Is This Heaven?

Have you ever glimpsed something so beautiful that your life changed?

Did you call it Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana, cosmic bliss, or something else? Did it matter what you called it? You know that names mean nothing now. Only experience teaches.

How did you get there? Did you fast for three days, eat a mind-bending plant, drag yourself on your hands and knees to Talpa, whip yourself into a frenzy, pray until you collapsed, or did you simply look deeply into the eyes of a loved one and see God? Does it matter how you got there? You know it doesn’t matter. It is in the finding it.

What did you see? Is it beyond words? Of course; but words are all I have, all you have, in this strange, disconnected world. Can you describe it? The world is glowing from a perfect Light, but most of the time we see through a glass darkly. There is perfect Love, but most of the time we can’t feel it. Life never ends, but we choose to kill ourselves, just a little, every day. Eternity is where we live, but we ruin our lives with clocks and fear, because time is terrifying when you see it with human eyes. There is a center to everything, and it’s still and quiet; there is a communion every day with every creation, and you could live there . . .

There is this place, which is not a place, there is this reality, which is nothing like reality, there is this state, which is constant, behind and over and through the buzzing craziness of us and the world we created, which is, which is, which is . . . something like the deepest love we ever felt, the freedom of when we were eight, climbing a tree and seeing every leaf as a novel, something like that, which now we can’t reach, can’t grasp, can’t see, can’t touch.

But we know it’s there.

Giving Up, Giving In

I dedicate this post to Amanda, the best reader ever, and someone who understands what I’m talking about more than most. 

I have wanted to write something here that would make sense to other people, a post that was articulate, logical, fascinating, and enlightening. I tried to come up with topics, themes, any way to organize the chaos and confusion of a ‘spiritual crisis’, or whatever you might wish to call it (spiritual awakening, spiritual emergence, ‘kundalini rising’, etc.). Nothing I tried to write seemed worth posting. I’m not sure that this will be worth posting. I can only write in fragments and hope that you all can fill in the blanks.

As best as I can describe it, a spiritual crisis–for me, at least–is when your theory on the nature of God or the divine, the nature of consciousness, the existence or lack thereof of time, becomes an experience of revelation that leaves you in total shock. You find yourself in a constant state of emotional flux. One day, you’re in a state of bliss because you know that life never ends; it just changes form. You’ve seen the luminous energy of the creative universe shining through everything and everyone. The next day, something happens and you’re on your knees in pain and suffering, because you have to start the process of clearing out your worst traumas, including the ones that happened to you before you were born.

This process demands something in return for the stunning revelation of the Divine. The contract goes something like this: I (God) will allow you to see how (some) things really work and let you know (directly, no research required) that you are always going to exist. In return, you must surrender your little, scared self completely: your ego, your traumas, everything that holds you back from joy and communion with spirit. But the universe demands you surrender ALL of it. As it turns out, that is the hardest task I have ever been assigned.

Imagine burning through every trauma you have ever lived through: the near death experiences in the hospital; the agonizing divorce; the abuse; ah, the list could go on and on, since it includes more than just the content of this life. By ‘burning through’ it, I mean you must relive it, hit rock bottom, curl up in the fetal position, and give it all to God. If you don’t completely feel the emotions associated with the trauma you must exorcize, then you will have to go through it again and again, until you have really, truly, allowed your feelings their full expression and you’ve surrendered yourself utterly to a Higher Power. The spirit driving this expansion of your consciousness will not allow you to take short cuts in your healing.

I am not finished with this, not by a long shot. I have amazing days so filled with joy, I think I might just float straight into the Cosmos. There are other days that I feel crazy with grief and sadness, barely able to function, praying and crying, begging for help. Help always comes. The purpose of this is not always clear to me, but as far as I can tell, I am enduring a rebirth into another life. This new life requires me to relinquish the dramas, stories, and traumas of the old life. Completely. It’s clear that God wants me to give up completely and understand what faith really means.

I don’t go to church anymore. I meditate, but not as often as I should. I write in my journal every day. This intense relationship with the Divine is an ongoing experience; attending church seems strangely unnecessary. I suppose I will find another spiritual practice somewhere, but not in order to find God. My search now is simply for a supportive community who has some idea what I’m going through. I am not special because this is happening to me. Many people go through this spiritual trial, but not many write about it as far as I can tell. Fewer still form communities to assist others with the process. I don’t know how long this lasts, or if it ever truly ends. There are some days when I feel ‘normal’, and then it starts up again. In any case, I understand this–no matter how difficult or heart wrenching–as a gift from the Universe.

I had always prayed for knowledge. Since I was a child, I wanted to know the secrets of God. I had arrived at a point in my life where I was sure that God was going to keep silent on the issue, and my depression was profound. On June 25th, 2017, God decided it was time to reveal to me what it means to be a human being with an eternal soul and spirit. It would be lovely to report that after that, everything was roses and life was a grand adventure. I wish I could say that; but as I’ve stated before on Soulbank, what most people want, myself included, are simple answers to complex questions. Choosing Heaven or nothingness as reality is easy. Either way, you don’t have much to think about, and you aren’t required to undergo a complete transformation of your very being.

The truth is stunningly complex. It will bring you to your knees.


Sometimes, it feels like I have joined a secret organization of spiritual adventurers and knowledge seekers, but the club never meets. The members stick to the Internet and keep out of sight. There seems to be nobody to talk to about spiritual issues who are not intimately involved with the Christian faith, and I suspect that those pastors, vicars, and priests would not approve of where my spiritual seeking has taken me. So I remain alone in a culture that does not support or even understand profound spiritual experiences that occur outside of church. I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. If anybody out there knows of any group accepting of ‘alternative spirituality’–whatever that means–please let me know. I don’t mean New Age, Topanga-style, rich white hippy stuff. I just mean, where are the people who have had a massive breakdown in their concept of self, of religion, of God, of reality, and of all creation? Where are the people who have felt that they are finally on the path to understanding a tiny portion of what and who God is, but that understanding is not what they’ve been taught?

I failed at Christianity the way it was presented to me, as something I was supposed to figure out. I was supposed to understand the Bible as mainly allegorical, but sometimes I was instructed to take it literally; the convoluted doctrines pertaining to sexuality and morality made little sense to me, and the Old Testament seems like the story of God on a power trip, all ego and little compassion. Jesus makes more sense, but even He is wrapped up in doctrine that probably had more to do with Church fathers and ancient cultural norms and beliefs. I think Jesus probably both understood and believed in the concept of reincarnation, for example, but the passages where that issue is referenced are always explained and circumvented by those who have the power to interpret God’s word. I thought that was us. I thought that could be me. Jesus says that ‘Ye are gods,’ but that is explained away as meaning ‘judges,’ even though the judge reference makes no sense in context. There is no point in continuing. It’s an endless battle of interpretation that has no definitive answer outside of an authority figure telling you what it means.

I have found out part of the answer to my biggest, most pressing and often painful questions regarding God, the nature of reality and identity, and what ‘spirituality’ means. I got there through a spiritual crisis that involved vivid memories of a past life–more specifically, of a past death–but that was only the beginning. After that, the process of illumination sped up and left me in a state of shock and awe. How I got there is less important that the fact that it happened; and once you arrive at this knowledge, there is no going back. That might also mean, no going back to church.

Briefly, this is where I am right now. And, this is probably where many human beings end up at some point, some very young, and some old, and others like me, at the midway point. All of the following is probably blindingly obvious to the many people who are farther along their spiritual path than I am. However, I just figured out that I’m a spiritual novice and that I basically know nothing. Well, I know a little. This is what I know:

  • I have lived many times. The purpose of past lives, no matter how objectively painful they may be, is to present us with a spiritual challenge that we must learn to overcome. If we don’t, we come back and re-experience the same challenge in a new guise. Since there is no time in the world of God, it doesn’t matter how often we return to work things out. Once one challenge is met, there are many others. Why don’t we all remember our multiple lives? Simply put, our conscious mind can’t handle that much trauma and pain in addition to whatever we are working out now. Our previous lives are stored as patterns of behavior and emotional/instinctual responses to our environment. Our subconscious mind knows  who we were and what existential dramas we are working through. We would be flooded with overwhelming spiritual chaos if we were aware of all our lives.
  • My stories, my trauma, my past life trauma, my status as a victim of people and circumstances, are all unimportant in the final analysis. There is a purpose to remembering emotional upheaval and unfortunate circumstances, but those terrible events do not define me, they don’t explain me, and they don’t control me. During a unique moment of insight while I was babbling on and on to my husband about how my past life trauma fed into my current life issues, I realized that none of those stories were necessary to my spiritual development or my sense of self. Bad things happened to me. Those bad things did not destroy me; I survived them all. Here I am.
  • When I wonder where God is, why He allows me to freak out about everything on a regular basis and won’t simply remove my panic and anxiety problems, I realize that God is with me constantly. He is with me when my husband looks at me with tears in his eyes as I pour out my soul to him. He is with me when my husband wraps his arms around me in the middle of the night when I’m consumed with terror. He is with me when my kitty sits on my chest and purrs at 3:00 AM when I can’t sleep. He is with me when my kid tells me how much she loves me. He is with me every second of every day for all eternity. He is the love in everyone I know. He is everywhere, always, trying to make me see that I am cherished. God doesn’t want to punish me, He doesn’t want to send me to Hell, he doesn’t want to hurt me, He doesn’t wish any harm to me at all. He wants me to heal, to evolve, to understand, to transform, to see and feel the truth of Eternity and the kind of love that radiates throughout all of creation.
  • Panic and anxiety are, in a sense, defense mechanisms against God and love. I can’t imagine that there is a force that loves me that much; I cling to the idea that I have to protect myself from a scary world where I can control the outcome if I worry enough. Anxiety reflects a lack of faith in a loving God. It’s also an expression and representation of the ego self, the little Kirsten who is terrified and defines herself by being in control in a world that is chaotic and confusing. There is evil in the world, and I can’t stop it. I don’t understand how this works, but God uses evil to arrive at the good and the holy. It’s pointless to be angry about dying from a heroin overdose or suffering abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to protect me. I can recount stories all day about how unfair one’s circumstances can be; but in the end, I do not know the purpose, the plan, the design, the Big Picture that is working throughout the multiple universes, dimensions, and realities that we inhabit. I don’t know the mind of God. But as someone who is, on occasion, invited to be directly in God’s presence, I can know that I am loved, no matter what the outcome of this life or what stories will play out in the coming decades.

That’s all I can say for the moment. This process is exhausting and frequently challenging. I don’t know if anything here resonates or makes sense to anyone, but whatever is happening to me, I can only hope that it leads to a better version of me that loves more, helps more, and can do her part to lend a hand to those standing on the precipice, wondering if it’s worth it to keep pushing forward. It is. It’s not easy, not at all, but it’s always worth it.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

I got sucked into a Mary KayKirsten July 2017

session today. I spent way too much money; discovered that the same products were available online for less than half what I shelled out; and realized yet again, that I’m a sucker when it comes to capitalism, business, and trusting random strangers to have my best interests at heart. Have I learned NOTHING from my previous life? DO NOT TRUST STRANGERS when they want money, sex, or favors. Some lessons, apparently, take lifetimes to learn.

I was worried after my last couple of blog posts that some people might think that I had lost my mind. Maybe the whole Mary Kay visit was about reconnecting with what people think is normal: spending money on cosmetics. Maybe, I thought, I’ll return to myself by spending money on stuff I don’t need to maintain the illusion of youth. This was the wounded Ego desperately trying to return to equilibrium. I want people to think that I am ‘normal’ and not so far off the deep end that I lose readers or end up even more marginalized by our culture than I already am.

Of course, spending money on cosmetics and wrinkle creams did nothing for me but leave me a couple hundred bucks poorer. There is no way to go back to the old, superficial ways of relating to others and Western culture. I’m too far gone, and I simply have to accept that nothing is going to be the same as it was before. If other people are not OK with that, don’t understand it, or pass judgement on me one way or another, then I have to accept that with grace and move forward. Of course, this is all in my head. Nobody has come out and questioned my sanity. Mostly, nobody says anything at all. I get the sense that quite a few people I know are just letting this pass and trying not to say anything for fear of me taking it the wrong way. I know that some people I love think that yes, I am deluded and out of touch with reality.

The problem is that I am IN touch with reality. It’s a reality that most people don’t see or acknowledge; the ones that do are marginalized. But this is my proper place in this culture, and this historical moment. I am on the fringe. I always have been, I always will be, and I have to find my comfort level with that. I will never fit in. I could lie and say that I am OK with that, but it’s simply not true. I would love to buy Mary Kay, get a face lift, play tennis all day, do some volunteer work, read women’s magazines, and go to the movies with my church ladies; but I can’t. It’s a culture of comfort and ease, and my lot is to be uncomfortable, confused, seeking, striving, breaking apart norms and paradigms to the best of my ability, and questioning everything that most people accept as given. For that, most of my time will be spent alone.

I used to laugh at people who believed in fairies, elves, gnomes, aliens, La Llorona, the chupacabra, Big Foot, and various swamp monsters. Now, I think they all exist and are products of our ongoing co-creation of reality. All of it is out there: ghosts, people reliving their time line, people living in alternate dimensions of reality, people reincarnating, souls returning as animals or plants, souls slitting up in various levels of reality, souls in Heaven, souls in Hell, souls reliving the same moment for all eternity, souls everywhere and all over the place experiencing themselves in an infinite variety of ways. There is no one way for consciousness to continue on, but endless ways. That makes paranormal investigations extremely rich and difficult to interpret. We don’t know how the consciousness we pick up on is manifesting itself. Can we know? I don’t know.

Given all of this, how do we meaningfully conduct investigations? How do we know how to interpret the information that we receive? How do we know we’ve contacted a living consciousness on another timeline, and not a gnome or a dark-eyed child or a dark energy that was never human? I have no answers. I will attempt to work on this issue over the next several posts. I thank you all for your patience with me and this long, strange trip.

–Kirsten A. Thorne


I’m trying to live with this new world, and it continues to be a struggle. The old world dies hard and pulls me back in a variety of ways; but there is no going back. What happened will continue to play itself out for the rest of whatever ‘time’ is. Here is a partial list of the weirdness one might expect from a ‘spiritual awakening,’ or a sudden realization that everything you thought you knew about time, God, Heaven, Hell, life, consciousness, and reality is, quite simply, wrong:

  • You might feel dead already. This is one of the strangest symptoms for me. It often feels like my heart stopped beating, and that there’s an absolute stillness in my chest. It seems like I have stopped functioning as a biological entity. Obviously, I continue on as a physical being, but the supreme importance of my biological functions has been reduced to practically nothing. One day, my body will stop working completely; and I will continue on. I used to think about that a lot; now I know it, because it’s already happened. I HAVE DIED SEVERAL TIMES AND I REMEMBER IT. It’s a big deal, because you have to start over in a different illusion, but that’s OK. So I can now access the feeling of being dead and it doesn’t really phase me. It’s just weird. It’s not scary.
  • You might never sleep a full night again. My energy patterns have completely reversed themselves. I used to wake up around 3:00 AM–and I still do–but I would hop out of bed at 6:00 am with no problem. Now, strange energy bursts wake me up completely at random times, but ALWAYS around 3:00 AM. In the morning, I can barely function, and I would sleep in if the cat allowed it. But these unusual wake up times are accompanied by intense mental processing, not only of the significance of Mary, but of other memories from other lives. I’m now trying to work out the meaning of my life in the 1920s, where I worked at a speakeasy during Prohibition. I am also reliving scenes from my current life that I thought didn’t require additional processing, but clearly do. There is tremendous pain left over from my teenage years that, as it turns out, I didn’t deal with on an emotional level during all those years of conventional therapy. Imagine having to relive your worst, teenage traumas at 3:00 AM.
  • Food tastes strange and you lose your appetite. My normal food preferences have undergone a bizarre transformation. Nothing tastes that great. The intense pleasure I used to get from certain foods like chocolate has been replaced with a certain lack of interest in any particular food. I don’t even look forward to mealtimes like I used to, like a dog who can’t wait for her kibble. Now, I simply don’t care to structure my day around food like I used to. Yes, I had the flu, but my weight loss started before. I have not lost huge amounts of weight, but I have dropped pounds because I’m always thinking about other things now, and the role food used to play as entertainment, distraction, or supreme projection of my desires is . . . over. This might be the strangest thing of all. Food filled up all the empty spaces. The empty spaces are now full.
  • Time stopped. The clock keeps moving, but it’s not measuring anything. I can now feel the complete absence of time. Existence feels like complete stillness, a state of being, not a state of doing anything. You can do things, like write a blog post, but al the doing doesn’t move anything forward or backward or anywhere at all. There is nowhere to go. Things happen all of the time. Things change position or state. But there is no flow to it. The flow of everything has stopped. It’s kind of terrifying sometimes; after decades of feeling things moving, often too fast, now I can’t feel anything but the present moment. I know that that is the goal for much of Eastern religion, that ‘be here now’ concept. I read about this state for decades, but it never made any sense to me. Now I feel it. It’s almost panic inducing, because how in the world do I take all my tasks and errands seriously when nothing feels pressing? I literally have all the time in the world . . .
  • Ambition? Projects? Goals? Yeah, I was always the girl with a Project or a Plan. I’ve never experienced life without some big Goal that I was working on, because, you know, Time is Running Out. No longer. I do things. I write, I read, I take naps, I follow a routine. But there is no internal drive to do it because it’s important. There is nothing pushing at me to Get Shit Done. I don’t care if I publish a book, show up on TV again, win an award, or anything else I can conceive of. I have no ambition, no interest in accolades, no need to be loved or liked, no need to convince anyone of anything. My needs have become basic and my desires are offline. And it’s completely bizarre for me. This is not who I was.
  • Oh My GOD!! WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DRAMA???? There’s lots of drama at work. Students have drama; institutions have tons of it. My kid has drama. My friends have occasional drama. FB has drama. The United States has drama. Pres Trump lives for drama; he full of it and it drives him. But me? I can’t feel it anymore. I can’t work up much interest in it, and I can’t even take sides. Everyone knows how vehemently anti-Trump I was; and I still feel the need to work constructively to safeguard certain rights and protect the marginalized. But that work is divorced from outrage, pulling out my hair and rending my garments. I don’t scream at the radio when he talks. I don’t have the energy. I see Trump and other histrionic individuals as playing out a personal drama that, while we might have to protect ourselves from it–is not permanent, not cosmic, not even important. It’s your circus and your monkeys. Yes, I will protect my community from the damage your circus causes, but I don’t hate your circus. It’s yours, it belongs to you; I just won’t be buying any tickets to the show.
  • Distinctions break down. We tend to define ourselves and everything else by what we and everything else IS NOT. I am this; not that. Recently, I can’t see much essential difference in people and events. I see difference in choices; but not in defining essences. As far as paranormal research is concerned, we are all operating under the false pretense that there are ‘living’ people and there are ‘dead’ people who float around the living like ghosts. Nope. It doesn’t work that way. We are all living. Some of us occupy this dimension in this universe governed by these laws, and some of us operate in that universe, governed by those laws. And by ‘this’ or ‘that’, I don’t mean to imply that there is any space or time separating us at all. It’s a matter of perception, whether you’re ‘here’ with me, or ‘over there’ with the others. There are no dead people. There is continuous, living consciousness. I am not aware of someone who shed their body and is now in a different state, but there’s a whole lot that I’m not aware of. That doesn’t make what I cannot perceive ‘dead’, or unreal. It’s just beyond my current capacity to perceive. That will change when I shed this body and move onto something else. So we need to stop asking insulting questions to people who do not see themselves as ‘gone,’ or ‘dead.’ We need to start talking to people as the living beings that they are. And we need to stop assuming that somehow they are ‘somewhere else’ and we occupy the privileged, ontological space. Their space is just as real, or more so, than ours. We need to respect that. We are the ones operating in darkness and confusion. Not them.
  • I still don’t want to be sick or old. Not everything changes. I still don’t want to suffer physically. I don’t want to be incapacitated, in pain, or so old I can barely move or use my senses. I still don’t like the extra skin under my chin, or the bags under my eyes, or the fact that the barista always calls me Ma’am with a deference reserved for Old People. I don’t like the physical aging process. So I’m not all Enlightened and crap. I have lots and lots of work to do on multiple issues. I just don’t feel any pressure to figure it all out now. And for that, I say, Thank You to whatever or whomever pushed me over the edge. I’m over the edge, and I did not die. There will be more edges to be pushed over, but that will happen when it happens. Or, it probably already did happen, but I’m not yet aware of it. Because of no time, and all that . . . speaking of, I need to do something with my day! Or not.

Bye all, drop me a line.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

There is no way that this post is going to make sense of what has happened to me, and I can barely explain it to myself, much less to my dear readers (if there are any left). I have debated endlessly if I should make any of this public, since it is so desperately personal, but if I do not, then Soulbank will close down. There will be nothing else to write about if I don’t face this crisis first. I will do my best to start the process, if only because I can’t be the only one this has happened to, and I do truly and honestly desire help from those who know what I am talking about. Here is the first fact: three weeks ago, I remembered how I died in my previous life as Mary, a drug-addicted street kid from San Francisco who met her end after her ‘boyfriend’ injected her with a lethal dose of heroin.

Maybe at this point you are done reading, thinking I’ve become a New Age hippy, or you think I have a big imagination, or perhaps I’m just deluded and have read too many books. Trust me, I have had all of those thoughts. As much as I want to explain away Mary’s story, my life, and everything it entails and means, I can’t. The reason why I cannot, is simply because this person’s life was my life, and for 52 years I tried to keep the whole thing buried in my subconscious. But now, the memory has worked its way painfully to the surface, and there is no going back. I died. I remember dying and what it felt like. It was a textbook overdose death. I lost the world. Everything started to shut down, like a computer going off-line, and finally I was unable to catch my breath. I tried desperately to breathe, but I could not inhale air into my lungs. I watched as the ‘boyfriend’ walked away and left me to die alone on the front steps of a Victorian row house near Haight Street. I raged at his betrayal, I panicked at my failing senses, I was desperate and terrified. And then it ended, and I died.

Therapists want me to find Mary’s documents. Therapists want to me to ‘prove’ that she was real. Therapists want to know if I ‘went to the Light’ and if I talked to God. Well. I’m sorry. I don’t remember going to the Light or talking to God. I remember the fury and horror of dying at 15 and wanted to come back, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I probably did meet God, but I had no time for communing with God or any other well-meaning deity, because I was mad that God would allow me to die like that in the first place; I suppose that I rejected the Light in favor of a quick return. Ah, how I wish I could remember meeting God.

Regarding ‘proving’ Mary’s life, I can see how other people would find that interesting and how it would make a stronger case for reincarnation. However, I don’t need to prove it. I remembered it. That was more than enough for me. Mary was in the foster care system, possibly a kid interned at Edgewood near the Mission District, and would have passed around 1964. I might be able to find her if I looked hard enough. I don’t remember her last name. In fact, I get the sense that she changed her name or someone changed it for her. The best I can come up with is Mary Tillerson, but a search for that name yields nothing. It could be Mary Thompson. I am not sure I want to locate her records. I don’t want to open wounds that are still so fresh.

There is a great deal that I could write about what I remember and the intense repercussions that this realization or epiphany has had in my life. For three weeks, everything I thought was true has been upended. I used to ‘investigate’ the paranormal, keeping a safe distance from my life after death theories. I wrote and read about consciousness as something not produced by the brain; but I never believed my theories 100%. There was always part of me that I held in reserve, a corner of my brain that doubted that we survived physical death. I didn’t want to doubt it, but I did; I wanted to believe, but now I know. KNOWING is far different from SUSPECTING. I can’t emphasize this point enough. When you KNOW something to be true, it changes everything about your life. When you only suspect something to be true, you don’t really have to change anything.

Imagine that you thought UFOs must exist, due to the vastness of the universe. One day, a UFO lands in your backyard and you watch the aliens come out and wave at you. It’s something like that. I now have had a direct, emotional experience of a past life. When I remembered my death and all the sordid, sad details of it, I cried like my soul had been ripped from my body. I cried harder than I have ever cried in my entire life. For most of my life, I have grieved a death that I wasn’t consciously aware of: my own. Every single day of the last three weeks, I have been rocked by revelations concerning my life as Kirsten. I blamed other people for trauma that they had not caused. I acted out in unhealthy ways because I didn’t understand that Mary’s life had ended, and Kirsten’s life was different. I allowed myself to be manipulated, abused, and used in various ways because I didn’t remember that HER life was over, and MY life didn’t have to be a continuation of a trauma that didn’t belong to me. Except that it did, or does; because Mary, or whatever her true name might be, IS ME. The fundamental misunderstanding was that the circumstances of my life had changed; I was in an infinitely better situation, but I didn’t grasp that and continued acting as if I were still dependent on bad people to survive.

This, I suppose, is what they (the gurus of the Internet whose advice I seek countless times a day) call a Spiritual Awakening. It is, if I understand it correctly, what happens to you when you finally understand that you are not your body, but a consciousness that never ends; you just change form. There are many ways to arrive at this conclusion, but for it to really sink in, it has to connect emotionally in a strong enough fashion to crack open your current reality and blow apart your ego, your routine, your reality, your relationships . . . everything. A Spiritual Awakening is NOT a logical supposition you arrive at after studying the subject of life after death for a decade or two; it’s a massive, spiritual meltdown that leaves you reeling in a sea of uncontrollable emotions. It actually kind of sucks. There are many days where I wish that I could just go back to the way it was before, my familiar life of quiet desperation. Now I live of life of raucous, intense, and continual freak out.

Yes, there were and are moments of the promised bliss of Enlightenment; sometimes I giggle like a child at how beautiful the world is. I think I’m already in Heaven, and I assume, wrongly, that this state of joy will last forever, because, dude, I’m like, Enlightened. Then I realize that that self conception is a complete joke. I know nothing. I am at Stage 1 of a long journey. I had not even started on the path to Enlightenment until three weeks ago, and I’m guessing I have several lifetimes ahead of me before I reach it. What is so ultimately confusing about all of this is the chaos of emotion. As you could probably tell from reading this post, I have significant anger over these memories. I feel victimized and pissed at God. Then, I realize, I have no clue as to why I needed that life, but I need to trust that it was for the good. After all, I have the distinct privilege of experiencing Kirsten, and I like her. None of what I have discovered would have happened if it hadn’t been for Mary and her short existence. Kirsten owes Mary her very life.

One of the unfortunate results of this realization regarding our infinite self is crippling anxiety. I thought, stupidly, that this step towards Ultimate Knowledge would bring peace and Buddha-like contentment. Nope. It throws the brain into a spiral of confusion and pain. My brain has always worked very hard to keep me and my loved ones safe from harm (don’t tell my brain, but it never works. Or rarely–sometimes my anxiety actually allows me to take preventative action when necessary). Now, there has been a radical reconceptualizing of my brain’s job. Even if I die, I will be back. Or better said, there is really no death of me at all. My body will crap out, but that doesn’t really do anything but change my circumstances. I have now fully realized that my Self is operating outside of the confines of my brain and body, so my poor brain doesn’t know how to keep this non-physical Self ‘safe’ from the world’s terrors, so it decides that EVERYTHING is a threat; it can no longer distinguish threats from non-threats, as it hasn’t figured out that NOTHING can threaten the Self. Until my brain catches up with Kirsten’s existence as a non-temporal, non-spacial being, it’s going to go nuts trying to keep me alive. Brain: nothing can kill me. Your job is just a practical one now. You know, you can still let me know that the brown thing on the hiking trail is likely a rattle snake. But your existential job of keeping the terrors of Death at bay is O-V-E-R.

To conclude: I am an emotional mess and would greatly appreciate hearing from others who have gone through this or who are going through this. For those of you who suspect you are, but aren’t sure, just Google “Spiritual Awakening” and see what it’s all about. I recommend Jim Tolles’ site. After you’ve had a chance to read through some of what helps to explain all this better than I can, please let me know what happens next. I used to write this blog from a place of having answers and being an authority. I now realize how ridiculous that is and how wrong I was. I don’t really know anything. I am trying to learn. That tables have turned.

All I CAN tell you is this: if you’re afraid of death, get over it. You can be afraid of dying, or suffering, or other indignities that life throws at us; but you will always be you in different circumstances.

I’m exhausted. Thank you for reading.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

By Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD

Bio: My PhD is from Yale University in the area of Spanish and Modern Languages. Although I am not a physicist or a scientist by training, I was trained in critical thinking across the disciplines and have read a wide array of texts on the nature of time, physics for the lay reader, and theories of reality in the field of philosophy. I have attempted, though direct investigations of the so-called paranormal, to access the nature of reality, death, time and the afterlife, although most of my research is academic in nature. I have experienced anomalous events my entire life, and my primary goal here at Soulbank is to find plausible scientific theories to explain common human experiences that science has not yet adequately explained. If you are a professional scientist/physicist who happens to stumble across my blog, I ask that you please consider seriously my analyses and patiently correct any misstatements or misunderstandings that might inadvertently arise due to my lack of technical (mathematical) training. 

My last post attempted to elucidate the “block theory” of time and how–if we were able to view events from a vantage point outside of the spacetime bubble we occupy–we would see time as an endless series of events stretching from what we call the ‘past,’ through something nebulous and impossible to define called the ‘present,’ on into what we consider the ‘future.’ My theory, pieced together from various theorists such as Richard Muller, Sean Carroll, and John Ashmead (a big influence) among many others. These are my basic starting points:

  • Past, present and future are human categories of understanding experience and have no necessary, permanent standing in reality;
  • Although most texts seem to affirm that the “Big Bang” kicked off entropy and our current perception of time as following entropic processes from low to high, this is by no means everyone’s opinion; Richard Muller argues that there are many instances of entropy working in various directions all around us, and that there is no reason to assume that increasing entropy creates time. Therefore, I will leave that discussion alone for the most part, seeing as there appears to be no general consensus on the matter.
  • Humans associate time with their own aging and eventual death, based on the breakdown of material substances we observe daily. We see nature’s cycles of birth, growth, decay and death and create our timeline based upon them. However, and I believe this is an important point to make, not all cultures measure time in the same fashion. The Maya calendar is nothing like our modern, Western version. Many indigenous calendars are based on ever-widening cycles that, when viewed, bear a fascinating resemblance to block time. All events are laid out in cycles that allow for predictions of what is to come. Not all cultures are as aggressively ego-centric as the West concerning measuring time simply as a function of the self’s material decay; we are obsessed with our mortality and our aging, to the point that we’ve created a culture that deifies youth and demonizes death. There is certainly a cultural explanation for why time, for the West, is tied to the shortening of our telomeres. Correlation is not causation: we correlate the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, years, decades, etc. to our observations of physical decline and from those observations, create time. Simply because we’ve chosen to create this association between physical death and time passing, does not imply that there is anything fundamental or necessary (no rules required here) about it. We have not defined time by associating it with aging and death. Death is simply another event in the block universe, inevitable because we occupy a physical cycle of experience, but not ontologically the terminus of anything but a body (now, of course, would normally be the moment when I argue that the biggest illusion of all is to tie our consciousness to a body, but I’ll wait on that).
  • I will not be the person to reconcile quantum theories of ‘spooky action at a distance’ with General Relativity. However, it makes sense to me that our consciousness is quantum based, and Stuart Hameroff, MD has extensively discussed this. I realize that most physicists won’t touch this topic, or anything related to consciousness, but I am at liberty to do so and hope some of you are willing to take it seriously. It seems to me that the only way to reconcile two apparently irreconcilable theories of reality is to accept that consciousness plays a role in the reality we experience and possibly creates what we observe. This is not really a novel statement. Many others have said it before. The implications are, however, stunning. It is our consciousness that has access to the block universe and can overcome the limitations of time and death by recognizing the non-material basis of experience, observation, self awareness and the universality of concepts such as justice, love, peace, selflessness and sacrifice. And if all of that sounds too New Age, please be aware that I base this on reading intensively across several disciplines, and it’s not a belief system based upon nebulous emotions or desires.

The above points represent the basics for what I am about to say next. Any theory on time, reality of events, observation of events and the role of consciousness in the creation of the reality we observe must always circle back to what makes intuitive sense an average, rational, thinking human being. We must respect human experience while enlarging said experience at the same time. While it is true that we observe aging and death in all living things, that is not the ONLY reality that we are aware of; it’s simply the only reality we feel comfortable sharing, discussing, and advocating for fear of criticism, ridicule or censure if we openly discuss alternative experiences that point to a different interpretation of our lives.

Human beings across the centuries have shared certain anomalous experiences (although they were not considered ‘anomalous’ for most cultures) that point both to the reality of the Block Universe AND to the quantum underpinnings of consciousness. It may well be that free will and autonomy–two concepts so central to the West’s ideology of limitless expansion, progress, perfectibility, and endless opportunity for self creation–are not real in and of themselves, but simply appear that way to us. In the end, if it SEEMS that we create the future, do we really need to panic if that isn’t how the universe works? But first, let’s look at some common features of human experience that point to Eternalism or some close cousin to it:

  • Precognition: Knowing what is about to happen and consequently experiencing that event is not about motion towards the future and then backwards motion to the past, but about human consciousness briefly occupying a different ‘slice’ of spacetime that contains the events that result from previous conditions in spacetime slice X1. Both slices–X in the ‘present’ and X1 in the ‘future’ are both forward and retro causal in keeping with observations that the distinction between cause and effect is not fundamental to the field of physics. Of course, cause and effect rules the physical world, but once you are in the realm of precognition and retrocognition, you are in a realm where the ordinary laws of physics may or may not apply.
  • Deja-vu, or the ‘reliving’ of an experience that you don’t consciously recognize as ever happening before. Often, there is an abundance of veridical information that the individual could not have known under normal circumstances. Consciousness can have glitches, where the brain stops ordering experience chronologically and for a moment allows us to enter the Block Universe by skipping us to another page in the flip book. Both deja-vu (‘already seen’) and precognition are not ‘reading’ future events or reliving past events that haven’t occurred yet, but reflecting a breakdown of our perception of time that allows access to other realities in spacetime that are always already there.
  • It’s possible that we experience ‘prior’ and ‘post’ events on a regular basis, but our brains only record experiences that allow for the perception of time as flowing into the future. Our memory function is designed for this perception, thus memories of the future are routinely ‘wiped’ from consciousness in order to preserve the illusion of the self moving into an uncreated future of infinite possibility. If we did not believe that the future is open and uncreated, then we would cease to evolve, to struggle, to create, to suffer, to work, to dream, to hope and to transcend our physical, material reality; for those with faith, we would stop seeking God.
  • GHOSTS (finally): What we call ‘ghosts’ are simply human beings freed of the material universe moving freely through the Block Universe, or not moving at all and simply experiencing everything all at once, always. They are also us in a different spacetime slice. They might be entirely free of time, or they might have reversed to a particular reality where they are frozen and on endless repeat. To use the analogy of a record, they could be experiencing the whole of the album timelessly, or stuck in a glitch with the needle circling endlessly over the same experiences of trauma, desire, grief or guilt. Our ability to perceive them is an act of reciprocal consciousness: we observe them observing us. We call each other into existence similar to quantum experiments where the observer ‘collapses the wave function.’ A ghost is a collapsed wave function that consciousness has called into being. Before that, they were everywhere; or, they were stuck in a spacetime slice. Either way, seeing the ghost, accessing the future and remembering events that never happened, and all manner of other paranormal experience represent quantum effects of consciousness acting in and through the Block Universe of physics. With so-called ‘ghosts’, we need to remember that the old trope of ghosts ‘not knowing that they are dead’ represents a false conception of reality in the Block Universe. We have accessed their CURRENT REALITY. It’s not in the same ‘place’ as ours, so we assume that they are communicating from a place of non-existence (death), when in reality,  there is no such thing as non-existence in the Block Universe, and therefore no such thing as ‘death’ as we commonly understand it as the ‘end’ of one’s existence.   

This paradigm has staggering implications. Your death as a physical being is simply another event in the Block Universe, no more real than any other event; and since you obviously exist now, in the Block Universe you always exist somewhere. You will continue to exist after your physical functions cease, because somewhere in spacetime your physical functions have NOT ceased; so, when your brain is no longer filtering, ordering, organizing and interpreting your experiences, you can range through multiple ‘reality slices’ freed from the constraints of illusory chronology. Since consciousness creates, directs, and filters your experiences through a brain, connecting them to a body that is, in turn, ruled by entropy, once the body succumbs to disorganization, consciousness is free of time but not of experience. Consider this quote from the website scienceandnonduality.com:

“You create the experience of movement by thinking that the ‘you’ reading this article is the same self that ate breakfast this morning or went running yesterday. But in fact, all those selves are distinct, each one existing at a different point in time–which you could see simultaneously if you stepped outside of the universe. It’s only when your mind ties all these separate selves together that time starts to flow, much like flipping through the frames of an animated movie.”

Of course, these ‘selves’ are of necessity connected in some way, or the result would be psychosis or schizophrenia. Consciousness transcends the selves in the flip book, being atemporal and connected to all “time” frames at once. Consciousness chooses the form, format and organizational principles of human existence, so that we do not experience the fragmented selves of the flip book but a continuous flow of experience.

Consciousness can be said to have a dual function: The creation of the temporal flow, and the illusion of moving through time; and the transcendence of the previous illusion. Therefore, consciousness both creates and destroys the illusion of temporality, aging and death; it creates the fear of non-existence and is responsible for transcending that fear, since in the Block Universe, non-existence is a tautology.

If all of this is indeed how reality works, then we would expect that different versions of ourselves are already ‘out there’ and affecting material reality in some way. In fact, I believe that other versions of ourselves are occasionally perceived both by us and others. In Frederic Myer’s Census of Hallucinations (1894), some of the most intriguing reports concerned apparitions of the living. There is an extensive literature on astral projection, doubles, and ‘ghosts’ of those who are still alive appearing in various locales. It is possible for one to ‘haunt’ oneself, when another version of the self imposes itself on the consciousness of the version we most identify with. I have investigated sites with a friend who swears that she is haunting the sites of past trauma, and I myself have been told on more than one occasion that someone saw me clear as day somewhere other than where I was at that time. Instead of dismissing all of these accounts as psychological distortions or misperceptions, we should consider the possibility that our many, many selves in the Block Universe can occasionally wander through our current world and make themselves known to an observer.

There are so many versions of us and our stories out there that the possibilities for experiencing ourselves are infinite; if our stories have countless versions, then perhaps we have some control over which one we consciously experience. This might be as close as we can get to free will: we can make choices in this vague ‘now’ that will collapse the wave function of all those ‘future’ Kirstens out there. I can pick the version that will play out like changing the record. The records library is out there for all eternity, but I can choose which one to listen to. Maybe.

I think of all the mediums in history who were discredited by someone who believed to have ‘tricked’ them by asking for contact with someone who is still alive. There is no reason why a medium could not pick up on another version of an individual who has not experienced physical death. The Block Universe makes this just as feasible as contacting the physically ‘dead’. In fact, the Block Universe negates the power of death altogether.

The big question, however, remains: just what do we experience after physical death frees the brain from its task of making our lives seem coherent and chronological? I think of the fantastic possibilities of one’s consciousness invading someone else’s spacetime slice (possession or oppression), or of returning to your 10th birthday party unaware that you just ‘lived’ 96 years and ‘died’ and now you’re back to re experience another version of yourself from 10 onwards, perhaps only dimly recalling your retirement party (that won’t happen for another 55 years).

I can also see us jumping into another story altogether with a different body, family, country, language, customs, and so on. Ian Stevenson certainly provided compelling evidence for reincarnation, and the Block Universe provides a framework for consciousness to re-experience itself in a different physical reality. Or perhaps we can move into a universe entirely different from our own and experiencing a consciousness that we would not call human. Once you remove the boundaries of time and space, the scenarios are endless and awe inspiring. If nothing else, it should be clear to us that our current categories of understanding are often breached by direct experience. Those of us who believe in ‘progress’ are often shocked to realize that we cycle back to primitive behaviors on a regular basis. Those of us who think we live once and die to nothingness cannot explain consciousness using a materialist paradigm. How many times do we say things like, “I can’t believe I did that,” as if the person who did ‘that’ were someone else? We talk about ourselves all the time as different people in time; hence the reminder note for the future self who will forget the priorities of the past self. We all, in practice, recognize that our ‘selves’ are distinct, yet we also know that we are connected by ‘something,’ which is our awareness of ourselves and the world as an eternal reality.

How many panic attacks and relived traumas come from selves that ‘died’ in a moment of extreme suffering? Could our ongoing anxieties have less to do with ‘memory’ and more to do with our free access to other selves who might, on occasion, occupy our spacetime? And what of others who might take advantage of our ‘moment’ to express themselves in our body? The Block Universe fixes all possible events, or our consciousness fixes all possible realities, but in the end, the controls over experience can slip or falter in a number of ways. These ‘glitches’ are built into the fabric of spacetime so that we might be allowed a glimpse into who we really are and how everything works; yet we will never ultimately solve this grand mystery while encased and ensconced in our physical bodies. I will end with beautiful quote by David Fontana in Is There An Afterlife: 

“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty has decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbooks [sic], there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.” (327)

Be that as it may, the truth is indeed ‘out there’, and I ask that we all continue to seek it with renewed vigor, especially in dire times where the lack of Light is particularly obvious and painful. We should never forget the role we all play in creating this multiverse and bringing certain realities to the forefront. The future may be written, but we can always edit it for the betterment of all.

Thank you for reading.