Written by Nash Popovic
We argued previously that humans (and other life forms) have material and non-material aspects that interact. But what happens when the former is not capable of that interaction anymore? This is what we will address here.
All four methods described in the first part (phenomenological, inductive-deductive, transpersonal and reasoning) can contribute to this topic:
- Relevant materials from various traditions (e.g. The Tibetan Book of the Dead) can be a valuable source. However, they are inevitably embedded in their particular cultural frameworks, so the phenomenological method is used to draw out that what can be of a more general significance. This can be assisted by discerning commonalities from different backgrounds. We should be aware though that some commonalities may be a result of cross-cultural fertilisation, rather than being arrived at independently.
- Research on Near Death Experiences (NDE) can also make an invaluable contribution, but it too has some limitations: it can account only for the first stages of life after death and relies on untrained subjects (although some aspects of their reports can be verified).
- Transpersonal experiences can provide some valuable insights in this area, but they can be easily misinterpreted (i.e. they may relate to something else rather than life after death).
- Reasoning is limited in its generating role, but it can help putting things together and exclude elements that are inconsistent, incongruent with the available facts, and superfluous.
Each of these methods is clearly insufficient on its own, so what follows is an attempt to combine them to various degrees.
 For instance, in Ancient Greece, Empedocles and Plato adopted the idea of reincarnation from the Pythagoreans, and Pythagoras himself could have been influenced by his contacts with Indian thought.
Death has an evolutionary and developmental purpose. It is a necessary condition for biological evolution – without death, the planet would soon be populated by simple organisms and new ones would have no chance to appear. It is also an act of mercy on the biological level. The suffering of trapped, old, sick or injured animals would be indefinitely prolonged if there were no death. Death may also contribute to the individual development. Errors and mistakes of body and mind may accumulate during a lifetime to such an extent that it is hard to progress with that baggage. Reincarnation (discussed below) that could offer a fresh start and still enable continuity would be impossible without death. Social development benefits from death too. If generations did not change, societies would be far more conservative, solidified in their beliefs and practices.
Death can be defined as the irreversible cessation of body functioning. However, this does not mean necessarily the end of life. Being an attribute of focused energy, life cannot cease to exist (as long as it remains focused), it can only be transformed. From this perspective, it makes sense that the soul continues its existence after death. Empirical support for the claim that an aspect of the human being remains alive after the body stops functioning is provided by research on NDEs (see, for example, Fenwick & Fenwick, 2012). An out of body experience is, as a rule, a prelude to an NDE. Subjects report that they perceived the situation from a different point of view than where their bodies were, and were able to describe resuscitation procedures in detail, although they were unconscious and their eyes were shut. Because it is very difficult to locate the precise time of their occurrence, it is sometimes claimed that such experiences, in fact, happen before or after the period of brain inactivity, and are therefore a product of the brain. However, in several cases it was confirmed that they took place while the brain was not showing any activity. There are a number of other attempts to explain these experiences within a materialistic framework, but none of them seem fully satisfactory  (for more detailed analyses, see Blackmore, 2005b and Wade, 1996, ch.12). It is interesting that NDEs lead to a profound change of the outlook on life of those who had them: acceptance of death and a sense of calm and purpose that can remain well after an experience. These constructive effects on the mind represent a distinction between NDEs and some pathological states. It is true that even after an accident or serious illness that does not involve an NDE, people can have an enhanced sense of well-being and contentment. However, this is usually short lived and not accompanied by calm and acceptance of death as in the case of an NDE.
Another contentious issue is what remains after death. We all bear witness that the body returns to its natural entropic state. Those who identify the soul with the mind, entertain the possibility that the mind can be preserved in its entirety (including its memories). However, considering the extent to which the mind depends on the brain, this is unlikely (dementia, for example, reduces some mind faculties even before death). Besides, many materials of the mind are context-specific – it would be pointless to preserve them when the context changes (e.g. what would be the purpose of knowing traffic signs in non-material reality?). We take a view that the mind and the soul are not the same. After death, the mind gradually disintegrates, but the soul remains. This process starts when the body ceases to produce oscillations that resonate with the soul, and the soul separates from the body.
 For more detailed analyses see Blackmore, 2005b and Wade, 1996 (Ch.12)
The Intermediate Stage
Several common elements of near death and similar experiences that are largely independent of culture, age, education, or religious affiliation, can shed some light on the twilight zone between physical and non-physical life:
Life (or significant events) passing in front of one’s eyes: this is sometimes interpreted as an attempt to find a solution to the present predicament in past experiences, but it is more plausible that it is about processing life experiences so that their energy can be incorporated.
Meeting one’s relatives or religious figures are most likely projections. An indication of that is that one’s grandpa, for example, usually appears as he is remembered, not as an old sick person on his death bed or a man in his prime (which would probably be grandpa’s choice). Also, it is unrealistic that non-material reality is populated by a conglomeration of gods and demi-gods from various cultures who just happen to be passing by when one dies. For the visions of gods and demons, The Tibetan Book of the Dead advises: ‘Be not terrified. Be not awed. Recognize them to be the embodiment of thine own intellect’. This, however, does not mean that these mental projections are not projected onto something real. Contacts with other souls cannot be ruled out – only they may not be what appears to those who just arrived.
Going through a tunnel or other passage (a corridor, river crossing, or bridge), often with a bright light at the end: researchers do not provide an explanation of what this ‘tunnel’ may be and whether it relates to something real (except misguided ones, such as that it is the memory of passing through the birth canal). One possibility is that the awareness is drawn towards the other opening of the soul (facing non-material reality), but that would mean leaving the rings behind, which does not seem to fit well with the description of such experiences. Individuals report meeting relatives and religious figures on the other side which, as mentioned, indicates a projection. This means that we do not lose our mental constructs (which are preserved in the rings) immediately after death. A more plausible explanation could be that these passages are themselves constructs that have a purpose to link, as well as keep separated the two realities. Such a device could help preserve the rings through the transition process (otherwise it would be like waking up suddenly and completely forgetting everything from a dream you just had).
(Self)evaluation of the earthly life is a persistent component of life after death accounts, but its purpose is often misinterpreted. The soul seeks coherence (it is difficult to keep the energy together if there are internal conflicts), so it makes more sense that this is about coming to terms with past experiences and choices, rather than a judgement.
These experiences, though, cannot tell us much about what happens further down the line, so we will examine next the main options in that respect.
What actually happens after death? There are three major beliefs (with many variations): one is that nothing happens, the other is reincarnation, and the third is that the non-material aspect of the human being continues to exist in a different reality. Surprisingly, it seems that there is scope for a synthesis even here. Each of these interpretations contains an element of truth, but they are burdened by ideological baggage that makes them seemingly incompatible. In other words, they are all epistemically valid, although the degree of their ontological status may differ. To draw a parallel, when swimmers reach the other end of a swimming pool, one of them can stay there and do nothing, the other can swim back, and the third can get out. However, the first one will eventually have to either swim back or get out, and the second one will eventually have to get out.
Several conclusions relevant to this topic can be drawn from the previous arguments. First of all, if the soul is non-material, it does not return or go to another world after death – the soul has never left that other world. What happens is that it loses the connection with and the support of the body, and consequently the connection with the physical world. The soul can be sustained as a discrete unit of energy in non-material reality by the rings that, in a way, create its boundaries. However, the rings created through an interaction with the brain and material reality cannot last indefinitely in a different environment, and slowly fade (it is not only hard to preserve their elements, but also the linkage between them). So, constructs created during one’s physical existence eventually disintegrate (which is to be expected, because they are not relevant any more). However, their effects, the imprints that they leave on the soul, are preserved. In other words, the form is forgotten, but the essence remains. This may be compared to a computer disc that preserves a particular code, but not words and images.
When the rings start disintegrating, awareness expands (which is similar to the expanding of awareness when we wake up). The self becomes aware of non-material reality and the rest of the soul that had not been captured by the rings. The soul can still be sustained without the rings because it has a centre (the self) that keeps the energy focused, and its unique ‘shape’. That shape is greatly affected by knowledge, experiences and intentions accumulated during one’s lifetime. However, not every shape can easily adapt to the new environment. This depends on two factors: inner harmony (disharmonious energy is hard to keep together), and the stage of development achieved during physical life. Several options are possible: the soul merges with a larger unit, reincarnates, or if the self is capable of keeping its energy together, remains aware and capable of intent in non-material reality. The following descriptions of these options are inevitably an interpretation and, as such, they do not need to be taken on board word for word.
- A soul is sometimes still connected to a larger energy unit (physical separation during material life does not necessarily mean that individual souls are fully separated in the non-material domain). In this case, the soul could again become a part of the larger whole, within which it may still maintain a limited individuality or it can merge fully. This seems to be the case for simple biological organisms rather than humans.
- If the body and bodily instincts were the main driving force during material existence, the soul cannot, on its own, remain integrated after death (the first ring easily breaks when the soul loses the support of the senses and body to enforce it). Two reactions can be expected: panic, which leads to a rush attachment to any available new body. The other possibility is the enfolding of the soul, akin to being cocooned, with some internal processing still going on. We do not understand this process sufficiently, though, to be able to say more about it. It is most likely that such souls eventually reincarnate too.
- If the main force in life was social determination, the conventional ring can preserve the soul integrated for a while. The experience is interpreted according to the cultural framework adopted during the lifetime. A person gives a recognisable shape to a new experience, so non-material energy can take familiar forms (e.g. relatives, angels, religious figures). These constructs can persist for a while if internally reinforced, or for even longer if a collective network is created through mutual interactions of participating souls. Nevertheless, those constructs do not have the same solidity and durability as in physical life. Without the support of the brain and material world, sooner or later they also fade and the second ring may start disintegrating. The length of this process depends on the extent to which the soul is attached to socially conditioned elements and how much these elements are supported by other souls. After the conventional ring fades, awareness expands, but souls that heavily relied on such constructs are unlikely to be able to adapt to the new, so the same is likely to happen as in the above case (i.e. reincarnation). However, if the person, during their physical life, managed to move beyond the conventional stage even in one dimension (e.g. through their actions), it may weaken the anxiety and attachment to the familiar reality and the soul might be able to remain in the non-material realm.
- If during physical life, a person was predominantly on the third (ego) stage of development, their soul is likely to be fully separated. An individual can temporarily create their own environment, so personal expectations are fulfilled. The soul of a convinced materialist, for instance, can spontaneously enfold leading to ‘hibernation’, making it consistent with the belief that nothing happens after death. More commonly, the soul can create a world of their desires. Such an ego-created ‘world’ can be shared and supported by other souls that have similar affinities. However, maintaining these projections is energy consuming and limiting – in other words, being transfixed by them can become a trap. As long as the self is identified with ego, awareness is restricted (like awareness in a dream that is narrower than when awake).
- This is similar (although even more intense) to being so involved in a computer game, fantasy or dream that one forgets the real world outside. The third stage, however, is notoriously unstable, so sooner or later the third ring also starts to break down. As in the previous instance, a soul at this point does not need to reincarnate any more if it is capable of opening enough and accepting the new, but this is far from easy. When reality is faced, the experience is still susceptible to personal interpretations that can look like Heaven or Hell. Heaven and Hell are in fact the same (an analogy can be drawn with, for example, London, that can be Heaven for some and Hell for others). It all depends to what extent the shape of the soul fits the new environment. Moral sense and an ability to give up personal importance play a significant role. For instance, people who, during their material existence, used physical strength or money to control others may feel lost because there are no bodies or money any more. In short, unless the person is able to transcend attachment to their ego, reincarnation is again the most likely outcome.
- If the fourth stage of development was dominant (at least in one dimension), the self is likely to be able to preserve and control energy with expanded awareness. This is not to say that it is easy to maintain the soul coherent (as a separate unit) without the support of the rings, but reaching the transcendent stage during one’s life provides a fair chance to do so. This does not even necessitate a spiritual outlook beyond awareness and acceptance that reality cannot be reduced to matter, and a willingness to give up the constructs of the material world and of one’s I. In this case, reincarnation is no longer necessary – existence and development can continue in the non-material realm. However, it is traditionally believed that some souls may voluntarily return to the physical realm in order to assist the collective development.
We can see that reincarnation is, by far, the most frequent occurrence, so it may be worthwhile to discuss this phenomenon in more detail.
 The projections of negative cultural descriptions such as demons that inflict punishment may also be possible, but they do not last long as there is nothing in the repertoire of non-material reality that such projections can latch onto.
 This is a risky undertaking as such souls have to, of course, forget themselves first and start from the beginning, which leaves open the possibility of regression.
The pioneering work of Ian Stevenson and recently of other researchers can provide some fairly credible empirical evidence (as far as it can go) for reincarnation. However, there are still many ambiguities related to this subject, so perhaps the best way to discuss it is through a series of questions.
What is the point of reincarnation?
It enables the continuity of individual development. From the Synthesis perspective, it makes sense that every soul goes through a series of lives, as nobody could develop sufficiently within one life to make the return unnecessary. Therefore, reincarnation enables gradual development through a successive number of incarnations in the material world (although, of course, the progression is not guaranteed, it is also possible to regress in that process). Thus, every physical life is an opportunity to increase awareness and self-regulation, and to improve the ‘shape’ of the soul. The soul can stop reincarnating when a body is no longer necessary to keep it together – in other words, when a crude moulding is finished. Until its shape is optimal and the self is able to maintain, expand and control energy without the help of the body, the soul goes from one life to another.
Why do individual souls tend to reincarnate?
The rings can maintain the energy coherent and separated from other energy, but only temporarily. Sooner or later, they break apart, and the soul is, in most cases, again attracted to matter. This is because the material world offers greater solidity, so it is easier to keep the energy together. Life without physical boundaries may be freer, but it can be more anxiety provoking.
When does the soul reincarnate?
The soul reincarnates when a new body is formed in material reality that can resonate with its configuration. This is bound to be a complex process that depends on the genetic material, but it is also possible that vibrations produced by the social environment are involved. The soul does not fully connect with the body immediately but gradually, step by step (which is determined by the development of the body and mind). Thus, although an initial connection is normally established before birth, new connections (with one’s body) can keep forming after birth.
Can a collective soul also reincarnate?
There is no reason why a collective soul of some simple organisms cannot reincarnate, although they can also evolve through biological processes. Complex organisms such as humans, as a rule, reincarnate individually, although there are some indications that they may be receptive to something that would be an equivalent of a collective ring (for instance, Jung’s idea of collective unconscious hints in that direction).
How is the physical life affected by previous experiences of the soul?
The soul affects the person through its shape, which is reflected in one’s character. This is why (in addition to genes) even infants have character. In turn, the shape of the soul is affected by previous life experiences, physical and social conditioning, as well as intent and the choices we make.
Is there such a thing as karma?
It is almost certain that the situation and the body that a soul gets connected to depends to some extent on the shape of the soul, which in turn is influenced by the earlier experiences and conduct. However, this is a much more complex process than usually presented, which would require a book on its own. It suffices to say here that if somebody is born in unfortunate circumstances or with a birth defect, this cannot be taken as an indication that the person had done something wrong in their previous life. Such linear interpretations are far too simplistic.
Why do we normally not remember previous lives?
Previous lives are hard to remember because the chain of associations that memory usually relies on is discontinued. As when we dream, not only do we not remember the awake state, but we typically don’t remember earlier dreams either. We are attached to the experience of the dream we are in, so there is no propensity to remember. How can we remember previous dreams if we do not even know that we are dreaming? Even more importantly, those memories have lost their form and coherence (as the rings had broken down in the meantime). Overall though, this forgetting is an advantage. The previous memories could be confusing and not conducive to development (if you played draughts, and you are now learning to play chess, better to forget draughts). Sometimes, however, especially in the cases of a sudden death and a rapid return, the rings do not dissolve completely. Some ‘pieces’ may be still left attached to the soul after it connects to another body – which is why recalling a few fragments of one’s previous life is not uncommon. Some memories can also be reconstructed by corresponding energy configurations and can resurface when we are not absorbed with everyday experiences (e.g. in sleep or meditation). However, they can be contaminated by current experiences, so their interpretations may not always be correct.
We will now turn to another factor already mentioned a few times that, besides development, influences what happens after death – harmonisation.
 Indeed, most subjects of Stevenson’s research reported sudden/violent death.
Even a well-developed soul cannot sustain energy in a non-material environment unless it is optimally harmonised. Of course, with an increase of complexity, this challenge is even greater. It is not surprising then that we spend a lot of time in our earthly lives harmonising energies rather than developing. Harmonisation also has a major effect on the pace of individual development. People usually don’t progress if their energy is not optimally harmonised, because they are spending much time and effort on inner conflicts. On the other hand, well harmonised people too may not want to move from where they are because this carries the risk of breaking the established harmony. Some people also don’t move because they get attached to some aspects of life such as certain pleasures or the sense of power, which gives them a false sense of harmony.
So, what do we mean by harmonization? As instruments in an orchestra, various energy processes may play different tunes, but they need to fit in with each other. We experience disharmony as internal conflicts that can be sometimes very painful. On the energy level, such disharmony appears, for example, as energy knots or the pushes and pulls of energy. All three dimensions can contribute to creating and resolving conflicts: we may have conflicting choices, beliefs, and experiences, but the choices we make, beliefs we form and experiences we have can also lead to greater harmony. Sometimes though, to avoid feeling our conflicts, we ignore them or bury them deep. However, such conflicts resurface after physical death with an interesting effect. The conflicting energy is difficult to keep together, so the greater the disharmony, the more in a rush souls are to connect with a physical body to ground them. These souls can hardly afford to be choosy – they attach to the first available body. More harmonised souls have more ‘time’ to feel the resonances of bodes and their environments, and therefore can make better choices (this is one of the factors that contribute to karma).
If harmonising is so important, why don’t we say more about it? Because there is not much to be said. We sometimes harmonise energy spontaneously or find intuitive ways of doing so. There are also various cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioural interventions, social practices and rituals, and whole professions (such as counselling and psychotherapy) that serve this purpose. Here, we are focused on providing a theorical framework. Practices that can contribute to one’s harmonisation and development are covered in other texts. At this point, it is important to understand that working towards greater inner harmony not only matters for this world, but for non-material reality too. Let’s now consider that reality in more detail.
 Personal Synthesis is one and Spiritual Practice is the other.
We don’t have a language to really describe non-material reality, but some differences between material and non-material reality can be discerned:
- Non-material life is very dissimilar in appearance, but not so much in experience. There are no bodies, cars, TV, money, pets, computers, phones, books, clothes, genders, races, etc. (although all these can be constructed as mental projections). Yet, there is no reason why familiar feelings such as anxiety, joy, hate or love should not be present.
- As they are less restricted, experiences in non-material reality may have an additional quality of infinity. In fact, considering that the soul plays a part in mind processes, every experience potentially has this quality. It can be occasionally glimpsed even in the material world (as described in the first chapter of Colin Wilson’s Outsider). However, because the rings have a tendency to close, this quality can be captured only for a moment. As soon as an experience is fully constructed, the element of infinity is lost (which often leads to disappointment). In the non-material world, this does not need to be the case.
- Time is linked to entropy, so it cannot exist in the usual sense. Attributes like near and far, before and after may still be meaningful, but they do not belong to the space-time framework. This is similar to dreams in which a dreamer can recognise these categories, although they are not operating within the familiar space-time continuum.
- Non-material reality is less solid, more fluid. This is not to say that it is experienced as such. Dreams too can feel as solid as material reality, although they are evidently not. However, the increased fluidity makes experiences less stable. There is still permanency, but of the qualities of phenomena, rather than shapes or objects – similar to a river or clouds that last, even though they keep moving and changing all the time.
- Perception depends more on the state of the perceiver. For instance, if two people in the material world observe a dog, they see more or less the same object, although the meaning and feelings related to it can be very different. For one person, the dog may present a danger and frighten them, while the other may feel love and friendship towards it. In non-material reality, those two persons would even perceive a comparable energy unit in a somewhat different way. So, not only the meaning and feelings can differ, but the perception too, because it depends far more on an interaction between the subject and an object (a form is co-created rather than given). This is not too say that non-material reality is completely subjective, but it is much more difficult to maintain a shared, common, perception of reality. Without the help of solid matter, this relies on the compatibility of souls that perceive in a similar way. As a consequence, there are, in fact, not one, but many non-material realities. That diversity can be compared to the diversity of Earth’s geographical regions, but it is far more complex and is changing much more rapidly.
- A kind of plurality also applies to meaning and purpose. Although it is easier to become aware of meaning, not everybody realises, accepts or works towards it. In addition, there may be diverse interpretations of meaning and how to realise it.
It is not an accident that we have sometimes compared non-material reality to dreams. At least in the first stages, while our mental constructs still function, non-material reality is very similar to dreams, so we can say that it is like a dream from which one does not wake up.
Some possible questions
Why do we forget non-material reality?
There is substantial data indicating that a soul can retain a larger perspective for a while after connecting to the body and even after birth (see, for example, Wade, 1996, Chapter 2). Only gradually, it seems, does awareness become restricted by immediate experience, and the rest is forgotten. There may be several reasons why this forgetting happens: the sensations from material reality are stronger; the shock of birth breaks continuity; the fluidity of these experiences makes it hard to retain them. Forgetting non-material existence is also beneficial. Such memories could intensify feelings of alienation and longing, and prevent focusing fully on this world.
Can we tap into non-material reality while still living in the material one?
Yes, we can. Let’s not forget that we are already in non-material reality, it is just that we are enclosed in such dense energy that we cannot ‘see’ very far. But, as various spiritual practices demonstrate, it is possible to make an opening. To use a metaphor, if you are inside the house, you don’t need to leave the house to see outside, you only need to open the window.
How is it that some memory traces can be preserved after death (at least temporarily), but some can be quickly lost following a brain damage?
We can compare this with using computers. If a computer works well, a user relies on its ‘memory’. Suppose, however, that the computer crashes and the user does not have a back-up. As long as he tries to access the data via the computer, the effects of the malfunction will apply. However, if he detaches from the machine, he may start to recreate what is lost from his own more vague, less precise memory that is accessed directly, rather than mediated by the computer language. But why can’t we use this capacity while still connected to the malfunctioning ‘computer’? Actually, it seems that we can (if people can have galvanic skin reactions when shown photographs of people that they had known but cannot remember, not everything is lost), but what is preserved in the rings may not be sufficient for the material world. To use again the above analogy, you may remember certain things from your lost files, but this doesn’t mean that you can translate them back into the computer language and communicate them via the computer.
What remains of our knowledge after death?
As already mentioned, the form of our constructs (e.g. a particular language) is not retained, but the network that was established with the help of these forms can be. So, knowledge as such is not lost, only it does not take the same form as in physical life (it is not bound to specific end points and is also more fluid). In other words, in the absence of synaptic connections, the explicit aspect of knowledge cannot be sustained (at least not for long), but its implicit aspect remains in the soul.
Constructs created during physical life can be preserved for a while, but, can new constructs be created in non-material reality?
In principle, there is no reason why energy cannot be constructed even without the help of the brain, body and a material language, although such constructs are likely to be different.
Does the soul have an I? Is there an identity even after death?
In non-material reality, a soul can still retain the rings for a while, and therefore an I. A soul that loses the rings does not have a constructed identity, but it has its unique ‘shape’. Although this shape may be less permanent and stable, the soul remains distinct because of its centre (the self) that focuses the energy and provides a unique (first person) perspective.
Are all souls in non-material reality good?
We cannot assume that, considering that souls still have choice and that their development can vary. Also, there are different interpretations of what good is, linked to different interpretations of the purpose and how to achieve it. The non-material realm is not free from interpretations, so even souls that are not reincarnated can be mistaken or delusional. The Intent may be beyond the dichotomy of ‘good and evil’, but souls are not.
Can non-material entities affect the physical world?
Is all that folklore about contacts with spirits of the dead, daemons, angels, and the like, just projections of individual or collective wishful thinking and fears or, perhaps, there is something in it? As it is often the case in this area, there may be some truth in both. Spiritualists (mainly in the 19th century, around the time when the wireless radio was invented) developed ingenious methods to prove that communication with the deceased is possible. However, their results remain inconclusive, to say the least, and open to different interpretations. What we can be certain, if the interaction between the two realities exists, is that non-material entities cannot move mountains (or even chairs) – the physical objects are too heavy energy for that. Yet, they could operate on the boundaries of natural laws (as in the case of complex brain oscillations), and intend certain energy configurations that could be translated into ideas or information. However, this would be an exceptional phenomenon for several reasons. One is a qualitative difference between the two realities. To bring home this point, try to communicate with somebody who is dreaming while you are awake (or with somebody awake while you are dreaming). Furthermore, souls that are developed enough to remain in non-material reality are likely to be aware that any interference may have unintended consequences. So, these attempts would take place only if necessary. Which bring us to the issue of a recipient. As it is difficult to penetrate through the layers of constructs, the one on the receiving end must be open to an extraordinary extent, and also be able and willing to pick up such influences. Even if a ‘message’ is selected from the noise of the brain, and interpreted correctly, it may still be ignored. This is because, in order to preserve human agency and not override individual choice, these influences need to be subtle and their source needs to remain ambiguous. In short, we don’t rule out that not-material entities can make contacts, but any too obvious occurrence or ongoing guidance would, in fact, impede development, and therefore such accounts should be treated with scepticism.
Can souls die?
Unlike the body, the soul is not susceptible to entropy, so souls do not deteriorate or die in the common sense (besides, this would also be a complete waste). However, souls are only potentially immortal. They can cease to exist if one of the two fundamental principles, static and dynamic, completely takes over. If the static principle becomes so strong as to prevent movement and the exchange of energy, it may lead to the ‘extinguishing’ of the soul. If the dynamic principle becomes so strong that the energy cannot remain focused any more, the soul disintegrates, losing the self (in which case the energy most likely becomes again a part of the greater whole).
Must a soul in non-material reality somehow join other souls?
In theory, a continuous existence in non-material reality does not depend on an interaction with others. The needs for growth, development and coherence can be met in various ways that may involve an individual journey, personal transformation, independent interaction, or integration with others. In most cases, though, other souls are important. After all, to fulfil the meaning of life, souls must eventually merge. Interaction with others matters for development and harmonisation in physical life too.