Warning: This post discusses death and descriptions of the moments afterward, as told through past-life regression, mediumship transcriptions and other sources. If you feel this post will bring up painful memories or fears, please consider carefully before clicking through.
“During such lucid intervals that I had, I endured no feelings of physical discomfort. I could see and hear what was going on around me, and I could “sense” the mental distress that my condition was occasioning. And yet I had the sensation of the most extraordinary exhilaration of the mind. I knew for certain that my time had come to pass on, and I was full of eagerness to be gone. I had no fear, no misgivings, no doubts, no regrets—so far—at thus leaving the earth world.”
-Hugh Benson, Life in the World Unseen, 1954
This is Part V of a series of posts exploring death experiences and transition stories. Accounts are selected from over a century of mediumship transcriptions, channeling and life-between-life regression experiences. Selected excerpts focus on the moments leading up to physical death, transition and entry into the spirit world. To read the introduction to this series of posts, please use the link above to open Part I.
In places where you see this symbol, […], I have skipped sentences and/or paragraphs from the original text for the sake of brevity.
Note: While I have found no indication that any of these original sources are fraudulent, I would always encourage the reader to determine the legitimacy of each of these sources for themselves.
Transition Experiences, Part V
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, 1871-1914
As received by clairaudient medium Anthony Borgia
Excerpt from Life in the World Unseen. Borgia, Anthony, 1954
Robert Hugh Benson was well-known during his life for his authorship as well as his life in service to first the Anglican Church of England, then to the Catholic Church after his conversion. He eventually became the Pope’s Chamberlin, and was known for promoting the rigid orthodoxy of the Church through his writings. He was passionately against the spiritualist movement popular at the time, writing a fiction horror novel called The Necromancer as a way to disabuse the populace against mediumship, which he thought dangerous. After his death in 1914, the spirit of Benson allegedly contacted the clairaudient medium Anthony Borgia to transcribe six books in which he desires to ‘set things straight’ about the false teachings of the church as well as his misguided approach to spiritualism and mediumship, specifically.
The first excerpt below is from his fifth and arguably most popular book, Life in the World Unseen, where he describes his transition and entrance into the spirit world and immediate realization that all he assumed was wrong. Interestingly, unlike our Reverend in Part I of this series, Benson did not see the typical Christian imagery at his passing. We can only speculate as to the reason, though Benson himself admits his own doubts harbored during life due to certain psychic experiences, which he undoubtedly kept secret and may have contributed to his protestation of spiritualism. This insincerity may be why he was not greeted by St. Peter, but by a friend. Through Borgia, Benson often laments his misplaced faith in religious orthodoxy throughout his life. Compare this to the unshakable faith of Reverend Mattson, and it becomes clear why Mattson met Saint Peter and Benson did not. In both cases, each would be given the option to continue ‘earthly forms of worship’ in the afterlife as Benson notes later in Life in the World Unseen, though for Benson it would be disingenuous.
There are similarities in their transition accounts, however, that are interesting to note. Both men died of a long illness, unlike the other accounts in the series presented so far. In both cases, each had the feeling of heaviness in the body, the reduced or absence of physical pain (despite how it appeared to onlookers), spates of leaving and returning to the body several times prior to death, and a sense of euphoria when separation finally occurred.
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson:
The actual process of dissolution is not necessarily a painful one. I had during my earth life witnessed many souls passing over the border into spirit. I had had the chance of observing with the physical eyes the struggles that take place as the spirit seeks to free itself for ever from the flesh. With my psychic vision I had also seen the spirit leave, but nowhere was I able to find out—that is, from orthodox sources—what exactly takes place at the moment of separation, nor was I able to gather any information upon the sensations experienced by the passing soul. The writers of religious text-books tell us nothing of such things for one very simple reason—they do not know. The physical body many times appeared to be suffering acutely, either from actual pain or through labored or restricted breathing. To this extent such passing had all the appearance of being extremely painful. Was this really so?—was a question I had often asked myself.
Whatever was the true answer I could never really believe that the actual physical process of “dying” was a painful one, notwithstanding that it appeared so. The answer to my question I knew I would have one day, and I always hoped that at least my passing would not be violent, whatever else it might be. My hopes were fulfilled. My end was not violent, but it was labored, as were so many that I had witnessed. I had a presentiment that my days on earth were drawing to a close only a short while before my passing. There was a heaviness of the mind, something akin to drowsiness, as I lay in my bed. Many times I had a feeling of floating away and of gently returning. Doubtless during such periods those who were concerned with my physical welfare were under the impression that, if I had not actually passed, I was sinking rapidly.
During such lucid intervals that I had, I endured no feelings of physical discomfort. I could see and hear what was going on around me, and I could “sense” the mental distress that my condition was occasioning. And yet I had the sensation of the most extraordinary exhilaration of the mind. I knew for certain that my time had come to pass on, and I was full of eagerness to be gone. I had no fear, no misgivings, no doubts, no regrets—so far—at thus leaving the earth world. (My regrets were to come later, but of these I shall speak in due course.) All that I wanted was to be away.
I suddenly felt a great urge to rise up. I had no physical feeling whatever, very much in the same way that physical feeling is absent during a dream, but I was mentally alert, however much my body seemed to contradict such a condition. Immediately I had this distinct prompting to rise, I found that I was actually doing so. I then discovered that those around my bed did not seem to perceive what I was doing, since they made no effort to come to my assistance, nor did they try in any way to hinder me. Turning, I then beheld what had taken place. I saw my physical body lying lifeless upon its bed, but here was I, the real I, alive and well. For a minute or two I remained gazing, and the thought of what to do next entered my head, but help was close at hand. I could still see the room quite clearly around me, but there was a certain mistiness about it as though it were filled with smoke very evenly distributed.
I looked down at myself wondering what I was wearing in the way of clothes, for I had obviously risen from a bed of sickness and was therefore in no condition to move very far from my surroundings. I was extremely surprised to find that I had on my usual attire, such as I wore when moving freely and in good health about my own house. My surprise was only momentary since, I thought to myself, what other clothes should I expect to be wearing? Surely not some sort of diaphanous robe? Such costume is usually associated with the conventional idea of an angel, and I had no need to assure myself that I was not that! Such knowledge of the spirit world as I had been able to glean from my own experiences instantly came to my aid. I knew at once of the alteration that had taken place in my condition; I knew, in other words, that I had “died”. I knew, too, that I was alive, that I had shaken off my last illness sufficiently to be able to stand upright and look about me. At no time was I in any mental distress, but I was full of wonder at what was to happen next, for here I was, in full possession of all my faculties, and, indeed, feeling “physically” as I had never felt before.
Although this has taken some time in the telling, in order that I might give you as much detail as possible, the whole process must have taken but a few minutes of earth time. As soon as I had had this brief space in which to look about me and to appreciate my new estate, I found myself joined by a former colleague—a priest—who had passed to this life some years before. We greeted each other warmly, and I noticed that he was attired like myself. Again this in no way seemed strange to me, because had he been dressed in any other way I should have felt that something was wrong somewhere, as I had only known him in clerical attire. He expressed his great pleasure at seeing me again, and for my part I foresaw the gathering up of the many threads that had been broken by his “death”. For the first moment or so I allowed him to do all the talking; I had yet to accustom myself to the newness of things. For you must remember that I had just relinquished a bed of final sickness, and that in casting off the physical body I had also cast off the sickness with it, and the new sensation of comfort and freedom from bodily ills was one so glorious that the realization of it took a little while to comprehend fully.
My old friend seemed to know at once the extent of my knowledge, that I was aware that I had passed on, and that all was well. And here let me say that all idea of a “judgment seat” or a “day of judgment” was entirely swept from my mind in the actual procedure of transition. It was all too normal and natural to suggest the frightful ordeal that orthodox religion teaches that we must go through after “death”. The very conception of “judgment” and “hell” and “heaven” seemed utterly impossible. Indeed, they were wholly fantastic, now that I found myself alive and well “clothed in my right mind”, and, in fact, clothed in my own familiar habiliments, and standing in the presence of an old friend, who was shaking me cordially by the hand, and giving me greeting and good wishes, and showing all the outward—and in this case—genuine manifestations of being pleased to see me, as I was pleased to see him. He, himself, was in the best of spirits as he stood there giving me such a welcome as, upon the earth-plane, two old friends accord each other after long separation. That, in itself, was sufficient to show that all thoughts of being marched off to my judgment were entirely preposterous. We both were too jolly, too happy, too carefree, and too natural, and I, myself, was waiting with excitement for all manner of pleasant revelations of this new world, and I knew that there could be none better than my old friend to give them to me.
He told me to prepare myself for immeasurable number of the pleasantest of surprises, and that he had been sent to meet me on my arrival. As he already knew the limits of my knowledge, so his task was that much the easier. As soon as I managed to find my tongue, after our first breaking the silence, I noticed that we spoke just as we had always done upon the earth, that is, we simply used our vocal cords and spoke, quite as a matter of course. It required no thinking about, and indeed I did not think about it. I merely noted that it was so. My friend then proposed that as we had no further need or call to stay in the surroundings of my passing, we might move away, and that he would take me to a very nice “place” that had been made ready for me. He made this reference to a “place”, but he hastened explain that in reality I was going to my own house, where I should find myself immediately “at home”. Not knowing, as yet, how one proceeded, or, in other words, how I was to get there, I placed myself entirely in his hands, and that, he told me, was precisely what he was there for! I could not resist the impulse to turn and take a last look at the room of my transition. It still presented its misty appearance.
Those who were formerly standing round the bed had now withdrawn, and I was able to approach the bed and gaze at “myself”. I was not the least impressed by what I saw, but the last remnant of my physical self seemed to be placid enough. My friend then suggested that we should now go, and we accordingly moved away. As we departed, the room gradually became more misty until it faded further from my vision, and finally disappeared. So far, I had had the use, as usual, of my legs as in ordinary walking, but in view of my last illness and the fact that, consequent, upon it, I should need some period of rest before I exerted myself too much, my friend said that it would be better if we did not use the customary means of locomotion—our legs. He then told me to take hold of his arm firmly, and to have no fear whatever. I could, if I wished, close my eyes. It would, he said, perhaps be better it I did so. I took his arm, and left the rest to him as he told me to do. I at once experienced a sensation of floating such as one has in physical dreams, though this was very real and quite unattended by any doubts of personal security.
The motion seemed to become more rapid as time went on, and I still kept my eyes firmly closed. It is strange with what determination one can do such things here. On the earth-plane, if similar circumstances were possible, how many of us would have closed our eyes in complete confidence? Here there was no shadow of doubt that all was well, that there was nothing to fear, that nothing untoward could possibly take place, and that, moreover, my friend had complete control of the situation. After a short while our progress seemed to slacken somewhat, and I could feel that there was something very solid under my feet. I was told to open my eyes. I did so. What I saw was my old home that I had lived in on the earth-plane; my old home—but with a difference. It was improved in a way that I had not been able to do to its earthly counterpart. The house itself was rejuvenated, as it seemed to me from a first glance, rather than restored, but it was the gardens round it that attracted my attention more fully. They appeared to be quite extensive, and they were in a state of the most perfect order and arrangement. By this I do not mean the regular orderliness that one is accustomed to see in public gardens on the earth-plane, but that they were beautifully kept and tended. There were no wild growths or masses of tangled foliage and weeds, but the most glorious profusion of beautiful flowers so arranged as to show themselves to absolute perfection.
[…] I was already beginning to perceive many things, the principal one of which and that which touched me most closely, being the totally wrong attitude adopted by religion in relation to the world of spirit. The very fact that I was lying there where I was, constituted a complete refutation of so much that I taught and upheld during my priestly life upon earth. I could see volumes of orthodox teachings, creeds, and doctrines melting away because they are of no account, because they are not true, and because they have no application whatever to the eternal world of spirit and to the great Creator and Upholder of it. I could see clearly now what I had seen but hazily before, that orthodoxy is man-made, but that the universe is God-given.
Benson continues in this fascinating book by describing every detail of the spirit world as he experiences it. To modern sensibilities, Benson’s death experience may seem quaint and old-fashioned, especially as compared to more recent descriptions, but its important to note that afterlife experiences, especially in the lower astral, tend to reflect the expectations of its inhabitants by design. Benson died in 1914, and his luxurious home and gardens in the spirit world are likely exactly what would have appealed to him and others of his time and culture.
Benson doesn’t know it presently, his ‘friend’ from his previous lifetime who appeared at Benson’s bedside, is also likely his spirit guide and performs that function throughout the book as Benson learns many new lessons in this astral plane. In the next post, Benson begins his role as a junior guide during the death and transition of an adolescent boy in Benson’s follow-up book, More About Life in the World Unseen.
Life in the World Unseen
by Anthony Borgia
In Part VI, we continue to follow the experiences of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson as he fulfills the role of transition guide with his friend Ruth, at the bedside of a young man about to pass on. We will see a transition experience from the perspective of a guide, as they prepare to make his passing into the spirit world gentle and serene.