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.
“The great moment in the boy’s life had now arrived. I moved to a position at about the middle of the bed upon the side opposite to Ruth. The boy had lapsed into a gentle sleep. As he did so, his spirit body rose slowly above his inert physical body to which it was attached by a bright silver cord—the lifeline as it is termed. I placed my arms beneath the floating form; there was the slightest momentary twitch, the cord detached itself, retracted, and disappeared.”
-Hugh Benson, More About Life in the World Unseen, 1956
This is Part VI 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 VI
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, 1871-1914
As received by clairaudient medium Anthony Borgia
Excerpt from More About Life in the World Unseen. Borgia, Anthony, 1956
In Part V, Robert Hugh Benson relays a very detailed account of his final illness and transition into the spirit world through medium Anthony Borgia in the book Life in the World Unseen. Benson is met by Edwin, a friend and fellow clergy member who acts as his guide; meeting him at his bedside after physical death and assisting Benson by introducing him to the spirit world. Additionally, Benson meets Ruth, a contemporary and friend in the spirit world, with whom he spends a majority of his time. In his follow-up book, More About the World Unseen, Benson is fully acclimated in his new life and is ready to assist a young man who is about to transition. From his narrative, we can see what the death experiences looks like from the unique point of view of the guide who assists us into the spirit world.
As you read this transition story, it may strike you that that Benson’s afterlife seems antiquated or dated. The language seems faintly out of some 50’s television family. Many spiritualists believe that the lower levels of the afterlife are consensus realities; earth-like places designed to be familiar and comfortable to the spirits who live and learn there. If this is the case, descriptions of this afterlife dimension will naturally reflect the culture and times of the person who is describing it. In Benson’s case, mid-century England with all of its quaint dialogue. The lower astral plane’s similarity to earth and its culture is left behind once spirits progress to the upper levels. If you are curious to see what the lower astral plane looks like today as described by two out-of-body experts who visit regularly, I recommend Jurgan Ziewe’s Vistas of Infinity and William Buhlman’s Secret of the Soul.
Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson:
Situated in the city, which is not far from my home here, is a large building which carries out the important functions of an office of records and inquiries. Here knowledge is to be obtained upon an infinite range and variety of subjects and affairs. Of all these, what closely interests us at the moment is that department which deals with the actual passing of folk from the earth to the spirit world. Part of my work consists of helping people at the moment of their physical death, people of all kinds, of both sexes, of any religion—or none—and of all ages, from young folk to the aged. Working in conjunction with me are my two old friends, Edwin and Ruth. Sometimes Edwin is not with us, but Ruth and I almost always work together. […]
We were seated, then, upon a particular occasion in our house, which is itself a replica of my old home on earth, when word reached us that our presence was desired at the central office. We at once proceeded thither, and were greeted by one whom we had come to know very well during the passage of years, as he had come to know us. This man is a genial soul, of great kindness and comprehension, and his knowledge of those who work for him is prodigious. For it is by the application of this knowledge that he is enabled to send upon their various missions those of us who are exactly suited to the specific task in hand.
There may appear to be a great similarity between one normal transition and another when viewed by earthly eyes, but from our point of view the variations are enormous. They are as great, in fact, as the variations in human personalities. What to the earthly beholder is the end of life, is to us and the person chiefly concerned, the beginning of a new one. It is with the personality that we have to deal, and according to the personality, to the knowledge or ignorance of spiritual matters of the passing soul, so is our especial task governed and our course of action regulated. In short, every ‘death’ is treated and served with strict regard to its essential requirements. So that we are allotted our various tasks with one eye, as it were, upon our capabilities, experience, temperament, and so on. Edwin, Ruth and I are decidedly of similar temperament, while our capabilities and experience have been augmented and broadened by long practice. As you can imagine, a great deal of patience has at times to be exercised when we are confronted with minds that are tenacious of old beliefs and ideas that bear no relationship with the truth and facts and realities of spirit life, and it may take much arduous work to free the newly arrived person of so much that is mentally inhibiting and spiritually retarding. […]
After a few friendly exchanges and kindly inquiries, our friend turned to the business in hand. A perfectly straightforward case, he informed us, and one that should present no unusual features. ‘It is the passing,’ he said, ‘of a lad, aged eighteen. A sprightly youth; mentally alert and receptive. I have kept this case for you both, as I think he will be useful to you later on when he has become accustomed to things. Would you care to take him to your home? It would be a good plan.’ We readily acquiesced. We then plied our friend with a few questions so that we should be as fully charged with information as possible. It appeared that the lad’s earthly end was approaching rapidly, that he had no prejudices concerning the subject of ’life after death’; his religious instruction had followed the usual lines but had not left any very great impression.
[…] At the present moment, as Ruth and I were seated before our friend of the central office, all that remained was to receive our ‘sailing directions’. These were given to us in this manner: our friend sent a message—by thought, of course—to the spirit person who was in attendance at the place of dissolution, to the effect that we were ready to assume charge whenever he deemed it advisable. This brought an instantaneous response. We could perceive the light as it flashed to our friend, and by a sort of confluence we were brought into the ‘thought-beam’. We were now in direct rapport with our attendant friend ‘at the other end’, as you would say. And now—to use very unscientific language—we had but to project ourselves along this thought-beam to find ourselves in the exact spot where our services were needed.
[…] Ruth and I found ourselves in a bedroom of a house of modest dimensions, unpretentious, and moderately prosperous as far as earthly possessions were concerned. A nurse was in attendance, and relatives were close at hand. It was evident that they believed the end was not far distant, and the doctor appeared to have done all that he could to make things easier for his patient. […] It was plain to see that in a brief space our friend would be joining us. Accordingly, we commenced our small preparations. Ruth stationed herself at the head of the bed within easy reach of the lad’s head, and placing her hands upon his brow, she gently smoothed his temples. We are never certain that our ministrations are perceived or felt unless the ‘patient’ reveals some sign or another that he—or she—has done so. In this case, it was patent that Ruth was making a decided impression, because coincidental with her placing her hands upon the boy’s head, he turned his eyes with an upward motion as though seeking or trying to perceive whence the pleasant, soothing sensation came. It was possible that he could actually see Ruth; if that were the case, so much the better. We had both assumed a replica of our former earthly habiliments, Ruth being attired in a gay summery garment, looking very natural and normal, and altogether charming. It is necessary to emphasize this, since it was—and always is— our aim to appear as unlike ‘celestial beings’, should our presence be observed, as it is possible to be. […]
I perched myself at the foot of the lad’s bed, and directed my gaze upon him, and there were evident signs of his seeing me. I smiled to him, and gently waved my hand to reassure him. So far, things were proceeding very favorably—would that all passings were as serene. The great moment in the boy’s life had now arrived. I moved to a position at about the middle of the bed upon the side opposite to Ruth. The boy had lapsed into a gentle sleep. As he did so, his spirit body rose slowly above his inert physical body to which it was attached by a bright silver cord—the lifeline as it is termed. I placed my arms beneath the floating form; there was the slightest momentary twitch, the cord detached itself, retracted, and disappeared.
To the relatives in the bed-chamber, the boy was ‘dead’ and ‘gone’. To Ruth and me he was alive and present. I held him in my arms, as one would a child, while Ruth again placed her hands upon his head. A gentle movement of her hands for a minute or two to ensure that the boy would be peacefully comfortable, and we were ready to start upon our rapid journey to our home. Throughout the transit Ruth held one of the boy’s hands, thus giving him energy and strength while I supported him in my arms. The journey, as with all such journeys, was soon over; we had left the dismal bedroom, and we were in our own beautiful land and home. Quietly and gently we laid the boy upon a very comfortable couch, Ruth seating herself close beside him, as I took a chair at the foot facing our new arrival.
‘Well, my dear,’ Ruth remarked with evident satisfaction, ‘I really think he’ll do.’ All there was for us to do now, was to await the awakening, which, in the nature of the case, would not be long delayed. Our simple, but usually effective, arrangements had already been made. The couch upon which the lad had been laid, was placed close beneath a wide open window in such a position that, without even the slightest movement of the head, a most enchanting view was to be seen of the gardens without, while through a gap in a line of trees, a distant view of our beautiful city was to be had, clear and colorful.
Upon the wall immediately facing the lad there hung a large mirror, so that the reflection of the rest of the room, with all that it suggested in comfort and ease, could be observed with the merest turn of the eye. Children’s voices could be heard in the distance, and the birds were singing with their customary vigor. This was the pleasant situation awaiting our friend when he emerged from his short but refreshing sleep, and this is often the moment when our real work begins!
Ruth was the first to speak when our friend had opened his eyes. ‘Well, Roger,’ she said, ‘how do you feel?’ (Our friend at the office had given us the boy’s first name, which was sufficient for all purposes.) Roger opened his eyes still wider as he turned to Ruth.
‘Why,’ said he, ‘I saw you—when was it? A little while ago. Who are you?’
‘Just a friend to help you. Call me Ruth.’
‘And you, sir. I seem to remember you were sitting at the foot of my bed.’
‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘The memory will become clearer in a moment or two.’
Roger started to sit upright, but Ruth gently pressed him back upon the cushions. ‘Now, Roger,’ said she, ‘the order of the day is that you just stay quietly there, and not do too much talking.’ The boy stared out of the window. ‘Lovely view, isn’t it,’ I said, pointing through the window. ‘Feeling comfortable? That’s right. Well, now, you are wondering what all this is about. Have you any idea what has happened? Only a hazy notion. But the great thing is that now you are feeling all right. All the aches and pains are gone. Isn’t that it?’ Roger nodded and smiled as the realization seemed to come upon him.
‘Yes, rather, thank you.’ The boy was obviously not of the nervous sort, and there appeared to be no purpose in withholding the truth any longer. I caught Ruth’s eye, and she nodded in agreement.
‘Roger, my dear boy,’ I began, ‘I have some pleasant news for you. You were perfectly correct, you did see Ruth and me a little while ago. We were in your bedroom at home, and you were very ill, so ill that the doctor couldn’t pull you through. So Ruth and I came to bring you through, through into another world, a lovely world. Do you follow?’
‘Then, I’ve died. Is that it?’
‘That’s it, old fellow. You’re not frightened?’
‘No, I don’t think so.’ He paused. ‘I never expected anything like this,’ he added.
‘No, I don’t suppose you did. Who does, except the very comparative few who know what’s to come? Honestly, now, what did you expect?’
‘Goodness only knows.’ ‘Angels with large wings, and stern countenances, looking very frigid and remote? Suppose you had seen something like that, what would you have felt and thought? You needn’t tell me; I’ll answer the question for you. You would have thought that they had come to haul you off to be tried before some awful Judge somewhere in the High Court of Heaven. And woe betide you if you had misbehaved yourself, my lad.’ Ruth gave a merry peal of laughter, while Roger, who had caught the look in my eye and interpreted it correctly, laughed too.
‘Let me tell you at once, Roger, that there are no judges, or even a single great judge, anywhere in this world, the spirit world. Any judging to be done, we do it for ourselves, and manage very nicely. You’ll find you will become extremely critical of yourself, as we all do. We can be very hard on ourselves even. So whatever you may have thought about Judgment Day, dismiss the whole idea from your mind. There is no such thing, there never has been, and there never will be. ‘Now I expect you are wondering what is to happen next,’ I went on. ‘The answer to that is simple: Nothing!—at least for a little while, until you feel refreshed, and then we might all go off together and explore things a bit. How does that appeal to you?’
‘It appeals to me very much, but there is something I would like to know.’ Roger looked round. ‘Whose house is this, and who are you? I can see you are a padre, but the color of your cassock is not what I’ve ever seen before.’
‘As to the house, it is mine, though really it is ours, as Ruth lives most of her time with me and so does an old clergyman friend you will meet later. As to my clothes, these I am wearing are only replicas of my earthly ones which I have put on specially for you. I have proper spirit clothes, but suppose I had worn them—and Ruth hers—when we came to fetch you in your room, we might have looked like those grim, forbidding angels I spoke about just now. And no matter how we set our faces into pleasant looks and smiles, there is no doubt there would have been a very frightened Roger. So, behold us as we used to be when we lived on earth, and now you look at yourself as you used to be on earth only a very short while ago.’
Roger glanced down at his clothes to discover that he was wearing a pair of flannel trousers and a brown jacket, while on his feet were a pair of substantial shoes. He caught hold of the material as though to reassure himself that it was real. He even clutched his arm to make doubly sure he was solid! Then he placed one foot on the floor and stamped lightly with it. ‘All pretty solid, eh, Roger?’ From a side-table Ruth fetched a huge bowl of fruit, and offered it to the boy. ‘You’ll find these very real, too,’ said she with a smile; ‘help yourself to what you fancy. They’re lovely, and will do you a world of good. We keep them “specially”.’ We all three took some fruit, and Ruth and I waited to the boy tackle his. First, he looked at it closely, turning it and over in his hand—it was a plum he was examining—and seemed undecided what to do with it. There is, of course, only one thing to do with a fine, juicy plum, especially if it is grown in the spirit world, and that is to eat it. Ruth and I did so, while Roger watched closely to see what would happen. He expected, no doubt, to see a torrent of juice run out and down our clothes. His eyes opened in astonishment when saw the juice run out, certainly, and with equal certainty, disappear, leaving our clothes unstained. Thus encouraged, he followed our example, and was wild with delight at this seeming wizardry.
‘Nothing is wasted here, Roger,’ explained Ruth; ‘everything that is unwanted returns to its source. Nothing is destroyed. You couldn’t destroy anything however hard you tried. If you find you no longer need or desire a thing it will simple fade away to all appearances, just evaporate before your eyes. But it is not lost; it will return to the source from which it came. If we didn’t want this house and all its contents, it would vanish, and there would be nothing to see but the ground it stood on. It’s the same with anything else you care to name. All things are living in the spirit world; we don’t have such things as “inanimate objects”. Things are managed better here than on the old earth, don’t you think—from the tiny bit you’ve seen of things so far?’ Roger thanked Ruth for her explanation. He seemed a diffident in the matter of speaking, though, of course Ruth had recommended him not to talk too much yet. […]
Here I would like to interpolate one or two observations which I think it expedient to make. What I am setting down for you is the account of an actual case, a real occurrence, though it is typical of many. The young lad, Roger, is a person of real existence, who came into the spirit world in the circumstances precisely as I am now giving you. Again, exception may be taken to the conversation as I have recounted it to you. There are folk who will object that the whole of it is too appallingly flippant and trivial to merit consideration for one moment; that it is frivolous and third-rate, and such as would not, most certainly not be indulged in in any region that could be properly designated ‘heaven’; that ‘heaven’ must surely be conducted upon lines far less commonplace and far more holy and spiritual. It may be complained that anyone making ‘the awful change’ from life to death and from death to eternal life—‘supernatural’ life—would have far graver things to think about and discuss than the conversational fripperies which I ‘allege’ take place.
With a long experience of transitions upon which to draw, commencing with my own, I know this beyond peradventure: when the last earthly breath has been drawn, and life has begun in the spirit world, there is never the slightest inclination, at that vital moment, to think in terms of learned theological disquisitions or indulge in any ‘pious platitudes’. Every soul who arrives in these or other realms of the spirit world completely untutored about life here, is concerned with one thing and one thing only: what is to happen next? Just that. Because we are inhabitants of the spirit world we have not become grand rhetoricians, who speak only in long eloquent periods upon matters of the highest spiritual consideration. Deo gratias that we do not. We are normal, rational people, who speak and act in a normal, rational manner. […]
Now to return to my narrative. Roger had felt tempted to rise from his couch, a sure sign that he was gaining in strength and vigor. The fruit had made an improvement, as we knew it would. In matters of that kind there are no failures. At the same time, it would not have done to let him test his strength too far, and so for the time being, we recommended he should remain where he was. He was— and of course, still is! —a most amiable fellow, and was ready to fall in with all our suggestions. In such cases as these, that is, in the initial moments of the newly arrived, so much depends upon the little incidents, those homely things, of great implication in themselves, and outwardly so very reassuring— and comforting. Long experience has taught us that often the smallest, most insignificant incident can do far more to bring peace and mental quietude to the newcomer to spirit lands than would a hundred of the most brilliant dissertations.
More About Life in the World Unseen
by Anthony Borgia
In Part VII, we will explore the afterlife of a modern American teenager, Galen Stoller. An intermediate spirit, Galen has progressed somewhat beyond the lower astral and has begun to learn how to manipulate his environment using thought, a primary skill that must be learned by all progressing spirits who wish to leave the lower astral behind. Galen sadly died in a train accident in 2007, but his story is shared with us through his father, Dr. Ken Stoller in the book, My Life after Life: A Posthumous Memoir.