The Unanswered Question: Summary

The Unanswered Question: Death, Near-Death, and the Afterlife was published in 2002 by Hampton Roads Publishing Company.

The book takes as its premise that the information about the Afterlife brought back by near-death experiencers may not provide an accurate picture of what we should expect after making our own transition to the other side. Using accounts from The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Gnostic, Christian and other ancient wisdom traditions--as well as the writings of the seventeenth-century Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg, contemporary near-death experiences, and my own out-of-body experiences--I outline what we might expect to encounter during our passage from the physical reality in which our lives unfold to the nonphysical reality of the Afterlife.

Because everything we’ll experience in nonphysical reality exists outside of space and time as we understand them, the Afterlife is organized in ways that our usual waking consciousness or rational minds may find difficult to understand. Near-death and out-of-body experiencers have to represent this reality to themselves in quasi-physical terms in order to make sense of it. The translation of nonphysical reality into physical images necessarily--and often unconsciously--distorts the information such individuals bring back with them about the Afterlife. Yet behind these images lies a consistency of function that provides a better means of understanding them than how they appear. In investigating the accounts of the Afterlife in the various sources outlined above, I expose such underlying similarities of function.

By means of a process of triangulating between images of the Afterlife gleaned from near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and the ancient wisdom traditions, it should be possible to prepare ourselves for what we’ll encounter after death--when we finally answer that great Unanswered Question for ourselves.