Heaven & Hell: What Happens After DeathBy JOHN ROTH
There’s a continuing thread among new Michael students about life after death, and specifically the Christian teachings about Heaven and Hell. This pops up on mailing lists and in forums with some frequency. First, I’m going to talk about some of the history of Christianity behind the notion of Heaven and Hell that I suspect most parishioners don’t know, and then I’m going to talk about what Michael has to say about life after death.
Much of this first part is from books and talks by Bart Ehrman. Professor Ehrman takes the view that Jesus was, first and foremost, an apocalyptic preacher. That is, that he had a firm belief, which he passed on to his followers, that God was going to come down in the near future and throw the bastards out, thus ushering in a reign of goodness, peace and plenty. This was to take place in his lifetime. There are, of course, numerous other views of the primary thrust of Jesus’ teachings. J.D. Crossan, for example, teaches that Jesus was primarily interested in social justice as applied to the situation in his specific time and place, which is a continuation of the primary interest of the Jewish prophets.
Paul’s seven authentic letters echo the same theme: the Apocalypse is to come in his (or at least his listeners’) lifetime.
To take a slight digression: there is no way of knowing whether Jesus in fact taught anything about an apocalypse, or if he did, whether he thought it mattered. The earliest writings we have are Paul’s seven authentic letters, written in the 50s. The earliest of the Gospels was written in the mid 70s, 35 years after the Crucifixion and approximately 10 years after Paul probably died.
The notion of an apocalypse entered Jewish thought in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, and the only Old Testament book that’s in the least apocalyptic is Daniel, written in the 2nd century BCE and claiming to be from the 6th century BCE.
Jesus may have taught about an apocalypse as a simple continuation of the Jewish religious beliefs of his time, or he may have ignored the entire thing and focused on the current social and political situation, leaving it to his followers to add it to the teachings because that was what they were familiar with. Unless we get another treasure trove of material from the late 1st century, we’re unlikely to ever know.
The basic fact is that the Apocalypse didn’t come. By the end of the first century, it was becoming more and more obvious that it wasn’t coming, at least in the ways that the apostles and other preachers had said. This was a crisis that early Christians had to solve if their religion was going to have any meaning.
I need to make a slight digression here. Up until about a third of the way into the 20th century people believed that Eusebius’ “Ecclesiastical History” was accurate in saying that orthodox Christianity was the majority view that came via apostolic succession directly from Jesus and hence from God. This got really shaken by the discoveries at Nag Hammadi. The current, although by no means universal, view is that there were many different regional versions of Christianity, many of which may not have had any conception of an Apocalypse. Proto-orthodox and later orthodox Christianity was probably a lineal descendent of Paul’s thinking and was the version current in the city of Rome. It won out because of Rome’s position as the capital of the empire, with the financial and organizational resources that implied.
This view of Church history says that the way of dealing with the failure of the Apocalypse to arrive on schedule may have only be a concern of the Roman branch of early Christianity, and not to any of the other branches. Consequently the way of dealing with it by moving the Vindication of the Faithful from this world to the next was also peculiar to the Roman proto-orthodox branch.
Heaven and Hell as we think of them today weren’t part of Greco-Roman mythology. The Greeks and Romans certainly had a notion of an afterlife, where the Underworld was ruled by Hades and Persephone in Greek mythology and Pluto in Roman mythology. The Elysian Fields and various journeys to the Underworld certainly did get a bit of press, but that was less of an established theology and more of the kind of travelogue we’re familiar with in Dante’s Inferno.
Jewish thought didn’t have any real conception of an afterlife until fairly late, at least according to most of the Old Testament.
Egyptian thought was a lot more florid, with the Book of the Dead and the judgement by Ma’at. However, the upshot of the judgement was that a soul that was found wanting was simply destroyed, eaten by one of the Egyptian’s crocodile gods. There was no eternal punishment, there was simply non-existance.
By the second century CE in the Roman church, the notion became that Vindication was for the afterlife, where the good would live a blessed life in the presence of God, and the damned would live in eternal torment. The first part, of course, is a simple continuation of the Elysian Fields and Egyptian thought about what the just and good would experience after they’d passed the judgement of Ma’at.
Where the notion of Hell comes from really isn’t that clear, although it certainly does show up in a large number of 2nd century writings. Then as now, it seems like the writers had much clearer ideas of what they’d like to happen to their enemies than they had of the eternal rewards.
Effectively, the focus of proto-orthodox Roman Christian teachings changed from the radical egalitarianism of Jesus and Paul to attempts to save the soul so that it could enter Heaven in the afterlife. The things of this world were seen as impermanent and unimportant. Jesus and Paul would have been astonished at treating women as anything other than full equals in spiritual, religious and community matters; by the second century proto-orthodox thought had shifted back to the Greco-Roman practice of male dominance, probably in a “this doesn’t matter, only Heaven matters. "Don’t sweat it” frame.
What does Michael have to say about what happens after death?
Michael’s description of the afterlife more or less follows logically from their description of Essence. Essence, in the Michael teachings, is continuously resident on the Astral plane; it does not “descend” to the Physical Plane. What it does is to split off or specialize a part of itself to follow a particular body for its entire life, from before birth to after death. This specialized bit unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a specific term, which contributes to making it hard to talk about. This piece is also programmed with the overleaves, as well as other things such as the life task.
When Essence creates it, it has access to a repository of experience that’s been gained in “prior” lifetimes on the Physical plane. This is usually called the Soul, although that term isn’t much used because it conflicts with the way the term is used in other spiritual teachings. This repository includes the results of skills learned, interpersonal monads, karmic ribbons and soul age levels among other things.
There are a number of ways of looking at this. What it comes down to, though, is that this part of Essence is completely focused on the physical body, and is paying no attention to anything it doesn’t need for the life it’s living. When the body dies, it’s quite possible that Essence will stop animating it right away. That doesn’t eliminate what’s happened. It’s more like a book that’s been written and completed: Esssence is no longer involved in creating it, but it’s still sitting there, ready to be looked at whenever it’s needed.
However, if the story that Essence was telling itself included a notion of an afterlife, it will continue creating that story for a while.
The first thing many, although by no means all, people do after death is stick around for a while to attend the funeral and see what the bereaved actually thought about them. There are other reasons for sticking around as well, some of which result in ghosts.
If the person had strong opinions about the afterlife, those will manifest at this time. Someone with strong Christian beliefs will see Jesus or St. Peter and will probably experience their conception of Heaven (most people don’t believe they’re going to Hell) until they get bored with singing the same old hymns of praise for ever and ever.
This isn’t just Heaven and Hell. One channeling I heard was that the departed was sitting in an easy chair, surrounded by his collection of National Geographic magazines and going through them. Jane Roberts wrote The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher about William James’ experience after he died. He wanted to write another book.
Eventually, the story it’s telling itself gets terminally boring, and it quits. Essence quits energizing the piece that was following the lifetime, and begins an extremely detailed review of the life, right down to the level of experiencing the death throes of every ant that got stepped on. What it wants to keep gets added to the working repository of life experience (the Soul) that’s available for other lifetimes on the Physical plane.
There are a couple of take-homes. One is that the entire structure of Heaven and Hell and most of the rest of Christian theology was created to avoid problems with having an Apocalyptic religion right in the middle of the Roman Empire’s seat of power. It’s got everything to do with continuing the organizational structure of the Church, and has no other validity.
The other take-home is that the standard model of reincarnation is a simplification of what happens, and in many ways an oversimplification. The bit of Essence that is living a particular lifetime is usually discarded after the lifetime is over. Essence has no more use for that structure; it will create a new one for each lifetime.
Other things that various channels and psychics have said about the afterlife and what happens between lives are actually Essence’s normal activity on the Astral plane which continues whether or not Essence is currently running any lifetimes on the Physical plane. This is particularly true of what Michael Newton (no relationship to our Michael) has said in his four books of hypnotic regressions to the ‘between life’ state.
The structure Essence uses for the lifetime doesn’t actually vanish; it’s sitting somewhere that some psychics can access. It’s just not plugged into an energy source. Essence can reuse one for another lifetime if it wants, it simply doesn’t as a normal practice. I suspect that’s what’s happened with some of the cases of “reincarnation” in India. That’s also what happened with Jane Robert’s “Seth” personality -- it had been used to live a lifetime in Medieval Italy, and Seth reactivated it with changes that let Jane use it.
About John Roth
John Roth is a sixth level old scholar with scholar casting, a goal of growth, in the observation mode sliding to caution, and an idealist sliding to skeptic on occasion. He's in the emotional part of intellectual center with a chief feature of stubbornness. He's a wild card in the third entity of the first cadre of the 14th energy ring (which is the same ring most of the rest of us are in.) Interestingly, John walked-in during the late 70's; before that the essence running his body was a fourth level old king with a goal of discrimination.
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