“What magic could death hold— the natural dissolution of the material body— that such a simple step should instantly transform the mortal and material mind into an immortal and perfected spirit? Such beliefs are but ignorant superstitions and pleasing fables.” —The U.B.
Life after death?? I’m not suggesting that human consciousness isn’t capable of surviving mortal death, it most certainly is. It’s just that dying isn’t going to add anything— except the realization that you have actually survived physical death— and, as enormous an experience as that will be, it’s still not going to do anything to make you perfect— in any way, shape, or form. Those of us who make it to the next world will be picking up our life right where we left off down here.
What do we mean by “human consciousness”? We’ll need to consider what our selfhood is, first. The “self” is really a summation of discreet components that make up any individual human being; it’s important and helpful to delineate and understand them to have any coherent idea of what it actually means for a self— a personal being— to survive death.
Those components are:
1. The mind.
2. The body.
3. The soul.
4. The spirit.
5. The personality.
5. The personality. It seems quite impossible to define personality, but there are a few things that can be said that many can agree with: Personality is permanence in the presence of change; it is unique; absolutely unique; and it responds directly to other personality.
Other things about it may be harder to agree on: Personality is a quality in reality that is bestowed by God, the source of all personality; as such it is potentially an eternal endowment, in that it can survive material death when it becomes permanently identified with the surviving soul.
Personality, in and of itself, identifies each of us as a spiritual being— since the unity of selfhood and the self-consciousness of personality are “endowments of the supermaterial world;” the spiritual world.
The fact of our human experience is found in the self-consciousness of personality, plus other-existences — other-thingness, other-mindness, and other-spiritness. What then, is human experience? At the simplest level, it is any interplay between a questioning self and any other external reality.¹
4. The Spirit.
There is a “spirit nucleus” in the mind of man, the indwelling spirit; there are three evidences of this spirit: Love; The spirit-indwelt intellect can be truly altruistic, and unconditionally loving. Wisdom; Only a spirit-indwelt mind can comprehend that the universe is friendly; and worship: Only the spirit-indwelt man can realize the divine presence, and seek to attain a fuller experience in and with this spirit presence.
All sentient human beings are indwelt by a presence of God. It is an immortal spirit— not a personality— though it is destined to become a part of the personality of the surviving mortal creature it indwells during this life. Our Spirit is a “fragment” of God— and everlastingly seeks for divine unification; “it coheres with, and in, the Paradise Deity of the First Source and Center.”
The Indwelling Spirits are not created beings; they are fragmentized entities constituting the factual presence of the infinite God, and proceed direct from the Universal Father, the First Source and Center. They are “undiluted and unmixed divinity, unqualified and unattenuated parts of Deity; they are of God, and as far as we are able to discern, they are God.”
3. The soul. There is something additional to the Spirit nucleus which survives death. This entity is the soul, and it survives the death of both our physical body and our material mind. It is the conjoint child of the combined life and efforts of the human you— in liaison with the divine you, the Spirit. It is the enduring self; the immortal soul.
This new entity of surviving value is wholly unconscious during the period from death to our repersonalization, and in the keeping of the seraphic destiny guardian throughout this season of waiting. We do not function as a conscious being, following death, until we attain our new consciousness on the mansion worlds; architectural spheres that are the initial, transition world home of all surviving planetary mortals.
“The human soul, when matured, ennobled, and spiritualized, approaches the heavenly status in that it comes near to being an entity intervening between the material and the spiritual, the material self and the divine spirit. The evolving soul of a human being is difficult of description and more difficult of demonstration because it is not discoverable by the methods of either material investigation or spiritual proving. Material science cannot demonstrate the existence of a soul, neither can pure spirit-testing. Notwithstanding the failure of both material science and spiritual standards to discover the existence of the human soul, every morally conscious mortal knows of the existence of his soul as a real and actual personal experience.”
—The Urantia Book*
2. The body. The human body is obviously destroyed during the process of physical death. And the erroneous beliefs surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus have contributed to confusion concerning the mortal bodies of humans are somehow reconstituted in the next life. They aren’t.
Recall that after his crucifixion, the human body of Jesus was laid to rest in the tomb, but it was not resurrected with his surviving, one-time human mind and his divine mind and spirit as the Son of God. His material or physical body was not a part of the resurrected personality. Jesus came forth from the tomb, but his body of flesh remained undisturbed in the sepulchre. He emerged from the burial tomb without moving the stones before the entrance and without disturbing the seals of Pilate.
He did not emerge from the tomb as a spirit. He came forth from this tomb of Joseph in the very likeness of the personalities of those who, as resurrected ascendant beings, emerge from the resurrection halls of the first mansion world of our local system.
Certain archangels — the angels of the resurrection — approached Gabriel and asked for the mortal body of Jesus, saying: “We may not participate in the resurrection of the bestowal experience of Michael our sovereign, but we would have his mortal remains put in our custody for immediate dissolution. We do not propose to employ our technique of dematerialization; we merely wish to invoke the process of accelerated time.”
His body of death was a purely material creation, just like ours; it was physical and literal; it could not be removed from the tomb as the divine form of the resurrected Jesus had been able to escape the sealed sepulchre. As the attending seraphim (and other types of beings) made ready to remove the body of Jesus from the tomb, preparatory to according it the dignified and reverent disposal of near-instantaneous dissolution, it was assigned to certain spiritual beings to roll away the stones from the entrance of the tomb.
“The larger of these two stones was a huge circular affair, much like a millstone, and it moved in a groove chiseled out of the rock, so that it could be rolled back and forth to open or close the tomb. When the watching Jewish guards and the Roman soldiers, in the dim light of the morning, saw this huge stone begin to roll away from the entrance of the tomb, apparently of its own accord — without any visible means to account for such motion — they were seized with fear and panic, and they fled in haste from the scene.”³
The non-material nature of the new form of the resurrected Jesus was documented by only of the gospel accounts, (as well as in The Urantia Book), where, during his first appearance to Mary Magdalene, as she sought to embrace his feet, Jesus said:
“Touch me not, Mary, for I am not as you knew me in the flesh. In this form will I tarry with you for a season before I ascend to the Father. But go, all of you, now and tell my apostles — and Peter — that I have risen, and that you have talked with me.”
Likewise, our new forms will not be bodies of human flesh and circulating blood:
The mortals of the realms will arise in the morning of the resurrection with the same type of transition body that Jesus had when he arose from the tomb. These bodies do not have circulating blood, and such beings do not partake of ordinary material food; nevertheless, these forms are real. When the various believers saw Jesus after his resurrection, they really saw him; they were not the self-deceived victims of visions or hallucinations.
1. The mind. Mind is a temporary intellect system loaned to human beings for use during our material lifetime, and as we use this mind, we are either accepting, or rejecting the potential of our eternal existence.
Mind is really about all we have of universe reality that is subject to our will, and with the soul — the spiritual vehicle of the self — will someday faithfully portray the completed harvest of our temporal decisions which the mortal self makes to accept— or reject the gift of eternal life.
The mind can know quantity, reality, and meanings; but quality— values — is felt. That which feels is the mutual creation of mind, which knows, and the associated spirit, which turns this knowing into reality.²
During this life, our consciousness rests gently upon the electro-chemical mechanism below— the brain— and delicately touches the spirit energy system above— the Indwelling Spirit. We are rarely, if ever, completely conscious of these two systems in our mortal life; so we must do the work of living in our mind, where we are conscious.
Our self-consciousness is really a communal consciousness: God and man, Father and son, Creator and creature. Human self-consciousness is also very much a quest:
1. The quest for knowledge: the logic of science.
2. The quest for moral values: the sense of duty.
3. The quest for spiritual values: the religious experience.
4. The quest for personality values, the ability to recognize the reality of God as a personality and the concurrent realization of our fraternal relationship with all other personalities.
The phenomenon of death
Human beings generally recognize only one aspect of death, the cessation of the physical life energies. But when we talk about the issues concerning personality survival, we should consider three kinds:
Physical death. The death of the body and the mind.
Intellectual death. The death of the mind. Whenever the “essential mind circuits of human will-action” have been destroyed, this is death— irrespective of the continuing function of the living mechanism of the physical body. The body minus the volitional mind is no longer human. (But according to the prior choosing of the human will, the soul of such an individual may survive.)
Spiritual death. The death of the soul. This kind of death is final in its significance— your existence as a being in the universe is over— irrespective of any temporary continuation of the living energies of the physical body and mind mechanisms. From the cosmic standpoint, the mortal is already dead; the continuing life merely indicates the persistence of the material momentum of cosmic energies which are doomed to a permanent end.
What actually happens at death?
At death, the functional identity of selfhood associated with the human personality is disrupted through the cessation of vital motion— i.e., brain waves. Human personality, while transcending its constituent parts, is still dependent on them for continuing functional identity.
The stoppage of life destroys the physical brain patterns of the mind, and this disruption of mind terminates our mortal consciousness. And the consciousness of that creature cannot subsequently reappear— until a cosmic situation has been arranged which will permit the same human personality to once again function in relationship with living energy. Any such “cosmic situation” is carried out by many spiritual beings who perform such relationships with our new forms and the surviving components of our selfhood, the soul, and the identity transcript in the possession of the Indwelling Spirit.
After death the body returns to the elemental world from which it obtained.
But two non-material factors of a surviving personality persist: The pre-existent Indwelling Spirit, (i.e., the spirit of God) with possession of the memory transcription of the entire mortal sojourn.
There also remains, in the custody of the destiny guardian— the “guardian angel”— the immortal soul of the deceased human. These phases and forms of soul, these once kinetic, but now static formulas of identity, are essential to repersonalization on the “mansion worlds”; and it is the reunion of the Indwelling Spirit and the soul that reassembles the surviving personality, that “reconscious-izes” you at the time of your awakening on the next world.
Getting to the Next World
The Indwelling Spirit, (i.e., the spirit of God) with possession of the memory transcription, is perfectly able to transport the record of your memory to the mansion world where you are to be resurrected. Likewise, the guardian seraphim with possession of the human soul(s) entrusted to it are fully capable of making the long journey to the mansion worlds.
During the transit of surviving mortals from this world, the world of our origin, to the next world, usually the first mansion world of seven transition worlds, whether they experience personality reassembly on the “third period” or ascend at the time of a group resurrection when many mortals are reawakened at the same time, the record of personality constitution is faithfully preserved by the archangels assigned to such special activities. These beings are not the custodians of personality (as the guardian seraphim are of the soul), but it is nonetheless true that every identifiable factor of personality is effectually safeguarded in the custody of these dependable trustees of mortal survival. But as to the exact whereabouts of mortal personality during the time intervening between death and survival, no one knows.
The situation which makes our individual repersonalization possible is brought about in the “resurrection halls of the receiving planets of a local universe,” an enormous edifice dedicated to the process of mortal reawakening:
Here in these life-assembly chambers the supervising authorities provide that relationship of universe energy. . . which makes possible the reconsciousizing of the sleeping survivor. The reassembly of the constituent parts of a onetime material personality involves:
1. The fabrication of a suitable form. . . in which the new survivor can make contact with nonspiritual reality, and within which a mansion world variant of the cosmic mind can be encircuited.
2. The return of the Indwelling Spirit to the waiting creature. The Spirit is the eternal custodian of your ascending identity; this Spirit “Monitor” is the absolute assurance that you, yourself, and not another, will occupy the form created for your personality awakening. And the Spirit will be present at your personality reassembly to take up once more the role as an indwelling Paradise guide to your surviving self.
3. When these prerequisites of repersonalization have been assembled, the seraphic custodian of the potentialities of the slumbering immortal soul, with the assistance of numerous other cosmic personalities, bestows this entity upon, and in, the awaiting mind-body form, while committing this surviving soul to eternal association with the waiting Spirit. And this completes the repersonalization, reassembly of memory, insight, and consciousness — your identity is whole, once again.
The fact of repersonalization consists in the seizure of the encircuited phase of the newly segregated cosmic mind by the awakening human self. The phenomenon of personality is dependent on the persistence of the identity of selfhood reaction to universe environment; and this can only be effected through the medium of mind.
Selfhood persists in spite of a continuous change in all the factor components of self; in the physical life the change is gradual; at death—and upon repersonalization—the change is sudden. The true reality of selfhood (personality) is able to function responsively to universe conditions, by virtue of the unceasing changing of its constituent parts. Human life is an endless change of the factors of life; unified by the stability of the unchanging, eternal personality.
And when you thus awaken on the mansion worlds of Jerusem, you will be so changed, the spiritual transformation will be so great that, were it not for your Indwelling Spirit and the destiny guardian, who so fully connect up your new life in the new worlds with your old life in the first world, you would at first have difficulty in connecting your new consciousness with the reviving memory of your previous identity. Notwithstanding the continuity of personal selfhood, much of the mortal life would at first seem to be a vague and hazy dream. But time will clarify many mortal associations.
The Indwelling Spirit will recall and rehearse for us only those memories and experiences which are a part of, and essential to, our continuing universe career.
If the Indwelling Spirit has been a partner in the evolution of aught in the human mind, then will these worthwhile experiences survive in the eternal consciousness of the Spirit. But much of our past life and its memories, having neither spiritual meaning nor value, will perish with the material brain. Much useless memory will pass away as onetime scaffolding which, having bridged you over to the next level, no longer serves a purpose in the universe. Since we have a perfect guide— a fragment of God making these decisions— we may rest assured that the memories that really contribute to who we really are going forward in the universe, will be preserved as a living part of spirit consciousness.
But personality— and the relationships between personalities— are never “scaffolding”; our mortal memories of personality relationships has cosmic value and will persist. On the mansion worlds we will know and be known, and more, we will remember, and be remembered by, our onetime friends and associates in the short but intriguing material life on Urantia.
In so far as man’s evolving soul becomes permeated by truth, beauty, and goodness as the value-realization of God-consciousness, such a resultant being becomes indestructible. If there is no survival of eternal values in the evolving soul of man, then mortal existence is without meaning, and life itself is a tragic illusion.
But it is forever true: What we begin in time we will assuredly finish in eternity—
if it is worth finishing.
*The Urantia Papers constitute the most recent presentation of truth to the mortals of Urantia. (1955) These papers differed from all previous revelations, for they are not the work of a single universe personality, but a composite presentation by many beings.
But no revelation short of the attainment of the Universal Father can ever be complete; The Urantia Papers are partial, transient, relative, and practically adapted to our local conditions in time and space.
While these admissions may possibly detract from the immediate force and authority of all revelations, “. . .the time has arrived on Urantia [1935!] when it is advisable to make such frank statements, even at the risk of weakening the future influence and authority of this, the most recent of the revelations of truth to the mortal races of Urantia.”
¹ Put another way: “The mass of experience is determined by depth of concept plus totality of recognition of the reality of the external. The motion of experience equals the force of expectant imagination plus the keenness of the sensory discovery of the external qualities of contacted reality.” —The U.B. Are we clear?
² It is not so much what mind comprehends, as what mind desires to comprehend that insures our survival; it isn’t so much what our mind is like, as what mind is striving to be like, that constitutes spirit identification.
It is not so much that man is conscious of God, as that man yearns for God— that results in our ascension in the universe. In other words: What we are today, is not so important as what we are becoming— day by day and in eternity.
³ The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus has been based on the fact of the “empty tomb.” It was indeed a fact that the tomb was empty, but this is not the truth of the resurrection. The tomb was truly empty when the first believers arrived, and this fact, associated with that of the undoubted resurrection of the Master, led to the formulation of a belief which was not true: the teaching that the material and mortal body of Jesus was raised from the grave. Truth having to do with spiritual realities and eternal values cannot always be built up by a combination of apparent facts. Although individual facts may be materially true, it does not follow that the association of a group of facts must necessarily lead to truthful spiritual conclusions. —The U.B.