Dr. Raymond Moody carefully studied the visions of people near death. Similar experiences were reported to each other that he called the ‘Near death experience‘. What the typical individual notices is the following:
“A warm spirit of light appears and this being communicates in some non-verbal way so that he thinks about his past life and sees the important events of his life as they were reproduced.”
Those who experience a near death experience commonly report this life review process as part of their vision.
Interestingly, mediums also report that sooner or later, after death, each person’s spirit must undergo a life review. In the course of this review, all the lessons that could be learned from recent terrestrial life are explored. This is said to involve directly experiencing, within oneself, the emotional happiness and suffering caused in others by one’s actions. People don’t always recognize when they are loyal, kind, and helpful. They also don’t always realize when they have been critical and inconsiderate of the needs of others.
Will they see other defects in our character?
Swedenborg also describes how the inner character of people in the next life is gradually revealed so that each can be seen for what it is. Hypocrisy is exposed, simulation no longer works, and the soul is exposed.
Our inner character is what we really want and desire. In ordinary life, he often hides. Who deep down does not want social approval? So not many of us are so open with our true feelings and attitudes as to reveal what we are like on the inside, warts and all. Except possibly for those who share our home, other people do not know us clearly. We often pretend, even to ourselves, to be better than we really are.
In my clinical practice with clients suffering from various personal problems, I have noticed that they varied in their self-knowledge. The personal therapy process can help unravel inadvertent reasons why any of us act the way we do. The counselor helps us explore our true character.
We are told that such exposure occurs in the afterlife. One way of saying this is to say that inner individuality can be seen in the light of truth but not recognized in the darkness of self-justification.
It is not difficult to imagine that, if true, in life after death, there will be discomfort when the person is faced with their past wishes and intentions. But this is a necessary step if spiritual progress is to be achieved. Some of us can hope that we can be ‘purified’ in relation to any damage we may have caused to life on earth.
Do we purify ourselves after death?
This notion of a ‘purification’ The process seems similar to the notion of ‘purgatory’. This is a Roman Catholic doctrine regarding the afterlife. Furthermore, Chinese folk religion speaks of, “Diyu” which is a mythological kingdom of purgatory. It is said to serve to punish and renew spirits in preparation for what is believed to be reincarnation.
Swedenborg describes what a similar process may be in the afterlife that he calls’vastationes‘. In his view, this is when wrong assumptions and selfish motives are challenged by others. If the individual basically wants to know what is good and feels genuine remorse for the damage done, then any remaining egocentric attitude can be put aside. Those with basic good intentions go through experiences that eliminate their wrong ways of thinking to live in the light.
On the other hand, if the person is not interested in the truth about his life, he is very likely to become defensive and resist the enlightenment process. They avoid taking responsibility for things. The consequence would be no learning or improvement.
Albert Ellis (the founder of rational-emotional behavior therapy) wrote “The best years of your life are those in which you decide that your problems are yours. You do not blame your mother, the ecology or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
The way I would put it is to say that in life after death, the inner character that we form while living in the world will gradually emerge. Who we really are will reveal itself to others and to ourselves. The individual differences between us come to light. Everyone would look to those of us who have honest integrity. Similarly, those who have egocentric attachments.
Does the quality of life after death have to do with our individual character?
Professor Fontana points out that mediums who work with spirits sometimes insist that people do not change their nature simply by dying. For example, quote one that says:
“Death does not make a sinner a saint, nor a fool wise. The mentality is the same as before and individuals carry with them their old desires, habits, dogmas, faulty teachings, indifference or unbelief in a future life. ‘ (Carl Wickland)
I would say that if each of us becomes the person we have chosen to become, don’t we make our own destiny? It could be said that it is a bit like the idea of karma. I accumulate karma and positive or negative karma affects my destiny.
Similarly, and according to Swedenborg, the quality of life that is experienced after death depends on the internal character that each of us has formed during life in the physical world. How each person grows and develops. What desires ruled our hearts.
How does individual character affect our happiness?
If, during life before death, we have become kind and sensitive, then we will experience a life after death surrounded by continuous goodness and good sense. But those of us who have become selfish and foolish will instead want to live in a different social climate. One where different social norms apply. A state of existence created by those whose lives are similarly focused on what they want for themselves. Not such a pleasant experience, you might say. But wouldn’t it make us as happy as we are capable of being?
A selfish life leads to your own happiness or at least your own illusion of happiness. Such an individual finds pleasure in beating others, in taking what he possesses, in manipulating them to get their way. On the other hand, a altruistic Life delights in serving the community, being of service to the family, and seeking the good in others, even when friends and relatives are rude or impolite.