David Lorimer from the Scientific and Medical Network has compiled a list—albeit in need of updating—for anyone interested in the survival of consciousness and the existence of the spirit. I have, of course, my own list of around 100 important books that do not appear on this list. Recently, I’ve been reading the latest from Dr. Gary Schwartz, The Sacred Promise: How Science Is Discovering Spirit’s Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives and pondering The War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality featuring debates between Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow.
Every now and then, I think that I must put up a full bibliography of the Important Books; but then I wonder . . . does anyone want such a list? Would anyone read these books? Most of the people I know fall into two camps: they already believe in the survival of consciousness, so it is not necessary to plough through the research, or they are committed skeptics and wouldn’t believe any of the evidence anyway, no matter how thorough or convincing the methodology employed.
I think, in large part, that this tendency for people to fall on two sides of the spectrum has silenced me for months in terms of Soulbank posts. What I spend so much time analyzing and pondering is a non-issue for the vast majority of humans on this planet. In thinking about materialists and survival deniers, I’ve come to the conclusion that my painful discussions with them (and not a single one of my cadre of skeptics has read the evidence, nor do they wish to) are due to a need to protect oneself from something unknown and frightening, which threatens both faith and Freud’s death drive. Most people either want to be left alone to believe in Heaven, or they want annihilation and release from the undeniable confusion and sadness inherent in the living process.
It is easier, much easier, to cease to exist than to be challenged, yet again, by life. Although Freud’s discussion of the death drive is complex, it boils down to this:
“The death instinct or death drive is the force that makes living creatures strive for an inorganic state. It does not appear in isolation; its effect becomes apparent, in particular through the repetition compulsions, when a part of it is connected with Eros. Its tendency to return living creatures to the earlier inorganic state is a component of all the drives. In this combined form, its main impetus is toward dissolution, unbinding, and disassociation.”
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/death-instinct-thanatos#ixzz2A3Pn7YSf
We are driven towards death from birth. Some of us react in horror to the abyss that this drive inevitably leads to, hence Heaven. Others find ways to hasten the arrival of such blissful nothingness. What is most threatening to the human psyche is the unknown, and life after death as researched to this point does not point to the kind of Heaven that organized religion promotes and describes. By “unknown,” I mean the state of consciousness to which we will transition after death. It seems, in many ways, both frightening and mundane. The fact that we might end up continuing our lives in much the same fashion as “before,” is more horrifying to most than non-existence.
The upsetting truth is that most people don’t enjoy, appreciate or love their lives and anticipate on a deep level the termination of all conscious experience. You could call that a sort of collective depression or pessimism, and it’s all over the sciences and academia in general, in the guise of materialism. The truth, however, is quite different. For anyone that cares, there is a wealth of evidence that our consciousness continues to function. If that bothers you, well, it’s time to face facts and prepare yourself for the fact that eternal rest is just a myth.
Here is David Lorimer’s list of must-reads from the Scientific and Medical Network’s website:
Hart, H. (1959). The Enigma of Survival: The Case For and Against an After Life. London: Rider and Company.
A classic book that was one of my main sources of research when writing my own book – see below. Considers the debate about ESP, survival evidence through mediums, sceptical rejoinders, and the debate about apparitions. The final chapter is a masterly summary of the case for and against, showing that the will to (dis)believe is usually critical. He sums up what he regards as the weaknesses of the anti-survivalist case in the light of the evidence he has considered.
Berger, A. S. (1990). Aristocracy of the Dead: New Findings in Postmortem Survival. London: McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-259-8.
An interesting analysis of the difficulties of communication. Arthur’s other work analyses the relative evidential strength of a variety of cases indicating survival and is set out in a casebook format with quasi-legal arguments on both sides.
Almeder, R. (1992). Death and Personal Survival: The Evidence For Life After Death. Maryland: Littlefield Adams. ISBN 0-8226-3016-8.
A very well argued book by a philosopher who thoroughly examines and weighs up the evidence from reincarnation, apparitions, OBEs, possession and communication with the dead. Excellent for those who wish to get to grips with the evidence and arguments.
Lorimer, D. (1984). Survival? Body, Mind and Death in Light of Psychic Experience. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7102-0003-X.
My first book which is divided into three sections: the first is a history of attitudes to mind, body and death; the second, short chapter, examines ways in which people think about paranormal phenomena and what counts as evidence; the third discusses apparitions, OBEs, NDEs and, more controversially, alleged descriptions of bodily death. The arguments are closely related to the case histories and I conclude that no materialist account of mind can do justice to the evidence.
Beard, P. (1966). Survival of Death. London: Psychic Press. ISBN 0-85384-035-0.
Another classic work that constitutes the first in a series of books by Paul Beard, whos was for many years the President of the College of Psychic Studies. His second one, Living On, is well worth a read as a plausible description of scenarios in the ‘next world’. He looks at evidence from psychical research, hypotheses pointing away from survival and test cases. In the second half he considers difficulties in personal evidence and communication, then issues arising from the medium and trance personality.
Rogo, D. S. (1986). Life After Death: The Case For Survival of Bodily Death. Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-504-7.
A good introduction to the field covering the major areas of evidence plus the work of Raudive on ‘tape-recorded spirit voices’ that has been followed by since by Mark Macy and his colleagues; also unusual cases of apparent telephone calls from the dead.
Gauld, A. (1983). Mediumship and Survival: A Century of Investigations. London: Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08429-0.
Written for the centenary of the SPR in 1982, this is a thorough overview of all the kinds of research undertaken by the Society. It is a fair-minded assessment that points out the problems with the super-ESP hypothesis while calling for further research before any firmer conclusions can be drawn.
Currie, I. (1978,1993). You Cannot Die. Element Books, Shaftesbury. ISBN 1-85230-615-7.
A wide ranging investigation with an emphasis on case histories suggestive of survival. Does not consider the arguments against in any detail but is a valuable source.
Myers, F.W.H.. (1992). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. Norwich: Pilgrim Books. ISBN 0-946259-39-9. (Originally published 1903).
An early classic in the field by one of the pioneers of the SPR, later published in an abridged edition. Deserves to rank alongside the contemporary work of William James.
Saltmarsh, H.F. (1938). Evidence for Survival from Cross Correspondences. London: Bell.
Sums up the many communications forming what were called the cross correspondences whereby a group of communicators used different mediums to sent parts of messages, often in Greek and Latin, that were only comprehensible when put together. Designed to prove the survival of collaborative intelligence, this is evidence of the most persuasive nature that would impress all but the most fanatical sceptic.
Crookall, R. (1975). The Supreme Adventure: Analyses of Psychic Communications. Cambridge: James Clarke. ISBN 0227-67606-8.
Takes a ‘faggot approach’ by carefully comparing the common features of a large number of cases of NDEs and ostensible descriptions of bodily death to build up a picture of a likely scenario surrounding death and survival. While none of the cases is foolproof, together they do constitute a coherent account.
Monroe, R. A. (1994). Ultimate Journey. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-47207-2.
The final book in a trilogy by Bob Monroe, who experienced ‘otherworld journeys’ over a period of more than 30 years. It is a fascinating testimony that gives a glimpse into the way in which we may function in another dimension and exhibits some continuity with the insights of Swedenborg in Heaven and Hell.
Novak, P. (1997). The Division of Consciousness. Hampton Roads. ISBN 1-57174-053-8.
An original work that looks at the tension between two basic modes of survival: eternal life as an extension of this life, and reincarnation. He surmises that the psyche divides at death, with the conscious mind reincarnating and the unconscious judging itself. It is an intriguing hypothesis but not entirely consistent with the evidence as I understand it.
Becker, C.B. (1993). Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death. New York: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-1478-0.
A superb overview of the evidence and arguments that considers the wider issues of philosophy of science and proposes a model of resistance to change in the sciences. Highly recommended as a serious starting point.
Keen, M., Ellison. A.J. and Fontana, D.G. (1999). The Scole Report. London, SPR. ISBN 0-800677-06-0.
The most important recent evidence for survival of consciousness which has caused considerable controversy within the SPR itself.