My Search for Evidence of Life after Death
Dr. Walter A. Busby
The catalyst for this article was a visit from a former student who had recently experienced a spiritual epiphany. He was both a student and then a Teaching Assistant for my Human Relationship class about ten years previous. Now married he brought his wife and a friend that wanted to meet me. During the ensuing conversation, I made the statement that I believed there was ample evidence to convince any open-minded person that consciousness continues after the death of the physical body.The enthusiastic response from the three of them was that they would like to see this evidence. Thus began my search, which would take me more than two years to complete.
“While I thought that I was learning how to live,
I have been learning how to die.”
Leonardo da Vinci
“I am dying!” This terrifying thought grips me like a steel claw. I am a nineteen-year-old Petty Officer Third Class stationed at the naval base in Nantucket returning from a shore leave. Stumbling to the front of the bus, in a voice distorted with fear and alarm, I begged the driver to stop. He reluctantly let me off at an all-night restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Confused and panicky, I went inside and, with the help of a waiter, called the naval base. At the base hospital, I received a sedative and was put to bed.
Twenty years later, while experiencing a powerful spiritual awakening, I would remember the trigger is this incident was a moment of pure indescribable bliss of which I became instantly frightened as the terrifying thought, “This is death, I am dying” consumed my awareness. Why did I associate bliss with dying? The most obvious answer is that I remembered dying before. As I discovered in my search, the release from the physical body is indeed blissful.
Gary Schwartz is a world-class research scientist who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University. He has published more than four hundred scientific papers and has co-edited eleven academic books. He also produced the most compelling experimental evidence for the survival of life after death that I have found.
It started with a simple question from his wife who asked, “Do you think it is possible that my father is still alive?” Her father, who had been her mentor and her best friend, had passed ten years previously. The results of his quest to answer his wife’s question led to his book, The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life after Death (2002). Gary, who was then a Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery at the University of Arizona, began his research in secret, as he knew there was the considerable risk to his professional reputation. His research involved setting up experiments to test whether psychic mediums were able to communicate with people who were dead. He conducted the experiments using five of the superstars of mediumship: John Edward, Suzanne Northrop, Laurie Campbell, Anne Gehman and George Anderson. Gary, a skeptical scientist, found the results of his experiments stunning. His research revealed convincing evidence of the survival of consciousness after death. The follow-up of this research became his life’s work. His latest books, The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science is Discovering God in Everything, Including Us (2007) and The Sacred Promise: How Science is Discovering Spirit’s Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives (2011), tell the story of how far he has come. Gary is still a professor at the University of Arizona at the main campus in Tucson. In addition to teaching courses on health and spiritual psychology, he is the Director of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health. I invite you to visit his website: www.drgaryschwartz.com.
Chris Carter’s Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics (2012) convincingly presents evidence that parapsychological phenomena demonstrate repeatedly and with statistical significance, using methodologies that have withstood the criticism of skeptics, over multiple decades. Despite this convincing evidence, a skeptical community continues in a denial mode, contrary to reason and science. His goal is to demonstrate that the skeptics are ideologues intent on defending a semi-religious worldview for irrational and non-scientific reasons.
Following the suicide of her mother and an evidential mediumship reading, Julie Beischel, Ph.D., pursued rigorous scientific research with mediums full-time and eventually wrote Among Mediums: A Scientist’s Quest for Answers (2013). In this book, she discusses mediums, and she reviews her ten-year journey and the answers she discovered along the way. Her writing is concise, non-technical, conversational, and entertaining. Be prepared to laugh! This book is a wonderful introduction to the application of science to a human experience that is thousands of years old, yet ignored or dismissed by most of the scientific community. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how science applies to the so-called “paranormal.”
Raymond Moody published his groundbreaking book, Life after Life in 1975. Ever since, the search for evidence of the survival of death through looking at those who were thought to be clinically dead (defined as the absence of a heartbeat, respiration, brain wave activity, or muscle response) and yet survived, has been hotly pursued. In 1987, the Journal of Near-Death Studies was established. The Journal is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Like Gary Schwartz, Moody, along with his counterpart, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, made a career out of seeking verification for their conviction that life continued after death.
Some of the case studies offer the most significant evidence that consciousness does not need the physical body to exist. Dinesh D’Sousa, in his excellent book Life after Death: The Evidence (2009), reports two verified cases that corroborate this. One is the story of an eleven-year-old boy who suffered cardiac arrest and had no heartbeat who later told of an out-of-body experience in which he could see the doctors and nurses working on his body. After recovery, he accurately recalled the resuscitation procedure used on him, the colors and whereabouts of the instruments in the room, and even what the medical staff said to each other.
The other remarkable case involved a Seattle woman who reported a near- death experience following a heart attack. She told a social worker, Kimberly Clark, that she had separated from her body, rose to the ceiling, and floated outside. Clark did not believe her, but a small detail the woman mentioned caught her attention. The woman said she was distracted by the presence of a shoe on the ledge of the third floor at the north end of the emergency room. It was a tennis shoe with a worn patch and a lace stuck under the heel. Somewhat reluctantly, Clark agreed to look and, to her astonishment, found the shoe as described.
Eben Alexander’s book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (2012), was a bestseller featured on the cover of Newsweek. Dr. Alexander, a prominent neurosurgeon at Harvard University, has written a fascinating book about his near-death experience. At the age of fifty-four, he contracted a severe form of E. coli meningitis, which aggressively attacked his cortex, or the portion of the brain that supplies conscious, rational thought. He slipped into a coma but, instead of experiencing nothing, as in deep sleep, Dr. Alexander describes a journey to heaven. While Dr. Alexander’s experiences have startling similarities to other near-death experiences that I have read about, what sets his book apart is the fact that Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon with great knowledge of what makes up consciousness. The parts of his brain that would create experiences were not functional at the time when he experienced them. He is also a man of science and a skeptic who changed his views completely after experiencing this. His descriptions of Heaven (Your choice to capitalize) are vivid, uplifting, and fascinating. Dr. Raymond Moody writes, “Dr. Eben Alexander’s near-death experience is the most astounding I have heard in more than four decades of studying this phenomenon. [He] is living proof of an afterlife.” I found this book to be a terrific read as well as convincing evidence of an afterlife. I cannot wait to share this with some of my skeptical friends. Visit his website, www.eben Alexander.com
Radiation oncologist Jeffrey Long, M.D. and his wife, Jody Long, J.D., through their efforts at the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF), have gathered thousands of accounts of NDE’s from all over the world. In addition to sharing the personal narrative of their experiences, visitors to the website fill out one hundred-item questionnaire designed to isolate specific elements of their experience and to flag counterfeit accounts. The website, www.nderf.org, has become the largest NDE research database in the world, containing over 1,600 NDE accounts. The people whose stories are in the database span all age groups, races, and religious affiliations and come from all over the world, yet the similarities in their stories are as awe-inspiring as they are revealing. Using this treasure trove of data, Dr. Long points out how medical evidence fails to explain these reports and why there is only one plausible explanation—that people have survived death and have traveled to another dimension. He and his coauthor, Paul Perry, believe that they have compiled the most compelling evidence to date published in their book, Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences (2011).
For a comprehensive look at NDE’s, I recommend Chris Carter’s book, Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death (2010). He builds a powerful and compelling case that the mind is not dependent on the brain and can exist independently of the brain. Also, for a clear and readable presentation of the evidence for NDE’s, I also recommend Roy Abraham Varghese’s book, There is Life after Death (2010).
During the spiritual awakening that I mentioned earlier, I was flooded with remembrances of planning my present life. While this experience resulted in my belief in reincarnation, there is also an abundance of evidence in support of the idea of continued life in another dimension.
The classic reference is the work of Ian Stevenson, M.D., who was a Canadian biochemist and professor of psychiatry. Until his retirement in 2002, he was head of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, which investigates the paranormal. Stevenson considered that the concept of reincarnation might supplement those of heredity and environment in helping modern medicine to understand aspects of human behavior and development. He traveled extensively over a period of forty years to investigate 3,000 childhood cases that suggested to him the possibility of past lives. His first book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1980), is still a classic. His last book was Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation (2000). He died in 2007.
Thomas Shroder, in his book, Old Souls: Compelling Evidence from Children who Remember Past Lives (2001), has written a riveting first-hand account of Dr. Stevenson’s mission to investigate and document his case studies. More recently, Walter Semkiw, M.D. authored a book about Stevenson’s work entitled Born Again: Reincarnation Cases Involving Evidence of Past Lives, with Xenoglossy Cases Researched by Ian Stevenson, M.D. (2011). The Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition, and Spirit (IISIS) honors the work of Ian Stevenson. I encourage you to visit their well-developed and fascinating website: www.IISIS.net. One final source is the excellent, comprehensive book on the subject by Hans Holzer, Life Beyond Life: The Evidence of Reincarnation (1985).
Past life regression, while not providing verifiable evidence for reincarnation, does offer compelling case studies that have the intuitive ring of truth. Brian Leslie Weiss, M.D., is the author of many books including the best-selling Many Lives, Many Masters (1988). In many ways, his story is similar to Gary Schwartz. In 1980, Weiss was head of the Psychiatry Department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach when he began treating Catherine, a twenty-seven-year-old woman plagued by anxiety, depression, and phobias. Weiss used hypnosis to help Catherine remember repressed childhood traumas. What emerged were the patient’s descriptions of a dozen or so of her hitherto unknown eighty-six past lives, as well as philosophical messages channeled from “Master Spirits.” Catherine’s anxieties and phobias soon disappeared, and she was able to end therapy. The previously non-spiritual, scientific Weiss, awed by Catherine’s and the Masters’ revelations, wrote this book to share his new-found knowledge about immortality and the true meaning of life. During one hypnosis session, his client introduced the spirit guides who have been her soul’s therapists in between lives. The story took off for Weiss when he discovers that these guides had specific messages about his dead son, as well as Weiss’s mission in life. Similar to Gary Schwartz, this well-respected graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School discovered a personal truth that changed his life and that led him to be an enormously popular speaker, author, and leader in the field of past-life therapy. His other books include Messages from the Masters: Tapping into the Power of Love (2000), and Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy (2005). You can visit his website: www.brianweiss.com.
Michael Newton, Ph.D., discovered that it is possible to take his clients beyond their past life experiences to uncover a soul existence between lives. He has done over 7,000 sessions with clients that revealed not only previous lives but also a place between lives where everyone learns how and why we return to another life on Earth. His first book, Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life between Lives (1994), is one of my most valued sources. I was captivated by his discovery and description of the between-lives experience. I savored every case study and hated them to end. His clients’ reports of their deaths and subsequent greetings from spirit guides and soul groups have often moved me to tears, as I knew I had experienced this before. I was amazed how his description of the between life experience was consistent with other trusted sources. His other books, Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life between Lives (2000), Life Between Lives: Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression (2004), and Memories of the Afterlife – Life between Lives: Stories of Personal Transformation (2009), are equally exciting and worthwhile. I recommend that you visit his website: www.newtoninstitute.org.
Richard Martini’s Flipside: A Tourist’s Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife (2011) is an excellent book based on the work of Michael Newton. Martini interviews hypnotherapists from around the world trained in the method pioneered by Dr. Michael Newton, as well as examines actual between life sessions. He also agrees to experience his regression with startling life-changing results. I loved this book; it summarizes the body of knowledge gained from LBL regression and leaves no doubt in my mind about the validity of this reality. In the words of author Gary Schwartz, “Once you have read ‘Flipside,’ you’ll never see the world in the same way again.”
Suzanne Ward’s book, Matthew, Tell Me about Heaven (second edition, 2012), is also one of my most trusted and valued sources. Fourteen years after Matthew died at age seventeen, his mother started hearing his voice. Matthew told her about their pre-birth agreement to record the transmissions she was receiving from him and many other disembodied souls. He stated that her primary lifetime mission was to publish this information.
Matthew’s description of his life in the hereafter is both beautiful and captivating as we learn about the wonderful activity and diversity of life in the realm that we call Heaven. He clears up common misconceptions (he says its proper name is Nirvana) and explains why, in this unprecedented time in the history of Earth, it is essential that we know the truth about our beginnings and our relationship with all of the creation. He covers topics like Heaven’s location and purpose, its residents and visitors, its reception of souls, reunions with loved ones, life review, angels and spirit guides. Additionally, he covers near-death experiences, suicides, food, travel, employment and recreation, cultural resources, education, communication between Heaven and Earth, and the effects of prayer. This excellent book helps us understand the beauty of the other side as well as how to bring that beauty into our world. I urge you to visit her website: www.matthewbooks.com.
My first contact with a medium was during a demonstration when a medium from Britain roamed the room and gave short readings to audience members. He stopped in front of me and said that he had contact with relatives on my mother’s side who wanted me to know that they were proud of who I had become, especially since I had been so small and weak at birth they did not expect me to live. In spite of the accuracy of this information (my mother called me her “little shoebox baby” because I was so tiny I could fit in her shoebox), I was still skeptical. It was not until my exposure to Gary Schwartz’s groundbreaking research that I became open to the authenticity of mediums. Since then I have collected almost all the books in print written either by or about mediums. Here is my personal list of mediums with published books that I believe are authentic:
James Van Praagh
Noticeably absent from this list is Sylvia Browne. I have dozens of her books in my library, and I admit that I have enjoyed reading many of them. One of her latest books, Afterlives of the Rich and Famous (2011), is fascinating reading but, like many of her books, it just does not have the ring of authenticity for me. I know that she is immensely popular and that she has legions of fans; however, I am not one of them. I have not listed all of the books by these authors as you can easily find them on the internet either through their website or Amazon. I would, however, like to comment on some of them.
The superstars like John Edwards, James Van Praagh, and Lisa Williams have TV and radio shows; due to their celebrity status, they are not accessible except through attending their lectures and demonstrations with large audiences. In fact, most of the multi-book mediums are not available for individual readings, and appointments, if possible, are made years in advance. The exception is George Anderson, believed by many to be the “Stradivarius” of mediums. He is available at $1,200 for a one-hour reading. You can visit his website: www.georgeanderson.com.
Concetta Bertoldi has to be my favorite medium. Her sense of humor is evident by the title of her book, Do Dead People Watch You Shower? (2007) She describes herself as an “average Jersey girl who talks to the dead.” James Van Praagh writes, “With her fun- loving and sparkling personality, it is no wonder the spirit world wants to speak to her.” Her second book, Do Dead People Walk Their Dog ?(2009) is equally delightful. You will want to visit her website: www.concettabertoldi.com.
Maureen Hancock is the author of the book, The Medium Next Door – Adventures of a Real-Life Ghost Whisperer (2011). One reviewer on Amazon describes her as “a gift from God and the closest you can come to being in the presence of an Angel.” As a beautiful blonde-haired woman with an angelic face, she certainly looks the part. Maureen is soon to be the star of the new Style Network documentary, “Psychic in Suburbia.” Style, along with ABC Media Productions and the producers of The Ghost Whisperer, are bringing forth this unique presentation. Visit her website: www.maureenhancock.com.
Anne Gehman’s book, The Priest and the Medium (2009), will keep you turning pages as you follow the spiritual journey of two fascinating people who are obviously soul mates who eventually find each other. While it brings forth Anne’s development as a fruitful and authentic medium, you will love this beautiful, romantic adventure. Enjoy your visit to her website: www.annegehman.com.
Echo Bodine and her brother, Michael, grew up in a family billed as the “world’s most psychic family.” Michael’s book, Growing up Psychic (2010), is a brutally honest page-turner. He shares incredible true stories, including a dangerous ghost friend, the hodgepodge of psychics who gathered in his mother’s kitchen, ghost hunting misadventures, and an inspiring account of his successful battle against chemical dependency as he learned to accept his unusual gift. His sister, Echo, although raised in the same family, has a more balanced personality. In addition to her nine books and dozens of CDs and videos, she has a huge following and a highly successful program of healing and teaching. Check out her website: www.echobodine.com.
My Personal Readings
I decided to add to my research by receiving my personal readings with a medium. Although I live in driving distance from Cassadaga, Florida, home to over fifty psychics/mediums, I chose to look elsewhere. My experience with this community has not been favorable. I had similar unfavorable experiences in Sedona, Arizona, also home to a large group of psychics/mediums who cater to tourists. After a comprehensive internet search and research of the websites of mediums who had written books, I chose two mediums for my readings.
The first was with Cheryl Booth who I found through her book Johnny Angel is My Brother: A Psychic Medium’s Journey (2005). In spite of her poorly written book, (I would later find it was self-published), I felt an affinity with her. She was also inexpensive and available. There were a few “hits,” but overall the reading was not convincing or satisfying. I would not recommend her.
The second reading with Maureen Allen was completely credible and convincing. She channeled my mother, father, sister and my best friend by first sharing compelling evidence of the nature of their passing and by giving physical descriptions and descriptions of their personalities. My sister, Nina, relayed the message, “Thank you for keeping my secret.” Only she and I could know this information. She persisted in showing an astrology chart that I could not validate because I am not into astrology. I would later realize she was trying to communicate that we were both Capricorns born on January 19, two years apart! Concerning my best friend, Don Avila, she saw a pool cue stick that referred to how we loved to spend time together. In fact, he had a special room in his home with a regulation pool table. It was also obvious that my mother spent considerable time watching me as she came through describing my house and garden in detail. My dad came through with honesty by admitting he was “difficult.” I highly recommend Maureen; because of her reading, I was able to authenticate first-hand the existence of life after death with complete confidence. You may visit her website: www.maureenallan.com.
I found Maureen through the psychic/medium Echo Bodine. Recommendations by an established medium are one of the best ways to receive an authentic reading. I also recommend Bob Olson’s website, The Best Psychics and Mediums. Olson, who is a psychic/medium himself, recommends other psychics and mediums he has tested personally. He includes a description of his readings with each and points out their focus and ability. Visit his website: www.bestpsychicmediums.com. I found Maureen through the psychic/medium Echo Bodine. Recommendations by an established medium are one of the best ways to receive an authentic reading. I also recommend Bob Olson’s website, The Best Psychics and Mediums. Olson, who is a psychic/medium himself, recommends other psychics and mediums he has tested personally. He includes a description of his readings with each and points out their focus and ability. Visit his website: www.bestpsychicmediums.com.
Visitations and After Death Communications
The visitations and after death communications reported in the following books, while warm and soul-satisfying, do not provide proof of the survival of consciousness. I find it difficult, however, to discount the authenticity and sincerity of these stories. Lee Lawson, in her book Visitations from the Afterlife: True Stories of Love and Healing (2000), estimates that over 70 million people from all lifestyles and all areas of the globe have experienced a reunion with a loved one from the afterlife. She provides well-researched and sensitive overviews of why visitations occur, and she offers numerous first-person, intimate stories of visitations from around the world.
Trudy Harris, R.N., is a wonderful, passionate, and caring woman who spent her life as a hospice nurse. Her two books: her first book, Glimpses of Heaven: True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey (2008). The second book, More Glimpses of Heaven: Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey (2010), present an intimate look at the final thoughts, words, and visions of terminally ill and dying people. To her, Heaven is a real place. Through her eyes, you will experience true stories that paint a reassuring picture of life’s end.
In her book, Afterlife Encounters: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences (2005), Dianne Arcangel reveals the results of her five-year international survival study by using real stories from real people as she categorizes the data. Both the stories and the data are rather incredible. Also fascinating is her participation in the Afterlife Watching Experiments involving mediumship research and her private reading with popular medium George Anderson. You can visit her website: www.psychomanteum.com/dianne_arcangel.htm.
Bill Guggenheim and his wife Judy define After-Death Communications, or ADC, as occurrences when someone is contacted spontaneously and directly by a deceased family member or friend – without the help of any medium. Their book, Hello from Heaven: A New Field of Research – After-Death Communication Confirms that Life and Love are Eternal (1997), shows that these spiritual experiences offer hope, love, and comfort for thousands of people. The book includes more than 350 first-hand accounts of those whose lives changed, and even protected, by messages or signs from the deceased.
Jeff and Judy Long, authors of Evidence of the Afterlife, reviewed earlier in the section on NDE, are also active in ADC. They maintain the After Death Communication Research Foundation, which has extensive information and resources regarding after-death communication, bereavement, grief, and life after death. Visit their website: www.adcrf.org.