its own integrity and continuity – but that are DIFFERENT! And passing from one state to the other is unconscious – I am unaware of slipping through that ‘twilight’ world between wake and sleep.
Finally, though I can see and understand Peake’s idea of consciousness and its perception of time as one’s death looms, I wonder about those folk who have lost contact and consciousness with this world…did they see their mental death approaching – was any mechanism in place for them? If there is a ‘breather’ between returns – in which existence is it to be found? Again I apologise for being a tad cryptic – but you need to work through this book – take in the various speculations and new scientific research it provides and explores, and get led down Peake’s rabbit-hole world. As he says – he may not even exist in our world – well, my world – well, your world. Just as I might not exist in the world of whomever is reading these words. So in which case – who wrote them?