Written by Dr. 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.