SURVIVAL AFTER death, and a new life for those who are ready for it, in another
world, have been referred to and to some extent described for thousands of
years. In recent years we have had some fairly detailed descriptions of the life
Either there is such a life or there is not. We shall each ascertain what is for
us the answer when we die.
In the meantime every race and most cultural groups on earth include many
individuals who, for varying reasons, are convinced that there is such a life
after death, some who are convinced that there is no such life, and many others
who feel unsure. Those who feel unsure include some who are interested in
investigating the subject and seeking evidence.
The sort of evidence that people seek obviously depends on their personal
backgrounds. Some will be convinced beyond question by a religious experience,
others by a near-death experience. Some will have had just one or two psychic
experiences, possibly following the death of a close relation, and the result
for them could be unquestioning conviction. A few may have reached a similar
conviction on the basis of an experience that others might regard as
questionable, or of no importance, or even based on fraud.
In some way we have to cut through this rather complicated situation and we
shall seek to do it mainly by referring to what might be regarded as scientific
evidence. Very broadly that is the sort of evidence which can be convincing to
experienced and unbiased scientists who are well aware of the problems arising
in this field.
We should be absolutely clear that the true situation does not depend on our
evidence. It is only our personal knowledge of it that may depend on our
evidence. Science is itself an ongoing complex of models, knowledge, theory,
methodology and so forth and there is a great deal in the science of to-day that
would have been unthinkable fifty years ago. In the next fifty years the
situation may well have changed far more, if only because there is more science
being done in each decade. We therefore need to remind ourselves at every stage
that some established scientific ideas will be overthrown or at least modified
within our lifetime. The science of ten years hence could well be more
far-reaching and it will be helpful if, for a start, we adopt the model
presented in this book so that we have a view of the system in which we live
that can accommodate evidence of survival when we have found it.
We start with a situation in which many people are convinced, mainly on the
basis of approaches outside the present reach of the sciences, that there is a
new life that follows death, that it is bigger and better and of greatly longer
duration than our life on earth, that when you are in it it is real and solid,
but that it is different and omits many aspects of our life on earth,
particularly where they are dependent on our physical surroundings.
This chapter, in its four parts*, is concerned with evidence for survival. But
this book as a whole is concerned with a particular model of the system in which
we live, a model that can accommodate a next life and a whole structure with
many levels. Obviously there is a measure of something like circularity here in
so far as we set out to formulate a structure that can accommodate survival
before we discuss the evidence for survival. This, however, is only a procedure
of convenience, forced on us by the difficulty of dealing with a many sided
situation in a single sequence of chapters.
* The current article being Part 1 and
A Discussion of the Evidence for Survival being
Fortunately, the literature that is readily
available provides excellent coverage of many aspects of the survival problem.
In Grattan-Guinness (1982) we have a chapter on Survival after Death, Evidence
and Issues, by Professor Ian Stevenson (pages 109-122) and in Wolman (1977)
Discarnate Survival by Dr. Alan Gauld (pages 577-630).
 ed. Psychical Research - A Guide to its
History, Principles and Practices (Wellingborough, Aquarian Press, 1982.)
I would also recommend the following books.
Richard Broughton Parapsychology (1991)
Ian Stevenson Books on Reincarnation and Biology published in 1997
Alan Gauld Mediumship and Survival (1982)
Paul Beard: Survival of Death (1961); Living On (1980);
Hidden Man (1986); The Barbanell Report (1987); Inner Eye,
Listening Ear (1992)
Geraldine Cummins: The Road to Immortality (1932);
Swan on a Black Sea (1965);
They Survive (1946); Travellers in Eternity (1948)
Chan (Spirit guide of Ivy Northage) Journey Beyond (1972)
Robert Crookall The Supreme Adventure (1961)
This chapter presents comments on particular aspects of the problem, in some
cases dealing with matters that are not dealt with in as much detail in some of
the recommended sources and in others adding new ideas. What is written here is
not intended to provide a full coverage of a subject as large as this.
Because, however, survival after death is such an important subject, for each of
us as individuals, for the whole of humanity because of the influence it could
well have on the way people live their lives, on the development of the sciences
because of the implications of survival on the structure and position of science
if survival becomes recognised as a fact, and for psychical research, this
chapter is rather longer than the others in this book. This however fits in with
the importance of survival in connection with the model, and of the model in
understanding how survival fits in as part of the system in which we live.
We can start with brief comments on a few of the selected books. Any such
selection is inevitably personal and many readers will find that their favourite
books have not been included, but these comments may help those who have not
previously read much in this field.
Richard Broughton is a leading researcher, Director
of Research at the Institute of Parapsychology in Durham, North Carolina and a
past President of the Parapsychological Association which is the leading
international professional association, based in the USA, for those involved in
His book differs fundamentally from the others listed here in that in his
chapter on Life After Death?, at pages 242 to 273, he remarks (p. 246) that
research with mediums is virtually nonexistent to-day and he bases his approach
in the main on out-of-the-body-experiences, near-death-experiences, and the work
of Ian Stevenson and others on 'cases of the reincarnation type'.
The statement that research with mediums is virtually nonexistent to-day seems
to be fair and reasonable. I have had 160 sittings with mediums in the 13 years
since August 1984 and many more before 1984 but on a less formal basis, but I
have not published any papers on that work and while for me it constitutes
research, it cannot count on a wider basis without effective publication. As
Broughton points out, research with mediums can be inefficient and difficult; I
would not be doing it if I depended on obtaining material for publication. In
this country we are, however, fortunate in still having some excellent mediums,
but in the USA it has become fashionable for people who have the necessary
sensitivity to train towards channelling rather than communication with a
sitter's relatives and friends. Some who have taken that path have made money on
a scale that could not be achieved through giving individual sittings.
Many of my discussions through mediums have been with communicators who were
involved in psychical research during their recent lives, but they have produced
little, if anything, that contributes in any substantial way to our knowledge of
psi or survival. I have learned a great deal, but it is not material that is
easy to pass on in detail.
Broughton's chapter on Survival is a substantial contribution to the subject and
one that I strongly recommend.
Stevenson on Reincarnation and Biology
Ian Stevenson has written two important books on
Reincarnation and Biology, published together in 1997. The first, which he
refers to as 'the monograph', is of 2268 pages in two volumes, the first volume
dealing with birthmarks involving subjects who have memories of earlier lives
and in the main of violent deaths, and the second volume dealing with birth
defects coupled with similar memories and backgrounds, The second book, which is
available as a paper-back at a modest price, presents a summary and discussion
in 203 pages. The whole of this work seems to be immensely impressive. The
significance of it appears to be overwhelming and the shorter book could be
regarded as essential reading for anyone concerned with these aspects of
physical evidence of mind-body interactions.
 Reincarnation and Biology (USA, Praeger)
and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (USA, Praeger).
The Road to Immortality
Geraldine Cummins was a famous medium who
concentrated on automatic writing. Her book The Road to Immortality (Cummins
1932), consists mainly of transcripts of automatic writing which she produced,
purporting to be communicated by F. W. H. Myers. The material was received over
three periods, 1924-1925, 1927 and 1931 (page 19). It claims to describe what
happens at and after death, by the communicator who died in January 1901. Myers
was one of the founder members of the SPR and in its early years he did a
remarkable amount of pioneering work. He is inclined here and there to use
poetic phrases where we may feel that we need a more analytical approach, but in
spite of that the book is probably the best record we have of a set of
descriptions of the HD* world. It can possibly be treated as our main guide as to
what it is that we are seeking evidence about when we consider evidence of
survival after death. It is fairly clear on a number of points related to the
difficulties that arise in communicating between the HD and 4D** worlds.
* HD: Higher dimensional.
** 4D: Four-dimensional. The world of three dimensions of space and one of time.
The reasons for adopting this record as a serious guide to the problems it
claims to deal with, are several. In the first place it seems to be reasonably
consistent within itself. Secondly it appears to fit in well with the ideas and
information that I have received from mediums and communicators, and with
descriptions in what appear to be some of the best of the considerable number of
other books that have been written on this subject. This could merely mean that
they are all sharing the same traditional approaches, in which case they could
all be wrong; that will have to be dealt with as soon as we find a way, but in
the meantime it is helpful to find approaches that seem to agree one with the
Thirdly, these scripts seem to be potentially compatible with an extended
physics and with the model presented here.
The scripts are not adopted because they are claimed to be from Myers. If they
do come from him, then that is excellent, and they may well do so. Shortly after
they were produced both Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir
Laurence Jones, who had known
Myers, made public statements on their apparent authenticity on the grounds that
they seemed to reflect the personality of Frederic Myers. The scripts are,
however, adopted for reference here mainly because they appear to make a well
The original form of the book included a foreword by Sir Oliver Lodge and an
explanatory introduction by E. B. Gibbes, some 20 pages that are not included in
the abridged edition of 1984 and later. There were also some 60 pages at the end
of the original edition, including two and a half pages of index, which have
been omitted in the abridged edition. It is suggested that the abridged edition
is adequate for a first reading and that the earlier edition can be referred to
later, if required, possibly in the library of the SPR.
There is a problem relating to the sequel to this book, Beyond Human Personality which apparently continues the Myers scripts with "essays
written for the most part in 1933 and 1934" (p. 15). Some of these scripts
claim that minds (to use the term used here, but not in this context in the
scripts) live not merely with bodies on the Earth, but also on other planets and
on or in the stars. Where they live on other planets they are said to do so in
bodies that are not discernible to our instruments.
 London: Psychic Press, 1935.
At present I reject these claims and do so for the reasons set out in the
paragraphs that follow. These arguments are included here as they may be of
value in connection with the survival problem, but some readers may prefer to
skip them and to go to the next section heading.
In the first place the reasonable approach described above seems to have broken
down, at least to the extent that we must judge it in the light of our present
knowledge. The references to fixed and variable stars seem to indicate that the
communicator may have picked up a false trail (at pages 96 and 103-104). In the
main we use the term "variable star" to refer to one that gives a cyclical
variable radiation, possibly due to there being two bodies revolving about their
common centre. In other words, it is not the star that is variable but the
radiation that comes from it. Therefore it seems to be an irrelevant
classification for the discussion in the book; it looks as if an impostor may
have stepped in and taken over the control of the sitting.
Secondly, it seems to make good sense that a mind should serve a term of years
with a body in the 4D world, because doing so provides opportunities to interact
with physical factors. For instance, it provides an opportunity to swim in the
sea and to develop the skills required to ride on large breakers. In the HD
world that sort of challenge may not be available. It also provides the
opportunity to develop civil, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering
and in all those ways to challenge an independent nature that will demolish our
bridges if they are not designed effectively. That is another type of challenge
that is probably not available in the HD world. It looks as if the 4D world may
be the only location for interaction with stochastic situations; in other words,
as if the 4D world is the home of probability distributions at the macroscopic
level and the home of statistical concepts. This environment is wonderful for
developing many types of skills. Therefore, on these grounds alone, and no doubt
on many others, it seems to make sense for minds to come for a while to bodies
in the 4D world.
However, for a mind to go to one of the planets in a form that is not
discernible to our instruments does not make sense to me at present, with my
limited knowledge. Our instruments are designed to deal with factors that arise
in the 4D world. If those minds are on a planet to interact with the environment
they find there, then as the environment is presumably of the 4D world they
could reasonably be expected to interact with our instruments. If not, why are
they there? What is the significance of being on a planet if one cannot
interact with it?
It may be that the system in which we live is more complicated than our model
admits, in that there could be different levels of 4D-like worlds that do not
interact with each other in the ways with which we are familiar. It is stated in
Beyond Human Personality that there are even "denser" regions than life on
It may be that we need more basic information in the first place. Until we have
it, it is suggested that we should be careful with that part of the book in
question that deals with the planets and the stars; the rest of the book is
apparently free from this type of criticism.
Swan On A Black Sea
Geraldine Cummins' book Swan On A Black Sea
represents another set of scripts received through automatic writing, but of a
rather different nature. In the Foreword by Professor
C. D. Broad he wrote:
I believe that these automatic scripts are a very important addition to the vast
mass of such material which prima facie suggests rather strongly that certain
human beings have survived the death of their physical bodies and have been able
to communicate with certain others who are still in the flesh.
The communicator was Mrs. Winifred Margaret Coombe Tennant who had herself been,
under an assumed name (Mrs Willett), an active medium. She was the first woman to be a
magistrate in Glamorganshire and the first woman to be appointed by the British
government as a delegate to the League of Nations.
Much of the book is concerned with communication with her surviving sons. Many
readers have found it to be impressive evidence for survival.
Ivy Northage has for many years been giving public
lectures while in trance and they are of an exceptional standard. The
communicator is her guide Chan. The book titled Journey Beyond (47 pages) was
originally published as Journey Into Spirit in 1972 and the second edition
(1988) with the new title has been reprinted in 1993. It reproduces several of
the earlier lectures by Chan. It is one of the more valuable texts I have found
on the nature and problems of the next life,
It appears to have been prepared with great modesty, clarity and economy in the
use of words, factors that are evident in all of the Chan-Northage lectures I
have heard. I recommend it for anyone who wishes to widen his or her
understanding of the next life.
Survival of Death
The book by Paul Beard, Survival of Death contains a great deal of valuable information relating to mediums and
their problems. It draws heavily on material from the Proceedings of the SPR and
it is valuable to have statements relevant to a particular problem brought
together for us in this way and reproduced for easy reference.
 London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1966.
Paul Beard was for fifteen years the president of the College of Psychic Studies
and he was close to the subject of mediumship during that time. Since then he
has continued to keep in touch with this area of work. He does not write as a
scientist but he does employ an analytical approach backed up with modesty and
care. Above all he knows his subject.
In this book Paul Beard describes the next life in
its various stages, as he sees it, based on communication through mediums over
many years and, I would suspect, some more intimate communication that we might
possibly refer to as inspiration or guidance from his closest communicators or
guides. This is an important book and one that takes us rather further than The
Road to Immortality and Journey Beyond.
The Barbanell Report
As I write this is probably the latest book
available that consists almost entirely of transcripts from the tapes of a
series of sittings. The medium is Mrs. Marie Cherrie and the sitter and editor
of the book, Paul Beard. It does not depict normal progress of a deceased
person, but that of one who is so determined to achieve his maximum possible
speed of development that he makes it particularly hard work. However, from the
point of view of the reader this has its value as the book covers a considerable
span of experience, all of which apparently took place in some four or five
years of our time. It also achieves considerable depth and subtlety. If anyone
needs an answer to those critics who claim that messages received through
mediums consist of trivialities, this book can take its place alongside many
others, including Swan on a Black Sea.
Having read this book I read it again. For me this seemed to be a natural and
necessary procedure with a book of this style, mainly because the words are all
so simple that much of the importance of what is written tends to be missed at a
first reading. At a second reading and at later references to particular points
it is possible to ponder on the meaning and implications of individual
statements. A few of them are rather striking. Obviously some readers will
regret that there is no index, but I have felt that the book is sufficiently
important to prepare my own index to it while reading it that second time.
Towards the end of the book, when Barbanell had shown his desire to move ahead
at a greater speed than is usual, we reach a stage when he is, or soon will be,
no longer in touch with Paul Beard. Ten years after the publication of this
book, in 1997, Paul told me that Barbanell had come back and was communicating
again. It looks as if he had been trying to move too fast. I guess it would be
unwise to interpret this as a mistake, but it could be an indication that moving
between the districts is quite a challenge.
The Barbanell Report will almost certainly be valued by those who wish to study
such evidence as we have of the conditions of life in the HD part of our system,
and having grasped its nature no serious student of the subject will be misled
by the rather unusual type of life that is depicted. These favourable comments
assume that the reader is willing to skip some passages that refer to friends
and organisations that were of special interest to Beard and Barbanell on a
Having introduced this very personal selection of books that deal either partly
or wholly with survival after death, we can now consider, in Part II, some of
the problems connected with communication.
The above article was originally titled "Part I Evidence for Survival". It was
taken from Arthur Oram's "The System in Which We Live" (Purley: Talbot Books,