By Joshua Bagby
Here is a sentence you are not likely to hear exclaimed in a tense medical drama: "This is a matter of life or transformation!"
So much anxiety and fear based on the black-and-white premise that we get one of two choices: life or death. And we don't always get to exercise much choice in the matter.
The dramatic question, of course, is based on the premise that death means lights out, not heading into the light. Will he make it or won't he? Survive or die? Win or lose? Succeed or fail?
In the mythology that much of society has adopted, death is associated with loss and failure. You don't want to experience it. Death is constantly portrayed as the enemy in thousands of different ways throughout the history of story-telling.
Yet what would happen if people suddenly knewfrom scientific evidence gathered through research and technology that death is transformation, not termination? What would happen to the vast amount of drama that relies on the premise that death is horrible?
And what if, unlike today, you could pick up a SoulPhone™ and talk to someone whose physical body died but is still very much alive? Would it really be as tragic if that person was still living in another part of the field of all possibilities?
"How are you doing, Grandpa?"
"Having the time of my life, Billy!"
BANG-BANG, YOU'RE TRANSFORMED
Kids often play games. Remember the expression "Bang-bang, you're dead"?
That game takes on an entirely different spirit (pun intended) when what actually occurs is, "Bang-Bang, you're transformed."
One obstacle to better perceiving this greater reality is—hold onto your hats—how profitable tragedy consciousness is. Keeping the myth alive that death is badis good for making money. Instilling fear in the masses about death and dying supports a wide range of products and services, both secular and religious.
A SoulPhone would threaten the power of this myth that marketers of all stripes use to motivate potential buyers, voters, and worshipers.
Don't believe it? Study the media. Do a little content analysis on your own. Pay attention to how much we are encouraged by example or implication to perceive death as sad, bad, tragic, horrible, or a failure. So much in our culture teaches that death is the worst thing that can happen.
Imagine a part two to the movie Thelma and Louiseas we watch them waking up in heavenly surroundings. Envision films like Saving Private Ryanshowing soldiers leaving their no-longer-needed dead bodies and migrating to reunion parties. Consider how different films like The Green Mile might be as they show executed convicts dying ... but not really.
Transformation is usually not part of the depiction of dying. Even when it happens, most of it is hidden from view. In the movie Ghost, for instance, Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) apparently moved into the next phase of forever in the end, but the audience did not follow. In Field of Dreams, Thomas Mann (James Earl Jones) went into the corn field alone, leaving us to wonder what happened. In Defending Your Life, Daniel and Julia (Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep) left Judgment City after their life reviews, and we never saw them reach their presumed destination.
Most likely this is because movie making moguls do not want to offend anyone's religion or lack thereof by getting too specific about afterlife scenarios. It could jeopardize box office to portray something about an afterlife that goes against commonly held religious beliefs.
Most often, people become interested in afterlife research when they are grieving. A few more become curious after something unusual has happened to them personally—a near-death, out-of-body, or spiritually transformative experience. Death often needs to be in our face before we give it serious thought.
RESCINDING TRAGEDY CONSCIOUSNESS
SoulPhone conversations will convince many more people that consciousness survives bodily death. While researchers have gathered evidence for centuries, little of it has thus far made much impact on conventional science, journalism, or government. If the SoulPhone changes that, will modern culture follow suit and begin to rescind tragedy consciousness?
Tragedy consciousness is human-made. People view death as tragic in large part because we're constantly being sold a mythology that a SoulPhone would prove to be untrue.
Naturally, losing physical contact with someone can be quite heart-wrenching, but it would likely be less painful if we firmly understood that changing form is a lot different than complete obliteration. Our postmaterial loved ones may not be around for hugs, frequent chit-chats, sharing meals, and life as usual, but they still exist. Many people know this from first-hand experience.
Postmaterial persons (PMPs) often view wasting time while on earth as more tragic than death. Wasting time in this case is getting caught up in pursuits that do not promote love or spiritual growth. For example, being obsessed with acquiring material wealth and status may be seen as more tragic than many situations we humans characterize as tragic. Very few PMPs that I have heard or read about think death is tragic—including their own.
The SoulPhone will bring us into closer contact with a different philosophy of living that is based on a new understanding of how life works. As a result, selling tragedy won't be as profitable. More people will be unresponsive to the pressure to obsess on suffering. They won't feel like joining in, commiserating, and building monuments to pain. Since so many institutions depend on popularity, ratings, and acceptance, shifting attitudes could inspire big cultural changes.
We may end up knowing that we have a human perspective and a soul perspective. The two do not always see eye to eye, largely because humans are in the thick of material life. Yet as more of us understand that much of physical life is an illusion, something like being in a high-tech simulator, we will be in a much better place for dealing with the challenges that come our way.
Joshua Bagby is a visionary writer currently residing in Oregon. He applies afterlife research to fiction and nonfiction to envision a better life for all humanity.
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