For instance, accounts I have heard and read in different parts of India and from elsewhere in the world highlight that at the time of death, one’s relatives or friends or spirit guides descend to earth to escort one. This probably explains the large number of dying people who say they are seeing so-and-so from amongst their dead relatives waiting for them. Most accounts of those who have returned from the dead seem to corroborate this to an extent. In fact, all people who have returned from the dead report either crossing a dark river or passing through a tunnel and meeting many of their friends and relatives who had died before them.
Many of them also recall meeting a ‘being of light’ who asked them what they had ‘done’ during their life on earth and apparently replayed their lives before them, a factor that changed the whole focus of their lives once they returned from their ‘temporary’ death. Curiously, their actual time of death was revealed to them either by the ‘Being of Light’ or by others they met who were already dead. In fact, people who have ‘died’ and then lived again have consistently narrated, no matter what their religion on earth, the experience of passing through a mystical tunnel. I have yet to meet a single person who has returned from ‘the dead’ who has not begun by saying—albeit in different words — that “I hovered over my own body and could see and hear others... I tried to communicate with them but found that I could not and that they could not see me or hear me...An escort took me through a dark tunnel and then we crossed a river...” Sometimes there are escorts but never more than two are mentioned, though sometimes the sighting of several dead relatives or friends is reported.
People who have passed over and veteran spirit guides from the other world have also provided details of this transition from living in the physical to living in the nonphysical world through this tunnel or across a dark river. I have written earlier about a man in his forties who ‘died’ and ‘returned’ reporting that after floating out of his body and seeing himself inert and doctors trying to revive him, he saw a being of light.
“Next to this Being I could also see what I would describe as an opening, very much like a tunnel. A channel of light seemed to connect the Being with the opening to the tunnel. I was drawn towards the tunnel by the energy radiating from this channel of light. As I drew closer, the intensity of the light increased not twofold, but more like four to six times its previous brightness and the tunnel and the channel of light both expanded in diameter, and I was able to penetrate deeper into the dark unknown...
Many of them also recall meeting a ‘Being of Light’ who asked them what they had ‘done’ during their life on earth and apparently replayed their lives before them.
“As I continued on my journey, I could see spirit ‘bodies’ at different levels, some above me, floating close by in the air, others beside or behind me. All of us seemed to be connected, like we were holding hands, but not with our hands. It was more like our individual outer boundaries became thinner and thinner until we joined into being one entity... and this is something to which I’m trying to find an answer to this day....
“Meanwhile, I noticed that we were steadily travelling onwards and upwards. Curious, I looked back, and saw the tubular structure that I had entered at an upward angle...I also looked more closely at the spirit bodies connected to me. Actually, it wasn’t so much that I could see them but rather knew how their appearance made me feel. Later, I learnt that these spirit bodies with their brightness and energy accompanied one also to minimise any shock people might experience at learning they had `died’.
“Many people, I discovered, were allowed to become aware of their deaths in their own time, at their own pace. All were allowed to gradually move through the tunnel to a place where they were greeted by and reunited with friends, relatives or Helpers. There were also special techniques to ease dead people’s communication with those who were waiting to assist them. This process is very important...”
Conversations with those who have died and returned and the dead or spirits as they are commonly called also confirm that there are seven astral planes. Most average people travel to the third astral plane. Curiously, pets too travel to the third plane. Those who are not too ‘evolved’ spiritually remain bound to the first and second planes, while those who are more spiritually advanced travel to the fourth or a higher plane. Those who have ‘evolved’ souls and greater magnetic energy in their personalities find passing through the tunnel, the crossing of the dark river and the overall crossing easier than less evolved or weaker persons, partly because the former possess higher energy and consciousness levels which allow them to travel through the tunnel or cross the ‘river’ with relatively few problems. People with high energy levels who die also connect better with Beings of Light.
Rarely can two souls be together or travel together in the same time frame forever. As such, too emotional a bonding is a handicap to the soul’s progress, which is probably why, amongst other reasons, the Gita emphasises “detachment within attachment.” Surely there are meaningful lessons in this for all of us. Accounts are consistent that once the dead have reached ‘the other side’, there is apparently a meeting with all those who have gone before them. This aspect puzzled me for quite a while, because how come, I asked myself, that all those people who had died were still unborn, that is, had not been re-incarnated again? There’s a reason but it will have to be shared in a future column.