Home/Main Menu     Site Map

Death-Related Experiences
Record Type: Review   ID: 922

After Death: Mapping the Journey

Miller, Sukie, with Lipsett, Suzanne

Miller addresses the question: What happens to people after they die? Her approach in this book differs from most volumes on this subject in two respects. She sought the answer from many cultures, and she presents a four-stage journey to depict the after-death process. Part 1 is entitled "Opening to the Possibility of More," which resounds within me because what every type of exceptional human experience does is reveal one or more components of human nature not generally recognized. Miller confines herself to one class of EHEs, the death-related experiences. Miller takes a natural history approach, as I do, and presents anecdotes and people’s narratives about their beliefs and experiences.

Miller makes a third contribution as well by introducing the importance of what she calls vital imagination, which is an inner capacity that "enables us to experience the afterdeath" (p. 54). "It is the capacity…not merely to visualize but to experience…an aspect of a greater reality not ordinarily seen" (p. 46, p. 47). Although she identifies it, after Henry Corbin, as an imaginal experience, her term, vital imagination, captures the vitality of her own experience of the dead during a Candomblá ritual in Brazil, which was an exceptional human experience for her. It may well also be what enables us to experience psychical, mystical, encounter, healing, peak—all types of exceptional human experiences. Because not everyone can tap into this faculty, she, as I have done, honors those experiencers who can and the descriptions of their experiences, with which they gift us. She writes: "We are indebted to those who have had such extraordinary experiences, who have written of them and who have made them known, often widely known. The great bodies of spiritual and religious imagery, special stories, and mythology—these are the stuff of the vital imagination" (p. 55). I would add states of bodily knowing, the flights of imagination that music, art, and literature can induce, and the raptures of human love and the magic of empathy between humans—and sometimes between humans and other life forms as well. I could not agree with Miller more when she says that by these various means, "all of us can learn of hidden realms and benefit from the exposure, once removed, to vital imagination. We can take their experiences as evidence of ‘something more’; of ‘someplace else,’ and take comfort in the other realms their visions convey" (p. 55). Yes! That is why it is so vitally important for people who have had exceptional human experiences to share them orally and to write about them so that their personal visions can quicken awareness of "the more" for other people as well, and also making them more open to their own experiences, past and still to come.

A chapter is devoted to each of the four stages of the afterdeath journey that Miller observed in the various systems of the world she studied. She notes that these stages were really "active journeys," and the four stages were evident "despite their diverse cultural origins" (p. 19). The stages are, I. "the waiting place," which is where the deceased person "is transformed from a physical to a spiritual being in order to make the trip" (p. 19). II. "the judgment phase, where the traveler’s previous life is scrutinized and evaluated and his or her destination thereby determined" (p. 19). III. "The realm of possibilities, where the traveler enjoys—or endures—the fruits of the judgment or, in systems where judgment is relatively insignificant, simply exists within the landscape of the after-death" (p. 20). And IV: "The return, or rebirth, where the traveler comes back to this life within the chrysalis of a new baby and a new identity—or, alternatively, escapes the Wheel of Life to join the universal whole" (p. 20). The final chapter is about hope, which Miller sees "as a psychological quality badly neglected by the scientific community and vitally necessary to people’s moving through the stages and challenges of life and death" (pp. 20-21).

There are four useful appendices, especially the Afterdeath Inventory. Another identifies the senior researchers in all the countries in which the research was conducted. A third describes the Institute for the Study of the Afterdeath and its databases. The institute was founded by Miller, and she is the director. The fourth is a 10-item reading list of books listed in order of recommendation.

Sukie Miller has made a significant contribution to the study of what happens after death. This book will serve as a meaningful guide. I hope it will activate the vital imagination of those who have not previously experienced it and enliven that of those who have already experienced it. If we are the creators of reality, then it will be books like this, rather than empirical evidential studies, that will give us the meaning we require to build and grow on.

Publisher Information:New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. 235p. Appendix D. Recommended Readings: 201; Bibl: 213-223; Chapnotes: 207-211; Ind: 225-235
Previous Record Previous
in this

List All Titles in This Category (100)

Book Reviews Menu
in this

Click a section below to move around the EHEN website.
Home/Menu       About EHEs      EHE Autobiographies      EHE Book Reviews      EHE FAQ      EHE Network      Email Talk      Experiences Library      Info/Contact      Join Us!      Living EHEs      Parapsychology      Rhea White      Web Links      Web Talk      What's New     

All website graphics, materials and content copyright © 1997-2003
by EHE Network. All rights reserved. For permissions
please contact EHEN's Executive Director, Rhea A. White.

Web Media Management by Palyne Gaenir of ScienceHorizon.

Exceptional Human Experience Network
Exceptional Human Experience Network