SOCRATIC myths describe the ascent of the soul to true knowledge, its communion with divine realities, and its return to enlighten mankind.
The order of the Dialogues is important, as the myths in them, each representing a kind of initiation, progressively reveal new teaching and clarify the old.
Plato opens the Republic with a conversation between Socrates and his elderly friend Cephalus on the subject of death.
Cephalus wants to assure himself that, if there is an afterlife, he will be spared the sufferings of the underworld. He even quotes from one of Pindar’s odes to support his argument.
Plato ends the Republic with the Vision of Er, as Socrates describes the spiritual warrior who is slain in battle and returns to life, physically resurrected in order to transmit the message of all saviors, (W. T. S. Thackara in Plato’s Myths and the Mystery Tradition).
The message seems clear: we are all immortal beings, and our destiny is in our own hands.
“Between Science and Theology is a bewildered public, fast losing all belief in man’s personal immortality, in a deity of any kind, and rapidly descending to the level of materialism,” H. P. Blavatsky wrote in Isis Unveiled [2:593].
Yet, “from the remotest antiquity, mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity, within the personal physical man.”
“This inner entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown—Chrestos [The Higher Self].”
“It is on the indestructible tablets of the astral light that is stamped the impression of every thought we think, and every act we perform. And future events — effects of long-forgotten causes,” Blavatsky also writes in Isis Unveiled [I:178],—”are already delineated as a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and prophet to follow. the vast repository where the records of every man’s life as well as every pulsation of the visible cosmos are stored up for all Eternity!”
A Drowning Man
“That flash of memory which is traditionally supposed to show a drowning man every long-forgotten scene of his mortal life,” Mme. Blavatsky wrote (Isis 1:179), “as the landscape is revealed to the traveller by intermittent flashes of lightning—is simply the sudden glimpse which the struggling soul gets into the silent galleries where his history is depicted in imperishable colors.”
“The closer the union, the more serene man’s destiny, and the less dangerous the external conditions. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world.
“This world, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego.”
These ideas were written by H. P. Blavatsky in her fist major work on Theosophy, Isis Unveiled, (Ch. 12) — where she compares religion and science in the light of Western and Oriental ancient science, and contrasts occult spirituality with modern spiritualism.
“There is a mysterious power in these doctrines of karma and reincarnation,” Theosophical Society co-founder W. Q. Judge wrote, “which at last forces them upon the belief of those who take them up for study.”
“Each person is the concentration and result of karma, and is compelled from within to believe.”
This is, Judge reasoned, because “the soul is itself the experiencer of rebirth and karma, and has within a clear recollection of both—and rejoices, as it were, when it finds the lower mind taking them up for study.”
“Remember that life is the outcome of the Ever-Living. Live well your life. Seek to realize the meaning of every event.
“Strive to find the Ever Living and wait for more light. The True Initiate does not fully realize what he is passing through, until his degree is received.”
“If you are striving for light and Initiation, remember this, that your cares will increase, your trials thicken, your family make new demands upon you. He who can understand and pass through these patiently, wisely, placidly—may hope.”
-W. Q. Judge (Musings on the True Theosophists Path)
Ricky Bradshaw experienced first hand his own personal spiritual entity. Ricky was clinically dead for over an hour before any pulse was registered and he went on to endure twenty-four surgeries in two years.
His survival is one of the most miraculous in all medical history and he was featured in the television series “That’s Incredible.”
While dead, Ricky had both an out-of-body experience and a near death scenario, which was long and complex. asked how anyone might gain Ricky’s degree of spiritual enlightenment without dying to do it. Ricky’s answer was honest and insightful:
“Having a near-death experience does not make you enlightened. It is an introduction, perhaps more a hindrance than a help!”
Life Goes On
Cardiologist Pim van Lommel did a monumental study of near-death experiences—which raises fascinating questions about life after death, DNA, the collective unconscious, and everyone’s karma. [Ode Magazine, December, 2005, Vol. 3, Issue 10.]
Dr. Pim van Lommel, is the author of Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience. Join Skeptiko host, Alex Tsakiris, for an interview with Dr. van Lommel at the link below:
Click to play (40 min.):
Note to researchers: the most reliable source of information on NDEs to date is IANDS, the International Association for Near Death Studies.
A New Paradigm
Dr. Pim van Lommel, Cardiologist and NDE researcher, believes that the brain is a receiver of consciousness, not a producer. Mel Van Dusen interviews the renowned cardiologist about his research into the near-death experience and it’s implications for a radically new paradigm for living in the 21st century.
“When the The Lancet published his study of near-death experiences,” writes Tijn Touber of ODE Magazine,
“Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel couldn’t have known it would make him into one of the world’s most-talked-about scientists.”
During the Skeptiko interview Dr. van Lommel explains how he began his research, and how what he learned from his patients led him to a personal transformation. [Listen HERE]