THE INTERLIFE EXPERIENCE: FLUIDITY AND INDIVIDUALITY
Extract from Chapter 6 of The Big Book of the Soul
© Ian Lawton 2008
We have seen that mere past-life regressions can be conducted using the relatively light level of trance characterized by the alpha brainwave state. By contrast, despite the pioneers often stumbling upon the interlife, therapists generally seem to agree that regressing subjects into their time between lives requires the deeper levels of the theta state.[i] However there is no significant tendency for people to be able to enter the alpha but not the theta state, so anyone who responds to hypnosis should be able to regress not only to a past life but also to the interlife.
As to the experience itself, it is impossible to overemphasize the extent to which it should be seen as fluid and individual. We have seen that Michael Newton is by some margin the best known and most widely read of all the pioneers, and his dedicated efforts to investigate and report on the interlife have rightly earned him widespread praise. However, if we are to remain objective and professional, Newton’s work in particular must come with a health warning. On first acquaintance with the regression transcripts in his books, the untrained observer tends to be overawed by the quality and detail of the information that emerges. This feeling is reinforced by the regularity with which they laugh at, scold or contradict him when he appears to be ignorant of any particular issue, suggesting that they are in no mood to be led to experience something that is not validly happening in their trance at the time.
However, at least off the record some professional hypnotherapists make rather more critical assessments of his work, even when they are not necessarily skeptical about the broad concept of the interlife.[ii] They suggest that, in his determination to investigate and especially to classify the experience, Newton has ended up leading his subjects rather too much to stay within the specific framework he has devised. Particular areas of concern include his classifications of levels of soul ‘advancement’, symbolized by the colors of their energy fields; of the various types of ‘soul groups’; of the specific makeup of various ‘councils’, and of the symbols worn around the necks of the wise ‘elders’ that make them up; of the specific terminology used for various ‘places’; and of certain types of more advanced activity and specialist training. Most of these are found in both of his main books, although there is far more detail in the second, and they are arguably aspects of his research where subjective influence may have played a part. Of course the same problem afflicts certain aspects of the other pioneers’ research as well, but in most cases to a significantly lesser extent, not least because they were not investigating the experience as thoroughly as Newton. We will not be examining any of these more suspect areas in the sections that follow.
What we will be doing is seeing just how consistent a thread is woven by all the pioneers’ subjects around the five broad elements of the experience described in the previous chapter. But even then we should appreciate that they are not all experienced by every subject during every interlife regression. For example, sometimes the emphasis may be more on review than on planning, or vice versa. This does not necessarily mean that each of the elements is not experienced by most souls during the interlife proper, at least to some degree; but it does mean that, when we are recalling the experience in human form, some aspects may be more important than others. We should also recognize that, broadly speaking, each interlife experience between each pair of earthly lives is unique and different for each of us. However, subjects also report that existence in the light realms represents an ‘eternal now’, in which not only elapsed but even sequential time becomes largely unimportant. So our recall of our time between lives under regression can only approximate to the true, timeless experience – and it will be deliberately framed in terms that our somewhat restricted human perceptions can understand.
Before we start to look at the details, there are two further riders that should be placed on this material. Just as we saw in chapter 1 with near-death and out-of-body experiences, the interlife pioneers confirm that souls tend to project quasi-physical qualities onto their surroundings and the other souls they encounter in the light realms – rather than perceiving them in more purely energetic terms – to make them feel at home. In seems this tendency may be more prevalent when they are reorienting themselves after death, or if they are less experienced. But we will also find that most subjects continue to describe all aspects of the light realms in quasi-physical terms – indeed there seem to be certain archetypes, for example of ‘libraries’ containing ‘life books’, and of ‘elders and councils’, that arise repeatedly. This could be because this is what they actually perceive in the real experience, or it could be merely because these provide the easiest way of explaining various aspects of the interlife in human terms when recalling it while still incarnate. In general, however, it remains likely that this tendency to project will reduce with experience.
Related to this, we have also seen that research into near-death and out-of-body experiences suggests the realms we encounter after death are in large part created by our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. So surely our perception of these must also be influenced by our cultural conditioning and expectations. On that basis, we should recognize that virtually all of our pioneers’ subjects have come from the Westernized world in their current life. Admittedly some interlife regressions are preceded by a life in another part of the world, but the fact that these do not seem to make a great deal of difference to their experience could simply reflect the overriding influence their current culture has on their recall. In any case, as yet there have been no published studies of the interlife from, for example, Asia, Africa or South America – and it would be fascinating to establish whether the five broad elements, and the main archetypes, would be corroborated without any subjective leading by the therapist.
[i] See, for example, Tomlinson, Healing the Eternal Soul, chapter 7, p. 98. Newton refers to the ‘superconscious’, and Whitton and Wambach to the ‘metaconscious’, state.
[ii] To name names would be invidious and counter-productive. Suffice to say that such criticism is reasonably widespread.