WHAT IS "A SPIRIT"?
A spirit is an invisible, sentient, thinking being. The word "spirit" does not identify the character, size, gender, or species of the sentient being, or even necessarily what the being looks like, only that it is an invisible, thinking being. But spirits do not always remain invisible, for many persons report seeing what they call "ghosts" that are in reality "spirits." The English word "spirit" is derived from the Latin term spiritus. In Greek "spirit" is pneuma and in Hebrew "spirit" is ruach. Christian theology likes to show partiality by capitalizing the word "spirit" whenever it relates to the Godhead, that is, to the Trinity. Thus, "the Holy Spirit" is not some generic spirit but rather a unique, uncreated Spirit, the only one of its kind, that exists in a relationship outlined by fourth-century Trinitarian doctrine: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. But this theology is misleading in its handling of the word "spirit," for the range of the word "spirit" is quite wide. As for sentient beings, God is a spirit, Christ is a spirit, an angel is a spirit, a demon is a spirit, a spirit of God is a spirit, a holy spirit is a spirit, a human being is a spirit, and even animals are spirits. We will unpack this shortly, but let us now go to the etymology of the word "spirit" to begin to understand its original meaning.
In Hebrew and in Greek, both ruach and pneuma originally indicated "wind" and "moving air" with the underlying meaning of "power." In Greek, pneuma was the "stuff" of which the universe was made. It was a term suited for Platonic physics and Stoic cosmology, but the Greeks never used the term pneuma to indicate "a spirit." The Greeks already had another term for an invisible sentient being, and that term was daimon that could mean "a divinity," "a good spirit," or "a bad spirit." But unlike the Greek term pneuma, the Hebrews used the equivalent Hebrew word, ruach, to indicate "a spirit." Why would a Hebrew term that originally meant "wind" or "air" be applied to a sentient being? For the following reason: just as the wind is invisible and only known by its effects, so too are "spirits"; they are invisible yet known only by their effects. Thus, in Hebrew the term for "wind" and "air" was used as a metaphor to describe the nature of "a spirit," at least as far as that nature was experienced by most human beings. For instance, the effects of "a spirit" (ruach) are described in 1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23; 18:10; 19:18-24; and Job 4:15. Hebrew ruach is the term used in the phrases "spirit of the Lord" (ruach adonai) and "spirit of God" (ruach elohim) in the Old Testament. Whenever a prophet is affected by such a spirit they are said "to behave like a prophet" or "to prophesy."
When it came time to translate the Hebrew scriptures (what Christians call "the Old Testament") into Greek for Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora (Jews living outside of Jerusalem), the Jewish translators, commissioned by Ptolemy, set about the task of translating the Hebrew text into Greek for their fellow Greek-speaking Jews who had lost the knowledge of reading and speaking Hebrew and Aramaic. This translation, known today as the Septuagint (so-called because of the alleged "70" translators), was accomplished during the fourth and third centuries B. C. near Alexandria. When the Hebrew word ruach meant "wind" in the Hebrew text, the translators used the Greek equivalent, pneuma. But when the Hebrew word ruach meant "a spirit," as it does in 1 Kings 22:21, or "a spirit of God," which Greek word did the translators use? They used the word pneuma as well, even though Greeks used the word daimon for "a spirit." The translators were showing integrity for the Hebrew text by translating ruach with its Greek equivalent, pneuma. By doing so they actually expanded the sematic range of Greek pneuma to include, for the first time, the notion of "personality"; for example, the "certain spirit" in 1 Kings 22:21 is a thinking, communicating being as are the spirits in the 1 Samuel passages mentioned above. It is by way of the Septuagint that all subsequent Jewish and early Christian literature use the Greek word pneuma to indicate "a spirit." By the time we get to the New Testament, God, Christ, demons, angels, and human beings are called by the term pneuma, "spirit." The Greek word daimon, that was neutral in pre-Christian Greek literature, came to be restricted to "evil spirits" via the Septuagint. So whereas the semantic range of pneuma was expanded to include the notion of "a spirit," the semantic range of daimon was restricted to that of "an evil spirit" only (in this context daimon = demon). The spirit world of the Hebrews had an impact on the spirit world of the early Jews and Christians, especially how the Hebrew term ruach, that could be used in the Old Testament for God (Isaiah 31:3), a person (Ecclesiastes 3:21), an angel (Psalm 104:4), and "a spirit" (Job 4:15), was translated into Greek as pneuma for the same sentient beings.
Characteristics of Spirits
It is said of man, "Ye are gods" (Ps 82:6), this statement being affirmed later by Christ (see John 10:34). The Hebrew word elohim is translated here in the Psalm as "gods." It is the same word used in the Scriptures when it is written that we are created in the image, or likeness, of the gods (see Gen 1:26-27, 5:1, 9:6). We therefore look like these heavenly spirits, as indeed we should, having been made temporarily "a little lower than the angels (elohim, 'gods')" (Ps 8:6). Consequently, we are incarnated spirits. The figure of speech that "we have a spirit" conveys a false impression. Instead we are spirits, as indicated by "there is a spirit in man" (Job 32:8). What we have, as well, are physical bodies. It is this spirit/soul which gives physical life to the fleshly body it inhabits, for "the body without the spirit is [physically] dead" (James 2:26).
The body of a spirit is called by various names, such as "spiritual body," "celestial body," "glorified body," and "astral body." Paul contrasts the physical body with the spiritual body in "It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body" (I Cor 15:42). This points out that the physical body decays and decomposes into the dust from which it came. The spiritual body, the body composed of spiritual substance, is the imperishable body which remains. Paul further explains that "If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body" (I Cor 15:44). The word "spiritual" has the Scriptural meaning "of, or pertaining to, spirits." When Paul writes of a spiritual body, he means precisely that: the body of a spirit. Today, "spiritual" is more likely to be used in the sense of "religious" or "saintly." Such current meanings, if projected into the New Testament translations, gravely distort certain passages. In addition, some of the meaning of the Scriptures has been lost or obscured by our misunderstanding of the literal meaning of "spirit," that of a real entity, as an emotion, e.g. "a spirit of distress." Unfortunately, the English language has numerous idioms involving "spirit," such as "in good spirits," "in high spirits," "in a spirit of cooperation," "a high-spirited horse," "ran a spirited race," and others. These phrases are used to refer to moods, attitudes, and emotions. They mislead the mind when we attempt to read similar phrases in the Bible that way. It is worth remembering that the English language did not exist when Scriptures were written. We cannot take the current popular usage of such words and impute their meanings into the Bible.
In particular, we notice that a spirit is a thinking, conscious, acting entity. The term "a spirit" means a real entity existing outside of our minds. A spirit is not an emotion, impulse, or an attitude, but rather is an entity, a personality, capable of inducing emotions, "impulses," and attitudes in human beings. We see this clearly in early Jewish literature, particularly the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Spirits were believed to be adept in certain virtues and vices, not unlike those of humans. We see that in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, spirits were qualified by adjectives for virtues and vices. On the one hand, there were spirits of lust, of greed, of vanity, of jealousy, of deceit, of envy, of anger, of hate, of arrogance, of impurity, and lying spirits. On the other hand, there were spirits of the understanding of the Lord, of holiness, of God, of love, of strength, of courage, of faith, of hope, and of fortitude. Today, we have come to use these expressions to represent human inclination and dispositions, not unlike "the spirit of the times," "in good spirits," or "the spirit of the season." But this is very misleading. In early Judaism a term for human disposition existed, namely diaboulios (in Hebrew, yetser). The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs clearly distinguish the human disposition, diaboulion, from the spirits (pneumata) that act on it from without: "The disposition (diaboulion) of the good man is not in the deceitful power of a spirit of Beliar; For the angel of peace guides his soul (Testament of Benjamin 6:1); and "But if it (the soul) turns the disposition to evil, every action of it is in wickedness, and driving away the good, and ruled by Beliar he takes hold of evil, and if he does something good, he perverts it to wickedness. For whenever he starts doing good, the end of his action leads to doing evil since the treasure of the disposition is filled with poison of an evil spirit" (Testament of Asher 1:8-9). The name "Beliar" is a Greek corruption for the Hebrew name "Belial" and was a name for Satan in early Jewish literature. It appears once in the New Testament, 2 Cor 6:16. The Dead Sea Scrolls also make a clear distinction between disposition and spirits: "in your (Yhwh's) hands is the inclination (yetser, or impulse) of every spirit (kol ruach)" (1QH 7.16). Later on, during the medieval ages, the "discernment of spirits," of which these virtues and vices were a part, shifted to a discernment of evil thoughts or passions within the person's own psyche wherein "spirits" were depersonalized into symbols for different sins. This was an erroneous shift that indentified "spirit" with human vices, feelings, and emotions. And so it is to the present day. But such a semantic shift does not reflect the semantic range of "spirit" in early Judaism. A spirit was not a mood or an impulse. A spirit was an invisible personality that could evoke a mood or an impulse. Thus, the different names for spirits indicated the very virtues and vices that a particular spirit might incite in a human being: "a spirit of hate," "a spirit of envy," "a spirit of love," "a spirit of God." Emotions were and are the playthings of spirits. The fact that spirits are usually invisible has tricked modernity into thinking that these emotions arise from within the person and in no way have their origin outside of the person. The term "subconscious" is defined as "the other self" and is often invoked whenever someone exhibits "different personalities." However reasonable this might be if one is not privy to spirits, this was not the position of the early Jews and Christians from which Christians of today take their theology.
The term "angel" is another stumbling block, calling up images of creatures bearing little resemblance to their Scriptural description. "Angel" is often defined as meaning "messenger," or far better, "agent." The name itself describes the function of the creature, not the creature itself. In the same way, the words "soldier," "mother," and "friend" do not tell us the appearance of these people, nor even that they are people, but describe their function or their relationship to us. An angel is a creature who is functioning as an agent of God. But what is this creature? The angel is a spirit. "Are not all ANGELS ministering SPIRITS sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).
Spirits are the inhabitants of the various dimensions of creation, which form a vast multi-dimensional spirit world. God Himself is pure spirit (Isaiah 31:3; John 4:24). Christ, the image of God, is a Spirit (1 Cor 15:44). The angels are spirits, and we are spirits. None of these spirits fits the popular myth that a spirit is a shapeless, formless, intelligence having no body. The opposite is true: spirits have bodies. The term for bodiless, "incorporeal," in relation to spirits does not mean that spirits lacked bodies. The phrase "disembodied soul" conveys the false impression that invisible sentient beings lack form and shape; indeed, even lack a body. The Greek term translated as "incorporeal" and "disembodied" is asomatos and it literally means, "without a physical body" (alpha privative a + soma). The term does not occur in the NT, but it is used to describe "spirits" as not having "physical bodies" in early Judaism as seen in the Testament of Solomon 2:5 (pneumata asomatoi, "bodiless spirits," or better, "spirits without physical bodies"). In his De Anima (On the Soul) 409B.21, Aristotle could speak of incorporeal bodies that were still bodies: soma asomatotaton, "incorporeal body," or better, "non-physical body." Spirits, although invisible, have bodies "of a kind" as Paul indicates in 1 Cor 15:35: "what sort of body do they (the dead) come with?" The orthodox church father Irenaeus (120-202 A.D.) claimed that "The Lord has taught with great clarity, that souls not only continue to exist, but that they preserve the same form [in their state separated from the physical body] as the body had to which they were adapted, and that they remember the deeds which they did in this state of existence, and from which they have now ceased" (Against Heresies 2.34.1). Spirit bodies are necessarily composed of a different condition of substance than fleshly bodies, since they are invisible to us in their usual condition. The bodies of these spirits are every bit as real, solid, and visible to each other in their dimension as our bodies are to each other on Earth. Some of these spirits have been seen when they materialized on Earth. Their reported appearances in the Scriptures show that these spirits walk, talk, eat, wear clothes, and generally resemble people in every way. So great is their resemblance to humans that they are sometimes simply referred to as "men" (Genesis 18:1-15, 19:10-12, 32:24-30; Daniel 9:21; Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10). We are told that these materialized spirits are sometimes among us, but that we mistake them for ordinary people: "Let love of the brethren continue. Do no neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:1).
The Biblical description of angels has no resemblance to the usual conception of angels as pretty people with wings on their shoulders. This myth grew from the early references to seraphim and cherubim. Seraphim are mentioned only by Isaiah, where we read that he saw a vision (Isa 6:2-6). The seraphim were part of the vision, not claimed to be real beings. Cherubim are referred to on several occasions. Most of the verses involving cherubim describe statues of cherubim. Whereas the statues themselves have wings, it is not clear that the cherubim do. Since there are mentions of cherubim, seraphim, powers, authorities, principalities, and others in references to angelic beings, the possibility is open that many species of spirits may be non-human. Perhaps they materialize by means of technology instead of magic, i.e., "beaming down." Perhaps, as some writers have proposed, those entities who project into our space-time dimension travel from one place to another in silvery discs. At any rate, their resemblances to us go much deeper than external appearances. There must also be internal similarities.
Humans can eat angel food (Ps 78:24-25). Materialized spirits can eat human food, also, as the angels who appeared and visited with Abraham and Lot ate quite a variety of human foods (Genesis 18:1-22, 19:1-26). Even the high spirit, Christ, when He materialized from Heaven ate fish with the Apostles. He had mentioned to them earlier that both food and wine exist in Heaven (Ps 78:24-25; Mark 14:20). Since these spirits eat and drink, it follows that they must have internal organs of every necessary kind. It is as though these spirits of the higher realms are more or less like flawless humans might be if such existed. Yet they are not perfect. We both make mistakes (Job 4:18, 15:14). The angels are wise (2 Samuel 14:21) and discerning (2 Samuel 14:17). They have extraordinary knowledge, but do not know everything. They do not know all of the details of the plan of salvation, although they are especially interested in finding out (1 Peter 1:12). They worship and serve God (Psalm 148:2), as man is expected to do. The angels of the spirit world of God are, as one of them has said, our "fellow servants" (Revelation 22:8-9).
We find that the Scriptures depict many similarities between angels and humans. It is apparently intended that, upon our arrival in the next dimension, we will be prepared to live in harmony, for it is said that man shall then be equal to the angels (Luke 20:36). We have been made "a little lower than the angels (Ps 8:5), in the same manner in which Christ Himself was also "made . . . for a little while lower than the angels" (Hebrews 2:6-9) during His earthly incarnation. A deep connection exists between angels and mankind. They have much in common, yet we humans are bound within physical bodies on Earth instead of in spirit bodies in the higher dimensions. The distinction between man and angel seems to be more of quality, or degree of spiritual purity, than one of species. We are, in fact, the same species of spirits.
Materializations of Spirits: Spirits Temporarily in Human Form
Humans and angels are spirits, the only difference being that whereas humans are spirits incarnated in fleshly bodies, angels are spirits without fleshly bodies who, nevertheless, exist in a spiritual dimension in spirit bodies. When spirits, then, materialize they take on the form that they have as spirits in the spiritual dimensions from which they "beam down" to the Earthly, physical dimension of creation. Hence, the records of materialized spirits in biblical texts all refer to these spirits as "men" as we have already seen above. Humans look like humans--head, face, shoulders, arms, legs, hands, fingers, feet, toes, stomach, chest, back, genitalia, etc.--not by virtue of their physical bodies but by virtue of the spirit bodies that are temporarily housed in a physical body. The shape of the physical body is the shape of the spirit body; it is the spirit body that gives shape to the physical body, not vice versa. So when we see the materialization of a spirit, either in a photograph or from personal experience during a prayer service, we are seeing a temporary manifestation of that spirit from another dimension. There is no difference as to kind between a materialized spirit and a human being. The difference lies in the following way: human beings are spirits who incarnate into physical bodies that originate from the unification of male and female seed. The spirit body incarnated into the physical body at birth grows along with the physical body according to laws established by God; spirits who materialize from spiritual dimensions take on the appearance of flesh and bone only temporarily as fully formed human beings. Humans, on the other hand, are those whose "materialization" is permanent and does not require odic energy from the sitters or medium in order to manifest as a solid, flesh and bone human being, as materialized spirits have been reported to manifest in the modern era.
For instance, one of the most terrific exhibitions of materialized spirits occurred during the sittings with the Brazilian medium Carlos Carmine Mirabelli (1889-1951) during the early part of the 20th century. Full materializations of spirits were seen in broad day light by scientists, teachers, medical doctors, and other professional persons who actually examined the materialized spirits in order to satisfy their curiosity whether, indeed, that which stood before them was "real" to the touch and was actually "human" as they appeared to be. Photographs were also taken of some the materializations. One of the more famous ones is a photograph of the materialization of the eighteenth-century Italian poet Giuseppi Parini (1729-1799), with arms folded, taken at the Cesar Lombroso Academy of Psychic Studies in San Paul, Brazil, with Mirabelli seated to the left (Parini's right in the photo) and a Dr. Carlos de Castro to the right (Parini's left in the photo):
Notice in the photo seen here that Parini is materialized in period dress and he is wearing spectacles on his face. As a materialized spirit, Parini looks to all outward appearances to be one of the sitters themselves, such as seen here, that of the very human Mirabelli and Dr. de Castro. If this, in fact, be a materialized spirit, then such photographic evidence demonstrates that the records of "angels" in biblical texts who appear as "men" as well as the appearances of Christ after His death and resurrection all manifested in the same manner as seen here with the spirit Parini. The materialization of the angels in the Old Testament and of Christ in the New Testament did not require the odic energy of any medium as we see here with the physical medium Mirabelli and the materialized spirit Parini. High heavenly spirits have all the odic energy at their disposal necessary for their manifestation in human form on the Earth without the aid of a medium. Physical mediums, however, may be used during a Christian prayer service as a power source from which a heavenly spirit may materialize among the sitters present, but only if the medium and sitters are mentally focused on God and praise Him as the Father of all and accept Christ as the Messiah, and, of course, if the materialization is so desired by God.
Sometimes, students have told me that the materialization of a spirit does not mean that spirits actually look the way in which they materialize in human form. In other words, for our benefit a spirit simply takes on a recognizable shape, that of a human form, so that we will be able to understand what we are seeing, but that pure spirits really do not look like humans or have a discernable shape in their spiritual dimension from which they materialized. But when I ask the student, "How do you know this?", he or she simply smiles and shrugs, "I don't know." If materializations teach us anything, it's that the "matter" which clothes the spirit actually reveals the shape and form of the very thing that the "matter" so clothes, i.e., the shape and form of the spirit itself as it looks and exists in the spiritual dimension. A crude and imperfect analogy might be the impression made by a coin that has been placed under a sheet of notebook paper upon which an impression of the coin's face is left behind when a pencil is rubbed on the very spot of the paper under which the coin is located. The impression left on the paper is made by graphite particles of the pencil. These graphite particles, in and of themselves, do not posses the shape of the coin. Rather, the graphite particles reveal the shape of the coin in question, a shape that already exists even before the impression is ever made. Likewise with spirit materializations.
As for the opinion that "only humans have souls" or continue on into an afterlife, the materializations of animal spirits is a blow to this kind of thinking. The Polish medium, Franek Kluski (1874-1949), was a physical medium around whom animal spirits appeared in full form, just as if these animals had been let into the house through the front door and allowed to run around the sitting room. Some photos of these materializations were taken. One is shown here to the left, that of a bird that appears on Kluski's left shoulder with its wings spread. Other animals manifested in Kluski's circle, such as squirrels, other kinds of birds, a dog, and even a lion. The sitters also noticed the smell of these animals whenever they manifested. The fact that animals manifested shows that the sitters may not have been interested so much in seeking God, Christ, and the holy spirits, but rather may have been interested in the phenomena themselves. Nevertheless, such manifestations should be evidence for those who wonder whether there is continued existence beyond the physical death of any creature, human or non-human. These manifestations would appear, sometimes gradually from out of a foggy cloudlet, and then disappear without ever opening any chamber-room doors or windows. The appearance of animal spirits reflects the biblical record that animals, too, enter into the afterlife just as humans once they pass over into spirit: "For the lot of man and of beast is one lot; the one dies as well as the other. Both have the same life-breath . . . both were made from the dust, and to the dust they both return. Who knows if the spirit of the children of men goes upward and the spirit of beasts goes earthward?" (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21). We can no longer deny the brute creation the very spirit afterlife that we humans will experience.
Another variety of spirit materialization was exhibited in the Kluski circle. The spirits were given the opportunity to make molds out of paraffin wax of complex hand folds. These molds were preserved and a few of them were photographed:
Notice that these molds are that of human-looking hands, with details that bespeak of a human in every respect, down to the folds of the skin and finger nails. But these are not the molds made by a human being. These are the molds made by a spirit being. The sitters could hear the splashing of the hot paraffin wax as soon as the spirit thrust his hands into the wax. These molds suggest that the wax coated the very shape of the spirit's hands themselves, indicating that a spirit in his or her spiritual environment or dimension possesses hands that look like that of normal human hands. The paraffin wax reveals the form and shape of the hand of A SPIRIT. The Parini photo above and the molds seen here shed much light on the biblical records of the manifestations of "angels" and "spirits" who are said to accompany human beings, such as Abraham and young Tobit in the Old Testament, and Christ in the New Testament. The materialized spirits in the biblical record are called "men" because that is just what they appeared to be in every respect. As to the question of whether spirits keep a human form and shape in their own spiritual dimension is answered in the affirmative when we consider the appearances of the spirits Moses and Elijah to Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the top of the mountain in the Gospel of Matthew. Furthermore, in Revelation 22:8, while John is still "out-of-body" during a vision experience, and thus in the spirit world, it is recorded that he fell to worship at the feet of the angel who had revealed these things to him. We humans look very much like these spirits, for we and them are of the same species.
The Near-Death Experience and What It Tells Us about Spirits
The phrase "near-death experience" (NDE) is credited to Dr. Raymond Moody who first used it in his ground-breaking book Life after Life in 1975 to describe the phenomenon of the spirit body temporarily disengaging from the physical body during cardiac arrest or some other traumatic experience that renders the person unconscious. The NDE is believed by some in the medical and scientific community to be nothing more than a product of a dying or oxygen-deprived brain, known as hypoxia, or else due to the drug ketamine (used as an anesthetic) that is especially known to produce NDE-like symptoms in people. Others claim that NDEs are "autoscopic" hallucinations, i.e., the occurrence of seeing your own double. Autoscopic hallucinations may be brought on by brain lesions, strokes, or tumors. While some elements of the NDE can be induced by the drug ketamine, there are other elements of the NDE that cannot adequatetly be attributed to hypoxia, ketamine, or autoscopy. The only model that fits all of the common elements of a NDE seems to be one that NDErs themselves describe: the realization that the spirit body leaves the physical body and enters into a spiritual dimension that the physical body cannot. The spirit body remains tethered to the physical body by means of what many NDErs describe as an elastic cord of light or a silver cord that has a seemingly limitless stretching point. If this cord breaks, physical death ensues, a reality described in the biblical record: "Before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and broken pully falls into the well, and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7).
The modern era, in the light of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, is not unique in its skepticism about spirits whose "reality" is questioned. Despite what some people believe to be the credulous, pre-scientific, and uncritical ancient world, spiritual manifestations were not only commonplace but were also criticized in the ancient world; these manifestations often took the form of bodily visitations from gods or spirits. Pliny records two different positions on the "reality" of these visitations from spirits: "I would very much like to know whether you think there are such things as ghosts (Latin = phantasmata), and whether they have their own shapes and some divine existence, or whether they are unreal images that take their forms from our own anxieties" (Letters 7.27.1). The inquiry implies a certain skepticism on Pliny's part by suggesting that spirits are products of the imagination, a position held by Epicurean (see Plutarch, Brut. 37.1-3). Pliny, however, continues here with the following: "I myself am led to believe that they [ghosts] exist especially because of what I hear happened to Curtius Rufus" (Letters 7.27.1). Pliny explains that an apparition, in solid bodily form, appeared to Rufus and predicted Rufus' return to Rome and hold office and there he would die. The prediction came true and so Pliny rules out hallucination because the ghost's (the "spirit's") prediction came true: this was no imaginary episode; the spirit was "real." The ancient testimonies to spirits are not unlike some NDE episodes where the spirit of the person, who is otherwise pronounced "dead" on a hospital bed, is seen by relatives or friends. The spirit may speak to the family member or relative in bodily form, fully awake, or possibly during "a dream." When the patient is revived, both he/she and the family member are able to recall the episode.
Moody identified 15 common elements of the NDE: 1) NDE is beyond the limits of any language to describe; 2) hearing yourself pronounced dead; 3) feelings of peace and quiet; 4) hearing unusual noises; 5) seeing a dark tunnel; 6) finding yourself outside of your body, commonly known as an "out-of-body experience (OBE, that may occur outside of the NDE); 7) meeting angels or spiritual beings; 8) a bright light experienced as a being of light; 9) a panoramic life review; 10) sensing a border or limit to where one can go; 11) coming back into your body; 12) frustrating attempts to tell others about what happened; 13) subtle broadening or deepening of your life after the NDE; 14) no fear of death; and 15) corroboration of events witnessed while out of your body. Years later, Moody would add 3 more elements found from his research: 1) a realm where all knowledge exists; 2) cities of light; and 3) a realm of bewildered spirits.
Some NDErs also report negative experiences of being taken to a dark and cold environment with rocky terrain and spirits who terrorize and threaten. One of these was an atheist by the name of Howard Storm. His negative NDE occurred while on vacation in Paris where he suffered from a life-threatening stomach ailment. When he was revived, he recalled what had happened to him while he was unconscious: spirits who initially seemed helpful led him out of his hospital room and down a dark hallway that filled with fog and mist the further he travelled. These spirits then turned on him and began terrorizing Storm and started biting him. Being an atheist, no sense of God came to his mind, but he recalled some old childhood prayers and began asking and praying to God for help. He realized that if he invoked the name "Jesus Christ" these spirits would retreat or become angrier with him. So he continued praying to God and a light broke through the darkness. Storm then experienced what could best be described as angel that came to his aid. The experience changed his life and he is now an ordained Christian minister in a church in Ohio. One of the major effects of the NDE is that it dramatically changes a person's life and attitude about life, him/herself, others, and, most especially, instills in him an empirical and real sense of an afterlife that is separate from the physical body and the Earth dimension. NDErs are convinced that their physical body is simply a temporary vehicle for their spirit. They realize that they are not their physical bodies; rather they are spirits housed in physical bodies. NDErs are convinced of this because they have examined their own spirit bodies while "out-of-the-physical body"; they see "themselves," i.e., their physical body lying unconscious, while they are standing at a distance from it. It is at this point that they realize that they still have arms, legs, feet, a head, etc., and furthermore, that they are still "conscious" and alive and can think and talk and hear and see, even though they are no longer in their physical bodies. Some even report that their spirit bodies are made of light, or that tubes of light run through their arms and legs. Others report that their spirit bodies look and feel identical to their physical bodies, even though they are no longer "in" their physical bodies. This occurrence enlightens us as to Paul's uncertainty on being either "in" or "out" of the body: "I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows--was caught up to the third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2). Experiences in the spirit body, insofar as sentience and "bodily integrity" are concerned, can feel identical to experiences in the physical body. But only the spirit body can travel in the spiritual dimensions. The physical body is restricted to the physical, Earth dimension alone where it "returns to dust."
The NDE experience, both positive (heavenly) and negative (hellish, e.g. Howard Storm, among others), reveals not only the occurrence of the separation of the spirit body from the physical body, but also reveals another part of creation that is usually veiled from most humans: a spiritual creation that is more "real" than the physical creation that we are so accustomed. This spiritual creation is, more or less, divided into two major realms, one of darkness and one of light. There may exist multiple levels or planes within each realm. The biblical "heavens" and "hells" seem to match many NDE experiences. The NDE not only tells us something about who we are, but also tells us something about our role in creation. The physical creation is only temporary while the spiritual creation is our eventual destiny. The fact that negative NDEs can be changed into positive ones if the NDEr calls on God for help shows that the doctrine of "everlasting Hell" may not be a reality after all. If a spirit who is still tethered to his or her physical body by the "silver cord" is taken into a hellish region of creation and realizes that only God can help, and prays to God for help, and then an angel appears out of the darkness, what does this say for God's mercy and clemency on those spirits who have permanently separated from their physical body, have passed over into a hellish spiritual dimension, but then realize the error of their ways and begin to pray to God for help and forgiveness? Might they get another chance in a new incarnation on Earth much in the same way that Storm was able to return to his former physical body? It is no wonder then that many NDErs come to believe in reincarnation, even if they did not believe in it before.
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) and Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC): What They Tell Us about Spirits
The work of Konstantin Raudive, chronicled in his book, Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead (New York: Taplinger, 1971), is considered one of the first concerted efforts to use recording equipment of the 20th century to record the voices of spirits. It is true, however, that many in the past were also interested in developing electronic boxes that could be used to receive and amplify the voices of spirits, such as Thomas Edison. Since Raudive, George Meek, his MetaScience Foundation, and Mark Macy stand at the forefront of this new research into receiving by electronic means the voices of spirits. Meek authored several books concerning his experiments, one of which described the actual device used to "tune in" the voices of the spirits as if on a radio dial and frequency, The Spiricom Technical Manual (1982). In his After We Die, What Then? (1987), Meek writes of the experiments carried out by William J. O'Neil and the spirit Dr. George Jeffries Mueller who communicated with O'Neil through radio/electronic devices in O'Neil's laboratory set up for that purpose. The transcript of their conversation is found in Meek's book. Mueller gave detailed personal information known only to himself that was verified down to the last detail. If anything, O'Neil's experiments demonstrated the continued existence of a person after physical death.
Mark Macy writes of an emerging new science called Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) whereby spirits from the Beyond use high-tech communication to transmit information to experimenters in the field of electronic spirit communication in pictures, text, and voice via television screens, computers, and telephones. One of the foremost labs devoted to this kind of research is found in Luxembourg, the Transcommunication Study Circle of Luxembourg (CETL). Through this research, Macy documents two very important finds: 1) that creation seems to be divided into two camps, that of good spirits who recognize that there is a God, and that of lowly, nefarious spirits who are bent on the destruction of human kind; and 2) that spirits, indeed, look, in every which way, like human beings, thus spirits have bodies with limbs, heads, faces, hands, and feet as well as the necessary internal organs as humans have. In their communications with CETL, the spirits describe their bodies as they appear in the spirit world: "We have a body like yours. It consists of finer matter and vibration than your dense, coarse physical bodies. There is no sickness here. Missing limbs regenerate. Bodies that are disfigured on Earth become perfect. We live comfortably in furnished houses. The countryside is very beautiful. The average age of people here is 25-30 years. Persons who die of old age on Earth wake up here after a regenerating sleep" (Conversations Beyond the Light, p. 7).
Also, this research has revealed that there are multiple spirit planes, extending from the "lower" dimensions, traditionally known by the term "hell," to "higher" dimensions, traditionally known as "heaven." But the work of CETL has shown that there are also mundane spirit planes that are not the highest heaven, but rather reflect the appearance of a perfect, beautiful Earth. The spirits who reside here are nice, thoughtful, God-believing spirits who have yet to progress to higher spiritual spheres that are closer to God and to the celestial spirits. The spirits may have been Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Shinto while on Earth. They include scientists, artists, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, sons, daughters, parents, and grandparents who have taken on the appearance of their youth. Macy chronicles the experiments and the reports of CETL, including the video images of the spirits transmitted to Luxembourg from the spirit laboratory in the spirit world known as Timestream, in his his book Conversations Beyond the Light With Departed Friends and Colleagues by Electronic Means (authored along with Dr. Pat Kubris). Macy rightly states that spirits living on this mundane spirit plane are not all-knowing and that their knowledge is limited. The communications of the spirits themselves agree on this point. Whereas they communicate what they can about their own environment, they are aware of "higher" planes and that God is truly God over all the spirits in all of the spirit planes, from the lowest hells to the highest heavens. The spirits who reside "higher up" will know more than those inhabiting the lower mundane but pleasant spirit spheres that reside closer to the Earth dimension. The Earth dimension might be thought of as inhabiting the highest point of the lower spiritual dimensions of creation, and the mundane spirit plane from which comes much of the information that CETL collects might be thought of as inhabiting the lowest point of the heavenly dimensions. But is it possible for the celestial spirits in the highest heavens to communicate matter to humans on Earth? Of course, it is possible. The records of such activity in the past are preserved in the Old and New Testaments, as well as other ancient records found in Semitic, Greek, and Roman texts. Can such communication from very high heavenly spirits occur today as in ages past? The answer is found in the historic work Communication with the Spirit World of God, by Johannes Greber, 1932. The spirit planes of progression described in Greber's book are confirmed by ITC and CETL research, as well as the two general camps of spirits: evil spirits and holy spirits.
What is an Evil Spirit?
An evil spirit is a sentient being who participated in the Rebellion against Christ in the spiritual creation; a Rebellion whose consequence was the ejection of one-third of the spirits of heaven into lower spiritual dimensions that had been prepared for this purpose, i.e., the Fall from Heaven of the heavenly spirits. They are "evil" because they are "stained" with the original sin of rebelling against God's maxim that Christ be King of all Creation. The Ringleader of this rebellion was the spirit second only to Christ, known today as "Lucifer." Since humans are those very fallen spirits incarnated in fleshly bodies on the Earth, we are counted among the number of those who rebelled ages and countless ages ago. A good, sincere, God-believing human being is an evil spirit who has made amends and who has decided to choose to do good, believe in God once more, and accept Christ as his or her Messiah Who has redeemed them from the lower spiritual dimensions through His death and Resurrection from the Dead. Many spirits are still "evil" and will require a change of heart and of mind, i.e., they must "repent" in order to begin their migration out of "hell" and start their incarnations on Earth in order to enter into the school that is planet Earth, to be educated about themselves, God, Christ, the creation, and their role in it. These spirits will learn that Christ made it possible for their migration out of the lower dimensions.
Recent work done with the mentally ill by the Psychiatrist Shakuntala Modi (Remarkable Healings: A Psychiatrist Discovers Unsuspected Roots of Mental and Physical Illness [Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 1997]) has revealed that spirits may be the cause of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Earlier efforts in this direction were carried out by Dr. Carl Wickland during the early part of the twentieth century (see his book Thirty Years Among the Dead). Wickland described that the patients were relieved of their spirit influence (whether "obsession" where the spirit influences from outside of the patient or "possession" where the spirit actually enters into the body of the patient and speak) through a process known as "depossession" where a medium nearby was used to "syphon" the spirit off of the patient. Many of the spirits Dr. Modi encounters in her work today are said to be "demons who use to be in the light but were tricked by Satan and consequently entered into the darkness," i.e., the Fall of the Spirits long ago. Some spirits reveal that Lucifer does not want them to reveal what is actually going on behind the scenes in the evil spirit world, for therein lies the origin of all of the ills, confusion, differing opinions on God, religion, etc., on planet Earth. These one-time demons reveal also that they were trained in schools to do evil and cause pain on Earth. They were also deceived by Satan and his minions into thinking that if they decided to "go into the Light" it would be automatic death. One "transformed" demon states: "We learned how to cause pain. We learned the anatomy of every planet and all the galaxies we thought we could inhabit and possibly have a chance of winning and taking over. We know how to make the earth hurt and scream. We know every fiber of the planet Earth and how to cause it pain. It depends on what your function is going to be in life. If we are supposed to be in people, animals, or plants on this planet or other planets, then we study them and learn how to turn them into the opposite of what they are. We learn how to control them and how to cause pain. Others are groomed for other things and they learn how to control those. We are drilled well. It is after a long time of training before we are allowed to do anything. If we fail, we are given tremendous pain so we pay attention the next time. By the time we come down we are very determined not to fail. I was groomed for people or living beings on this planet and on other planets, too. I was not groomed for plants and minerals. I have some general knowledge so that we do not block each other, because we do fight each other for power. A lot of natural disasters are caused this way, through our fighting with each other. We end up making a mess of things on Earth, like the volcanoes and earthquakes, they are partly due to our fighting. We feel what you may call an evil power. It feeds on us and we swell up inside. We feel happy in an ugly way. We think we are the greatest. We are the best. There is no death for us. No one is over us. The meaner we are, the more jobs and power we get. This makes other demons look up to us" (Remarkable Healings, p. 320). Another "transformed" demon who communicated through one of Dr. Modi's patients stated, "There are schools where they teach us how to be a good dark one. How to destroy and hurt. We have teachers who take us along and show us how we can enter people, hurt people, and stay attached to people. There are training schools. I was trained to go after the souls who have a great deal of Light, who have a certain kind of healing work and missions to do." Dr. Modi then asks the spirit, "What was your goal with this patient?" Spirit response: "To make her crazy so she wouldn't accomplish her goal. She has too much Light. She still does not hear her purpose. She rejects her purpose. That makes it easier for us to attach to her. [Her purpose is] to spread the Light and to teach others about the dark ones. That is one of the reasons why Satan wants to destroy her and people like you, so darkness can take over the earth" (Remarkable Healing, p. 321).
What is a Holy Spirit?
A holy spirit is a sentient being who either did not take part in the Rebellion in Heaven and thus remained loyal to both God and Christ (sometimes known as "pure spirits" because they were never tainted with the "stain" of original sin) or is a spirit who did take part in the Rebellion, an evil spirit, but who has since been redeemed and has returned to heaven as a spirit loyal to both God and Christ. A spirit is "holy" insofar as it acknowledges God and Christ. Note that the "test" for a holy spirit is recorded in 1 Cor 12:3 and 1 John 4:2. Some spirits who were once evil but are now redeemed and have been readmitted into the fold of the heavenly spirits through God's all-encompassing mercy return to Earth as "volunteers" in order to educate those spirits who have decided to take advantage of the opportunity that Christ laid down for them to walk the "bridge" from the hells to the heavens via incarnation on the Earth. Volunteers may at one time have been in the same position as the very spirits that they have come to aid and to educate on Earth. These spirit volunteers will quickly realize the perilous nature of their task; a task carried out against the Enemy but in Enemy territory.
Just as there are schools in the lower dimensions, there are also schools and "halls of learning" in the mundane and higher spiritual dimensions. There, spirits are educated about the Plan of Salvation, the errors that have crept into Christianity over the centuries, the errors of the Bibles, and the errors of other religions as well. Volunteers are also educated for their task of bringing the Truth to the Earth. Biblical examples of spirit volunteers who were "pure" are Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Elijah who returned a second time as John the Baptist, and, the highest of all spirits, Christ.