|Hitting the Wall, then Oblivion? A blog by Michael Tymn|
Michael Tymn is an afterlife researcher. Subscribe to him people. He republishes lost forgotten 19th century afterlife books showcasing numerous prominent scientists and was previously a professional skeptic, namely an insurance assessor
Posted on 17 August 2020, 8:50
Hurricane Douglas on a direct path toward Hawaii, where I live, during the last week of July, I had doubts about making it to my next age milestone of 1000 months on August 2. Hurricanes are fairly new to us, apparently the result of global warming, and the homes here are not constructed to resist such strong winds. We have few shelters – just enough for the homeless – and we can’t jump in our cars and flee from it as people on the mainland do. Thus, as Douglas moved closer and closer, I had visions of flying off with our house while grasping the leg of the heavy oak table in the dining room and embracing my wife.A much greater fear was that I would survive the hurricane with no house and all worldly goods strewn over the nearby mountain range. I could envision living my final days in this realm of existence in a grass shack much like the one in the accompanying photo. If my house were to survive the hurricane winds, I thought about the good possibility that we would be without electricity for weeks, if not months, and I recalled the time a few years ago when less-than-hurricane winds left us without electricity for the better part of a day, during which time the temperature in the house, with windows boarded up, rose to an almost unbearable 115 degrees. Those fears of living far outweighed the fear of death.The conviction that I will survive death in a greater reality does much to mitigate the fear of death, whether from a hurricane or bodily functions shutting down. Many of my friends share such a conviction, but I have encountered a number of nihilists who say they do not fear death because they’ll never know it when they are dead. They think like Lucretius, the Epicurean poet, that death is a restful sleep. “Personally, I’ve never been persuaded by the argument that ‘oblivion’ is a terrible fate,” lawyer David Niose, a past-president of the American Humanist Association, expressed this humanist view in Psychology Today a few years ago. “Sure, given the choice of living or not – to be or not to be – I’d really prefer the former, but sooner or later we must all come down to the homestretch in life, and to many humanists the non-existence that awaits at the finish line is nothing to be feared.” Niose added that he expects non-existence after death to be much like it was before birth, which he didn’t mind at all. Niose’s seemingly fearless approach may very well work for some, especially those still fairly distant from what they see as the abyss of nothingness. I recall a friend with somewhat the same heroism, if it can be so called, until he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. As I tried to console him in his final days, his fear manifested as severe trembling and a paralyses that prevented him from even talking. “The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well – morality suffices,” wrote William James, one of the pioneers of psychology. “But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.”Carl Jung, another pioneer of modern psychology, took something of a Pascalian view. He wrote that “death is an important interest, especially to an aging person.” He added that everyone should have a myth about death, “for reason shows him nothing but the dark pit into which he is descending. Myth, however, can conjure up other images for him, helpful and enriching pictures of life in the land of the dead. If he believes in them, or greets them with some measure of credence, he is being just as right or just as wrong as someone who does not believe in them. But while the man who despairs marches toward nothingness, the one who has placed his faith in the archetype follows the tracks of life and lives right into his death. Both, to be sure, remain in uncertainty, but the one lives against his instincts, the other with them.”Jung likened life’s energy flow to that of “a runner who strives with the greatest effort and utmost expenditures of strength to reach his goal.” Sooner or later, however, the striving ends. “With the same intensity and irresistibility with which it strove upward before middle age, life now descends; for the goal no longer lies on the summit, but in the valley where the ascent began.” As psychologist Herman Feifel noted, Jung stressed the point that the rationalistic view of death – that of the nihilist – tends to isolate man from his psychological self and underlines the need for psychology to digest certain parapsychological findings. Many nihilists, however, are successful in repressing the idea of complete extinction, of obliteration, by engaging in mostly meaningless world activities – reading fiction, playing golf, watching ball games, whatever, until death comes knocking. Jung’s runner analogy, Niose’s metaphorical reference to the “homestretch,” and James’s to the “athletic attitude” all bring to mind the marathon running experience. If I accurately recall the physiological aspects of running the 26.2-mile endurance challenge, the runner depends on carbohydrates in his or her body for energy and then somewhere around 20 miles, when the “carbs” are depleted, he or she switches over to fat burning to avoid “hitting the wall,” as it is called. The runner not properly conditioned to switch from carbs to fat burning will hit that wall and painfully struggle to make it to the finish line. As I see it, the nihilist is much like that unconditioned runner. As he approaches life’s homestretch, his heroic approach dissipates and he begins to flounder. His early courage is now seen as nothing more than bravado. There may be exceptions, but I don’t recall having met one. Most of the nihilists I have encountered over the years are rebels against religion and have little or no understanding of the survival evidence gathered outside of orthodox religion. When such evidence is called to their attention, they’ll check Wikipedia and parrot the debunker’s view of whatever phenomenon is being cited. They apply terrestrial standards to celestial matters of which science has no clue. They assume that it is necessary to prove an anthropomorphic God before considering the evidence for survival of the consciousness at death. They further assume that the afterlife is nothing more than strumming harps and praising an angry God, something that seems inconceivable for an eternity. They are victims of scientism, scoffing and sneering at all those subscribing to “religious” superstitions.
Alan Harrington, author of the 1969 book, The Immortalist, seems to have been a more objective humanist, or nihilist. “An unfortunate awareness has overtaken our species,” he wrote. “Masses of men and women everywhere no longer believe that they have even the slightest chance of living beyond the grave. The unbeliever pronounces a death sentence on himself. For millions this can be not merely disconcerting but a disastrous perception.”As Harrington viewed it, when people are deprived of rebirth vision, they “suffer recurring spells of detachment, with either violence or apathy to follow.” Harrington saw mass-atheism as responsible for most, if not all, of society’s ills, including misplaced sexual energy. “Orgies, husband and wife swaps, and the like, more popular than ever among groups of quite ordinary people, represent a mass assault on the mortal barrier,” he opined. If Harrington were alive today, I suspect he would see much of the turmoil and chaos in today’s world resulting from nihilism. “The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness and insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death, represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody,” wrote Erich Fromm, another humanist philosopher.The nihilist usually interprets all that to suggest that those who are interested in an afterlife are not making the most of this life. Sir Oliver Lodge, a renowned British physicist, was asked about this after devoting much time to psychical research. “It is no doubt possible, as always, to overstep the happy mean, and by absorption in and premature concerns with future interests to lose the benefit and training of this present life,” he responded. “But although we may rightly decide to live with full vigour in the present, and do our duty from moment to moment, yet in order to be full-flavoured and really intelligent beings – not merely with mechanical draft following the line of least resistance – we ought to be aware that there is a future, a future determined to some extent by action in the present; and it is only reasonable that we should seek to ascertain, roughly and approximately, what sort of future it is likely to be.”Hurricane Douglas took a little turn and missed Hawaii by a hundred miles or so, allowing me to make that 1000-month milestone. With other hurricanes expected to follow and with bodily functions gradually shutting down, I don’t know how many months I have left in this realm of existence, but the conviction that my consciousness will survive my physical death permits a certain peace of mind, one which I am pretty certain I would not have as a nihilist. As the great philosopher and poet Goethe put it, “When a man is seventy-five he cannot help sometimes thinking about death. The thought of it leaves me perfectly calm, for I am convinced that our spirit is absolutely indestructible…it is like the sun which only seems to sink and in reality never sinks at all.”Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die
, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.Next blog post: August 31
Alan,Thank you for the comment. I must confess that haunted houses is a subject that has not really interested me and I have not watched more than a few minutes of any of those TV programs dealing with the subject.Michael Tymn, Wed 19 Aug, 20:07
Dear Michael,Two additional points I might mention with regard to your observations on the stance of the humanist/nihilist are, on the one hand its essential cold-heartedness, and on the other hand, it’s essential avoidance. With regard to the first, it is not that the humanist merely condemns himself to postmortem oblivion, but that he also condemns all of humanity to the same fate, including those whom he claims most to love and hold most dear. With regard to the second, the first point could be understandable were it not that he is actively avoidant of possible evidence of post-mortem survival contrary to his own dismal view. There is something deeply perverse in this, something that might be inexcusable in an individual, were it not for the fact that so many contemporary humanists/nihilists are essentially intellectual victims of the culture to which they have been born. Strangely, this often applies most strongly to those who are most intelligent and intellectually accomplished in modern worldly terms, who might be thought to have the wit to see their way out of the intellectual trap, and yet somehow are the ones who tend to be caught in it all the more readily and firmly.Paul, Wed 19 Aug, 20:06
Rod,Yes, the book is being processed by White Crow Books. Things are somewhat backed up because of the pandemic. Thank you for your interest.Also, thanks to Gaby for the comment and to Amos for the link and quote. .Michael Tymn, Wed 19 Aug, 10:35
Dear Michael thank you for a most interesting and thoughtful post; from recollection Alan Harrington who tackled the meaningless corporate life in his classic ‘Life in the Crystal Palace’ (1959) was writing about cryogenics and trying to achieve a physical immortality. Over the years talking with many psychic investigators who look into haunted houses few among those who take a parapsychological perspective feel that they have turned up much in the way to support the hypothesis that ghostly manifestations are signs of survival or intelligent communication. However, once disembodied one’s perceptions may be of a wholly different nature which it is impossible to comprehend or describe in language. Of all the ghost hunters I have known personally, writer and broadcaster Dennis Bardens (1911-2004) author of Ghosts and Hauntings (1965) was the most eloquent and optimistic concerning post-mortem survival. Speaking at a meeting of the Ghost Club at the Wig and Pen Club in November 1999 he compared dying to “moving from one room to another” or “chrysalis turning into a butterfly”. He was convinced by personal experiences and those of many others over he had met over a 70-year period as well as that accumulated by psychical researchers from 1882. At his funeral in February 2004 the cheerful song ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’ was played as the closing music to remind mourners of his confidence.ALAN MURDIE, Wed 19 Aug, 10:18
Is your new book still
going on sell this year?
I look forward to its publication. Thanks!Rod Johnson, Wed 19 Aug, 03:03
I very much enjoyed reading this article and the comments. Everyday conversations even with elderly people do not go very deep into the subject, so it is satisfying for me reading here. Thank you so much, to all. I have no doubt that the soul lives on after death. In my experience, death comes when it is time to come. Often fear of death is in vain.Gaby Kessler, Tue 18 Aug, 21:59
Paul and Art,Yes, the afterlife experiences of the nihilist are definitely a consideration. They may very well struggle in a dream world, not realizing they are dead for a period of time, however time plays out there. When my nihilist friend comments that if he’s wrong he’ll know about it right away, I tell him not to count on it. I tell him that I will try to get him to understand that he is dead, but just as he doesn’t believe me know he won’t believe me then.Thanks to Amos for the additional links. They are very interesting and helpful.Michael Tymn, Tue 18 Aug, 21:24
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but, if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” – Henry David ThoreauAmos Oliver Doyle, Tue 18 Aug, 19:59
I have mentioned several times on this website and provided several links to a German website ‘Empirische Jenseitsforschung’ on YouTube. I like this website because it provides first-hand information, “hard evidence”, from people who have had a near death experience or who experience some other uncommon psychic gifts. This is not second or third hand information from a book written 100 or 150 years ago. It is current up-to date reports of people living today. It is something I refer to as “hard evidence” and not embellished by writers who want to sell a book. The information is “straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak. The moderator wisely does not ask many leading questions but has a standard list of questions he asks all of the participants he interviews. It is very low key and photographed in high definition; a very well-done interview site.
It is in German so that may turn off English speakers but there has been a great effort to provide English translations for most of the interviews. The auto-generated translations are not good so don’t use them. Not all videos have English translations but many do. Check the settings icon at the bottom of the video and turn on the English translation if there is one.
Don’t stop at just one video. Try to find and watch all of them; there are many. The preponderance of similar information from those who have experienced near death is overwhelming and very convincing. There are differences in the near death experience of course but overall there are some underlying similarities in all of them that support what many bloggers on this site have been saying over and over again and have gleaned from other writers.
Don’t overlook this very informative website. I surmise that there are many other sources of paranormal information in the world that are overlooked by English speaking people just because there are not translated into English. e.g., Chico Xavier in Portuguese. Don’t let that stop you from perusing ‘Empirische Jenseitsforschung’. I think it has some corroborating hard evidence to provide about life after death. – AOD
Here is one of the more recent ones.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8VfkmAqiWQAmos Oliver Doyle, Tue 18 Aug, 16:50
Dear Michael,Another point to bring into the discussion is a consideration of the discarnate cost of a secular, materialist, ,humanist, nihilist framework of belief. Given that such a framework does not accord with reality, there is, as I see it, a twofold cost to be borne. First, that of simply having to unlearn that which one has falsely learned. The degree of difficulty will vary with the individual, but with some “hard cases”, they could be “stuck” in their false belief and only extract themselves with difficulty. This is not a “judgment” but rather the natural consequence of a misalignment of outlook. Second, that of the possible or even likely erosion of character in light of such beliefs and the consequent discarnate consequences attending upon this. Again, this is not a judgment, but rather the natural effect of the “specific gravity” that leads the soul to discarnate conditions suited to its nature. Of course, many a humanist would claim to be morally “good” and in a contemporary conventional way many are. But there are fundamental distinctions between such contemporary goodness and goodness traditionally understood. On this, see, for instance, Alastair McIntyre’s “After Virtue”. Neither of these costs are considered by the contemporary secular humanist. They are not escaped through such ignorance, however, but rather must be borne in due season. As a final related point, do wonder about the distinction between an essentially privately held humanism vs one that is noisily preached so as to implant the maximum number of incarnate souls with such beliefs. What is the additional attendant cost to be borne by such false secular proselytism?Paul, Tue 18 Aug, 11:51
From all the near death experience descriptions I’ve read death is not exactly like walking through a doorway because the physics of the other side seems to be very different than the physics we normally enjoy here. The physics of heaven seems to be much more akin to what Michael Talbott wrote about in his book The Holographic Universe, the physics of holographic film which means that everything that is here is also there but we won’t be as tied to space and time as we are here and our thoughts will control where and when and what we are experiencing. We won’t be limited to just one space and time like we are in this dimension. Also the separation that we experience here simply doesn’t exist in heaven like it does here which leads me to believe that everything we have loved and lost in this life will be waiting for us on the other side. In other words we get it all back, everything. Which means the separation we have experienced here simply will not exist on the other side. This place we are now is a holographic projection and the other side seems to be the original holographic film from which our current reality is projected from.Art, Tue 18 Aug, 11:36
Thanks to all for the comments thus far. As for Dave’s comment, I’m not sure how being “stir-crazy” from confinement overlaps with the fear of death, but I can see some ties. Clearly, much of the world seems to be experiencing some degree of insanity. I think physicist James Beichler hits the nail on the head in suggesting that we are entering an evolutionary period that precedes a probable hereditary leap to a new species of human in the overall human collective and individual human consciousness. He says that such is a leap is preceded by a state of maximum chaos. Can it get any more chaotic?Michael Tymn, Tue 18 Aug, 01:39
Thanks for this Mike. Always enjoy your posts. And congratulations for making the 1,000 month mark. I like the month as a market rather than years. Somehow the passing of moons seems more human scale than revolutions around the sun. As for me, I think that death is going to be a great adventure – one that I’m looking forward to. It will be interesting to know if I still feel that way in my 999th month.All the best, BWBart Walton, Tue 18 Aug, 00:20
Nihilism leads to a kind of hedonistic approach to life. “If it makes you happy, the rest doesn’t matter”, or “you have to try to be happy” and other such phrases, so commom today, would look a little eccentric or unexpected in the past. Ancient civilizations like the greek knew that the purpose of life is not to have happiness, but to have purpose, and this can be seen in their famous stories such as the Iliad. Pursuit of happines by itself was considered like a plague, responsible for the fall of civilizations, like the Roman. And pursuit of happiness can paradoxicaly lead to unhapiness. Materialistic people are very often very bitter and envious, and that’s a side effect of the hedonistic mind. And then, sure, when they get old they will have a very hard time to deal with said “extinction” – when you’re 20 years old it might be easy, but not so much when you’re nearing 75. Sorry for the bad English.Josué, Mon 17 Aug, 23:53
Enjoyed this witty essay Mike, thanks. I have experienced some spirit contacts with materialists over the years, a couple were with Christopher Hitchens and are available online at my “anotherwordofgord.wordpress” blog and are included in my book “Embracing Your Divinity – Instead Of Your Doubt”.gordon phinn, Mon 17 Aug, 22:21
I note that an intelligent and compassionate discussion of this topic in the media is as rare an event as finding hen’s teeth. What a shame Mike’s
erudite offering does not enjoy far wider coverage; for all out sakes. What can we do about it?Keith P in England, Mon 17 Aug, 20:05
I am as sure that there is a life after bodily death—and this is based on evidence, not on faith—as I am that I am typing this message. But I also have to admit that I don’t fear the idea of extinction. What IS to be feared is the idea of unrelenting pain and punishment after death: and this is what I believe many in the ‘when you’re dead, you’re dead’ school of thought are really rejecting, whether or not they are aware of it.James McArthur, Mon 17 Aug, 19:45
From a comment in the Daily Telegraph today:
The thing you notice about the responses of the self-proclaimed atheists here is that they are angry people, determined to rain on other people’s parades.All they have to do re God is, like Voltaire, say ‘I have no need of that hypothesis’, but they don’t.MickeyD, Mon 17 Aug, 19:27
Another wonderfully erudite article. We must stick to our convictions of survival via the evidence that we have uncovered. There is no other explanation for the best cases that we have uncovered in our quest for truth. Fear is the enemy. P.S. I adore the writing of the Patience Worth persona.Tricia, Mon 17 Aug, 19:19
Too much context, Michael. There are no conditions to be met and the only pitfalls to be avoided are created by context. Death itself happens in less than the blink of an eye. Many people are taken completely by surprise at the instantaneous nature of the transition. It is hard to let go of the notion that when alive we are immersed in something with which we must come to terms. Physical existence is a total illusion and all that happens at death is that we are made aware of it. The appropriate response to death should be, “Oh, I must have dozed off for a moment. I thought I was having a physical experience.”Frank Juszczyk, Mon 17 Aug, 19:13
Hi Mike,Very nice column. As I read it I got the impression that you were discussing the weltenschauung of the post-World War II materialist, reductionist, Darwinist academics.You and I for at least 50 years have been familiar with how they see the world.
But something else is going on now. I believe that the Covid-19 Virus pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into the gears. Several friends that I have had for many decades who are normally well-adjusted and reasonably laid-back have become nervous wrecks due to the effects of the pandemic. The fear of contracting a killer disease and the uncertainty about being able to prevent its contraction has rendered them irritable, cranky, confused and no longer very stable. As the months pass and the number of Covid-19 deaths increases here and elsewhere in the world your average Joe from the 20s through the 80s and beyond have become a jumpy lot indeed.At least in the minds of the materialist, reductionist, Darwinist academics over the years they believe they were applying pure reason and logic to reaching their oblivion conclusion. Now I sense in the case of so many people I know – my age and much younger – intensifying fear seems to be blotting out reason. The fear is driving them into desperation in the struggle to avoid becoming a Covid 19 Virus victim.What you have to say about that?Kindest regards,
DaveDavid Stang, Mon 17 Aug, 18:27
I have come to think that if one really believes in survival of a soul and that there is a possibility that the soul reincarnates a few or many times back on earth or some other planet. Then why fear dying? As Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf from early childhood is reported to have once said “Death is like walking from one room into another. The only difference is that I shall be able to see and hear in that other room.” Just for a moment accept as truth that to a soul in another reality who has lived on earth or other places once or many times, death is nothing, just a walking from one room into another. It doesn’t matter how or when one makes that transition or whether the time to return to a life that is short or long, whether peaceful or traumatic. It is of no consequence from that perspective of a parallel reality of the eternal soul. – AOD
On October 16, 1914 the spirit entity Patience Worth dictated to Pearl Curran a poem about dying:
Shall I arise and know thee, brother, when like a bubble
I am blown into eternity from this pipe of clay?
Or shall I burst and float these atoms in a joyous spray
At the beholding of this home prepared for me and thee?
And shall we together mingle our joys in one supreme joy in Him?
It matters not, beloved, so comfort thee,
For should the blowing be the end, what then?
Hast not thy pack been full, and mine?
We are weary of the work of living
And sinking into oblivion would be rest.
But sure as sun shall rise my dust shall be unloosed,
And blown into new fields of new days.
I see full fields yet to be harvested, and I am weary;
I see fresh business of living, work yet to be done, and I am weary.
Oh, let me fold these tired hands and sleep.
Beloved, I trust, and expect my trust, for ne’er yet did He fail.
Patience Worth: October 15, 1914Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 17 Aug, 15:09
Another excellent article, and very timely. I note how great numbers of men and women are incarcerating themselves to escape death by the virus. I take the usual precautions and live a fairly normal life. No doubt my attitude is influenced by my confidence that death is not the end. As Goethe says, the sun only appears to set—it doesn’t really.Stafford Betty, Mon 17 Aug, 14:00