Q&A with Michael Tymn, author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die

1. How did you get interested in afterlife evidence?

It just sort of evolved over time.  I was raised in the Catholic Church and the afterlife it taught made little sense to me.  I tried a few Protestant churches after I left the Catholic Church during my early 30s, but what they taught made even less sense.  It was all faith with the Protestants, while the Catholics at least factored works into the salvation picture and also taught a middle ground (purgatory) rather than the dichotomous heaven and hell.   I read Dr. Raymond Moody’s first book on near-death experiences soon after it was released in 1975, but it wasn’t until I had read a few books about Edgar Cayce during the late 1980s that I really started digging into it.  Actually, I think it was part of my life’s plan before I was born.

2.  What prompted you to start writing about it?

I attended an afterlife-themed  conference put on by The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies in 1999.  The speakers and attendees seemed to know a lot about near-death experiences and reincarnation, but few of them knew anything about the research with mediums carried out between 1850 and 1935.  I continued to meet people interested in afterlife studies who knew nothing about the psychical research of yesteryear.  I was surprised as I felt it was more interesting, intriguing and evidential than what we got from NDEs and past-life studies. I concluded that the research was not well known because of the way the old researchers presented it.  They were mostly academics and wrote in a very stodgy manner.  As I majored in journalism in college and had done a lot of freelance writing over the years, I decided to make an attempt at simplifying the old academese by converting it to layman’s language.

3. How did the research before 1935 differ from that after 1935?

It involved many trance- and direct-voice mediums and not so much of the clairvoyants we hear so much about today.  There was much more to it than we get in simple clairvoyance.  The pioneer of psychical research included some world-famous scientists — Robert Hare, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and renowned inventor; biologist  Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution; Sir William Crookes, discoverer of the element thallium and inventor of the radiometer;  astronomer Camille Flammarion; physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, to name just a few of them.  These pioneers provided evidence for survival that easily goes ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ for any open-minded person. However, mainstream science wanted nothing to do with it and when the pioneers died off, nobody stepped up to take their place.   It was during the 1930s that psychical research gave way to parapsychology, which divorced itself from mediumship and focused on ESP and psychokinesis.  Parapsychologists preferred to explain it all as some not-yet- understood force in the subconscious rather than spirits and survival.  It was a more “scientific” approach.

4. What are some of the most compelling examples of afterlife evidence you have heard or witnessed?

As Sir Oliver Lodge said, it is the cumulative evidence from that era that is most convincing.  But if I had to pick one medium as the best, it would be Etta Wriedt of Detroit,  Michigan.   She was a direct-voice medium.  Although she knew only English, spirits communicated through her in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Dutch, Croatian, Arabic, and other languages, providing information that Wriedt could not have possibly known or researched.   Second place would go to Leonora Piper of Boston, a trance-voice medium.  It took several reads of the Piper materials before I really began to grasp it.  In my book, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife,  I tried to present it in a way that is easier for the lay person to understand.  But please don’t go to Wikipedia to learn more about these two mediums. The Wikipedia writers  prefer to see all mediums as frauds.

5.  Why don’t we have mediums like Piper and Wriedt today?

When they lived, people had little to do in their leisure hours.  They sat around a fire place and knitted or whittled or they sat on the front porch and stared at the stars, occasionally drifting off into a state more receptive to spirit contact.  They had more quiet time and they were more open to spirit contact.  Today, there is too much “noise” — television, computers, smartphones, etc., blocking reception.   Also, I think the spirit world gave as much as it could and it reached a point where they realized that they were past the point of diminishing returns in what they were able to give.

6. If afterlife evidence is so strong and present, why wouldn’t whoever created the afterlife offer definitive proof that the afterlife exists?

I don’t know if it was created or has always been, but I like the answer Victor Hugo, the famous French author and poet, was given through a medium:  “Because doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit.  If the day were to come when the human spirit no longer doubted, the human soul would fly off and leave the plough behind, for it would have acquired wings. The earth would lie fallow.  Now, God is the sower and man is the harvester.  The celestial seed demands that the human ploughshare remain in the furrow of life.” Let me add to that by suggesting that parents would no doubt prefer to teach their children right from wrong based on what is morally right rather than on promises of reward or threats of punishment.  I assume that such reasoning would apply at a more macro level.

7.  How do you respond to skeptics who say that afterlife evidence like near-death experiences are largely created by changes in the brain or hallucinations?

That argument goes only so far and does not explain meeting deceased relatives, seeing objects in another room,  seeing every moment of one’s life played out in an instant,  or experiencing a complete spiritual transformation. Nor do the skeptics explain why humans are “programmed” to have such similar hallucinations.  Even those people not near death, e.g., on drugs or in a flight simulator, etc., who experience similar phenomena as the NDEr do not debunk the NDE.  They are likely having an out-of-body experience. The NDE is just one kind of out-of-body experience and the out-of-body experience suggests more than a physical body.

8. What do you think happens to atheists in the afterlife?

I believe that our initial realm in the afterlife is based on how we lived,  not on what we believed.  One can be an atheist and still believe in an afterlife, but if a person is also a nihilist, not believing that consciousness survives death, yet lives a life of love and morality, I believe that person will find him- or herself at no less a realm than the believer who led an equally virtuous life.  However, there are indications that the non-believer may be slower in awakening to his higher self.   The biggest problem for the nihilist may be in his or her declining years in what the person believes to be a march into an abyss of nothingness.  It is much easier for most people to deal with death if they believe it is not “lights out” or total  extinction when they take their last breath.

9. What do you believe the afterlife is like?

As Jesus said, there are “many mansions” in his Father’s house, i.e., many abodes, not just the horrific hell and humdrum heaven of orthodox religion.  I think that’s the primary message that came through the early mediumship.  It’s not floating around on clouds, strumming harps, and praising God 24-7. How boring that would be.  At the lowest levels, where one’s spiritual consciousness has not been developed to any great extent and the soul remains “earthbound,” the individual may experience a “fire of the mind,” better likened to a nightmare or a bad dream, but that is not an eternal state.   The soul can still learn and advance to higher and higher realms.  For the most part, I think the afterlife is beyond human comprehension, especially as we advance from the lower realms to the higher ones.

10.  How about reincarnation?

I believe in reincarnation, but I don’t think it plays out in the way most people who believe in it think it does.  I lean toward the group soul or higher-self concept as explained by spirits through a number of credible mediums.  That is, only a small fraction of the higher self returns.   “When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth,” the discarnate Frederic Myers communicated through medium Geraldine Cummins.  “And often a half-truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement.  I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern of karma I have woven for him on earth.”    Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.   He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.  Similar messages have come through a number of other mediums.

11.  Based on your research on the afterlife, what advice would you have for people on how to live their lives today while also preparing for the afterlife?

I like the way it was put to Betty White, who developed as a medium between 1919 and 1936, by the spirits she referred to as  “The Invisibles.”  They told Betty that she should develop what they called “habitual spiritual consciousness.”  They explained that this didn’t mean retirement into a cloistered nunnery. “It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession. Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influences automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon to lend a helping hand.”  The objective, they said, is getting to know the higher self and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized.


12. What advice would you have for someone who has a fear of death, either their own death or a loved ones death?

I’d suggest the person first watch Dr. Keith Parsons’s you-tube, titled This Life, Next Life, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5RpbveVC_4 and I’d also give the person a copy of my book, The Afterlife Revealed, as well as a list of a number of other books, including those by Professor Stafford Betty.  I’d also refer the person to my blog at  http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn and to Dr. Parsons’s other you-tubes.

13.   Have you experienced any serendipity or synchronicity in your 
pursuit to better understand the afterlife?

I’ve had a number of such experiences, but I can’t say they have helped me better understand the afterlife.  They do seem to suggest that life is more than the mechanistic/materialistic world that mainstream science offers us and encourage me to continue to explore the “larger life.”

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About Michael:
Background info:  native of California (born in Oakland, grew up in neighboring Alameda), now residing in Kailua, Hawaii (have been in Hawaii since 1971, with four years in Oregon (2002-2006);1958 graduate of San Jose State University School of Journalism; served three years as officer in U. S. Marine Corps; 40 years in insurance claims adjustment, supervision and management, including litigation management, worked insurance claims in Japan, Malaysia, So. Vietnam, Philippines, and Guam 1968-1971 before moving to Hawaii;  married to Gina for past 47 years.  As a freelance writer for 60+ years, have contributed more than 2,000 articles to approximately 50 newspapers, magazines, and journals. Worked as a stringer for The Honolulu Advertiser for 24 years, covering sports and writing a column.   Author of seven books — one on long-distance running and six on spiritual subjects.   Served as editor of  The Journal for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies from 2012 to 2019 and editor of The Searchlight, a quarterly  publication of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, from 2002 to 2019.  Currently write blog for White Crow Books of UK while working on final book, The Afterlife: Making Sense Out Of Nonsense.

Comments

  1. Keith Parsons says:

    I have read and enjoyed every one of Mike Tymn’s spiritual books and am a regular reader of his monthly blog on the White Crow Books website. In a sense and without his being aware of it, he has been a mentor for my own efforts in making Youtube documentaries providing afterlife evidence. I find his insightful views on his blog fascinating, as do his numerous followers, of whom there are quite a few regulars who comment underneath his pieces. I enjoy these comments also, but don’t necessarily agree with all of them! Mike’s contribution over the years in bringing to a wider audience a clearer understanding of the existence of a larger reality than the merely material world, is remarkable for its persistence and the quality of his ideas and writing.

  2. Rick Darby says:

    Thanks for publishing this. In his books, articles, and blog posts Michael Tymn conveys his extensive knowledge of the “golden age” of psychical research (which I’d place from the early 1880s to early 1920s).

    The literature about paranormal phenomena, especially mediumship, from that period is often extremely impressive and convincing, but a little daunting for today’s readers. Many of the books are long and detailed (the better to describe the quantity and quality of the evidence), but too much so for us moderns laboring under time poverty. The language and style of a hundred-plus years ago are more formal and wordy than we are used to.

    However, Mike offers quotes and selections from the original literature with his own thoughtful synopses and occasional interpretation. The Afterlife Revealed is a good example. Anyone with a serious interest in psychical research should get acquainted with at least a few of the original sources, supplementing those with Mike’s work.

  3. Norm says:

    You have chosen the best source for bridging the present with the post-1850, formative decades of “mainstream” spiritualism. Michael Tymn provides rare clarity with wide-ranging knowledge buttressed by years of dedicated scholarship. His straight-forward approach keeps his readers eager for the next page and beyond.

    I would quibble with his comment about how he might have been destined for this avocation by pre-birth planning, but since I think there are other explanations for so-called reincarnation (e.g., tapping into the Akashic Records), I won’t pursue it in this venue.

    As a long-time reader of Michael’s blog at White Crow Books, I seem to remember him mentioning that, unless we have experienced a spiritually-transformative event ourselves, we just don’t know for certain whether something is one hundred percent true … Even in the face of seemingly overwhelming evidence.

    Apart from that, I am very comfortable with Michael’s 99.7% acceptance of the evidence in lieu of my own personally-acquired proof.

  4. John F. Miller, III says:

    As a long-time reader of Mike’s informative and insightful blogs, I agree with others who have commented about the marvelous work that Mike is doing by sharing with us research from long ago that is relevant to this most important subject: life-after-death. His suggestion that he may even have chosen this spiritual journalistic path before this incarnation makes sense in light of the West’s best known ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, who ends his most famous ten-book long dialog, the REPUBLIC, with an account of a near-death experience by a soldier, Er, so dies, goes into the afterlife, and sees souls choosing their next lives. If you’re interested in this account, read just the last few pages of the Republic. Thank you, Mike, for your years of service to those of us interested in spiritual and “paranormal” subjects. —

  5. Richard Brannon says:

    I can only agree with the comments that have already been made above in regard to Mike’s writings. I also have followed Mike’ writings for some time, and tend to enjoy each one. He is so consistent and knowledgeable in this area that I think I have mentioned to him that I could pick up one his articles, or books without knowing the author, and quickly recognize the author. Mike and I first became what I like to call “Email Friends”, as I responded with an Email telling him how much I enjoyed one of his first books “The Afterlife Revealed”. I have since had the chance to actually meet Mike, and his lovely wife Gina, at a couple of AREI Conferences in Arizona, and consider it one of my lifes Highlights …
    Continued Best Wishes always to Mike and Gina …

    RBB

  6. I also agree with the above devotees to Mike’s columns and articles. He helped me to understand that still voice inside of me that I eventually learned came from a spiritual place somewhere and gave me direction/s. It’s wonderful to know it’s always there and to depend on angels, spirits and positive ancestors from the other side to guide me. I love the synchronicity of life and how it teaches me that everything is connected. Mike also does that. Blessings to Mike and his family always – Karen Herrick

  7. Dianne R Hyde says:

    I am new to this page. I have so many thoughts but I am unable to express them right now. But I am now following this blog.

  8. Ian Kemp says:

    hi fascinating I wonder if Astrology plays a part in the reincarnation process ? it seems to me that both Chinese Astrology which is based on yr of birth and the monthly astrology say quite a lot. My wife is born on Feb 10 Aquarius in 1952 the Chinese yr of Dragon. She fits the description . Me born 1935 year of Pig Sept 23 Libra /Virgo again fit the description of both signs,
    It could be that the yr of birth and date are related what reincarnation is about, It all about different vibrations at different times in different yrs. So one is incarnated into different signs for development experience character
    Just a few thoughts Anybody looked at the Joseph Communications Michael G Recca There is a series of very detailed books re communication with spirts very detailed and humane
    Can any body enlarge on the above.
    Many thanks Ian

    .

  9. Matt Welsh says:

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Ian!

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