Former Guideposts editor Tompkins (The Divine Life of Animals: One Man's Quest to Discover Whether the Souls of Animals Live On, 2010, etc.) plumbs theories on mortality and the prospects of an afterlife.
From a childhood dominated by gloomy nightmares and spectral visions of death, the author grew up with conflicting notions of life and the mystery shrouding the dead. He was guided by his father who favored karma over science and religion and believed the human soul preexisted the physical body; he often referenced “great early architects of new age thought” like Russian mystic Helena Blavatsky, American clairvoyant Edgar Cayce, and Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard. As a result, Tompkins’ own burgeoning mysticism took shape and developed into a pursuit that landed him a job writing articles for Guideposts, where he bonded with readers, embraced their otherworldly stories of life after death and transcended materialistic convictions. Following this short personal account, the author delves into a scholarly comparison of historical life-after-death belief systems. The discussion encompasses several books of the dead, including the ancient Egyptian belief in the immortality and divinity of the human soul and Tibetan theories of nonexistence. He also addresses a beguiling handful of related topics: residual postmortem consciousness, the concept of reincarnation, flying saucers, the American Transcendentalist philosophy of the regeneration (and perfection) of the self through consecutive lives and the largely overlooked studies of afterlife researchers. Perhaps most illuminating and convincing are the eerily beautiful true-life stories from those who believe they’ve experienced near-death events. Tompkins is a bright proponent, credibly arguing that personal life knowledge doesn’t halt with physical death, but instead continues into an otherworldly state of being that we’ve only begun to contemplate.
A fascinating, impassioned hybrid of memoir and divine supposition.